The Bookshelf Tag

Time for another tag! And this time I’ve actually been tagged in it so it’s twice as exciting this time! I know I also quite recently did the Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt tag, but this tag’s different, it’s just the Bookshelf Tag, which means that we’ll chat a bit about organizing bookshelves and stuff like that.
This tag was created by Sajiid from Books are my Social Life and a huge thanks to Ceri from Bookmarks and Postcards for tagging me!

A note before we start; I have already accepted that this tag is going to expose me as the book hoarder I am. It’s not that I get all that attached to the books I read, but I really like the feeling of having books in the room, if that makes sense? Like, I feel like a shelf filled with books you’ve read and loved gives the room a chill and cozy vibe, and so the books do pile up a bit. I’ve also been able to keep my shelves in my room at my parents’ house while I’ve been away studying and moving around, so I haven’t had to have any proper clear outs yet either, meaning there are a lot of old favourites in there. Now let’s get started!

1. How many bookshelves do you have?
I’ve got two proper book cases and then four shelves in two other cases. Not the best solution but it works. In our old house I used to have these really beautiful “floating” bookshelves lining the top of the walls, framing the bed room. Here the ceiling is too low for that, and I’m just happy I’ve got enough space for all of the books.

2. How many books are on your bookshelf?
I’ve never actually counted them before, but doing so really surprised me! Turns out I’ve got exactly 450 books on my shelves right now, a lot more than I thought!

3. How do you organize your books?
Very badly. Let’s have a look:

My bookshelf is a a chaotic mess, and I’ve gone through so many different ways of organizing it throughout the last couple of years. Colour-coordinated, organised by genre, height, alphabetical order, year of publication – you name it, my shelves have probably seen some attempt at it. I also originally tried to have one Norwegian and one English shelf, but quickly discarded the idea. As you can see, I’ve got a little Norwegian shelf on the top there, but that’s only Norwegian children’s books. I’ve got both English and Norwegian editions of a lot of books, and I wanted to keep those together, plus I like having the different languages together, as it kind of represents how languages can mix in your head! Now, most of the books I care the most about (I’m big on nostalgia, gotta be real with you) are organized by authors (not alphabetically, though) there is a poetry-and-fairytales-shelf, a shelf for old “fandom” books (Doctor Who, Torchwood, Supernatural, etc.), all of my uni books are sitting together on the bottom shelf there, and there is a top shelf filled with both well-loved and unread classics.

4. What is the oldest book on your bookshelf?
The answer for this one is already featured in the Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt, but I love this book and am excited to talk about it a bit more:

The Journey to the Christmas Star by Sverre Brandt.

Published in 1925 and given to my grandmother as a Christmas present when she was a child, this is one of my favourite books. Every time Christmas comes around I have to get it out and have a read of the story about the little girl who travels on the northern wind to find the Christmas star that the evil count has cursed. It’s a wonderful book and I cherish this illustrated version of it.

5. What is the newest book on your bookshelf?
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

I talked about this book in this www Wednesday-post, and it’s so good!! You should definitely read it, right here, right now.

6.What is the longest book on your bookshelf?
Bringing back Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, here.
This book is too much book. What I’ve managed to get through is really good, it’s just a lot of book.

7.What is the shortest book on your bookshelf?
New American Best Friend by Olivia Gatwood

On the other side of that spectrum, this book could be a bit more book. Gatwood’s poetry is hard hitting and gritty, witty and smart, and the end of the book just leaves you with this longing for more like it.

8.What is the predominant genre on your bookshelf?
It’s either YA fiction or fantasy. Like, not high fantasy (even though I really enjoy high fantasy as a genre), more realist, modern fiction.

9.Have you done a bookshelf tour?
I have! It’s here if you wanna take a look!

10.Go on a random number generator and talk about the book that corresponds with that number.
I used this number generator, and got the number 199. This corresponds to the book
How to Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee.

This was the first classic I read when I was about 16, and I remember really liking it. I’ve never read it again since, though. Might have to get on that sometime soon.

11. Do you have fan merch or any other decorations on your bookshelf.
I do have a few book-y fandom decorations in and on top of my shelves, but one of my favourites is this Jane Austen pendant-thingy.

I got this at the Jane Austen House museum in Chawton with my sister and I really like it. It’s a quote from Sense and Sensibility that says “Know your own happiness. Want for nothing but patience – or give it a more fascinating name and call it hope.”

12. Show us your bookshelf!
Sure! Here we go again, + the four extra shelves.

13. Tag someone!

I got so excited when Ceri tagged me, and now I’m excited to tag other people! Of course, if you’ve already done this or you simply don’t want to do a post like this, that is perfectly fine and nothing to worry about at all. If you do want to do this though, please leave me a link so I can check out your bookshelf! It’s my favourite thing ever to look at other people’s bookshelves. Also, if you’re reading this and I haven’t tagged you, this very much applies to you too! Just do it and comment a link if you want to!

For now, though, I’m tagging:
Molly from Silver Button Books
James from Real Life Protagonist
Mary from Sophril Reads
and Inga from Journey In Bookland

This post also got pretty long, but it was a lot of fun, and if you managed to reach the end of this, cheers to you.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a lovely day!

-Andrea

Writing cliches: The Ever-growing Tea Collection

A well-known cliche says that writers drink a lot of hot beverages, and if we are to believe the writers’ blogs’ homages to steaming coffee, that’s very true. Countless instagrams of pretty mugs, neat notebooks on coffee tables and writing dens with window sills filled with old coffee-cups, tells us that no writing can ever happen without a cup of something warm next to your laptop.

Originally I thought I’d try and steer away from this cliche; that I wouldn’t mention tea or anything like that in my posts. However, as my veins are basically flowing with equal parts blood and strawberry infusion, this did not work all that well, and my mugs have started popping up in images here and there.

That’s why I figured today I’d just live the cliche I am, one hundred percent, and take you on a tour through my favourite teas; the brews I need to wake up, to write, to curl up on the sofa.

So make yourself a good cup of something you really like, and let’s get started!

Andrea’s Ultimate Tea Tour (with overly enthusiastic and staged summery pictures)

Twinings’ Pure Peppermint:

I don’t drink coffee, but I need a cup of this every morning. Either as a five minute moment at the kitchen table before I face the world, or as a cosy treat in a travel mug on the 06:35 bus to town. Just boiling water, no sugar or anything, preferably in a big, “open” mug so the taste really gets to do the “swirly thing” that tea needs to do.

Writing tea/cozy tea/sleepy tea/energy tea
Big mug/small mug/coffee cup mug

Lipton’s Blueberry Muffin and Infusion’s Turkish Apple Tea:

I’m always here for a good fruit tea! The blueberry tea in the picture is one I drank buckets of on camp as a youth leader for the first time, and every time I drink it I still think of that wonderful weekend a good 6 years ago. It’s also just a really really good tea. It smells and tastes more like muffins than blueberries, and it’s got a really round taste.

Writing tea/cozy tea/sleepy tea/energy tea
Big mug/small mug/coffee cup mug

This Turkish Apple tea is also a really good fruit tea. I found it in a tiny tea shop in Camden, where the lady running the store spent almost 45 minutes telling me about and letting me taste and smell all of the teas she had in the shop. Such a good time!! It’s the strongest tea I’ve ever had when it comes to pure taste, and it’s made out of dried apple and pineapple and other fruits. It also smells divine.

Writing tea/cozy tea/sleepy tea/energy tea
Big mug/small mug/coffee cup mug

Both of these teas do need a little bit of sugar for the taste to really get through, but they’re both the ones I always serve people who say they don’t really like tea. Most people end up surprising themselves and loving them!

Twinings’ Camomile&Honey and Picklecombe’s Lavender Honey:

Okay, so I’m aware that that jar of honey is not tea. But it is Lavender-infused honey and deserves an honorable mention here! It’s also really good in tea, and on its own in warm water. The proper star of this section though, is the Camomile&Honey tea from Twinings. I’m usually not a fan of camomile teas, but the honey is the overpowering taste in this blend, and it’s so warming and soothing. There is no better tea to curl up with after a long day.

Writing tea/cozy tea/sleepy tea/energy tea
Big mug/small mug/coffee cup mug

Dorset tea’s Strawberries and Cream and Twining’s Glow:

Strawberry tea! My two favourite teas are both strawberry teas, and I always have to restock them when I’m visiting Harvey in Swanage as that’s the only place I’ve been able to get my hands on them.
The Strawberries and Cream one is a hug in a mug – warm, cozy, comforting and sweet. It also turns bright red, something I greatly appreciate. The countless shirts I’ve stained with it, however, really don’t. It’s the perfect companion to an evening in with your favourite book and fresh bed sheets, and I’ve always got a couple of extra unopened boxes waiting in the pantry.

Writing tea/cozy tea/sleepy tea/energy tea
Big mug/small mug/coffee cup mug

The last strawberry tea, and the last tea on this list, is Twining’s Glow. It’s a green tea with strawberries and aloe Vera in it, and it’s one of those teas you feel healthy after drinking (I know that’s not a thing, but the feel is definitely there). Much like the earlier mentioned Peppermint tea, this doesn’t need anything added. It tastes strangely like strawberry lipgloss (only so much better, of course,) and is the perfect cup in the morning, if you want something with a bit more taste to it.

Writing tea/cozy tea/sleepy tea/energy tea
Big mug/small mug/coffee cup mug

Well, that got longer than planned! Thank you so much for listening to my ramblings, I can get really passionate about tea, as you might’ve understood. There are of course a billion more wonderful teas, but these are my everyday essential beverages. (Also, I don’t know if I really need to say this, but just to be safe, this post is 100% not sponsored in any way, I just really like tea!)

Do you need any hot drinks to function?
Are you a coffee or a tea person?

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

The Winchester Bucket List

Are you going to uni next year, and wondering how life will be as a student? Are you worried about working part time alongside your studies? Even better, are you going to uni in Winchester, UK, and are curious about new places to go, small nooks to discover and explore? For questions like these, the University of Winchester has created a student life magazine that focuses on simply living life as a student, no matter what course or degree you’re on.

Remember I told you about this article I was writing a while ago? The magazine it’s in has been available at the uni for a couple of months, and it’s been handed out to students at the open days for a while, but now I’ve finally got my hands on a copy of my own, and can show you guys!

My article is called “The Winchester Bucket List”, is featured on the front page, and I’m listed on the contents page as a “student contributor”, which I’m really happy and a little bit proud about!
Talking about the article; this one was a lot of fun to write for a lot of reasons:
Firstly, I was contacted and asked to write something for this! After emailing back and forth with the management and content team, we figured out that a “tour” of Winchester would be a fun thing to put in there.
Secondly, I got to pick out my favourite places in Winchester and write about them, and now I’ve basically got the perfect memento of the town I’ve loved living and studying in.
Thirdly, for the first time ever I did both the article and the pictures! The photos in this piece are all by me (except for the St Catherine’s one), and taking “proper” pictures that would look good in an article like this was an interesting challenge I’d never taken on before.

I sent this piece off with pride when I was done with it. Then I was told that it would be given three full pages, something I was not expecting but really, really appreciated! And, drumroll please, here is the finished piece:

Look how cool it looks!! I had no idea how the design would look, but I’m really proud of how it turned out. The whole magazine is available for free at the University of Winchester, and it’s filled with tips and tricks on how to survive life as a student, created and written by current students and recent graduates.

Question of the day: am I the only one who finds it really difficult to take pictures of grassy hills (i.e St Catherine’s hill)? Everything just turned out very green for me… Also, does anyone know how to put separate pictures together into a pdf file? Help and suggestions are very welcome!

Hope you have a wonderful day!
-Andrea

The Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt

It’s finally here; The Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt!
Okay, I know it’s not “finally” for you, as I haven’t really told you about this, but I’ve been planning this post for ages.

The Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt is quite an old challenge, created by TheLibraryOfSarah, but I’ve never done it before, and thought maybe this post could work as a loose recommendation post, to remind you of books you’ve left forgotten at the back of your bookshelf, or maybe the covers will make you curious and eager to try something new? I also hope this post can work as a reminder to myself about what these books mean and why I keep them around, that they’re not just a static collection on a shelf, but items I cherish.

This post’s gonna be a long one, so go make yourself a cup of tea and hit that “Continue Reading” bar and lets have a good chat about some books!

Continue reading “The Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt”

“I Think I’m Dreaming”, cutting two thousand words and wrapping up uni with a bang

“Compelling from start to finish, the writing really takes us into your imagined world of the future, which although futuristic, finds authenticity in current fears about surveillance, work-life balance and control.”

Remember this, the story that never ended? The creative piece I struggled so much with finishing that I started doubting everything I’ve ever done, all throughout my BA?
Yep. Got it back yesterday, and almost started crying when I saw that my lecturer liked it, and gave it a neat little 74. 74! On the piece I had to cut 2000 words off to make it fit in the word count! So happy!

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Okay, let’s recap the last 15 hours of working on this piece, the hours that didn’t make it into the writer’s log, just because of the sheer despair and dread (dramatic, I know) I was feeling at the time.

On the 22nd of May, I sat down in the early hours of the morning and finished the draft of the creative piece. The reason I found it so difficult to actually write the piece, was because the idea was just too big for the given word count and I didn’t know what to focus on. So, I figured I’d just write everything I wanted, and then cut it down to the correct amount of words later.

Big mistake. 

The finished draft was well over 5000 words long, meaning that I had to cut another assignment’s equivalent of words out of it, to get down to my correct 2500 words.

Andrea Wold Johansen Writing Nook Swanage

‘Lemme tell you, there were so many cups of tea involved in this, and the entire day was spent in pyjamas to stay somewhat comfortable. And I pulled out all of the tips from my Tricking Motivation series, to get through the day.

I printed out the full 5000-word draft multiple times, to work with pen on paper and physically strike big red lines through sentences and words that needed to go. To make my job easier I also made a little check list of things that normally clog my wordcounts, which will appear in it’s own post tomorrow. Was just thinking maybe this list could be helpful for others too!

However, I wasn’t alone on this last leg of the journey, I brought Harvey into this with me too; he edited, read and re-read, and really helped me cut out words and sometimes entire paragraphs. All credit to him and his patience for dealing with me. Finally, after a bit over 15 hours of work, the piece reached 2748 words, and knowing that I was finally within the correct word count was such a relief!

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I mean, I would’ve absolutely loved this process to look like this, but it most definitely did not.

Anyway, the reason why I’m telling you all this, is because I’m going to post the finished piece in a minute, I just wanted to let you know what happened after the writer’s logs, haha.

Like I said, it’s a sci-if-sequel, speculative piece set in England, a long time in the future. I’ve never really written neither sci-if nor speculative fiction before, but it was a lot of fun! And the essay that went along with this assignment (in which I debated whether or not the age of social media has made us incapable of forming and maintaining intimate relationships with others) got a 71, so I feel like I’ve really ended this degree with a bang, with two shiny As to leave with. Happy!

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful day!

-Andrea

17th of May

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Not really a writing or book related post, but yesterday was the 17th of May, Norway’s Constitution Day. I celebrated the day in London, my first time ever not celebrating it at home with my family, and it felt weird not being enveloped in old traditions and places that stay the same. It turned out to be such a great day, though, Cathy came along, and it was so much fun being able to “show” off the traditions I’ve grown up with, if on a smaller scale. Beautiful bunads, marching band songs, flower crowns and Norwegian flags as far as the eye could see.

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There was a parade, speeches, lots of music, waffles, ice cream and food. All the things you need to really make the 17th of May the day it is.

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There is something I really like about the fact that on one day every year, the entire population of Norway, both at home and abroad, put on their nicest clothes and meet their family, only to eat ice cream and play games all day.

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The focus of the day and what many of the speeches were about, was belonging. How we as people always belong somewhere, how hopefully everyone feel at home in a group, be it their nationality, their faith, a community. What really hit me, though, was when the Minister of Culture said that “Belonging somewhere doesn’t mean that that has to be the only place you ever feel at home; we can all belong in multiple societies, we can all belong in different home countries.” Right now, as I’m kind of in the process of coming to terms with leaving England after these three years, that felt oddly comforting. I keep saying I’m leaving England behind, but I’m not really, am I. England’s still gonna be here, the friends I made along the way will still be here, it will just have to be the sowing grounds for new memories, new experiences, new challenges and victories.
Aha, didn’t think a day all about eating ice cream could get so deep, did you!

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Celebrating with Cathy was also so much fun; she waved her new Norwegian flag higher than anyone, and marched in the parade with newfound vigour. I showed her Norwegian waffles (Sjømannskirkens Vafler) and we had Solo, the Norwegian equivalent of Fanta. I’m well aware of my Solo-bias, but it’s actually a lot better than Fanta, haha.
Then we had some 17th of May Fish and Chips, which is one hundred percent not traditional 17th of May Food, but they put a little Norwegian flag on it and we ate while listening to happy people chatter, watching bunads walk past, and seeing all the kids play games; sack races, potato racing and quoits.

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A day I felt a bit anxious about going into, because of the weight of the traditions I’m used to and not being able to be a part of them, turned into an absolute fairytale and a memory I’ll take with me forever.

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(Have a Cathy marching towards the Winchester-bound train, post ice cream and festivities)

Gratulerer med gårsdagen, alle sammen, and Happy Birthday, Norway.

-Andrea