One of the things I love most about housesitting is discovering the treasures hidden in other people’s bookshelves.  It’s probably slightly voyeuristic as I know you can learn a lot about someone from the books they read, but even so I have always been fascinated by bookshelves and what’s in them.  I was always the one at a party sneaking a look through the bookshelves and to me, secondhand bookshops are places full of wonder.  You never know what you are going to find.

We are now on our seventh long-term housesit and every place we have looked after has had at least one decent bookshelf.  Most places have had a few and it’s always one of the most exciting moments when you get to a new housesit and discover a shelf full of books.  Of course this is never something you know beforehand and just in case I make sure I have my kindle with me as a back up.  Before a housesit you may have met the people although this doesn’t happen often, you may know something about them, but you certainly haven’t discussed books in any depth, if at all.  Oddly though for us, there have always been plenty of interesting books.

Recommended reads: Welcome to Hard Times – E.L.Doctorow l Moon Palace – Paul Auster l Fraud – Anita Brookner l Home – Toni Morrison l Good Morning, Midnight – Jean Rhys l Behind the Beautiful Forevers – Katherine Boo l The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng (see more recommendations below)

What is comforting to me when perusing a bookcase is finding a couple of your favourite books there.  This inevitably makes me breathe a sigh of relief as I think well, if they like the same books as me, I’m going to like the same books as them.  It makes sense.  What is especially interesting though is when you have read all the books you think you are going to like which may be similar to what you’d normally read anyhow.  There is then a slight feeling of discomfort as you decide what to read next.  Authors you’ve never heard of.  Books you thought you’d no-way-ever read.  Stuff that’s too long-winded or highbrow.  This is when it gets really interesting though.  This is the point when you push yourself outside of your comfort zone.  This is where the real magic happens and I have become obsessed with many new authors this way.

My taste in books has changed over the years, maybe not so drastically, but I could definitely tell you what period of my life I was in depending on what I was reading.  The last few years have been a bit of a mix up though as I revisit old authors with joy and discover new (for me) authors and their different styles of writing with an acute sense of excitement.  There has been a complete mix of classical literature, contemporary fiction, thrillers, crime, historical fiction, feminist literature, memoir and biography.  There may have even been some sci-fi thrown in for good measure which is definitely outside of my comfort zone.

My current read is called Medea and her Children, by Ludmila Ulitskaya.  I doubt I would have ever discovered this wonderful book if I hadn’t found an advance reader copy on the shelves here.  I know that reading this will have me intrigued not just about other books by the same author, but also other books set in the Crimea as this is an area and history I know little about.

I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that even with something as seemingly simple as choosing the next book you read, pushing out of you comfort zone can bring untold hidden treasures in the form of new authors, subject matter, and ideas.  If that can happen just by reading a book, then imagine the effect if you put this into practice in other areas of your life.

Here’s to hidden treasures and exploring the unknown ♥

My recent reads (all recommended):

  • Welcome to Hard Times – E.L.Doctorow
  • Moon Palace – Paul Auster
  • Fraud – Anita Brookner
  • Home – Toni Morrison
  • Good Morning, Midnight – Jean Rhys
  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers – Katherine Boo
  • The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng
  • Pigs in Heaven – Barbara Kingsolver
  • A little Love, a little Learning – Nina Bawden
  • I curse the River of Time – Per Petterson
  • We need New Names – NoViolet Bulawago
  • The Girl with All the Gifts – M.R. Carey
  • Life after Life – Kate Atkinson
  • Medea and her Children – Ludmila Ulitskaya


Jane · August 7, 2017 at 4:32 pm

It’s so true that when you push yourself outside your comfort zone, the real magic happens. Not just in books but throughout life. I enjoy reading about your life of house sitting, which in itself is pushing outside your comfort zone and into new surroundings. It sounds like a wonderful way to live.

    elizabeth · August 7, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Hi Jane! Yes, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is so important. I’m not sure I’ve quite got the balance right yet. Sometimes I feel like I push too hard and then I have to retreat back into a safe place. Housesitting is a rather strange existence that swings between feeling comfortable and feeling totally alien to your surroundings. You get used to it and most of the time I love the adventure. Sometimes I just want some stability and our own home but I guess that will come in time. When I read your blog it all sounds so ideal that I get wistful for our own place!

Anyes - Far Away In The Sunshine · September 25, 2017 at 4:24 pm

What a treasure trove, you find in every house you look after. The list you recommend looks quite interesting. Thank you 🙂

    elizabeth · September 25, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Hi Anyes! Yes, I really enjoyed all the books here. And one more I read after I published this post was East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Another great read 🙂

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