#Shelfies For World Book Day

From the adventures of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree, Michelle Magorian’s Goodnight Mr Tom and Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole to the beautifully crafted Heidi by Johanna Spyri, What Katy Did by Sarah Chauncey Woolsey (under the name of Susan Coolidge), J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, my childhood was spent with my head firmly buried in a book. One of my favourite activities after school was visiting our local library, which my sisters, mother and I did every week.

My love of reading has followed me throughout my life. As a teenager I became obsessed with autobiographies, diaries, Jane Austin and Emily Brontë, reading and re-reading Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, The Diary of Anne Frank, EmmaSense and Sensibility and Wuthering Heights until my copies were so tattered that I had to buy new ones. In my twenties I adored Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity and cried at Dave Peltzer’s A Child Called It and John Grogan’s Marley and Me. I became fascinated with the Cosa Nostra, devouring books on the history of Italian-American gangsters and started reading biographies of celebrities from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. I continued to read Maya Angelou, I loved Bill Bryson’s travel adventures and I discovered the eye-opening exploits of Belle De Jour (who puts the Fifty Shades of Grey nonsense to shame), and I read the Harry Potter series in the order of 4, 3, 2, 1, 5, 6, 7 after my mother bought me the fourth book as a birthday present one year. I read the dystopian novels of Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale (I still think of it every time I see the small packets of butter in restaurants) and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. While I am not a huge horror fan, I went through a Stephen King phase after reading Rose Madder, and read Carrie, Thinner and Four Past Midnight in just a few months. In my thirties I was (and still am) inspired by Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman and AJ Rochester’s Confessions of a Reformed Dieter, and I’ve giggled at Tom Cox’s experiences with his cats in The Good, The Bad and The Furry.

As a teacher, I encourage my students to read as often as possible and I am pleased that I work at a school where a love of reading and literacy is promoted. Our students participate in the daily activity of DEAR – Drop Everything And Read – where lessons are stopped for twenty minutes, everyone takes out their book and reads in silence. It’s a lovely opportunity to take some time to relax and immerse ourselves in a different world, even if it’s just for a short period of time.

As it is World Book Day, I wasn’t able to dress up as a character from a book, although our English department did (I would probably have done Alice from Alice in Wonderland if I had possessed the time, money and confidence), but I thought I would share my ‘shelfies’ in celebration instead. These are just two shelves of about ten, but they give an overview of the sorts of things that I read regularly.



Do you want to join me? Share your #shelfie with me on Twitter and include my Twitter handle with the hashtag – it would be brilliant for me to see what sorts of things you are reading at the moment!

You can find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

Don’t forget to check out my wonderful sponsors – they’re all very exciting and unique bloggers and I’m sure that you’ll enjoy their offerings as much as I do! You can find their buttons in my sidebar…

A Beautiful Story To Make You Smile: There’s Still Hope For Humanity!

Axani and Gallagher in Bangkok

Axani and Gallagher in Bangkok

I hate watching the news. The world seems to be an increasingly violent and depressing place and each new day brings stories of cruelty, hatred and injustice that leave me feeling helpless and in despair of humanity. However, every so often I will see a story that reminds me that there are still wonderful people out there…

Last year, Canadian Jordan Axani and his girlfriend, Elizabeth Gallagher, booked a three week round-the-world vacation for the Christmas holidays, but then they broke up before the trip took place. However, instead of letting the spare ticket go to waste, Jordan turned to Reddit in an attempt to find another Canadian girl with the same name as his ex who was willing to join him. Asking for nothing in return, his criteria was simple:

1. Be sane, smart and (hopefully) interesting.

2. Have always wanted to travel, but maybe haven’t had the opportunity or cash to see much of the world.

3. Be named Elizabeth Gallagher and have a Canadian passport.

4. Be ready for a rather spontaneous life experience that will, one day, be an epic story that you’ll tell your kids.

5. Pay it forward. I’ve been lucky in life and this is me giving back to the universe. Do something similar today.

The story went viral, Axani received thousands of applications and the lucky recipient was a 23 year old student, Elizabeth Quinn Gallagher, from Nova Scotia. Gallagher, who has a boyfriend (apparently he wasn’t hugely impressed with her plans to spend Christmas with a complete stranger), initially thought the idea was a little crazy, but was quickly put at ease by Axani in a number of conversations over the phone. They met in the airport departure lounge at Toronto on 21st December and visited eight different places – New York, Milan, Venice, Prague, New Dehli, Khao Lak and Hong Kong, before returning on the 8th January. Because Axani stopped planning the trip further when he and his ex broke up, there were no hotel rooms booked, but when Marriott International heard about it, they provided separate rooms at each stop of their journey.



New York

New York

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

It seems that they developed a great friendship, joking on their return about Axani’s fear of heights and Gallagher’s frequent ability to get lost, they had a wonderful time and I’m pleased for them both.

However, the beauty of the story doesn’t stop there. Axani was inspired by incredibly touching message that he received from and eight year-old boy who was losing his sight and wanted to see the world before he lost his vision completely, and has now set up an charity organisation with his brother called A Ticket Forward to help people travel but don’t have the money.

What a wonderful story, created by a kind and generous person. Perhaps there is hope for humanity after all!

If you wish to make a donation to A Ticket Forward, simply click this link

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks


Mr Sushi: The Eternal Mystery

ImageAfter a lovely weekend at my mum’s house (more on that it in a later post) my sister offered to drop me off at Stockport Train Station to catch my train back to Birmingham, thus bypassing two major changes and saving me about an hour of time.

In direct contrast to the journey the day before, the train was packed. I was lucky to be able to find an available seat (much to the annoyance of the rather disgruntled woman that I sat next to) but by the time I had organised myself lots of others had been forced to stand. I made myself comfortable, took out my phone and set up my playlist for the journey ahead.

In the seats opposite were a young male and female and judging by their conversation they had only just met. He was slightly older than her and a little rough around the edges, while she was quite well spoken and demure. As the journey continued it became evident that there was a mutual attraction – he joked and teased her about the car that she drove, she giggled at his silly jokes and in between a few awkward silences they both tried to ask each other questions about each others lives without appearing too desperate. He said he was 24, she claimed that she was 20 (although she looked a little younger), she explained where she had been the night before, he appeared interested and listened intently… It was very sweet.

About an hour into the journey the man pulled out the biggest box of sushi I’ve ever seen, proclaiming that he ate large amounts of it. I was a little confused by this – his efforts to impress may have been thwarted by the smell that permeated from it, but the girl seemed unfazed and the light flirting continued. Mr Sushi was obviously beginning to gain in confidence – he made a few derogatory comments about himself, thus giving her the opportunity to compliment him and then made a statement about ‘not being able to chat up a girl properly.’ Her response was, again, to giggle.

ImageAs nosey as I may sound, their conversation kept me entertained all the way to Birmingham New Street Station. Just as the train arrived and I got up to leave, I heard Mr Sushi ask for her phone number. Unfortunately, there was a huge queue of people behind me that forced me to walk off the train, and I didn’t get to hear her answer.


Thus is the eternal mystery that I will never know the answer to. Did Mr Sushi get the girl’s phone number????

In my little world, I hope he did. Despite the sushi.

Picture 1: supergreenlandmarket.com
Picture 2: Casey Diggs