Blog: Happy International Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Fibromyalgia Awareness Day! (or a not so happy day if you’re me)

May 12th marks the day on which Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia (FM) are actually recognised. For those who don’t know what either of those conditions are, they’re multifaceted conditions which cause extreme (chronic) fatigue and also muscular/joint pains, which cause impact on daily life and inability to carry out seemingly benign or simple tasks. Everyone presents with different symptoms, different levels of pain and ability – they’re most certainly conditions on sliding scales, and it’s a scale that can slide in either direction at any time it chooses.

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On Not Reading and Not Giving a Damn

I didn’t pick a book up for the best part of 4 months towards the end of 2016. For a while, that really irritated me, it aggravated me, but then I realised that the time I used to spent reading was being filled with memories (and some really bad TV) and I was happy for the first time in a long time.

The back quarter of 2016 was hard for me. I put not reading, not having the motivation to, entirely down to the fact that after nearly 8 years struggling with depression I was put on antidepressants. It was a turbulent time, my attention span dropped and every day was spent just focusing on getting to the next one. Not many people realise how bad my depression got, even my own family don’t know the true extent of it. And while when I had bad periods before I would lose myself in a book, I chose to lose myself in other things this time – time with friends, positive experiences, making plans. I threw myself in to living and I really can’t feel anything but happy that I have friends and family that supported me through some of the toughest months of my life. They dragged me out of bed, they made me go out and live my life. Gave me reason to keep going.

Looking forward, I’m positive. I have a good job, with great people. I have amazing friends. And I’m excited to start reading again. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for me.

So Happy 2017 folks.

Normal, bookish service will return shortly.

Blog: Taking it Seriously

At the start of this year I decided I wanted to take the things I love to do more seriously. I have a lot of things I like to do, but if you haven’t already worked it out I love books more than most things. As I’ve gone through my degree they’ve become a lot more important to me, as has this blog. But in spite of that personal promise, it took me a long time to realise that this is something I could take more seriously.

Reaching the end of my degree, and not really knowing where I’m going next I put the important things down on paper. Oddly, or not so oddly, reading – and indeed this blog – came out quite close to the top of things I love to put time an effort in to (and feel like I achieve something in doing so!)

To take this more seriously, I gave myself a facelift; new layout, header, and even a new picture of me! Secondly, more importantly, you can now find this blog at ashleighsbookshelf.co.uk. While things will remain, on the whole, the same some things might change up along the way. Needless to say I’m quite excited about this next phase of my blogging experience.

Any suggestions you have for me, or things you’d like to see, I’d love to hear!

Thanks for sticking around

Ashleigh

Blog: The Pain of the Reading Slump

I’m in a reading slump. I genuinely can’t remember the last time I had such a big slump. Even when I last posted about being in a slump (December) I still managed to read 9 books in that month. Granted, they were primarily rereads but I still managed to read 9 books! I haven’t even finished one book this month, granted I am reading Les Misérables but a huge, beastly book isn’t normally something that deters me and it still isn’t, I’m really enjoying it but… I’m just not in the mood to read, even though I want to be reading and it’s frustrating. It seems as though those two feelings conflict but they really don’t, I want to read I just don’t feel like it…

I feel pressure to read sometimes, the pressure comes only from myself, but I feel if I’m not reading I’m not producing content for this blog, and that makes me sad because I love this blog. I love writing posts, interacting with those of you who read it and not being able to do that because I’m not doing anything to write about is getting me down.

The main issue I have is I don’t feel I’ve achieved anything. Nothing. I don’t feel I’ve made any significant headway on anything else, least of all my dissertation or any coursework, I’ve not even been watching TV. I just don’t understand where my time has been going or what I’ve been doing with it. I have nothing to show for it.

Gah. I’m feeling really zapped right now. That could also be antibiotics talking as I’m doped up to my eyeballs, but alas. Normal business shall resume soon, I just needed to get this off of my chest!

Blog: Readers Guilt|| Blogmas Day 22

I haven’t picked a book up for a couple of days and, as someone who talks about reading a lot, this makes me feel guilty. It’s a weird feeling because it’s a completely unfounded notion. Noone is going to penalise me for not reading a book for a few days, noone is judging or actively harassing me but I feel I should be reading when I’m spending my free time doing other stuff. I have two shelves full of books, plus an overspill downstairs. I have so many books that I want to be reading but, right now, I just don’t feel like reading.

I’ve really been enjoying watching TV lately and that’s not a bad thing. I love watching TV, especially with my mum as it’s rare she actually enjoys a show that I do. This past couple of weeks I’ve got my mum hooked on one of my favourite TV shows – Major Crimes. I’ve had a tonne recorded and as she had a day off we genuinely sat and watched 6 episodes pretty much back to back today and it was fantastic. We rarely get to spend time just loafing about watching telly so it’s been really, really great to be able to do that. I also watched The Good Life Christmas special. Twice. 1970s comedy was gold, especially The Good Life, I just love it so very much.

But I have this pressure on me wherein I feel I ought to be reading. The pressure comes from noone but myself, which is why it’s especially annoying, but it’s fuelled by reading goals and targets I set myself. It’s fuelled by watching other people read obscene amounts and wanting to keep up with the best of them. Essentially, I have a reading inferiority complex.

Now, I’ve read 94 books this year and I want to make it to a nice, round 100. Can I do that? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I want to enjoy time with my family, I want to watch TV and make shortbread and sing Christmas songs (badly, I must add, as I currently have the tail end of flu and sound like a 96 year old man with emphysema). What I also know is this pressure I put myself under has me wanting to read less.

So, I’m not reading right now and I’m starting to feel okay about that.

Blog: Trips to the Theatre || Blogmas Day 20

I missed another day because of a migraine. I’m going to forgive myself, I hope you enjoyed the peace and quiet!

So today I’m going to talk about my trips to the theatre this year and trips I hope to take because I’ve really got in to theatre this year, I always enjoyed going to see something or other but I’ve actively tried to go see different things this year and I’ve loved it. Not many people realise that I’m a complete theatre nerd, but along with tea I think theatre goes hand in hand with reading books.

My local theatre used to be pretty poor when it came to touring productions, now it’s attracting a LOT of shows on tour which I’m so grateful for. It only started showing things after Les Mis sold out two weeks and the West End realised that people in Norfolk do want to see shows and the like. It’s a relatively small theatre which limits a lot of the shows we get but what it does get is usually fantastic. Anyway, what I have seen this year is a bit eclectic actually.  Continue reading

Blog: A Migraine is Not Just a Headache || Blogmas Day 17

I felt like a failure yesterday because I wasn’t able to blog. When I commit to something I intend to see it through so failing to blog on the 16th day of blogmas really had me beating myself up. It’s silly, it’s stupid but it’s the kind of person I am. All because I had a migraine.

I’m still unwell, I’m a little better than I was yesterday but still struggling. It’s taken me all day, in short bursts, to actually write this. I’ve slept most of the last 48 hours and when I’m awake it’s not just a headache, migraines completely drain you of all energy. They affect me by making me feel sick, in combination with the CFS symptoms I was pretty much bed bound for 2 days – needing help to just get from one room to another because I can’t walk straight and every movement had me near tears. It’s like being pissed without any of the fun!

There are so many symptoms that make a migraine more than a headache. Seeing stars isn’t just a myth. My senses all become very sensitive; smells make me feel nauseous. I become really sensitive to touch – both from people and stationary objects, just a blanket is enough to make me uncomfortable. Everything is stupidly loud, every noise is too much. There is nothing worse than being unwell and also being unable to do anything, which is pretty much what a migraine leaves me with. I can’t read, I can’t watch TV or listen to music, I can’t even use my laptop! Sensory overload.

So hopefully normal service will resume soon. Hopefully I’ll feel better soon.

Books My Sister Has Bought Me || Blogmas Day 14

One thing I love about my sister is she has a beautiful taste in books and is normally drawn in by a beautiful cover. My sister is one of the most creative people I know, her own artwork is incredible and because she’s so artistic I think she has more appreciation for the artwork that goes in to a book than the words in the pages. Naturally, because of her appreciation for a beautiful book she has given me some corkers over the years.

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There are many more, I am sure, but these are the ones she has gifted me in the recent years… and she wanted to take the picture so included an apple. Because that’s how my sister rolls.

The Penguin editions speak for themselves. She tends to treat me to one of those a year but likes to find other beautiful books for me to have on my shelves. She also bought both The Bone Clocks and The Book of Strange New Things for me which are incredibly beautiful covers.

However, the two books I want to look at more are Black Beauty and Harry Potter Page to Screen.

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5 Reading Goals for 2016 || Blogmas Day 13

In August 2014 I set myself a list of goals to work towards – they were all casual goals that didn’t really have any time limit on them, but were more personal goals I wanted to achieve with my reading. The full post can be found here but the main goals were set monthly TBRs, read more classics, read more diversely, rejoin a book club and for a lot of them I succeeded. I just feel that 18 months on I should set myself some new reading goals for the year ahead!

  1. Read 52 Books – I’m going to lower my goodreads reading goal this coming year. Between my final semester at university and planning to start teacher training in September, I want to just aim to read a book a week. I’ll have time in the Summer to read as much as I want (I hope!) but I’m a girl who likes to meet targets so in setting the goal lower, I’m more likely to hit it!
  2. Read More Classics – I’ve been really hitting this one but I want to explore classics further and challenge myself more. My classics collection has grown exponentially over the last year and I really want to just get through them. I’m wanting to read more Dickens, finish Charlotte Bronte’s bibliography… heck, I’d actually like to read War and Peace next year!
  3. TBRs – Aiming for one book a week, I do want to continue with a monthly TBR for at least the near future. I will be posting, in the near future, a list of 12 books I want to read in 2016 and will aim to read one of them a month but I realise that if my reading drops significantly if I start teaching then a monthly TBR isn’t really practical, a TBR with one book on it is pretty dull!
  4. Read More Non-Fiction – I’ve really enjoyed non-fiction this year and really want to continue reading more of it, or rather listening to it. Audiobooks I’ve found are incredible for non-fiction!
  5. Actually Join a Book Club – I still haven’t joined a real book club. I really need to do this. Graduating in the Summer I’m going to need something to fulfil my social needs and I want to find a good book club! It’s just finding the confidence to do that which is proving difficult!

So there you have it, five goals for 2016 reading. I’m not being nearly as ambitious as I usually am but if I give myself targets, I always want to exceed them so in setting reasonable goals, whatever I achieve above them I will be pleased with! Do you set yourself reading goals? If you do are they monthly or yearly?

The Books that Made Me || Blogmas Day 10

So this is somewhat inspired by three sources, there is Cinzia’s (C.A. DuBois) video, Lauren’s (Reads and Daydreams) Bookish Beginnings tag and also Jen’s (JenVCampbell) tag called The Time and Place tag. Now, I wanted to do Jen’s tag desperately but I just don’t think of enough books to warrant it so I combined it with Lauren’s and threw in a bit of Cinzia and… came up with this today. So it’s a bit ad-lib and somewhat hurried but hopefully not lacking in content.

I’m going to share with you a few stories about my relationship with books and books that shaped me in one way or another. I’ve split it in to 6 categories and hopefully it makes some sense!

Tomorrow I will hopefully do a real tag and then Saturday will be a review all being well!

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