Imagining otters. Or why you’re ALWAYS writing.

UnknownA few months ago, Susie Day and Rainbow Rowell – two authors I LOVE – introduced me (via Twitter) to the Radio 4 sitcom, Cabin Pressure. I immediately became completely obsessed. It’s hilarious, addictive and brilliantly written.

One of my favourite moments is in the episode Ottery St Mary when one character says he can imagine a million otters (don’t worry about why) and another says you really can’t imagine a million anything and so they work out how many otters they can actually imagine by thinking of how many they could fit on the plane.

I mention it because John Finnemore, the writer and creator (and one of the stars) of Cabin Pressure has a brilliant blog and in this post, he wrote this:

For the origin of the otter-imagining game, have a look at this blog post I wrote three years ago. I like that I titled it ‘I am supposed to be writing a sitcom.’ Little did I know I was bunking off writing Cabin Pressure series one to write a bit of Cabin Pressure series three.

I notice this kind of thing so often. Old notes I’ve made, pictures I’ve saved, articles I’ve torn out of magazines, books I’ve bought, even songs I like, all popping up in my writing. I’ll start writing something – or planning something – and then a little ping will go off in my head and the next thing I’m rummaging around to find the perfect thing, saved before I knew it was the perfect thing.

Sometimes I don’t even remember or look, things just appear. Last week I had a meeting with an editor (I know!) and we talked about something I may write. Yesterday, I was looking through a folder on the computer – actually looking for a high res jpeg of the Emma cover – and there was a photo I’d saved at least a year ago, probably more like two, PERFECT for the thing I may write. It’s like those tweets that say things like ‘Thank you drunk me for leaving the chinese takeaway leftovers for hungover me’, but it’s ‘Thank you past me for knowing future me could use that photo.’

Pea’s Book of Big Dreams by Susie Day

pea dreamsThe first book in this series – Pea’s Book of Best Friends – was one of my favourite books of last year and I couldn’t wait to read this one.

Eleven-year-old Pea and her wonderfully wacky family are back for their second adventure in this fabulously funny series.

After securing herself a best friend and settling into London life, Pea is now contemplating her future and what exactly she should be when she grows up. Should she be a writer (like Mum)? An artist (like their crazy new au pair Klaudia)? A footballer? A pet therapist? Join Pea as she attempts to find out the answers – with hilarious results!

I think it’s even more gorgeous than the first book – it made me laugh out loud and it made me well up, but mostly it just made me happy. I can’t wait to read it with Harry.


My year in books

This year has been an excellent one for books, but not so much for me and reading. Mainly because of the iPad. When my Kindle packed up, I decided rather than replacing the Kindle, I’d spend the refund money on books. Because we have a Kindle app on the iPad, so I figured I didn’t really need a Kindle (but of course I always need more books).

But whenever I pick up the iPad to read a book, this happens: Check email. Check Twitter. Check Facebook. Check Google Reader. Check Instapaper. Kindle app is next, but it’s been at least 30 seconds since I last checked email and Twitter, so I check them again. And again. And again. Depending on how much I’m enjoying the book I’m reading, this stage can last from between 10 minutes to ALL FRIGGING DAY. (Actually, sometimes even if I’m really enjoying the book I’m reading and am gagging to get back to it, I can still spend a ridiculously long time in social media limbo, cursing myself all the time. What is wrong with me?!) Sometimes, even when I finally click on the Kindle app, I tell myself I need to read some of the samples (to get them out of the way) before getting back to my book and then, of course, once I’ve read a sample, I have to go and check email, and Twitter, and… *smacks self hard in face with iPad*

(At least I’m not alone – this piece by Kevin Barry, found via Ben Johncock, was very familiar. Although I only self-Google once a month, honest.)

Anyway. Despite the above madness, I managed to read the 52 Books I “reviewed” on here and a bunch of others I haven’t mentioned (cos I forgot… or couldn’t be arsed). So in no particular order…

My favourite adult books (no, not 50 Shades of Grey…):

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My favourite young adult (and slightly younger) books:

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My favourite non-fiction books:

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Some authors have two books on my faves list, so I’ve bundled them together:

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If I had to pick one absolute favourite book of the year, I think it would be Attachments – I didn’t want it to end and I’m still actually a bit annoyed that it did – but it’s so hard to choose!

Finally, one of the best things I read all year was a WIP by Louise Jones. I think it was only 10,000 words or so, but I absolutely loved it and have been nagging Louise for more ever since. Sadly, she’s been too busy carrying the Olympic torch, heading off to university, appearing in documentaries, and having talks with agents. She’s going to take the world by storm (actually, she already is) and I can’t wait to go into a book shop and buy her book.