Soph’s Library: An Introduction to my Bookish World

Soph's Library Feature PhotoOne of the features I have been most excited to introduce to this blog centres around one of my passions in life: reading. I have been meaning to get this part of the blog off the ground for ages now, but it’s been sadly overlooked. But anyway, today is introduction day!

I cannot remember a time when I haven’t loved reading. Growing up I always had a book in my hands, and I devoured stories time and time again. For those of you who watched and loved Beauty and the Beast as a child (and love it to this day), you may remember the scene where the Beast gives Belle free run of the castle library. I could barely imagine a room I’d like more in my future dream house. Floor to ceiling books, a wooden ladder to reach the very top and skate around the room on…though that may be slightly on artistic licence! So with that in mind, I finally settled on Soph’s Library.

I have always been a fan of physical books in paper form. I have a Kindle, an anniversary present from an old boyfriend, but it’s become pretty much as redundant as him. I have Game of Thrones on there and that’s about it. I appreciate the value of such technology, and the fact that it has probably saved the backs of many a student and bibliophile across the world, but for me you can’t beat the beauty of a real book. The weight, feel and smell of a paperback book draws me in, and I find they make one of the most beautiful accessories in any home.

Books have transported me to endless worlds and helped me escape from reality for a few precious hours. I have visited Hogwarts, Narnia, Malory Towers, District 12, Eretz, 19th century Bath, 1920s New York, and the ancient Roman Empire. Books have made me laugh, made me cry, had me on the edge of my seat and had me unable to think of anything else for days. In terms of the Harry Potter series I even lost sleep over it! (I sat up to read the Order of the Phoenix all night. I read it in about fifteen hours, but I’m not convinced how much I actually absorbed in that marathon first read…) There are books that I will read over and over again until the pages become loose and I remember every twist and turn, page by page. These all have a special place in my heart, and I hope to pass on this same enthusiasm to any children I may have one day.

My reading for pleasure took a significant dip whilst at uni. I studied History, and therefore spent literally every waking hour reading. Although some of it was interesting, some of it was duller than ditchwater, and it was like torture to drag myself through the set chapters every week. Whenever I tried to read for fun I would feel pangs of guilt for not studying or revising, and so my reading habits became strictly academic for three years. Finishing my exams at the end of third year was like waking up from hibernation. Books were suddenly available to me, a guilt-free pleasure I could indulge whenever I felt like it. And I have leapt back into it with wild abandon.

So these days I have a fully stuffed bookcase, two separate bookended stacks on other pieces of furniture, and even a spare washing up bowl full of books! (It’s currently living under a bedside table until I can find a better home for its contents) As fast as I get through one book, I buy about two more! My To Read list is literally never-ending. And when you combine an ever-expanding list with the spatial demands of a small flat, there is a fairly fierce fight for permanent residency on my shelves. Which is part of my reason for writing reviews. The other is to try and correct a bad habit I’ve fallen into.

When asked for my opinion on various aspects of my life – TV, films, books, theatre shows – I often just answer with “It was good”. It’s a terrible habit of mine and I need to put a stop to it by vocalising what I actually think about things. This is also part of the motivation behind my Stage Left section of the blog, reviewing my fairly frequent trips to the theatre. It probably stems back to a primary school teacher of mine, Mrs Neville. She was a fearsome woman, and she scared the living daylights out of me! But, as with all those sorts of teachers, I found myself working harder to please her and stay on her good side. One of things I remember about her was her campaign against the word ‘nice’, She found it bland and boring, and it’s a causeI have actually taken on board over the years and championed as my own! So in order not to just summarise things in my life as ‘nice’, and ‘good’, I have started getting my views down on (virtual) paper.

I set myself a goal this year to try and read one book a week, every week for a year. Unfortunately, this has been slightly on the drag, and my current score stands at a shameful 29… However, I am determined to meet this threshold next year! For the rest of the year, I would like to put up reviews for the highlights of my year’s reading: my top recommended books of the year. And then from January it will be no holds barred. The good, the bad and the ugly will all come under scrutiny, and I will review everything that crosses my path with absolute honesty, rather than my pick of the best that will be here til the end of this year.

So if you fancy a fairly diverse literary journey, step this way. I am open to reading most types of books, and am always looking to discover something new which captivates my mind and soul. So pull up a comfy chair, grab a mug of your favourite hot beverage (well, the nights are drawing in now), and prepare to discover some paperbound treasures!

I would welcome any recommendations you have. Which books hold a special place in your heart? Which books do you think everyone should read during their life? I love chatting about books and would love to hear from you!

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