I have a vague memory of Saturday mornings in the days before children. I know the lie in was longer than to 6.20, even for me, and I have the strongest impression of sunny mornings, H still sleeping, while I made a nest out of all of the blankets and cuddled down to read a book start to finish.
All of my life I have been an inveterate book worm, library card loaded to the max and bookshelves at least triple stacked and groaning under the weight, but since the children arrived I’ve read a lot less. I find if they’re all happily playing and I don’t want to disturb them I can do housework around them or sit and knit, but reading takes me too far out of the room and I can’t quite keep track of the peace. But this year coming I want to commit to reading for me as well as enjoying all the children’s books that topple off our shelves. So I have a plan, and some lovely friends to help and we’d love it if you wanted to join in too.
Introducing…. A Year in Books: one for them and one for me
The plan is simple, on the 5th of each month I’m going to be sharing a favourite children’s book that we’ve been reading or a new discovery that the children think everyone ought to know about and a book that I’ve read just for me. It might be fact or fiction, everything from parenting books and craft books through to my favourite paperback is fair game, I just want to be reading again.
And because it’s always more fun with friends, I’d like to introduce you to my awesome co-hosts who are equally fond of reading and have similar amounts of time in which to do it!
Claire of Clarina’s Contemplations has almost finished her ABC year of books and still agreed to be my co-host which tells you how much she enjoys reading. She also has two girls and a boy, of very similar ages to my three and I love reading about her family adventures because they so often parallel the stage we’re in with our three.
Katie at Be Nourishd has just returned to work after a maternity leave spent enjoying life with baby Theo. She does books for a living and I’ve loved the posts she’s written about some of the new releases she’s come across. She also has much more success growing courgettes than me so I’m hoping some of her green fingers rub off on me!
They’re both utterly lovely and if you aren’t already following their blogs you need to go and check the out now. And just to get us started, or in case you’re looking for some Christmas present inspiration, I have one for them and one for me, for December.
One for them: The First Christmas, Hilde Heyduck-Huth
One of the highlights of early December in our house is the moment when we decide that it’s time to bring the Christmas story books back into rotation. There are some that never make it out of rotation and I’ve read The Nutcracker story and The Lion, the Unicorn and Me all summer long, but the rest of the treasure feels fresh and new after we tucked it away last January. But with Pip still in the chewing and throwing phase of book adoration I wanted to add a little something to his level of the library that is actually about the true meaning of Christmas, rather than just “That’s not my Penguin”.
And so this year we’ve added The First Christmas. It’s a nice solid board book, perfect for hitting your sister over the head with (oh how the days have passed since I was saying “gentle hands” to the girls not their brother!) and it’s illustrated in the kind of rich deep colours that pull you in, tuck you up under a blanket and bring you a hot chocolate with marshmallows on the top while you read.
The story is back to the basics we all know so well, there are angels and shepherds and wise men on camels and a baby born in a stable. But somehow in stripping away all the periphery it brings back some of the wonder and awe to the story and helps us to centre ourselves back on the real reason for all the tinsel and mince pies.
One for me: Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
I mentioned the other day that I read this cover to cover in one sitting and it’s true. I kept thinking that I should get out of the bath and go and be useful or something but I just wanted to read one more chapter, one more page and then by the time I realised that I was turning the hot tap on with my toes for the second time I could see that I just had to give in to the inevitable and finish it. I’ve never read Eat, Pray, Love but I know that Elizabeth Gilbert’s work can be quite polarising and I think that’s probably true for Big Magic too. I absolutely loved it, I’ve always been a firm believer firstly that every person is creative in some way, they just have to tune into whatever that is, and secondly that they really do have to; exercising my creativity is as important to my health and happiness as drinking plenty of water and occasionally going to bed on time, and judging by how often I fail at the latter, probably more so.
Elizabeth’s writing tells you to go for it, to say out loud, I am a writer or an artist or a really creative mum and then put it on your list of things to get done and once I’d finished reading and finally extracted myself from the bath I was full to the brim with a million and one plans, of which the Year in Books is just one of them. But I loved that as well as telling you to fight for time for pursue your passion and not let the excuses get in the way, she also acknowledges that you’re not going to be able to do everything. I’m not sure I buy into the concept that ideas are actual Harry Potter style magic floating around looking for someone to work with, but to say to yourself that an idea comes, tries you out for size and sees if you can work together and then either you do it, or you don’t have time, it isn’t the right time, or you’re just not the right fit, I find incredibly freeing. It somehow takes away the guilty feeling that you had a genius idea but just wasted it. Part of life as a working Mama to three little ones is that I just don’t have enough time to properly commit to all the ideas in my head and I love the idea that they find a home with someone else.
So that’s the plan. We’ll be starting officially on 5th January although the linky will stay open for the whole of each month; come and join us, tell us what you got for Christmas and open the door to a world in which your book wish list gets only longer!