What to read when you can’t concentrate

Have you noticed that it’s harder to stay focused these days? I think the stress of self-isolation, working remotely while still attending to your home and domestic responsibilities, and so much time together with the same people is getting to us. It’s safe to say that these are very unusual times, even though states, provinces, and countries are trying to slowly return to normal. It has been an unprecedented, stressful time for everyone.

What if you don’t feel like sitting in front of the TV for another day? But the thought of picking up a book is just too much; it feels overwhelming. Here are a few suggestions that might help.

1. Read some comics.

Calvin & Hobbes comics are always good for a laugh, and they brighten the spirits.

2. Pick up a graphic novel. The stories are just as complex as a regular novel, but with far fewer words (sometimes no words at all!), so they won’t overwhelm.

If you haven’t read a graphic novel before, now is the time to try one! Lots of words, no words, short or long, there’s a graphic novel out there just for you.

3. Why not bust out those old coloured pencils and give adult colouring a try? It might just be the de-stressor you never knew you needed.

Click on the image to buy this book on Amazon. Image courtesy of Amazon.com

I hope you find these ideas helpful. It’s true we are living in strange times, but good can come from this disruption of our busy routines: more (quality?) time with family, more time outside getting healthy fresh air, and maybe a broadening of your bookish horizons.

Until next time, happy reading! 💜

Bored? Not anymore!

This is week 3 of working from home, for me, and week 4 of self-isolation. At first, so much extra time was filled the exciting possibilities that all my unread books presented, their time of languishing on my shelves finally coming to an end. But, as it turns out, there is only so much reading one can do over a period of several weeks, and one starts to get a bit stir-crazy, even knowing that adventures and new friends await in each new book.

If you’re in a rut, and starting to drift away from your books, take heart! There are still some things we can do that are not technically reading, but are still very much book-centric, and thus, almost as good. If you will allow me just a few minutes, I would like to walk you through the very easy process of making something fun: bookmarks! Make them funny, or scary, or beautiful – it’s all up to you.

  1. All you need is: a cutting mat and an X-Acto knife (or not even those, if you prefer to use scissors), a ruler, a pencil, glue stick, and some paper that you love. I used chiyogami paper, and some flyers that had graphics I was drawn to, but any paper will do – even wrapping paper works – whatever you have that makes you smile, and can be cut to about 2″ x 6″.
1. All you need to get started: scissors or a knife & cutting mat, pencil, ruler, glue stick, and your choice of paper.

After you make the bookmarks, you will need a means of laminating them, at an office supply store (once they open again), or you can use a home laminator, if you have one. If you don’t have a means of laminating, that’s okay! Once the glue has dried, they are ready to use until you can get them into that protective coating.

  1. Once you have the paper ready, measure a rectangle on the back it, over the part you want to be featured on your bookmark. It should measure two inches wide (we will fold this in half, so your bookmark will be one inch wide), and as long as you would like, usually between 6 and 8 inches.
2. Measure two inches across, and 6-8 inches long, being very careful that your lines are straight. Using the grid from a cutting mat will help you, if you have one.
  1. Next, cut along the rectangle you drew. Using a ruler will help you make sure the lines are perfectly straight.
Use a knife on a mat for quick, perfect edges. You can use scissors, but be careful to keep the lines straight.
  1. Once you have your rectangle, fold it in half lengthwise, creasing it very hard to give it a sharp fold. If your bottom and top edges do not match up exactly, just trim them up against the ruler.
Trim edges after the rectangle is folded, to make sure the sides match exactly.
  1. Once you have the paper folded, it’s time for the glue. Cover one half of the paper in a layer of glue, being sure to go beyond the edge of your paper. This ensures the glue will go right up to the edge of all three open sides, and prevent any lifting. Don’t press it together yet! Let the glue dry slightly, and then apply it again. After the second coat, firmly press the sides together, taking care to smooth any air bubbles out.
Apply two layers of glue, being sure to apply the glue beyond all the edges of the paper, to ensure full adhesion.
Ta-daa! Now all you need to do is laminate.

I hope this little project helps to settle some of your restlessness, and brightens your day at the same time. If you do end up making some bookmarks, please let me know in the comments! Good luck, and STAY HEALTHY 💜

Book Art: Malena Valcarcel

It’s been far too long since I’ve done a post on Book Art (almost exactly a year, oh my!), but I realized that although I have admired the gorgeous creations of this artist for some time, I somehow failed to do a post about them.

Malena Valcarcel is a book artist from Spain, and has a wonderful shop on Etsy. For the exceptional quality of work, her items are very reasonably priced. She even makes jewelry! Click on the pictures to go to the items on Malena’s website.

This is one of my favorites:
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And look at this one. Amazing!
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Malena’s work is incredible and ships anywhere in the world. I hope you have enjoyed looking at these treasures, and I also hope you head over to Etsy and treat yourself to some bookish art! 😉

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Interview with Words and Peace blog

Hello, Readers! A fellow blogger and I wanted to get to know each other a bit better, and also wanted to do a little advertising, so we’ve decided to co-publish an interview we did with each other on our blogs.

Emma from Words and Peace is posting my answers to these questions on her blog, and I hope you will enjoy her responses below, and also stop by her blog and get to know her!

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  1. What made you want to start a blog?

First of all, I would like to thank you Jess for interviewing me. The idea was born during BBAW, I’m glad we finally took the time to do this. Your followers who are interested in your answers can come and read them on my own book blog.

I launched Words And Peace in September 2010.
I have always loved reading and talking about books, to anyone ready to listen.
One day, I discovered evolution had produced a rare species, book bloggens. I was overjoyed to discover other members were not far from me, just a few computer keys away, and that I could communicate with them in a common language. So we started talking, and one day, I decided to join their lively community. I have not regretted it once.
So when I can’t talk books with people around me, I can always go and find other book bloggens members. Through them, I have discovered zillions of books I would never have heard about otherwise.

  1. What is it about books that is special to you?

I devour about 110 books every year, and I practice book polygamy, that is, I always read several books at the same time. I usually have one or more going on in print, one or more in a digital form, and always one in audio form. I am always in the process of reading a religious book, Lent or not, and I try to have another one pertaining to nonfiction as well.

So far, nothing that exceptional for a book blogger. Maybe more special is the fact that as soon as I have a minute when my hands are going to be busy and my brain free, I do not listen to music or podcasts, but to an audiobook: preparing dinner, doing the dishes, dusting, ironing, exercising or painting (I’m also an artist). Also during long road trips.

And I have decided not to have TV at home, so I basically have around 5 hours of leisure time every night to read. I usually do not read before 6pm, too busy with work (tutoring and translating novels), but after that, I can relax with a good book.

  1. What are some of the unexpected rewards that have come to you as a result of your blog?

When I started book blogging, as said above, I was just looking for a place to talk about books with others. In the process, I got familiar with all kinds of events related to book blogging, such as, among many other things, virtual book tours.
Visiting many other book bloggers and participating in blogging events made me become more aware of new releases and discover more closely the world of publishers. Little by little, I realized how many books published every month were set in France. So the idea gradually grew in me that there was a niche for me if I combined these two things.
That’s how book blogging led me to start my own virtual book tour company, in 2013, focused exclusively on books related to France.

For years, I’ve been aware of a heated debate among book bloggers, whether getting a book for free to review is pay enough, or whether you should get remunerated for talking time to read a book and write a review. There seems to be a brand new trend opening right now for book reviewers, where some companies are willing to pay to get some good quality honest reviews –we are not talking about “bribes” by sales platforms here. I have been recently accepted by one of these companies and another invitation is pending, so I have the feeling book blogging is going to morph for me and open onto other things down the line.

  1. Is blogging everything you thought it would be?

Book blogging has opened up wide horizons for me, much wider than I ever imagined, as far as connections with bloggers, authors, and publishers are concerned.

I had never thought either that it would push me to write public pieces on a regular basis in English, which is not my native language. It is quite exhilarating, even though I am aware of the persistent presence of syntax mistakes.
It has also offered to me the unexpected opportunity for more visibility regarding my translation jobs – I translate English novels into French, and I have the feeling this is also going to grow.
Besides, for whenever I have time, I also have a book project of my own. It will be the fruit of both my book blog and my virtual book tour site. I published an anthology a few years ago, so it would be really thrilling to put together a second book.
So book blogging has ended up being so much more than I thought it would be!

Thanks Jess, for your wonderful questions.

Emma at Words And Peace and France Book Tours

Words And Peace is also on FacebookTwitter, Google+Goodreads, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube

And you can see here the novels I have translated so far

*** Thank you for this fun opportunity to spread the word about a fellow book-lover’s blog. All the best to you, Emma, and to those who stopped by to read our interview. ***

Book-ify your office

Perhaps you, like me, love to be surrounded by books? And perhaps you also work in a place devoid of those articles which inspire, entertain, educate and delight. Did you know that without brining a stack of your own books to work and piling them on your desk, you can bring the books to you? It’s true! There are many ways to make your workspace more bookish, if need be.

  1. Library or bookish computer wallpaper. It’s true that this will be covered up for most of the day with various open and functioning apps, but to me it brings a smile every day when I log in and just before I log off.
  2. There’s always room for a book-themed poster or two (to three) on cubicle walls, so don’t be afraid to get something affordable from Art.com or Allposters.com and give yourself something to smile at all day long. This is what I have up in my workspace:
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  3. What about a library mousepad? Or a literary-themed calendar? I find that these little touches enable me to keep my inner book-lover alive and at peace while I spend my days away from actual books. And if you’re in my shoes, I hope these ideas will brighten your days as well.

Books in the News

There have been some interesting news stories about books lately, and even though I’ve Tweeted about them (@bookideasblog), I wanted to share some of the highlights here:

  1. Seattle’s First Private Library Open Not Just To Members, But All Who Love Books – from KPLU.org. I found this article very interesting, since I love books and the idea of a quiet, friendly place for bibliophiles to gather is always something I want to know about! If you’re interested, here is the library’s website: Folio

  2. Beatrix Potter story Kitty-in-Boots discovered after 100 years – from BBC.com. Who didn’t read Beatrix Potter stories growing up? We all did! And we love them still. I have to admit, I am a tiny bit disappointed that the illustrations will be in a style that is so different from the rest of the stories… but at least it’s another new Beatrix tale!

  3. Teen Starts #1000BlackGirlBooks Drive – from Bustle.com. This is an inspiring story that’s helping to bring about some much-needed change.

  4. How a City in France Got the World’s First Short-Story Vending Machines – from NewYorker.com. This is the coolest thing since ice! Choosing from 1, 3 or 5 – the number of minutes it will take to read the story. And they’re free! Thank you, France.

I hope you enjoy these interesting and bookish news stories as much as I did!

 

Books about Bookstores!

As a bibliophile, I enjoy reading books where a bookstore features prominently in the story. I love bookstores; I dream of spending my days in one. So when I find a book with characters whose lives are intimately connected with a bookstore, naturally I enjoy reading it a little more than the others.

Here is a short list of some books that might appeal to those other bibliophiles out there, and I do apologize for some repeats from my earlier posts.

1. The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley (1919)
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By now in the public domain and available through Print On Demand, this book is absolutely delightful. It features an atmospheric bookstore with a lovably eccentric owner; suspense and intrigue with just a touch of terrorism; romance, and a great many books.

2. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (2012)
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This novel was immediately absorbing, and I enjoyed every page of it. The protagonist ends up working in a very unusual bookstore quite by chance, and it ends up changing his life. Plus, we get an interesting glimpse into the world of Google. I’m not sure how I feel about the ending, but the journey to get there was wonderfully imaginative.

3. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (2014)
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Published just last year, and having received many commendations, you’ve no doubt at least heard of this book, if not already read it yourself. It is indeed heart-warming, touching, poignant, as well as funny, uplifting and an endearing tale of love and new life. And of course, it’s set around (and in) a bookstore!

4. Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries by Mark Leslie (2014)
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If you are at all intrigued by the supernatural, and also love books, then THIS is a book you will enjoy. And who knows, your local bookstore may be in it! Full of eye-witness account of real hauntings in Canada, the United States and abroad, it is an interesting, educational and spooky read.