When I started blogging I had no idea what to expect from it. I pretty much just wanted a place to keep track of my thoughts on what I was reading and to give myself something to do to distract myself from the loneliness of having just moved miles away from everyone I knew. I didn't know there was a book blogging community at all, and I definitely never imagined making actual real life friends from it, but again, here we are.
Because five years is a milestone in anything (and actually my fifth wedding anniversary will be this year too, although not until September!) I'm going to do a few posts with my top five of different things since I started blogging. I'm going to kick it off today with my top five favourite things which have occurred as a direct result of my starting this blog.
At number one.....
You're probably all sick of me going on about these girls (ladies?) by now, but I'm still amazed by the power of the internet in bringing me five amazing people who read the kind of stuff I read, love the books I love, hate the books I love but allow me to have my own opinion, will let me shout at them about the books I love (I'm sorry about Little Men, Laura), and whose recommendations I can totally trust. I am grateful to the internet gods for sending me friends who quote You've Got Mail at each other on twitter (and then send me a copy when they find out I don't have one), love Gilmore Girls as much as I do, own a ridiculous number of copies of Pride and Prejudice, would think up something as time consuming and soul sucking and joy bringing as the Ninja Book Swap and then actually organise it with me for two and a half years. Friends to bitch about Dickens and Moby Dick with and who send me books about bookshops and who love Firefly and are as sad about losing Terry Pratchett as I am. Friends to sing songs from Les Miserables with while walking down the road scaring tourists and to talk about our personal lives far too loudly in public places. Friends who are now friends, not just blogging friends. I hope you all have fun recognising yourselves in that paragraph.
If you're not reading their blogs, you should be. Lit Addicted Brit, Booking in Heels, Book Addicted Blonde, Devouring Texts and Katie Who Can Read. Thanks to Charlotte and Laura for taking the pictures.
Nicely leading on to number two...
I wrote about my feelings for the Ninja Book Swap and summed them up pretty eloquently above, but generally there is not much that I've actually done in my life (besides getting married and having my kids and getting a degree, buying a house, passing my driving test...ok there's quite a lot) that I'm prouder of than co-founding the Ninja Book Swap with Hanna. Although it's not without its problems it brings a lot of joy and I've met a lot of great people through it. Plus, who doesn't love parcels of bookish awesomeness?
I tried to repeat this challenge with Louisa May Alcott and E Nesbit, but it never really worked the way it did that first year with Noel. A lot of that I think is due to it being the year I started the blog, during which I got married, was still living far from family and most of my friends, and hadn't yet had any kids. Rhys was still working his weird shifts and I had a lot of free time. I immersed myself in Noel Streatfeild's work; both the books I'd loved as a kid and ones which were new to me, and it was nostalgic, cathartic and just generally awesome. I'm doing it a little bit this year with Laura Ingalls Wilder for the Little House Read-Along. It's such a lovely comforting way to read, especially with children's books because there's always a consistency and familiarity to the style and characters that's just so calming.
Being a Giver for World Book Night
In 2013 I signed up to be a giver for World Book Night and handed out (I think) 25 copies of The White Queen by Philippa Gregory. If not for blogging (and my mum) I would never have had the guts to do this but it was really rewarding and made lots of old ladies (and a couple of blokes) very happy.
Is still to come... In February I'm organising a bookshop crawl in London with a load of other bloggers ad book loving friends. Some I have met (hi Laura, Katie and various family members!), some I know through their blogs but have never actually met in real life (Ellie and Ellie!) and some I know only from twitter, but I'm very excited to shop with you all! If you're in the area or can get there it would be great if you could join us, email (email@example.com) or tweet me (@NinjaBookSwap) and I'll send you details.
Obviously this is just the beginning. I will be posting my favourite books since I started blogging and probably favourite blogs and blog posts or something similar. There may be a giveaway, I haven't yet decided, but you should know that if you read this post, and if you've ever read any of the others, liked something on Instagram, tweeted me, emailed me, or taken part in any of my events or challenges, I am really truly grateful. I love this blog and I can't wait for the next five years!