Feliç dia de Sant Jordi!

st jordi

Happy St George’s Day!

St George’s Day celebrations are taking place in countries all around the world today. Saint George himself is a prominent figure in the Christian (primarily Catholic) church and the legend of St George and the Dragon is a story so many of us grew up with. Although he is the patron saint of many communities, he is perhaps most commonly identified as the patron saint of England, a country which bears the St George’s Cross on its national flag.

Being English myself, I know the history behind England and our patron saint, but am always disappointed by the lack of celebration for the day itself. Unlike St Patrick’s Day, which is a huge social event in the UK (and many other countries who celebrate it with a a tipple, or two, or four, or ten…), St George’s Day is, for the most part, overlooked. In fact, whilst Scotland hosts many events to celebrate St Andrew’s, and the Welsh population takes pride in St David’s, poor old St George seems to be forgotten about. There are some efforts to celebrate  (Morris dancing always seems to be more popular on St George’s), but on a national scale, celebrations are few and far between.

Therefore, I’m going to share my favourite St George’s Day celebration elsewhere in the world: Sant Jordi, celebrated in the Spanish region of Catalunya, and which also happens to be the perfect celebration for book-lovers worldwide!

La diada de Sant Jordi, or ‘the day of books and roses’ as it is sometimes known, is the Catalan equivalent of Valentine’s Day, and is very much a celebration of love and literature. The red rose has often been associated with St George, with many cultures bearing a rose on their clothing in recognition of the day. The exchanging of books, however, wasn’t introduced until 1923. Traditionally, lovers would exchange gifts. Men presented a single rose to their sweetheart and received a book in return. Nowadays, it is much more common to see books presented by both parties with the rose as an added extra (you know, since equality took off and everyone realised that women liked reading too, not to mention that books are way more expensive than flowers and last a helluva lot longer too!) and some of the bigger companies give free roses away with book purchases.

The result is this:


and this


The streets are lined with stalls offering both new and previously owned books, and you can find a flower vendor on each street corner selling roses of every colour imaginable. I was fortunate enough to be living in Barcelona during the 2011 Sant Jordi celebrations, and the atmosphere is incredible. The Rambla is packed with people surrounding the books stalls which line the entire street, cafes and venues hold 24-hour reading marathons, and book signings are arranged all over the city, renowned for being Spain’s publishing capital. I cannot imagine a more perfect place for hopeless romantics than Barcelona on St George’s Day.

St Valentine’s Day  has become so overly commercialised (particularly in the UK and US) that it has a negative stigma attached to it, and although some companies do jump on Sant Jordi, there is something so simple and romantic about the exchange of books and flowers. The  popularity of the event in Catalunya has made such an impact that in 1995 UNESCO formally announced April 23rd as World Book and Copyright day.

Nevertheless, Catalan celebrations for Sant Jordi aren’t just limited to flowers and literature. Spain is infamous for its ability to throw a good fiesta, and Sant Jordi is no exception. Celebrations in Catalunya involve LOTS of dancing, and squares throughout the region become venues for the Sardana, a traditional Catalan dance that looks a little like this:


As well as for the popular Castellers (towers of people) the region is known for :


The incredible sense of celebration and tradition that surrounds the day is an experience that needs to be seen and lived first-hand, and I recommend anyone thinking of visiting Barcelona to try and work their visit around Sant Jordi, especially book-lovers!

I hope you all have a lovely St George’s Day, wherever you are in the world, and however you choose to celebrate it!


Inspiration from my bookshelf

pile books

I suck at keeping diaries.

It’s true! Again and again, all of the diaries, journals, and even previous blogs I’ve tried to keep over the years have all been abandoned, replaced with hobbies, studies, work, or just given up on due to a simple lack of inspiration

So what’s new?  
A: The need for some creativity in my life.

Since graduating last June I have been working as a freelance translator, and constantly translating, editing, and proof-reading the words of others has made me realise how much I miss expressing myself and using my own thoughts and feelings to produce my own original material. Sure, in translation I get to exercise my writing skills. I get to play with words and phrasing, exploring ways to make target texts as idiomatic as possible, and in this I get to play with different styles, journalistic when translating news articles, informative when detailing product descriptions, persuasive when working on non-profit pieces, but they are not my own creations. I never truly think of them as my work. So now I’ve started this blog as a way to produce my own material and write about what care about.

Why High Piled Books?

Aside from it being a reference to my second favourite Keats poem (my favourite being ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ for any Keats enthusiasts out there), it literally refers to this huge pile of books I have to get through (see above).

LOVE books. This love was the driving force behind my decision to study  languages, and the reason I hope to pursue a career in publishing in the future.

I read all the time and always have a book close at hand, I once even had one tucked in my bag in a night club (it is way less pathetic than it sounds when given the context of the situation), but unfortunately, with work and other things occupying my time, I haven’t been able to read as often as I’d like to recently, yet have continued to buy more, and more, and more books, resulting in this endless tower I now have to find a way to get through. It’s a mixture of books I thought looked interesting on the shelf, ones I’ve been meaning to read for years, and books I have already begun reading but have not yet managed to finish due to time constraints.

Despite having to put my favourite hobby on the back-burner, the plus side is that this Jenga tower of books did provide me with the inspiration for this blog.

I’ve no illusions that the ramblings of a 22-year-old may be of any interest whatsoever to the people of the internet. Hell, there are already so many blogs, vlogs, and twitter accounts that detail the daily lives of unknowns, that another is barely making waves.

Therefore I decided that I wanted to create something that might be of use to others in some way. After finishing a book I love discussing it, what I enjoyed, what I thought the writer did particularly well, how it compares to previous titles in the series/by the same author. I often note down in a journal those I’ve particularly enjoyed, my own kind of personal book review of sorts, and I figured I may as well publish them online where they can act as a reference for the poor soul that happens to stumble across this page and might be interested in reading them.

And so this is what to expect, a book-review blog…sort of.

I won’t be reviewing all the latest releases (as you might be able to make out from the photo, some of these have been out a pretty long time now, give or take 150 years), and they won’t be super-objective critical writings, just my own personal take on the book, what I enjoyed about it, or what I didn’t so much. It also won’t be purely book reviews, there’ll most likely be a mixture of any book-related news or random facts I find interesting that I hope you will too. I’m open to any suggestions of books you’ve enjoyed, although it may take me a wee while to get around to reading them!

Well, here goes.

Fingers crossed I keep it up! 

(the blog I mean, not the book pile, fingers crossed that goes down quickly to make room for more!)