Hello biblios! And welcome to another “Cuppa with a Book Blogger”, where we get to learn a little bit more about some of our favourite book bloggers (or meet a new book blogger friend along the way)!
My guest today is Jade, the book lover behind Advocate of Books. I am not going to bother with a long introduction because honestly Jade’s interview speaks volumes about who she is, and I feel like anything I say over here will be pale in comparison.
Let’s dive right into this Q&A:
So, let’s get the obvious question out of the way – who is Jade? Tell us a bit about the book lover behind the blog.
Jade is the quiet one in the family, the one who feels at home with her nose in a book. I am 22 years old (although I don’t feel like it) and I am studying MA Magazine Journalism at Nottingham Trent University.
I formerly studied English with Creative Writing at NTU, and it was by far the best three years of my life. Reading books, writing about books, writing fiction and poetry, sharing my passion with others like myself: I couldn’t have chosen a better course.
Reading is my life. Journalism allows me to explore the world through hearing other people’s stories, and setting it down on the page for others to discover. My book blog is my bookish corner of the internet where I can let my love of books run free.
Everyone has a story and I’m positive you do too. What inspired you to start blogging? And how did you come up with the name for your space?
My book blog is actually the second blog I started. I began blogging properly to introduce my poems out into the world, and it went from there really. Eventually I decided I wanted a blog dedicated to books, and although it took me a while to adjust to writing reviews, I’m getting there now and have a lot to thank my blog for in terms of opening up new opportunities and allowing me to connect with other readers.
My blog URL tells people I am an Advocate of Books. So, let’s just define ‘advocate’: a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. My interpretation of this is that I recommend the reading of books to enhance our experience of life, and to bring joy to it.
My blog title is ‘Jade’s Bookshelf’ because as I said, this is my corner of the internet, and I am very happy to let my readers browse my blog as though they were perusing a bookshelf. In this respect, I read a variety of genres so that there is something for everyone (but mostly because I like to explore the book world and all it has to offer!)
From one book blogger to another, I know how much time goes into crafting a post that you feel comfortable enough posting for the world to see. Looking back, what was your favourite post to write?
I have two posts that I really enjoyed writing. The first was my review of The Happy Reader (Issue 6) because it was my first review of that particular magazine. If I hadn’t discovered, read, reviewed, and then reviewed more issues, then the editor-in-chief SebEmina wouldn’t have contacted me and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to write a letter for the magazine. So that review and the ones that followed it mean a lot to me because of the doors they opened.
Secondly, I loved reviewing The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. I really felt that I’d hit my stride with writing reviews when I wrote that, because I was thinking a lot about what the characters meant to me, and exploring them in a wider context. It was almost like I was doing English Lit again! It’s also a book I loved from a series I can’t wait to read the rest of.
Getting a lil personal; what is your biggest achievement to date? Is there a moment you are especially proud of when you look back on all you’ve accomplished so far?
My biggest achievement so far is graduating with a first class honours degree. I remember when I thought I’d never get into university, when I nearly dropped out of college because of my mental health…but I made it, and I’ve never been prouder of myself for anything. Only three people on my course got a first, and I was one of them. That will always stay with me, reminding me that I can do things I never thought possible.
Do you have a bucket list stashed away somewhere with some daring (or more subdued) activities that you’d like to complete? Name 5 items on your list.
I haven’t written a bucket list, but there are things I want to do. I don’t like to think of doing things ‘before I die’ because I’m scared of death and I don’t believe I’m the kind of person to do something in the name of doing it before my life ends. I like to do things in the present, and be in the moment. My life is now. So I’d like to go to Italy with my best friend. I’d like to go on safari and see lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras in the wild. I’d like to read as many books as I can. I’d like to go on a date with a girl, and I’d like to have a pug one day. They may not be ‘traditional’ bucket list things, but they are what I’d like to do at some point in my life.
Name one of your most cherished life experiences.
When I rescued my cat when she was a kitten. Long-story short: An adult male cat got into my home when my cat Molly was just a kitten. I was asleep, but I heard hissing. I was terrified, but when I came out from under my quilt, I saw Molly pushing herself into the corner between my bed and the wall. I saw the big cat about to jump on my bed to get her. So I grabbed Molly and shoved her under my quilt before screaming to scare the cat away.
This is cherished because Molly still likes to sleep under quilts, I believe she remembers that incident and knows she will always be safe if she is underneath the quilt. My bond with my cat is something I will always cherish.
What’s some of the best advice you’ve received and who was the wise human who shared this bit of wisdom with you?
My tutor in college told me that I ‘can have animals in my life at any time’. This might not seem like life-changing advice, but it was. For years I wanted to be a vet. I thought my love of animals meant that this was the path for me, I pursued it again and again and didn’t succeed. Nothing fit into place. I couldn’t see it, but my tutor could. And when she told me that I could have animals in my life at any time, I realised that she was right. I didn’t need to be a vet to show my passion for animals. I have a pet cat, I could have a dog in future, I breed goldfish. I have all I need at home! I could finally lay that empty dream to rest, and pursue my true passion: books and writing.
If it wasn’t for that bit of advice, who knows where I’d be now?
“HakunaMatata – it means no worries, for the rest of your days.”Do you have a motto in life? If yes, let us know what it is.
Do what makes you happy. It’s not a groundbreaking motto, but it’s one I hold close. I spent a good portion of my life on auto-pilot, not living for myself. Living a life that almost rendered me non-existent, and made me extremely unhappy with my life and where it was going. Since then, I began living for myself, and the past year I have kept this motto with me in everything I do. I have vowed not to leave myself behind again.
Let’s talk books for a bit… How did reading become such a big part of your life?
No-one in my family is a big reader, and for a while I wasn’t either. But it began with non-fiction books as a child. I loved them, I read and re-read them. I loved reading about the animal kingdom and learning new things about different animals all over the world. Wildlife books were my bedtime reading.
Then I discovered Garfield comic strips. I’d read them all evening long, and they would give me plenty of laughs! I think it was that kind of reading pleasure that led to me being such a big reader now. One of the first fiction novels I remember reading the whole way through was The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, so I tend to see that book as one of those that contributed to my bookishness.
What would you consider your “most reached for” genre? And is there any special reason for this preference?
I read so many genres, but one that appeals to me the most is Young Adult. Although I once attended a book event at which Harriet Reuter Hapgood (I think) said that she didn’t class ‘Young Adult’ as a genre. It’s an age group. So I’m reluctant to call it a genre, but that’s the kind of book I reach for the most.
I prefer them because they explore life in a completely different way to adult novels. They are more fun, and they have this quality to them which is pleasurable whilst having a deeper meaning and message. The characters are usually more interesting, and they have a good representation of sexuality in them, which is something that always attracts me to books.
I didn’t read much when I was an actual Young Adult/in my teenage years because I was too busy being a typical sad teenager with black hair and loud music. YA books were a catalyst to making me fall back in love with reading.
On the other side of the spectrum, what genre do you hardly reach for and why?
Erotica. Romantic fiction. I just don’t have the time for those genres. I have read Fifty Shades of Grey (before reading it I somehow thought it was an adventure story in fifty chapters???) and I have no interest in main characters having lots of sex. It just doesn’t interest me. I can cope with sexual elements in other genres, but not when the entire plot rests on lots of action in the bedroom. I don’t much care for sex in real life, so there’s no chance I’ll dedicate my time to reading about it.
The closest I get to reading anything of that nature is LGBT books that aren’t YA. Books by authors like Alan Hollinghurst, Edmund White and Andrew Holleran. The plots don’t revolve around sex, but sex and sexuality are still important, just not in your face all the time.
As a major book nerd, I know how overwhelming– or let’s just call it IRRITATING – it can be when someone asks you what your favourite book is because there’s never a black ‘n white answer. So here’s my question: What is your ideal ending for a book?
My ideal ending is one that doesn’t end after you finish reading. One that makes you smile, tilt your head, and allows you to daydream about what might happen next. To have everything wrapped up neatly is too final, or sometimes too unrealistic after the book that precedes it, so a nice hopeful and inspiring ending is my ideal.
What are some of your most cherished quotes from books?
“I saw literature as a fantasy, no less absorbing for all its irrelevance – a parallel life, as dreams shadow waking but never intersect it.” – A Boy’s Own Story, Edmund White
“I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for a thousand years. Or just not exist. Or just not be aware that you do exist.” – The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
“Part of love is letting a person be who they want to be.” – Boy Meets Boy, David Levithan
“It’s hard to remember that this day will never come again. That the time is now and the place is here and that there are no second chances at a single moment.” – The Passion, Jeanette Winterson
What bookish franchise do you tend to fan and fawn over most?
I’m not much of a ‘fan and fawn’ kind of reader. But I guess the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde is the one I’d choose. I simply love it, and I recommend it to plenty of readers who love books about books. It’s witty and imaginative and you can become so immersed in it in a completely new way.
If you’re anything like me then you’ll have a long list of bookish pet peeves. Can you name one of your biggest bookish pet peeves?
When people are passionate about a book, and they think that this automatically means everyone else MUST love that book too. People have different tastes in books, and I think it is quite un-bookish to be close minded about what other people might like if it isn’t what you like.
But I wouldn’t say I have a long list, it just gets to me when people complain about other people’s tastes in books.
I think one of the biggest problems us bookish folk face is our never ending TBR pile that gets longer and longer no matter how many books we tick off as ‘read’. What book has been on your TBR the longest?
According to Goodreads, the book I shelved as ‘to read’ first that is still unread is…Wall and Piece by Banksy. So, now we know!
Stressed Reader or Relaxed Reader?
Favourite Subject in school?
Quiet night in or a night out on the town?
Quiet night in
Paperback or EBook?
Pretty dress or jeans and T-shirt?
Jeans and T-shirt
What advice do you have for anyone who would like to get into writing and journalism?
First of all, start a writing blog. Or, identify something you love i.e. food/baking, fashion, books, photography, wildlife, fitness etc. and write about it! Writing is one of the best ways to create your own opportunities, and if you’re passionate about something, then you’ll never be short of stuff to write about.
If you want to do creative writing, then read. The more books you read, the more you can hone your craft. Writing is a fine line between scribbling your thoughts and ideas down uninhibited and going back and fine-tuning them. If you’re a poet, go to open mic events and read your work in front of an audience. Or, find a group of writers who can read your work and help you to improve. But most of all, write for yourself. Your writing won’t show passion if you write with other people’s opinions in mind.
In terms of journalism, if you’re really interested in going down that route, then either do a course or become freelance. I’d recommend doing an NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) accredited course, because that will maximize your chance of getting a decent job in the industry. If you want to freelance, then this is where you need to get your writing out there, either via your blog, or writing for websites or online magazines, and then branching out into print mags or newspapers.
Thank you so much to Jade for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions. I hope you’ll go ahead and give her a follow!
If you would like to have me feature your blog on A Cuppa with a Book Blogger, please drop me an email so we can talk more. Don’t forget to come back next week Monday to meet another Book Blogger Friend!