Personal Reading Recommendations – Terra

As already mentioned, Edinburgh Libraries offer a personal reading recommendations service. This week I finished one of their recommendations for me, Terra by Mitch Benn.

An alien makes an unauthorised visit to Earth to study native species, accidentally frightens a couple into running away from their car leaving their newborn baby behind. He takes the baby back to his home planet and brings her up, as much like his own as possible given that on his planet, she’s the alien.

The first two thirds of the book are pretty good, but when the inevitable peril arrives, the resolution is trite and predicable. It feels a bit like the author knew he had to finish it and had run out of original ideas. There are loose ends left unfinished which suggest an opening for at least one sequel. The tone is uneven, there are some inconsistencies in the plotting (the Fnrrians don’t know about fiction? really?), and it’s definitely more of a young adult book, but it’s enjoyable with some very funny bits, and I would read a sequel if one were forthcoming.

Next – Black Moon by Kenneth Calhoun

Reading for a healthy mind

Originally posted on Tales of One City:

Whether it’s anger, anxiety, diet or stress, mental health issues affect us all.

Experts at NHS Lothian’s Mental Health Service have come up with this essential list of books for children, young people and families which deal with topics such as depression, Schizophrenia, OCD and bereavement.

You can also download the book list as a pdf.

You can also search Your Edinburgh to find more sources of advice such as useful web sites, charities and other organisations.

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Originally posted on Paperhouse:


I learned to make lace when I was small, solemnly winding my bobbins with white thread then working over the pillow with deepest concentration – twisting and crossing the splints of wood, carefully weighted with scavenged beads, never learning so well that my hands could work without stumbling, but working all the same. I made my first few pieces, slack-tensioned and a little sloppy. My older female relatives and family friends inspected them indulgently but unimpressed. They were Bedfordshire women who had learned the needle arts at school, women who had been educated for domesticity, women who could not believe that I would leave school at 16 unable to knit, sew or make pastry. “I could make this,” my grandma would say, plucking the unhappy hems of my Topshop jumpers. “Didn’t they teach you anything?”

Their lives didn’t stop at what their education had fitted them for, though, because this…

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Personal Reading Recommendations Update

In this post I talked about Edinburgh libraries‘ personal recommendations service. I’ve read a couple of the recommendations they made for me now, so time for an update.

The first one I tried was I Laughed, I Cried: One Woman, One Hundred Days, The Mother Of All Challenges by Viv Groskop. I’d never heard of Viv Groskop before, but I have seen her name pop up now and again since I read the book. She wants to be a stand-up comedian and believes that doing 100 gigs is the best way to find out if she can really do it. 100 gigs at one or two a week will take a long time, so she decides to do 100 gigs in 100 days – this means having to do 2 or 3 some days to make up the for the days when she can’t do any.

I think if I’d had more interest in Groskop and her ambitions I would have enjoyed this book more, but it’s hard to get involved in the career aspirations of someone you’ve never heard of. It’s not a bad book, and wannabe comedians might benefit from the lessons she learns about gigging. My overwhelming feeling throughout this book was how incredibly selfish she is, pursuing something with such a tiny chance of success regardless of how it affects her family. And then I had to ask myself if I would feel the same if this book was about a man doing the same thing, and I decided yes I would.

The next one I tried was The Room by Jonas Smith Karlsson. What a strange book. It’s narrated by Bjorn, who is moved to a new office job for reasons we’re never quite clear about. He finds a room in the new workplace which only he can see. It doesn’t appear on the plans of the building, and when he’s in it, all his colleagues see is him standing in the corridor. I enjoyed this book very much but I really didn’t understand it!

Currently reading Terra by Mitch Benn…

Bad Week, Better Saturday

Work has been a struggle this week, working with a person who has had a lot of trauma, and lots of additional work with no additional time to do it in. I was so tired last night (partly because of staying up too late watching election stuff) that I decided not to go to swimming class.*

Today I went into work for a couple of hours, did some stuff that needed to be done, sorted out a massive pile of papers and left feeling slightly more able to cope next week. I could have stayed later on Friday to do it but honestly, I was done. I got home from work, spent some time with the cat, and then went for a swim. Today was the first weekend in months I’ve had the motivation to go for a swim. I even did a couple of sprints.

*Note to self: either take the next day as annual leave and stay up all night watching the election, or go to bed at your normal time and find out in the morning. Don’t stay up several hours past bedtime and go to bed having seen only three results then feel shit all the next day. Although let’s face it, we’re all going to be feeling shit for the next five years.

Trying to Get Back Into a Rhythm

For me, the hardest thing about depression hasn’t been low mood, it’s been my complete lack of motivation. I go to work, I come home, and I spend every evening and weekend on the sofa eating carbs. From swimming 3-5 times a week and pilates at least once a fortnight for the past couple of years, this year from January to April I swam twice other than class. I’ve put back on all the weight I lost in the last 2 years, which doesn’t help my dodgy hip, and just urgh. Swimming is very important to me; it’s cardiovascular and strengthening, it supports weight loss, it helps me sleep, it’s mentally relaxing and can be almost meditative for me, it relieves and prevents pain in my hip, it’s something I can do comfortably and confidently, or I can challenge myself to go faster, use better technique, improve my weaker strokes, and it’s something I enjoy. No matter how pissed off I am when I get into the water, no matter how annoying other people in the pool can be, the act of cleaving through the water makes me feel better. So not being able to motivate myself to go has been difficult for me, in lots of ways. I took annual leave the week beginning 13th April, and the following Monday & Tuesday. I had hoped to use the time to get back into an exercise groove and I wanted to swim every day and do one or two classes as well. In the end, I only managed to swim three times. To be honest, I’m disappointed I didn’t manage more than that, but I’m trying to look at it as a good start rather than a fail. Stroke development started again on Friday after the Easter break and I headed up to it, but there was a power cut at the pool and it was cancelled. Owing to annual leave I was only at work Wednesday-Friday last week and I’d aimed to swim at least once on Saturday or Sunday, but I just couldn’t do it. I sat on the sofa with a loaf of sourdough and a jar of peanut butter, feeling that I was letting myself down. I think work is taking it out of me more than I realise, and I think that because I have started to feel better, I’m assuming I’m better than I am and I’m expecting too much of myself. The good news is, a meeting finished early today and I took advantage of that and was in the pool by 1630 and did a kilometre. I also managed what might be my fastest ever 50 metre length, 67 seconds, and my average speed per length was pretty good (for me). Months of eating carbs obviously agrees with me. I might not make it to the pool again this week before Friday, I might not make it there next weekend. But I might. And if I don’t, that’s fine, and if I do, that’s great.

Adventures in Sertraline: Three Weeks In

I went back to the GP on Friday for a review. I told him that although my mood is starting to lift, it’s not back to normal yet, and I’m still low on motivation. Then we had a chat about the side-effects and I said that although they’re an inconvenience, they’re not intolerable. I said I think I’ve been really lucky – the Sertraline has started to work quickly and the side-effects aren’t hideous – and he said that it’s helped that I went when I did. He thinks if I’d left it another couple of months the depression would have been more entrenched and would take longer to clear, and he says it was good that I’d thought things through before I went and he didn’t have to spend weeks persuading me to try meds. So, I’m staying on the same dose, going back in 6 weeks, and as I’m on annual leave next week and therefore not exhausted in the evenings after a day of work, I’m going to try to get back into an exercise routine.

Books On Wheels


This is brilliant

Originally posted on Tales of One City:

4293291804_b4c2a7f632_oEdinburgh is well served by libraries with 28 branches across the city. However, it’s not always possible for some folks to reach these branches so we have a number of other services operating which allow access to books and reading. These include the mobile library, the home delivery service an library link.

Mobile Library Service
The mobile library service first took to the road in 1949 becoming the first service of its kind in Scotland.  The first van cost £1,836 and carried around 2,000 books across 10 sites.

Mobile Library out in the community Mobile library in 1954

These days the mobile library makes 79 different stops across the city covering areas from Balerno and Ratho to Leith and Restalrig.  It also visits sheltered housing and retirement flats where residents can come on to the bus to choose book and books can be delivered straight to the rooms of those living in care homes. 

We caught…

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