27 January 2014

The Book Buying Tag

Look at this perfect creation! You can get one here.
I could talk about books forever and stumbling across the BookTube community is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me. One of my new favourite BookTubers is Megan Olivier, who created this tag and after seeing it on Jennie's blog (quite a while ago, but I am lazy!) I thought I'd give it a bash too.

Where do you buy your books from? Anywhere and everywhere! I can never resist popping into any bookshop that I pass and I regularly visit charity shops as well to see what I can find there. I've also made a relatively recent online discovery in The Book Depository which has free delivery and often has some older covers to choose from too, which I think is great.
I love the atmosphere in bookshops and love browsing around and stumbling across something new. I try and support bookstores as much as I can, especially after the wonderful Books Are My Bag campaign reinforced their importance, and I do try and pick up books from a shop rather than online.

Do you ever pre-order books? I have never pre-ordered a book before. I don't really keep myself up to date with new releases, unless it's a continuation of a series I've been reading, so I just pick up books as and when I find them.

On average, how many books do you buy a month? I don't really know. It's probably 2 a month on average, but in December I took full advantage of my staff discount card at Waterstone's and bought myself 12 books, which is definitely the most I've ever bought in such a short period of time!
I also volunteer at Oxfam and often when I'm sorting out the bookshelves I'll put a few aside for myself if they catch my eye.

Do you use your local library? Sadly I don't really have a local library. I hope that when I move away this will change and I'll be able to take advantage of and support a library.

What do you think of libraries? I think they're wonderful! They're a great way to get books and I love how lots of them hold events and have a real sense of community surrounding them. When I was younger a mobile library van used to come to my area every few weeks and I loved going there and picking out more books.

How do you feel about charity shop and secondhand books? I love them! It's great coming across an unexpected gem that you may never have heard of before, as well as books you've wanted to read for a fraction of the price. I am a little bit fussy though, and I sometimes wouldn't take a book with scribbles all over the cover, but I am getting better!

Do you keep your read and to-be-read books together? I keep my to-be-read books on the top shelf of my bookcase, but there's so many that they've been double-stacked and have started to encroach on other shelves as well! I really must take myself in hand and sort my shelves out.

Do you plan to read all the books you own? Definitely. I'm really trying not to buy any more books now as I have so many left to read and nowhere to put them. I have a lot of free time now too, so I'm trying to utilise it productively and read more. I'm doing the Goodreads Challenge this year too, so hopefully that will help clear the book backlog!

What do you do with books you own that you won't reread? I currently do nothing with them, but I'm planning to go on a bit of a blitz across my entire room and I hope to tackle my bookshelves. I'm going to donate some books that I won't read again, but there are some books I loved that I may not reread but would still like to keep. I also plan to sell my university textbooks for a little bit of spare cash, so they'll be useful in some way!

Have you ever donated books? I have in the past and I plan to do a lot more in the near future so I can help out some charity shops, and hopefully other people will also find a new book they'll love.

Have you ever been on a book-buying ban? Not really, but I have gone through periods, especially while I was at university, when I haven't bought books for a long time. I think I am going to have to have to exercise some self-control for a while though, until I read some more of the books that are piling up. I'm also supposed to be saving up for the future (scary) so buying anything will have to take a bit of a back seat for now.

Do you think you own too many books? Well, as the picture above might indicate, I don't think there's such a thing as too many books. There may be too little space for the books I have, but that's another matter!
Books and what I find within them can keep me company, entertain me, break my heart, make me learn something, help me meet new people and visit new places and change the way I see and think about things and to me that's worth having a few cluttered shelves.

Let me know if you decide to do this tag, or just drop me a comment and talk to me about books! You can also be my friend on Goodreads if you want to see how I do with my reading challenge this year.

22 January 2014

What I Watched: Mandela- Long Walk to Freedom

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One of the things I find most frustrating about being in a long-distance relationship is not having anyone to watch movies with. Pete and I are both huge film fans and have cultivated an impressive to-watch list between us, as well as amassing a frankly ridiculous DVD collection. Obviously we watch films alone and with friends too, but each of us are lacking a chum who is as keen on movies as we are and it's annoying when we're both desperate to see a film but geography prevents us being able to go to the cinema together. Usually it's fine waiting for films to appear on DVD or TV, but there are instances when you just know a film will be best enjoyed in the cinema and you can't find someone who wants to share the couples combo with you.

One of the films we both really wanted to see was Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, the long-awaited adaptation of Nelson Mandela's autobiography, starring Idris Elba and Naomie Harrie. As part of my Christmas present, Pete booked us tickets to watch it at the beautiful Regal Cinema in Evesham. The cinema itself was absolutely beautiful; it looked like a theatre and was so well decorated. We also got ourselves a cool 'loveseat' to sit in so we could be extra comfortable and waited for the film to begin.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom has been highly anticipated for quite a while and the buzz around it was increased when Mandela sadly passed away in December last year. I am a huge Idris Elba fan (Stringer Bell 4eva) and with him cast in the lead role my excitement for the film grew.

The film covers Mandela's life as he becomes politically active and chronicles his incarceration in Robben Island, his eventual release and his election as South African president. It also details his human relationships too, including his marriage to Winnie Madikizela. It's a story that you vaguely know already, that's in your consciousness as part of history, but you never know much of the detail around it.

First things first, the performances in the film were incredible. Elba was of course excellent but Naomie Harris was something else. She perfectly captured the initial woman in love, then she was excellent as a woman bringing up her children with a husband in jail and by the last part of the film she was astonishing as a woman so full of anger and hatred. She was truly brilliant.
The film itself was also captivating, providing an insight into the situation in South Africa that moved Mandela to take a stand and it didn't gloss over the extreme actions Mandela and the ANC used to spread their message which I thought was admirable. I also really enjoyed the way certain parts of the film were intercut with real footage from the period; I felt it helped remind you of the reality of the situation and showed you how people were really affected during that time in a way that a film just can't quite capture.
The film was totally engaging and I was entranced for the duration; even when the bulb went out (twice!) and we had to wait half an hour for them to fix it, I couldn't wait to see what happened next and it was easy to get back into the movie even with the interruptions.

If I had one criticism of the film, it would be that it doesn't provide enough detail; it seemed to flit from one part to the next and skip large periods of time. I do understand that this is due to the length of Mandela's imprisonment and the original text from which the film was developed, but there were instances where I felt like I'd been left behind a little. This will be rectified once I read the book, which is something I do hope to manage soon!

Overall, I'd definitely recommend Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom to anyone. It's a great introduction to and reminder of a crucial piece of recent human history, as well as an insight into a true icon and hero.

Did you see Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom? What did you think of it?

2 January 2014

Hello, 2014.

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So if you saw my previous post, you'll see that 2013 didn't end on the happiest of notes for me. I saw out the year feeling like I hadn't really achieved much, that the whole year was a big expanse of nothingness and, at 23, I feel like I can't have another year like that.
I'm not naive enough to think that waking up on the first day of 2014 will suddenly undo all the rubbish that 2013 brought, but I do know that without putting more effort into this whole life thing I'm not going to get very far at all.
So, in order to  at least get close to having a great yet, I've set myself some goals. I don't know about resolutions exactly, as I feel that once you definitely promise to do something it immediately adds an extra dimension of pressure and if you don't manage to keep to all your resolutions then you've failed- and I know I can't take any more feelings of failure this coming year! My goals are also quite big and vague, rather than having a really specific and narrow aims as I think they work best for me.
Anyway, here are my goals, and I hope working towards them will make 2014 a better and brighter year for me.

  • Get a job: This could prove to be the most difficult of all my aims as it also relies on some outside factors and I can't control it as much as other things. However, to up my chances of success I'm going to push myself to apply for things that I would usually turn away from out of fear and throw my heart and soul into job hunting and applications. Hopefully this means that I'll land a job soon enough, and not that I'll just end up with more rejection emails than usual!
  • Stop doubting myself: I let my low self-image hold me back. It stops me applying for jobs because I immediately think I won't get them. It stops me asking people to hang out because what if they say no?! It makes me question my relationship and it sometimes really makes me question my self-worth. Heck, it even stops me wearing clothes and make up that I love for fear of judgement from other people. It really needs to stop.
    One of my mantras last year was 'Other people ain't shit' and when I was rocking a red lipstick or wearing my favourite dress it really helped me feel confident and just stop giving a damn about what other people thought and it was so liberating. I just need to extend the motto to other areas of my life and know that I am swell as I am.
    (I don't mean that I am not going to care about other people in 2014, just that I won't let their negative opinions hold me back or erode the good feelings I have towards myself.)
  • Look after myself: I have not been the kindest to my body recently, and Christmas exacerbates the feeling of treating your body badly. I'm going to drink more water, go outside and get more fresh air, move around more and generally get my body feeling as great as I can by the end of the year and beyond. I have come on leaps and bounds in accepting my body in 2013 but I know just treating it better will really up my good feelings about it.
    I'm also going to moisturise more, be better about getting my hair cut and using face masks, exfoliate my body more regularly and generally do lots of fun things that leave me feeling great.
    I also want to make an effort with my mental health too, making sure I do things that are good for me mentally and emotionally. I want to do things that make me happy and leave me with lots of positivity. I want to take every opportunity to make myself happy, whether that's something like painting my nails, calling someone for a chat or writing everything out in my diary (which I also aim to keep updated throughout the year)
    Hopefully looking after all areas of my health will mean I reach 2015 feeling absolutely great about myself!
That's my three overarching goals of 2014. I also have some smaller and more concrete things that I want to do, including:
  • Go to the cinema alone at least once
  • Have at least £500 in my savings account
  • Keep practising my German so I don't lose the skills I have
  • Really cement my winged liner skills
  • Visit somewhere new, preferably outside of the UK if possible
  • Read more books, watch more films and listen to more new music
So there you have my main goals for the coming year. Hopefully this time next year I'll be telling you about how I achieved them all!

Do you have any goals for 2014?