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These dark, gloomy evenings are really draining and we have to admit we never have the energy to go out once we clock off from work.

This winter we’ve been making the most of our book collections and have spent many evenings curled up by the fire with nothing but a good book for company.

The list of benefits associated with reading is never-ending, but our favourite one is simple- the escapism.

Distracting your mind for a few chapters where you can escape to different worlds and meet new people all from the comfort of your sofa is so tranquil.

We decided to support our fellow ladies by putting together a list our favourite books by female authors.

We’re sure you’ll love these books just as much as we do.

1: Ritual for Every Day by Nadia Narain and Katia Narain Phillips (Hutchinson)

We all feel that desire a calmer, more spacious way of living, but we’re often unsure exactly how to step off the crazy treadmill of day-to-day routines and responsibilities. Nadia and Katia have learned through years of practice that simple rituals can help you press the pause button on the pace of modern life. In Rituals for Every Day, they share their easy-to-follow advice, step-by-step. Let the riyals bring you back to yourself.

2: Thanks, Penneys! by Valerie Loftus (Mercier)

Have you ever been in Penneys on a Saturday and felt like you were in a scene from The Hunger Games? Have you ever gone in just to get a pair of tights and come out with fake tan, a pair of glittery platforms and some fluffy pyjamas? Have you ever spent hours there trying to root out a pair of knickers that doesn’t have ‘NETFLIX AND CHILL’ written on the bum? If so, then this is the book for you. From the chaos of changing rooms to the questionable delights of the lingerie section. Thanks, Penneys! is a love letter to an Irish institution that is an integral part of all our lives.

3: The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur (Andrew Mcmeel Publishing)

Rupi Kaur’s second book is divided into five sections reflecting the life cycle of a flower, with chapters titled: Wilting, Falling, Rooting, Rising, and Blooming. It focuses on themes of love and loss, trauma and abuse, healing, femininity and the body. Wilting touches on the subject of heartbreak and loss. Falling focuses on depressive feelings following the loss of an important relationship. Rooting explores topics of female infanticide, immigration and borders. Blooming addresses the joy Kaur finally found coming to love and accept her roots, herself, and the world around her. She also comes to realize her mission in this world: equality and love for all genders, races and backgrounds.

4: I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice (Vintage Publishing)

Ruth's tribe are her lively children and her filmmaker husband, Simon, who has Motor Neurone Disease and can only communicate with his eyes. Ruth's other 'tribe' are the friends who gather at the cove in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, and regularly throw themselves into the freezing cold water, just for kicks. 'The Tragic Wives' Swimming Club', as they jokingly call themselves, meet to cope with the extreme challenges life puts in their way, not to mention the monster waves rolling over the horizon. An invocation to all of us to love as hard as we can, and live even harder, I Found My Tribe is an urgent and uplifting letter to a husband, family, friends, the natural world and the brightness of life.   
 

5: And Life Lights Up by Alice Taylor (O'Brien Press Ltd)

Let Alice Taylor encourage you to live in the now, to really live your experiences and to treasure the special moments in your life. With Alice as a guide, explore the steps and ways to live a conscious life and focus on the goodness of the world around us. Alice's beautiful and captivating writing is an act of mindfulness in itself, and she shares her favourite moments in life, encouraging us to ponder our own. Alice also inspires the reader to be attentive to the here and now and embrace moments as they arise. A beautiful and enchanting book by a bestselling and celebrated author. 

6: Ice Cream for Breakfast by Laura Jane Williams (Hodder and Stoughton)

Full of spirit and un-self-conscious enthusiasm, Ice Cream for Breakfast: Child-Like Solutions to Bullsh*t Adult Problems is the permission slip all too-grown-up-for-their-own-good-but-secretly-scared-of-adulting adults need to locate their inner-child nestled deep within so that we might all relax enough to laugh harder, wonder more, and marvel at magic on the daily.

7: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (Edbury Publishing)

In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg – Facebook COO and one of Fortune magazine's Most Powerful Women in Business – draws on her own experience of working in some of the world's most successful businesses and looks at what women can do to help themselves, and make small changes in their life that can effect change on a more universal scale.

8: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (Harper Collins Publishers)

The author of the bestselling 40 Ways to Look at Winston Churchill has produced a work that is "a cross between the Dalai Lama's The Art of Happiness and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love." The Happiness Project describes one person's year-long attempt to discover what leads to true contentment. Drawing at once on cutting-edge science, classical philosophy, and real-world applicability, Rubin has written an engaging, eminently relatable chronicle of transformation.   

9: Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber and Faber)

Normal People follows the lives of Connell and Marianne, who come from the same town but are part of very different worlds.

When they start studying at Trinity College they develop such a strong bond that carries on into the future. Normal People looks at the hearty theme of how love can change a person. It opens readers’ eyes to the massive impact love and a relationship can have on a person. Plus, can you ever go wrong with a love story set in Dublin? We are so ready to dive into the pages of Sally Rooney’s second fictional triumph.

10: Help Me! by Marianne Power (Pan Macmillan)

Marianne Power spent one year of her life practising the advice from self-help books to see if they really do what they say on the cover. The books promise to make us better people. They vow to transform us into upbeat, organised souls who go for jogs at 7 am in the morning and always have perfectly ironed clothes, but Marianne realises that maybe the help they’re offering isn’t as beneficial as it may seem.

Image result for help me marianne power

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Happy Book Lovers Day, fellow bookworms. It’s one of the greatest days of the year where we can gush about our literary loves even more than we usually do.

There are so many things I wanted to write about for this week’s book piece, from my all time favourite books to reasons why you should read more.

However, I decided to pen a love letter to the literary world and talk about why being a bookworm is one of the most wonderful things.

Without further ado, here are The Perks of Being a Bookworm:

Sense of comfort:

Nothing warms my heart more than curling up in my room, switching my fairy lights on and reading a book. There’s something so soothing about taking a break from the world and diving into a different place, meeting new people and learning about their lives all from the comfort of your own reading zone, whether that’s your bedroom, a local cafe or your neighbourhood library. Reading offers the greatest sense of comfort and helps you escape the dull realities of everyday life.

Visiting bookshops:

Bookshops are a safe haven for so many people. They offer a sense of serenity from the hectic hustle and bustle of the city. I could easily spend hours scouring the shelves in dinky little bookshops. The peace and tranquility the stores offer also help me when I’m feeling anxious. They act as a safe place when the city can seem a tad daunting. They may be my favourite place to visit, but I’m afraid I can’t say the same for my bank account because I never fail to leave without purchasing at least one book, it’s impossible.

The perfect company:

It’s sad but true, people are feeling lonelier than ever before. Loneliness is affecting so many people all around the world for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s something as simple as not having enough time to socialise or a deeper reason like anxiety preventing you from leaving the house. Luckily, books can be a huge comfort if you are feeling pretty lonesome. You could delve into a timeless classic like Frankenstein and learn about Victor Frankenstein and his complicated mind, or perhaps unwind with the beautiful words of Rupi Kaur’s poetry in Milk and Honey.

Characters like Bridget Jones,Tracy Beaker, Matilda Wormwood and Katniss Everdeen quickly became part of my world throughout some of the dullest times in my life, and you’ll certainly feel comforted by the characters amongst the pages of whatever book you pick up.

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers" – Charles William Eliot.

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With Spring in the air there's a sense of new beginnings. The days are longer, the weather is better (most of the time) and the Easter eggs are fully consumed. 

So why not pick up a new skill or hobby? From reading to rowing and cooking to coin collections there's so much out there to choose from! Luckily for you, we've come to the rescue and complied the best hobbies to suit your star sign.

What are you waiting for? Get that spring in your step! 

Aquarius (January 20- February 19)

The tech-savvy Aquarius loves all things problem solving. Get yourself a thousand piece jigsaw and stock up on the sudoku or find a riddle that wll keep you occupied for hours! 

Pisces (February 19- March 20)

Staying true to their symbol of the fish, Pisces adore spending time in the water. Head down to the local pool and get swimming-fit for the summer. Bored of doing lengths? Try a fun water sport like canoeing, water polo or water aerobics instead. 

Aries (March 20- April 19)

Sitting down peacefully is an Aries' worst nightmare, so now is your chance to get out and about! Push yourself out of your comfort zone and defy the height with rock-climbing or wall-climbing! 

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

Artistic and sensitive, Spring is the perfect time to take advantage of a Taurus' creative energy. Embrace working with your hands and making a mess with pottery or painting. Who knows, you might be the next Picasso?! 

Gemini (May 21-June 19)

Inquisitive Gemini's love exploring different cultures and modes of thinking. Even if  that round the world plane ticket is out of your reach just yet, why not prep yourself by learning a new language? Take a beginners night course or even download Duolingo. Oui, Oui! 

Cancer (June 21-July 22)

A home bird by nature, Cancers love spending time beautifying their surroundings.  Get out in the garden and turn it into that Eden you've always wanted. Don't have a garden? Fill your window sills and balconies with potted plants and cute cactus gardens! 

Leo (July 23- August 22)

Leos are full of energy and love being centre stage. Confident and outgoing, they were born to be on the stage. So unleash your inner diva this Spring and try Zumba, hip hop, ballet, or even burlesque if you're brave enough! 

Virgo (August 23- September 22)

Virgos need constant stimulation and are always busy. Keep those hands occupied with knitting and croqueting. A new skill set you can do anywhere is right up a Virgos ally! 

Libra (September 23- October 22)

Lovers of the finer things in life and socialising, a book club is the perfect outlet for a Libra. With the gossip and wine flowing, it also gives you a perfect excuse to finally read that bestseller that's been sitting by your bed for months! 

Scorpio (October 23- November 21)

Scorpios are all about self-improvement. While they can appear extroverted on the outside, they prefer pursuits that offer them some alone time to unwind. Try Yoga or meditation as your Spring start! 

Sagittarius (November 22- December 21)

A Sagittarian is all about the wide open outdoors. They love spend time in nature and nothing revives them more than a trip to the wilderness. Get your hiking boots on Sagittarius and climb those mountains! 

Capricorn (December 22-January 19)

The practical Capricorn is always looking to make life run a bit smoother. So take a daily chore like cooking and turn it into something fun. Take a cookery class or channel your inner Gordon Ramsey (without the swearing) with set of new cookery books and a host of exciting new recipes! 

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Some people are absolute fiends for extracurricular activities, weekend hobbies and evening pastimes, and other people are, well, just not.

Apart from going to work and socialising, some people are quite happy to do sweet eff-all with their free time – something which, for some reason, often evokes confusion and pity in others.

If you struggle to come up with a single response when quizzed about your (lack of) 'proper' interests, you're definitely not alone.

And here are just 12 things people with no hobbies will recognise.

1. You wonder why 'Netflix bingeing' doesn't garner the same respect as other pastimes.

"Do they know how much dedication it takes to make it through three seasons in a week?"

2. You wonder if you were born without a 'hobbie' gene after quitting every single after-school activity your parents enrolled you in.

"Mam, camogie isn't going to work for me. Sabrina is on then, and I'm not flaking on her."

3. You attempt a couple of evening classes, but quickly realise you're wasting your money in a desperate attempt to seem interesting.

"I quit Pilates because I was only doing it to please the rest of yee."

4. You'd rather list your weaknesses than your hobbies in a job interview.

"Hobbies? Ehhh… have I told you I struggle with timekeeping and hate working as part of a team?"

5. You sometimes feel sorry for people with hobbies because it often means leaving the house in the rain.

"Would you look at your man outside in his football shorts. Jesus, I wouldn't fancy it myself."

6. You love the accessories that accompany hobbies, and have often purchased them… just cos.

"You don't have to do yoga to own a cute sparkly yoga mat, and you definitely don't have to do it to wear yoga pants."

7. People who take photos of their dinner for Instagram are allowed to call it a hobby, but apparently texting isn't in the same league.

"But it's literally all I do when I'm not in work, so is that not a hobby?"

8. You often wonder if you have yet to discover the hobby which will ultimately define you.

"For all you know, I could be an incredible ukelele player, and I'm just waiting for the right moment to take it up."

9. Dates are a minefield, so you prepare an answer that suggests hobbies just aren't for someone with a jam-packed schedule such as yours.

"Hobbies? Will ya stop! Sure, I don't have a minute to get stuck back into… the ones… that I used to do… and love."

10. You sometimes feel sorry for your family when outsiders ask what you do in your spare time, and they're forced to answer.

"Jaysus, what would she be into? Well, she's great at the ol' selfies, aren't you love?"

11. You worry your future children will carry your 'hobbieless' gene, then you worry they'll be the exact opposite.

"Jesus, what if they have me running around after them all weekend? I'll be wrecked picking them up."

12. You can't wait for the day when you can say 'lying down' is your main hobby – you do it for fun, and you'd recommend it to anyone.

"Honestly, I knew from the first time I tried it, it was for me."

 

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If you're sick of sitting in front of Netflix every night after work or listlessly flicking through week-old magazines, then you may be in need of a hobby!

With the weather becoming more miserable by the second, we're not going to suggest you take up rollerblading or pole dancing, but why not give one of these five a go?

Yes, they're a bit nerdy, but so what? They're also fun and useful; everything you could want from a hobby you can do from the couch, right?

Knitting
It used be the reserve of our grandmothers, but knitting has taken on a whole new lease of life in recent years! You need look no further than Instagram accounts and Facebook posts to see how many people are proud to boast that the snood they’re rocking is handmade or that their niece is currently sporting the cutest cardigan known to man, all courtesy of their talented auntie or uncle.

Girls, there’s no greater feeling than being complimented on something YOU MADE YOURSELF!

Scrapbooking
Many girls are hoarders; we have boxes FULL of old photos, cards, and random scribblings from our school days stashed around our rooms, but how often do we sit down and go through them? How much easier would it be to stroll down memory lane if all your souvenirs and mementos were in scrapbooks?

Take your time with this hobby, going through years of memorabilia is a mammoth task, but let’s face it, your 2002 Westlife ticket deserves your time and attention!

Photo albums
Like scrapbooking, this deserves time and should be enjoyed! Remember before our lives went digital, we used to get our photos developed? Well, if you’re anything like us you have piles of photos in drawers around your room that need a proper home.

Treat yourself to some lovely albums and take the time to chronicle the photos that meant so much to you once upon a time! How much nicer is it to flip through an album than click on the next shot?

Crosswords
Again, normally the reserve of our parents or grandparents, but there’s a lot to be said for taking twenty minutes every day to challenge yourself. You don’t have to fish around the apartment for a newspaper, simply download a crossword app and get answering!

There’s no feeling quite like filling in that last white box and knowing that you, in no uncertain terms, are a GENIUS.

Decoupage
This is a seriously fun hobby which guarantees a lot of satisfaction. Yes, it sounds like a little bizarre, but all it involves is gluing images of your choice on an object and covering them in layers of glue until you’ve transformed a dull object into something you would proudly display around your place.

Grab an old shoe box, decide on a theme, entirely cover the box with these pictures, cover in layers of PVC glue and voila! Storage boxes that are as cute as anything you’d find in the shops!

Give it a go, ladies, you never know, you could discover knitting is one of your secret talents!

 

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It’s time to go old-school.

Put down the laptops, phone, switch off the TV and get happy!

These hobbies will give you a sense of well-being – see which one suits you best.

1. Reading
Join a library and get lost in the thousands of other worlds out there.

2. Cooking
Cooking may look stressful on the TV shows but in your kitchen it can be a relaxing and tasty hobby to have. Your family and friends will definitely appreciate it!

3. Walking/Hiking
Get out there and see the world on foot. It’s far more beautiful that way. Check out all of the amazing walks that are right on your doorstep.

4. Running
Running is almost a therapeutic activity for so many people. Start with a walk-jog-walk if you are new to it. You will find running will be your time to think and be free.

5. Knitting
This hobby isn’t just for your nan! Who doesn’t love a warm woolly scarf in autumn? Pick your own colours and click, click away content and relaxed.

6. Candle-making
A cheaper way to make your home smell lovely. Great for giving as gifts too!

7. Writing
Write anything you want: poetry, short stories, your day, anything! Just write. As Hélène Cixous said: “Write yourself. Your body must be heard.”

8. Gardening
It is very rewarding to see a garden come to live from your own work. Even if you don’t have a garden, that shouldn’t stop you from growing herbs on your kitchen sill.

9. Decorating
Get into home improvement! Use your home as a blank canvas and make it into whatever you like. Use DIY as much as you can for personal touches.

10. Jewellery-making
There is so much inspiration out there, choose your style and create it!

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