Monday, 21 July 2014

How To Read More & How To Become An Avid Reader | Books

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As you already know, I really like to read and review books on Vivatramp. However, reviewing books on the internet comes with great responsibility and I often get messages from people who have fallen out of love with reading that want to know how I keep on top of it all and how I became a certified bookworm in the first place. With that in mind, I thought I would compile a little guide on how to read more and how to become an avid reader. These steps are all tried and tested by my fine self so hopefully they'll be of use to lots of you. I imagine they'd also be pretty useful for those of you that struggle to get all of your academic reading done on time...but don't quote me on that because I'm terrible at that too! Feel free to share your own tips in the comment below. Huzzah!

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work out what you enjoy reading 
Spend some time working out what it is that you like to read more about, regardless of its popularity or so-called 'literary merit'. So many non-readers don't read because they were forced to read something at school that they really didn't like and therefore feel like reading isn't for them. If you enjoy reading about kings and queens, search for historical fiction. If you enjoy reading novels set in worlds that are different from your own,  track down an epic fantasy or science fiction novel. That's not to say that you shouldn't broaden your horizons every now and again, because you really should, but it's nice to really enjoy the books that you're reading. It shouldn't feel like a chore. Don't forget to play around with the format too. You aren't confined to the printed word - try out e-books or audiobooks and see what works best for you. 

create a comfortable reading environment 
Work out where you like to read and create mini reading set up. I tend to read on my bed, resting on my v-shaped pillow with a drink by my side. I also tend to read best in the day, with light background noise. Some people will like to settle down in louder spaces, such as coffee shops, and some will want to retreat to the quietest spot they can find. Explore a little!

set yourself a daily reading schedule or organise daily sprints 
I don't set myself a reading schedule. However, it can be quite a useful tool if you're trying to read a bit more. Schedule makes it sound scary but all you have to do is find a consistent 10-30 minutes in your daily schedule to devote to reading. You might find that you have the time to read a couple of chapters before you sleep every night or maybe you have a spare half an hour or so in the morning on your way to work. Alternatively, if your spare time isn't consistent from day to day, you could hold spontaneous little reading sprints. A reading sprint is basically you saying 'I'm going to read for the next ten minutes'. If you wanted to, you could also send a tweet out to see if other people want to do a quick sprint with you. Read your books simultaneously and then come back after an agreed time to discuss your experiences and thoughts on what you've read.

get involved in a book-orientated community 
Leading on from my last point, I think turning your reading into a community-driven thing can be a really productive move. Connect with bookish people in your community or search for some fellow readers online. There are plenty of booktubers and book bloggers to follow so keep an eye out. I wrote a post on some of my favourite booktube channels a few months ago and, whilst it definitely needs updating, it's still really useful. If you've got a Twitter account, why not participate in the #bookbloggers chat that takes place every Tuesday at 7pm. I'll see you there! 

participate in buddy reads, book clubs and read-a-thons or create your own 
This relates to my previous two points, I know, but this is probably one of the best ways to keep yourself motivated. Once you've found some bookish friends, why not propose a buddy read? You each take it in turns to pick a book that you want to read together before meeting up online at a set time each day / week to discuss what you've read so far and what you thought of it. Book bloggers and booktubers are always holding things called read-a-thons and they're seriously fun to get involved with. These read-a-thons usually consist of regular sprints, challenges and, in some cases, prizes. If the online world isn't really your thing, there are plenty of book clubs around and if there isn't one in your immediate area, you could always start one!  


MARK THE PAGES 
I always like to mark pages whenever I enjoy certain passages in order to refer back to them in the future or to discuss them at a later date. It's quite interesting to return to these pages months down the line to see what was relevant to you at the time of reading.  

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document the books you read
It sounds silly but documenting what you've read somewhere, be it in a blog post or a personal notebook, actually makes you read a lot better. My monthly book reviews encourage me to not only read a lot more but to also think about what I'm reading more complexly. You don't have to write huge eloquent paragraphs about tone and literary devices. My review notebook is full of short and snappy bullet points that pop into my head as I'm reading.  It won't be for everyone but give it a go if you're interested.

visit the library, bookstores and browse the web for inspiration 
Keep yourself in the book loop. I tend to keep a running Goodreads shelf of all the books I would like to read. It currently stands at 300+ so it could probably do with being refined a little! Goodreads and blogs are a great way of finding new things to read. However, it's also great fun to head down to your local library or bookstore to browse the shelves. Booksellers work really hard to curate really interesting displays and they often have the most beautiful editions to peruse so I definitely recommend heading to your local stores for some inspiration.  

use your spare time wisely 
I'm incredibly guilty of this. I'm the worst for wasting time on my phone when I could be doing things more productive like reading or whatever. Whenever I'm going through a good reading spell, I always use my spare time to read whether I've got 5 minutes or a couple of hours. If you commute to work, use up a little bit of that time to read. Stuck in a waiting room? Read. You get the picture. It really annoys me when people say they don't have time to read as a way of shaming avid readers. I have time to read because I make time. I shimmy my schedule around to read because I am passionate about it. It's what I do. I respect readers and non-readers alike, so don't gimme shade. Word.

keep up to date with publishing houses, fellow readers and authors 
In between reading books, writing about books, watching videos about books and reading articles about books, I like to follow bookish people online too! I've got a timeline full of publishing houses, fellow readers and authors and it constantly inspires me. Start by tracking down your favourite authors, publishing houses and book bloggers / vloggers. You can work from there!  
research the books you're reading / authors / movements and check out adaptations 
I'm one of those people that loves to research the things I really enjoy. This can be a bit of a buzzkill for some, I know, but I think it can be a pretty good way to enjoy reading a little more. Once I've finished reading a book, I like to find out a bit of background info and research a bit about its author. On more of an academic note, I like to check out the literary movements or genres that the book belongs to and I also like to check to see whether there are any adaptations in order to see how they've interpreted the source material. 

don't take the fun out of reading 
It's all very good and well wanting to read more but you really need to do it for the right reasons. It's easy to look at the way other people read and feel like you need to replicate it yourself but we all work in different ways. I have a lot of peers that read a lot more than me and that's perfectly fine. As long as you're enjoying the books you're reading, getting things from them and going at your own pace you're totally fine. If you're starting to not enjoy reading, take a step back for a while. Reading for pleasure is such a luxury and you should enjoy it accordingly. 


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What do you think? I know that this is a lot of information to take in, and you sure as hell don't need to take every little bit of this advice, but I thought I'd include a lot of different ideas so you can pick and choose the tips that you want to follow. What advice would you give on top of the points I've made in this post? I'd love to hear from both sides of the spectrum - are you an avid reader or do you struggle to read consistently?  

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Friday, 18 July 2014

On My Shelf #3 | Books

It's that time of the month again where I give you a further peek around my bookshelves. Every month, you guys give me numbers that coincide with a book on my shelf. I scour my shelves for the number and then explain a little bit about the book in question. Understand? I swear to God, one day I will be able to eloquently define things for you. Until then, we'll muddle through. Lets see what's on my shelf this month... 

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Toru is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman. 

I own three Murakami books and I've yet to read any of them. Yikes! In my defence, they were like 50p each at the charity shop and I've always wanted to try a bit of Murakami so I thought it was a great deal. Nearly all of my Goodreads friends have given this book a 5* rating so I've got really high hopes for Norwegian Wood, despite the fact that it's not something I'd go for based on the blurb alone. Lets just hope I like it as much as everyone else seems to! If I do end up liking it, I'm going to invest in the really colourful Murakami editions because I think they're beautiful.


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

12 Arcade Fire Songs You Should Listen To | Music

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After my very public Twitter outpouring of all the feels over Arcade Fire's performance at Glastonbury a couple of weeks ago, I thought it was about time I blogged about my love for them. I'm going to be sharing a selection of my favourite tracks with you before looking at them within both their personal and wider musical context. This isn't a definitive list. I keep going back to swap songs around because there are so many more that I'd love to mention but I'm just going to leave it as it is. Arcade Fire split people's opinions, I know, but their music is something I can connect with and take comfort from and I think that's something that all music-listeners can respect. This post won't be for everyone but, like I said in this tweet, you lot don't want me to sit here and tell you about things that I don't particularly care for so sod it! People often ask me how I can stay so positive in the face of really shitty things and the answer can be found in a lot of these songs for me so stick around, eh?! I've included all the live Glasto links alongside the album versions of the songs because, in my opinion, they deserve to be heard live too! Enjoy.


Thursday, 10 July 2014

Print Kitchen {15% off code!} | vivahearts

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bee print*, printkitchen 

A little while ago, Karys from Print Kitchen got in touch to see whether I, along with one of you lucky pups, would like to own my very own screen printed print. Being the fan of Etsy and fun prints that I am, I jumped at the chance. Despite loving pretty much every print in the store, I went with my namesake and opted for the bee print. It is absolutely beautiful and it's going to take pride of place on my wall. 

Here's the interesting part, one lucky reader is in with the chance of winning the reddy-orange typewriter print that you see below you. It's beautiful, eh?! Karys, being the bloody lovely person she is, has also said that she'll chuck in a mystery A5 print free of charge too! Ooh! Fill out the following Rafflecopter for your chance to win...