Thoughts on social media and blogging

I used to follow dozens, maybe even more than a hundred blogs. I saved book reviews from them, used them to see what people were generally saying about a book, and linked my reviews to other people’s reviews.

As my favourite bloggers have wandered off (mostly to have kids, though a few of them have come back, or become bestselling authors – I’m looking at Books I Done Read, Iris on Books, The Sleepless Reader, Teadevotee – sometimes to become serious open water swimmers and marathon runners) I ended up with a blog reader split into “favourite book blogs” where there were very few posts and I never read them anyway, and hundreds of unread posts in “book blogs”.

The internet is just too big to try to keep up with everything that everyone is saying. That’s why I like Twitter better than Facebook – no one expects you to keep up with everything that happens on Twitter, whereas I know of at least two occasions warranting at the very least email invitations if not phone call invitations that were organised just on Facebook with the attitude that if the person isn’t on Facebook, they’re not important!? I took a break from social media for the first part of Lent 2016 and while I ended up going back because I felt I was disconnecting from friends I had on Twitter and missing out on enjoying people’s pretty pictures on Instagram, I’m not going back to Facebook in anywhere near as big a way and I’m still contemplating removing myself from it altogether and just making sure I catch up with certain people by email more.

I also moved my blog reader more towards personal blogs and “good living”/lifehacking and a dose of parenting: Modern Mrs Darcy, Back To Her Roots, The Happiness Project, Hey Let’s Make Stuff, Lifehacker, Coffee and Crumbs, Time Management Ninja (which I used to read a lot and now don’t so much). I find these ones so much easier to sift through for things I’m really interested in or where I know I will enjoy reading the content, and just mark as read things I know I don’t care about (this applies to about 85% of Lifehacker posts).

It was blogs like MMD and BTHR that made me think I needed to change the direction of my blog – and it’s probably no coincidence that a lot of these are written by women in their late 20s and 30s who have 1-4 kids. Apparently, subconsciously, I’ve changed the group from whom I want to learn. I used to want to learn (what to read) from voracious readers; now I want to learn how to enjoy this insane season of new parenthood and work and activity. Is it fair to say that these 10 years are probably going to be the busiest and best of my life?

Hence the re-launch and the changes in my reading. I guess reading blogs on the commute became the replacement for reading books – short personal essays (which is really what blog posts are) are much more digestible in 8 minute intervals at 6.40am than a few pages of a novel!

What? there’s still someone here?

New blog, new… what? New me? Definitely not. Slightly changed me, for sure.

This used to be exclusively a book review blog, with occasional life-related chat, and I also used to have a cycling blog which never really got off the ground at Adventures with Cecily*. Now that I do not read anywhere near as much, nor cycle that much, I wanted a more general blog – more in the style of Modern Mrs Darcy, whose blog I adore reading. So – I’m doing a bit of a blog re-launch.

What to expect

Fewer books, though hopefully more books than in the last year or two!

More general life stuff (upcoming: bullet journaling, goal setting, resuming cycling)

More simplicity. I just don’t have time for a million systems any more. I used to log my reading on LibraryThing and on Goodreads, and I’m giving up on both of those. I like some of the community aspects of both, but social media provides quite enough (too much?) community for me already and I wasn’t really getting anything else from these that I’m not getting between the blog, Twitter, a spreadsheet for tracking my reading and, you know, actually talking to people.

Less edited writing. I won’t pretend that my writing was particularly edited beforehand (and I’m such a stickler for spell-checking and formatting that I’ll no doubt be highly embarrassed if I make typos!), but in the interests of just getting posts written and out there (which is what I’m aiming for), some of that gloss is going to be abandoned. I’m doing this so that I have a daily/multiple-times-a-week writing practice, not so I have a super fancy blog from which to make £££.

What not to expect

Me to write any more intelligently, concisely or insightfully. This is my corner of the internet to chat, and if you want to come over here to chat with me, that’s fantastic! But I certainly won’t pretend I have all the answers. (Does anybody?)

Fancy photographs. Ain’t got time for that.

* Cecily got stolen and has been replaced by Jack (speedy road bike) and Gwendolyn (Dutch style bike). Cycling with Other Characters from The Importance of Being Earnest is a less catchy title.

Some recent DNFs

<<mandatory “gosh it’s been a while since I posted. Baby stuff” disclaimer>>

So, maybe my concentration span has been destroyed by the experience of a small person, and maybe I’m just finding it tough to get time to read, but I’ve had a run of Did Not Finish books recently. A quick round-up (I won’t bother with ratings, and I won’t be counting them in my statistics for the year, or noting on LibraryThing or Goodreads that I read them):

The Piper’s Son, Melina Marchetta. I quite enjoyed Saving Francesca, and you can bet I’ll be putting a copy of Looking for Alibrandi in Bookmark’s hands at some point in her teenage years. But this one totally failed to grip me – not least because of the sheer number of male characters referenced but not seen; I found it impossible to keep track of them all. Filched from the box of books Mini-Me was throwing out, read 50 pages, dumped it at the Tube.

piper's son

Disclaimer, Renee Knight. A woman reads a novel which seems to be entirely about her. She tries to get in touch with someone she once knew. That woman’s husband is trying to get in touch with the “character”. There has been some unspeakable event. Much Too Confusing. Abandoned my NetGalley copy.


The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins. The world has been going crazy about this one, and I just didn’t get into it. Partly because I found the narrator unsympathetic from the get-go, partly because I struggled to tell characters apart/keep them straight in my head. So… abandoned my NetGalley copy.

girl on the train

Londoners, Craig Taylor. I have been listening to this one since before Bookmark was born (in fact, I was trying to listen to some of it while in early labour…) it’s a good book, but it does not lend itself well to audio format. The individual stories are too disjointed to be able to be retained in the memory between listens. So after renewing it from the library 23498719384 times, I’m abandoning it.


The Collector, Anne-Laure Thieblemont – this sounded really attractive on the mailing from Le French Book, but either the writing is bad or the translation, because the language in the first few chapters was too clunky for me to want to carry on with it. I might be missing out on a gem, but I was reading in red-pen mode and that’s a bad sign for a book. the collector

Jane Austen imitations

“Upon my word, Caroline, I should think it more possible to get Pemberley by purchase than by imitation.”

I’m reading Georgiana Darcy’s Diary by Anna Elliott* which is free on the Kindle at the moment. It’s pleasant enough but given my limited reading time these days I think I’ll be abandoning it soon.

During Advent with Austen some years ago, and since, I have got into some of the Austen fan-writing (Lizzy and Jane, Death Comes To Pemberley, Darcy’s StoryJane Austen Made Me Do It), but none of it has really stuck with me.

I’m perplexed by this need to continue Austen’s story. Why must authors take up their pens and keyboards, giving Elizabeth a pregnancy, giving Wickham more terrible deeds, making Jane and Bingley even more nauseatingly happy?

I read Bridget Jones’ Diary as a teenager and it took me most of the book to realise it was a Pride & Prejudice homage – only “Darcy” seemed to be the link! Much less clunky.

Anyhow. End of my whinging. Georgiana is a perfectly satisfactory example of the genre, but I’ve lost patience with the genre as a whole.

*it amuses me that the author has a name so similar to one of my favourite Austen heroines. A nom de plume, perhaps?

Top Ten Tuesday – Diversity


July 21: Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters (example: features minority/religious minority, socioeconomic diversity, disabled MC,  neurotypical character, LGBTQ etc etc.)


I’m answering this one because I want to see whether I can actually name 10!

1. The Flavia de Luce series – the de Luce family are Catholic (definitely a minority in the UK, particularly in the 1950s) and the narrator refers to this frequently.

2. Alan Marshall’s I Can Jump Puddles – I remember this book so clearly because the idea (to me, as a 9?-year-old) of being so disabled by a common childhood illness was so strange to me. A beautiful, wonderful book – well, it is in my mind anyway!

3. Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. All over the news at the moment because of Go Set A Watchman being released, but I think that this, and other books featuring unjust accusation of African Americans in a predominately white society (at least one, if not two or three, of the John Grisham books are in this mold?) definitely deserve a mention here.

4. Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi – being an Italian Australian is almost as big a theme in this as being a child born out of wedlock.

5. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) is entirely about diversity (or lack of it).

6. Narnia! How did I get to item 6 on the list before I thought of the Narnia books?

7. Several of Amy Tan’s books touch on being Chinese in the USA and assorted cultural conflicts.

8. Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto is full of cross-cultural conflict and romance – particularly the romance between Gen (Japanese translator) and Carmen (illiterate rebel native to the unnamed Central/South American country)

9. Anne of Green Gables? Orphan, red hair, often picked on for one or the other…

10. William Golding’s Lord of the Flies – is it a stretch to list Piggy as a diverse character?

This was a real challenge – and several of mine are a stretch!

Books I should have read and which The Physicist says it is embarrassing that I have not read:

Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited

J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (“It’s even got 4 different species of characters, how much more diverse can you get?”)

All sci-fi/fantasy, ever.

The Bible (OK, I’ve read most of this in small pieces)

22 Dead Little Bodies – Stuart MacBride – 7/10

“The Espace pulled forward up the ramp, apparently unaware that they had nearly had an extra three passengers in the back seat, complete with patrol car.”


So, I’m not getting a lot of reading done at the moment. See Exhibit 1: a 3-month-old Bookmark. I’ve written about it ad nauseam.

I read this in two sittings (over two days).

Great fiction it’s not, but:

– I’ve never read any of the others in the series, and had no trouble with the characters or any pre-events (there’s one bit that seems a little out of character so now I want to read the earlier books to make sense of it!)

– It was definitely gripping and I plowed through the pages

– It’s got a very strong sense of setting in Aberdeen – a great mix of accents, local landmarks, the mix of suburbia and a seedier underbelly

– Both McRae and Steel are well-developed characters (Steel felt somewhat caricatured) and minor characters are left to be just that.

Good fun.

Additional information

Copy turned up unsolicited in the post, I presume from the publisher!
Publisher: HarperCollins, 172 pages (paperback)
Order 22 Dead Little Bodies from Amazon*Waterstones or Foyles
* this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards give-aways and site hosting

You know, stuff…

Ah, life with a newborn. Turns out, I don’t read when I’m in my house. And I’m always in my house these days.

So while I have several audiobooks on the go (essential for long pram walks), and I read something on my Kindle over the course of several nights a few weeks ago (while we were teaching Bookmark to go to sleep in her crib and stay that way), not much reading is happening here.

What audiobooks have I got on the go? (* marks affiliate links)

The 5th Flavia de Luce, Speaking from Among the Bones*. I was delighted to discover that Westminster Library had the audiobook through OneClick Digital – so easy to download straight onto my phone, and free. And listen to through Bluetooth headphones while I did some gardening…

Londoners*by Craig Taylor. I started this while I was pregnant and while I am enjoying listening to the stories, it seems harder to hang onto them in my mind than if I were reading them. Or something like that. I keep wanting to take notes, which is tricky when you’re out walking with a Bookmark.

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Livesby Gretchen Rubin – I read her blog avidly and have enjoyed both of her previous books The Happiness Project and Happier At Home. In fact, it was Happier At Home that I re-read on the Kindle. I’m enjoying Better Than Before, but I have the same problem that I do with Londoners – I want to take notes!

Other things, not bookish, in my life…

I was talking about the Myers-Briggs personality test with a friend recently – so I re-took it and landed splat on the boundary between ISFJ and ISTJ. And those two are called The Nurturer and The Duty Fulfiller. So… no surprises there then.

On a similar theme, the Watson Personality Insights Demo analyses your writing (content, not handwriting)… and came out with some impressively accurate conclusions based on blog posts. I’d love to see the coding behind this one.