Writing, reading, listening: also known as what I’ve been doing for six months


Writing, reading, listening: Also known as what I've been doing for six months
Writing, reading, listening: Also known as what I’ve been doing for six months

When a PR recently mentioned that she’d been reading my blog, I broke out into verbal spasms. ‘No!’, I cried. ‘No! Don’t do that! No, what I mean is yes, please read it but I haven’t updated it for ages and honestly it’s a bit embarrassing to have not posted in so long and… and…’

The PR was very polite and insisted she loved reading the story about my niece rescuing Christmas. Even in June.

If not blogging, what have I been doing for the last six months?

Writing, reading, listening: Also known as what I've been doing for six months
In other news: I picked up some new glasses. What do you think?


The first half of 2018 has been full of writing, just none of it for the blog. Magazine writing, and latterly copywriting for corporate clients, has taken precedence. I’m in no way complaining about that, and I love the variety that comes with the freelance life.

Here are some of my highlights:

‘Say no to plastics in your bathroom’ in Planet Mindful, Spring 2018– print only but if you’re quick then I think this is still available.

‘Get your scarlet pout on with these ethical red lipsticks’ for The Ethicalist

‘Everything you need to know about Fairtrade’ for teen magazine Betty.

A full list of my recent publications is available on my Writing page.


Writing, reading, listening: Also known as what I've been doing for six months
In other news: I went to a press launch at The Ritz. Not the worse day of my working life.



I’ve also spent a lot of the year reading. My top picks, not all new releases, include:

Eat up: food, appetite and eating what you want by Ruby Tandoh: philosophical and practical, I ate it up in two sittings.

Roman Holiday: the secret life of Hollywood in Rome by Caroline Young: a page turner that draws you into la dolce vita of Hollywood’s golden days in Rome – it’ll make you want to hire a Fiat 500 and cruise the streets of the Italian capital.

An atlas of countries that don’t exist: a compendium of fifty unrecognized and largely unnoticed states by Nick Middleton: a tantalising tour of places that challenge our easy assumptions about politics, geography and statehood.

I post my reads, along with a one-sentence review, on a dedicated Pinterest board, should you be looking for any recommendations.


Writing, reading, listening: Also known as what I've been doing for six months
In other news: I’ve been to a CoverFX workshop. Creating foundation is harder than it sounds!


Right now I’m mainly listening World Cup coverage on the radio but generally I’ve been ploughing through podcasts, particularly as I’ve spent a lot of time gazing out of the window on trains.

Three of my favourites are:

Happier by Gretchen Rubin: the hosts, New York Times best-selling author Gretchen Rubin and her TV writer sister Elizabeth Craft, feel like my friends. Sad but possibly the sign of a great podcast.

Layers: a podcast of stories about style and how we get dressed: the pilot episode inspired me to don my favourite hat when nipping out of the house – and I bumped into an ex that I hadn’t seen in over fifteen years. Enough said.

#Amwriting with Jess and KJ: a show about writing, reading and getting (some) things done: I wish I’d discovered this podcast earlier in my freelancing life.


Not a diet book & not giving a f***: two books to help you make changes || Tuesday Reviews Day 24-01-2017

Edible slime || Two books to help you make changes: Not a diet book & not giving a f*** || Tuesday Reviews Day 17-01-2017 || raeritchie.com
Edible slime that I don’t feel guilty about

The other day I spotted an article entitled something like ‘What we can expect from the final series of Girls’ and instantly felt a pang of guilt.  I was unaware the final season was approaching.  That makes me feel even worse that I’ve yet to watch one single episode.  Ever.  Not a minute of it.

I feel especially bad because I spend a reasonable amount of time thinking about popular culture and even writing about it (see pretty much everything I’ve written for The Huffington Post blog).  Yet Girls isn’t alone.  I’ve not seen Breaking Bad or The Bridge or Game of Thrones or even Mad Men, which someone bought me the first series of because they were so convinced that I’d enjoy it.

I’d list some more examples of ground-breaking, water-cooler, must-watch shows that I haven’t watched except I’m struggling to even name anymore.  I’ve long felt remorse about this and wasted a lot of breath uttering ‘Oh yes, I must add that to my list, after The Sopranos, The West Wing and the remaining eighteen episodes of 24 series one’.

After processing my apparent regret at not being au fait with Girls, another thought drifted into my mind like a cloud during the opening credits of The Simpsons (that I have seen!).  ‘I just don’t give a f*** about must-watch television!’, I realised with a start.

This moment of recognition felt like freedom from a self-imposed prison.  It is so true: I don’t care.  If I was that bothered I’d have watched at least some of it, like the Gray’s Anatomy DVD that my friend Kath lent me in 2007 which I found amongst my possessions eight years later.  After she had emigrated to Thailand (I’m sure the two events are not connected).

This is so wonderfully liberating!  I no longer feel I have to pretend to be interested.  I can just quietly get on with my EastEnders obsession with little desire to watch anything else.  And that is just a-okay.

Sarah Knight The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k || 2 books to help you make changes || Tuesday Reviews Day 17-01-2017 || raeritchie.com

All this insight into my television viewing habits is by way of building up to a book that I’ve read recently: Sarah Knight’s The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k.  Inspired by Marie Kondo to declutter her calendar as well as her sock drawer, Knight set about figuring out what aspects of life she really cared about and which she didn’t.

In this less provocative than it sounds book, she shares her technique on how to (a) first decide what you don’t give a f*** about and then (b) go about releasing those things from your life.  Knight includes exercises to help with this process.  However I hadn’t even got as far as completing these when I was struck by my realisation about must-watch TV, which is testament to the power of her argument.

At the heart of The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k is the notion that if we let go of those duties and obligations that we don’t care about, we are calmer, kinder and more considerate people to be around and have more time to dedicate to those people and things that we do value.  Not feeling guilty is central to this.

Bee Wilson This Is Not A Diet Book || 2 books to help you make changes || Tuesday Reviews Day 17-01-2017

Not feeling guilty is also a core theme in food writer Bee Wilson’s latest publication, This Is Not A Diet Book.  This slim tome is comprised of over one hundred tips and more than a dozen recipes to help you move towards a more joyful and nourishing relationship to food.  In contrast to the inflated (and often frankly false) claims of the January diet programmes and adverts for weight loss, Wilson states in the introduction that ‘This book can’t give you a six-pack in seven days or the skin of a supermodel.  But I can promise that if you make even a few of these adjustments, your eating life will alter for the better in ways that you can sustain.’

There are so many little gems of wisdom contained within it that I closed its covers with an overwhelming urge to make lentil soup.  Something I particularly valued is her encouragement to eat three regular meals and also, if you get hungry, allow for three regular snacks too.  We need to eat enough to not be hungry!  What a revelation!

I did chortle somewhat at Wilson’s condemnation of one of my favourite snack choices, the ten calorie ‘fruit’ jelly, as not really a food stuff at all.  A fair call on her part but in the spirit of not feeling guilty about what we eat, I intend to carry on munching (well, swallowing) these little pots of edible slime.

*If you’d like to see what other books I’m reading at the minute, I have a Pinterest board where I’ll be adding each title when I’ve finished it.*

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Interview with Helen Russell, author of Leap Year’ & ‘The Year of Living Danishly’, on decisions, change & resilience

Rae Ritchie interviews Helen Russell, author of Leap Year and The Year of Living Danishly || 19th January 2017 || raeritchie.com
Helen (L) and me (R)

On Tuesday, I had the privilege to interview the writer Helen Russell while she was in London to promote her latest book, Leap Year, a guide to making big decisions, becoming more resilient and making changes in your life.  I’d previously read her first title, The Year of Living Danishly, and loved her willingness to take on the challenge of try to live one’s best life while retaining a self-deprecating and not-too-earnest British perspective on the world.  Although I was nervous as this is the first interview I’ve conducted, chatting to her about the book and her adventures in facing change and developing resilience was a lot of fun as well as being insightful.  Come, pull up a chair next to us at breakfast in a busy hotel dining room and share our conversation…

Dropbox: Rae Ritchie interviews Helen Russell

Soundcloud: Rae Ritchie interviews Helen Russell

I also have an interview with Courtney Carver of bemorewithless.com and Project 333. You can get all the details and listen here.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d really appreciate it if you could share it on social media using the buttons below.  

For more from me straight to your inbox, sign up for my monthly mailing.  It includes exclusive offers and giveaways! Every single subscription makes a real difference to me and my work.

You can also follow me and my freelancing adventures on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Little Women at Christmas: A Christmas Gift From Me

Little Women at Christmas: A Christmas Gift || raeritchie.com

Dearest readers,

As a thank you for all your support and encouragement that you’ve given me over this last difficult year, I wanted to give you a Christmas gift.

What could I do, I wondered.

My thoughts drifted back to the days of primary school nativities, where I was inevitably a narrator as I could read aloud well.  Why not draw on that skill now too?

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy being read to, whatever age.

There’s also something particularly soothing about classic Christmas tales.  They feel so timeless and familiar, coming out like an annual tradition in themselves.  Listening to them also provides a calm moment of joy, time out of the hustle and bustle and rush of the season.

These stories are as much part of our Christmas celebrations as the tree or the presents, thus this is my Christmas gift to you: chapter one and chapter two of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.  I hope you enjoy listening.

Chapter One Playing Pilgrims

Chapter Two A Merry Christmas

Many thanks again for your encouragement and support over the last year, I truly do appreciate it.

I hope you have the merriest of merriest Christmases!

With love and warmest wishes, Rae xx

Fear of Flying – and Bridget Jones

As a huge fan of the classic feminist novel Fear of Flying, I was delighted to get the opportunity to reflect upon the book and its impact on me in a blog post for The Big Comfy Bookshop, my local second-hand bookshop.  I was then both amused and slightly intimidated to discover that Fear of Flying author Erica Jong has also reflected on the book’s impact in an article for the New York Times at the weekend.  Jong was writing in the context of the fortieth anniversary of Fear of Flying‘s publication, but recent weeks have seen a number of media commentaries about women’s writing and female characters – prompted, of course, by the much anticipated (and much criticized) third Bridget Jones offering by Helen Fielding.

As Hadley Freeman notes in her astute questioning of the Bridget Jones phenomena in today’s the Guardian, we continue to discuss women characters in terms of likeablility or being relatable in a way that simply don’t with fictional men.  Humbert Humbert is the example that Freeman gives; having a vile paedophile protagonist has not stopped Lolita being a well-regarded best-seller.  Yet the morals and ‘personality’ of fictional women, whether in literature or the media, remain an obsession.  I have encountered this when recommending Fear of Flying to people.  One friend told me that she didn’t like the book because the heroine, Isadora, was ‘a bit whiney’; I guess she assumed that I viewed her as a role model or some kind of inspiration.  I don’t, no more than I would base my life choices upon advice given by Bridget Jones.  There are passages in Fear of Flying where I strongly empathize with Isadora’s feelings and recognise similar situations in my own life; there have also been times when I’ve thought I’m having an ‘Isadora moment’.  But this is about recognition of human emotions, not identifying as her or shaping my behaviour to mimic hers.  Isadora was a 28 year old married writer from New York City; I am now a 31 year old single academic from the Midlands.  These differences between us in no way diminish my strong attachment to Fear of Flying.  Likewise, my age and relationship status do not mean that I am some kind of ‘real life Bridget Jones’.  I eagerly await the arrival of Mad About the Boy on my doormat but I will be reading it as a work of fiction, not a lifestyle guide for when I am in my fifties.