Hello everyone, I hope you are doing well. I thought I would come on here and discuss something I have recently come to realise. I have always been a firm activist for the preservation of physical books. They, in my humble opinion, are superior in many ways. I love feeling the weight of a book, as it reminds me that these words came from someone’s imagination. A book makes them feel real. I have many more reasons as to why I prefer reading books, but that’s a completely different blog post.
Recently, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to pick up a book. The motivation to do so has been laying dormant somewhere inside me. But the desire and urge to read remained. I’ve been focussing most of my time on academic reading for my degree, of which has left me devoid of motivation for recreational reading.
I’m an Amazon Prime customer and am constantly bombarded with Audible advertisements, offering me 2 free credits for any audio books of my choosing. As I mentioned earlier I haven’t read a book in some time, so I decided to try Audible. I chose a book that interested me and decided I would try to fall asleep while listening to it. My only experience with audio books would be when I used an app that read soft sleep stories, in soothing hushed tones that lull you to sleep. I quickly realised this experience was vastly different. The voices were very expressive and demanded to be heard. I ended up listening to 5 hours of the book without realising it.
I finished the audio book and swiftly selected my second free title. I was equally as drawn in to the story as I was with the first one. I am very shocked to have enjoyed it so much.
It has definitely helped me reinvigorate the motivation to read again. Almost. To be fair to myself, I have been writing more recently which is a positive thing.
Anyway I hope you enjoyed this little post, it’s a lot less serious than a lot of my other posts recently.
So who is Jen? Who is the author behind this blog? The part-time poet? The part-time writer? The part-time Blogger? Yes, yes, yes and… Yes.
I see myself as all of the above, but there is more to me than that. I reluctantly shared a short extract from my current WIP of which I refer to as “Project Delilah”. After sharing and posting it, I came to a realisation. Although I have an “About The Author” page on my blog, it is only there as a temporary measure. I do believe it is important for anybody who may be interested in my work, to know a bit more about me and why I have decided to start blogging, as well as my motivations to write in general.
I can’t expect anyone to be invested in my work, without knowing more about me.
Hello There, My Name’s Jenny
So, my full name is Jenny Lee-Kearns. My last name is a double-barrel name from both my mum and dad. I love my name as I am pretty sure I am the only Jenny Lee-Kearns alive (well, my search on Facebook came up empty so that’s close enough, right?) My middle name is Maureen, as an ode to my great grandmother who sadly died the year before I was born. It also helps me feel a little more connected to my Irish roots.
I am 23 years old and am trying to complete my BA (Hons) Sociology and Criminology degree. I started this degree in 2014 and am still yet to graduate. This is due to some unforeseen circumstances of which seem to come up almost every year. I am determined to finish and come out with a high grade as I am more than capable of it.
I have always been interested in crime, criminals and especially serial murder. Any type of crimes that involve complex methodologies, piques my interest. In sixth form I wrote a 6000 word mini dissertation in which I posed the question of: “Is serial murder solely a psychological issue?” Spoiler: It is far more complex than that!
Creative Writing > Academic Writing
Although I love my course, I do have a greater love for creative writing. Not dissimilar to other writers, I have filled up countess notebooks since a very young age, with stories, poems and sometimes even drafts of novels.
My most memorable attempt was during my early teens, in which I bought a 250 page Pukka Pad and decided to handwrite my book that was inspired by Darren Shan’s Cirque Du Freak. I called it, “The Nightwalkers”. I dedicated it to my primary school teacher who was the first to recognise and nurture my flair for creative writing.
There is something about academic writing that is restricting. You need to stick to the facts, figures, statistics and specific terminology. However, all writing is writing. All writing is practice.
The Big Write
I had a wonderful Year 6 teacher, inspiring, encouraging and strong. She told me to dedicate my first book to her and that is a promise I intend to keep.
My love for writing really began to flourish once she become my teacher. She created an initiative called “The Big Write”. Every Friday after 1st break, some students would stay behind to prepare the classroom. The blinds would be closed, the lights dimmed and electric candles and bowls of dried fruit were placed in the middle of the tables. Soothing concentration music hummed quietly in the background. On the table sat a brief for us. It could say anything from, the first line of our story as a writing prompt, to instructions of the format we should write in. Every Friday the prompts changed and we created unique stories, letters, diary entries or even pamphlets from the same few lines.
We would write in silence from the minute we sat down, for the next hour and a half. I remember feeling like it was never enough time. Ideas were born from other ideas, characters forming before my eyes. Our teacher and the lovely teaching assistants would walk around reading over our shoulder. If they felt what you had just written was interesting, well written or impressive, we were told to take a piece of dried fruit. It was like a message to our peers that we have talent. As a child, your pride is huge and it would encourage us to carry on writing the best that we can.
Our teacher helped us create “portfolios” of all of our stories. By the end of the year, we each had a portfolio filled with 36 short stories. My teacher wanted to expand the initiative to other schools after she successfully implemented it within our entire primary school. She chose a handful of the best portfolios (including mine) and showcased them to other schools in the local area. I have always wanted to re-read these stories but unfortunately I never received them back.
Unfortunately I found out she passed away nearly 2 years ago. It was heartbreaking to know, she will never read the book I am writing. She will never read my dedications page and see just how much she inspired me. Her unwavering belief in me is what is driving me to continue on this journey.
I Dedicate This Book To…
Of course, I shall be dedicating my book to Ms. S. But there is another kind soul I shall be sharing the honour with.
My grandad. He was my hero, my saviour and my inspiration. He was the most hardworking, funny, loving and annoying grandad a girl could ever ask for. I am so thankful for him and I genuinely would not be alive today if he wasn’t there. He was my rock when I needed strength and my clown when I needed to laugh.
There is so much more I could say about him, however it is still very hard to talk about him without asking why? Why was he taken from me? I don’t know. I will never stop needing him or missing him.
What I do know is, all I can do is try my best to make him proud. I can hear him say “Stop crying girl. You know I love ya don’t ya?” He would be so happy to see my writing this blog. I am such a shy person with a lot of paranoia. I have never fit in and doubt I ever will. I just want to finish my book and as my grandad would say “You’re the boss Jen” and he is right.
If You Made It This Far
I hope this gives you a little bit more of an insight into who I am.
“We read in bed because reading is halfway between life and dreaming, our own consciousness in someone else’s mind.”
– Anna Quindlen
Like any reader knows, we have good reading weeks and we have bad ones. We can all empathise when we see others in the dreaded “reading slump”. When your TBR books bore into your soul every time you go to pick one up, but make a cup of tea and get into bed instead. Maybe that’s just me, but it can be difficult finding the time to read; especially if you fall out of the habit.
Sometimes it’s a case of taking a break only to come back with a replenished sense of eagerness to read. Other times there are things you can change in your daily routine that can help you read a little bit more.
These tips are just what I do when I feel like I need to read more! Maybe try some and see if it helps.
Put Your Phone Down
It sounds simple enough but I’ve found that you can either pour through social media scrolling endlessly seeing snippets of other peoples’ lives; or you can dedicate those lost hours to reading that book that’s collecting dust. When I’m on my phone it feels like I blink and its three hours later. Comparing that to the feeling I get after getting lost in a book for three hours is what makes me think twice when I wake up in morning. I consciously ignore my phone and reach for a book instead. Take thirty minutes to read silently, welcome the day with a good start and an exercised brain.
In short: put away your cellular devices and pick up that book.
Read What You Like
Again, it sounds really obvious but I ran into an issue with reading a few years ago. I wanted to read the books everyone else was reading, so I only read books that were trending at the time or on a bestselling list. I’m not saying they were bad books because I enjoyed them. The issue is, none of them were so gripping I couldn’t put them down. Not until I discovered the genres that suit me best and the kind of stories I am interested in. I still read multiple genres but key ones such as psychological thrillers, crime thrillers and horror are definitely my top favourites.
When you read a book you enjoy but wasn’t necessarily sucked into, it can demotivate you to carry on reading. Just keep reading, a lot, until you find the types of books that really excite you and motivate you to read more.
To cut a long story short: read whatever interests you, don’t focus on the popularity of the book because who knows, it might be your new favourite.
Although I am usually a paperback kind of person, e-readers can be so useful when the desire to read strikes you whilst travelling on public transport. However long it takes you, if you have a Kindle or the Kindle app on your smartphone, you can utilise that time to squeeze in a quick chapter or two. They are so portable and you can choose and download a book instantly while you wait for the next bus.
If like me you prefer a hard copy book, make sure you always pack at least two in your bag the night before. I find that when travelling somewhere I like to have a couple of options as sometimes the story is too complex to fully absorb while you are out in public. Sometimes I can but other times I find it difficult to fully commit, which is why I pack a more light-hearted book just in case.
If you feel comfortable eating lunch by yourself, I recommend trying to find a quiet place close to your workplace to eat and read. I used to work in a very fast-paced and busy environment so I liked to be alone during my break in order to recharge my batteries. Having a quiet and beautiful spot to read and be alone is a lovely way to get more reading in, as well as relaxing you half way through the work day. If you use an e-book, the wind can’t blow your pages around while you eat with one hand and hold the book with the other.
TLDR: Read on transport and during your lunch break.
Read In The Bathroom
Yes that is correct. Read in the bathroom. Or the toilet. Whenever I am really into a book, it becomes more like a third arm than a book; it comes with me everywhere I go. That includes but is not limited to the bath. There is nothing more relaxing than taking a steaming hot bath with candles (a substantial amount as I am blind as it is) and a book. Of course, it can delay the cleaning process but you just need a bit of self discipline. Tell yourself to read up to a certain page or chapter and then put it down.
Create A Goodreads Account
Managing a Goodreads account is an amazing way to track your reading. You can see all the books you’ve read, all the books you want to read as well as thousands of ratings and reviews to help you decide what to read next.
I got back into reading around three years ago and I loved to watch my collection grow. However, it was difficult to appreciate just how many books I was reading, until I created a Goodreads account. I was both shocked and excited at how many books I managed to read.
It is an amazing platform for both avid and casual readers to discover their next favourite book. Goodreads also has a list function in which its users can compile lists such as: ‘Best Thrillers’ to more niche lists such as: ‘Books About Videogames and Virtual Reality’. Whatever you’re interested in, I’m confident you will find something on one of the many lists available.
Listen To An Audio Book
Another relatively obvious tip, but if you enjoy being read to this might help kick start your reading again.
I personally always always fall asleep when listening to an audio book so it takes some time to finish one. Their voices are so soothing and calm it lulls me off into a deep and peaceful sleep.
I hope if you’re reading this you’ve found one of these tips useful! If you have any of your own feel free to leave a comment.
Just remember, you only have to read as much as you want to. There is no correct number of books you should be reading. If you find yourself in a slump, give one these a go. Reading is like exercise for the mind, sometimes its hard to find the motivation.
Daily Reading Recommendation
“A priest I knew once told me “a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle”
– John Marrs
I came across the book whilst scouring Amazon for new books to devour. I read the synopsis and went to buy it when I realise: it’s not coming out for a couple of months. I was upset I wasn’t going to be reading this amazingly original book the next day, but on the otherhand I had something to look forward to.
Marrs eloquently delivers a hardhitting, thought provoking and relevant story in such a unique manner. I would urge anyone to read this book.
I am currently working on a full book review of “The Passengers” so keep an eye out for that if you’re interested.