Weddings in Bookshops and Giggles on the L…

As I’m visiting New York for the first time, I decided to read something by a local author… So of course I went to the wonderful Housing Works bookshop in Manhattan. I have been buying books from them for years (over the Internet of course), so it was amazing to actually step inside their store in person… 


Did you know they do weddings?! They closed early for one while I was there. I found this photo on Yelp:

It was at Housing Works that I found Jesse Eisenberg’s ‘Bream Gives Me Hiccups’. A wonderfully zany collection of stories…You can expect wry incites into the modern day and an abundance of humour. 


The collection opens with a set of ‘restaurant reviews’ from a young boy (with an underlying commentary on his relationship with his divorcee mother). 


This is followed by a series of midnight text messages between a brother and sister; a father’s guide to the medications his son is prescribed; a series of conversations where men try to avoid invitations to dance; letters written to a high school guidance councillor; a monologue from a middle school bully; personalised spam emails; a series of imagined historic conversations; and so on…. 


What happens when a young boy, asked to wear his seatbelt, continues to question “why” in ‘Bream Gives Me Hiccups’, you ask? This is your answer (or part of it!):

Eisenberg’s selective use of stereotypes and attraction to cultural issues, make this a timely, funny and thought provoking book. It’s topics and approach may be ‘eccentric’ and ‘fluid’, but there is no doubt that for the reader, this book is a tour de force. 

I giggled on the subway and people stared… I didn’t care. #JesseEisenbergGaveMeGiggles

Okay, so I’m a Feminist… in Washington

Last week I was in Washington DC for the first time and spent an evening at Busboys and Poets, where I bought my first book on feminism at the grand age of 28… You could say I’m a little behind the curve on this one. Oh well!

In Arlington, opposite the Signature Theatre – now showing a fabulous production of La Cage aux Filles!

Bread pudding in the cafe!


Fem-I-ism: Belief in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” –p.14

Jessica Valenti’s thoughtful and classic book ‘Full Frontal Feminism’ has made a covert of me, because, guess what? I do care about women’s issues. I don’t want to see a glass ceiling in the workplace and I do want equal pay. I don’t want a bunch of male politicians telling me what I can or can’t do with my own body either and, strangely enough, I want to be able to walk down a normal city street without fear (of rape). I don’t want to try to live small, be small, in an attempt to fit an antiquated, yet traditional, ‘female’ ideal… And I would like my marriage (one day) to be an equal partnership. I also want childcare costs to not be a factor as regards my being able to return to work after having a child. I could go on…

‘Full Frontal Feminism’ is no heavy academic tome. It’s accessible – blunt, practical and not a little witty. Although I don’t always agree with Valenti’s perspective, I found her book to be full of scary and illuminating facts – from enacted laws (in the US and abroad) and population statistics, case studies and personal anecdotes etc. So if you’re trying to decide whether or not you are in fact a feminist, this is the book for you! It will spark an understanding of modem injustices and inequalities and, yes, likely convince you that more needs to be done to combat these instances.

Jessica:

When you’re getting abstinence-only education during the day and Girls Gone Wild commercials at night, if’s not exactly easy to develop a heathy sexuality.” pp.20-21

Both harassment and rape are the results of a culture that teaches men that women exist solely for them, their desires.” –p.79

The government wants happy housewives. More than they want financially secure women.” –p.131

One of the main problems with feminism today is its inability to recruit younger women and keep them interested.” –p.173

We should tell girls the truth; ‘Beautiful’ is bullshit, a standard created to make women into good consumers, too busy wallowing in self-loathing to notice that we’re second-class citizens.” –p.204

Men have body standards to live up to as well…. But their[s] – big, strong, muscular – push them to be strong, to take up space. Ours – skinny, skeletal, weak – push us to be fragile, to take up less space, to disappear.” –p.217

Perseverance and an ability to get shit done are generally thought of as good qualities in male politicians.But as a woman, you can’t win. ‘Cause if you’re not a “bitch”, you’re too “soft” for politics.” –p.224

Value yourself for what the media doesn’t – your intelligence, your street smarts, your ability to play a kick-ass game of pool, whatever.” –p.246

Just So You Know:

– April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

– October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

– The American Psychiatric Association says that “government restrictions on abortion are more likely to cause women lasting harm than the procedure itself.”

– Women are 40% more likely to be poor.

– Statistics show that mothers earn less and less with each child they have – the Mummy Wage Gap.

– The REAL Hot 100 list features women who are hot for what they do, not how they look.
So it’s a list woman could actually vote for!

A Week in Scotland

visited quite a few gardens last week, in search of flowering rhododendrons and camellias, including Drumlanrig Castle (with its great topiary); Logan House Gardens; Logan Botanical Garden; Ardwell Gardens (with its magical ‘pond walk’); Castle Kennedy (with its wonderful walled garden); Glenwhan Gardens (Tessa’s garden is so colourful!); Galloway House Gardens (by the sea); Claymoddie Gardens; and Corsock House Gardens (with its fun sculptures).

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Logan Botanical Garden – The ‘Filo Pastry’ Tree

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Glenwhan Gardens

I also spent some time in The Bookshop which is situated in the town of Wigtown (“Scotland’s National Book Town”). This particular bookstore is Scotland’s largest second-hand bookstore, home to one very friendly black and white cat, various chairs, ladders, lamps, many hidden nooks… and thousands of titles. I bought two books; a copy of Alan Ginsberg’s ‘Howl and Other Poems‘ (Poetry section) and a copy of Deborah Cadbury’s ‘The Dinosaur Hunters‘ (Archaeology section).

Outside 'The Book Shop'

Outside ‘The Bookshop’

Inside 'The Book Shop'

Inside ‘The Bookshop’

I could have spent a whole day there, but as it was, we only had two hours to spare… One day I’ll go back – I’ve heard they’re planning to start offering Bed and Breakfast soon (yes please!). I’m now following their hilarious Facebook updates.

I purchased this picture in another 'bookish' Wigtown shop!

I purchased this picture in another ‘bookish’ Wigtown shop!

Do you have a favourite bookshop, or a fun bookish quote to share?

Nighttime Charity Event

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On the night of May 9th, Holly and I are doing a 15k walk/run to raise money for CancerCare; support for sufferers and their families is important.

I’m looking for sponsorship… And I promise I will post up lots of pictures of the walk for anyone who’s interested – expect a tweet-a-thon on the 9th via @thebookhour #starwalk


Any money donated via JustGiving goes directly to charity – it’s a great website!

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Updated: 15th May 2015

The event raised a total of £30,000 for CancerCare!

Just setting off...

Just setting off…

We were followed around the town by two ambulances.

We were followed around the town that night by two ambulances.

At the finish line - 15km and 2 hours, 59 minutes later.

Holly and myself at the finish line – 15km and 2 hours, 59 minutes later.

Woodland Fell and Beacon Fell

At the moment, I’m walking my way through Wainwright’s Outlying Fells. IMG_1259Yesterday morning, two of us headed out towards High Furness to tackle the Woodland Fell walk – which also takes in Beacon Tarn. The views were stunning; although, at one point, we got a little lost looking for “a prominent depression” and an “ancient cairn” (which was impossible to spot from the adjacent fell)! Fortunately we found both eventually. woodland fell

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View back towards Coniston from Woodland Fell.

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Beacon Tarn.

This morning we decided to approach the same range of hills, but from Coniston side this time, to complete Wainwright’s ‘Beacon Fell’ walk.

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Cairn on Beacon Fell, overlooking Coniston Water.

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Looking across to the Old Man, from The Cumbria Way (2nd half of the walk).

February: Four Weeks In Jersey

I’ve just returned from 4 gorgeous weeks in the Channel Islands – dog-sitting for a friend – so I thought I’d post up some doggy-centric pictures…

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If you haven’t been yet, Jersey is THE place for stunning coastal walks and there are quite a few WW2 bunkers and gunneries still left on the island, which are fascinating from a historical standpoint.

My favourite spot on the island was Val de la Mare reservoir, because as you look out across it you get amazing views of St Ouen’s Bay (a five mile stretch of beach!).

Hope you guys enjoy the pics!

January Resolutions!

Hi guys, I know I’ve been MIA for a while, but I’ve been busy, honest! Anyway, let’s just get on and talk resolutions! You know you want to! Things I want to do this year…

Be adventurous – I want to climb AT LEAST one mountain.

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Do more zumba – dancing makes me smile, smiling is important…

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Find a job that makes me SUPER happy/tired/fulfilled – I can’t start applying for things until March (as I’m away in February), but when I do start the ball rolling I will only be applying for jobs which truly excite me.

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Cook with cauliflower – I know this may seem random, but I’ve cooked nearly every other veg out there (courgette, swede, aubergine etc) and cauliflower is what’s left. So I want to try cauliflower pizza bases, cauliflower cheese, cauliflower everything!!

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And visit old friends – I have one particular friend who’s just upped sticks and moved to San Francisco, so I’d love to visit him there. And when I go, this is one of the places I’d love to see:

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The 16th Avenue Steps!!

So what will your resolutions be this year?