Why Do You Like Reading Books?

Why do you like reading books? That’s a question I often get asked in a horrified tone by the non-bookish people in my life. People who never read, don’t understand why I do. I’ve long since given up trying to win them over to reading. In fact, I often turn the question back on them and ask ‘Well, why don’t you like reading?’ For me, reading is something I do as naturally as I breathe. I just have to read because I love it. But let me try to delve a little further into the ‘why’.

Why do you love reading books?
Why do you like reading books? There are so many reasons…

I love to read because I’m interested in the world and other cultures. I can learn so much about places I may never go from reading about them. Or I end up visiting these places because I’ve read so much about them. One of the reasons I went and lived in the UK for a year and a half was because of all the English literature I read. I can also learn about different experiences and points-of-view such as what it’s like struggling with your sexuality, or dealing with racism, or living in poverty.

Continue reading

15 Ways to Freshen Up Your Book Club

Do you feel like your book club has gone a bit stale? Are your members starting to drop like flies? Are you wondering why your once fun book club has turned into a chore? Here are 15 ways to freshen up your book club.

1. Match food and drink to the book you are discussing

Nothing goes better with a book discussion than nibbles and something great to drink and what better way to brighten your book club then by adding a food theme. For example, if your book club was reading a novel set in a quaint English village, you could discuss the book over cups of tea and scones with jam and cream at a café or someone’s home.

2. Read the book and then see the movie

Read a book that is just being released as a movie and then see the movie together, followed by book club. Nothing sparks a debate like a discussion about a book verses the movie adaption. It can create so many things to talk about such as the book version of a character verses the movie version–did they get the casting right? What bits of the book were done really well onscreen and what changes were made that were questionable? With so many movies these days being based on books, you can never run out of material. If you want to save some money you can always review an older book and watch the DVD instead of forking out for a cinema ticket.

3. If you were casting the movie …

Add some fun to your book club meeting by discussing who you would cast in a movie adaption of a book and why. You could even come to the meeting dressed as your favourite character!

4. Do some further reading

Whoever suggested the book might like to do some research about the author and bring this information to the next meeting. Discuss how what you know about the author’s life may have influenced their writing. Find some author interviews online or look and see if the publisher has some ‘Further reading’ material available on their website. Sometimes they may also have Q and A’s. Discuss how this extra information adds or detracts from your understanding of the book.

Continue reading

13 Writing Tips from Stephen King

The stories of prolific author Stephen King are popping up everywhere at the moment as many of his books are being adapted into movies and TV series. This year alone there’s been the new IT movie, The Dark Tower movie, Gerard’s Game and 1922 on Netflix, the Mr Mercedes TV series and Castle Rock is coming soon.

On Writing by Stephen King cover
On Writing by Stephen King ISBN: 9781439156810, pp 291

My husband loves reading Stephen King and is currently working his way through The Dark Tower series and we’re enjoying all the TV and movie adaptions as they come out. While I’ve read quite a few Stephen King books over the years, my husband is definitely the biggest fan in our household. My favourite Stephen King book is not one of his fiction books, it’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I read it many years ago and, searching for inspiration, have just read it again. Its advice remains useful, relevant and practical. Plus, it’s inspiring to read about Stephen King’s personal writing journey. His books may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he certainly knows how to craft a story for his audience and knows who he is as a writer.

Here are my favourite tips from On Writing by Stephen King

1. On coming up with story ideas…
“There is no Idea Dump, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky…Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”
Continue reading

Stats Appeal: My New Obsession

Hit me baby one more time …

I haven’t just been bitten by the blogging bug – I’ve been seduced by stats. That’s right, WordPress statistics. They’ve become addictive. I publish a post and then sit back to see who it will reach, using the stats that are built into WordPress. I love watching the column of the graph climb and climb from one hit to three, maybe four if I’m lucky!

I check it before I go to bed and then rush to boot up my laptop as I’m getting ready for work, hovering over my keyboard whilst spooning cereal into my mouth. Who’s been reading my blog while I’ve been sleeping? How many hits did I get overnight? Where are they from? Did anyone like me? Did anyone feel compelled enough to leave a comment or follow me? How did people find me: through WordPress, a link on someone else’s blog, after I’ve visited their blog and left a comment, or through a search engine? It’s all completely fascinating.

Now I get why it’s called the web

When I first started blogging two months ago, I likened this experience to being a drop of water in a very large ocean called the blogosphere. Now I feel more like a busy little spider, spinning a web. My tiny web gets a little bigger with each post, reaching out over the internet. I am connecting to others, busily spinning their own webs. We link to each other’s webs and so we help each other grow.

Flogging and Lost Mojo bring people to me

I get a kick out of the random search engine terms that bring people to my blog. It’s funny that at least one person a day is typing in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and ‘flogging’ which leads them to me. I really hope they aren’t too disappointed that my Fifty Shades of Grey post isn’t actually a ‘how-to’ guide. There are also quite a few people searching for their lost mojo which again brings them to this blog. Even a spammer told me that’s how they found me. I guess spammers can have mojo issues just like the rest of us.

Hey, do you think I just increased the likelihood of even more people who are googling ‘flogging’ and ‘mojo’ coming to my blog? I think my next book purchase will be Search Engine Optimization for Dummies

Blogging All Over the World

I love seeing which countries visitors are from: USA, Canada, Australia, India, Italy, UK, Turkey, the Philippines, France, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Iceland, one lone hit from New Zealand etc… Words and books really can unite the world.

If you build it, followers will come …

I enjoy checking out the blogs of people who ‘like’ one of my posts. I’ve found some really cool blogs to follow this way. And it just feels nice that someone out there paused long enough to click the ‘like’ button. Hopefully, they read the post as well!

It’s also exciting to see my followers grow from 1 to over 60 in the past 2 months. Of those, only three of them actually know me in real life (hi sisters and dad). I get a real thrill when someone decides I am worthy enough to follow. I can only hope that they will come back now and then to say hello.

BTW, I always feel like a cult leader when I talk about ‘my followers’. Now if only I could get non-WordPress people to follow me as well …

But the way I measure my blogging success is not through followers, it’s through comments. Out of all the stats, comments are what give me the biggest high. I like it when someone has read the same book and feels compelled to respond to something I said. Or people just drop-in to say they liked a post or they share the same thoughts as I do on a particular subject. This two-way communication is really what it’s all about for me. I guess it also gives me a bit more confidence in my writing ability. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually call myself a ‘writer’ or a ‘blogger’ instead of a dabbler. But there’s still so much to learn …

Are you an avid stats watcher? What funny search engine terms bring people to your site? How do you measure your blogging success?

Beautiful Blogger Award

The lovely and talented  Lea At Sea has nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger Award. Thanks so much Lea! As I may never win an Oscar, I will use this opportunity to thank my wonderful parents, my beautiful sisters, my adorable nephews, my kindergarten teacher, all my friends, god, the friendly man at my local bakery … (just joking)

The rules are: share seven things about yourself and then nominate seven other bloggers.

I’ll do the fun part first. Drum roll please … and the nominations for the Beautiful Blogger Award go to:

  1. easyondeyes
  2. Mom Meets Blog
  3. bitsnbooks 
  4. thoughtsonmybookshelf
  5. Books and Bowel Movements

I only chose five blogs as I recently nominated a bunch of great blogs for The Versatile Blogger Award a couple of posts ago. Now I’m all blogged out!

Seven things about me:

  1.  I like to travel. Countries visited so far: India, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland (yep, I am counting them all as separate countries), Fiji, South Korea, China and Japan.
  2. Places I want to go someday: Nepal, New York, Alaska, Canada, Russia, Mongolia, Patagonia region of South America and Amazon, Namibia, Egypt, Morocco, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia (better start saving).
  3.  I love karaoke. I can’t sing well, but I like to try!
  4. I like watching cooking shows on TV even though I don’t like cooking.
  5. I can’t listen to Gotye’s song ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ because it reminds me of somebody that I used to know.
  6. Look here for some other things I said about myself. They were much more interesting.
  7. I like books 🙂

Blog Envy: Passing on The Versatile Blogger Award

Just over a month ago, I made my very first blog post – To Blog or not to blog? That is the question  – and outlined my blogging intentions to read more books, write about what I read and to connect with fellow booklovers and bloggers. And I have. In fact, I’ve been bitten by the blogging bug.

The best thing about blogging is the people I have connected with from all around the world – people who share a passion for words, books, writing and art in all its different forms. I’ve probably spent more time reading other people’s blogs than reading books – oops …

I’m so excited to be awarded The Versatile Blogger Award from Sapna and Sharmistha at Easyondeyes. These two book-loving women are posting a book review every day of this year on their blog. That’s right, 366 book reviews! With 7 months to go, you should definitely go and check out their blog and offer your support.

The rules of The Versatile Blogger Award are:

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded The Versatile Blogger award.

  •  Thank the person who gave you this award. (Done)
  •  Include a link to their blog. (Done)
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

Great Blogs I have discovered

It is my great pleasure to pay it forward and list the blogs that have made me contract blog envy.  As I am new to blogging, I have stopped at 10.

Fascinating Writers and Avid Readers:

  1. Kellie Elmore is an American author who has just released a book called Magic in the BackyardYou should read the extract on Amazon. Kellie writes beautiful prose inspired by her South-east Tennessee surroundings. You can also follow Kellie on her author/writing journey at her blog.
  2. I connected with Mary from Tothebalcony over her post ‘Why read books if you can watch movies?’ Mary is a book lover from Kenya who is currently living in Italy. I love her book choices!
  3. Bundleofbooks is a bookworm who reads A LOT! If you need a good book recommendation, check out her blog!
  4. I connected with Louise at her blog Louise Radcliffe over a mutual love of Charlaine Harris books. Louise blogs from the UK about books, baseball and the bible!
  5. Lea At Sea is a Canadian writer who blogs about reading and the writing process. She writes interesting posts that generate plenty of conversation like: ‘Where do you get your story ideas from?’
  6. Joy at Irreverently Untitled writes about books, movies, animals and lots of other interesting things. She also takes amazing photos!
  7. Austenprose is the perfect place for a Jane Austen tragic like me. Join the discussion of Jane Austen’s novels, movies, sequels and the pop culture she has inspired.

The Professionals

  1. I discovered Sorryiamnotsorry through Freshly Pressed. It’s a light-hearted look at love, life and the sometimes scary world of dating. It’s laugh-out-loud funny!
  2. Earl’s World is a photography blog I also discovered through Freshly Pressed. Earl’s photos make ordinary objects look extraordinary.
  3.  Literary Minded (Angela) is a professional blogger here in Australia and at the top of the book blogging game. This site is full of book reviews, interviews with authors and all the insider information about what’s going on in the publishing world.

Now the most difficult part – 7 Things About Me

  1. When I picture my dream home, I only picture one room – the library. My dream library has two storeys of shelves, a wrought iron spiral staircase and one of those cool ladders on wheels. And books, lots and lots of books!
  2. I love dogs. I don’t own one so just inflict my affection on any poor canine that crosses my path.
  3. Being in or near water makes me happy and at peace. I grew up swimming in the sea. I think I must have been a dolphin in a past life. 
  4. Music plays an important part in my life. I listen to music on the way to work, at work, on the way home from work … I also play piano and guitar very badly.
  5. I spent a couple of years in South Korea teaching English to children and adults.  This week marks the 10th anniversary of my first stint there. It’s hard to believe that the youngest kids I taught would now be fourteen and the oldest kids would be adults in their mid-twenties. Where did time go? And why do I still feel like I’m twenty-one?
  6. Jane Austen is my literary hero. When I lived in the UK I kind of turned into a Jane Austen stalker. I visited one of the houses where she lived, Winchester Cathedral where she is buried, the house where she died, the Jane Austen Centre in Bath – even the village of Lacock where they filmed some of the outdoor sequences in the BBC TV series Pride and Prejudice. I never get tired of rereading her books.
  7. I’m addicted to Japanese food. (Great, now I’m craving sushi!)

To blog or not to blog? That is the question.

Welcome to my very first blog post. Starting a blog about my thoughts on books, storytelling and writing in general is something that I’ve been thinking about doing for some time. With my copy of Blogging for Dummies (4th edition) in hand, I finally feel knowledgeable enough to dive into the blogosphere. Only time will tell if I sink or swim.

I feel like a very tiny drop in a vast ocean of blogs. Already I wonder if anyone will discover me. Will anyone be interested in my opinions? Do I have anything to offer my fellow bloggers? And seriously, how do I work this thing?

As I start this blog, I ask myself why do I feel this desire to blog? Here are some reasons:

  • A lot of the joy associated with reading and writing comes from sharing it with others. It’s a strange and wondrous thing how two people can read the same book and one can absolutely love it, while the other hates it. Or how your opinion on a book can change after a vigorous argument with a friend.
  • I love how books can bring people together and encourage debate. Books can unite work colleagues, friends, families, countries and continents over important matters such as if you’re Team Edward or Team Jacob.
  • Books spark the imagination. I like seeing books turned into movies and TV series – with often fantastic results. People watch these and are then driven back to the books. Art begets art (that’s a word I don’t use every day). I like being a ‘fan’ of books and discussing their various adaptations with other fans.
  • Nothing beats discovering a first-time author who leaves you desperate for their next book. Or discovering a completely new author who challenges you and gets your brain working. Or reading a book and being moved to tears by words on a page. This is all something to blog about!
  • I like seeing a worthy book with no marketing budget become a publishing phenomenon through word of mouth. I saw this a few times when I used to work in a book store. Then when I worked inside publishing it was great to be surprised by the success of a book which sold through people power rather than a marketing campaign.
  • I don’t read as much as I used to. Life has a habit of making reading not a huge priority. By keeping this blog, I am making reading and writing a priority in my life.

Finally, I hope with this blog that I can connect with fellow booklovers around the world through a shared passion of words and storytelling.

Tell me, why do you blog?