BEDN ~ My Hometown

Today’s post is a little bit later than usual, and possibly a little bit vaguer than I had planned. The reason is that today is my birthday and I’ve been off gallivanting rather than writing, and I wasn’t clever enough to schedule the post!

Writing about my hometown is difficult, for the simple reason that it’s so small. This means that not a lot happens here, but also that I don’t like to identify it by name on my blog. It’s not like living in a city and saying “I live in Birmingham”; that allows you a certain degree of anonymity. Naming my village exposes me somewhat, so I’d like to keep it on the down low! Regular readers or Twitter followers will know that I’m an Essex girl; I’m quite happy for people to know that!

So today I thought I would talk briefly about my favourite thing about this little village I live in. We are really, very lucky to have a library! Essex Libraries are fabulous, in my opinion, and I would go out of my way to visit one in another town or village if I had to. But I don’t have to, and I thank my lucky stars every time I walk in!

20131112-175014.jpg

20131112-175049.jpg

These photos were taken some time ago, when the sun was shining. I’ve been meaning to write a love letter to my library for a while!

My library is tiny. I think it is probably one of the smallest in the county, but it’s still fabulous. First of all, there are the books. As I said, it’s a small building, so there is a limit to the amount of books they can hold, but for me, there’s nothing like walking into a room full of books. Also, the reservation service is so easy to use that I request a lot of books from other parts of the county and collect them when they arrive.

Then there’s the social aspect. The book group that I’m a part of used to meet in the library, and though we’ve since moved to the pub, we still get the books through the library. I’ve made some really good friends through this group, so that’s just another reason to love my library!

I try to get to the library at least once a week, because I live in fear of the powers that be deciding it’s not busy enough and closing it!

Do you love your library as much as me?

20131112-181015.jpg

Progress Report ~ October

Read 75 Books

October was another below average month for books, in terms of quantity. I’m still running a massive five books behind, which is getting to be more of a concern as we approach the end of the year! The four I read this month takes my total to 57, meaning I still have 18 to read if I am going to reach my goal. Luckily, what I lacked in quantity this month, I made up for in quality, as I adored three of the four books I read. I especially loved The Cuckoo’s Calling, and I’m hoping to get a review of it up at Hanging On Every Word by the end of the week. Cupcakes at Carrington’s was the only book I didn’t enjoy this month; it was a book group book, and it was pretty awful. I’ll try and review that one too, if I get time!

Watch 52 New Films

My film total is now at 44, meaning I have just eight more to watch to reach my total. I actually completed my films goal on this exact day last year! But we are actually in week 44 of the year now, so while I’m behind on last year, I’m actually right on track. Both films this month were Hitchcock films; I enjoyed both very much, but Shadow of a Doubt was excellent. I haven’t written my thoughts on it yet, but I will as soon as I get half a minute!

As we head into November, I think the chances of my completing anything else from my What to Do in 2013 list are slim. The list remains largely unchanged year on year, so when it becomes What to Do in 2014, I’ll have to try a lot harder!

31 Before 31 

So here we are, at the last Progress Report for this birthday list. I will be doing a round up post just after my birthday, summarising how the list has gone this year, but it’s safe to say that it’s not been the hugest success. But I still have ten days to go until my birthday, and so I’m hoping to get at least a couple more ticked off!

I made a tiny bit of progress with Number 4 – Bake ten different biscuits in October. I made some maple syrup biscuits, and I actually also made some Chocolate Chip Rolo cookies, but I haven’t posted about them yet. So I’ve actually made seven different biscuits, with just three more to go!

As for Number 2 – Watch twelve new Hitchcock films, as you can see above, I watched two more. This takes my total to eight, with four more to watch. I’m not terribly worried about this one, I am sure that I will get it done! I am off to Anna and Rob’s today, and I’m going to take one with me to see if they want to watch it with me!

I can’t believe that I’m almost at the end of another birthday list! I have to get my skates on and think up 32 new things to put on the list! I have about seven at the moment – it gets harder every year!

  

Guest Post ~ “The Cat Ate My Gymsuit” and Other Lies I Learnt to Tell

 

Hi I’m Anna from Sum of Her Parts.

Jane has very kindly welcomed me to her blog for the day and it’s great to be here.

I’ve noticed that Jane is a big reader, like myself so I thought I’d talk about some of the books I love.

Growing up, I was an only child. I wasn’t particularly close to my Mother and when it came to school, I was a bit of a loner. So it’s hardly a surprise that I learnt most of my life lessons from books. I’ve always been a big reader. I can remember reading and re-reading a silly little book by Jill Murphy called ‘Five Minutes Peace’ when I was about four years old (I still have that book actually). I think that story of Mrs Large’s failed attempts at getting a bath in private might just be the origin of my bibliophilia..

Obviously, I grew out of that book, although I will admit I still flip through it occasionally (Purely for the nostalgia you understand) and it never fails to put a smile on my face.

Over the years my love of reading grew and grew and pretty soon I was classed as an “advanced” reader by my teachers. At nine years old I had the reading age of a 15+ year old and had outgrown the books my friends were reading. That’s when I moved on to teen fiction and my whole world changed.

Nowadays you can walk into any book store and be confronted by a whole plethora of Young Adult novels in a whole range of genres. Back in the day (jeez I feel old), I don’t think Young Adult even existed. I can remember in WHSmiths they had the books arranged in age groups, the oldest being 13+. And that’s the section I was reading from when I was 9. While today’s teens can be found reading the likes of John Green, us 90s girls were obsessed with Judy Bloom and Paula Danziger (note I’m assuming here that because I was reading them so was everyone else. I really am that shallow!) And so, when I was nine years old and my friends were reading whatever books the school librarian was pushing on them, I was obsessively devouring books like ‘Blubber’, ‘Deenie’, ‘Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret’ and my personal favourite, ‘The Cat Ate My Gymsuit’.

I swear that book changed my life, shaped who I am today. The book is about Marcy Lewis, a chubby thirteen year old who isn’t exactly at peace with her life. She hates the way she looks, her dad is a bit of an arsehole and she’s fairly lacking on the friend front. I didn’t know it at that point but Marcy would turn out to be pretty representative of my own life at that age. But even still, at nine years old I was still identifying pretty hard with Marcy. I wasn’t exactly fat but I was heavier than my peers and I was so socially awkward you wouldn’t believe. So yeah, this book spoke to me even then. But it wasn’t just that that makes it so memorable for me. It’s the things it taught me about the world. One of the main plot points of the novel involves Ms Finney, Marcy’s new English teacher. She’s different to all the other teachers at school, she actually cares about her students and what is going on in their lives. But (and there’s always a but isn’t there?) she has some unorthodox teaching methods, which the Principal uses as an excuse to fire her. The main reason that I can remember vividly is her not insisting on taking part in the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the class. I think it’s so memorable for me because I’d never even thought about that kind of freedom of individuality before. I didn’t know at that point just how judgemental the world could be.

Anyway, I’m not gonna go on and on about the plot of this book, I just want to say that this is probably the first book I read that really taught me something about real life. And I’m thankful for that. I like to think that if this book hadn’t been in my life then I wouldn’t be on the journey I am today, I wouldn’t have had that interest in American politics sparked in me that led me to do a degree in American Studies.

There are other books that have shaped my life since then. The main one being ‘Sophie’s World’ by Jostein Gaarder which I first read when I was 12 and have re-read several times since (resulting in me going through three copies of this book). ‘Sophie’s World’ introduced me to the world of Philosophy and really got me thinking about my life, who I am and what it means to be alive. It definitely shaped me as a person and really helped me to make sense of my crazy life.

Now that I’m an adult, I look back on books like these that have somehow become a part of my identity and I’m amazed by how big an affect books can have on a person. When you think that all books really are is a collection of words formed to tell a story, it’s pretty amazing don’t you think?

Anyway, I think I’ll leave it there before I take you on a journey of all the books that have ever changed me as a person. We could be here all year if I did that!

Thanks for having me and feel free to swing by and visit me over at Sum of Her Parts.

Thanks so much to Anna for this guest post; it’s always lovely to read about other people’s favourite books! 

Progress Report ~ September

Read 75 Books


September was a much better month for books than August. Because I’d had such a bad month, I really wanted to get a lot read in September, and I initially set myself a goal of ten. I didn’t quite get there, but I did manage eight! The best book of the month was definitely Wonder, which came as a recommendation from Becky Bedbug on Twitter after I asked for help with P authors. I also read something a little different this month with Murder & Crime: Essex. It’s not usually my cup of tea at all, but I am trying to learn more about local history, and I thought this was a good start. I reviewed No Angel at Hanging On Every Word, and I also really enjoyed Me Talk Pretty One Day, my first David Sedaris book! I also chatted books for Sarah at essbeevee as part of her Books are Awesome series.

Watch 52 New Films

Marnie

This month I decided not to watch any new films, because I had got so behind with my film posts. But on the last day of the month, having got a bit more up to date, and with nothing on the television I decided that I could risk one film. I watched Marnie, which is a Hitchcock film (so counts towards my 31 Before 31 item), and it was really good. I’ve now watched 42 films this year, so I just have ten more to watch to reach my goal. Easy!

31 Before 31

It wasn’t a great month on the 31 Before 31 front. I should be really gearing up for a great finish, as I now have less than six weeks to go, but I’m not. At this stage, I’m just happy to have already beaten last year’s total of eight (I’m on nine!).

Essex Spice Cakes

Number 4 – Bake ten different biscuits – I made some more biscuits, Essex Spice Cakes (which are biscuits no matter what the name says). That’s five out of ten now, so I have five more to make in the next six weeks.

Number 1 – Read 26 Books, one for each letter of the alphabet – This is the one that I am determined to finish. I’ve enjoyed it so much that I’m not going to let it get away from me! I crossed off two more in September, Wonder by R.J. Palacio for P, and No Angel by Penny Vincenzi for V. I now have just three letters – T, U and Y – to go.

Give Blood

Number 24 – Give Blood – I thought I had written about this last month, but then I remembered that I did it on the last day of August, so the post carried over into September. Not much to say about this one; I’m glad I did it again, and it’s spurred me on to make sure I do it on a regular basis.

Number 10 – Learn every world capital – I’m still very close on this one, but I haven’t practiced enough lately. Even if I crack it, and can post a Sporcle screenshot, I will need to keep practicing to make sure I remember them all in the future.

Number 2 – Watch twelve new Hitchcock films – I managed one more this month, Marnie, which I loved. But that only takes my total to six, which means I’ll watching a lot of Hitchcock in the coming weeks!