My name is Hannah Franklin and I’m an English Literature graduate from England and I’ve been an avid book reader and lover my whole life. I write for my own blog, Breathe Think Live, and I love to share and connect with other like-minded creative people through both my blog and my Instagram (@hannahlouise.franklin). You’ll usually find me halfway through a book or with a notebook full of scribbles, daydreaming about what to read or write next.
Dorothy Parker once wrote: “I like best to have one book in my hand, and a stack of others on the floor beside me.” What is your philosophy for constantly having books within reach?
I completely agree with this quote! I absolutely love having a big pile of books waiting to be read. In fact, if I’m halfway through the book that I’m currently reading and I don’t have another lined up for when I’m finished I start to get a little impatient about finding another book to read. I actually just picked up The Girls by Emma Cline and Serious Sweet by A.L Kennedy to add to my ever-growing pile. There are definitely a few downsides, it can get so hard to choose what to read next, but I love knowing that I’ve got several more fictional worlds and characters patiently waiting for me when I’m ready.
Who are some of your favorite female authors and why?
I feel like I have to say JK Rowling because the Harry Potter series completely shaped my childhood. Jane Austen is also another with Pride and Prejudice as an absolute favourite of mine. I usually re-read it every year and I was given a beautifully designed Penguin faux leather edition of it as a present. Margaret Atwood is also a new favourite actually. I’d not read a lot of her other work besides The Handmaid’s Tale but I’m midway through The Blind Assassin now and it’s just so brilliant, so richly filled with detail. I also completely fell in love with Eimear McBride when I read The Lesser Bohemians a few months ago, what an amazingly poetic and magnetic writing style she has. I’m itching to get my hands on A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing next. I also love Helen Fielding and Bridget Jones has to be one of my absolute favourite fictional characters. No matter how many times I’ve read the books they always make me laugh.
What impact does literature have on you?
I think literature has a huge impact on me, not just in shaping what I spent a lot of my spare time doing but also in how I view the world and the people living in it. I never fail to read a book and somehow be influenced by it as a result. I think literature offers immeasurable opportunities to broaden our views on how others and we ourselves experience life; it can show us how to be kinder, how to be more moral, how to be happier. I think in every book there’s something to learn, even if it’s just a love of reading.
You are also a writer on your blog Breath, Think, Live. Tell us a little bit about your blog and your writing.
I started my blog when I was still at university, mainly as a cathartic and creative outlet and since then it’s grown into something much more important to me. I came up with the name when I was feeling very stressed with studying and it became a little mantra for me to stop and breathe, to clear my mind and try to think clearly and then simply to let myself live and enjoy living. I love writing and I adore the freedom of having your own space to craft and shape into whatever you want it to be. As an aspiring writer and novelist, it’s great to be able to continually write and hone my skills through blogging. I write a lot of lifestyle pieces, some more creative non-fiction like “Kindness from Strangers” and ’Soft Mornings”, a smattering of wellbeing and food posts, as well as book discussions and reviews. The more I write for my blog the more my love of writing increases and as a way to create and explore your own writing style, there’s nothing better.
Where is your absolute favorite place to curl up with a book?
I always dream of having a perfect, little window seat with a beautiful view but sadly I don’t actually have one of those – maybe one day! So I’d probably have to say either a cosy coffee shop with a big mug of coffee or snuggled under a blanket surrounded by lots of cushions. Bonus points if you can hear the rain outside too.
Who are some literary heroines who have inspired you?
Definitely Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet. She stands true to her principles and her values, refusing to be cowed by society’s expectations while also remaining able to grow herself. I think she’s a brilliant foil to the other novels of the time that might see women wilting to the demands of the male protagonist. Here we see a strong woman who still gets a happy ending. I also love Mariam in A Thousand Splendid Suns; it’s such a heartbreaking novel but also beautiful in so many ways. The bond that develops between Mariam and Laila, and the ways in which they survive a strict regime that controls women, is a testament to female friendship and strength. Can I say Matilda as well? I know that’s a children’s book but I absolutely loved Matilda as a child. She has an amazing passion for literature and shows some really important lessons about right and wrong and how we deserve to be treated, which is incredible in a children’s book. I think she’s a really timeless figure and the film based on Dahl’s novel is one of my favourites.
Which female author – living or deceased – would you like to spend an afternoon with and why?
Ooh, this is a hard one! Maybe JK Rowling, because she created a completely enthralling world that is a part of so many people’s lives and it would be inspiring to talk to someone about such an achievement. Talking to Jane Austen would be amazing; I’d love to know what it was like for women writing novels in the time she was alive. Oh, and Virginia Woolf as well; I’ll admit I’ve not read that many of her novels but I did read and study A Room of One’s Own at university which was fascinating and I think she’d been an incredibly interesting woman to talk to. Really there are so many, I know I’m meant to pick just one author but it’s so hard, I think I’d have to host a dinner party!
What do you love most about being a creative woman?
So many things but I’d especially say the feeling you have when you can sit back and look at something you’ve written. For me, when I’ve written a blog post, a poem, a story, there’s something so immensely satisfying and soul warming in being able to look at this physical thing that you’ve created. And it’s not just about whether other people see it, it’s about how it can make you feel. It’s the sense of accomplishment and self-confidence. Whether it’s in writing, art, dance, acting, singing, whatever it is – the feeling of having belief in yourself and your abilities is so important.
It’s also so amazing now to think about the opportunities that are out there and the fantastic community of women surrounding us that are all creating wonderful things. It’s also never been easier than it is now to reach out to them. Instagram and social media, in general, are making it so much easier to find and connect with other creative people and I think that’s brilliant. Take the work that you lovely ladies are doing for example! And even just recently I messaged a few other women on Instagram about writing and they were so quick to respond and so eager to try and help. The more we can talk to, inspire and support one another, the more we can all grow and create together.
Follow Hannah on Instagram for more beautiful images of what she’s reading.