Tales from the Reading Rooms: Emily Dougherty

emilyStudent Emily Dougherty did a work placement with the Verbal Arts Centre back in June, through the EOTAS EDIT Programme (Education Intensive Therapy). Here is her write-up about the experience.


I preface this by saying, this is not My Week With Marilyn which is an amazing book (and movie) which I would strongly recommend reading (and watching). But, alas, this is not that book (or movie), because, in any case, I would be the Marilyn in the situation. I mean, I’m blonde, a singer and actress, and I also believe that diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

I started with an interview and a small tour of the building. Of course, as all good interviews do, it started with tea. Now, I for one, am a bit of a tea connoisseur. Not necessarily a Ramona Flowers, but I know a proper good cuppa from a semi-decent, adequate or mediocre cuppa. And this tea was a very nice cuppa. So, the interview went well in my opinion. The tour went as well as a small tour of a building could go, so I was happy with everything.

The lovely Rachel Duffy was who would be holding my hand through this experience. The selection of short stories and poems we got to read was exactly my taste. Mostly romantic stuff, AKA, my weakness. I was glad to know me and Rachel liked the same stuff when it comes to books, because if we didn’t, those weeks would’ve gone very poorly.

Now, I have a confession to make: before this, I hadn’t read an actual, proper, real life book in maybe 7 or 8 months. I tend to gravitate more towards narrative driven video games or movies for my fix of a strong, powerful story. I struggled to focus on books, reading (and writing) have never really been my strong suit. At the time, with a combination of poor mental health, constant distractions and my picky nature with books, I hadn’t even bothered to put reading on my agenda, unless I was reading lore or stories about a video game.

With Reading Rooms, however, combined with being in a happy and energetic workplace, it meant that got my confidence with reading back, and now I’ve read two (and a half) whole books in less than 2 months, which as a very slow reader, this is a very great achievement. I also now have a full bookshelf of yet-to-read books that I actually want to read.

While I was there I also got to do my favourite thing in the world – organising. No, really. I currently have 13 different notebooks all for different things. I still need a couple more though, because my need for organisation and planning is getting seriously out of hand. I hopefully organised everything in the right way. If not… I’m sorry, everyone!

Of course, there was a lot of fun in between all this as well, such as the fire alarms going of twice (in a row) while I was there, and also when buns were brought in on Fridays. I mean, one is slightly more fun than the other I’d say, but only just. I adored my time at the Verbal Arts Centre with Reading Rooms, and I desperately want to go back. I thought, instead of writing a long and thoughtful ending to this, and not at all because I can’t think of a proper way to end this without writing 2000 words about how great everyone is, I’ve decided to end on a book recommendation. My recommendation is Trouble by Non Pratt, a really good easy to read book focusing on teenage pregnancy and friendships. There is a very unexpected plot twist in the book, that arrives at the perfect time, because the timing throughout the book is really well done. The story is very well fleshed out, the friendships are true and the characters are believable.

Thank you all at the Verbal Arts Centre and everyone who works with Reading Rooms, it was an amazing experience and it showed me that there’s never no reason to read.

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