Current Book: Walden

WALDEN by Henry David Thoreau

This is a book I’ve wanted to read for quite a while now and just haven’t got around to reading it!

The author seems to be such a fascinating character, who by the sound of it, lived many lives. According to the introductory part about the author in the very front of the book, he was born in 1817, in Massachusetts and died in 1862.

He was educated at Harvard and worked as a surveyor, school teacher and lead-pencil maker!

What really fascinates me about the author is why he wrote Walden. Basically, he goes off to live in the woods for a while (I believe it was 2 years) in a cabin he built himself. The book is his account of his experience.

I’m only just starting it, but it’s going to be one of those books that you have to stop and think about what you’ve read every so often. There are pages of long, unbroken text and I know I’ll be tempted to skip through some of the longer passages, but I’m going to be good and read every last sentence!!

What really interests me about the premise of this book, is the fact that we can imagine this happening in today’s world. Some hippy wants to go and live in the woods for a while…radical, man! He obviously cares about the environment, maybe wants to be a homesteader or become self-sufficient. Whatever. We don’t really mind, do we?

But in the mid 1800’s for someone who was educated at Harvard (which is the equivalent of Oxford or Cambridge University here in the UK)? I can only imagine how unthinkable and scandalous that would have been at the time!

So, I can’t wait to get stuck in and see what he has to say!

By the way, if you want to purchase a copy of this book, you can do so from Waterstones online here. I got my copy from my local store on the High Street, which I was surprised they had in stock!!

[This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you click on the link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission from that sale at no extra cost to you.]


Deep Work

I got a new book in the post yesterday and I read it yesterday too!

The weather has been in the 30s (Celsius) here in Yorkshire, and it has been too hot to even THINK about doing any Deep Work!

The book I got was called Deep Work by Cal Newport and is basically about cutting out all of the time wasting activities like answering e-mails etc. and focussing on spending a few hours a day on concentrated and productive work (Deep Work).

It’s a good read, he gives a lot of examples and the idea is pretty simple. I don’t think there is anything groundbreaking in the book, it all seems pretty obvious to me. Although, as in so many of these cases, what we know we should do or how to work, we never actually do, do we?! (I mean, we KNOW we should do more exercise and eat healthier food but do we actually?).

The section about switching off from Social Media I had to laugh at, because if anyone knows me, they’ll know that isn’t a huge area of my life, and I just don’t understand anyone who CAN’T turn off their mobile phone (the generation below me I guess!). So, I admit I skimmed through that chapter.

But finding a space for yourself, making it a productive space, focussing on what you’re doing and not all the time-sucks and tiny life admins…that I can get behind.

The examples are mostly academic ones, but the author is a Professor I believe. I would be an eternal student if I could, racking up the degrees in different universities if I had the money! I love the academic lifestyle – the library, the lessons, the lectures, note-taking, handing in assignments a month early (that’s not a random example, I actually did that twice at uni!).

I love the idea of writing a book in your own time and not running yourself into the ground doing it. I am about halfway through a book myself and I’ve been struggling to get back into it…so I might try the Deep Work approach and see if I can publish it in August.

I have to add though, that setting aside a few hours a day to do some really focussed and concentrated work is a good idea but only if you’re organised beforehand. So, with that in mind, I’m going to go through my planners and diaries, and all my odd bits of paper and sort them out and plan a couple of hours a day to work on my book.

It got to a point a few months ago when I was doing 15 pages a day at my fastest. I want to get back to that!

Below is an affiliate link to the book from Waterstones if you want to have a look yourself…

The idea of Deep Work is good, I felt it kind of stretched to fill the book, maybe that’s just me. I like the idea of working solidly without distractions.

I think I need to read this book again. And I will, in a little while.

As of late I have been struggling with productivity (and I don’t mean the last 4 or 5 days of this heatwave, because no-one wants to work hard in such high temperatures) and maybe with motivation too. After being unwell for a few weeks about 6 weeks ago, I sort of lost the plot a bit and have been finding it really difficult to get back into the swing of things.

Which is why I bought this book! To give me a push into thinking about what I’m doing and when. I have a few books like this on my shelf and now I’m inspired to re-read some of them again.

But I need to beware! Too much reading about being productive isn’t very productive is it?!

[This post contains affiliate links which means if you click the link and make a purchase, I get a small commission of that purchase at no extra cost to you!]

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War and Peace

Finally. After several years of looking at this TOME, this BRICK on my bookshelf, I have finally found the willpower to get stuck into this book. And I have to say, I should have read it years ago. I understand now why it is such a classic.

It was surprisingly easy to read, considering it was published from 1864-1869.

I did find the fact that so many of the characters had similar names a little confusing, but I stuck with it and am glad I did.

You could be forgiven for thinking this was a book about the futilities of war, and yes, of course that is true. But if you want to read that kind of book may I suggest Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. THIS book is more about the fact that history is not made by the big men, but by the little. And that war is not fought by generals and kings, but by the soldiers on the battlefield who are not the only people to suffer in war – so do the people those soldiers leave behind and (hopefully) come back home to.

One point I found particularly interesting was the point about how people can change, that we are not the same person throughout our lives, for example Dolokhov, who is challenged by a duel by Pierre because he had an affair with his wife, is badly wounded by Pierre and who later apologises to Pierre for what he did to him. This shows an incredible character growth from a minor character who we assume to be a villain, but who eventually saves Pierre and other prisoners of war. Dolokhov and Anatole were two characters I wanted to know more about after the book ended.

Instead of talking too much about the plot and the history I thought I would share a few of my favourite quotes from the book – if you want to know what the book is about, you can search for that yourself!

“…As it is, we’ve been playing at war – that’s the nasty thing, we act magnanimously and all that. It’s like the magnanimity and sentimentality of the lady who swoons when she sees a calf slaughtered; she’s so kind, she can’t bear the sight of blood, but she eats the same calf in sauce with appetite. We’re told about the rules of war, about chivalry, about parleying, about sparing the unfortunate, and so on. It’s all nonsense…

…War isn’t courtesy, it’s the vilest thing in the world, and we must understand that and not play at war…”

[Prince Andrei talking to Pierre on the eve of battle – page 775]

“…Napoleon, during all this time of his activity, was like a child who, holding the straps tied inside a carriage, fancies that he is driving it.”

[Page 1008] I love this picture of Napoleon!

“Once we’re thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost; but it’s only here that the new and good begins. As long as there’s life , there’s happiness. There’s much, much still to come.”

[Pierre to Natash, page 1118]

I recommend this book to you all. Don’t let the fact it is over a thousand pages long put you off. It is worth your time and patience! I promise you! x

DAY #21 – Favourite Crafty Book


DAY #21 – Favourite Crafty Book

I have loads of favourite crafty books for all sorts of crafts such as knitting, crochet, sewing etc. For this post I am going to pick a book that always inspires me because I love the fabrics used and there are only a couple of projects I wouldn’t have a go at (high praise indeed!).

It is called Quilting In No Time by Emma Hardy.

There is quite a mix of home-ware projects in this book such as table mats and coasters, laundry bags, a woollen fabric pouf, hot water bottle cover, curtains, napkins, table runner, aprons etc.

I have had a go at the pincushion on the front of the book and a trivet. I did the trivet out of Christmas fabric and it looked OK, but I couldn’t get the mitred edging perfect so that will need to be unpicked at some point and maybe try again with bias binding strips.

pin cushion

I like the look of the table runner and might have a go at a festive themed one in November/ December later this year.

Prelude to Foundation – Book Review

Prelude to Foundation

I am on a roll! I started this book the night before last and now it’s finished. 

This year I have read 4 books in total (all from either birthday or Christmas presents) and they were all by Isaac Asimov. They were: The Complete Robot, The Naked Sun, Robots and Empire and Prelude to Foundation

I only have one more book – Forward the Foundation, to read and then I have finished both the Robot and Foundation series and have now only got the 3 books in the Empire series to read. 

Prelude to Foundation is a prequel to the Foundation series, but was written a few decades after the original stories in Foundation were written. In later years the author, Isaac Asimov, joined all 3 series together, linking them with planets and events and characters. 

This book details how Hari Seldon, (one of the characters in the later Foundation series who appears briefly once, and then only as recordings) and how he met some important people who would shape his later life’s work of discovering ‘psychohistory’. He travels around the Galactic Capital planet, Trantor, and you start to see a faded, old, Empire that is crumbling from within. 

It is set in a future where the people of Earth left the planet and settled on 50 worlds, then spread out again, after a war with these 50 worlds, and in the end created a Galactic Empire spanning 25 million worlds (in other books we see these are simpler worlds with fewer people and less wildlife than Earth – also Earth is the only one of all these planets with a natural satellite). There are no aliens in any of the books, except for the last books of the series, Foundation and Earth, where it is hinted that one day humans will have to face off against an outside threat, although it is never explained, just hinted at.

I just love dystopian fiction – bring on the end of the world! After all I’ve read about it ending, I know I can survive it!!!

I liked how you got to see flashes of Earth and other planets, just briefly, as myths and old tales. Planets you saw in other books were mentioned as though they didn’t even exist. 

I loved this book as I have loved all of the other books so far, but it’s only a beginning, an origin story really. Some parts are anti-climactic, such as meeting the Emperor, and other parts you see a mile off, such as who Hummin really is (well, the first part of who Hummin is anyway!). 

I look forward to reading the next book Forward the Foundation

And then I’ll be sad it’s all over…

…until I read the Empire series and I think there are more sequels written by other people after the author died. So, there’s still a bit more to come! 🙂


Robots and Empire – Book Review

Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov

I have just finished this book and I couldn’t put it down!! That’s the first book completed from my reading list.

This is the last book in the Robots series by Isaac Asimov and sets up the beginning of the Galactic Empire series (I think there’s only 3 books for that…so maybe it’s a trilogy and not a series?!) and after that, it becomes the Foundation series.


I started with a book called Foundation last year, read the last 5 of that series (not realising there were 2 prequels to the Foundation series), and then went right back to the start of the Robot series.

Have you seen a film called I, Robot with Will Smith in? The film was loosely based on the book of the same name (mainly the idea of having robots and they kept some of the character’s names – otherwise it was not the book at all!).

The robots series starts on Earth. People have created robots to help make their lives better, but end up suspicious and distrustful of them. Humanity starts to expand into nearby systems and the first 50 colonies are formed. People who live on the colonies are called Spacers.

There is tension between Earth and the Spacers. The Spacers use robots all the time for everything and it’s the opposite on Earth. People on Earth live mostly underground in what are called the Caves of Steel and are terrified of large open spaces, leaving the robots to do all their farming for them.

The Spacers live long lives with better technology. Some of the robot books focus on an Earthman called Elijah Baley and his robot friend R. Daniel Olivaw. They solve a few murders together, all the while Daneel is pondering the 3 laws of robotics – basically that a robot can’t harm a human.

By the start of the book I have just read, Robots and Empire, which is the last in the robot series, the people of Earth have started to expand again into new areas of space, onto new worlds, and they are known as Settlers. These are young worlds that need terraforming and only have a few million people on them, if that, whilst Earth has 8 billion. The Spacer worlds don’t have that many people on them and is one reason why they are so afraid of the people of Earth.

This book focuses on a descendent of Baley and one of his past loves, who is a long lived Spacer, as well as Daneel and Giskard, 2 robots.

Giskard has some mental powers, which is important in the Foundation series. Basically, the 2 humans are focused on finding out what happened to the people of one of the Spacer worlds (a planet called Solaria) and the 2 robots are trying to stop the end of the world. If you have read the Foundation series, especially the last book Foundation and Earth, then you will know whether they are successful or not.

I love these books. Although parts of the series were written in the 1950’s, this last book, Robots and Empire was written in 1985 (which is the year I was born *coughs*) and I have to say the whole series has aged quite well, I have read a lot of sci-fi in the last 3 or 4 years or so from the 50’s and 60’s and I just love it!

And the author, Isaac Asimov was a fascinating man himself. An actual scientist, he actually knew what he was talking about! Apparently he wrote and published over 500 novels, articles, papers, short stories etc. He was prolific! And I think I am right in thinking he coined the word ‘robotics’.

There was not one of the books in both the robot and Foundation series that I could not put down. Even though there aren’t really individual heroes as such, I read somewhere that it is SOCIETY itself that is the real hero of the series. This means there isn’t a lot of character description or even development sometimes. In Robots and Empire, the 2 robots tend to reason out the plot and subplots to themselves a lot. You pretty much know that Daneel looks humanoid whilst Giskard simply looks like a robot and that’s about it for the description of them.

If you love your vintage sci-fi then Isaac Asimov is definitely the place to be…I can’t believe it took me so long to read any of his books! Also, one of the streaming sites are making a TV series of the Foundation books soon, so get ahead of the game now and start swotting up!

Rating: 5*

Next up on my reading list is Prelude to Foundation…also by Isaac Asimov. Good times ahead! 🙂