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

Feelin’ It Friday

Happy, happy Friday my little love bugs! I’m writing to you this morning at 6.15am, from my snuggly bed… Matt is just getting ready to leave for work and our room is FREEZING! We sleep with the window open no matter the weather (literally even when it’s snowing) because we love the room to be cold when we’re super warm under our duvet and blankets. However it’s not as fun when I’m trying to type up a blog post and it feels like Alaska in here… Anyway, I’ve got lots to talk about, so let’s get into it!

What I’m obsessed with:
So, like I often do, I copied Shay. Again. I seriously love everything I try on her recommendation, so I’m happy to try out new products based just on her reviews! I’d been eyeing up the Dr Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt bubble bath for the longest time but it’s pretty pricey and I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it. A while back I read Amazon reviews, searched for blog posts talking about it and asked my family/friends if they’d tried it, and then kinda forgot all about it. Then, last week I was re-reading lots of Shay’s Fall blog posts from last year (Autumn. is. on. the. brain.) and I seen this mentioned a couple of times, which prompted me to purchase it. Guys, I’m so happy I did because it’s SO GOOD. I love it! I have arthritis which is much worse in my knees/hips, and I’ve heard lots of good things about this helping aches and pains. To be honest, hot baths in general help me so I’m really intrigued to see if this makes a big difference when it starts to get a little cooler over the next few weeks.

What I’m reading:
I’m currently reading The Postcard by Zoe Folbigg, which is the sequel to The Note (one of my favourite books). I always love a book series, and I can’t get enough of this one! Zoe is such an incredible writer; her books feel like you’re right in with the characters, like you know everyone personally. I have read about two thirds of the book so far, and I’m going to be so sad when I finish it, I love love love Maya (the main character) so much, and Nena (her best friend) melts my heart. I am just finishing up a post this week about all the ways I find time to read regularly, which is something I asked if you guys might be intersested in SO long ago. It’ll be up in a few weeks and if you’re struggling with finding the time to read I really hope it helps you!

What I’m watching:
Matt and I started watching The Office! Well, we actually tried Parks and Rec but we just couldn’t get into it, we might go back to it in after The Office. We’re so late to the party, but we needed a funny, easy-to-watch show as we’ve now finished up to season five of Brooklyn 99. I’m still crying about it and I can’t wait for season six to be on Netflix! So far we are loving The Office, it’s so funny and the dry humour is exactly our style, we actually really look forward to watching a few more episodes every night. Baby John Krasinski melts my heart (I’m kinda obsessed with him and Emily Blunt, literally the best celeb couple!)

What I’m buying:
Okay so I kinda teased this last week, but I’m already looking for what I need to add to my Autumn/Winter wardrobe. I’m missing a few very obvious essentials in my wardrobes which was highlighted when I cleared them all out a few weeks ago, so I already have a pretty good list. One of the things on there is a good sweater/fleece that I can wear with jeans or leggings for just any casual weekend, and I found THIS baby. I’m not sure on the colour way I’m going to buy yet, but I already know how much I’ll love it and how much I’ll wear it. Patagonia have brilliant ethics which I fully support, and even though it’s extortionately expensive I’m hoping praying for a 20% discount to be available very soon! I also really wanted a mid-length cosy cardigan that will see me through the last of the Summer and into the Autumn, so I ordered this one, it’s a steal and it looks perfect, I’m excited for it to arrive! I can’t wait to start buying a few staple jumpers, long sleeved tees and I really need some black leather boots sooner rather than later because we have been getting SO much rain!

What I’m happy about:
Last week I had to send my iPad away to be fixed, because the battery ‘swelled’. Like, who knew that was even a thing?! It turns out they couldn’t actually fix the problem so instead they replaced my iPad with a pretty little new one! I was super nervous sending it away to be fixed because I really wanted it back before bank holiday weekend, but it literally took TWO days from when they received it to my new one arriving… Apple’s customer service is SO GOOD. I had just started using my iPad way more because I forgot how easy it is to carry it with me most days, and I can use it to blog on the go! I ordered this cute new case in anticipation of my new one arriving and I’m really happy with it!

What I’m thinking about:
Next week I’m getting my hair done again, and I’m completely undecided on what to do! I’m so torn between going for a darker, brunette balayage or going a little bit lighter with my current blondey balayage. I really just want a low maintenance, easy-to-manage colour as I feel like I get my hair dyed all the time which is pretty costly, not to mention so damaging! I’ve finally figured out how to curl my hair (well, kinda, I’m so bad at doing anything with my hair haha) but I LOVE how curls look in darker hair. I’m confused on what to do; should I go darker for Autumn or go a shade or two lighter? Someone please help me! I’d love for my hair to grow longer and I’m pretty sure the more I bleach it the less it’s likely to grow out.

What I’m working on:
I’ve planned so much new content for my blog, I feel like I’m constantly coming up with new ideas and trying to fit them into my posting schedule. Writing the posts is the easy part; I literally sit down at my laptop and the words just come out (for the most part, anyway) but having time to take photos isn’t always easy, and I hate to feel rushed or put up sub-standard photos. This weekend, Matt and I are taking photos for my first morning routine post, I really hope it all comes together how I picture it in my head, I’m nervous and excited about it!

What I’m up to this weekend:
Tonight we’re cooking, relaxing and snuggling in to watch Stacey Dooley’s new documentary. #Stace4evs. Matt is at work tomorrow on an early shift, so I’m taking the morning to run errands, grocery shop for the week ahead, maybe pop to Homesense and work a little a lot on my blog. He’ll be home around 3.30pm, so we’re spending our evening watching football, grabbing a Chinese takeaway and having the most chilled night, which is our favourite way to spend a Saturday! On Sunday we’re having a chilled morning (and also taking photos as I mentioned above), then heading for date day in town. I’m taking Matt for a breakfast date, we’re visiting the Quayside Market, getting donuts from The Best Place In The North East, browsing the shops and just having a fun little day together, before coming home to probably watch more football. ‘Tis the season! We’re spending our evening snuggled up on the couch with a good dinner, watching a movie before a hectic week.

Our favourite meals from the week:
I decided to start a new segment in my #feelinitfriday posts! I am asked SO often – especially in response to my almost nightly Instagram stories – to share recipe ideas on the blog, and I really want to do it; I’m just not great at taking photos of food. It’s hard because we obviously want to eat when our food is hot, but cooled down food photographs way better (weird, I know). Also, presentation is not our strong point; we literally throw it all together and all we care about is eating it! I’m not sharing recipes (unless I’ve followed someone else’s in which case I’ll link them) but maybe it will give you a little inspiration of things to make for the upcoming week. As I talked about in last week’s post, I was pumped to make this BLT pasta, and it turned out so. dang. good. I tweaked the recipe a little (we didn’t use stock) and we already know it’s going to be something we make all the time; it’s delicious, so easy and pretty healthy, what’s not to love? Another night we made pizza pasta bake which was also very good. Last night I made the easiest, most simple chicken fajita recipe for Matt coming home from work and we loved it. You literally throw it all in the oven for forty minutes on a baking tray, add rice, guac, salsa, sour cream etc and throw it all into a wrap. We had them with garlic potatoes, and we’re so happy the peri peri rice we LOVE is back in stores!

…and that wraps up today’s post, thank you so much for reading! These posts always get the most views on the day they go live, and I’m pretty sure it’s because we’re all nosy and love to know the behind-the-scenes of other people’s lives… just me? 🙂 I’m not sure if you’ll be getting a #feelinitfriday from me next week as Matt and I are going on a trip across the bank holiday weekend (I’m SO excited), we’ll just have to see how busy life is next week! Have the most wonderful weekend!

-G x