Octavia’s Bookshop and the Importance of Children’s Books

43040787_936035309933128_6894985969526591029_nLast week, I had the pleasure of discovering Octavia’s Bookshop in Cirencester. This beautiful little independent is primarily a children’s bookshop which meant that gasps were heard all around upon stumbling across this hidden gem! Octavia’s is a stunning little shop that’s all cosy and welcoming, and full to the brim with wonderful children’s books. We also were able to have a chat with Octavia and get excited over books with her, as well as having a discussion about the importance of children’s books.

the goldfish boyThis is something that I’m sure many people encounter – book snobbery. When I first started at Waterstones, a colleague turned around and commented on how I read “rubbish”, also known as books from the children’s section, and I’ve come across this frequently. Particularly with YA, there seems to be this total disregard for its value and importance from individuals right up to the big companies. There is no investment, and yet children’s books and YA are arguably the most important books out there. You’ll notice that the first section to be downsized in most bookshops is the children’s and YA, despite the fact that those sections can often be taking a high proportion of the business. Children need books to be physical – an electronic picture book just isn’t the same as a print version, and there are a lot of children from less affluent backgrounds who don’t have access to an eBook in the same way that they would a physical copy.

that's not my unicornYou see, without these sections, where do the readers of “grown up” literature and non-fiction start? We have to develop that love of reading from children, which means we need books catering towards children. And no, that doesn’t mean that children should only read classics. In my opinion, although there is still something to be loved about them, the classics are often dated and usually irrelevant to the lives of children and young people today. I used to see parents come in and turn their noses up at all the wonderful books that today’s authors are bringing to the table, books that nurture a love of reading and books that I’ve seen make children into bookworms. Without these books, who is going to grow up and read all the books aimed at adults? If a child doesn’t develop a love of reading from a young age, what’s the likelihood of them developing it in adulthood?

words in deep blueAll of that said, children’s books are incredible for adults too; they provide escapism, reminiscence and life lessons. I’m finding that as I grow up, my brain still thinks I’m a teenager at times and so of course I’m going to relate to the angst of a young adult in teen fiction! There is so much that we can learn from children’s books, and especially empathy and respect for children.

 

What’s your opinion? I’d love to know!

 

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GUEST POST: Emmi-Llewela

I’m here today with a very special blog post that was unexpectedly written when I sat down to write today’s post…but I never got to the typing because my laptop was stolen by the small child that is my little sister Emmi. Emmi is seven and has had a fun evening blogging. I hope you enjoy her little post below about some of her likes. She formatted and typed it all herself!

emmi grandad's secret giant

Hello It’s Emmi and I love horses.I like colouering book’s.My favourite  book is Roald Dahl.I like Roald Dahl because there funny.My favourite book is Charlie and the Choclate factory. My favourite picture book is OI DOG!AND OI FROG! And my favourite movie Is Harry Potter .The saddest movie I’v ever watched Is War horse because a horse dies.I have riding lessons and my favourite horse is called Eclipse.

 

 

Book Unhauling

So, a topic that I have found very difficult to decide how I feel about it…

BOOK UNHAUL – the opposite of a book haul, that is to say when you get rid of books from your shelves.

I am a hoarder.

Admittedly, I do have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and so it’s kind of a symptom of this condition, but, that aside, I’ve always felt that I just have a slightly more panic inducing reaction to something that many people find difficult anyway! Us book lovers have immense pride in our collections of books that have amassed over the years, and I am definitely no exception. I’d always wanted to have 1000 books by the time I was 18, and I don’t think I quite hit that, but at 24 I quite possibly have!

But then comes the dilemma.

Space.

Ugh.

I have no room for books! My shelves are all double stacked, on their sides, bagged up, all over my room! I also feel that when I move out, I’ve got to somehow transport all of these books which will be difficult. And so, taking inspiration from my bookseller bestie Charlie, I decided it was about time I unhauled some books.

Charlie unhauls regularly, which I have no idea how she does it, but it means that I gain a lot of books, as does the charity shop, and she gains a sense of liberation and achievement. And most importantly, space… (for more books.)

I felt that it was time that I followed suit this week, and so yesterday I did my first big unhaul…and I kinda get it! I feel quite free as I’ve cleared out two massive bags worth of books that I will never read and many I had no idea why I’d even got them in the first place! Admittedly, the majority of books I got rid of were either proofs or books I was sent but had no interest in. But still, I am so so proud of myself! I didn’t have a panic attack either which was a massive bonus.

 

I still find book unhauling difficult; I’m very emotionally attached to things and find it hard to get rid of that guilt, but, at the same time, it means that these books are going to a better place where someone will love them and enjoy them and so surely that’s a good thing.

What are your feelings about book unhauls?

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018: Stress

So, we come to my final post of the week for Mental Health Awareness Week 2018, and I thought it’s probably about time that I do a bit about the actual theme for this week, which this year is STRESS.

Everyone experiences stress in their life to some degree, but it’s how we deal with it that makes the difference. For some people, they thrive off stress and it doesn’t bring them down; it brings out the best in them. For others, especially those with mental health conditions, stress can be incredibly debilitating.

Stress is a valid condition, and it’s something that needs to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, however, it’s very often trivialised because it’s so common and a lot of people don’t understand it when it’s at its worst. It’s all too easy to ignore what is often a cry for help when someone says “I’m stressed,” because so many people will use it to slack or even get signed off. Often those who are suffering the most are the ones who you’ll see flipping out easily or getting over emotional, but they continue to stay in the situation – more stress can be caused by doing otherwise! It’s a vicious cycle sometimes.

Stress can be especially bad when it involves someone with preexisting mental health conditions. One of my previous managers, besides being a vindictive person, had no concept of the stress that her actions would put upon me and my colleagues. It often would act as the trigger for a depressive episode or increased anxiety, which was counter productive anyway! I just can’t get my head around people who actively seek to stress out others.

So, what can we do?

Awareness is such an important factor; the conversations we have about mental health are helping to educate people about mental health and the importance of understanding it, and, whilst we still have a long way to go, people are becoming more open about their mental health. Also, such a simple one, BE KIND! You never know how your actions will affect someone else, so if you can avoid being that negative or malicious person that causes undue stress to someone else, do!

 

 

 

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018: Mental Health and the Workplace

The issue of mental health and the workplace is one of the main areas with a stigma attached; it’s at work that people are often afraid to come out with their struggles and feel comfortable enough to be honest.

My first long-term job was at Boots where I worked during some of the hardest periods for my mental health and I can honestly say that they were fantastic. I had no choice but to be open about what I was going through and I found that they were so supportive. So I never really understood the whole thing about the “stigma”. But then I got my, what I thought was, dream job at Waterstones. From my past  experience at Boots with being open, I expected the same from my new job! How wrong I was. I finally understood why people are afraid  honest about their mental health.
This. Is. Wrong.

People should not feel ashamed about their mental health. We don’t feel ashamed about our physical health, so why should this be any different?! People can’t help it, so why should they be victimised for it?
What do you think? Has being honest about your mental health caused problems at work? 

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018: Meds…good or bad?

So I got thinking earlier after @jenniely posted on Twitter about medication being used to treat mental health. This is something I discuss quite a lot, plus my job as a dispenser involves a lot of medication!

I take two different medications for my conditions that I discussed in a previous post for this week – one is an anti-anxiety/antidepressant and the other is technically an anti-psychotic which makes it sound worse than it is! Basically, the two together help to keep my moods on an even level; one brings me up and the other stops me from going high. I’ve been on various antidepressants for 5 and a half years, and I honestly don’t know how I’d cope without them, and anti-psychotics for a year. The two together, although they make me a bit drowsier sometimes, work really well!

So, as you can probably tell, I’m very much in favour of medication being used in mental health conditions. I don’t understand why there’s such a stigma; if you had a broken leg, no one would bat an eyelid at you wearing a cast, so why should antidepressants etc be any different?! In the interests of fairness though, I shall put across both the positives and the drawbacks.

Positive effects:

  • you don’t feel as depressed or anxious or high or out of control
  • they help to “normalise” your moods and get you back to feeling like yourself
  • they help you to go about your daily life without having some sort of breakdown every five minutes

Negative effects:

  • you can get stuck in a cycle of dependency
  • they can stop working so you end up upping the dose, meaning it’s harder to come off them
  • It can take a while to find the right medication, and some medications can make things worse

What do you think about the use of medication in treating mental health disorders? Have you got experience of them working or not working?

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018: My Mental Health and Social Media

So, it’s time for something a little bit different on here; it’s Mental Health Awareness Week. This is something that’s very close to my heart as mental health has impacted my whole life, both from growing up with people who have mental health difficulties and from my own struggles. I have OCD, Depression, Anxiety, Cyclothymia (a type of Bipolar Disorder) and have had disordered eating for over 10 years. I’ve had a couple of mental breakdowns and have battled with self harm. My mental health has fluctuated so much over the years, particularly since I was 18 which is when I first got my diagnosis, initially for OCD. Over those years, I’ve seen so much change in social media and the way that we use it and it impacts upon our lives, and I’d definitely say that it’s impacted upon my mental health.

I really got thinking about this post thanks to Ashleigh on Twitter posting a call for bloggers to write a bit about how social media, such as Instagram, impacts upon mental health through promoting the idea of the “perfect” body or persona. It’s something that I’ve given a lot of thought to over the years that I’ve been active on social media, and increasingly so since I’ve become more aware of mental health problems.

Social media is amazing; it brings like-minded people together, adds a whole new dimension to your passions and hobbies, and can open up so many opportunities. It can also benefit people with mental health issues as they can find people with similar experiences and get a sense of belonging.

However, the opposite is also true.

Mental health can be significantly impacted upon by social media, and it’s not always good. Speaking as someone with a nice collection of mental health conditions, social media can heighten obsessions, the feeling of not being good enough, comparing yourself to others, questioning your own mental health…the list goes on. Sites such as Instagram show the things that people want you to see, a snapshot of their life, which so often has been carefully crafted to reflect what they want you to, as opposed to the reality. I am a member of the bookish community, and whilst most people are so supportive and lovely, you can still feel like an outsider all the time and think you don’t fit in, that you’re not as good as other bloggers or bookstagrammers, you don’t have friends within the community, that your interactions are all one way. As social media continues to grow and be an important part of our lives, these anxieties and feelings are only increasing as the online world merges with reality.

So, how has social media affected my conditions?

It’s had both a positive and negative impact. For example, when I was really struggling with dark thoughts, Tumblr and Twitter would be my outlets where I could just get those feelings out. I figured that if I’d put out there that I was suicidal, it was taking that thought away from me. One thing I established when having Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was that I put too much importance on the power of thoughts, a common trait amongst people with OCD and anxiety disorders, so this ability to take those thoughts away but show that they’re there and they’re real as such was very useful. On the other hand, I feel like an outsider so often on social media, and like I don’t fit in. I’m sure lots of people feel this way, but when you have a mental health condition those feelings are amplified tenfold and can have such a detrimental effect on your happiness. Why didn’t that person follow me back when they’re clearly a small account? Why don’t I get invited to blogger meet ups? Why didn’t they reply? It all seems so petty and small, but the thoughts of not being good enough can really take over.

Do you agree about the impact social media can have on your mental health? How can we tackle this growing problem?

 

That Never-Ending NetGalley TBR

So…like many bookworms, NetGalley is both a blessing and a curse for me! It’s an amazing way to get hold of some incredible books prior to publication, which, as an ex-bookseller, is something that I really missed about bookselling, and it means you can get involved in the whole hype of a new book in the run up to its release and help to influence others to try it! However, this also means that there are lots and lots of tempting books available for you to request, and it’s so easy to go a bit crazy requesting books! When I first got NetGalley I would request books I just slightly fancied, but I found that I just couldn’t get into them or find the motivation to read them over exciting books that were already out, so now I try so hard to only request books I know I’ll read and want to push to the top of my TBR. I feel like I owe the publishers to at least attempt to read the book, as they’ve so kindly sent me a copy, so I like to try to do each book justice! So, this month I decided that I was going to draw a line and start using NetGalley more efficiently – only choosing books I really want to read, prioritising them by publication date to an extent. I always make sure that I give a shout out to every book I’m sent on my Instagram or Twitter, then once I’ve read it I try to review it as soon as possible on here! If I love the book, and you follow me on Twitter, I’m very sorry for how obsessive I can get!

So, without futher ado, here is my current TBR on NetGalley (pictures to come!):

Tradition – Brendan Kiely

  • 3rd May 2018
  • Penguin

Boy Underwater – Adam Baron

  • 28th June 2018
  • Harper Collins

My Box-Shaped Heart – Rachael Lucas

  • 17th May 2018
  • Macmillan

The Colour of the Sun – David Almond

  • 3rd May 2018
  • Hodder

Skylarks – Karen Gregory

  • 3rd May 2018
  • Bloomsbury

How To Write A Love Story – Katy Cannon

  • 3rd May 2018
  • Stripes

We Are Young – Cat Clarke

  • 3rd May 2018
  • Quercus

Mystery of the Skull – Pamela Butchart, Enid Blyton

  • 12th July 2018
  • Hodder

 

Have you read any of these and recommend them? Hopefully I’ll get through all of these soon!


Thank you to all the publishers of titles sent to me via NetGalley!