Thoughts #52: Living With Social Anxiety


I don’t often write personal posts, but occasionally I feel the need to share something, even if it’s just to get my thoughts down for my own sake. Today I wanted to talk about living with social anxiety, which is something I’ve battled with since the age of 16-17.

Previously, I discussed how I used an online game to get through depression. My social anxiety stems from the same time; I was diagnosed with both together. And like with the depression, although circumstances have changed greatly (and for the better), this is something that is still stuck with me. Here’s the definition of social anxiety from Wikipedia:

Social anxiety is a specific form of anxiety. It is an emotion characterised by a discomfort or a fear when a person is in a social interaction that involves a concern of being judged or evaluated by others. It is typically characterised by an intense fear of what others are thinking about them (specifically fear of embarrassment or humiliation, criticism, or rejection), which results in the individual feeling insecure and not good enough for other people, and/or the assumption that peers will automatically reject them.

One of the reasons I am happy to talk about this on the blog is that I feel that as introverts, this may be something that affects many of us bookworms and book bloggers. Not to say that we are all introverts, but I know that is the story for many of us. For me, social anxiety presents itself in the following ways:

  • I pretty much always assume that members of the public are judging me for one reason or the other, so I’m never entirely comfortable in public – even with things as simple as eating something unhealthy in public or trying on clothes in a shop
  • I have an utter fear of being the centre of attention or public speaking
  • Humiliation/embarrassment are actually almost physically painful
  • I do like going out – but it has to be with people I know and enjoy spending time with, and often even if I’m really enjoying myself I’m working out when I can slip away and go home
  • I don’t really crave social contact, I spend a lot of time by myself and don’t feel lonely unless other things in life aren’t working out, e.g. when I hated my previous job – but communicate regularly with people online, however this has mostly been the case since moving to Oxford as my friends are all over the country/world now
  • When I do spend a lot of time with friends, I feel emotionally exhausted and need time to myself afterwards to ‘recover’
  • When I make new friends, for a long time I assume that they’re just ‘putting up with me’ and aren’t really interested – this stems from all the crap that happened when I was 16-17 and that caused this whole mess

nervous gif

Things felt a little different in Leiden. I discovered that I actually did like going to clubs and bars in the evening, and staying out until silly o’clock in the morning. But I think that was down to two things – firstly, a fantastic group of friends and secondly, the university environment. You’re thrown into situations where you meet all these new people and bond so easily, everyone is in the same boat. It’s a completely different story when it comes to working.

It can be a tricky thing to explain to people, and to be honest I don’t really like explaining it unless I know they’ll understand, because some people have reacted really negatively in the past. I’ve made a lot of excuses for a lot of social events since I’ve been in Oxford, because basically I’ve been too anxious to go. Whilst I don’t often feel lonely, and am actually pretty happy spending time by myself, social anxiety can still be difficult to deal with. I worry far too much about the most ridiculous things, and spend far too much time feeling uncomfortable about something rather than just enjoying myself.

It’s interesting to meet other people with social anxiety. Last month, a good friend came to stay for the weekend, and she suffers from it too. Because she also needs ‘recovery time’ after socialising, she stayed Friday to Saturday night, which gave us both Sunday to recover. We had a great time together, but also managed to have time to ourselves – and it worked perfectly for the two of us. However it’s much trickier with people who don’t completely understand!

Have you ever suffered from anxiety? Do you have any tips for dealing with it?


Thoughts #51: It’s Not All About The Numbers


Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit down about blogging. I’ve had plenty of ideas for posts, but when it comes to sitting down and writing them, I just get stuck. I haven’t seen a big increase in my blog stats for a little while, and that was making me think ‘Why bother?’.

Well, that’s probably the worst thing I could think.

I’m not blogging for others, I’m blogging because I enjoy it and like having blogging as part of my identity. My stats are good – they’re just not ‘top of the league’ type good. But does that matter? People still visit my blog, read my posts and leave comments. I have an active base of lovely followers who regularly comment, and the smaller following means I can actually comment back and interact more easily with my followers. I can’t really imagine running a blog where I couldn’t respond to everyone who took the time to leave their thoughts on my posts.

I have considered perhaps starting some vlogs on Youtube just to mix things up, and maybe gain some more followers that way. I’ve been inspired by some of my favourite YouTubers, and it is something I’d love to do. It
seemed like a GREAT idea – until I actually filmed myself, and nope. No. Not happening.

If you are struggling with something similar, the best solution here seems to be to consider what has been successful about your blogging. Make a list of the things you are proud of, and remember numbers do not mean success. It’s much better to have a smaller number of people who actively comment than thousands of followers who don’t actually read your blog. Focus on producing content that YOU love, rather than mass producing posts to please mass audiences.

Have you ever faced this problem whilst blogging? What did you do to change it?

thumbs up gif


Thoughts #50: What Makes You Pick Up A Book?


One thing I’ve never really discussed on the blog, and that sort of surprises me, is what makes me pick up a particular book before I’ve even looked at the blurb. I thought I’d share that with you too, and I’d love to hear your reasons as well!

  • The cover. Yep, I definitely do judge books by their covers. The images used, the art style, the font used, the colour scheme… I will judge by anything. I am a particular fan of this current trend that appears on a lot of recent science fiction releases, for a painted, ‘blurred’ style:
  • Dark Run

  • Hype from other bloggers/friends. If I’ve seen a book on lots of blogs, or recommended by various friends on Goodreads, I’m more likely to take a look.
  • The genre. Although I do try and read widely, I still often stick to my favourite genres, especially when taking a gamble on buying a book I’ve not heard that much about. So if it’s science fiction or fantasy, chances are I’ll pick it up.
  • The author. If it’s an author I’ve read and loved, I’ll take a look whether I was aware of the new release or not.
  • The publisher. Yeah, this might be a more unusual one. But there are some publishers I’ve worked with and I just feel that they print such high quality books, that often I’ll be more tempted to take a look at something just because it’s published by certain companies.

I do have to say that, overall, if I’ve never heard of or read the author before, the cover is pretty much the ultimate factor in deciding whether or not I’ll pick up the book.

What factors make you pick up a book?


Thoughts #47: Books I’m Unsure About Reading


Are there any books out there that you keep seeing, that your friends seem to love, but when you look at them, read the blurb, think about it, you’re all… eh? *shrug*

shrug gif

Part of me wonders if I’m being particularly judgmental with some of these books. I mean, lots of people have claimed that they are AMAZING after all. So here’s what I’m unsure about, and I’ve got a poll at the end where you can help me to decide whether I should give any of these titles a chance!


First on the list… Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1) by Jay Kristoff. I’m unsure about this mostly because of the author… he did most of his research about Japan via Wikipedia and anime. And to me, the book has a lot of negative ‘weeaboo’ connotations because of this. Yet I still haven’t dismissed it entirely because a lot of my blogger/Goodreads friends have loved it.

Geek Girl

Geek Girl (Geek Girl #1) by Holly Smale is a similar story – I know lots of people who absolutely loved it. I enjoy reading books about geeks or people who are particularly passionate about something, because I can relate to them. However, I’m not sure whether this book is too far onto the ‘Young’ side of Young Adult for me.


Yeah, I know, this feels kind of blasphemous as a massive fan of science fiction. However, I’ve tried to read Dune (Dune Chronicles #1) by Frank Herbert several times, and have just never gotten into it. For this reason I’m hesitant to try again – but it’s such a sci-fi classic!

Clockwork Angel

I feel like I would enjoy the fantasy and paranormal elements of Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel (Infernal Devices #1), but I’m unsure after hearing mixed things about her writing and also some slightly negative stuff about the author herself.

Now for the poll!{“s”:”which-books-should-be-given-a-chance”,”width”:”500″,”height”:”300″,”code”:”ieyapm”,”borderColor”:”#44ADE9″,”barBgColor”:”#44ADE9″,”fontColor”:”#fff”});

Would you urge me to read any of these books? Are there any books you’re unsure about reading?


Thoughts #46: I Don’t Get ‘Book Boyfriends’


Unpopular opinion time: a lot of book bloggers talk about ‘book boyfriends’, e.g. characters in books that they would date if they could. I don’t get it.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a ‘book boyfriend’. I have never, ever encountered a book character who makes me feel that strongly about them. I have characters of both genders that I’d love to meet, be friends with, hang out with, but never one I could consider a ‘book boyfriend’.

Interestingly, I do get ‘video game boyfriends’. My holy trinity of Alistair Theirin, Anders and Varric Tethras from the Dragon Age series are all perfect (damn you Bioware for making Varric unromanceable!). I get really attached to characters in video games when the story is very detailed, and you are given a chance to really get to know them.


In fact, I think I feel more strongly about video game characters than book characters in general. And for some reason, this feels like a betrayal! Perhaps because the characters are more ‘visible’: no matter how detailed an author’s description of a certain book character is, obviously in a video game you immediately see the character AND (most of the time) gain a sense of their personality much more quickly.

Both the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series have made me cry multiple times: they both contain characters I love and hard decisions I have to make regarding those characters. I think ultimately, that’s why I often feel closer: because MY decisions impact those characters. I can’t control what happens to a character in a book, it is set in stone and has already happened. With many of the video games I play, however, I can be responsible for whether someone lives or dies, and it is that tie that draws me to them.

Do you have ‘book boyfriends/girlfriends’, or are you like me, a little bit mystified by it all? What about ‘video game boyfriends/girlfriends’?


Thoughts #45: Contemporary for Cynics


I’m not typically one for contemporary fiction. I tend to like my books with adventure, time travel, dragons or wizards. But occasionally I find a contemporary novel that really works for me. Therefore I wanted to share those particular novels here for my fellow contemporary cynics!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


I won Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell from a fellow blogger (thank you Lianne!), and I am SO glad I did, because I’m not sure if I would have picked out for myself. It would appeal to anyone who considers themself to be part of a fandom, or is particularly passionate about a book, television show etc. Cath is so relatable, definitely someone for bookworms to connect with. The romance is sweet and genuine, born from a friendship rather than any kind of insta-love. For some, this might hit home – the worries of starting university (or a new job etc) as an introvert, meeting new people, socialising. Fangirl gets what it means to be an introvert and passionate, and is definitely a recommendation for people who feel like they fit either category.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

The main reason I picked up We Were Liars was due to the hype – so when it was £0.99 on the Kindle store, I thought why not? It reminded me, at least at the start, of the summers I’d always wished for as a child – the kind where each day presents a new and magical adventure, where the summer passes in a slow, warm state of bliss. However, there is much more to We Were Liars than a bunch of rich kids enjoying their summer. It has much more depth to it than you initially realise, and the ending may leave you a little heartbroken.

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones

Bridget Jones’s Diary has been one of my favourite books for a long, long time. Despite it being part of a genre I tend to avoid – not just contemporary but also ‘chick lit’, I absolutely love it. Bridget is hilarious, a 30-something singleton who fears dying alone and being eaten by alsatians… Her sense of humour is perfect and she manages to get herself into so many ridiculous scenarios. The sequel is also excellent, but the third book, which came out over fifteen years after the first, is one to be avoided…

Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon and the Homo Sapien Agenda

Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda was one of those Young Adult books I’d heard a lot about, and I thought it sounded a bit John Green-esque. I spotted it in my local library and thought I’d give it a shot. I made the mistake of starting this late at night, and then had to stay up far too late to finish it in one go. I read it in 2 and a half hours because I HAD to know who Blue was. I’m so glad it turned out the way it did! It is a truly adorable tale.

Are there any contemporary titles you would recommend for people who don’t usually read the genre?


Thoughts #44: How Do You Review Books?


This post is aimed at my book blogger and reviewer readers – I want to discuss how I review books, and see whether others use a similar method or something completely different.

Firstly, how do you choose which books to review?

For me, I tend to review purely those books that I have specifically for review – from Netgalley, Edelweiss or the publisher. Occasionally, I’ll read a book of my own or from the library and decide to review it – but generally only if I have particularly strong feelings, whether negative or positive. That only tends to apply if I feel I have to say something about that particular book.

Secondly, what is your reviewing process?

I have a review notebook in which I make notes as I read. Sometimes I don’t like this method as I hate having to feel like I can’t just read and write stuff down later, and I hate breaking up my reading by making notes. But otherwise I’m worried that I’ll forget what I want to say about the book, and then have nothing to put in the review. This means that often I won’t read books for review whilst travelling etc, as I don’t tend to carry the notebook around with me. There have, however, been a few books that I’ve read so quickly that I didn’t feel the need to write anything down during reading, and just noted it all down after.

I have, since originally writing this post, tried writing reviews without a notebook, and I actually managed to write a review that I’m quite possibly the happiest I’ve been with for a while. Definitely trying without more often!

Finally, how do you write up your review?

I like to fill in all the information on the blog post first, like author, title etc, apply the tags – and then once that is done, I get down to writing the review. Sometimes review writing can be a laborious process, so if I get all the other stuff out of the way first then it feels like I’m on a productive streak. It doesn’t always work though… Anyway, I try to formulate my notes into paragraphs and bulk them out with other things I can think of.

Sometimes, I find it really difficult to write a review. Sometimes a book just doesn’t really make me feel anything, and I can’t think of many particularly positive or negative things to say about it. I find that frustrating, because I want my reviews to be as detailed and as helpful as possible – but at least I’m still being honest that way. And other times, I feel like I’ll need to resort to the Ron Swanson Method, as shown below.

How do you review books? Do you ever find writing a review to be difficult?

ron swanson gif


Thoughts #43: My Favourite Manga/Anime


When I was younger, I was really into anime and manga. This started at about the age of 14 or 15, and carried on until I was about 20 or so. Whilst I no longer read manga or watch anime on a regular basis, there are a few series that have really stuck with me, ones that I know I can go back to whenever.

Fruits Basket

Fruits Basket

My first ever manga series, and the source of my online name, I absolutely fell in love with Fruits Basket when I first read/watched it. It’s about a young girl called Tohru who, through various circumstances, ends up living with the Sohma family. However, the Sohmas have a slight problem – the family has been cursed for generations, with 12 members of the family at each time transforming into an animal of the zodiac when under great stress or when they are embraced by a member of the opposite sex. It sounds very silly – but it’s honestly one of the most heartbreaking and wonderful series ever. I love every character, and Tohru is an adorable protagonist.

Death Note

Death Note

Oh Death Note. I remember the day I first watched you – I popped on the DVD, and eight episodes later, I was still sat there. This series is about a young, highly intelligent student called Light who discovers that when he writes names in a certain notebook, those people die. He can also dictate way and time of death. What begins as a crusade to rid the world of criminals turns into a high profile police case, which Light himself becomes involved in as part of the investigation team. This series is so so wonderfully dark and amazing – and the manga artwork is just fantastic. In fact, since it’s on Netflix I may have to do a re-watch…

Azumanga Daioh

Azumanga Daioh

Azumanga Daioh is one of those series I can put on when I’m feeling down and it will pick me up. The manga is presented in comic strips of four panels (although some stories cover slightly more), with humorous little stories in each. The anime explores some of these panels further, but is generally very loyal. It follows a young girl called Chiyo, who enters high school at the age of 11. A child genius, she soon finds herself an eclectic group of friends, each with their own zany personalities. One of the funniest mangas I’ve ever read.



K-ON! was an absolute delight to watch – admittedly I haven’t read the manga. It’s about a girl who decides to revive her school’s music club, and the girls who end up joining. Together they form a band, and each episode pretty much revolves around their practice sessions – or lack of them. This series has produced some wonderful songs too.

Absolute Boyfriend

Absolute Boyfriend

The plot of Absolute Boyfriend is rather… well, typically manga/anime. A young girl accidentally orders an android boyfriend online, and after discovering she missed the deadline for the ‘trial period’, she has to pay for him. Okay, it sounds really really weird – but it’s actually seriously cute.

What are some of your favourite manga/anime series?


Thoughts #42: Chasing Inspiration


So I’m finally back at the point where I was just over a year ago – working a full time job, rather than studying, and finding that I have plenty more time for blogging.

However, it’s not quite all going to plan.

The funny thing is, I have TONNES of ideas of what to blog about. Probably a good six month’s worth of blog posts. But my main issue is not the themes or ideas, but writing the posts themselves. I’m so exhausted by work that when I get home I just want to switch my brain off. And when I do have the energy to blog, I find that I’ve lost some of my eloquence and just don’t know how to write or phrase things! It’s frustrating.

I’m also trying to concentrate all my blog-related energies on Sci-Fi Month, making sure that tweets are scheduled and that I have plenty of content for November. So if October is a little quiet post-wise, it’s because I’m working hard on making sure November is chock-a-block with content! 🙂 Hopefully, working on SFM will get me used to keeping up a regular blogging pattern once again.

I guess what I really want to ask is if this has happened to any of you – you have some great ideas but you have no idea how to execute them. If so, what do you do to get through the ‘writer’s block’?

frustrated gif


Thoughts #41: Tips For New Bloggers


I think this is something that has been done on many blogs before, but it’s always nice to get individual perspectives. I wanted to share my tips for new book bloggers, or maybe even useful tips for those who have been blogging for a bit longer!

  • Social media is your friend. Twitter might be terrifying at first, but do not underestimate it! You can get the latest news and updates from authors and publishers, or even interact with them. Not to mention it’s the perfect way to get to know fellow bloggers – don’t be afraid to join in with conversations.
  • Take part in memes like Feature and Follow Friday – but not all the time. Memes like this are a great way to meet fellow bloggers and gain followers, but they’re not a long term solution in my eyes. Be aware that many of the people who follow you through this will probably leave some pretty frustrating/vague comments, BUT you will also get to know some really great bloggers.
  • Think up some exciting, original features, or make your own event. Original features really make a blog stand out. Combine your other interests with books to create something – or even have a feature that doesn’t involve books so you can blog about something else every so often. Even if you just share what you’ve been up to in the past month, films you’ve watched, etc.
  • Don’t be afraid to be negative in reviews. After all, bloggers are there to share their honest opinion. Sure, of course the author and publisher want positive reviews, but they’re going to expect some negative ones too. Don’t lie just to please them!
  • Beware of Netgalley! As a new blogger, Netgalley was HEAVEN. All these books! I requested SO MANY, and I still haven’t read every one. Although my Netgalley ratio is now between 70-80%, I have some books that I requested in 2012 and still haven’t gotten round to. Instead of requesting everything because FREE BOOKS, just request the ones you think you’ll definitely be interested in. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress later on (and three years posting about/worrying about your Netgalley ratio…).
  • If blogging gets too much, or is taking up too much of your time, take a break or post less regularly. No-one is going to think any less of you for it. Blogging is supposed to be a fun hobby, so if it’s becoming the opposite then you need to re-think things. I’ve taken a few breaks myself, and always come back feeling much more positive and rejuvenated.
  • And finally… blog for yourself. If you’re passionate about something, share it. Don’t avoid posting something because you think it won’t be popular. If you want it on your blog, put it there! 🙂

I hope these tips help, fellow bloggers!