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What’s on my Bookshelf?

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Laura at Make Do and Mend introduced a great new feature this week called What’s on your Bookshelf? Bloggers from all over the place will be sharing pictures of their bookcases and talking about some of the things they display on them.

Today it was my turn (I dusted specially, you know…); head on over and check it out.

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8 Weeks: Exercise

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Week two of Dani’s summer goals project focuses on exercise. Eek.

I openly admit: I’ve never been a huge fan of physical exertion. I managed to talk my way out of two solid years of sports classes at school and I got away with it by being one of those sickeningly lucky women who never put on weight. I’m not one of those sickeningly lucky women any more.

A few years ago I realised I was going to have to start moderating my hot chocolate intake and working up the occasional sweat. It was a struggle – I’m neither competitive nor cooperative enough for team sports and I knew I couldn’t motivate myself to exercise alone unless I actually found it enjoyable. So: no point joining a gym.

I discovered yoga… but I also discovered that all the yoga classes I could get to would involve getting off the sofa in the evening and working out with a stuffed stomach. My attendance was somewhat haphazard.

I loved dancing… but twirling on a dodgy leg wasn’t the best of ideas.

I walked four and a half miles home from work every evening… it kept me thin but breathing in dual carriageway fumes for forty-five minutes a day didn’t do much for my health.

But now that I work close to home things have changed: firstly, I need to do some exercise – I can’t rely on long walks home to keep me trim; secondly, working in the city centre, I can get to lunchtime yoga classes – I’ve really got no excuse not to; thirdly, coincidentally, my dodgy leg has now been more or less sorted and I’ve got a boyfriend who will put himself through dance classes for me. Exercise is very much back on my agenda – and now that I’m doing more of it, I’m finding myself actually enjoying the endorphin rush. In fact, I’m enjoying it so much I’ve invested in some totally shattering exercise games for the Wii – and I’m loving them.

So, three exercise goals? Okay, let’s see:

  1. Exercise at least three times a week. Between classes and the Wii that’s a pretty modest target but I have crazy-busy weeks sometimes (like this one!) and I would rather feel proud when I exceed my goal than disillusioned when I just don’t have time to achieve it.
  2. Remember that I’m doing this to get fit not to get thin. Weighing in on the Wii seems like an easy way to track progress but, although I’m not as slim as I used to be, I’m still a healthy weight for my height – it really doesn’t matter how many pounds I gain or lose if my strength, stamina and general all-round health are on the up. So: no checking my weight. Instead, because I know me and I know I need something to prove… something… to myself, I’m going to make a little chart to track how often I’m exercising.
  3. This one’s only a little bit about me: play with Polly properly. She tolerates having me waggle a shoelace at her while I browse the internet with my other hand, but she prefers chasing bits of string from room to room to room and leaping over furniture. It will keep her fit but, also, it can’t do me any harm to be putting a little bit of effort into playing with her!

Sunday

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Sunday went like this:

  • Making a camera case which can be used as either a cushioned pouch inside my handbag or carried by itself:

    I’m quite proud of it as I made it up as I went along. And the fabric is kind of awesome.
  • Wandering around the International Market with Steve and his parents:
  • Dinner at Rustico. It’s not Mother’s Day here in the UK but Steve treated his mum anyway.
  • Mucking about with camera settings:

    (picture of me by Steve)
  • And I’m talking about watching How to Lose Friends and Alienate People now (it’s on TV at nine) although Steve’s expressing doubts.

Not sure about this whole five day working week thing we’ve got starting tomorrow; I’ve been getting a little too used to bank holidays…

The Week I’ve Had (8th May 2011)

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  • Finally watching Sunset Boulevard (and loving it).
  • Catching Polly and Steve’s Rancor having a Who’s Creepier? contest.
  • Doing actual routines on the Wii Zumba game instead of just tutorials. So… unfit… *collapses*
  • Hobbling out of my yoga class. So… unfit… *wobbles*
  • Remembering all the words to Everything About You by Ugly Kid Joe (and singing them at top volume at work).
  • Watching Water for Elephants.
  • Wanting an elephant of my own.
  • Not wanting to go to this party:
  • Just liking how the light was catching here:
  • Eating ice cream.
  • Wearing woolly gloves.
  • Voting.
  • Visiting friends who fed us lovely pumpkin enchiladas.
  • Seeing Robert the Bruce arrive in town on the back of a lorry.
  • An impromptu Friday night spent wining and dining and watching One Man Star Wars.
  • Taking Steve’s folks for Sunday dinner.

Oh So Fluffy

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My last couple of posts have read like adverts for technology, so let’s get back to normal with some gratuitous pictures of cats!

On Thursday night, Steve and I went to visit some friends and their three gorgeous somali cats. Meet the boys:

Broden!

Bradie!And The Baron Logan!Aren’t they lovely?!

Next!

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Just a quick one for the Google Reader users out there…

Of the various readers I’ve given a go, Google’s is my favourite. It just is. It’s simple and reliable which is all I really need. But, for me, it has always had two flaws:

  1. It’s ever so plain and functional – some text, some pictures, no pretty backgrounds or buttons.
  2. Unless you click through to the actual blog, there’s nothing to tell the blogger that you’ve read what they’ve written and their stats look none the better for it (on bad blogging days, slowly increasing stats matter).

Well, yesterday, thanks to Red Boots, I found a solution to those flaws. Click here (or go to Settings > Reader Settings > Goodies) and drag the “Next” button into your bookmark bar. Now, instead of browsing through blogs in your Reader, you can keep clicking the next button and it will take you from blog to blog to blog, whilst marking the entries off as read. It’s more like browsing a magazine – you get to see the lovely layouts; meanwhile, the bloggers get to know you were there. Problems solved.

On Why I Love an E-Reader

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I have a confession to make. It’s one which has made literary friends reel in horror in the past. It’s one which it took me many years to admit to myself. It’s one which I’m still a little scared to type publicly for fear of being scrubbed from your RSS feed. But here it is: I don’t like books*.

I know.

But hear me out.

It’s not that I don’t like reading. I love to read. I’ve read twenty novels already this year and have another four downloaded to my Kindle, waiting to be devoured. Sometimes I struggle to pause in my reading and say hello when Steve gets home. Sometimes I get so absorbed I end up having late night toast for dinner because I’ve forgotten I need to eat. I even skip my evening dose of Facebook now and then because the make-believe lives of some fictional characters are more engrossing than those of my friends.

It’s not the contents I dislike; it’s the books.

It was different when I was younger. I left home at sixteen armed with a bag of clothes, a typewriter and maybe forty cult and/or classic novels in a box. It wasn’t a particularly inspired collection – Trainspotting; The Trick is to Keep Breathing; some books with “Zen” in the title; a little Virginia Woolf – your generic mid-nineties grungey teen feminist selection – but I was very proud of it. I loved looking at all my paperbacks lined up on my dorm room shelf, suggesting cleverness, insight and an intriguing touch of melancholy. I loved when people spotted my books and gasped, “Have you actually read them all?” and would sound vaguely, intentionally horrified when I replied, “Of course I have!” Owning – and, more importantly, displaying – a bunch of critically acclaimed novels was a huge bolster to my shaky self-esteem.

But they were still a pain to read.

They still got dusty and were difficult to clean. They still got crumbs stuck between their pages. The crinkly yellow paper of the second hand books I was told to find romantic still creeped me out and made me want to wash my hands.

And speaking of my hands: reading books made them hurt. I don’t know if it’s just that I have lousy circulation (which I do), but holding a book in one hand leaves great gouged bruises across my palms; propping books open with my thumbs causes me pins and needles; twisting them back and forth so whichever side I’m reading is in the light tires my shoulders and eventually gives me eye strain. Books: they’re a health and safety risk.

A lot of my friends disagree with me. They deny ever having felt the frustration of a book flipping closed on them. They deny ever having struggled to find a bookmark or a receipt or a ripped out bit of magazine with which to mark their place. They claim never to have felt guilt or anxiety about turning down a corner or breaking a spine – because those things just don’t happen to them. They love their books. They could never throw one out.

But I can.

It was a slow process. The first few times I moved, I clung on to all my books – even the trashy romances which had come free with magazines and which I was acutely embarrassed to have lounging against my Kafkas and Kunderas. Getting rid of a book seemed wrong.

But the more I read and the more I moved home and the more boxes I was going to have to cart around with me, the easier it became. It was liberating, picking up my German language editions of Brecht and telling myself, “You know what? I’m never going to read this again. Ever. Not once. I really don’t need to keep this.”

With each move, with each de-clutter, it got a little bit easier. More and more books were donated to charity shops. Novels which were loaned out but never found their way home, I stopped mourning quite so much. I’ve been reading sixty books a years for the seventeen years since leaving home but I’m now at a stage where I have maybe 100 novels in my bookcase.

And I’m happier for it. I don’t need to be lumbered with books I never expect to read again. I don’t need objects to tell strangers who I am. I don’t need the discomfort of trying to read a 500 page novel with feeble thumbs.

All of which is my long and wordy way of saying that I love my Kindle. I wasn’t sure I would. I thought it would feel weird reading books on something akin to a mobile phone (and, in hindsight, David Sedaris was not the best author to start with – it was too much like reading a blog). But I love how slim and light and easy to hold it is. I love having all my books stored neatly in one virtual place. I love that that place can now easily be my handbag.

What about you? Do you have a Kindle or other e-reader? Could you ever replace your paperbacks?

*This does not apply to big, shiny books full of pretty pictures. I will always love those.

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