Say it with words: Adopt a book this Valentine’s Day!

I love this idea. The British Library are offering this unique opportunity to adopt a rare edition book.  What a special and unique gift that would make.  The money goes towards conservation so you will be helping to preserve our valuable literary heritage.

Here is a little snippet from the website:

Adopt a Book for Valentine’s Day and choose from our specially selected titles, and we will post you an exclusive limited edition certificate to give to your loved one. Alternatively, choose from one of our classic titles which comes with a book-jacket gift card.

– See more at The British Library


Stratford-Upon-Avon: Shakespeare’s England

Five Shakespeare Birthplace Trust houses:

I love going to Stratford.  I’m involved in a documentary about Stanley Wells (greatest living Shakespeare scholar and all-round great guy) so I visit quite often.  I bought an annual pass for the Birthplace Trust houses.  If you haven’t the this charming little town; it’s well worth a visit.

1.  Shakespeare birthplace – William Shakespeare was born in this house in Henley Street.  The house was owned by his father John Shakespeare – a glover, wool merchant and high bailiff of Stratford.  When William first got married, he and his wife Anne moved into the Shakespeare family home.  The house is half-timbered with lattice windows. To gain entry into the house you first go through the birthplace centre, which is a museum housing books, manuscripts and multimedia a/v sessions which teach about his family and the historicalcontext of his time.  The house is adorned with the kind of Elizabethan furniture the Shakespeare’s would have had.

 2.    Nash’s House & New Place – New Place was the house William Shakespeare bought in 1597 as his family home.  Shakespeare spent most of his playwriting career living in London, but his family continued to live in New Place.  Nash’s House was owned by Thomas Nash, husband of Shakespeare’s granddaughter.  The original houses have been demolished.  Where New Place used to be, you can still see the foundations of the house.  A replica Nash’s House was built next to this in 1769.  The rooms inside Nash’s House are furnished in the Tudor style. Upstairs is a museum which holds manuscripts and objects dug up from the foundations of New Place.

3.     Hall’s croft – The house owned by Shakespeare’s daughter and her husband Dr. John Hall; a wealthy physician. Susanna and John Hall lived in this house until Shakespeare’s death – then they moved into New Place.  Halls’ croft is beautifully decorated, furnished with medicines and apothecary paraphernalia, as well as medical volumes, notes and medical equipment.  The furnishings are of the Elizabethan and Jacobean style, and are highly decorative.   The garden has beautifully fragrant herbs – the kind John would have used for his remedies.  All through the house are games for children, including a quiz about the medical practices of the time.  There is an exhibition room upstairs where there is always something fascinating.  On my visit there were costumes worn by Shakespearean actors including Judi Dench, Richard Wilson and David Tennant.


4.    Anne Hathaway’s cottage – Anne Hathaway, daughter of a respected farmer was brought up in this tiny hamlet in the parish of Stratford.  This is known as the most romantic of the Birthplace Trust houses.  The house is surrounded by gardens, a small maze, statues devoted to Shakespeare’s characters, trees and shrubs which had presence in his plays and a nature trail in a forested area.  There is an area full of information about Anne and William. They married in 1582, and even though Anne was eight years older than William, the money she had made her ‘quite a catch’ for William.

5.    Mary Arden’s farm – Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden was born in the tiny farm village of Wilmcote. Only open to visitors during summer months, because unlike the other Birthplace Trust houses Mary Arden’s Farm is almost entirely outdoors. (Ironically the first time I visited Stratford it was a hot November – hot enough that I had to take off my coat – but the farm was closed.  When I returned in June and went to the farm, it didn’t stop raining.  The rain soaked through my jacket which remained on at all times!) You do go in to the cottage, but most of the attraction is the farm itself.  It is a working Tudor farm with rare breed animals and a nature trail.

Parish Church where Shakspeare’s grave can be found

Shakespeare is buried in this Parish church.  The words over his grave read Good friend for Jesus sake forebare/To dig the dust encloased heare;/Bleste be ye man yt spares thes stones/And curst be he yt moves my bones.

River Avon in Stratford



Libraries and Librarians in Horror Movies

 Who would have thought that libraries and librarians would make such good subjects for horror films?!  How many of these have you seen?

The Horror of Dracula (1958)

Jonathan Harker, the Count’s new librarian makes it his missions to rid the world of Dracula’s evil…

Ghostbusters (1984)

The ghost of Eleanor Twitty is not a librarian to be meddled with!Library-Ghost-1

The Church (1989)

Instead of organising the book collection in a gothic cathedral, Ethan unleashes an ancient evil which possesses the librarian…

It (1990)

The town librarian is terrorized by a murderous, terrifying clown…

necronomiconNecronomicon (1993)

While researching in a monastery library, H. P. Lovecraft finds a  rare copy of The Necronomicon which can unleash a monster…

The Ninth Gate (1999)

A rare book dealer is on the hunt for a demon text which has the power to raise the devil…

The Mummy (1999)Evelyn-The-Mummy-rachel-weisz-24075005-1280-925

Evy Carnahan the adventureous librarian joins an expedition to find the ancient city of Hamunaptra where they inadvertantly awaken a Mummy…

TheOff-Season (2004)

A library assistant checks into a haunted hotel room and is plagued by ghosts of previously murdered guests…

Chainsaw Sally (2004)

Sally Diamon is an unassuming librarian by day, and a vengeful serial killer by night…

All About Evil (2010)

Another unassuming librarian with a murderous alter-ego… all about evil

Bad Kids Go to Hell (2012)

Six prep school kids from serve an all-day detention in the school’s haunted library….

Is this the best bookshop in the Baltic States?

???????????????????????????????It isn’t a ‘Hannah’ holiday if I don’t return half an inch shorter with all the walking.  It isn’t a ‘Hannah’ holiday if I didn’t take over 200 photos.  It isn’t a ‘Hannah’ holiday if there are no magnificent buildings, awe inspiring churches, historic castles and a sense of rich culture and uniqueness.  And of course, it isn’t a ‘Hannah’ holiday if I didn’t get to see the libraries and bookshops.

The most impressive book shop in Vilnius has to be the university book shop “Littera” situated in the M. K. Sarbievijus courtyard in the Old campus.  Books for pleasure and study are available in Lithuanian and English, and the book shop even sells university  souvenirs.  The colorful frescoes of the shop’s ceiling caricature students and professors, and were painted by Antanas Kmieliauskas in 1978.


Photos by Hannah Meiklejohn 2013.  Want to see more photos of this bookshop?  Click here

Happy Birthday Roald Dahl

Today is Roald Dahl day – birthday of the famous storyteller!

Roald Dahl, famous author of The Witches, Twits, James and the Giant Peach, Revolting Rhymes and less known adult ghost stories, worshiped with his family at this church in Cardiff.


Roald Dahl and the Little Norwegian Church

With its attractive white painted clapboard structure and stubby spire the Norwegian Church provides a striking counterpoint to the modern buildings in the glitzy Cardiff Bay Development. The oldest surviving church in Britain founded by the Norwegian Seamens’ mission, these days it’s an arts centre and café. Its wooden decked terrace is a perfect spot for munching Norwegian-style snacks whilst you admire views across the bay.

So, what’s a Norwegian church doing in Cardiff?

Dahl Gallery inside the Norwegian Church, Cardiff BayDuring the late 19th century tens of thousands of Norwegian sailors visited the city aboard merchant ships bringing strong, straight Scandinavian timber to Wales to be used as pit props in the mines. The ships then exported the Welsh coal all around the world. Churches like this one, which dates back to 1867, were built to provide religious and social care to the Norwegian sailors who founded themselves far from home for weeks on end.

Some of them never went home.

One of the most famous members of the church’s congregation was best-selling children’s author Roald Dahl who was born to Norwegian parents in Fairwater Road in Llandaff, Cardiff. His father Harald, from Oslo, co-founded a ship-broking company in Cardiff around 1880. Roald spent his childhood and school days in Cardiff. His family worshipped at the Norwegian Church when it was in its original location in the Cardiff Docks. He and his siblings were all baptised here.

The Norwegian Church with flag flyingWhen the church fell into disrepair in the 1970s, Roald was at the forefront of a campaign to raise money to save it. Money was raised locally and from Norway to dismantle and repair the church, relocating it to its new site in 1992. Unfortunately Roald himself didn’t live to see the project completed, dying several years earlier.

The church was extensively renovated in 2011 and reopened on 17th May – Norwegian Constitution Day. A gallery upstairs at the church hosts temporary exhibitions of photography and art by local artists. Naturally it’s been named the Dahl gallery. Look out for the silver christening bowl which belonged to the family and is now on show here today.

This blog post was taken from Visit Wales website.

Judging a Book by its Cover

Megan Louise showcases some pretty interesting book cover designs here. I love them all, but the bottom three are just stunning.

my name is megan louise

judging a book by its cover / interest spark /

Something I’m just recently realizing I’m becoming interested in, or I should say is catching my eye, is book design. I must say this is a difficult design feat to conquer, as books are often judged by their covers (despite our best efforts and very clear warnings). It is the first thing we see, and often draws in customers. Imagine walking into a book store (say Barnes&Noble perhaps?) and there’s tons + tons of books that you’re just browsing through. What catches your eye? How do you decide which book to stop and look at?

Here’s some of the most eye catching ones I’ve stumbled across recently. Gorgeous, wouldn’t you agree?

double shot / faceout books /



little bee / chris cleave /




extremely loud & incredibly close /




Fitzgerald Covers / Lydia Nichols /




puffin chalk / tanamachi studio /

*note: some self-lead projects, not available for sale

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The World’s Strongest Librarian

Josh Hanagarne is a strong, courageous and inspirational character. He is a proud dad, a public speaker, a Mormon, a librarian, a weightlifter and a published writer. He does all that whilst battling with an extreme case of Tourette’s Syndrome.  His memoir; The World’s Strongest Librarian was published by Gotham Books on May 2, 2013.

The book takes a look at some of the challenges he has had to deal with facing Tourette’s syndrome, and how he has coped.  More than that; he tries to encourage, inspire and support others.  He is heavily involved in helping people with special needs and regularly speaks publicly to groups of people with disabilities.  He is dedicated to helping other people like him to discover their full potential.   In his book, Josh talks openly about his own neurological disorder and how writing and weight training have aided him.  Before undertaking these two very different activities, his ticks and uncontrollable movements caused him physical damage such as broken teeth, a dislocated thumb, and even caused a hernia.

As a librarian, Josh admits that literature is an obsession with him.  He did not start writing his own books until his Tourette’s hurt him so much that he couldn’t leave the house.  His screaming became irrepressible.  He needed botox injections to paralyze his vocal chords leaving him unable to talk.  As a social person, Josh turned instead to writing to continue communicating with people in the absence of voice.  Writing became a way to keep up with social discussions.  He wrote his first novel The Knot during this time.

For Josh, literature and writing is not only something he enjoys, but something he needs.  Writing is a way for him to have control.  Tourette’s often takes control of his body.  Writing and literature allows him to be in control of his mind, to see progress that he can measure and demonstrate.    It is in literature where he finds some stability.  And as an author, a creative person, he finds a larger purpose.  As with writing, weightlifting gives Josh a sense of accomplishment and control.  Extreme physical exertion began as a way to suppress the pain often caused by Tourette’s, but he continued to lift to be strong, to be healthy, and to take control of his body.

Josh also discusses his religion in his book.  He is satisfyingly neither fervent nor reproving.  His church is simply part of his heritage.  What he takes from the Mormon church is a way of life which he learned from his father; that is, the Mormon Church is the church of “don’t be a dick”.



Unfinished projects

I find it impossible to stick to one project with all the ideas floating around in my mind.  As soon as I get them out I want to start work on them, even though I have a thousand other things to do (creative or otherwise).  I have a bank of unfinished stories, rough draft poems and half-formed ideas, and only a small handful of completed works.

Maybe if I finished something I would have to let someone read it…


Finishing off…

The teacher said:
Come here, Malcolm!
Look at the state of your book.
Stories and pictures unfinished
Wherever I look.

This model you started at Easter,
These plaster casts of your feet,
That graph of the local traffic –
All of them incomplete.

You’ve a half-baked pot in the kiln room,
And a half-eaten cake in your drawer.
You don’t even finish the jokes you tell –
I really can’t take anymore.

And Malcolm said
… very little.
He blinked and shuffled his feet.
The sentence he finally started
Remained incomplete.

He gazed for a time at the floorboards;
He stared for a while into space;
With an unlined, unwhiskered expression
On his unfinished face.

Allan Ahlberg Heard it in the Playground 1991