How I Find Time To Read & My Current Picks

Hi, loves! Today’s post is one I’ve teased on the blog for a little while, and I’m so happy to be writing about BOOKS. *Warning: it’s a long one, and perfect if you want to carve out a little self care time this bank holiday weekend. I’d recommend you grab a cuppa and settle in!* I love love love reading and it’s something I really wish more people were passionate about. Don’t get me wrong, I know lots of people love to read, but I really don’t know that many people who do! I have loved reading since I was a child; my parents and grandparents always read to me whenever they had time to, and I learned to read so quickly myself. I read my beloved Jacqueline Wilson books so many times I swear I knew the stories off by heart! When I was around 10 or 11, I was helping my granddad clear out a bunch of stuff, and discovered all of my mum and auntie’s old books by Enid Blyton. He kindly gave them to me, and I spent the rest of my summer engrossed in those books! The Secret Seven and Famous Five series ignited a serious love of reading (and dogs – I wanted my own Timmy SO BAD) and I’m forever grateful. I literally spent so many nights in my lilac groovy chick themed bedroom, curled up with a blanket and a book thinking I was so grown up. Ha!

In the years since then, I’ve never lost the joy in browsing book stores, talking about books and of course, reading them. I literally can’t walk past a bookstore without dragging Matt in ‘for a look’ – although, if you’re on a budget (aren’t we all?) have a perusal in store and check the prices on Amazon whilst you’re there; I can pretty much guarantee you’ll always get a better deal on Amazon! No, this post isn’t sponsored by Amazon, I just really love it.

Whenever I talk about my love of reading I am often met with “I wish I had time to read”. News flash: everyone has time to read. Let’s be honest; if Michelle Obama can find time to read, so can you. I have time to read so often because I literally set time aside to do so; making reading a priority is really important to me and it makes the world of difference to my mental health. It’s the perfect self care treat for me (along with a pamper evening and a cuddle from Matt, of course) and it truly opens your mind to SO much you may otherwise not know. Books can cover all different topics, issues and situations, and it’s crazy how much you can learn from a book. My mum and Matt’s mum share my love of reading, and we’re always swapping our current reads, like an unofficial book club! So, how do I find time to read? What are my top tips to help you make reading a priority?

Keep your book on your bedside table
Possibly the most obvious tip, but it makes sense guys. I always keep my current book on our bedside table, and take a little time to read most evenings/mornings. Matt often has to send a few work emails just before we settle in for the night so I take those twenty or so minutes to read a few chapters and get my reading fix. Similarly, he starts work early several times per week (which means a 6am alarm for us both) and I also take a little time once he’s left for work, before I blog or get ready for my work day, to read too. It’s a lovely way to begin or end your day, and if you’re struggling to fit reading time in, this will make a huge difference.

Set goals
Like with anything else, setting goals to read X amount each day/week, will make you hold yourself accountable, and make reading a priority. I love to set goals and have things to work towards, so of course this is no exception! I really think being able to tick a goal off a list helps to visualise it; of course this is a very niche goal but if you want to read more you need to treat it seriously. Maybe you could set out a week Monday to Sunday in the Notes app on your phone, using the bullet point system you can tick off, and then you can see how many days out of seven you read each week. Doing this week by week until it becomes a habit (which it should within two months, as scientists say on average it takes 66 days to create a habit) means that within a really short space of time reading would just become part of your everyday life!

Incorporate reading into your day-to-day life
Similarly to reading before bed or first thing in the morning, it’s amazing where you can fit time in to read. If you spend hours scrolling mindlessly on social media (your phone literally tells you how much time you spend now so you can’t avoid it) you could easily spend at least some of that with a book in your hand instead. I love to read in the bath, I seriously take super long baths just to be able to read for longer, and it’s the ultimate self care time for me. Matt sometimes spends a little time in the evenings working or playing on the playstation, which gives me a good chunk of time to read and not feel guilty about it! I also will spend a little time reading whilst sitting in the garden when it’s warm, or on a cold day I love to curl up with a cuppa and a book. I really should take my lunch break at work away from my desk, as that would be the perfect time to rack up some reading time.

Read digitally on your iPad/Kindle/phone
If you find reading a struggle or would just like to switch things up, I’d really recommend downloading a book onto your tablet or phone. I have been really enjoying reading on the Kindle app on my iPad recently; it’s so convenient as I always have my iPad with me anyway, and it’s very accessible no matter where I am. Downloading books onto a tablet is so handy when travelling too; it limits the weight/bulkiness of books (although I do think you can’t beat a ‘real’ book!) and it allows you to take several options, not to mention ebooks are way less money than a physical book. I am still so mad at myself for not picking up a Kindle Paperwhite during the Prime Day(s) sale, and it’s very high on my wishlist right now.

Carry a book with you day-to-day
If reading on a tablet is not for you I totally get that, but you need to carry your book with you if you want to make the most of reading time as and when you can. If you take public transport to work I’d really recommend making the most of your journey time and lose yourself in a book (just make sure not to miss your stop). Side note: I drive to work each day, and spend lots of time during the week in my car; I’m tempted to try Audible but it’s just not something that’s crossed my mind before. Please let me know if you would recommend! If you’re going somewhere where you may be waiting around, hospital appointments spring to mind right away, pack a book and the wait definitely won’t seem so bad.

Find authors and genres you find interesting
Another thing people tell me, is that they have the time to read, but they can never find a book they actually want to read. This is a little trial and error, but if you put the effort in to finding what makes your heart sing, you’ll see the benefit of it. Personally, I love fiction stories that feel like you’re right in with the characters but as you’ll see from my current picks below, I do like varied content. I really want to read more mystery books as I’ve borrowed a few from my mum that I’ve enjoyed, so that’s something I need to explore more in the coming months. It’s the best feeling finding an author you love, as you are drawn to their writing style and therefore can find so many books. Amazon’s ‘Recommended for you’ section pretty much always brings up amazing options, and I’ve found so many books I love that way!

My current favourite author is hands down Taylor Jenkins Reid. Two books I’ve read (and loved) recently are Forever, Interrupted and After I Do; both books are filled with love, heartbreak, sadness and happiness, and you truly feel like you’re experiencing the emotions of the lead characters. Zoe Folbigg is an amazing author and I’ve loved every book of hers I’ve read! I just finished The Postcard, which was the sequel to The Note, and it left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Two books that changed my life (in different ways) are Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton and How To Be A Grown Up by Daisy Buchanan. I’ve read both several times; they’re incredible and would make for brilliant presents for the gals in your life!

Michelle Obama’s Becoming is a must read for everyone, everywhere; she is, in my opinion, the most inspirational woman of our generation and I’m so happy she shared her story. The best non-fiction book I’ve ever read was This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay; I don’t know anyone who disliked this book, it’s filled with so much emotion – I’d literally be laughing one page and sobbing the next – it’s a must read. If you like books that let you escape from every day life, I’d suggest anything by Elin Hilderband. She writes about Nantucket (and Martha’s Vineyard) in so much depth I feel like I’ve been there myself; it’s a book that takes you on holiday from real life, and her stories are always so enticing. My favourite book of hers is hands down The Identicals. I’ve just downloaded a new Elin Hilderbrand book called The Perfect Couple (and One Minute Later by Susan Lewis) onto my Kindle app for literally 99p each! Order while you can! Shoutout to the lovely Savannah for originally recommending Elin Hilderbrand books to me!

Some of my current ‘to read’ list include the last in a wonderful series by Louise Pentland; Wilde Women. Louise is someone I’ve loved and admired for years, from way back to her Sprinkle of Glitter days, and I’m so happy that she’s began to write. She writes from the heart, her characters are lovable and I’m so excited to see what is happening with Robin, Lyla and Kath in the final installment! Queenie is a book I saw in Anna‘s reading pile and immediately purchased (the girl just knows her books, and also wrote a cracking book herself, An Edited Life) and I’m so excited to read; the book talks all about love, life and race issues and has rave reviews. Another author I’m very interested in is Jane Fallon, I often see her books featured on Instagram and I need to order one soon!

Thank you so so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post and found my tips and tricks helpful in some way. Can you believe my boyfriend (who is perfect in every other way, if I do say so myself) doesn’t like to read?! He’s literally been ‘reading’ the same book since Christmas 2017… maybe you take a few pointers from this post, Matthew?! Ha. So, are you a bookworm like me? Where’s your favourite way to make time to read? I’d love to share my favourite books every few months if that’s something you’d be interested in? Please leave me all your book recommendations below, I love to hear what other people are reading!

-G x

Travelling 101: Tips & Tricks To Get Your Holiday Off To The Best Start

Hi loves! Holiday season is fast approaching, and I know lots of people that are going on holiday soon! Matt and I leave TOMORROW, and we’ve been talking a lot over the past few weeks about the preparation and planning to make sure we’re feeling organised. This is definitely more my input than Matt’s – I hate not having a plan together, and I try to do anything that will make our lives easier. Planning trips is one of my most favourite things to do from the second we book our flights, and I feel like there’s a ton of things that you should do in the build up/during your travels to make things run a little more smoothly. This post is packed with handy tips and tricks that we’ve learned over the years, I hope you find them useful for your next holiday!

So, your travel insurance is all arranged, your countdown is fast approaching 0 and all you can talk about is your upcoming holiday. What should you be doing in the build up to, or during, travelling?!

Use a backpack for your carry on. Seriously, no matter how cute your new beach bag might look, you’re going to wish you took a backpack, especially if you’re an over packer like me. Matt and I both take backpacks, and they’re so easy. Backpacks can fit so many things (Mary Poppins who?!), there’s lots of compartments to organise your things, the weight is distributed evenly on your back so it’s easier to carry and you get to keep it under the seat in front of you, which is way easier than putting it in the overhead bins. Have I sold you on taking a backpack? Yes? Good. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

Pack a crossbody bag inside your carry on with all of your essentials. It just makes sense; this is where you can keep all the things you’ll want to have to hand before, during or after your flight. I always keep Matt and I’s passports and my card holder in here! I use my crossbody bag throughout the holiday during the evenings, and it’s just big enough to fit what I actually need. I always need to make sure there’s a little room in there for my boyfriend’s sunglasses, wallet, and whatever else he decides to throw in, lol! There will be a post up all about my carry on essentials this coming Wednesday, but until then, you can check out what I took last year here.

Check in for your flight online. It saves waiting in so many lines at the airport, you can allocate your own seats and you feel a little bit smug just having to drop off your checked luggage! Matt and I checked in two weeks before the date of our flight and it made us even more excited, it actually made it feel real then. When it comes to booking our seats, we always try to allocate them on/around the wing because you don’t feel any turbulence as much here!

Always take cash in all of the currencies of the countries you’re travelling from/through/to, as well as your debit card. In the airport in England we’ll just use our debit cards, but we’ll make sure to have cash just in case too. If you’re planning on purchasing things on the plane you’ll need the currency of the country you’re going from/to, but sometimes you can be caught out on exchange rates making things a little more costly. Also be sure to keep your cash for your destination safely zipped away deep inside your carry on!

Print out all of your information so you have hard copies: boarding passes, hotel information, transfer details, travel insurance documents. I’m a planner, what can I say? Even though we have all of this information on our phones, I’m a little paranoid we might run out of battery (even though I’m obviously taking a battery pack) or our phones may not connect to the new service provider properly. Having hard copies is just good practice, I think!

Download the app for your airline, the airports you’re travelling from/through/to and your holiday provider. You can get flight information, including which terminal/gate you’re flying from sometimes before it’s announced in the airport. We use the countdown on our TUI app from the moment we book our holiday – we’ve been counting down for over 130 days and now we’re literally one day away today. What the heck! You can get all of your transfer and hotel information in your holiday providers app, as well as weather, transport and excursions details.

Take a fully charged external battery pack and the appropriate charging cables. Matt and I will each have our phones, Fitbit’s and toothbrushes to charge, and we’re also taking one of our Echo Dot’s so we can play music when we’re getting ready in the evenings. The likelihood of sitting in an airport next to an outlet is very low, and not all planes are equipped with USB ports, although come on people, it’s 2019! I always carry a battery pack, it charges our phones like five times! I know Matt will use this before me as I always have my low power mode on and the battery on my phone just seems to last longer!

Weigh your bag before you leave to avoid delays or extra charges when you arrive at the airport. During family holidays when I was younger, we’d fly to Florida with three suitcases, and return with eight. Seriously. The deals were just that good! Now, Matt and I take a suitcase each, but there’s wiggle room between the two of us if one of our bags were overweight. It’s pretty easy to stay underweight when you’re travelling to a tropical location as your clothes weigh less, but sometimes toiletries really increase the weight. You can buy luggage scales for super cheap on Amazon, and they’re reliable! Just make sure to pack them so you can check all your new souvenirs aren’t weighing you down before your return flight too.

Carry a re-usable water bottle – just don’t fill it up until you’re through security! My Chilly’s bottle is LIFE. I’ll be using this during our holiday too, and we’re for sure going to be grateful for it during our super long transfer from the airport to our hotel so we don’t need to buy bottles of water. Last year when we got to Kos, we made it to the bus in record time (our suitcases were literally the first two off the conveyor belt) and were so smug waiting for everyone to board. However, we didn’t think about the fact it was still 27 degrees at 11pm(!!) and we had to wait over an hour to get water! NOT smart(water). Get it? I’m here all night.

Wear (or pack in your carry on) a comfy sweater or jacket. And fluffy socks, if you’re like me and are always freezing. Seriously, planes are SO COLD and no matter what lovely warm climate you might be heading to, you’ll wish you had at least a jacket with you for your journey. In Europe, it often feels a little cooler in the evenings (even when it’s technically still 25+ degrees, lol) and there is also air con in most restaurants and bars, so it’ll come in super handy during your trip too!

Take lots of reading material in your carry on bag. Keeping yourself entertained on a flight is SO important. Matt and I talk so much, but we also like to unwind with our book or magazines and just switch off. We’re in vacay mode the second we set foot in the airport, and it’s the best feeling to get lost in a new book!

Allow enough time to browse duty free leisurely. If you take shopping as seriously as me (lol) you don’t want to be rushing when there could be amazing deals to be found! Ever since I was younger I’ve loved browsing duty free, and since I was around 11 my mum and dad made a big deal of me being allowed a fancy perfume each time we travelled. They’re so good to me! My love of buying perfume at the airport never stopped, and I still do almost every time. This year I’m hoping to pick up a bottle of Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet! Matt is also hoping to get a new aftershave, I love that we’re now making our own traditions together.

Pack your liquids in a see-through bag. You will seriously regret not following the rules if you have to step to the side and try to squeeze your liquids into a teeny little airport-provided bag. That you have to pay for. You’ll also be super embarrassed, or I would be anyway! You can pick up clear, travel approved bags almost anywhere nowadays for really inexpensive prices, although I have this one from Space NK that I love. I’ll also be sharing what I pack in here in Wednesday’s post!

Take the essentials to keep you feeling (and smelling) clean/fresh in case of a delay, or a super stuffy airport/airplane. Planes might always be cold, but they can be pretty stuffy too! Deodorant, bio-degradable wipes, lip balm, your favourite rollerball perfume, a face spray. These are the things that if you don’t take, you’ll wish you did! It’s better to be safe than sorry, and the travel sized versions of these products are so small you won’t even notice the space they take up!

Buy food in the airport for the plane, and to cover you for your transfer at your destination. I’m not a big fan of airplane food, and to be honest I don’t think many people are! I’d much prefer to grab something I like from before we jump on the plane, and any delays getting to your hotel could leave you hangry. Matt and I always pack sweets and protein bars , and we’ll grab our favourite crisps, maybe a sandwich and plenty of water in the airport. And of course, Diet Coke!

Pack travel adaptors in your carry on. You don’t want to be rummaging around your suitcase for adaptors when you get to your hotel, especially after a long travelling day. Also, we take an extension cord with us (in our checked luggage) which means you can charge up to six items with only one adaptor!

Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that are easy to take off/put back on at security. It’s just common sense; it makes the lines move quicker, and it gives you more shopping/drinking time in the airport, which is the best part of being there! I’m wearing my Birkenstocks to travel in because they’re just so flipping comfy, and not at all a hassle to slide off through security. My travel outfit is still being decided, but I’m pretty sure I’m going for a Levi’s t-shirt, black leggings and an oversized denim jacket I can throw on if when I get a little chilly!

Take at least one outfit, swimwear and fresh underwear in your carry on bag incase your luggage gets lost or delayed. Okay, this is maybe just for the worriers and anxious travellers like me, but I would much rather have the peace of mind knowing I’d be able to get through a day or two without my suitcase, if it were to get lost. I’m so scared of this happening!

Carry ibuprofen, paracetemol, travel sickness tablets and any other important medication in an easy-to-find spot. These are the kind of things I used to throw into my bag then have to empty the whole contents to find what I’m looking for. Matt and I sometimes suffer with a little travel sickness and I’m prone to aches and pains caused by my arthritis – there’s so much sitting around during travel days! I always keep these in the outside facing pocket of my backpack, so they’re super easy to reach.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope this was somewhat helpful to you, and maybe gave you a few ideas of things you wouldn’t normally think about. What are your best tried and tested ideas to ensure a smooth journey? Are you a super strict planner like me, or do you ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ like Matt?! Get it? Fly?

-G x