Saturday, 25 January 2014

What we actually do

This "what do you do?" topic has been quite fruitful and therefore it now appears to be taking the form of a mini series. I will get back to travel shortly but for now I may as well stay on theme. It's a question that not only can you face from people that you have never met or seen in a while, who want to gain information about you but it can also be faced from people that know that you're ill. In most cases this becomes: "What do you do all day?" Or "What do you do to keep busy?" Because of course if you do not work or 'do', then you have so much time to fill. A whole 8 hours of a typical 9-5 shift, plus getting ready and travel time.

Well it doesn't really work like that. You do have a lot of time to fill but not the ability to fill it with much in the way of productivity. And no that does not mean that we are sitting on sofas outside our houses like the residents shown on Benefits Street. A good example, and one I'm sure many sufferers of all kinds of chronic illness will be familar with is being asked "why have you not done this, when you have been here all day, while I've been at work?" The short answer is of course, "because I'm ill." A longer answer would be "because I used the time when I wasn't too fatigued or in pain to have a wash/ get dressed/ make something to eat etc". Then depending on your mood you can always add in a "if I could have done it, I would have."

The other common misconception is people saying "oh it must be great to have so much time for yourself." Well yes, we do have to think about ourselves a lot, the impact of what each choice will have on our bodies etc. But time to ourselves often means time by ourselves and that can make you very lonely. Being stuck in the same room most of the time, maybe only seeing family when they are home from work or only having the social interaction of a carer. Many M.E sufferers have to limit social interactions not just because they cannot get out as much but also because even just being in company at home sometimes can be overwhelming, causing fatigue and post exertion malaise.

Furthermore some sufferers are affected by light and sound oversensitivities, which can mean meticulous planning of places to socialise. A pub or cafe that does not play music so you can focus easier on conversations. I was just thinking, what is with doctors surgeries that have the radio on? People go there to cure headaches not get one. I was speaking to someone on Twitter recently who took his daughters to watch a pantomime and had to wear ear plugs to help him cope with the noise. You may also see ME sufferers wearing sunglasses on overcast days, just to help abate the sensitivity or help prevent migraines.

However many sufferers sensitivity to light and sound is so extreme at times that it can make them even more isolated. Of course, even at home you are not free from noise. Noisy neighbours can be the bane of many sufferers lives. At least the people in your own home you can control what noise they make and when to some extent, but with neighbours you never know when they will get the hoover out or start putting up yet another picture on the wall. I swear I'm sure my neighbours have no wall space left in their home. I also dread recycling day Mondays, as the rubbish vans come round in the mornings and then the recycling van in the afternoon. The sound of smashing glass and rattling tin is overwhelming. Lately I have been getting more irritated by the sound of domestic appliances and no not just hoovers and hair dryers but the fridge or the boiler. At night in particular. At certain times I get the sensation that there is a helicopter overhead, and my brain feels like it's rattling. It's horrid. Or I think I hear music, when it's just the whistling sound of electricity, especially if my phone is on charge. I may need to look into getting some ear defenders. As for light sensitivity many severe sufferers lock themselves away in darkened rooms. Sometimes for weeks at a time. This is another reason why so many M.E sufferers hate going into hospitals because they are always so bright and noisy. So I guess you could call that isolation 'me time' but M.E as in myalgic encephalomylitis time would be a more appropriate term.

A lot of people when they are ill and stuck in bed will also be stuck to their phones, using social media mostly, or playing games, checking in at work etc. However again if you have M.E and are intolerant to light it means your phone or laptop is out of bounds too. We take for granted just how bright a screen can be. Does it still sound like the me time you'd like to have?

Then there is the old favourite belief that we are enjoying lie ins and watching Jeremy Kyle and trashy daytime tv. Well, I draw the line at Jeremy Kyle. As for the lie in, yes it could appear that way. What needs to be remembered though is that M.E is a fatigue based illness that makes you feel exhausted all the time, within that though sufferers sleeping habits vary considerabley. Not just from patient to patient but also with each individual. Our sleep patterns can be erratic, often with spells of insomnia and long mega sleeps and everything in between. However the sleep that we do get is never refreshing or restorative, contributing to fatigue and pain levels. Unless you're working hard on a sleep regime, trying your best to only sleep at night, then what can be considered a lie in is actually just an erratic sleeping pattern. If you have been awake all night or had a fitful night in pain or your body temperature is on the blink or again with the noise oversensitivity, then you are just grateful to grab some sleep when you can.

Personally I am a major sleeper. My body seems to not tolerate anything less than 12 hours. So that is where much of my time goes. And the times of day I'm asleep can vary a lot too. If I'm not asleep then I'm resting.

Many sufferers have a daily routine that they try to follow, with lots of scheduled rests to help maintain energy levels throughout the day. Read Jess B's routine here for a good version that she worked on with her physicians at M.E clinic. Personally I do not follow a routine as such, as is clear from my sleep pattern. I often think that I should start trying but at the moment my symptoms are so erratic that I simply try to go with the flow. See my post to see how I plan. It is something I will consider once I start to regain some strength and can manage my symptoms better. Hopefully now I have found a combination of tablets that helps control the pain but doesn't make me overly drowsy as well. However for now I am content to live in the moment and am finally getting accustomed to it.

So when I am awake, my basic target at the moment is to get downstairs at least once a day (usually in the evenings when Mum and Dad have finished work) and to eat my dinner at the table. I've managed this most days. The rest of the time I read, blog, watch tv, spend time on Twitter chatting and joking with other spoonies. If I'm well enough I might do some sorting. The bookshelves have recently been attacked. I managed a shelf a day if I was up to it and had no other planned activities like doctors appointments. During weekdays if I'm well enough then I'll go downstairs and see the kids; seeing them excited to see me is always a boost. Sometimes I'll read to them or draw but mostly I like watching them play or listening to them and seeing how much they've learnt. They're a great bunch, that make me laugh a lot.

I realise that I am in a fortunate position to spend the spoons that I do have on more personal activities and do not have to worry about cooking or cleaning etc. Because that is where many sufferers need to use up theirs by needing to care for themselves and then spend the rest of their time resting.

I try to get out when I can. Sometimes this just means to an appointment. Usually I try and keep the day before and the day of the appointment as quiet as possible, to be able to get out. Ideally, I would get out once a week but of course that's not always possible. It's been  2 weeks since I last went out now. It is good to get out, even just for the briefest of moments to get some fresh air. I should do this a bit more often, even just stand by the back door for a minute to get some natural light and air; the lack of which can make for even more of an unhealthy lifestyle and increase in low mood. Boredom, monotony and cabin fever can make things worse and make you resent the illness all the more. So if I can get out and the weather is not too bad ( rain and wheelchairs isn't pleasant, especially if it's raining while getting the chair out of the car and having to sit in a soggy seat) then I try my best to get out. Usually just to the shops or out for something to eat. These outings are usually quite spontaneous. A quick assessment of if I'm feeling well enough and do I want to go out? Yes, okay, let's go. Sometimes you debate whether you should really be resting especially if you have recently had a busy day or particularly bad day but again it's important to see what will benefit you in that moment.

Whereas bigger events require military precision in their planning and scheduled rest days beforehand. But the best laid plans and all that. Sometimes you just can't manage to go. So this is another reason that I try to get out when I can. To make the most of the 'better' times.

So there lies the excitement that is everyday life with a chronic illness. Hopefully soon I can start increasing my activity a bit more. I'd like to get back to doing some baking and writing some more. I have lots of ideas in my head. I'd love to try some more creative things such as customising clothes ( that's Pinterest's fault) and I've recently purchased some jewellery making things to have a go at and to get my pliars out again!

On my last post I had a great comment regarding what we do and that was:

"What we are 'doing' is working towards recovery from M.E. This involves a lot of determined lying down, vigorous resting, dedicated energy conservation, assertive apparent laziness, courageous no-saying and learning to allow others the privilege of being the givers."

Thank you again Nancy for these wise and inspiring words that capture life with M.E so perfectly. We might look and feel as though we are doing nothing but that way we are giving our bodies a good chance to heal, rest and work towards recovery. I wrote a post a while ago about this.

How do you fill your days, when you're not resting?

Remember to also stop  by my Facebook page for articles, inspiring quotes and lots of other things.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

"What do you do?" The Sequel

In my last post I wrote about a discomfort when confronted with the question "what do you do?"  The post had some great response, even featured in 2 online magazines. Many fellow spoonies agreed that they too hated the question but I also got an interesting response from a former class mate. They spoke about how the temporary contract nature of being employed in the theatre meant that they often found themselves at a loss for words when people ask what they do. Or what they are working on at the moment. I guess it all goes to show that we do place a lot of emphasis on a need to do something or be something.

Just writing that last sentence made me think about the oh so many talent and reality programmes where the contestants proclaim that they "want to be somebody." Well, guess what? You already are somebody. We can never realy be anyone else, we can try, but truly we'll only ever be ourselves. And what is so wrong with that? By all means work on being the best version of yourself that you can be and follow your goals and ambitions but in doing so it doesn't have to mean that you are acknowledged as somebody or become somebody else.

In a similar vein, to be somebody or to be recognized as somebody does not need to be reliant on what we do. Would you rather your epitaph read 'reality star' or 'loving friend'? Therefore being defined or known more for our personalities and character rather than our curriculum vitae's. Surely this is something most of us want and yet we mostly ask what people do.

I admit that this is something that I have struggled with up to as recently as last year. When I became ill I genuinely feared not being able to do anything and by do I mean the things that I had formerly considered of note such as making a living and living independantly. To combat this, I planned parties, made decorations, baked cakes for people, helped raise money for charity, all to have something to do. Something that I could say to myself as much as to others that I could still contribute something. You will notice that the list of things that I did and considered as new jobs, (possibly starting small businesses) all involved a form of giving and doing something for others. I guess that this is a form of wanting to still feel needed in a way. To still be present, when you feel you have been rudely pushed out of society by illness. Making yourself valuable to others by doing something for them. That although you have a chronic illness you still want to hold your place in society. I'm not saying that I did these things more to be recognised, they were done with genuine intent and an effort to focus on the things that I still could do rather than what I couldn't do. And to help me come to terms with the social effects that chronic illness had on my life.

Then of course my ME got worse and I developed Fibromyalgia as well and these things also became out of reach. Doing things for others became improbable as there was now even less that I could do for myself and became heavily reliant on others doing more for me for the simplest things like helping me to walk downstairs and clean my teeth. I, by proxy lost the title of the 'go to' person when you needed something done, well lost it even more, and actually learnt some harsh realities about friendship in the process. I thought that another consequence and one that I desperately feared was to become depressed. That by not having something to do and not being able to do as much for others (things that have always been major parts of my work ethic and personality) that I would lose more of myself and all those old voices of being useless and no good would come flooding back in. But they haven't. In fact, I'd say that my mental strength might be better than it's ever been (actually that has just been tested by something that just happened and my lack of reaction). For someone that used to be their own worst enemy that is high praise. I've recently cut my anti-depressants by half the dosage (doctor supervised obviously) and apart from one day when I shook for a short time I've coped really well. I expected a rough ride, after having done so in the past, but one month down the line and I'm feeling good. Well mentally and emotionally anyway, haha.

I guess in some ways I have characterized the saying "actions speak louder than words" but when actions become limited words are your closest tools. Through words I have found that I can still help others and do them a good deed. For example, by writing this blog I am utilising words to raise awareness and helping others with chronic illnesses feel less alone. And simply by offering kind words to anyone that needs them whether they are suffering from  a chronic condition or not. Talk might be cheap but some well meant words can make someones day. So I have found a way of satisfying that part of my character but by not doing so much and not at too much expense to my own health.

As I said I'm not doing these things to be vilified by others, I never have, but I do think that over the last year especially I have become even less disquietend by what others think of me. Having the guts to go out in a wheelchair and being seen as 'vulnerable' or 'not who you were' will do that to you. But there is definitely a sense of wanting to be meritted more for my personality and who I am rather than what I do. Perhaps that is a strange statement, of course I have always wanted people to like me for me but I realise that so much of my personality has previously been tied up with the things that I do and do for others. Of course then you are vulnerable to people that are more interested in what you can do for them. For now though, it's about what I can do that is of not too much expense to myself. I can still be me, still laugh and joke and help others if I can, and realizing this has only made me stronger. Illness may change some of the things that I can do but it doesn't have to change me. Or if it does change me then let it change me for the better. To be that best version of myself.

So finding out what I do or do not do is only part of the enigma (ha ha) that is me. Same goes for everyone. Of course this blog post is not going to change social convention and stop people asking what others do. I will probably even find myself asking it myself at some stage. However I hope that it's made you readers appreciate more the various things that people are regardless of what they do and that includes yourselves.  We shouldn't be defined or categorized in this way, but for the merits we have as individuals. If you happen to love what you do too, then what a blessing.

For me, who knows what the future may bring, going back to stage management or theatre or seeing where my writing goes. After this experience, to be in a position to work again will be a blessing. Having the health to work is underrated. But no matter what I do I just want to keep focusing on being the best version of me possible and to savour all the things that I can still do, rather than what I can't do, despite chronic illness.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

A dreaded question- "What do you do?"

There are times when you meet people that you have never met before or perhaps people that you have not seen in a while and they ask you "So what is it you do?" A question that can truly make you feel quite uncomfortable. It is often the case that when you do face this type of question you are 'at your best' and by that I mean able to handle being in company or out of the house and dressed. Not welded to your bed, in your pyjamas and greasy hair. In other words, to use the spoonie definition 'you don't look sick.' Meaning it's perfectly acceptable that someone would ask what it is you do. In fairness it's a sign of the enquirer's interest, and therefore is a form of compliment. It's a question all of us have most probably asked in the bid to get to know someone.

But how do you go about answering this question? Saying that yo do nothing, that you are unemployed, for me can be hard to admit. I feel like shouting out "but it' not through choice!" That being unable to work makes you feel stunted, like you have lost a part of your identity and that you would like to be earning a living. Because you have been so successful and know what it means to work hard, admitting that you do nothing can feel shaming and difficult to admit to yourself. It's a long way from where you had planned and worked hard for your life to go. Life can be so expensive nowadays, having a job is a major security blanket to know that you can afford to keep a roof over your head and food on the table etc. The phrase 'work to live' has moved away from being about affording holidays and socialising to being able to pay the bills. Therefore we are now in an era where if you don't work or are not desperately seeking employment it can seem uncomprehensible to many. Then add to that the fact that at that moment of being asked what you do, you don't look asthough you're suffering from a chronic illness, because you've been able to get dressed and be in company, it can seem even more uncomprehensible why you do nothing.

Of course, what they don't see is the effect that time spent having been social can have on many sufferers. The after effects or post exertion malaise to give it it's proper title (have to respect the PEM, or else it can make your life a living hell) can take a few days to manifest or happen directly afterwards. It can also vary in the amount of time it will last. The less PEM you get the better, even after something you usually suffer for, as it can mean that your stamina and tolerance levels are improving. However usually after a social gathering (again where you're likely to face these types of questions) even if you're just sitting and talking it can take it's toll. Therefore further impeeding your ability to work as you have no structure, your body cannot recover overnight. What you could do on one day, doesn't mean that you can do it the next, which causes confusion for others and utter frustration for sufferers. Making it more complex to explain that you don't do anything and sometimes causing sweaty palms and an inability to form a coherant sentence, let alone a good answer.

Perhaps a better question would be "what do you enjoy doing?" I have seen this argument somewhere but cannot for the life of me remember where I saw it. The jist of the argument however was that you learn more about people by aking what they like to do rather than what they do. Afterall how many peole love their jobs? For many people it's a far cry from what they trained in, but the reality is it's needed to keep a roof over their heads and to run a car for example. I always considered myself priveledged to love my chosen career. I don't think that you can work in theatre without loving it, as it becomes such an integral part of your life. Travelling around and long hours. I know so many people that suffer from ME that had similar attitudes to their jobs. So maybe this is another reason I find it difficult when facing that question. I am used to being somewhat defined by my career and many of my biggest achievements are career related. Believe me many of the sufferer's that I know are a far cry from that awful stereotype of being on benefits because they don't want to work. We would love to work if we could. Some people are still clinging on to jobs as best they can. However in general it could be said that you'd find out more about someone by asking about their hobbies and interests, no matter their situation. Much like on the gameshow Pointless where contestants are asked what job they do and then what their interests are. Finding out how a person likes to spend their free time can reveal a lot more about them. But how likely is it that all of a sudden we will all start asking this? Perhaps it's something that we can implement ourselves when we meet new people.

But how do you answer "what do you do?" when you can't work due to chronic illness? Even pursuing hobbies can prove difficult. I'd supply an answer but I'm not sure I have one. Anyone care to give one?  There is no point in lying and making up a job, incase of further questions, the enquirer could even work in that field, and what if you saw them again? The thing is, although you want to point out that you don't work at the moment, there can be a fine line between trying to explain so people don't get the wrong idea (ie you don't want to work) or making the enquirer uncomfortable by speaking too much about your condition and having them not knowing how to respond.

I guess I could say that I'm a blogger, raising awareness about an illness called ME. Afterall that is the truth. I don't consider it my 'job' but it is something that I am committed to and enjoy writing. Perhaps this is the answer I shall give in future. From there it can then either develop into a discussion about ME or not, without getting to personal and uncomfortable. As I said in my yearly review post Goodbye 2013, writing this blog has been such a positive step. I've enjoyed helping others, which is something that I always enjoyed about working in stage management. More than that though, I have enjoyed getting to know other people in similar situations and relishing the support and laughs they give. It's given me back some of that proactiveness of working. So maybe it is a good answer to give.

What answers do you give when asked what you do?

Monday, 6 January 2014

Here's to a happy 2014

So here we are in 2014. The last week of 2013 was an enjoyable one, despite the post exertion malaise from the increase in activity and being more social. Christmas Eve was wonderful and I managed to do exactly what I had planned. Then later in the week my cousins came round for dinner and we had a lovely evening chatting and laughing. I was even properly dressed, and my leggings weren't feelng like they were squashing my legs, so bonus. Then during the day on New Year's Eve some old friends visited, which was lovely. Although our biscuit rations were being monitored by a cheeky 3 year old. It was partly through this blog that we got more in touch actually, so there's yet another thing that this blog has brought about. Having increased my activity though I was inevitably much more tired and very achey. We watched Avengers Assemble the other night and I joked that I could be Iron Man, as I tried to get up the stairs with stiff muscles and joints.

And there lies my New Year's resolution of sorts. I spoke a bit about it in my post Goodbye 2013. I'm not usually one to make resolutions, but this year and for many years to come I want to try and be as positive as I can. I know that my situation brings about so many complications and stresses. From the simplest tasks like bathing and dressing to not being able to work or drive. Things that used to help me feel positive. However I intend to do what I can, when I can and to find moments of brightness everyday. I want to laugh everyday. Having a sense of humour, even in the face of all this pain is a great sign. I see it as an indication that I am coping. Even if I use myself as the butt of my own jokes, such as the Iron Man joke or when I have a wheelchair full of books and pretend I'm a mobile library. When you have suffered from severe depression I think that you can become hyper aware of not getting into that state again. So if I'm laughing often, despite how much pain I might be in, it's precious.

I think that with chronic illness you can also get too bogged down in the misery of it all, let's face it, it is afterall a scary and sometimes lonely place but somewhere in amongst that is that same person you were before everything was forced to change. The determined go-getters. The people that go out of their way to help others. The people that wanted to make fantastic memories. They're still there. I am still me. In actual fact I'm stronger for all that I've been through, all that I'm still going through. Yet I still strive to find the good in each day. To create new memories and to love the people around me that keep me strong.

One way that I'm recording all my happiest memories is by doing a memory jar. I know quite a few other spoonies that are doing the same too. A memory jar is a jar in which you place pieces of paper that you have written a good memory on. Be it something big like making a new friend or going somewhere, to smaller moments that have touched you. A record of a joke that someone told you or funny things your children say. Even tickets to films or shows you've been to see or a receipt from a nice restaurant. Anything that made you feel happy. Then on New Year's Eve or on a more regular basis if you prefer, look through all the memories and reflect on all the good things that have hppened. Chances are there will be more than you thought. Like what happened to me when I did my year in review. It's so easy to only remember the bad things. I think that this is such a perfect way to be reminded of all the things that you are grateful for, despite all the rubish you are experiencing. And a lovely way to end the year or month by reflecting on the joy that the year/ months has brought. Here is a link to an example memory jar http://www.pinterest.com/pin/109141990943482445/.

I've also seen a post on Twitter called #100happydays, where you can use Twitter, Facebook or instagram to post photos of something that made you happy each day. The challenge is to find something about each day that raises a smile, without faking it to show off (we all know the type) or cheating and seeing if you can do this for 100 consequitive days. Again, it's all about appreciating the smaller things in life. Their website 100happydays claims that " 71% of people tried to complete this challenge but failed quoting lack of time as the main reason. These people simply did not have time to be happy." I've mentioned a few times the impact that todays jam packed, fast paced society has on our health, but having no time to be happy, to be appreciative or just enjoy the moment, that's actually really sad. Even if you don't want to post a photo every day I still think it's a good challenge to set yourself.

When I was at M.E clinic they talked a lot about the benefits of trying to live in the moment. To only focus on what is happening there and then. I know it's easy to start thinking about the future, sometimes we need to, but it's easy to start catostrophizing. Especially when you have a chronic illness, you can get yourself worked up by thinking that you might be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life, or that you might not meet someone, or about not getting back into employment with it being such a competitive market. That's just a few of mine and I'm sure many others share the same worries. But I've learnt, and been told, that by making myself scared of these things is wasteful, because I can't know what will happen. Afterall a few years ago I would never have predicted I'd be needing a wheelchair to get around, unless I had an accident with a power tool or shifting steel deck. However by worrying about the future I'm just robbing that moment of some potential joy. Don't get me wrong, sometimes you will feel lousy and hopeless and scared, because having to put up with your body feeling like it's failing you day in, day out is one of the hardest things to face. So cry if you need to, get it out, don't let thoughts fester and take up more head space. The point is we can't control exactly how our future's will pan out. Neither can we travel backwards and change our pasts, so it's fruitless saying " if only I'd done this, then this wouldn't have happened." The only thing that we can control is the present, the moment, and if you can be happy in that moment then that's perfect. The only time that it's good to be in the 'elsewhen,' as it's known, is when you're daydreaming or using mindfullness. Imagining yourself on a desert island, or secret garden or bobbing along on a boat. Imagine it in detail and enjoy. Obviously choose your timing to do so carefully though.

Wow this post has been a bit like a Nicholas Sparks book/film. Hope it's not been to cheesey. So there you have my resolutions and affirmations and a relaxed (spa day helped) Sian, that's looking forward to filling my memory jar, and spending time with friends and family that want to see me happy and who still see me and not ME the illness. Okay, my body is in agony but it would be if I was happy or sad, so I choose happy.

Below I've included some inspirational quotes, for more visit the blof Facebook page www.facebook.com/memyselfandmeblog

Thursday, 2 January 2014

My favourite books 2013

I spend a lot of time, when I can that is, reading. I know a lot of people that stuggle to read because of their symptoms, be it problems with their sight or concentration. There are moments where I can read the same page a few times, but that's usually when I am thinking about something else too. I think that by reading a lot and continuing to throughout the illness it's helped me keep the old brain cells going and help my concentration.

So I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite books that I read last year. Not all of them were released last year. I like to mix up my reading. Mostly I read chick lit, just something light to read but I like classics and some thrillers to. I'd quite like to have kept a record of how many books I read last year, just out of intetest. I intend to do this in 2014 though. There's a website called www.goodreads.com where you can put in the books you've read and books you'd like to read. You can see my bookshelves here wrote https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/25793902. I've said before that I dislike a blurb, they always give too much away I find. Especially tv guides, by the time I watch the programme I feel as though I'm watching a repeat. So I will just give a one line description. Okay sometimes more than a few lines.

So here are my favourite reads from last year:

Me Before You, Jojo Moyes- a love story between a severely disabled man and a woman who is employed as his carer. Might sound a bit morbid but it's truly heart rendering. I read this around the time that I was contemplating getting a wheelchair so it made quite a big impact on me. I definitely recommend it to any spoonies.

Jojo Moyes, Silver Bay- a love story with a bit more bite and mystery. Most the action is set on whale watching boats so some intetesting new facts to learn. I've become a big fan of Jojo Moyes and can't wait to read more of her books this year.

Gone with the wind, Margaret Mitchell- classic love story set during the American civil war. So glad I finally got to read this last year, always been meaning to.

Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn- a great whodunnit thriller. Kept me guessing all the way through, so good for the old brain cells.

Dark Places, Gillian Flynn- this is quite dark so probably not everyones cup of tea. But yet another complex whodunnit.

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn- not as dark as the previous two books. But yet another book that gives the brain a work out.

100 names, Ceceilia Ahearn- lots of stories in one. I really enjoyed this book as it champions everyday people.

The Vow, Kim and Krickitt Carpenter,  - true events that influenced the film with Channing Tattum and Rachel McAdams. A heart warming tale of loyalty and faith and honouring your vows.

I heart series, Lindsey Kelk- a series of books that follows it's protaginist around different cities. New York, Paris, Hollywood, Vegas, London and a Christmas edition. Some crazy goings on that are a bit OTT. Also some great travel tips for each location.

Welcome to Rosie Hopkins Sweetshop of Dreams, Jenny Colgan- a great story and an amazing sweetshop that makes your mouth water. I am a sweetie addict so I loved this book.

The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern- a great modern gothic novel full of the wierd and wonderful of a travelling circus. A completely different yet spell binding read.

Pasha, Pasha Kovalev- the Strictly Come Dancing and So you think you can dance star shares his story about growing up in Russia and travelling the world with his dancing. And backstage info about appearing on a reality tv programme. I adore this man so maybe I'm a bit prejudiced but still a good read and some gorgeous photos too.

Asleep, the forgotten epidemic that remains one of medicines greatest mysteries, Molly Caldwell Crosby- non fiction tales of an epidemic disease called encephalitis letharigica that started during the first world war and spread across the globe. Tracing the origins for conditions like ME. I will do a blog post on this one day. It makes you wonder how if it hadn't have been forgotten how far a cure ME would be now. The film and book awakenings by Olivet Sacks is also based on this, which is on my reading list for this year.

So there you have it. I have probably forgotton loads of good books. Probably thinking that they weren't this year. Such as Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, The Great Gatsby, The Beautiful and the Damned, Tender is the Night. See I do like classics. I still need to see the new Gatsby film just to see if they've messed it up. Hope I've given you some ideas for future reads and please send me some of your own suggestions.