Top six characters I would like to meet before or after the book(s)

The idea for this post came from the weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday, created by The Broke and The Bookish.

Not everyone agrees, but I like the epilogue of Harry Potter. It was nice to know what became of my beloved characters. Although I do not often think about their future while reading, it is interesting to fantasize about what becomes of characters after the book has ended. Here are three characters I like to meet around ten years after the book or series has ended (I promise that I will not spoil anything):

1. Will Parry from His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
It is a few years ago since the last time I read this amazing trilogy (so time for a re-read). Next to Lyra, Will always has been my favourite character. I would like to know what becomes of him after the trilogy has ended.

2. Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I already know something about Luna’s life after Hogwarts from a Daily Prophet article written by J.K. Rowling. But I could read a whole book about her!

3. Oskar Schell from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Oskar is such a lovely and smart boy. I am really curious about what kind of job he is going to get. I imagine him becoming a jewelry fabricator, an archaeologist or maybe a curator of of a museum.

Top 3 characters I would like to meet after the book(s)

The past of characters is often already a part of the story. In some book series, like Harry Potter, we see the character growing up. In other books the reader finds out more about the earlier life of the characters during the book. But some characters have a childhood we know (almost) nothing about. Here are three characters I would like to meet before the book or series began:

1. Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
As far as I can remember, Gandalf’s life is one big mystery. I am curious about Gandalf  as child. Where did he grow up? Were is parents also wizards? And from who did he learn to do magic?

2. Kate Cold from City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende
I never met (in real life or in books) a grandmother who takes her grandson on a trip to the Amazon rain forest. I definitely would like to know more about her and her other adventures.

3. Sherlock Holmes from the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I must admit that I only read A Study in Scarlet. Most of what I know about Sherlock Holmes is based on the British television series Sherlock and the American television series Elementary. In the books may be more about this subject. But I am really curious about how Sherlock became the person he is.

Top 3 characters I would like to meet before the books

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Top seven bookworm delights

The idea for this post came from the weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday, created by The Broke and The Bookish. The subject of this week is great, because some book-related experiences are almost as good as reading itself.

Top seven bookworm delights
by Vladstudio

1. Book blogs
I adore book blogs. It is simply amazing that there are so many people who love books just as much as I do. Book blogs are the main reason why I do not read as much as I want. I love to read what other people think about books,  watch bookish pictures and look for fan-art.

2. Getting new books
When you buy books, you actually buy new adventures on pocket format. New books are like an invitation to a new world!

3. The “this-book-will-be-amazing”-feeling
I sort of stole this one from Jamie on Perpetual page-turner, because I just had to add it to my list. It feels so good when you read the first sentence or the first chapter, and already know that the book will be amazing.

4. Bookshops & libraries
Places where I am surrounded by hundreds of books, and the possibility of finding amazing new books. It will not get better than that. Bookshops and libraries belong to some of the best places in the world.

5. Maps of fantasy worlds
Maps are a great way to help me visualize the world in the book. It also seems to me that they make fantasy worlds more real.

6. Bookish clothes
It always makes me smile when I see someone in the train or on the street with a Harry Potter-shirt or other book-related clothes.

7. Hearing people talk about books
Every year during Book Week in the Netherlands there is a book quiz on television. Because I read mainly English books, most of the questions are about Dutch book I have not read (yet). I like to watch it anyway. It is so nice to hear people talk about or discuss books.

The importance of Earth Day

The importance of Earth Day

Did you know today is Earth Day? I wish I did not have to ask this question. A day on which people take action against environmental issues should be far more important. Not only deserves our planet its own day, it is also necessary. Here is why: climate change is real, it is probably caused by humans and proceeds at a very high rate. Without doubt you have heard about the consequences: higher temperatures, rise of the sea level, melting of sea ice and glaciers, and more extreme weather. But these consequences are not only something for the future. They are happening right now. On photos you can actually see how a lot of glaciers have melted in the last hundred years.

One of the most important actions taken against climate change was the conference held in Paris last December. 195 countries adopted an international climate agreement. Today most of these countries will be represented in New York to sign the Paris Agreement. One of the key goals is to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius between now and 2100. This goal can only be reached if all countries work together, and every one of them will significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

For a long time I asked myself: What difference will make a reduction of my own greenhouse gas emissions? Of course I cannot limit global warming on my own. But I believe every individual can make a difference. By making a change, you can be an inspiration for other people to make the same change, who in their turn can inspire more people. I think it was Mahatma  Gandhi who said:

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Here are some things you can do to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions:

  • Eat less meat and dairy products. Livestock is responsible for half of all human-related emissions. Cows produce methane that is far more destructive than carbon dioxide. Furthermore, for the land that is necessary to cultivate animal food, thousands of acres of rain forests are destroyed. If everyone would have only one meatless day per week in the United States, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.
  • Choose more often for public transport or your bike instead of your car. Or use an electric car. The burning of gasoline releases carbon dioxide, after all.
  • Buy more organic and sustainable products. Companies make products largely based on the wishes of their consumers. So if more people ask for products that are environment friendly produced, I believe companies will act according to this wish. By buying sustainable products, you also reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. If you buy, for example, a recyclable bag, less materials need to be transported and processed to make new bags.
  • Choose green energy, like wind power or solar panels. Renewable sources of energy produce less carbon dioxide.

 

Six tips for better to do lists

To do lists can be very useful. Making a list helps me to release stress if I have a lot to do. When written down, tasks always seem less daunting than in my head. To do lists also encourage me to be more productive, because it feels good to check off an item. But if you do not use them in the right way, to do lists can have the opposite effect. When you are never able to do all the things on your list, to do lists can be rather discouraging. In this post I share some tips that helped me to make better to do lists.

Six tips for better to do lists

1. Choose a place to write and keep your to do lists
I used to write my to do lists on a whiteboard, and erase the items I had done. Because my whiteboard hung above my desk, the list was a good visible reminder. I also liked how the whiteboard became emptier as I did the items on my to do list.

Using your phone is another option. You can choose a simple notification app or an app  made for to do lists with extra functions. Apps can give you the possibility to set reminders, synchronize with google calendar or share lists with family and friends. Another advantage is that you probably carry your phone always with you, so your lists are always nearby.

At this moment my favourite place to write and keep my to do lists is a notebook. I use a notebook in pocket format with lined pages. But you can also buy a notebook that already has check boxes. The advantage of this method is that you can look back at previous lists. I also prefer to write instead of type my lists. I recommend to try out different methods yourself. So you can find out which one works best for you.

2. Choose a time period
You can keep a to do list for one day, one week, one year or for the time it takes to finish a specific project. Of course you do not have to choose one. Every morning I make a to do list for the day. But in January I also wrote down some goals for this year. When I write my daily to do list, I always try to think of what I can do today that will help me reach my goals at the end of the year. So it can be useful to keep to do lists for different time periods.

3. Choose a type of to do list
Usually I just include everything I want to do in my daily to do lists. But it can be useful to make separate lists for work and leisure time. You can also keep other lists, like a to-be-read-list, a travel wish list or a content calendar for your blog. Although more than one is useful, too much lists can be overwhelming. Of course you have to define for yourself what “too much” is. For me this is when checking off items becomes a goal itself instead of a tool. But I know that some people enjoy to document everything in their life. So this is very personal.

4. Choose realistic tasks
It is important to pay attention to the kind of tasks on your to do list. It sounds  obvious, but I always list tasks I am really going to do. Be realistic, and do not expect that you will also clean the whole house after a long day at work. It is quite discouraging if you are never able to check off all the items on your to do list.

Furthermore, ‘clean the house’ can be one item on your to do list, it can take the whole day to do it. It works better to split up a big task like this. If you are able to check off an item when you have done a part of the task, it will encourage you to continue.

5. Keep focused
When I have too many items on my to do-list, I am also not able to check off all of them before the end of the day. Therefore my daily to do lists never have more than 7 items. This maximum number of items works good for me, but you may be able to do more or less things in one day.

The last three weeks I have tried the app Fabulous. This app gave another useful tip to keep focused: when you have written your daily to do list, choose the three most important tasks. Write an “A” behind the task that you need to finish before all the other tasks. Than an “B” behind the second most important task, and an “C” behind the third priority. This method is a good way to avoid procrastination. Because you start with the most important task, instead of the easiest.

6. Reward yourself
Do not forget to make time for your hobbies! They could function as a reward. Knowing I can read after finishing task A, I will be more motivated to finish the task. But do not be too hard on yourself. Even if you did not do everything you wanted today, relaxing is necessary. Your hobbies definitively deserve a place on your to do list.

Four books everyone who likes to draw or paint should read

The idea for this post came from the weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday, created by The Broke and The Bookish.

Reading is one of my biggest hobbies. But I also enjoy painting and drawing. Although I do not do it as often as I would like. The most important reason is the fear to fail. The fear that my drawing will not resemble the thing I drew. This is probably a thing a lot of people struggle with. It is also the thing that prevents people to draw or paint. Me too, on some days. That is why I like to read books that encourage me to draw and paint, even if I think I am not good enough. If these books learned me one thing, it is that everyone can do it. Because it is not about talent. Far more important are practice and enjoying the process. Here are my 4 favourite books about drawing and painting:

Four books everyone who likes to draw or paint should read

1. The Creative License by Danny Gregory
This is the book for everyone who did not believe me when I wrote that everyone can draw and paint. It is my absolute favourite book about this subject. Now and then I like to read the book, or only a few pages, and it always results in a drawing. Danny Gregory taught me the importance of practicing every day and that making mistakes is just a way to learn. I am definitely planning to read more of his books.

2. The Journal Fodder Junkies Workshop: Visual Ammunition for the Art Addict by Eric M. Scott and David R. Modler
The art journals of Eric Scott and David Modler were different than I had ever seen: color, paint, drawings, pictures and writing all over the pages. They proof that art does not have to be perfect to be beautiful. Next to the pictures, the authors give some good techniques I could use in my own art journal.

3. How to Draw & Paint Fairyland by Linda Ravenscroft
I like to look through this book, because it is a great source of inspiration. Every drawing is like a fantasy story. Books like this, with lots of beautiful drawings from talented artists, can be intimidating when you feel like you absolutely suck in drawing. But Linda Ravenscroft also gives some simple techniques to make your own fairyland.

4. Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book by Johanna Basford
Colour books like this one are great when I feel just too much pressure to draw something myself. It is relaxing and the end result is always nice. I think this colour book would also be a good start when you have not drawn for a long time.

Bookish habits

Bookish habits

Inspired by Samantha from Where’s My Bookmark, I am going to talk about my reading habits. Maybe these habits are unique to me, but they are probably recognizable!

When choosing a book to read, I use the summary on the back and listen to recommendations from book bloggers, family and friends. I do not plan when and what to read. Though I do have a shelf with unread books and some wishlists on Book Depository (xx, x). It may sound strange to some people, but it is not uncommon for me to read two or three books at the same time. Usually it is a fiction and a non-fiction book.

If my book is good, I can read it almost everywhere. Although I prefer the quieter spaces above rooms full of chattering people. But I do have some favourite reading spots:

  • When traveling with the train, especially on long journeys homewards.
  • In the garden, when it is sunny weather, not too hot and quite important, windless (with wind reading is somewhat harder).
  • With a sleeping cat on my lap and a cup of tea withing reach.

When I am not reading, I use a bookmark. But if there is no bookmark on hand, I sometimes use a random peace of paper. I do not dog-ear pages. It just feels not entirely right to fold pages of my books on purpose (although I do not mind other people doing it with their own books). When I finish my book, I note the title, author and the grade I give it, in my reading journal. Most of the time I try to finish books. Incidentally I make an exception for books I do not like after reading more than 100 pages. Even then, I often keep the book, so I can try to finish it later.

How to define love

I am still amazed about how fast music can change my mood. One song can make me feel happy, confident, or nostalgic. Just through text and rhythm. Despite the striking similarity of subjects in music. Take the top 20 popular songs at this moment. At least half of these songs are in a certain way about love. Why? I think, because it is something intangible, but also something everyone desires. I do not just mean romantic love. The Meriam-Webster dictionary talks about four forms of love you can feel:

1. strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties
2. attraction based on sexual desire
3. affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests
4. warm attachment, ethousiasm, or devotion.

It is true that love can be divided in love for family, romantic love, friendship and seeing or doing something you love. At the same time I have the feeling that words as “attraction” or “affection” cannot do entirely justice to love. I think this is the reason why people write and sing about it. With a few songs I have attempted to make a better definition for love. Not a universal definition, because love is different for everyone. But I have chosen lyrics from 8 songs that form my personal definition of love.

How to define love

“Well I didn’t mean to do it
But there’s no escaping your love”
(Accidentally In Love by Counting Crows)

“And as the world comes to an end
I’ll be here to hold your hand”
(King and Lionheart by Of Monsters and Men)

“When the rain is blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace”
(Make You Feel My Love by Adele)

“I don’t quite know how to say how I feel
Those three words are said too much
They’re not enough”
(Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol)

“I just wanted to let you know
That someone else has stolen my heart
And now another girl has caught your eye
That doesn’t mean I don’t think of you”
(Michel by Anouk)

“I see your true colors, and that’s why I love you”
(True Colors by Phil Colins)

“He’ll find his own way to tell you
With the little things he’ll do
That’s how you know”
(That’s How You Know from the movie Enchanted)

“Oh, if the sky comes falling down, for you
There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do”
(Hey Brother by Avicii)

Bonus: the Dutch song Mag Ik Dan Bij Jou by Claudia de Breij

I would like to see how you define love! Post your lyrics or a link to your blogpost in the comments.