Narnia: A good book and a beautiful border

The Chronicles of Narnia was one of the books of my childhood, it’s a classic and I hope it’s regarded in the same way for children today. The most classic, or the classic-ist of the series, surely has to be The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and so there had to be a wardrobe in this Beautiful Border at Gardeners’ World Live last year. And thankfully there was.

The chronicles of narnia at Gardeners' World Live.jpg
There had to be a wardrobe in this beautiful border

It turned out to be a smart move as complete with mirrors, false perspective trellis, vertical bedded walls and the top it provided a lot more space and height than many of the other borders at the show. Of course the ice queen and her surroundings are comprised of the white, silver and blue plants, cool enough to make you shiver.

planting in the beautiful border at GWL.jpg
It's Narnia not Oz

It was a border that was packed, and packed with plenty of my favourite plants. These white astrantias and as I walked further around the border - and not through the wardrobe - the much warmer colours of the red hot pokers and gazanias.

Astrantias in the Chronicles of Narnia beautiful border

The garden was designed by Derby College and sponsored by the Derby Branch of the MS Society, and was clearly popular with everyone who clamoured around it to see more, to experience the Narnia-factor for themselves.

Driftwood and thistles
A spot of colour too with striped gazanias
And my favourites red hot pokers

Stepping back the garden just worked, it transported any of us that knew the story but also worked for those only just discovering Narnia. The bigger picture only worked though, as in life, by ensuring the detail was correct too.

Taking a step back to admire narnia at GWL18
And a look at the detail too

The slate on its slide representing a stream of trickling water, and as ever with these borders it makes use of plants that are easily accessible: hostas, roses, lobelia and I think I can spy some alyssum in the photo below too.

Roses and lobelia

Isn’t it great? And doesn’t it make you want to re-read the books?

Ideas for creating your own home library

I don't know about you but I've always been a book person, from spending Saturday mornings "doing my homework" at the library to more recently when sometimes I accumulate them faster than I can read, which from my perspective is a great problem to have. 

What I'm always looking for though is the ultimate way to store them.  I've experimented with organising by colour, and by topic and the more traditional alphabetical way, but sometimes my TBR (to be read) pile just feels a bit like this:

Photo by  Gaelle Marcel  on  Unsplash

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

So today in this collaborative post I'm sharing some things to consider for creating your own home library, which feels like a little bit of luxury.  Like any home project it will need a some planning and a clear idea of what you want to achieve.

Choosing which room

You might not have too much choice here, but if you're lucky enough to have a choice of rooms then there's a few things you should keep in mind.  For instance, a room that lets in a lot of light could be harmful to your books, will it "bleach" the covers, and does that matter?  Depending on your books it could devalue them or even more simply spoil the covers.

Likewise basements and lofts are areas that are more likely to be damp or humid and therefore more likely to risk mould and/or insects. 

Storing your books

Once you've chosen where you're going to place your books, the next thing to consider is how you're going to store them. Are floor to ceiling shelves for you, or perhaps built in units, or even the flatpack sort that you and your family can have "fun" putting together first - you know the sort.  There's a wide array of storage options available so it's worth identifying how much shelf space you'll need, and remembering to add some extra space too, as all bookcases need some room to expand.

Deciding on your organisation method

This is likely to be the most fun, and possibly the most controversial part of the process, but often for book lovers it's the best part, but if you have trouble deciding on how to organise your books, don't worry as someone's probably already tried it before.

You might be a traditionalist and wonder why anyone would organise in any other way than alphabetically, but alternatives include by genre, or by colour.  I've tried a mix of these, and I know a good system helps me find what I want more easily. 

Adding somewhere to sit

For me adding an easy chair in front of our bookcases was a real game changer, as it gave me somewhere to sit back and enjoy my favourite books, and somewhere to just sit and peruse when I need some me-time.

It's only a single chair, and a relatively small one, but it's comfortable and somewhere to escape too.  Positioning what is likely to soon become your most favourite spot is key too, arranging seating at a slight angle can help make the room feel more casual and welcoming.

Photo by  Karim Ghantous  on  Unsplash

Consider lighting

Lighting in every room is important, but when it's in your reading place you'll want to make sure it's comfortable to read in.  While I *might* have been caught *once or twice* reading by torchlight under the covers many, many years ago, now I'm much more of an advocate for the right light in the right space (even though the torchlit reading was fun and adventurous at the time!)

Layered lighting is even more important in this space, and don't forget accent lights or perhaps a funky floor lamp that can direct light just where you need it.  But whatever you do, don't forget natural light, and if your space allows it consider flooding it with light with a lantern roof.

Keep it you

Making spaces work for you is all about making your space unique to you, it doesn't have to be the latest trend but it should scream "you" to everyone that enters your reading space.  You'll know how you can personalise your space better than I but framed artwork that's personal to you, a handcrafted throw or perhaps a piece of furniture that you've upcycled. 

Even in the smallest of spaces - whether thats under the stairs or in an alcove, it's great to have a space to show off what you love to read.  

How do you store, and organise your books?


What I've read lately

Last week I said that in all that heat and after the party I escaped to a good book, and the review of that book is the first one below. It's not released yet and I've been able to read this through NetGalley, which is a great way of reading some new books.

Although the view of leaves through our new gazebo did test my concentration powers!

The Good Daughter, Karin Slaughter

I've not read any of Karin's books before, but she has written the Will Trent and Grant County series, both of which I'll be checking out - if you've read those, I'd be keen to know your views.

This was one of those books that got me hooked from the off. The chapters are long though, so if like me you aim to stop reading at the end of a chapter be prepared for your life to get a bit out of synch. Dinner will be late, because "just one more page!" - but it's worth it.

Throughout the book I questioned which of the sisters the book was titled after, and I think probably both at times. It's a fascinating read, delving into relationships and situations, someI hope you'll never experience first-hand, but told with such clarity and emotion that you really can't help but get involved. 

I'd thoroughly recommend this book when it's released on 13 July.

About the book:

"Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn's happy small town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – the town's notorious defence attorney – devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

"Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father's footsteps to become a lawyer herself – the archetypal good daughter. But when violence comes to the town again – and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatised – Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it's a case which can't help triggering the terrible memories she's spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime which destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won't stay buried for ever..."

The Fifth Letter, Nicole Moriaty 

This was a book that was easy to get into and that continued as the story develops. The main character tells the majority of the story in a confessional box, but don't let that put you off.

I started reading this on a plane and was grateful for its non-complicated plot. I guessed who'd written the fifth letter early on, not sure how - gut instinct, perhaps but as the book went on I questioned my choice, but I needn't have. Good for those times when you want a simple and easy read.

About the book:

"Joni, Trina, Deb and Eden. Best friends since the first day of school. Best friends, they liked to say, forever. But now they are in their thirties and real life - husbands, children, work - has got in the way. So, resurrecting their annual trip away, Joni has an idea, something to help them reconnect. Each woman will write an anonymous letter, sharing with their friends the things that are really going on in their lives.

"But as the confessions come tumbling out, Joni starts to feel the certainty of their decades-long friendships slip from her fingers. Anger. Accusations. Desires. Deceit. And then she finds another letter. One that was never supposed to be read. A fifth letter. Containing a secret so big that its writer had tried to destroy it. And now Joni is starting to wonder, did she ever really know her friends at all?"

A Year and a Day, Isabelle Broom

A captivating story that didn't go quite where I expected it to. Set in the beautiful city of Prague this book reminded me of a long ago trip there, so much so that I even looked up potential flights.  I couldn't make them work from City airport, so a return trip will need more consideration, but I'd love to go back.

The story is of six couples and their experiences in the city, and of their relationships too. And as you'd expect, none of them are standard - whatever standard is. Definitely worth a read, and maybe you'll need a tissue or two too, but I'm sure that like me, if you've visited Prague then you might be tempted to book a return trip too.

About the book:

"Three women. Three love stories. One city.

"For Megan, visiting Prague with her friend Ollie it's just business. Nothing more. Because if she admits the truth she might lose everything.

For Hope, this trip is a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she's struggling to enjoy the city when she knows how angry her daughter is. And that it's all her fault.

"For Sophie, Prague has always been magical. And now she's counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her in the city that holds so many of their memories . . ."

Although I haven't read the last two of these for a while now, I enjoyed them and would recommend, both of them are already published. And now I've got my reading bug back I'm already stuck into a book by Christobel Kent, an author I've read and enjoyed before.  I've discovered that wanting to finish a book is a great way to ensure I leave the office for lunch - every one's a winner right?

What have you read that you think I'd like?