Why, As A Writer, I’m Taking A Break From Books

I’m taking a break from books. (Or so I’m going to try.)

On average I read 4-5 books a month. That’s a lot of words to compare to my own, and I’ve decided that I ought to stop complaining I don’t write enough when I spend so much of my time reading.

I used to bring books to accompany time and space, my bag overflowing with one too many books. But now I’m starting to see that books are different to my own creativity. They are there, they are permanently in print, they create noise in my head. They are the expectation – I have to be as good as these to be published; to be read. I have fallen so far into admiring others I have started to doubt my own use of words. I’ve always known I can write as they do, its only lately I’ve started to realise I just haven’t been giving it enough time. I must live and breathe my own creations. Picasso didn’t look at paintings trying to figure out how they did it, he picked up a paintbrush and made strokes that felt right. I want to write because of the infinite possibilities a keyboard presents when I open my MacBook. After all, for every word I read, I could be conjuring one for myself.

As I’ve grown in London, I’ve observed that London is a city of expectation. Expectation through external stimuli, through noise, even something as small as facial expressions. As a young, aspiring writer this has proven to be hard…. I’m sure as any young person, trying to make it in this city, it’s hard.

Through time, I’ve discovered my laptop provides a silence that nothing else can. I can sit in the most noisy of cafes and hear nothing. When I am sitting in front of a screen I can achieve anything, write anything. Literal infinite possibilities the alphabet provides. With my laptop in hand, I can go anywhere in London; Anywhere, and it will always lack expectation.

I love books so much, but I love my completed projects more; my stack of poems, my nearly finished novel, my website and articles full of poetic monologue.

So here I start, indefinite days without reading any word of another. My to-read pile will just have to wait.

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My Winter Must-Reads

Winter is not only great for aesthetics – who doesn’t love a good palette of bare brown trees – it also hosts perfect reading weather. The sun goes down earlier with each passing day, and you slowly find yourself reaching for your favourite scarves and woollen hats. I don’t know about you, but when it’s cold out and I’m wrapped up warm, my favourite thing to do is grab a cup of coffee and a good book.

So, here it is – something different for my blog, however right up my alley – my book recommendations for this Winter.

“Rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book.” ― Bill Watterson


The Diabolic  S.J. Kincaid 

Initially this was a book I found quite hard to get into. HOWEVER once I began to understand the world and the narrative perspective, I was hooked! This is an extremely diverse world, and main character Nemesis keeps you questioning moral throughout. It’s a story of how far you’ll go for love, and what characteristics deem a human being.

“Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. There’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.”

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You Are A Badass Jen Sincero

This is hands-down, one of my all time favourite books!

The cold weather can sometimes bring on uninspiring moods and unwanted laziness. When the season makes me feel like this, I like to read something super kicky-up-the-assy. And this is that for me. Need I say more? I can also highly recommend the audio book of this – read by Jen herself –  I listen to it walking to and from work; not only does it distract me from the cold, it’s exhilirating with a leaf pile worth of humour.

“By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.”

[Here’s a picture of my tapestry, because I’ve even leant it out. *cough* read it *cough*]

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How To Stop Time Matt Haig

A book recommendations of mine would definitely be incomplete without something written by Matt Haig. I walked into a bookshop, saw it on the new release shelf,  and bought it – without reading the synopsis. Matt Haig is just one of this authors who never disappoints – and with How To Stop Time, he went above and beyond. Being mostly based in London, I loved that I could relate to the places the main character, Tom, mentions. However, this book takes you on a journey with relationships Tom makes and breaks, and distances, such as America and Australia.

“Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret.

He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries…”

I’m going cut off the synopsis there, please just pick up the book and read it. Not only will it occupy a full, rainy day spent indoors, it will keep you enticed from the first to the last page.

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Nemesis Brendan Reichs

Last but 100%, certainly, absolutely, to-the-nines, not least is Nemesis by Brendan Reichs. Some may argue this is a YA fiction novel, but for me it was an exceptional plot that I couldn’t predict. I’ll give you a snippet of the synopsis (which is extremely long because the book is jam-packed) so you get an idea.

“It’s been happening since Min was eight. Every two years, on her birthday, a strange man finds her and murders her in cold blood. But hours later, she wakes up in a clearing just outside her tiny Idaho hometown—alone, unhurt, and with all evidence of the horrifying crime erased.”

HOW ARE YOU NOT HOOKED ALREADY? It ended on such a cliff hanger, but I erratically searched the internet for a glimmer of hope for a sequel, and it’s coming my friends.

It’s coming.

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“Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.” – Stephen King

Be sure to comment your favourite wintertime read down below!

Happy reading & happy Winter and festive season to all!

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Ignite

I still find myself trying to figure out how a passion is ignited, how a mood is lightened, how a day is made, by such simple things. If you live in London, you would have realised that the last few days have been beyond beautiful – blue skies, windless parks, and sun that is above 15ºC and has actual heat to it.

It was Friday last week, and I was having a pretty good day. I blame this living in London thing, any hint of sun and my day becomes that much brighter (no joke intended). So, on this fine, Spring day I was walking through the park and I saw a man on a longboard and I wanted to instantly hurl in envy. The sunglasses, the cool hat, the effortless glide of wheels on pavement; I wanted that back. In NZ, my Dad makes longboards. In total he’s made a miniature cruiser, and three longboards varying in shape. Living on the beach, in a beautiful town built on coastal hills, a longboard was the coolest way to get around. Picture this: You’ve finished work and you’ve changed into your favourite loose shirt. You grab your headphones and your board, and with an upbeat song blasting in your headphones, you’re carving through the beach roads, with the setting sun glistening on perfectly blue waves with an island in the distance? … Picture perfect right? It makes me sort of homesick in a way because that part of coastal life is something to miss. This scene is also possibly one of the things I look forward to recreating most when I go home for a visit next year. It was that image, that perfect image, flashing through my mind in the park that made my blood curdle green. I almost bought one last summer, and seeing this skater made me realise I couldn’t go another summer without it. So with the word impatient in mind, I had a board purchased and paid for from my phone screen through squinting eyes within 10 minutes .

My board arrived three days later and I couldn’t have been more excited. I was tracking it on the map as it circled in on my street. I tore open the box, and I couldn’t stop smiling. It wasn’t my Dad’s but it was damn near as special: a pinstripe, bamboo, 41″ pintail cruiser. I was stoked, I still am. The first chance of freedom, I was out there sailing the streets of London; the sun and Thames filling me with almost as much glee as boarding the coast in New Zealand did. I think even the simple thing of being on a board with a favourite song playing in my ears, is enough to ignite a genuine happiness within me. It’s just me, nobody else, I am in 100% control and totally free.

Ultimately I don’t know what the point of this blog is, but I wanted to share this simple thing that has made my last week so beautiful. As the days get longer, and as the sun shines brighter, I can’t wait to spend my second summer in London with friends and things that make me happy.

Survival Instincts

From a young age you always hear the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and more often than not people will say this to you as a piece of ‘much required’ wisdom.  As much as I accept this phrase about not holding prejudice based on someone’s outward appearance, I do slightly disagree.

Judgment is an inherent quality that our brain feeds with experience. We have established this instinct for survival; the judgments we make are what permit, or prohibit, things to get close to the core of our lives. Moving to a new country, I found myself surrounded with the unknown in things as simple as a phone shop. I spent the first month making choices purely based off harsh judgment and gut feeling.  There were the initial times of pharmaceutical and grocery shopping, I would walk an extra block to shop at a chain-store over a cheapened corner shop. When I was flat hunting, as simply as talking to a person over the phone, I would judge the landlord on the language they used, and immediately accept or decline the idea. For all I know these are the simple judgements that have extended my life, or have caused me to miss out on opportunities.

So what happens when you take a leap of faith and do leave things up to chance? Once I was settled within a house, had a group of friends, and had all standard life requirements organised, I went through a phase of doing spontaneous adventures; going outside of my comfort zone with relation to cafes, experiences and stores. I think the key point here is that because I was successfully living, not only attempting to adapt and survive to this new environment, I didn’t need that safety net of judging everything as heavily as I once had. I remember phone calls home, discussing this exact topic with my parents.  There comes a point where after the judging and hard work has been done, you do need to loosen the reigns of planning, and live life day by day, decision by decision. Sometimes there are positive consequences to veering away from that planned path of judging things critically. This way of living, or leaving life to serendipity, is what makes for a more rounded life. You come across things you may have never knew existed, you may meet people who are destined to be in your life, or find a new passion.

Judgement is something that is I believe to be socially acceptable when you feel that your life or well-being is at risk. I think that we need to make decisions for ourselves based off our intuitions and personal judgements; ultimately we have to live with our own decisions and choices, so we need to be satisfied with them. Nevertheless, don’t forget to give things a chance; we need judgement to survive, but we need spontaneity to live.