The End of the Year Extravaganza Part V // Blogger Celebration

I’ve already messed up posting 3x a week sooo…. we’re back to Fridays!! I tried my best guys but the year is just so busy I think once a week is all I can manage.  Today, I’m going to be spreading the Christmas Spirit for just a little bit longer by celebrating some amazing bloggers from around the blogosphere!

Continue reading “The End of the Year Extravaganza Part V // Blogger Celebration”

Guest Post: Really Reading, by THE Elm

I CAN’T EVEN STOP SMILING RIGHT NOW.  I have Elm, THE Elm, on my blog today.  I’m still not sure that this is really happening.  Since I first found her about a year ago, she has been one of my biggest blogging idols, and now her writing is going to be on MY blog! Elm is a 17 year old blind lifestyle blogger, self proclaimed rebel, singer, writer, talker (I hope lol) and, most importantly today, reader.  It may seem strange to some people, a blind reader, which is exactly why the post that you’re about to read is so special.

“Reading”, by Elm

As a child, I was a voracious reader. Similarly to any other bookworm, I was lost in the stories and characters of authors who spun their tales to be understandable to a younger audience. I’d spend hours pouring over a good book, delighted and enthralled in equal measure. That feeling sounds familiar to anyone who loves to read.

However, I have never read a paperback or hardback book. I have never browsed the shelves, looking for a good title in my local library. Why, you may ask? I’m visually impaired, registered as blind; I read in braille or through audio books. It’s all I’ve ever known or will know: does that mean my experience is somehow separate, apart from those who read so-called “conventional” or paper books?

Braille books are, ordinarily, huge. I used to get them from the RNIB Library in bags, 3-5 volumes for each book. As a little girl, I could sometimes barely lift them: I’d heave them onto my knee and whenever they came in the post, I’d shriek with excitement. I used to sit in a little chair beside the CD player, listening to my favourite books that I got from the limited selection in my local library or, for my birthday or Christmas, bought from Waterstones. That, instead of computers or the TV, was what truly interested me. It was different, yet it was my world.

Now, instead of ordering from the library, I read eBooks – either by connecting a Braille display to my phone or by using the text-to-speech technology on my phone. I prefer the former because it lets me feel more connected but when I don’t have as much energy, I use the speech. As I’ve been blogging and now have more online friends who read, I’ve realised that my childhood experiences – even the way I read now – is quite simply separate from how people who can easily pick up a book can read.

I sometimes come across the argument that to read an eBook, or maybe even an audiobook, is not as enriching or is not the same as reading a book from the library or from a bookshop. To tackle this, you have to ask yourself: “What is reading?” Is it the ability to rest in the quiet spaces of a library, head bent over a book until nothing exists but the characters and stories? If so, I have not had that experience; then I haven’t truly read. However, I know that I have absorbed just as much as any other person. I’m not dissatisfied without the weight of a supposed “real” book in my hands – real being in quotation marks – and I am no worse off. I feel absolutely no sadness that I’ve never been able to see words on a page. Listening to an audiobook, for me, is still reading as it was how I could connect with such beloved characters.

It isn’t “a shame” that I can’t experience the wonder of print on a page. The methods by which I read are different – I may read differently – but the emotions I feel are the same. I’m still able to cry over books – which I do often – and I can still feel utter fury at what a character does. It neither decreases my enjoyment nor makes me feel somehow worse off. When I was little, it never crossed my mind that I was at a disadvantage.

This is just my story. There are a myriad of other people who, for whatever reason, cannot read print books. Some may not be able to afford to buy the books they would like in paperback or hardback; some books may not be available in their country; they may not have a library or good bookshop near them.  For some, ⠑⠠⠃⠕⠕⠅⠎ may be a “last resort” but it doesn’t mean that they are somehow less. I don’t know their stories and so I won’t try and speak for them. If others can’t access the same materials as some people, there are so many other ways to read than the traditional.

Reading can be subjective. In the same way that human thoughts and behaviour can’t be assigned to different boxes, the way that people read and react to what they read can’t be categorised so easily. Some people, for instance, will prefer eBooks to Print books and vice versa; nobody should be shamed for that. However, those that can’t access one or the other aren’t necessarily unhappy with it, in the case of myself. Just because an idea is different doesn’t mean it’s somehow less.

If information is subject to interpretations in books, surely the way in which it can be read can also be different? To that effect, if different interpretations are as valid as each other, can’t that be applied to the way people read?

What do you think – what is reading to you? Is there a definition of “reading”, or may that idea be up to the reader who interprets the words?

Love this post? Make sure you go visit Elm @ Just Call me Elm or Something and jump into her world.


Blogger Interview: Elm @ Just Elm

Before I start this post, I wanted to announce the fact that I’m making progress towards no longer being anonymous.  I’ve changed my name to Joce, which is in fact my real name!!!! I will leave Isobel in the name for a little bit, to make it less confusing for everyone.  Thank you to everyone who has given me the confidence to do this, especially (what a coincidence…) Elm!

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of being able to reach out to Elm and ask her if she wanted to do an interview.  Her blog, Just Elm, is incredible, and I was so excited when I heard back and she told me she would love to do it.  Plus, her responses were amazing; this interview was so fun to do, and I hope you guys have as much fun reading it!

Just Elm is a blog about Elm’s life, where she writes about all of her experiences and thoughts.  The way she writes is so unique, and she has a great sense of humor, which makes her posts relatable and fun!  To find out more about her, check out her about me page.

What made you decide to write a blog about your personal experiences?

Right from the start, I wanted to make my blog about me, as a person. Writing about my experiences is a way to get my emotions out, to help me, but to also give myself perspective when I look back on it. If a situation which upset me happened, writing about it helps to organise the details and feelings associated with it in my mind, and so I chose to write my blog as I do because it felt like something that would make my mind less cluttered.

Why do you use tree names for everyone in your blog?

Before, I’d had a blog where I named my friends after gemstones; I always liked having a theme on which to base names, as it made it easier to connect them together. Because my blogging name is a tree, I thought that my friends should have names relating to nature; originally, it was going to be just a few people with the rest having rather generic names, but the trend stuck and now the naming system is central to my blog. I’ve even started to accidentally call my friends their tree names in my head sometimes!

What happened to the gemstone blog?

I deleted it, sadly – one of my best friends had made an account on Wattpad under a different name, contacted me through it and made me think they were somebody else, until I found out who they are. In a fit of anger, I deleted the blog and was furious with my friend, something that quite ashames me. I think I was so angry because I understood the need for another identity, how you can feel more like yourself in a way because people do not judge you, and so because I knew she also knew that I felt incredibly betrayed. However, I moved past it and now she and I are closer than ever before, and she’s one of the best people I could ever know. I’m almost glad I deleted that blog, because although I would like to look back at that segment of my past, if I’d kept that blog I wouldn’t be the Elm I am today.

So that begs the question… do any of your real life friends know about Just Elm?

A fair few do – in the early days of my blog, I told my close friends that I had one as they knew about the Gemstone one. As I gained new friends, many of them were told by me about the blog: more people know that it exists than those who know the address. As much as I trust the people that know so much, it’s meant that I’ve had to censor myself more; because of this, I’ve decided not to tell any new real life people unless I have to, simply because I want to save this part of my identity.

What is your favorite part about blogging?

Without a doubt, my favourite part is the community. You’ll hear me say this over and over, but without readers and friends that I’ve made, my blog wouldn’t exist today. The people in the blogging world have kept me going when I needed it the most, writing beautifully supportive comments, and equally amazing posts to match. I can always rely on them to give me unbiased advice, and to always be there, whether that’s to share laughs Or to email each other about our lives. It’s not just a disconnected post – being surrounded by fellow bloggers is unbelievably comforting.

What’s your favorite post you’ve ever written?

Oh goodness, I don’t know! I often look over my posts to critique them in my mind’ but I’ve written so many that picking a favourite is difficult. I’d probably say this one: – it represents something utterly beautiful that happened in my life. Though it’s tinged with sadness now, that post serves as a reminder to me that missing people is okay, natural, but that life eventually goes on. It was a post written for me, to me, but also to any other person who finds it hard to say goodbye.

Do you have any book recommendations?

Absolutely – I adore books!

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill, as it is incredibly thought-provoking and teaches you a lot about society, despite being set in a post-apocalyptic world. It follows the story of Freida and Isabel, two girls in a school where girls in that society are prepared for later life – to be Companions, Concubines or Chastities. It’s not an easy read, but it’s very much worthwhile.

The Worldwalker Trilogy by Josephine Angelini, which is unbelievably compelling and fascinating if you like the idea of dimension travelling, and even if you don’t. To date, it is the best series I have ever read in terms of how much it made me think, and how the characters developed’ including twisted morals and the idea of multiple versions of yourself.

The Next Together and the Last Beginning by Lauren James, which I’ve read three times; it explores the idea of a couple being born throughout history. Involving time-travel, ideas of different cultures and beautiful characters, it’s not like anything I’ve ever read before. The second book features the most adorable romance in the history of time.

You’re hosting the 2016 Blogger Awards this year! That’s so awesome! 

Yes I am, and it was a shock to be asked! Last year, it was my favourite part of blogging, and so to be hosting it is an amazing honour. I love the thought of bloggers being brought together through the mutual respect and love of each other; it makes me so happy.

What’s your favorite thing to do on a Winter day?

Definitely to sit writing, reading or blogging – doing something I enjoy in the security of warmth, that is. That can include singing, talking to people and laughing, and hot chocolate is pretty much a given because it is glorious.

If you could only get one thing for Christmas, what would it be?

Only one thing? A keyboard that I can connect to my computer, so that I can record songs. And then I’d use any money I got for my birthday to buy a good microphone so that I could record myself singing. What can I say – I love music! My parents would never get me those though, as I already have a keyboard and it’d be rather expensive.

How do you plan on celebrating the holidays?

Despite not being religious, I celebrate Christmas because it’s a family tradition. As with every year, I’m going to my Grandma’s on Christmas Eve to have a Swedish Christmas, where we open our presents. I’m staying the night there, and on Christmas day, I’m going to my mum’s. Apart from that, I won’t be doing much, except from relaxing and hopefully meeting up with friends.

Finally, what is one piece of advice you would want to give everyone?

You aren’t defined by the mistakes you make, or the things you dislike about yourself. Try to focus on all of the good things – and yes it’s hard, but if you think positively, you’re more likely to be happy. Hold on, and there are so many people supporting you that you can talk to. Neither you nor I are alone.

Thank you so much to Elm for answering all of my questions and sharing about her life and blog!  Like I said earlier, I had so much fun reading your answers to these questions!!  Make sure you take the time to visit Elm’s blog, or follow her on Twitter!

Are you a blogger who wants to be interviewed or do a guest post?  Contact me and let me know!

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