Books I Need to Read This summer

I love books, to a worrying extent sometimes. A-Levels stopped me reading and I really want to get back into it, now that I have actual free time. What better way to do that than to rave about the books I want to read this summer?

These come from a range of places, from recommendations to just stalking my Twitter for books I should read. Will I get through all of them? Hopefully, but who knows?

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
OKAY YES I HAVE NOT READ THIS BOOK I AM SO SORRY. I honestly think I’m one of the only ones who hasn’t read it? It’s been on my TBR for years now and it’s ridiculous how I’ve not read it? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??? I’ve read the other books in the Grishaverse, like Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, so this is a must-read especially because my friends always scream about it.

A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews
For a long time, Cait’s reviews on Goodreads were my main source of book recommendations. She’s wonderful and I read a story by her on Wattpad, a long time ago; her words were addicting and emotional. I can’t wait to read this – I can tell it will make me sob but it’ll be worth it for the beauty her words can inspire.

The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R. Pan
I’ve seen so many great reviews of this book, including the brilliant Ilsa telling the world how much she adores the book. The premise sounds so interesting too and I’ve heard the writing is fantastic.

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
When I read Daughter of the Burning City, I fell in love with Amanda Foody’s work. She writes with such attention to character and setting that it actually makes me cry. I’ve heard that this book is really diverse too, so that makes me want to read it more.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
There’s no doubt about it: I need to read this book. Its message is so incredibly important and though it will be hard-hitting, people need to read these words. I’ve needed to read it for such a long time but thiss summer, it’s going to be one of the first I read.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
Though I’ve seen a fair bit of hype for this on Twitter, I don’t know much about it. The summary sounds awesome and I need to read more fairytale retellings anyway. It seems diverse too but again, I don’t know too much about it; I want to go into it with as little expectations as possible.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
like the last book, I don’t know much about this one apart from that it’s fantasy and apparently awesome. I’m the type of person who gets scared of hype so I’ve resisted crying over reviews. We’ll just see how it goes.

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
Originally, I heard negative things about this book but that was mostly from my internalised you-have-to-be-gay-or-straight-make-up-your-mind that plagued me for ages, and made me dislike myself a fair bit. However, I think I really need this in my life because it presents people realising they might have a different identity in a positive light. There should be more books like that.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa albert
I’ve heard so many things about this book, both good and bad in terms of the plot and fantasy world. I really want to see what the hype is about and I kind of want to be able to wail about it to people??

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman
Radio Silence was the best thing I have ever read and from all the reviews I’ve read, this book is spectacular as well. It talks about fandom, identity and reality, all of which are parts of my life in some capacity. Alice Oseman seems to right in a way that relates you to the narrative so I desperatly want to get my hands on this (e)Book soon YES.

There you have it! I honestly can’t wait to read these; wish me luck! They’ve been on my TBR for so long, although said TBR is still growing.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

From Elm 🙂

Glass Cats, Books and Life’s Fire

There’s a glass cat that I recently put on my ‘ornaments’ shelf. I stood up just now, got it and set it beside me on my bed. I stood up for the first time in half an hour, after I had cried with sadness at the glorious ending to a book, strode over – grabbed the cat – and here it is now. Bare with me here but the cat kind of represents why I’m coming to a huge realisation about how I feel: it represents my love for creating things.

Now, the cat itself doesn’t symbolise why I, just now, remembered why I love the very idea of ideas springing forth from my mind. I finished a book, Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia, and felt so hollow at the fact that it was over that I cried. But then, something changed. The spark that had been growing and growing inside of me throughout the book finally exploded, roaring into life with a sudden shock. It feels like it’s swallowing me up and though it might be temporary, I jumped up with purpose and moved.

I bought this cat in Barcelona, when everything felt like it was too much and too soon and like it was burning. Now, I’m sitting here with it next to me, shaky and feeling so desperately alive that I could cry. If you can see it, the featured image is this cat.

It’s smooth, ears poking out from its head, the nose a faded point and the eyes little more than indents; its head faces forward. Almost rigid, its back only has the most inconspicuous speck of scratch; its sides curve in the slightest amount. It’s got a tail, pointing up and forward and curling. Almost like it’s on the move, its paws feel like they’re ready to run, to take the air by storm. This simple piece of glass, bought in a shop with other such pieces of glass, has lodged itself in my heart. The book made me appreciate things like this, messy and real as it seems to me, sculpted beautifully as it seems to others.

Maybe I’ll write a review on the book, the first one I’ll ever do, because I feel like this book changed my perception of things. It forced me to look at life with all its colours and collages and sounds, to burn up with a need to create and to love and to smash down the boundaries I set for myself. As soon as I had that cat beside me, I grabbed my computer and these words poured out, easier and freer than they’ve been in months, ever since I spiralled downwards. They’re disjointed and brittle but that’s how I feel now.

You may be asking, “What’s a book and a cat got to do with life? Why are you sitting alone in your room, getting emotional about glass, electronic pages and memory?” Well, it’s because it’s restored some faith in my life. It’s taken the twisted parts of myself and righted them for a little while; it’s made me want to make things.

Clutching this cat in my hand, I rushed downstairs with it, palms clammy and heart beating so hard. “Dad, take a picture of this cat!” I almost demanded. I stood there, shaking again, the reality of all of it washing over me.

Fingers sliding over glass and tears at the beautifully continuous story of a character has made me realise that I am real, full of idea and love and a need to be. I want to belong, to thrive, to meet others and laugh with them; I want to create worlds inside my own head that I perform or write about or just imagine in the quiet recesses of my mind. At the end of the day, I’m a dreamer. I wish for things which often seem unobtainable. Instead of shutting these dreams down, I want to revel in them. Eliza taught me that passion and creativity don’t have to always be constant but if you love something, whatever it is, you shouldn’t give up on it. And if you stop doing it, the world doesn’t stop either.

Freedom may only be temporary, fickle, prone to sad and happy books or to others bringing me ‘down to earth’. I don’t care. For now, I can immerse myself in creating anything and not feel guilty. For now, I can remember why I started this blog, why I love it, why I love to share whatever I can create with the world.

I weigh the cat in my hands and set it, lopsided, on my pillow. Perhaps I’m not invincible but that can’t stop me from thinking the world can’t be explored. I want to go, to be, to write, to act, to dream.

No matter if the thoughts overtake me again, a book, a cat and a fire inside me showed me that I am not my fear. I am not just a ball of screams and echoes; I’m a real person with beauty in my smiles and worlds in my words.

This post, with all its jumbled cracks and subtleties, feels freeing. God, I feel like I could belong somewhere; I feel like I do belong somewhere. If only one person reads this post and knows that at this moment I don’t feel so awful, it’ll make me happy. Maybe there will be a thousand smashed glass cats to deal with and a million unfinished books to read but I still have these ones. I’ll still have the cat and the book that set me to write this post.

From Elm 🙂

Angsty, Insensitive 11-year-old – Writings of a Younger Elm, Number 2

Before reading this, you should read part 1 to get an idea of the origin of this idea, and true scope of my… Well, I refuse to call it story-telling. It’s just attrocious.

I’d found this story a while ago, and this was going to be the first part of this “series”, but I wanted to let you see the less insufferable side of me first. Well, I don’t really know actually; the MORE mature side.

When I was 12, I was irritating, over-dramatic, prone to thinking that I should belong in some novel, and I had a crush on someone and thought I was in love with him. When I was 11, I was worse. Yes, that’s possible: I thought that I was grown up, had just started at a new school, was clueless as to how anything worked and just… I’d recently come out of my very very weird phase, and I’m cringing so hard because my younger self was embarrassing as fuck.

Bear that in mind when you’re reading this abominable “creation”. Luckily, the only person who I sent this to was my mother; nobody else has ever read this. I hope. I believe I continued this, but then deleted it. Here is “Chapter 1”, fit with sarcastic commentary. At one point, I do scream at myself; imagine someone going into a rage and waving their hands about whilst yelling.

Chapter One: Churchhill Chaos

My teacher stares angrily down at me, with blazing eyes like pools of fire Just imagine someone with literal fire in their eyes – also that’s the most overused simile ever. The familiar classroom surrounds me, with its grinning pupils and ghastly teacher Here we go…. “Well?” She demands. “What is the answer?”

My mind tries to clear itself, but the horrible images still remain Basically there WAS a prologue but it was just tedious; long story short, she had a nightmare or something?. “Hell?” I say, clearly. What the hell did I just say? Ooohh such a good pun – OR NOT! The class erupts into rude sniggering laughter, filling me with horror and dread. Twats
“You weren’t listening to the lesson, were you?” No shit, Sherlock snaps Miss Benetis furiously, her face turning red. CALM DOWN
“No Miss! She wasn’t, she was away with the fairies!” PLEASE tell me that wasn’t what started my not-cool fairy obsession of 2012… shrieks Alice Lest Is this another Katie? Oooh!, a short girl with blonde, wispy hair, to all appearances a cute innocent little girl (but in truth she is my mortal enemy Ermmm…, who bullies me non stop). The class chortles away, but I do not pay any attention. Eyyy good! I have more serious problems to deal with. “Bethany, how dare you be so rude and disrespectful!” You were meant to put a new paragraph there – new line new speaker! Miss Benetis practically screams. “You are in YEAR SEVEN ALRIGHT calm down! now, you can not get away with it anymore.” Her voice gets softer, a sure sign she is about to explode. Is she okay? Seriously, they’re in YEAR SEVEN, give them a break! I hold my breath.

“Right!” She shakes the room with her lethal yell, her fiery figure dancing and erupting OHMYGOD it’s a demon holyshit wait why is she erupting? “I will not put up with this at all! You all stay behind, and Bethany, you stay for an extra 5 minutes!” WHAT, just because she didn’t answer a question? Bit extreme. Groans fill the room, stares of pure hatred point in my direction, and Alice nudges me hard and hisses “I’ll get you for this.” Guys she’s gonna get her revenge – I’m sorry I shouldn’t take the piss out of this but I absolutely didn’t know what it was like to be picked on and I can’t take myself seriously No one in my form likes me, except Rebecca. She is one of the nicest people I have encountered at Bale Secondary School, What is it with naming schools so badly? and is the only one who sticks up for me.
“Will you shut up Alice. Where’s the question mark? It wasn’t her fault, was it?” She asks now, looking pitifully at me. LEGEND
“Yes it was!” cries Alice and most of the class. “Of course it was! It always is.” BITCH PLEASE Tears well up in my eyes, trying in vain to come out. I try with all my might to hold them back, but Jennifer Wakefield sees. I’m just crying here because that was a very bad way to introduce a character. Snorting, she chants: “bethany the baby, always gonna cry, bethany the baby, she’s gonna die!” …… WHAT THE – that was awful and it’s like a 6-year-old – SO BAD – rhyming was terrible GET OUT – I can’t any more

Other people in the form titter at this, but I try to pay no heed. “That wasn’t very inventive. YES! I can think of some more!” cries Charlie Becksworth, Oh. Thought that was Bethany. and proceeds to taunt me with ridiculous sayings and insults. The bell rings three times, but Miss Benetis pays no attention. “Thanks to Bethany, you will all stay behind 5 minutes!” SOOOO petty She roars, doing very well at imitating a lion. Ahahahaha no
“Well well well.” cries Alice, “seems as Bethany is such a baby with no morals No – morals – what?, lets be silent in mourning for her birth!” You are so shit at insults
WILL YOU SHUT UP!” yells Rebecca, looking as if she wants to strike Alice down. They’re 11
“Oh, you’re one to talk, aren’t you? Always sticking up for that pipsqueak over there–how old are you again Bethany? Oh yeah, I forgot you’re too dumb to understand what that means!” shrieks Charlie, snorting and giggling. They’re getting worse – also who snorts and giggles at the same time? “Ha! Now she’s gonna cry!”

Miss Benetis pays no attention, staring at us with anger and hatred. THEY ARE 11! Why? Why is it always me? “BABY BALD Bethany!” This last remark bites into me, so sharp my skin prickles and fizzes Is it on fire or something?. Just because I have a hair problem doesn’t mean I’m bald!

RIGHT! This needs an entire paragraph to explain; sorry about the font but I don’t know what it looks like so I’m just gonna use it. When I was 11, my sister told me about a condition where a person has a compulsion to pull out their hair: it’s called Trichotillomania, and you can read more about it here. At the time, I neither knew what it was called nor bothered to search it up (afterwards of course I did) and I tried to include it because… I don’t know. It was badly done and I’m just angry that my younger self didn’t do ANY research.

“Pa!!!!!!!” Too many exclamation marks – these people just need to chill cries Charlie. Oh no, I must have been thinking aloud again. “She’s mad, and weird, and stupid! She shouldn’t even be in this good school at all!” Errrmm WHAT you little shit! That’s it.

I jump up, figuring that the 10 minutes has gone, be it quickly. “Go away Bethany, and don’t come back in here.” says the tyrant teacher calmly, pointing to the door. I hurry out, with shouts and jeers following me. FINALLY she leaves!

Outside I find a strange boy staring at me. Okay? You just walk out of the classroom and he’s staring at you? Logical. “You’re the girl that’s getting bullied, aren’t you?” He asks. WHAT the actual HELL? You don’t just ask that question! What was that? So unsubtle and you can’t just – you insensitive-
“Yes, but why?” I reply, bemused at how he knows. If you’re actually being bullied, it’s very rare that you would so readily admit it to someone you don’t know, even if you need someone to talk to.

“Well I just–` Our conversation is interrupted by Charlie coming out of the classroom. Convenient, huh? Also, I’ve lost track of who’s who; this character development is laughably bad.
“Ha! You don’t have to know. Come on Henry, she’s weird and you don’t need to know her.” Okay – if he’s friends with this Charlie person, then surely Bethany would get suspicious, but I doubt she would – if I continued this, I hope I made that a source of conflict but probably not. He hurries Henry away, leaving me thinking how nice he might be. I hear a sob, and I turn round to see Rebecca hurtling towards me. She flings her arms round me, saying again and again how sorry she is. I comfort her and tell her she need not worry. I like Rebecca. She has substance?

The rest of the day is a hazy blur, with people taunting me endlessly, and I don’t see Henry. Of course I tell Rebecca about him, and she is now trying to find him while I sit on a bench That’s so awkward, people skittering around me like flies. Flies don’t skitter. They fly. Clue’s in the name Someone taps me on the shoulder: I wonder who THAT is! “Uh… I’m Henry, the person who saw you outside your form room.” I’m so so clever; I guessed it! I guessed IT! I turn round, and there he is. Just at that split second, Rebecca comes running up, smiles at Henry and sits down. Convenient
Hi,” I say. “your right Arghhh wrong use of “you’re”, STOP!, people are picking on me. Bullying, in fact.”
“I thought so,” says Henry, coming round to sit down on the bench. That’s actually kind of insulting and even more insensitive… But fine, whatever floats your boat “I no CRYING CRYING that grammar that Charlie, he’s a liar and he’s been saying ghastly and untrue things about you.” Who says “ghastly” in year 7?

Again we are rudely pushed aside by Charlie Bugger off, who goes storming up to us, pushing me and Rebecca and making us shriek. He grabs Henry, hissing at me What a snake – get it?! I’m becoming hysterical “don’t talk to him again. You hear me?” I nod feebly, for there is nothing I can do. Kick him where the sun don’t shine. Do it! And then go and make friends with Henry, who will actually treat your issues with respect, and go through a great transformation and do all that growing up and stuff that happens in “books” AND JUST ACQUIRE A CHARACTER!

Ehem… I think I need to go and calm down, whilst howling in mortification.

If anyone read this, they’d think I was a miserable child, but I wasn’t: I just didn’t understand how to write reasonably about other people’s problems, though I thought I did.

Hope you, um, enjoyed this?

From Elm 🙂

Eventbrite – My Ideal Author Panel!

A few weeks ago, I was inspired by Eventbrite – an organisation where you can find out about events taking place near you, and you can plan your own events as well – to create a post on what my dream author panel would be! Being a bookworm, and someone who gets excited at even the thought of meeting authors, I jumped at this opportunity.

I’ve never been to a book conference, but I very much want to in the next year; it’s one of my (secret but now not-so-secret) goals for the year ahead. Loving so many genres, I think that I’d be interested in many potential panels, which makes creating my perfect one quite challenging. I’ll give it my best shot, though, and remember that if you feel inspired by this post then go on over to Eventbrite and have a look at some of the great conferences you can attend! Or, better yet, you can create a post of your own and share your ideas, or plan an event with their event planning software.

Where would it take place?

Ideally, it would occur in or around London, as I could get there easily. None of the authors I’m thinking of live in the UK I don’t think, but logistics could be sorted out as to availibility. A lovely place would be a library in London, not least because they’re beautiful places and I love the atmosphere of a library.

Who would be involved in the panel?

Even though I want to involve all of my favourite authors, I’d choose Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – who co-author The Illuminae Files (Illuminae, Gemina and the third book which I’m eagerly anticipating), which is a series set in space, and written in emails, chat conversations and ship logs. In addition to that, there would be Rick Yancey, author of The 5th Wave: a science-fiction series about aliens that fascinated me, confused me and destroyed my mind. Lastly, I would have on the panel Josephine Angelini who wrote the Worldwalker Trilogy, a series of books where the main character is taken to another alternate world where her alternate version is an evil dictator: it involves twisted morals, enthralling witchcraft, and a character who goes through some amazing development. Each of their books made me think, made me cry multiple times, and have made it into my favourite series’ of all time. It would be moderated by Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles series.

What would the panel be about?

All four of these authors have one thing in common, asides from being able to write a compelling storyline: they all write science-fiction, or have a series based off of it. That includes new technology, and especially new concepts; that is what the panel would focus on. To put it simply, it would be wonderful if they talked about how to write a successful SciFi series, with an emphasis on the identities of their characters. I say this, because all of these authors have done something very unique with their books, and that would be reflected in the subject of the panel.

What questions would be asked?

• What’s the most important element when writing a Science fiction novel?
• How do you keep readers interested in your series?
• How do you view the idea of identity in terms of your characters?
• Do you feel personally connected to your characters and if so, does that reflect how you write them?
• How does the world and environment you’ve created influence your characters as people?

The thought of this is now making me so excited, though I know it’d never happen. Oh well: I can dream; I adore all of these authors and their respective books, and would love to see them in a room together.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading. Who are your favourite authors, and what would your favourite bookish panel be about?

From Elm 🙂

Books, History, and Everything in Between

I’m the type of person who can so easily get lost in the world of a book, in the stories, characters and words, so that when I try to resurface from it, I don’t know what to do with myself.

It’s not just one type of book: I’ve gone through liking so many different genres, and taking a fancy to one book, finishing it, and then craving a different kind of book – or conversely, getting sucked into ‘phases’ of genres for ages.

Now, it’s not like I’d just read that one genre of book. I’d read others, but that genre would prevail – I almost breathe it. You know those books that set up a fire in your heart, or give you that anticipatory feeling when you want to read them? That’s what I experience when I get a passion for a certain ‘brand’ of book and though I love other books I read, it’s the type I’m obsessed with at the time that makes me happy, until a book comes along that changes my preferences. Woah, it sounds like I have romantic relwhnships with books or something… Errr, moving on.

It happened with books along the line of Harry Potter first, then fantasy (Game of Thrones), then a long period of adoring Dystopia (The Hunger Games, Halo by Frankie Rose). Then Contemporary books and then a wild love for Science Fiction (the 5th Wave, Worldwalker Trilogy, Atlantis Grail). My tastes have flitted back and forth within these genres, fit with little subsections of them – LGBTQ+ Contemporary, books that are so cliché it hurts (I read them after books that make me cry) and then, in between periods of going between genres, I read miscellaneous things here and there. You could say I have a… Varied love of books.

Now, after a stint of reading contemporary, and scouring Goodreads to find books, I’ve fallen in love with historical literature, and historical fiction. I’m not surprised either: history’s always been something I’ve liked, from Romans to the English Revolution to wartime stories; it’s now combined with my love of reading to create something that’s entirely too addicted to raving, and annoying people, with her rants about how amazing a book is.

I blame this on Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, a book that made me cry so much that I made myself ill, but a book that rekindled my fascinwhn with the lives of ordinary people in war, of stories of people that didn’t change the world but were heroes and heroines nonetheless. It was amazing, and the thing is, stories like that happen every day in every war; it gave me a snapshot of things that could have existed, and showed me that war ends in tragedy for so many people.

I now have a deeply rooted respect for the classics, but specifically written in times of history which interest me. Take the Victorian period, for example; the lifestyle there is something I’ve always read up on, or tried to find out about. We’re studying Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronté, which is set just in that time, and I couldn’t put it down.

True, I had a reluctance to read it when I was younger and even before I started, but that was because of its size, and I worried that the vocabulary would be too much. I was so, so wrong; I’ve nearly finished with it, occasionally start writing and speaking in the style of Bronté, and have been known to scream “YAAASS OHHH SO CUTE!” when talking about some scenes between Mr. Rochester and Jane. I can’t help it: I got frustrated with Jane at the beginning, but the way she interacts with Mr. Rochester is great.

Historical fiction written nowadays is one of my favourite things, simply because it gives a new perspective on everything. Jane Eyre’s quite progressive for its time and I love that, but fiction written about the past with a modern view in mind is so interesting to me. After starting Jane Eyre, and needing a break from the very heavy language, I wanted to read some romance because a) I needed cuteness in my life and b) I was in the mood to not think too deeply for a while. Perhaps, then, I shouldn’t have started the Storm and Silence series by Robert Thier. I don’t know how to summarise these books, except to say it opens with Lilly Linton – potentially the most fantastic girl ever – dressing up as a boy and attempting to go to a polling station to vote. She doesn’t take shit from anybody, and it involves a controlling billionaire bastard who goes through character development, and also Victorian society, humour, solid chocolate, Feminism and a main character who sticks up for herself and is just. Brilliant. I could scream about this series forever, because it was just what I needed to get me interested in the Victorian era again, and coupled with Jane Eyre, made me crave even more.

Basically, I’ve concluded that I need to get a life that preferrably involves historical books, because I love them so much. I plan to read Pride and Prejudice, as well as Chaucer, and various other books as well as lots of historical fiction written recently. Um, and obviously do work as well, and study… I’ll never get anything done at this rate!

I wanted to share with you my simple love of books, and just how scarily ecstatic I get about it. It’s not a side you see often. Who knows – maybe next year, I’ll go back to constantly reading Sci-Fi; I’Ll just have to wait and see.

Do you have any recommendations for great books?

From Elm 🙂

I Haven’t Read A Book in Years

You’ll read the title of this post, raise your eyebrows and scream, “WHAT! You read books all the time, you liar!”

It’s true: I read books so much that I’m surprised I don’t drown in them. Saying that, I haven’t READ a book in forever. Doesn’t make sense? I’m not surprised.

When I “read” books, I either listen to them on audio, get my phone to read them to me (by using a thing called voiceover), or when I had my old computer, I connected it to my phone so that I could read it on the Braille display. For anyone that hasn’t guessed it, I’m blind. Noooo shit, you never would have been able to tell!

These methods work well. I can get through a book faster, either because I read faster or the speech plays it more quickly. If a typically fast-paced section is going on, I pause the book to absorb it. It’s how I work, and I like it, but at the same time, there’s something missing.

It’s been so, so long since I held a physical BOOK in my hands that I could read. So long since my fingers have run over the pages, feeling a little numb after a while because of the feel of the Braille. Even longer since I’ve sat on the sofa, or on the beach, turning pages lightning fast. Finishing one book, then going onto another.

There’s something beautiful about reading Braille: not the braille of my computer, but braille on paper. The braille that if you press a dot hard enough, it flattens and disappears, though that’s kind of like scribbling out a letter. The braille that fades with time, but that you can still feel; the writing that makes your hand cramp as you finish that last sentence. Only blind people will get this, because a lot of sighted people’s fingers aren’t sensitive enough to pick up on any individual dot, and that’s not because you’ve got anything wrong. It’s just that I was trained, as well as a lot of people were, to have sensitive fingers so that I could read.

Braille books are huge. When I say huge, I mean huge; the book ITSELF is larger, but it doesn’t just come in one book. Oh, no; the Harry Potter books came in 13 volumes (not that I read them in Braille, but this is just what I’ve been told) and the Lord of the Rings ones are apparently so monstrously large that they clutter up the house. I was too scared to get them because I was intimidated by them? They’re heavy too, of course – you can’t carry around 6 volumes of Braille, which is the amount of volumes I usually read when I got my books, without staggering. Some books are smaller, and it really depends on who makes them.

When I was younger, I got my books from the RNIB library. Maybe it’s cruel to say this, but their selection for books – especially young adult books – is… Not great. I get catalogues of books that have been made into Braille and I see ones from three years ago. Though there are recent ones, there aren’t many.

I understand, and I guess it’s unfair of me to criticise them. It takes money and time to print the books into Braille, so no wonder their selection isn’t “up to date”. What they do have is good, just not good enough for ME. It was when I was about 10, 11 and 12, but not now when I consume books like they’re food. I used to borrow them, and so I had to finish them within a select time, and I couldn’t do that now. What with stress and A-Levels, it would make it worse if I felt like I had to finish a book.

Reading – ACTUALLY reading – books gave me a great vocabulary, so I’m very grateful for that. However, the only Braille things I’ve properly read within the last two years are exam papers, Maths text books, some on Diagrams, signs and lifts. That’s not exactly thrilling stuff. The last book I read in Braille was She Is Not Invisible, and that was because I REALLY wanted to. Rcving it was almost a novelty, because I hadn’t borrowed anything for the RNIB library in what felt like an age. Um, more like 2 years… (I tend to exaggerate)

I miss reading, the feel of shoving a volume back in its bag and hauling out another one. Some of my best memories involve getting books, leaping up and down in my cringy 12-year-old way and getting way too over-excited and then dropping them on my foot. What can I Say – I was eager. Then again, 11-year-old me diving on 4 bags of books was a bit extreme…

A lot of people read in different ways. I almost envy people with sight, who can read print, because you can just walk into a bookshop and buy a book. Without asking, “Is this availible in Braille? When will it be? When can you get it to me – has someone already ordered it?” You could just get it out on the train without having to lug around a massive BAG of books. I suppose, though, that there can be downsides; deaf people can’t listen to radio shows or audio-based things, so I’ll always be grateful for my ears.

I miss reading. Perhaps I’ll get back into ordering books again, once I’m more relaxed. Maybe it’ll HELP me to relax.

I wanted to show you a little part of my world, just for a bit. I read Braille, always have done and always will. Print’s fascinating to me, the way it probably looks like art on a page, but that’s a discussion for another lifetime.

Reading’s something I always take for granted. Some people CAN’t read or don’t have access to books, so for now, I’ll carry on reading how I read.

From Elm 🙂
P.S: If you’ve got any questions about Braille or anything, really, then you can email me at gemmabaristol@yahoo.co.uk. I’m happy to talk about it, and sorry for ranting strangely about my obsession with books (again)!

Guest Post – Judging a Book by its Cover

Hey guys! This is Aditi, and I’m so happy to be posting on Elm’s blog. I came here once before, with a post called Recollection Road. I hope you enjoy this!

Elizabeth’s Bookshops in Australia, have a very interesting idea for book purchasing. Coined “Blind Date with a Book”, buyers search for a book that solely have four or five words on the paper cover that describe what is inside. In this way, it is impossible to “judge a book by its cover”.

What do you think about this? I have two takes on it.

Side 1: I think this idea inhibits the creativity that goes into creating a book cover.

It is inevitable that we judge books by their covers. It is impossible to summarize an entire novel into a few words. I’m sure you have heard the idiom: “A picture is worth a thousand words”. This is the notion that a situation conveyed with an image shows its meaning more effectively than a description does. It is more difficult to understand the essence of a book without a picture displaying it. It would be much easier to have a cover to visualize the book you are about to read.

Side 2: This idea is very beneficial, and prohibits any judging of covers.

Conversely, this could really work! Sometimes, books might not have any “substance”, but they have a dashing, yet misleading cover. Authors obviously don’t come right out and tell you about the book, unless it’s in the blurb on the back. If you’re very specific with your choices on what types of books you read, this could really help. Especially since the books are specifically chosen by people who have read the book before, there is a good chance you will enjoy it.

Which take do you follow, and what would you add them?

My Ideal Book: The book that I would want to read best would probably have these words on it.

  1. Revolution
  2. Teenagers
  3. Humorous
  4. Fantasy

This basically describes the entire Y.A. genre! I know I have read a lot of books like this already, but, if it’s really good, I will truly enjoy it.

What would be your ideal 4-5 words for a book?

Using This Strategy: This could also be used for music, games or movies. Blind dates with PEOPLE could also follow this format. What do you think about this?

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I hope you enjoyed that! If you want to, you can comment the side you would take (or if there is ANOTHER side) as well as the answers to some of the questions you posted and I could do a follow-up post showcasing some of your comments and my additional takes on this!

I’d also love if you could check out my blog here. I write about several things, but I have narrowed it down to “PET” (Poems, Education (yet interesting), and Thoughts). 🙂

Love,
Aditi

I Never Told You How Much I Love Books

When I was 10, I met both Patrick Ness and Ruta Sepetys at the Carnegie Awards.

AND I WAS NOT ShRIEKING, like I would be now if I met them. I was ridiculously excited, but that was because they were famous and NOT because of the books they wrote. NOW, I’ve read one Patrick Ness book and plan to read more because I love his writing, and I’m about to read Salt to the Sea. I’m kicking myself because when I was 10, I wasn’t in the SLIGHTEST bit mature enough to appreciate the books they wrote and that irritates me to no end. ARGH!!!

I’ve never really mentioned how much I love books. I might have in passing, but I’m not a book blogger so it doesn’t come up much. I’m a horrific book reviewer – this amazing blogger asked me earlier what Illuminae – possibly one of my favourite books – was about, and I couldn’t articulate myself.

So, BOOKS. Let’s talk about ’em, and hopefully, in later posts, I’ll be talking about them MORE (I sense a new category being created).

My Favourite Books of All Time and a Terrible Explanation of Them

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
This is the only book that has EVER made me cry with happiness. There was this one scene where tears were running down my face, but it was so GOOD and AMAZING. The book is set in 1959 Virginia, and is about two girls: Sarah (who, along with a few others, is being integrated into a previously white-only school) and Linda (who’s father is a prominent segregationist). It explores racism and sexuality all at once, and is the BEST THING I HAVE EVER READ. Okay calm.

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
You have to read this book to really experience it, because anything I say regarding the plot will spoil it. It’s set in a futuristic world, where girls are kept in schools until the age of 16, after which they become one of three roles: Companions (wives), Concubines (prostitutes) and Chastities (teachers). I have never read anything that has terrified me so much, or made me THINK so much. The book follows Freida and Isabel, two girls who grow up in the Eurozone, and the scariest part about this book is that a lot of the girls are similar to people I know.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Oh my GOD, this book fascinated me. Written entirely in emails, instant message conversations and transcripts, it tells the story of an illegal mining colony being attacked by a huge corporation, with some of the population being rescued by the Alexander and Hypatia – two ships that were nearby to the attack. I have never been so drawn into a story as with this one, and possibly my favourite character is AIDAN (the psychotic insane loveable shipboard computer).

The Atlantis Grail Series by Vera Nazarian
Aaaaaaaaarghhhhh this series is (the third book’s coming out soon, don’t know when) bloody fantastic. It’s set in 2047, and an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth. Conveniently (that part is addressed in the book and questioned), spaceships from the ancient civilisation of Atlantis appear over Earth just in time to rescue 10 million teens in a process of Qualification, and the detail and process of it was explored SO MUCH that I more or less shrieked with happiness. The main character of the story is Gwen Lark, who is so far from perfect that I LOVE her: she’s just an ordinary teen with no special powers apart from her intelligence and she’s portrayed VERY realistically. The world building of Atlantis, their culture and technology was the best thing I have come across in terms of getting a real idea of the society.

SO, THOSE are the kind of books I’m into, as well as more thought-provoking books, fantasy, sci-fi, etc. I NEED to talk about books more, because I follow so many book bloggers it’s ridiculous, and I find so many amazing books from them.

What are some of your favourite books?

From Elm 🙂