So, this is a strange new world we’re all living in. I’m in the UK – where we have been on lockdown for almost three weeks now – and oh my gosh I have never accomplished so many random jobs around the house. As the title of this post alludes to, I have built a new bookshelf (it was from IKEA, I’m not bored enough to make furniture from scratch yet), organised my sock drawer (along with every other drawer and a good portion of my wardrobe), and started scheduling little activities into my calendar just to feel normal again. But honestly? In an embarrassing turn of events, it turns out my normal everyday life looks a lot like a enforced government lockdown. Uh, oops.
Now I know everyone’s situation will vary, depending on where you are in the world and how much the virus personally affects you. In the UK we’re still allowed to go out to work, if jobs cannot be done from home. I pack and send orders for an online company, which could not be done from home even if I wanted to move a whole warehouse of stock into my living room. (Hint: I don’t.) Therefore I do still get out of the house for a reasonable amount of time every day. Still, this hasn’t stopped a certain amount of stir-craziness creeping in. So, I thought I’d share some updates on the random things I’ve been doing to occupy my time.
🍋 I Built a New Bookshelf 🍋
I finally have a BILLY bookcase from IKEA! Am I one of the cool kids now? Jokes aside, I can see why every single bookstagrammer owns at least one of these bookcases now – they’re cheap, as easy to build as you can reasonably expect flat pack furniture to be, and they look good.
My new bookcase is on the right, with the old one on the left. The new one is in need of a few more books (in my opinion, anyway) while the old one is just glad to be relieved of some of its load. My creative stacking techniques for cramming more books than should rightly fit on a shelf has caused the top one to bend! You can probably see it in the picture. We bookworms may struggle under the weight of our TBRs, but think about the poor shelves that have to hold them!
🍋 I Took Up Life Drawing (Again) 🍋
In the throes of boredom, and with no plans to look forward to, I decided to set myself a challenge instead. With the help of the Croquis Cafe I’ve been doing a virtual life drawing session every night. It helps to have a routine and something to anticipate doing every night. It’s always good to practice your skills and I honestly can’t think of a better time to start doing it. As a side note, do you like my creative censoring technique? 😂 Just a little something I remembered from my old Instagram days.
🍋 I Built a Reading Nook 🍋
Lucky for me I’d redecorated my bedroom just before the pandemic actually earned that name. This meant I had a lot of new furniture and decorations to play with. And so, the reading nook was born.
In all honesty, not that impressive, it’s a rug and three cushions. But it’s comfy and quite soft, so it’s been a nice little spot for me to hide from the world and bury my nose in a book (or two or three).
🍋 I Planted Some Windowsill Seeds 🍋
My mum discovered a bunch of half used packets of windowsill seeds so we planted them all on various windowsills around the house. The original idea was to race them. My cress is winning by a mile, and the mustard next to it is starting to come up too. It’s the little things in life.
🍋 I Ordered Bookish Merch 🍋
So Jay Kristoff brought out clothing and I threw my money at him. If I’m going to be stuck in my house then you’d best believe I’m doing it in style.
🍋 I Made a TBR Jar! 🍋
Okay, this is probably my favourite thing I’ve done so far. I found myself looking at my bookshelves, getting completely overwhelmed and panicking because I just had no idea what to read next. How could I choose when there were so many good options?? So I took the choice out of it. I sat down with a notebook and wrote out the title of every unread book I owned. Then I cut out each one and folded it up so I couldn’t see what was written on them. With that, I shoved them all into a pretty cup, shook it up a bit, and made a vow to never choose what book I was reading again. It’s up to fate now.
So far I’m on my third book from the jar and I’m absolutely loving what it’s done for my reading. The anticipation of finding out what book I’m going to read next just makes me that much more excited to read it – even when it’s something that I would never have chosen before. Reading feels so fun again.
🍋 I Found Out I’m Terrible at Wii Sports 🍋
What do you do when you can’t go outside? Resurrect the Ninendo Wii, it seems. I think me and my mum settled the score once and for all when it comes to who is the worst at Wii Sports baseball: both of us. For starters, I’m British and therefore have no idea how baseball is played. Like, at all. And second, I’m just not that good at Wii Sports. I’m sure going at least 6 years without practising hasn’t helped.
🍋 I’ve Stopped Watching the News 🍋
Honestly, I recommend everyone stop watching the news. It’s not good for anybody’s mental health right now. But my favourite thing about this point is what I’ve been watching instead. Rather than putting on the morning news, I put the TV on a kid’s channel and watch cartoons. It’s actually the best way to start your day – they’re so positive and uplifting, full of good moral messages and brightly coloured characters. I’m actually jumping out of bed earlier because I’m excited to go watch Paw Patrol while I eat my breakfast. Seriously, try it! I bet you’ll fall in love with this uplifting start to your day, too.
You may be thinking, “This is all well and lovely, Abi, but where are the books? This is a book blog, after all.” Fear not, my friend! Here is a breakdown of everything I’ve read (so far) during lockdown.
Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle #3) by Jay Kristoff
I did it! I finished The Nevernight Chronicle! Wowee, what a ride. There’s not much I can say about the last book in a trilogy without venturing into massive spoiler territory, but I will say this: while I’m satisfied with the ending of the story, I think these books were always more about the journey than the destination. Savour them, safe in the knowledge that you’re already enjoying the best bit. You can read my full review on Goodreads.
The Joy of Missing Out: Live More By Doing Less by Tanya Dalton
Sometimes when I don’t feel too much like reading I’ll just put a self-help audiobook on while I’m working. It’s my personal favourite way to keep my reading goal of one book a week up without forcing myself to put too much effort into reading. It’s quite a cheesy title, but this book explains simple ideas and processes to help you pinpoint your goals and embrace true productivity. Nothing too revolutionary, but I enjoyed listening.
The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man by Jonas Jonasson
Ah, Jonas Jonasson – my go-to books when I need cheering up. His particular brand of storytelling is one involving a wacky cast of characters and a ridiculous set of coincidences. Each of his books is brilliantly funny, making me laugh like not much else can. So basically, exactly what I need when the world seems to be falling apart. Lucky for me I had one book of Jonasson’s left that I hadn’t read – this one. So I promptly stuck my nose into it, and came out feeling a lot better than I did before. Nothing lightens the soul quite like laughter.
Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher
This was the first book to be picked from the TBR Jar! And after 112 pages I DNF’d it. It was just really not working for me, and when I found myself skimming across whole pages I knew it was time to find something else to read. In all honesty, this was a bit of a cover buy in the first place.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
So along came the second book to be pulled from the TBR Jar! A really old NetGalley ARC that was supposed to be reviewed by… wait for it… January 2019. Well, better over a year late than never, I guess. This was a very quick read (I got through it in 3 hours sitting in the garden – the UK had sun this weekend!) which presented an interesting family dynamic. I was slightly disappointed by the lack of humour, considering it was billed as a “blackly comic novel”. In the end it was fairly ‘middle of the road’, so I rated it 3 stars.
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Most of you will probably have heard of Jandy’s other novel I’ll Give You the Sun, but I don’t see much about her earlier release The Sky is Everywhere. The two are very similar in terms of the vibrant, exuberant writing, which seems so energetic it just flies off the page. This is a love story intermixed with a tragedy, following Lennie Walker as she falls in love in the wake of her sister’s death. It’s moving and beautiful, as heartbreaking as it is heartwarming. It had everything I adored about I’ll Give You the Sun – magical, passionate writing, crazy, vibrant characters and big, all-consuming love.
So, all in all? This lockdown has helped me get a lot of things done and read a bigger number of books. It doesn’t sound too bad when you think of it that way. Life is going to be a little strange for quite a while, but we all just have to do our best to keep positive and stay safe. Use this time to spend some time focusing on you! Read a book (or two or three or ten). We’ll make it through.