Just Start Typing

It’s been a long time since I blogged anything like even semi-regularly. I started this blog because I wanted somewhere that was less…rigid than my previous blog, less tied up in feeling like I had to always post about books, and if I did post about books, that I had to always post long reviews that I’d wrangled over for hours. And yet I’ve found myself in exactly the same pattern. Obviously with much more time at home of late,  I’ve thought about blogging. It seems stupid that with more time, I’m still stalled, but in my head I felt like there had to be a significant post to signal A Return. Some words worth being those that re-started (or, let’s be honest, started) this blog in my tiny corner of the Internet. Then the other day I got over myself. All I really had to do was start typing.

So that’s what I’m doing. Just typing for now. I’d like to catch up on the books I’ve been reading, the food I’ve been cooking , the places I’ve been (pre-lockdown, obviously). And there’s only one way to do that.

I know that a lot of people have been struggling to read among all of the upheaval. Thankfully, that hasn’t been my experience! I’ve read a lot in the last couple of months. I was aiming to read a book a week in 2020 and if GoodReads is to be believed, I’m tracking at 5 books ahead of that. In part, that’s because I went on holiday for a week in early March (a lucky break just before lockdown) and read something bonkers like 7 books in 8 days. But otherwise, I’ve genuinely been excited about what I’m reading. I’m currently about 350 pages into the 600-something page tome that is The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova. I’ve owned it for about 9 years without reading it. I’ve moved house with it at least twice. I started it, thinking I could always put it down if I didn’t like it and I’d at least have tried it. And I am loving it! It’s a character driven novel with loads of details about painting and art. All usually huge turn offs for me. And yet, I find myself totally hooked. Go figure. It was reading that, and being so surprised about it, that finally gave me a kick up the arse to blog again.

One thing I haven’t been doing so well at is stopping buying books. At the start of the year, I really wanted to read some of the books I’d owned for years and to get the number of books I owned but hadn’t read below 500 (I know). But recently buying books has been as much of a comfort as reading. And if it makes me happy for at least the 10 minutes that I’m scrabbling with packaging and holding those new books in my hands, I find it hard to feel bad about it. So I’m abandoning that as a goal for the year. Instead, I’d like just not to increase the number of books that I own that I haven’t read in 2020. Finishing 2020 neutral would be just fine by me.

I’ve been cooking plenty too and have a few recipes that I somehow want to share. I’m half-thinking of a food/book pairing type thing but I’m not sure yet. Either that or some of the recipe books getting us through lockdown. Something food related.

And I think I’ve gone on for long enough now! Really I just wanted to get something down. Write anything down!

See you all soon! 🙂

The Pages and the Miles: Sunday 17 February

This week has been a bit of a downer. I was away for work Tuesday evening which was incredibly busy and then managed to catch a cold that wiped me right out towards the end of the week. I’m feeling much better now but it meant that Thursday and Friday were pretty frustrating.

The Pages

Being ill has actually helped on this front as I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to rest!  I finally finished my reread of Lord of Chaos (Book 6 of the Wheel of Time), which at 1,011 pages has taken me a while.  I’ve been reading it on and off since last August.  Since finishing that, I’ve read two books in the last week alone: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson and An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. I loved both.

The writing in We Have Always Lived in the Castle was stunning and eerie and haunting. I preferred The Haunting of Hill House personally but I’d forgotten how tightly Jackson weaves a story. I have a short story of hers still so I’m glad I can have more Shirley Jackson in my future without having to bust my book-buying limit. An Anonymous Girl was a pure plot driven page turner. I started it yesterday morning and I finished it this evening. I heard about it on a recent Book Break video recommending thrillers and it was 99p on Amazon so I picked it up and started it almost straight away. I wanted something fun, something with twists and turns to keep me reading, and this absolutely delivered. The writing was surprisingly good too, so just a great weekend read all round.

The Miles

As might be expected between being so busy and ill, I only managed one run of a paltry 4km in the last week. I did manage to clock a 15.7km last Sunday though, which I’m fairly proud of.  It means that I’m currently fit enough to run a half marathon, which is comforting. I’m also currently injury free so now that I’m feeling better again, I’m going to rack up some miles. Onward and upward and all that!

How has your week been? Hopefully less scrappy than mine! Share what you’ve been reading and where you’ve been running in the comments!

The Month That Was: January 2019

Unpopular opinion: I’m actually quite a fan of January. I don’t mind the cold so much and I like the ‘fresh start’ feeling of a new year. I’ve had a ludicrously busy month at work so I haven’t had as much down time as I’d like but overall I feel like I’ve had a pretty good month!

The Pages

I read a total of 5 books in January, with 1,501 pages between them. My average rating for the month was 3.8 out of 5 stars, which isn’t too shabby. I even had one 5 star read in there and I’m pretty stingy with doling that rating out.

So, the books:

The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall (3 stars | Review here)

Ms Marvel, Volume 3: Crushed by G. Willow Wilson (4 stars)

The Extinction Trials: Exile by S. M. Wilson (3 stars)

The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin (5 stars)

Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie (4 stars)

Book of the month: The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin – absolutely no contest, completely loved it and will be reviewing soon

One thing I failed miserably at this month was reading more diversely. I read books by 4 British authors and one by an American author.  Nothing in translation and nothing written by any authors from cultures different to my own. Pretty poor and something I’m definitely going to fix this month.

On the bright side, I have managed to stick to my pledge to not by any books and have bought 0 books in January other than the book that came with my Books and Beer subscription box, which was always going to be an exception because I love those boxes and won’t be stopping them any time soon. I’m really pleased with that and am finding myself genuinely more excited about the books I already own so that’s the biggest win for me so far this year.

I’m also doing pretty well on the challenge front so far, ticking o ff 5 prompts from the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge:

A book I think should be turned into a movieMs Marvel would make a brilliant movie series!

A debut novel The Raw Shark Texts

A book featuring an extinct or imaginary creature The Extinction Trials (dinosaurs!)

A book I meant to read in 2018 The Wicked Cometh. I got it for review ahead of its release in 2018 and really wanted to read it before it came out and then didn’t…

A book with a two word title Sparkling Cyanide

And last but not least, The Extinction Trials was on my Series to Finish Challenge TBR so that’s one ticked off that list too!

The Miles

I ran 87.14km in January, which I’m sort of happy with.

I managed to give myself an injured foot in the middle of the month, embarrassingly from tying my shoes too tight if the internet is to be believed. That’s mostly healed now but it does mean that my running suffered for a bit.

My furthest run for the month was a 14.27km in 1 hour 27 minutes. It was hard work in relentless wind so I was proud of it finishing it. I’ve otherwise done a couple over 10km and a whole load between 5km and 10km. If I’m being completely honest, I’m struggling for motivation a bit at the moment, in part because the weather is just dire.  One of my resolutions was to try a new running route every month and I haven’t done that and as a result I think I’m finding training a bit…uninspiring. So that’s my focus for this month – actually try new routes and try to get some of my running mojo back!

How was your January? Favourite books? Favourite runs? Let’s chat in the comments below!

The Pages and the Miles: Sunday 20th January

I thought it had been a while since I’d done a pages and miles update but hadn’t realised it had been a whole month!  To be fair (because if I can’t be fair to myself on my own blog, where can I?), it was Christmas and then I’ve been busy back at work so a few weeks is easy to lose.  I’m not going to go way back to my last update and keep it to a fortnight or we’ll be here all day!

The Pages

It’s been a good few weeks reading wise. I finished the first book on my Series to Finish challenge list, The Extinction Trials: Exile by S. M. Wilson and I read my first five star book of the year, The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin.

I was a little bit disappointed with Exile because I loved the first one so much.  The first one really was like The Hunger Games with dinosaurs, set in a dystopian world where humans have bled one continent’s resources dry and are looking to expand to a neighbouring continent, only before they can do that they have to work out how to eradicate the dinosaurs that live there. They send some carefully chosen candidates over to explore and steal eggs from the dinosaurs for them to analyse and all sorts of manic shenanigans ensue. The downside is that the second book is like Catching Fire – a lot of the same characters with a little bit of development but also a substantial rerun of the plot of The Hunger Games. There are more dinosaurs and the overall plot nudges along but it felt a little rushed and the bits featuring the dinosaurs that were so tense and atmospheric in the first felt scrappy this time around. I’ll read the last book in the trilogy when it’s out later this year but feel less excited about it than I did before.

But then came The Wicked Cometh! Oh, this book. It was beautifully written and had a relationship at its heart that made my heart hurt. It’s a dark (and I do mean dark) story set in the gritty streets of 1830s London, following Hester White as she tries to work her way out of poverty. The gothic atmosphere is incredible – one of those books where you can just feel the fog and grime seeping off the pages. It’s a wonderful book that I’ll hopefully write more about soon.

The Miles

I had a really positive week in the week commencing 7th January, running a total of 31.38km and absolutely smashing my usual pace. I ran 5km during on run in less than 28 minutes, which compared to my usual 6 minutes 15 per km is quick.  I felt really strong and really positive all week and for the first time stopped feeling daunted about marathon training.

Then came Monday 14th.  After running a 12.68km long run on the Sunday, I took a rest day and noticed that my left foot was niggling. There was a pain on the top of my foot that was noticeable when I walked and was concerning.  I chanced a 5.33km on the Tuesday but my foot definitely felt off. I was in a meeting all day Wednesday so I took another rest before trying a lower impact treadmill 4.5km on Thursday, at which point I knew for sure that I was injured.  Turns out I’ve given myself extensor tendonitis, basically caused either by overtraining on hills or by tying shoes too tight. Could have been either really given that on the Sunday I did a long run that involved many hills and much running into the wind, and I do tend to tie my shoes quite tight. So I haven’t run since Thursday. Which I know doesn’t seem a lot but is grating on me already. My foot is getting better but it’s still not 100% so I’m going to keep taking it easy.  Perhaps keeping up distance but making a conscious effort to run more slowly.  I don’t know.  Any suggestions gratefully received!

Resolutions for 2019

I love a new year and I love a good resolution. I may not always stick to them but making them at least fills my January with something to focus on other than it being miserably cold and generally dark and gross. This year, I’ve broken my resolutions out into running ones and reading/bookish ones.

Running Resolutions

1) Run Liverpool Marathon

An obvious one to start with. The marathon is at the end of May so five months of training to go. I’m both terrified and excited.

2) Don’t let running become a chore

This isn’t so much a resolution as a reminder to myself. I run because it helps me focus, because it’s a great outlet for stress and because it’s nice to do something outside when I have a desk job. I’m training for a marathon because I want to give a bit of direction to my running and not because I want it to become just another task on the list of things that I have to fit into an already busy schedule.

3) Try a new running route at least once a month

Where I live is quite hilly and I’ve found a few routes around the village that I live in that I know include some inclines but nothing stretching over too ridiculous a distance. I also work in a city centre so there are limited routes for distance running that aren’t annoyingly full of roads to cross and people to dodge so I tend to stick to just one route that I know I can run up to 13km-ish on without it being irritating. That’s all good and well but it does mean that as I build up distance on my marathon training plan, there is every possibility of my running becoming dull and uninspiring. See resolution 2, I suppose. I want to try a new route once a month, even if that might mean I’m doing slower runs if I come across a killer hill, for example.

Reading Resolutions

1) Acquire fewer books than I read

This is the big one. I started tracking my reading on a spreadsheet this year, logging every book that came into my house and what I was spending on books. The results were alarming. I’ve acquired 224 books this year and spent a little under £775 on those books. While that’s a relatively modest average spend of £3.46 per book, it is still far too much. Especially when you factor in that I have only read 65 books this year, giving a net gain of 159 books. I need to rein that habit in. I could say that I won’t buy any books but that would be setting myself up for failure so instead my resolution is to acquire fewer books than I read, or, put another way, to make sure that at the end of 2019, I’ve managed to reduce the number of unread books that I own. That allows room for the couple of subscriptions that I have with publishers (Peirene Press and And Other Stories), my new Books and Beer subscription and for a couple of splurges during the year.

2) Read more diversely

Of the 65 books I read in 2018, only 13 were written by authors from neither the US nor the UK. And 5 of that 13 were written by authors from Australia, a further 3 from Canadian authors and 2 from Irish authors. I’m aware that’s terrible and something I should actively try and improve, as opposed to just waiting to see if it will a la 2018. I’m going to aim for 6 translated books in 2019, which I can easily hit without buying anything new.

3) Complete the Popsugar Challenge for 2019 and the Series to Finish Challenge

I’m using this as part of helping me achieve resolution 1 – the prompts for the Popsugar challenge (which I posted here) will hopefully help me dig into my own shelves and find books that I’d forgotten I owned and the Series to Finish challenge (hosted by Anna at Reader and Proud) will then get me wrapping up series I’ve binge bought and just never finished. I finally finished Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series recently and getting that final pay off made me realise that I need to spend more time finishing series than I do starting them.

Bonus Resolution

Blog more. I’ve started this new blog as a way of giving me somewhere to chat about reading and running and anything vaguely related to either and it has so far worked out for getting me back into posting semi-regularly. I want to keep up with lower key formats and post styles so that I can post at least once a week.

Are you a resolution junkie too? What are your goals for 2019? Let’s chat in the comments!

The Pages and the Miles #3: Monday 17 December

I usually post these on a Sunday (in that I want to post them on a Sunday and have done so twice so far…) but yesterday I ended up completely tied up in finishing my book and didn’t want to break away from it to write about the fact that I’d rather be reading it!  It was a generally busy week in which I was away for work again so it was nice to have some down time over the weekend to finish up Christmas shopping and just spend time at home around seeing friends.

The Pages

I didn’t get a lot of reading done during the week but I had a storming reading weekend! I’ve finally finished Kingdom of Ash and my goodness was it an emotional ride. I was full on crying at one point and my heart hurt. It was too long overall and there were definitely some bits that were repetitive and could have been cut but by the end I’d forgotten all of that. I read over 300 pages yesterday because I just couldn’t put it down. An ending worthy of the series. Reading that ending made me realise just how infrequently I actually do finish series, or perhaps how rarely I stick with stories that are years in the telling. Another goal for 2019 – finish some of the series I’ve started.

As well as my physical book, I also got another hour or so into The Book of M, the dystopian story of a world where people are losing their shadows and with them their memories that I’m currently listening to on audiobookThe voice acting on it is absolutely fantastic and I’m glad that I chose it to listen to rather than buy in physical copy. I’m a relative amateur when it comes to audiobooks but I find this one easy to get swept up in and I never feel like I’ve forgotten where I am when I pick it back up again. I’ve got about 10 hours still to listen to I think so I need to get cracking and find out what’s going to happen.

The Miles

Since my last update on Sunday the 9th, I’ve run 27.6 km over 4 runs so actually a fairly good week.In no small part because I finally made space in my suitcase to take my trainers away with me when I travelled for work and didn’t “lose” those days in my training schedule.

The downside to having been away and staying in a built up environment I don’t know is that almost all of this week’s running has been on a treadmill. Including this morning’s 13.5km. This morning I actually was at my home office but I wanted to start my run at 7am and I usually run along a canal towpath that at that time would have been both very dark and pretty deserted, which doesn’t seem like a smart route for a woman running alone! So I braved the boredom and hit the fully lit, busy gym. To be fair, it wasn’t too bad as I’d remembered to download a film to watch while I was running but I much prefer fresh air to the stuffy gym. It does mean I can fit in runs that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to though so won’t complain too much!

How’s your week been?  What are you reading or where have you been running? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

The Pages and the Miles #2: Sunday 9 December

The closer we get to Christmas, the busier I seem to be! This week has flown by and I’ve mostly worked so not much to report this week.

The Pages

This week I’ve only read from Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas.  Given that it’s 980 pages and I’m still really busy at work, I expect that this will be a common paragraph for the next couple of weeks.  I am really enjoying it but it’s just so long!  I’m no stranger to long books but at the moment, this one feels like it doesn’t quite need to be as long as it is and it feels a little bit repetitive. I’m now about 300 or so pages in so things are starting to liven up!

The Miles

It’s been a terrible week for running too! I was away with work for the first half of the week and didn’t have space for my running kit in the case I hastily pulled together.  I was then hoping to go for a long run yesterday evening but it was very dark and the weather was utterly terrible so I wimped out! I might do a post to try and garner tips for running in the cold and wet but I suspect the main thing to it might just be “stop being a wimp”.

I managed a single run of 4.2km, which is borderline embarrassing…it was at a quicker pace than I normally run but even so, not a good weekly total. It leaves me with more to do next week but I’ll catch up!

Onward and upward!  Let me know what you’ve been reading and if you have any tips for runs in dire weather!

The Pages and the Miles #1: Sunday 2 December

One of my main goals for this site was to have somewhere that I could chat about what I’m reading and where I’m running without getting too tied up in writing ‘proper’ book reviews and the like.  I will still write them from time to time but they take a lot of time and if there’s one thing I’m often short on, it’s time.  These ‘pages and miles’ posts will be weekly updates with some book chat and some running chat.  Simple stuff.

The Pages

This week I finally started the last book in Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, Kingdom of Ash. I’ve read 130ish pages of the 980 page chunkster so it’s really too early to say how I’m finding it but so far there’s been a lot of battle chat and a fair amount of set up. There’s something sad about knowing that this is the last I’ll see of these characters but after four years I’m looking forward to seeing how their stories end.

On Friday, I found myself on public transport without a book (a disaster) so I downloaded a graphic novel that I’d bought a while ago and not got round to reading yet, Descender: Volume 1 – Tin Stars. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I really enjoyed it! It’s set in a world where most of the population were killed by giant robots seemingly without reason a decade earlier, prompting the remaining people to dismantle all remaining robots. The story is about Tim-21, a companion robot who survived the cull in a remote mining colony. It’s pretty dark and a bit violent but there’s something charming about the remaining robots and I was constantly surprised by how emotionally invested I was in Tim-21 and a driller robot and a sort of dog robot. I’ve bought Volume 2 already and I’ll be reading it soon.

Last but not least, I listened to a good few hours of The Book of M while driving. It’s a dystopian novel telling of a world where people have started losing their shadows.  Within days of losing their shadows, victims also lose their memories, eventually forgetting how to breathe. It’s unsettling how losing something as insignificant as a shadow throws the whole world into disarray but somehow it all seems so accurate. Another one I’m really enjoying so a good week in all!

The Miles

My training plan features four runs a week at the moment. I’ve been busy this weekend so I squeezed those four runs into the five days of my working week, which perhaps wasn’t the best plan with hindsight.

I ran 24.4km during the week, with my longest run being 11.01km.  I felt pretty good during the early part of the week but the long run on Friday felt a bit of a struggle. It was one of those runs where I could feel my legs constantly and I never quite seemed to hit my rhythm properly, counting down every kilometre in my head. I don’t think squeezing it in before work helped as I’m never at my best early on but I managed a 13km the week earlier much more easily in the same circumstances so who knows? Maybe it just wasn’t my day!

I’m away a lot this week so I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to fit in but hopefully I’ll manage a better long run.  I’m scheduled to run a 14.5km so hopefully it’ll be less of a chore!

Welcome to She Reads, She Runs!

Welcome to She Reads, She Runs – a new blog that will be full of bookish chatter and waffle about running.  I’m Charlotte, reader, runner (amateur!) and blogger.

She Reads

I’ve been “a reader” for as long as I remember. Reading is what I do if I want to relax, if I need cheering up, if I have 10 minutes to spare while travelling or if I have hours to spare on a quiet weekend day. It’s been such a big part of who I am that for the last 8 years or so I’ve written a blog solely dedicated to books and reading. This new blog will still be heavily book focussed. I read 50 to 60 books in an average year and I don’t want to stop having a space online to talk about what I’m reading, I just want a space that is a little more broad and better reflects my jumble of interests.

I mostly read fantasy and science fiction but do also mix in plenty of historical fiction, crime, graphic novels and just general fiction. I’m sort of just getting into non-fiction a bit too. Previously I’ve focussed a lot on posting reviews but here I’m going to go for something a little less formal with ‘book chat’ post and weekly catch ups.

She Runs

I’ll be honest, I started running because I love to eat and want to be able to eat broadly what I want without having to constantly buy new clothes! I ran my first half marathon in May 2010 and I’ve run a mere two since then. I’ve run on and off but suffered with a hip injury that was a hangover from a car accident we were in years ago so I started focussing more on circuits classes and spinning and the like.  I missed running though and gradually added in some treadmill runs until I felt like I could brave an actual pavement again. Fast forward to August this year and I managed a 10 mile charity race with my sister.  I’d forgotten how much fun that finishing line feeling was.

And then a couple of months ago, I was idly chatting with a few friends at work about having always been curious about whether I could run a marathon and before I knew it, five of us had signed up to run Liverpool Marathon in May 2019.  The furthest I’ve ever run before is a half marathon, so 13.3 miles or 21.2 kilometres.  Running a marathon at the moment seems like absolute madness. So the running parts of this blog will be part training diary, part my beginner lessons in other running stuff!

Thank you for stopping by and hopefully see you here again soon!