Knitting for a Good Cause

knit aid

[Photo by The Worldwide Tribe]

If you’ve been living in the world in the past six months, you have surely also heard, at least in passing, the stories of the refugees who have made their way to Europe looking for safety, only to find themselves in limbo in camps across the continent. It’s been described by many as one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our lifetime, but it’s dropped off the front pages recently as more ‘exciting’ takes the space. It’s such a massive issue, it can be hard to wrap your head around it and in the face of so much pain and suffering, it’s easy to feel impotent.

I have been humbled over the past few months to watch Jess and Jaz and everyone else at The Worldwide Tribe dedicate their time and energies to relieving some of that suffering, offering a hand of friendship and telling the stories of the people who are living in The Jungle and in Lesbos to the world. It is truly inspirational – a phrase which gets thrown around a lot on the Internet but in this case is very true.

knit aid collage

[Photos by The Worldwide Tribe

However, for many of us, such a commitment is not possible or even, dare I say it, desirable. I’m sure I’m not alone in having a bigger heart than I do wallet or diary – we all have a finite amount of time and resources to dedicate to the causes that matter to us. So, whilst I can donate money and cheer on from the sidelines, I have been feeling increasingly guilty about all of these people right on my doorstep, who deserve so much better. 

How to Knit a Snood // Amy Elizabeth

So, when I discovered Knit Aid through the Worldwide Tribe Instagram, I was ecstatic! This feels like a way I can help, pouring some time and love into knitting up snoods and hats to try and stave off the cold. I immediately ordered a whole bunch of wool and got to work. It feels like a bit of a selfish way to help, because I love knitting. I know I’m not the only one who finds it a relaxing hobby – I’ve had similar comments on my knitting posts before, so I wanted to spread the word in case you were maybe looking for a new crafty project, or had been feeling similar to me in the face of the refugee crisis. The Knit Aid patterns are very simple, so even if you’re a beginner knitter then you can make a handmade donation to this very worthy cause. It really has been so cold recently, and every time a freezing blast of wind has hit me in the face, it is a stark reminder that there are a lot of people without central-heated homes to go to and it breaks my heart a little bit – I hope this small act can go some way towards making this winter a little warmer for them. 

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Vanilla Rice Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce

Vanilla Rice Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce // Amy Elizabeth

I am having a love affair with rice pudding. I never thought I’d write those words; for some reason, I have long associated rice pudding with terrible school dinners, despite never having partaken in that particular childhood tradition myself. There’s just something in the British consciousness that is wary of rice pudding. Or maybe that’s just me? Either way, I was sceptical when Paul bought me home a tub of Naughty but Rice Salted Caramel Rice Pudding from the supermarket – he’d clocked the salted caramel part, which is usually a surefire way to my heart, but didn’t know of my aversion to all things rice-like. However, I was hooked after one bite and became determined to make my own version. 

Vanilla Rice Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce // Amy Elizabeth

Deliciously creamy and comforting, with a swirl of that addictive salted caramel. It’s everything a good winter pudding should be. It’s incredibly calming to make, standing over the stove, stirring until the fragrant vanilla pudding has thickened and softened. The pan needs to be watched – you don’t want the milk to boil over. However, after reading Simply Nigella, I will never again apologise for asking you to spend a little time in the kitchen. The twenty minutes it takes to complete this recipe should be a joy rather than a chore. If you want to do so, you can make the salted caramel in advance and then reheat in a saucepan whilst you make the pudding, but both are simple to make so you can easily whip them up at the same time. Any leftover caramel sauce can be kept in the fridge to sneak spoonfuls of throughout the week. 

Vanilla Rice Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce // Amy Elizabeth

Vanilla Rice Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce
Serves 4
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For the rice pudding
  1. 100g pudding rice (or arborio risotto rice, if you can't find pudding rice)
  2. 400ml whole milk
  3. 200ml double cream
  4. 2 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
For the salted caramel sauce
  1. 75g unsalted butter
  2. 50g soft brown sugar
  3. 50g caster sugar
  4. 50g golden syrup
  5. 125ml double cream
  6. pinch of flaky sea salt, to taste
For the pudding
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil.
  2. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the rice has softened and the pudding has thickened. If the pudding thickens too quickly and rice remains uncooked, add a splash or two of milk at a time until you get the correct texture and consistency.
For the salted caramel sauce
  1. Meanwhile, place the butter, sugars and syrup into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and melt over a medium heat. Swirl occasionally to combine the ingredients, where necessary.
  2. Once the mixture has melted (about 3 minutes), add in the cream and a pinch of sea salt. Stir together and taste, adding more salt if needed. Cook for another minute.
  3. Remove from the heat and pour into a jug for serving.
To serve
  1. Divide the pudding between four bowls and serve with a generous swirl of salted caramel sauce. Keep the sauce on hand whilst eating for top ups!
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/

 

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Weekend Link Love

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wall

[Photo by Leeroy

Hey friends, how has your week been? It feels like everyone has been having a slightly strange time. I guess January is rather a strange month; it’s a new beginning but it’s also a time when you want to hibernate and stay away from the world. I’ve been super busy this week with book club and meals out and playing newspaper hockey with the Guides. I’m always torn between how much I love having so much fun stuff to do, and wanting to stay at home and do my knitting. I suspect that everyone feels that way though, sometimes. We’ve also booked our first ever house viewing (!) for a little place we’re thinking of buying. Is this really happening? Am I a real life grown up? I think it might be. And I think I might be. I pulled out a hoodie from University to wear over my pyjamas last night, and it said ‘2009/10’ on it. How can that be? I’ve said it before, but the days are long and the years really are short. 

 

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8 UK Food Bloggers You Should Also Be Following

uk bloggers

I’ve already shared with you 8 British food bloggers you should be following, as well as 8 more of them a couple of weeks later. I continue to discover even more wonderful food bloggers based here in the UK, and it seems a shame to keep them to myself. So, if you’re looking for more foodie inspiration on the regular then these lovelies should be your first stop. 

Candids by Jo 

Whilst Jo describes this as a lifestyle blog, there’s a strong foodie bent so I think she won’t mind appearing on this list. Originally a Bostonian, Jo crossed the pond for love and now resides in London, with frequent travels around the world. You really should be following this blog for the stunning food photography more than anything else – it’s truly a beautiful blog (and her Instagram is also worth a follow). 

Sprunting

Written by the delightful Catherine, Sprunting is a blog that celebrates the little things in life and has lots of lovely recipes that I’m always bookmarking for later. You may have spotted her on Humble Pie earlier in the year, too. This is definitely a happy-making blog to follow! 

Little Paper Swans

I love the style of this blog. The photos are simple and bright, and always bring a smile to my face. Written by Cathryn, you’ll be treated to simple, delicious recipes on this blog as well as a few little updates on her sweet new baby, Edith. 

Cous Cous Bang

Male food bloggers are rather thin on the ground as far as I can see. Guys who love food, where you at? Luckily Thom is representing and he won Guild of Food Writers Blog of the Year for his sterling efforts. I love the punchy style of his photography and the no-holds barred reviews. People of Leeds, you’ll be particularly interested in his cheat sheets for where to eat in the city

Emily’s Recipes & Reviews 

Emily is the queen of macarons. She has so many wonderful recipes for them on her blog, as well as a beautiful illustrated guide to help the slightly daunted (me) master these sweet little confections. That alone is worth following along for, but that’s not all this blog is about. As suggested by the title, you’ll also find lots of other recipes on this blog as well as reviews for places to eat and drink, mostly centred around the Midlands. A lovely blog, for sure.

A Life of Geekery

If you’re after a little bit of education with your food blog, then this is the one for you. Vicki, self-described geek, adds so many little interesting tidbits into her posts alongside pretty photos and mouth-watering recipes. She’s also doing up her kitchen at the moment, and I’m excited to see the final product! 

Sophie Loves Food

Sophie calls herself a blogger, baker and burger enthusiast – which I think gives you a little taste of her blog. I’m also always a fan of fellow alliteration enthusiasts! This blog is full of sweet bakes – I recently made this pumpkin bundt cake with cream cheese frosting and it was excellent! 

Victoria Sponge Pease Pudding

Yet more baking goodness from a wonderfully named blog! This is a stylish blog with some wonderful recipes for you to discover if you have sweet tooth, including these rosemary brown butter dark chocolate cookies with sea salt. I don’t think I need to say any more, do I? 

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January Book Reviews

january books

Moth Girls by Anne Cassidy

They called them the Moth Girls because they were attracted to the house. They were drawn to it. Or at least that is what is written in the newspapers that Mandy reads on the anniversary of when her two best friends went missing.

I was intrigued by the premise of this novel: a mystery surrounding the disappearance of Mandy’s two best friends who slipped into a creepy house in their neighbourhood and never returned. However, I was slightly disappointed. I wish more had been made of the ‘moth’ element, given that it is in the title; I think it would have added to the foreboding and intrigue of the story where this was slightly lacking for me. The character of Mandy was rather frustrating – there was a lot of possibility for exploring what it’s like to be the one who’s left behind, defined by an event like this one as we don’t often hear that side of the story. However, it turns out she wasn’t very good friends with the two girls who went missing, and yet allows this one incident to control her five years later, which doesn’t make sense to me. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but, whilst I was interested enough to read to the end to find out what happened to the girls, when I got there I was left feeling a little flat. It was a logical ending, which explained why the girls had never been found, but it really ignored that ‘moth girls’ element and felt a bit too ‘convenient’, if that’s the word.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald 

This book has been on so many ‘best of 2015’ lists, and it’s so easy to see why. It’s a beautifully written tale of bereavement and obsession which combines memoir, history and nature writing in a very moving and readable way, despite the obvious academic background of the author. Devastated after the death of her father, Helen adopts a goshawk named Mabel and dedicates her life to training her. Goshawks are traditionally described as wild and difficult to train, but Helen finds Mabel to be challenging but surprising. Throughout the book, Helen finds her way through her grief by focusing on falconry, learning about herself and this very unique bird. 

I think you can tell that I enjoyed this book, but I also found it fascinating and difficult to grapple with. I absolutely loved learning about falconry, and the scenes with Mabel were glorious. She had such a distinct personality, and it made me want to adopt my own hawk (although, obviously that would be a terrible idea!). But I felt throughout that the author was keeping us at arm’s length, intellectualising something that is purely emotional. Maybe it’s my inherent nosiness, but I left this memoir with almost no knowledge of the author herself, which was mildly frustrating. This book resists meaning, resists genre and resists you. I’m excited to discuss it at my book club this week! 

Fishnet by Kirstin Innes 

I read this book a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been dwelling on it ever since. Following the story of Fiona, stuck in a dead end job and weighed down by single motherhood, as she attempts to find her sister Rona, who walked out six years ago and hasn’t been seen since. A chance revelation that Rona had been working as a prostitute prior to her disappearance has Fiona reeling, and she embarks on a journey to discover more about the world of sex work in a bid to get closer to her sister. This is a fictional book, but it has its roots in the very real stories of sex workers, and will challenge everything you think about this controversial profession. You’ll be taken on that journey with Fiona, a perfectly flawed narrator whose eyes are very much opened by the end of the novel. I’d recommend this book to anyone – especially if you’re looking for something easy-to-read but thought-provoking. 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I’m not sure why it took me so long to get to this book; it’s got such a cult following and it’s been on my radar for a long time. The book consists of the letters of Charlie to an anonymous stranger, pouring his heart out about the strange new world he finds himself in as a freshman. As he makes friends, tries drugs, discovers The Rocky Horror Picture Show and attempts to join in with life, rather than simply sticking to the sidelines, we follow along with his innermost thoughts and emotions. I can see why this book is so beloved, but it fell a bit flat for me – it is overwrought, angsty and there’s a disconnect between Charlie’s supposed intelligence (he gets straight As) and his writing style, which makes him appear far younger than his years. This is a quintessential ‘coming of age’ story, and appears designed to make you cry – there is so much suffering crammed into the pages but it doesn’t feel that real to me. Maybe I’m just too old – perhaps if I had read this as a hormonal teenager I would have identified with the characters more and found it more moving, but I can think of many other books which deal with this issues which have had a bigger impact on me. 

The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle

This book has been billed as one of 2016’s most exciting debuts by people in the know, so of course I was intrigued. The story follows Roy, a life-long liar and con man who’s lived many lives. Now in his eighties, he’s setting up his final con – shacking up with the sweet Betty in an attempt to make off with her life savings. However, everything is not as it seems, and as we chart Roy’s life back through time to World War Two, the pieces begin to fall into place. I found this book incredibly dull for the first half but gripping for the second, so take from that what you will. It’s told backwards, going back in time through Roy’s various cons – but  the first few seem more there to set the scene and paint the picture of Roy’s very questionable character rather than to advance the story in any real way. The part set in WW2, however, was riveting and I wish it had taken up a larger percentage of the book. If you can push through, I think you’ll find it the same – but if I hadn’t been writing this review then I probably would have put it down long before we got to the juicy stuff. 

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Georgie McCool struggles to keep her marriage together in the face of her successful career as a TV writer. Neal takes the kids to Omaha for Christmas, but she has to stay at work and wonders if this is the final nail in the coffin for their marriage. That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past and feels like she’s been given a chance to fix her marriage before it even starts… 

Yet more Rainbow Rowell. I think it’s a given now that I’m a fan of hers – I love her characters, her way of writing, the little jokes and pop culture references, the romance which feels squishy and warm in her novels, rather than cringeworthy and earnest. This actually wasn’t my favourite of her novels; the time-travelling phone was a little too kooky for me but it was still very sweet and touching. I devoured it in a day – if you’re looking for something light and heart-warming for a weekend read then this is the one for you. 

 

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Brunch at Ox Club, Leeds

Ox Club at Headrow House, Leeds

It takes quite a lot for me to be excited about a new restaurant opening. I’m always happy to check out new places and try something new, but it’s quite rare for me to be desperate to go somewhere that’s just opened. Which is exactly how I felt about Ox Club. As soon as they opened their doors, everyone I know in Leeds who loves food was raving about them and I had to get a piece of it. Emma and I had dinner there about a week later, and it was everything I dreamed of and more. You can read all about it on her blog, in which she also says some very lovely things about me (blush). All I’ll say is, get the cauliflower. It will change your life. Which is no mean feat for a vegetable that I have mostly avoided when it’s not covered in a thick, cheese sauce. 

As a basic white girl, and therefore a dedicated bruncher, I was also counting down the days until I got to try out their brunch menu. It’s only available at weekends, and the thought of going into town during the Christmas shopping crush was too much for me, even with the promise of pancakes, so we waited until January and headed over to brunch to our heart’s delights. 

Ox Club at Headrow House, Leeds

Ox Club is exactly the kind of restaurant where I like to spend my time and money; it’s small enough to be intimate, it’s not fancy with its decor, save for a few copper touches and some plants scattered about, and they let the food do the talking. The smell of the grill is the first thing that hits you when you arrive, and it is wonderful – smoky and delicious. The menu changes regularly depending on market availability of produce, and features a small array of dishes that are carefully considered and cooked to perfection. There’s a reason everyone’s been raving about this place. 

Ox Club at Headrow House, Leeds

For brunch, we settled on Hanger Steak & Cheddar Eggs and their Ricotta Pancakes, which are served with honeycomb and blueberries. Our greed lead us to order a side of bacon and extra home fries, but there was really no need – I couldn’t even finish my pancakes because the portions were so generous. They were as light and fluffy as a cloud, and the blueberry and honeycomb accompaniment was surely a stroke of genius. We all need more honeycomb in our lives. Paul’s steak was perfectly cooked and tender and came with a heaping pile of silky eggs and a gorgeous smoked tomato jam. All in all, an absolutely fantastic way to start the day and one I’ll definitely be back for many times, I’m sure. 

Ox Club at Headrow House, Leeds

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Weekend Link Love

new york skyline

[Photo by Death to Stock]

What a week! Has anyone else felt like it’s been dragging? The days are long but the years are short, friends. Never has that been truer than in the first week of January. There is hope, though! The sun actually shone on Friday, and the sky was blue. It felt magical. It’ll be Spring before you know it, and I am already ready for it.

As well as counting the hours this week, I’ve also been doing some daily yoga (I feel smug, but very inflexible and sort of sore), baking cookies with leftover Christmas chocolates and getting stuck into the excellent TV shows that are back on our screens this season. New Brooklyn 99? I’m so there. 

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter if you want to get all of the lovely links I’ve collected this week – there’s some juicy stuff in there! See you next week! 

 

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Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Vanilla Berries

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Vanilla Berries // Amy Elizabeth

I like to prescribe to the 80/20 theory of healthy eating. It’s not precise, but it works for me. Most of the time, I try to eat fresh food, made from scratch, with fruit and vegetables and grains involved where possible. However, there are some foods I love which don’t fit into that mould – dishes covered in cheese or chocolate, baked goods and desserts drizzled in cream and custard. They have their place, too, they just need to be consumed a little less frequently. Once or twice a week, rather than everyday. 

However, just because those things make it into the 20% bracket, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be the very best they can be. This isn’t the space for dirty takeaways and those £1 packets of doughnuts from the supermarket, although they do sometimes sneak in. If anything, because they are less frequent, those treats should be the very best they can be. You should make them work harder for you, since you don’t get to eat them all the time. 

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Vanilla Berries // Amy Elizabeth

Which is where these pancakes come in. Fluffy, light pancakes with a sharp lemony flavour. Warm berries with a little hint of vanilla. A dollop of yoghurt or creme fraiche. Put down those store-bought pancakes that you microwave or pop in the toaster. These are worth the extra effort, and they deserve a place in that 20% part of your life. 

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Vanilla Berries // Amy Elizabeth

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Vanilla Berries
Serves 3
Write a review
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For the pancakes
  1. 250g ricotta cheese
  2. 75g golden caster sugar
  3. 3 large eggs, separated
  4. zest of 1 lemon
  5. 25g melted butter
  6. 65g plain flour
  7. natural yoghurt or creme fraiche, to serve
For the berries
  1. 2 handfuls frozen berries (I used blueberries, strawberries and raspberries)
  2. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  3. juice 1/2 lemon
  4. 1 tbsp. golden caster sugar
For the pancakes
  1. Beat together the ricotta, sugar and egg yolks until smooth.
  2. Stir in the lemon zest and melted butter and fold in the flour until you have a thick batter.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. This will take a minute or two with an electric whisk, and a little longer with a hand whisk. Gently fold into the batter until combined, being careful not to knock too much air out.
  4. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Place a heaped tablespoon of mixture into the pan; depending on the size of your pan, you can probably cook two or three at once but be sure to leave room between them so they can spread without sticking together.
  5. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown.
  6. Serve warm with berries and yoghurt or creme fraiche.
For the berries
  1. Whilst the pancakes are cooking, place the frozen berries, vanilla extract, lemon juice and caster sugar into a small saucepan over a medium heat.
  2. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally until the berries have softened completely and begun to create a sauce. Remove from the heat and serve warm.
Adapted from BBC Good Food
Adapted from BBC Good Food
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/

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8 Books to Preorder Right Now

2016 books to preorder

A new year has re-ignited my excited for new books. There are so many amazing books being published in 2016, and I’ve already lined up these ones for pre-order. My favourite thing about pre-ordering books is when you’ve forgotten about them and then they’re delivered straight to your desk. What a treat! 

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

‘You’ was one of my favourite books of last year, the creepy, sexy, thrilling story of Joe, bookstore worker, avid reader and obsessive stalker. I’ve read it twice over since, and I could not be more excited by this sequel, which is published in just a few days. 

Exit, Pursued By A Bear by E.K. Johnston

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person.

I am a total sucker for a cheerleader story. I just can’t help it. Hermione Winters is the captain of her cheerleading squad, on the cusp of victory until someone slips something into her drink at a party…

Smart young adult fiction that tackles rape and female friendship? You know I’m so there. 

Maestra by L.S. Hilton 

Described as a ‘shockingly original thriller’ with a heroine that rivals Amy Dunne, that plays out in the world of art, the French Riviera and the rather salubrious areas of the West End. Read the whole synopsis here, and get ready to join me in a binge read of this book. 

Love Sick by Cory Martin

At 28, Cory Martin thought she had it all – a dream job as a Hollywood writer, her own apartment and a healthy obsession with yoga. When it is a revealed that she has Multiple Sclerosis, she becomes determined to find love before the potentially debilitating disease takes over her life. Navigating illness and dating at the same time, with humour, grace and strength – I anticipate that this will be a very powerful memoir. 

The Girls by Emma Cline

This book has been described by Book Riot as ‘The Virgin Suicides meets the Manson Family’ – is there anything else you need to know? An exciting debut novel, The Girls follows Evie, a lonely teenager who finds herself in the thrall of older girl Suzanne, and a soon-to-be-infamous cult with a charismatic leader… 

American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis

A sharp, funny, delightfully unhinged collection of stories set in the dark world of domesticity, American Housewife features murderous ladies who lunch, celebrity treasure hunters, and the best bra fitter south of the Mason Dixon line.

I’m not sure this book needs more of an introduction. A humorous, pointed look at domesticity and womanhood. I’m all over it. 

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard 

I read Red Queen at the end of last year. I say read, but really I devoured it in 24 hours. It may be the culmination of every other young adult dystopian fantasy novel featuring a feisty heroine (you’ll see what I mean when you read it) but it captivated my interest and I really must find out what happens next. 

The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror by Joyce Carol Oates 

With a creepy title like that, how could you resist? I have a strange obsession with horror tales, despite my cowardly nature, and I am so excited for this collection of short stories. Is there anything more haunting than creepy dolls? No, I don’t think there is. Read more about the collection here

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6 Ways to Make Time for Reading

make time for reading

[Photo by Alice Hampson]

Last year, I managed to read 100 books. This year I’m aiming for 101. I am a fast reader, naturally, which definitely helps me read so many books. However, the main thing that helped me complete last year’s challenge was prioritising reading above and beyond other tasks and hobbies. I wouldn’t expect everyone to do the same, but I know that a lot of people want to make more time for reading – whether it’s to finish one book a year, or one hundred. 

Always carry a book 

It’s amazing how many little snippets of time throughout the week you can find to read. If you carry a book with you, or make sure you always have one on hand at home, then you make it far easier for yourself. An e-reader makes this simple; owning a Kindle has changed my reading life. 

Use multiple devices 

The best thing about owning a Kindle is that it syncs with all my devices. I use the Kindle app on my laptop, my work computer and my mobile phone, which means I really am never far from my book and can use whatever time I have available. The Kindle holds my place for me, so I can pick up right where I left off, whichever device I’m using. Alternatively, if you’re struggling for time, why not try an audiobook? I swear by my Audible subscription. 

Work out when you can read… and then do it 

This sounds obvious, but it’s so easy to get out of the habit of reading that sometimes we forget to do it. Work out the pockets of time when you can read, and then stick to them. For me, it’s my commute in the morning and evening – that’s at least 40 minutes of solid book-reading time a day, which can really add up over a year. It might be just ten minutes in the morning before everyone else has woken up, or on your lunch break, or just in the bath on Sunday night, but work out when the best time for reading is and then actually do it! 

View reading as a pleasure, not a chore

Reading is supposed to be fun! We all thing we’re supposed to be reading more and, whilst I would agree – it’s only because reading is so brilliant! It shouldn’t fill you with dread, and if you’re viewing it as something you ‘must’ do, rather than something you ‘want’ to do, it can make it more difficult to pick up your book at start reading. Pick a fun book, perhaps one that you’ve read before, and view your reading time as a treat. You’re much more likely to find the time that way. 

Turn off the TV 

I’m the worst for this, but my reading challenge has made me a lot more aware of the times I’m watching the TV just because it’s already on. It’s better for me to read a book than to watch an episode of Big Bang Theory that I’ve seen a hundred times. You don’t have to live a TV-less life (lord knows I definitely don’t!) but be a little more mindful and you can steal back some pockets of time for reading. 

Go to bed early

Reading fiction before bed will help your mind switch off and give you a much better night’s sleep than scrolling on your phone. A couple of nights a week, I pop to bed about half an hour early so I can get some reading time in. Occasionally I fall asleep before I’ve got three pages in – but that’s three pages I wouldn’t have read otherwise! 

Read something interesting

Ultimately, some books just won’t capture your interest and it’s best to put these to one side if you’re struggling to make time for reading. I love the classics, but when I know I’m going to be pressed for time then I won’t pick up a Jane Austen. A book which holds your attention and is ‘easy’ to read will help you get into the habit so you can get stuck into larger tomes. Thrillers, Young Adult Fantasy and anything by Rainbow Rowell do this for me, but you’ll have your own books you can’t put down! 

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