Sunday, 6 January 2019

December Life Lately

It always feels a bit strange looking back on last year when it's already 2019, but while I covered some of December in my 2018 Best Bits post, there's plenty I didn't talk about.

Here's what I got up to in December...

What I've been doing

I started the month with a lovely day with my bridesmaids picking their dress! With 6 bridesmaids I'd bee panicking for months about being able to find a dress they all liked, and I spent a LOT of money on the credit card ordering four dresses in five different sizes. But in the end, after a few definitely "nos", we found a dress that everyone liked and I'm so happy and relieved. I might write a blog post on how we did it because I know I would have found that helpful to read! After we picked the dress we all went for a drink and out for pizza and it was just the best day with my favourite ladies - I can't wait to have them all there on my big day!

We booked a few days of annual leave off before the Christmas break and it was so nice to have some time to do all the things we never get time to do! We went on a lovely walk we'd been talking about doing for ages, fit in some extra fitness classes, and ended up buying a load of new furniture for our living room! 

We found a dining table in John Lewis which was exactly what we were looking for, and then in the time between Christmas and New Year we got new dining chairs and then we finally ordered a new sofa! 

And obviously, there was Christmas! I had such a good one this year, with Hamilton-themed presents from Phil, Parks-and-Rec-themed presents from Phil's brother, things for the house, a new handbag and lots of other lovely things! 

Boxing Day was also one year since we got engaged so we celebrated at the same Indian restaurant we went to last year.

Where I've been

A few months ago, someone posted on Twitter about going to see a musical about Henry the 8th's six wives set to pop music. Erm, hello, my wheelhouse! So of course when I found out it was coming to the Lowry, I had to see Six: The Musical. It was the most fun I've had at the theatre in ages and I only wish it had been longer. I've been listening to the soundtrack constantly on Spotify and my cousin and I are already planning to get tickets for next year.

Also on Twitter I'd been hearing for years how good Dishoom in London is and Indian Street Food is kind of my favourite thing ever so I was absolutely buzzing when I found out they were opening one in Manchester. Riven and I managed to get in last week and honestly it was one of the best meals I've ever had in Manchester. I haven't stopped thinking about that bowl of greens and I can't wait to go back.

What I've been watching

Five cinema trips this month! Starting with a secret unlimited screening which ended up being Green Book. We knew absolutely nothing about it so it was a really nice surprise and we loved it.

We've also been to see Creed II, Mary Poppins Returns, another unlimited screening of Stan & Ollie, and one of our favourite films of the year, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.

I watched Dumplin' one night Phil was out and I was crying in the first 5 minutes.

We watched a lot of our Christmas classics - Gremlins, Die Hard, Elf and The Holiday, and also watched The Christmas Chronicles which is my new favourite, and Black Christmas.

What I've been reading

Nine books in December, finishing the year on 95 books. Plus I listened to my first audiobook! Lots of people had been talking about Bad Blood on audiobook and I really like non-fiction on audio so this was perfect. I didn't want to commit to Audible so I got the Kindle book with whispersync and I really loved it. It was such a fascinating story and so good on audio - like a really long podcast!

Other books in December:
Less
Give me your hand
Bitter
Revolting Prostitutes
Six Stories
The End of Everything
Women
The Black Land
Ghost Wall

Revolting Prostitutes was so interesting and I confess, I didn't know anything about the topic before I read it. It's a really good introduction into understanding sex workers' rights and understanding their needs from a feminist perspective. It makes some complicated theories really accessible.

I also loved Bitter, Less, Women and Six Stories - I've got the next two books in that series ready to read on my Kindle.

What I've written
2018 best bits
2018 favourites - Books

What I've been reading online

Bon Appetit - How wellness influencers made Indian food a trend
Peach Trees and Bumblebees - Post partum
Metro - Podcast of the week: What page are you on?
The Pool - I used to ignore my bullies - now I know what's at stake
The Pool - The pensions at my gym are my fitspo
A Rosie Outlook - An ode to 2018
The Pool - I didn't ask to be followed around the internet by a pregnancy that ended too soon
New Statesman - I rewatched The Holiday and I have questions
Stylist - How to go home for Christmas without turning into an angry teen
The Pool - May contain anxiety: My nut allergy and me
The Pool - Finally, harmful stereotypes are being banned from adverts
The Pool - Tis the season for women to do all the emotional labour
Blisters and Biscuits - 20 running goals for 2019 that have nothing to do with actual running
Refinery 29 - In defence of being unproductive
New Statesman - The guilty pleasure of watching strangers' lives on social media
I news - How the pause became the biggest thing on reality TV
Jocelyn K Glei - Why you need white space in your daily routine
Yes and Yes - How to create a "new things" practice
Yes and Yes - Make yourself 25% more uncomfortable
Yes and Yes - Networking for introverts


Hope your 2019 is going really well so far!

Charlotte x

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

2018 Favourites - Books



At the start of 2018 I really enjoyed doing a post on my favourite things in 2017 - from films to podcasts and of course, books.

I wanted to do the same thing for 2018, but with 95 books read over the year I thought books might require their own post!

2018 was definitely a year of reading.

I set my goodreads goal for 2018 at 40 books, after reading 43 in 2017, 13 over my 2017 goal of 30 books. I had absolutely no idea I'd hit my reading goal for the year in July, or that I'd have hit double that goal by October.

(And no, I'm not disappointed I didn't hit 100, because honestly I didn't think I'd read 50 books this year, let alone 95!)

Reading definitely became a hobby in 2018. I read in the morning, on the way to work, on my lunch break, on my way home from work, and in the evenings. I read waiting for the bus or waiting in queues. 

I read every single day of 2018.

Some days I read a page, some days I read a whole book. But I made it a challenge to read at least something of a book every day.

And the biggest help was my constant stream of reading material - thanks to reading podcasts, book twitter, reading blogs and goodreads. I read voraciously as I was always constantly excited by what else was out there to read. In the past I'd found my reading drop when I've been stuck for what to read next - right now I have 56 unread books on my Kindle, 71 books on my library saved list and 134 books on my Amazon wishlist, not even including the dozens of unread books on my shelves!

I love being excited about reading again. The sadness of finishing a book I loved is reduced by knowing there's always something else brilliant waiting for me!

And I have put books down this year. Any time I find myself scrolling through Twitter instead of reading I know I'm not enjoying my current book, and I've been better this year at not forcing myself to read things I'm not enjoying, or reading books I feel I "should" read.

I've definitely used my library card this year - 44 (nearly half!) of my books read this year were from the library. It saves me a fortune!

And while I have bought a lot of books on Kindle, I've been much better at buying most of my physical books this year either second hand or from bookshops, as was one of my goals for 2018.

I'm naturally asked how I find the time to read as much as I do, and the reality is as I said before, I squeeze time in when I can, but I've also done it instead of many other things this year. I didn't carry on with much yoga after my first 32 days of the year, I didn't start learning Spanish again - but I don't regret the time I've spent reading! Like anything else, I've read lots by making reading a priority.

So, what did I love that I read in 2018?

My original "favourites" list of the year contained 29 books. Not much of a shortlist! So I've managed to cut it down to my 15 favourites.

These are in no particular order, but I do have a favourite book of the year...

  • Everything I know about Love - Dolly Alderton
  • The Guilty Feminist - Deborah Frances-White
  • Beartown - Fredrick Backman
  • Normal People - Sally Rooney
  • This Must be the Place - Maggie O Farrell
  • The Nix - Nathan Hill
  • Educated - Tara Westover
  • Everything I Never Told You - Celeste Ng
  • Based on a True Story - Delphone de Vigan
  • Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng
  • I'll be Gone in the Dark - Michelle McNamara
  • Three Things about Elsie - Joanna Cannon
  • The Silent Companions - Laura Purcell
  • Lullaby - Leila Slimani
  • I am, I am, I am  - Maggie O Farrell
I'm surprised how many of my favourite books this year were non-fiction - 5 of my top 15, including my book of the year, Everything I know about Love.

I have read some absolutely incredible books this year and I am so excited for what my 2019 in reading will bring!

Charlotte x

PS. You can see my full year in books on my goodreads