I don't generally follow recommendations when it comes to books. I usually like to browse through books in shops or online and figure out what I'd like. There's something lovely about finding a gem among rows and rows of choice, and going into a book with no expectations and knowing very little about it. However this Sunday I found myself buying three books, all because other people who share my reading tastes have read and loved them and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. 

The Vegetarian - Han Kang (trans. Deborah Smith)

I've seen this doing the rounds on Booktube, and have become intrigued by the praise it's been receiving. It seems like every booktuber I enjoy and respect the opinion of loves this book, while a few whose tastes differ vastly from my own were not impressed. It's a dark, gnarly portrayal of South Korean family dynamics and as I've been wanting to read more books in translation and non - white authors, love shorter books and am a sucker for strange unsettling slightly creepy stories, this seemed perfect for me.

All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

Ok so I knew this was about a blind girl in WWII. And honestly that is a premise I felt like I would hate. It sounded like another Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and that is a book I honestly hate. Nothing annoys me more than a book that just cranks out the sad to try and pull the heartstrings and roll in the money. So this was on my 'never going to read this list for several months, however one my oldest friends Holly and my buddy and fellow bookseller Kieran both absolutely love that book have specifically told me I need to read it. So I'm taking the plunge and giving it a try. I'm actually about 50 pages in and honestly I'm really liking it so far!

All the Birds in the Sky - Charlie Jane Anders

I had seen this book on various tables at work. I really liked the cover but never found myself interested enough to pick it up and turn it over to see what it's about. I figured it was probably one of those stories that's described as 'a dazzling portrayal of childhood and identity' or some shit like that. However I started to see it cropping up over Booktube and blogs, and again it seemed to be loved by everyone who shares my  tastes. It turns out it's about a mad scientist and a witch who team up to save the world...which sounds amazing!!

I'm really looking forward to reading these now, and if I enjoy them I'll probably find myself taking recommendations more often!

Thanks for reading,

Recent Purchases | A 'Came Highly Recommended' Book Haul.


Ok, so you see this falling apart, disgusting, might be moulding or maybe that's just a stain, not sure where page 118-19's actually gotten to, scuffed and creased to shit book? This is one of my most prized possessions. Like most kids my age I went through the Harry Potters and loved them, I had other series I became heavily invested in and wolfed Jacqueline Wilson books one after the other. I read plenty as a child and have plenty of books saved from my younger years. 

The thing about this book though, is that nobody else has read it. It's a translation from a little known German author and was bought for me by my mother in a Borders about 5 months before the company closed it's stores. Whereas most of my childhood reading experiences are shared and loved by many, Mimus is all my own. I've never known anyone else who's even heard of it before I've told them, and yet it's one of my favourite books. Mimus was my first experience as an individual reader, to read and experience a book all by myself, not just another Jacqueline Wilson read at the same time as all my friends. I also read this book to my younger brother when I was a teenager, doing all the silly voices. For years I read this book over and over again, sometimes cover to cover but often just picking out my favourite passages and plot points and revisiting them. My point being that this book is well loved, and in becoming well loved, it has also gotten battered to within an inch of it's life. 

It's easy, when you keep up with book-tube and book blogging to fall into the trap of seeing books as aesthetic objects. The 'dream' is usually peddled as rows and rows of white shelves lined with pristine books, clothbound editions and series with matching covers, and for a few years I bought into that. I was obsessed with keeping my books like new, I didn't want to bend the spines or write in the pages, I only wanted to buy books in the prettiest editions available, or, if the only covers I could find were ugly, I was sometimes completely put off buying the book! I barely even read the books I bought. I realise that for a little while I stopped actually being a reader and just became a collector.

It was Mimus that got me to come to my senses. I found it in an old schoolbag tucked away in a drawer as I was moving out of my parents house, and when I first saw how creased and stained it was, how the pages were coming loose and the spine was cracked to shit, my first thought was "Oh God I used to love this book, but this is ugly, I'm going to need a new copy." But then I remembered sitting on the floor of my messy bedroom with my brother doing the stupid voices while he laughed. And of sitting in bed on cold evenings flicking through to find my favourite bits and reading them again and again, getting food on the pages and bending the cover as I rolled over in the blankets. I sat down and started reading Mimus and suddenly books were books again. The rows of beautiful, pristine, unread books on my shelves seemed soulless and stupid. 

In the last three years I have grown up, stopped being a tool, and am now financially responsible for myself. Second hand bookshops are my best friends, I love highlighting and scribbling in all my books and I enjoy a certain satisfaction looking at the creased spines on my bookshelf. I recently discovered The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison in a charity shop for £1.20, with two different sets of scrawls and underlining already in the pages. I love the idea that two people have already owned my book and I get to see how they felt about the same story as I was reading through. I'll probably donate it again at some point, to pass it on to someone else, so they can have the same experience I did. 

Let me know how you feel about this? Are you happy to let your books get ugly? Or do you prefer to keep them in good condition?

Thank you for reading!


The Beauty of 'Ugly' Books


It's Valentines Day at the end of this week! And for the first time in four years I actually have a Valentine! Yay for romantic validation! It won't be a big thing as we both have work but we're swapping presents and sarcastic cards and I'm making him dinner so provided I don't land us both in A&E with food poisoning it should be a good day. 

I'll be honest I'm not a really big fan of 'romance' books. I find the genre can be too soppy and mushy, completely humourless or unrealistic, or sometimes what's shown as love in the narrative actually translates to creepy, scary, 'what the fuck are you doing in my bedroom watching me sleep ew ew ew gtfo!'

Nevertheless, there are a few books that I would count as 'love stories' that I thoroughly enjoyed for one reason or another, so if you're a grumpy little cynic like me, give some of these a try and maybe you'll find yourself warming to the romance genre.

Maurice by E. M. Forster - Follows a man in the dawn of the twentieth century, coming to terms with his attraction to men. Forster's narrative deals with the pain of feeling like the only way you can experience love is one for which society will call you sick and put you in prison. This was the classic that I read that made me realise that I could love classics. It's beautiful and emotional and has stayed with me for years.

A Simple Story by Elizabeth Inchbald - From something tragically beautiful to something fuzzy and hilarious. A sombre Catholic Priest suddenly becomes guardian to his old friend's daughter. The clash between the quiet studious Dorriforth and the witty, outgoing Miss Milner is hilarious and the characters surrounding them rolling their eyes at the inability of these two idiots to just get together already for god's sake is just the best thing. Miss Milner is also a treasure, far from the fragile, delicate pot plants you usually get in this period, Inchbald gives Miss Milner a sex drive, a personality and a razor sharp wit. There's also a second half of the book that completely changes and is just as fantastic as the first. Elizabeth Inchbald was one of Austen's favourite authors and if you find a lot of classics very dry and dull, this may change your mind. 

The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm - Something a little different, this is actually a non fiction book discussing love in all it's forms. From instinctive motherly love to religious devotion, love shown as innocent hand holding all the way to a BDSM relationship. It's incredibly interesting and engaging, and my mama bought my copy at a used bookshop, and it's full of little scribbles, bits of paper and a note in the front saying 'Much love, for Christmas 1971, S' and I love that the book has been aprt of someone else's love story already!

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart
- Smart's landmark work reads almost like an epic poem. It records the tragic true story of Smart's love affair with poet George Barker. It's a story told almost entirely in emotional waves that come crashing through the narrative. But far from soppy and insipid, Smart's writing is searing and powerful, presenting the sheer force of love in all it's stark reality.

Therese Raquin by Emile Zola - Zola's masterpiece makes my list for presenting love in it's most dark, twisted nature. The eponymous heroine is trapped in an unhappy marriage with her sickly cousin. She finds freedom in a turbulent love affair, but the passion of the lovers pulls them down a dark path. Therese Raquin is a dingy, gripping novel about how gnarly and destructive love can be. Perfect for if you really want some anti-valentines sentiment.

Frenchman's Creek by Daphne Du Maurier
- Finally, one of my favourite love stories of all time. Daphne Du Maurier is known for Rebecca and Jamaica Inn, two very dark gothic stories, but Frenchman's Creek is bawdy, silly and equally excellent. Set in the 1600's, Lady Dona has always been 'one of the boys', but secretly longs for a life of love and passion. She runs away to Cornwall and...wait for it... begins a passionate romance with a sexy French pirate who is hiding out in caves near her summer home. Like what the actual fuck? Frenchman's Creek is RIDICULOUS and, I imagine, if you had come off the back of the rest of her works and were looking for something of the same literary quality as Rebecca then you might be disappointed. But if you take it for what it is, which is silly, trashy, period drama pulp then it's an absolute joy. Frenchman's Creek had me rolling around by bed squealing with laughter at the sheer perfection of the whole thing, and it's something I am saving to reread when I really need my spirits lifting.


So these are my Valentine's Day reads. If you've read any let me know what you thought and feel free to leave your own recommendations!

Thank you for reading,



Valentine's Day Reads for People Who Hate Love



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