Monthly Archives: August 2010

Bookblog 30th August 2010 – The Usual Literary Suspects

The Usual Literary Suspects…

 

Hello, Bookworms! I’m here again with another blog, largely on account of the amount of charity-shop book purchasing I do. I have recently discovered that there are four books of which I own two copies each! Oops! And I think I know how this oversight came about. I had simply forgotten that I already owned said books and saw a copy in a charity shop and bought it. An exploration under my computer desk a couple of nights ago brought to light this duplicate book situation. The books in question are as follows…

 

The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett

Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder

I Capture The Castle – Dodie Smith

The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith

 

Anyway, from regular book shopping in charity shops, you come to notice that there are certain books which are nearly always to be found on the shelves alongside whichever other books might be on there and available for about 99p each. Amongst the romances, the chick-lit, the occasional classics, travel writing and thrillers, there do seem to be certain books that seem to be on the shelf in every single charity shop you enter, and I can think of three such books that I constantly see, and they are as follows…

 

The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

The House At Riverton – Kate Moreton

A Child Called It – Dave Pelzer

 

Seriously! Check it out for yourselves! Pop along to your local Age UK, RSPCA, Oxfam, British Red Cross or any other charity shop and have a good shufty at their stock of books and I bet that at least two of the above three books will be there! Another frequent staple of the Charity Shop Bookshelves is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, as is the first book of Sir Terry Pratchett’s hilarious Discworld fantasy series, The Colour of Magic. There may well be a David Mitchell novel there too, probably either Cloud Atlas or Ghostwritten, plus a whole host of chick lit, some crime novels and a few classics – bit of Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, for example.

 

In the meantime, the Around The World In 80 Books preparations continue and I’ve just realised, to my joy, that I have a book about Krakatoa that I’ve yet to read, which adds Indonesia to the list and means I get to read at least one book about volcanoes during the challenge. I’ve also given some thought to changing Russia’s representative. I was going to get on with War And Peace, but I think Football Dynamo by Marc Bennetts or even Destination Moscow by Justin Blundell, an account of Manchester United’s European Cup Final campaign and eventual triumph at the Luzhniki Stadium in 2008, would be better. For a start, it’d be much shorter than Tolstoy’s epic and, furthermore, it would be an excuse to read about football! Not that I need an excuse, of course, but it would provide me with one!

In the meantime, I think it’s back to the beach hut! No, I don’t have a beach hut and don’t live near the seaside anyway, but I have started reading The Beach Hut by Veronica Henry. Should get Guernica finished off,really. Been reading that one for a while. However, it’s my bookclub at Waterstone’s tomorrow night, so I will then get to discover what we are reading next and thus which book will be coming to Egypt with me on my jollies!

 

Books mentioned:

The Pillars Of The Earth – Ken Follett

Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder

I Capture The Castle – Dodie Smith

The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith

A Child Called It – Dave Pelzer

The House At Riverton – Kate Moreton

The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

The Colour Of Magic – Terry Pratchett

Ghostwritten – David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

Krakatoa: The Day The World Exploded – Simon Winchester

War And Peace – Leo Tolstoy

Football Dynamo – Marc Bennetts

Destination Moscow – Justin Blundell

The Beach Hut – Veronica Henry

Guernica – Dave Boling

 

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Bookblog 29th August – All The World’s A Bookshop…

Hello again, bookworms! Welcome back to those mad enough to read my blogs. Finished two books off on Friday night on the reading front, This Bleeding City by Alex Preston and Venus In Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. However, don’t get any ideas about kinky boots and stuff! Having recently bought myself a Sony eReader, I found it on a website for downloading free eBooks and, knowing the Velvet Underground song, was interested in reading the book on which that song was based. Still can’t find that bloody cd, though! Epic compact disc location fail there, unfortunately!

 

Anyway, on with the proposed book project which I intend to start in the New Year and will run for however damn long it takes to get through eighty different books of varying lengths. Around The World In 80 Books. It matters not whether they’re factual or fiction, I need eighty different international settings, so it could be a factual book about that country or fiction set in that country. But I need eighty books for a round-the-world reading adventure! The other thing is that, ideally, they’ll be books I have but have not got round to reading yet, so that it gets them off my notoriously long to-read list once I’ve read them, as well as being a world tour in book form. Hardback, paperback or eBook, it matters not. With this in mind, I’m currently looking at the huge collection of books I already own and getting down on a spreadsheet as many possibilities as I can, to see how many countries I can cover in existing books before I need to purchase further reading material. If I can get forty different countries with the books I already have, that’s half my world tour already accounted for and thus I’d only have to acquire books about or set in another 40 countries!

 

Looking at my spreadsheet printout, I seem to have listed books for at least 35 different countries thus far: Afghanistan, Australia, Bosnia, Botswana, Brazil, Burma, China, Congo, Crete, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Siberia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Trinidad, Ukraine and the USA. Ok, maybe Siberia is cheating a bit, or is it? Someone please let me know whether Siberia is part of Russia or is a separate entity. Thanks!

 

This dilemma also brings me on to the matter of the United Kingdom and I am getting the inclination to split the UK up, Commonwealth Games style, into its component countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, simply to get more countries out of it and thus more book possibilities. Also, I’ve got Buddha Da by Anne Donovan in mind for Scotland’s representative! The sod of it is that I’ve recently already read a book set in Wales, The Earth Hums In B Flat by Mari Strachan, so I’m going to have to find another Welsh entry, and I need a Northern Ireland entry. There’s plenty of choice for England, but I might decide that my home country also needs a book on matters local to me and read Shadowplayers: The Rise And Fall of Factory Records by James Nice – the setting being not only English but Mancunian as well!

 

On top of this book project, I will also have my Waterstone’s bookclub books to read, whichever ones those turn out to be (hoping one or two of them might have international settings and count towards Around The World In 80 Books), and I may well also be reading books to assist our family friend, Samuel, as he embarks on his A Levels at college and has chosen English Literature as one of his subjects! So, don’t be terribly surprised to find me reading First World War poetry and at least one helping of Shakespeare in the coming year or so!

 

Just before I love you and leave you for now, I have an update on this blog which I actually started yesterday, and it comes about because while making my way to Old Trafford by public transport yesterday afternoon, I popped into a local charity shop near the bus stop and acquired Me, Myself & Prague by Rachael Weiss for a mere 99p. Weiss is an Aussie but has Czech roots on her dad’s side, so this is her account of discovering the joys of the Czech Republic’s capital city and the Bohemian region her dad came from. It also gets the Czech Republic on the list of countries for my book challenge! Yes, I do already have a few books set in Prague and around what used to be Czechoslovakia at the time, but then I’ve already read those and, in the case of Too Loud A Solitude, I’ve actually read that one twice! I guess, at a push, if I hadn’t found a new book set in that country, I could’ve read Closely Observed Trains for a second time and been amused once again by the arse-stamping incident! (For all you who thought arse-stamping was invented by DCI Gene Hunt in Life On Mars, this practice can actually be traced back to railway stations in wartime Czechoslovakia! So now you know!)

 

Books mentioned:

This Bleeding City – Alex Preston

Venus In Furs – Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

Buddha Da – Anne Donovan

The Earth Hums In B Flat – Mari Strachan

Me, Myself & Prague – Rachael Weiss

Too Loud A Solitude – Bohumil Hrabal

Closely Observed Trains – Bohumil Hrabal

 

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Bookblog 18th August 2010 – A World Of Books

Bookblog 18th August 2010.

 

And a warm welcome back to Joanne’s Bookworld, this mad and very random blog on anything book-related that springs to my mind. Reading further through “Howards End Is On The Landing” by Susan Hill, the author mentions more about writing in books, citing various dedications in books given as presents and the act of writing one’s name and address in a book, even to the ludicrous extremes of adding England, Great Britain, Europe, Northern Hemisphere, The World, The Solar System, The Universe, Outer Space, and asks if any children still do that, believing that they should! Good! I did as a child! There have been at least a few books, particularly my old atlas if I remember rightly, where I went to such lengths with my address! Actually, that atlas became especially personalised by yours truly during my teens, adding names and locations of my penpals on certain pages! I still write my name and address in books, actually, although these days I tend to stop at England, rather than adding the rest of my island, continent, planet and other details!

 

I really need to get the rest of “This Bleeding City” finished off as there’s now just under two weeks until my next book group meeting. It’s not that I don’t like it. It’s not that bad. It’s just a bit too large, physically, for putting in my bag. I wouldn’t actually mind if the book was chunkier if it were actually smaller!  It’s 9 inches by 6! Compare that to 7 and a bit inches by 5 for the Susan Hill book! The other thing is that it’s about people I would call yuppies. The one time I did fancy being one myself was when I was about 14 and liked the idea of actually having money as opposed to being a skint teenager at high school! Also, it was certain things they had that I fancied – mostly the compact discs, the Filofaxes and the Trivial Pursuit! You can tell I grew up in the 1980s, can’t you?!

 

Mind you, that was back in 1987 and before the end of that year, by which time the financial excrement had well and truly hit the fan and we’d entered the late 80s and early 90s recession. Also, I know hardly much more about economics and the Stock Market as a 37 year old than I did back then as a 14 year old schoolgirl, and I’d better stick to things I do know about, like books, and just keep hoping for that lottery win!

 

I’m still on a “books about books” bent, so I’m looking for another book-related book for when I’ve finished “Howards End Is On The Landing”. Examining some of the books near my laptop, I clap eyes on “Firmin” by Sam Savage, which is a distinct possibility, plus “The Bookshop” by Penelope Fitzgerald. That’s also quite a slim book too, which also goes in its favour. There’s “People Of The Book” by Geraldine Brooks, which is a possibility, or I could return to “A Tale Of Love And Darkness”, the autobiography of Amos Oz.

 

Perhaps, next year, I should read books I’ve already got in. Obviously, I would have to make an exception for the books needed for my Waterstone’s bookclub, but other than that, I need to get some more of these read, just as Susan Hill’s deciding to read from home in her book. Perhaps, also, there should be another theme, such as Around The World In 80 Books, or something like that, with each book set in a different country or about a different country if it’s non-fiction, thus meaning I could read “Down Under” by Bill Bryson for Australia’s book. I could even get on with “War And Peace” for Russia’s entry on the world book tour! Actually, I might be tempted to save the Amos Oz for the World Book Tour so that his book could be Israel’s literary representative.

 

I may need the help of anyone kind enough to read my blogs and respond to them and, occasionally, may offer up a selection of choices for a certain country if I’m having trouble deciding, and also read any of your recommendations. I’m not saying which books right now, but I have certain books in mind for some countries already on this Around The World In Eighty Books project. I’m thinking perhaps Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown Trilogy for Ireland. We’ll see, anyway, when I get round to starting this world tour of reading matter (fiction and non-fiction) in 2011…

 

In the meantime, I’m off to get a bit more reading done on the Susan Hill and Alex Preston books, and am still weighing up my next book for when I’ve finished Howards End Is On The Landing. Possibly Firmin by Sam Savage.

 

Books mentioned:

Howards End Is On The Landing – Susan Hill

This Bleeding City – Alex Preston

Firmin – Sam Savage

The Bookshop – Penelope Fitzgerald

People Of The Book – Geraldine Brooks

A Tale Of Love And Darkness – Amos Ozn  

Down Under – Bill Bryson

War And Peace – Leo Tolstoy

The Barrytown Trilogy – Roddy Doyle

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Bookblog 14th August 2010 Ebooks v Real Books…

Bookblog 14th August 2010.

 

I have been considering, for a while now, the purchase of one of those electronic reader devices on which you can store hundreds, even thousands, of eBooks. The more they come down in price, the more tempted I am becoming. However, I must stress that this eReader is mostly in my mind for the purpose of taking away with me on holidays, and I have no intention of offloading any of my physical books, nor have I any intention of never physically buying an actual book ever again. Perish that thought! I don’t think eReaders will ever truly replace books and agree with the sentiments echoed in “Howards End Is On The Landing” by Susan Hill, which I’m currently reading.

 

Ok, on an eBook reader, you can have a virtual bookmark, but it’s hardly the same as having actual books. If I didn’t have actual books, what would happen to all those postcards, bus and tram tickets, business cards, old Christmas or birthday cards and clothing tags?! In a real book, you have the fun of marking where you’re up to by sticking anything in there, and the potential to make it something appropriate to the book or to the occasion on which you read the book or at least bought the book.

 

In years to come, anyone discovering my vast library of books may open one up to find an old System One bus card or a Metrolink tram ticket, adult single, £2, from St Peter’s Square to Eccles! Or they might find a clothing swing tag. Maybe a Manchester United or Nike one from my football shirt or even a tassled La Senza tag from some nice lingerie. Who knows? But it will give some social historian a fair idea of who I supported, places I shopped at and my frequent use of public transport, as well as the fact that I’d amassed plenty of books of varying fiction genres and non-fiction subjects alike. They may also find a postcard or two. Possibly one I’ve bought on my jaunts around the world, or one I’ve had sent to me by a friend or member of my family on their travels.

 

Now, I do believe some of these newer eReaders will allow you to annotate and highlight in eBooks. But there is nothing quite like some of the things you may find in actual books. When my mum and I moved to this house four years ago, it was from a much bigger house. Prior to our move, I had to offload practically half of my then book collection, and that was pretty large! Apart from keeping a few, most of my children’s books went, and most of my half-read books that I’d had to skim-read for university also went. I’d like to think that some people, somewhere, have got and are enjoying one of my old books and that their enjoyment is added to by any comments I may have written in the margins in pencil! I do recall, from my student days, that I was having to read a big chunky number, “Aurora Leigh” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and there’s a line in it about Aurora visiting my neck of the woods on her travels…

 

And once went farther and saw Manchester.

 

I am pretty sure I pencilled in some very pro-Mancunian comments in the margin close to that particular line! Someone somewhere has got that copy and I hope they are suitably amused! Well, either that, or the chunky novel, in poem form, is still sitting on the shelf of some charity shop or other, waiting for someone to buy it or for me to come along and re-purchase one of my own books, although for rather a lot less than I’d had to shell out for it back in the early 90’s when I needed to study the damn thing!

 

I couldn’t possibly do a comparison between actual book and eBook without pointing out one further advantage of actual books. That advantage being that you can get them signed. As someone who has several football autobiographies, I must stress that eBooks cannot compare with having an actual book and queueing up to meet one of your heroes, be that Eric Cantona, Denis Law, Sir Alex Ferguson or Sir Bobby Charlton, all of whom I’ve met and had autobiographies signed for me. In fact, I’ve got both Eric’s autobiographies signed, the English translation “My Story” and the original French autobiography “Un Rêve Modeste Et Fou”, which I had tracked down when in Nice with the City of Salford Youth Concert Band in the summer of 1995! I didn’t actually get Eric’s signed at book signings, though. One was at The Cliff, United’s former training ground and the other was at the former Nike shop in the Arndale Centre. I met Eric Cantona ten times while he was at United. He was an absolute gentleman and you could give him loads of stuff to sign and he would sign all of it and never complain. Many other footballers could do with learning from that!

 

And for the final good reason why real books are still better than eBooks, we have to go back to that age-old joke about why televisions will never replace newspapers, the answer being that you can’t swat a fly with a television set! Now, I don’t really want to have to use books for insecticide purposes, I’d much rather just read them, but if some stupid insect comes buzzing or at least flying around my room and annoying me, I’ve got plenty of books to hand with which I can attempt to swat the annoying little sod! Even if I purchased an eReader, I would not be using any electronic device as a fly swatter!

 

Today’s booklist:

Howards End Is On The Landing – Susan Hill

Aurora Leigh – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Un Rêve Modeste Et Fou – Eric Cantona

My Story – Eric Cantona

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