Monthly Archives: October 2010

So Many Books, So Little Time…

Good evening, bookworms! A warm welcome back to Joanne’s weird and wonderful (but mostly weird, lol) blog on all things book-related, plus the usual waffle about a few other things. Football and music, mostly. Anyway, where has 2010 gone?! We’re now on 21st October, wishing a happy birthday to United’s Serbian hardman and captain, Nemanja Vidic, and I have only 9 books to go to complete the 50 Book Challenge again this year, having finished Life’s Too Short, a collection of short stories about the world of work compiled by Val McDermid. Quite enjoyed it actually. It’s one of the Quick Reads short books. I know they’re meant to get people reading who otherwise probably wouldn’t, but there’s no reason why an established hardcore bookworm can’t also enjoy these books!

 Started a bit of Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto, although I’ve got until 23rd November to get that one read and I do have another book I need to get read fairly quickly for reasons of other members of the family wanting to read it after me. No, not the Giggs book – I’ve already read that one and it’s currently my mum’s turn – but it’s a book by a young lady we know. The Gift And The Curse by Sarah Shivnan is set in Thailand and based on the author’s own knowledge and experiences in that country where she lived and worked for several years. It’s fictional but with bold print factual information from Sarah about the life and culture of Thailand. Pretty eye-opening stuff with some comical moments but also some shocking stuff too. Her family and mine have been friends for years now as one of their sons used to do trampolining at the same club as my sister. It’s a small world, as they say, but I wouldn’t like to have to paint it! Actually, for such a small world, it has a pretty big library! Perhaps it’s like the Tardis in Doctor Who and only looks small but is much bigger inside?!

 After my bookclub meeting last week, I went looking in the children’s section at Waterstone’s for potential festive reading material to buy my baby niece for her first Christmas. As I am now a responsible auntie, it is my job to help Charlotte to grow up to be a bookworm! My sister has already taken her daughter to mums and babies events at the local library, and I have already bought her some books, as you’d probably figured long before now! Do I really need to say that I bought her a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle or is that a given bearing in mind it’s such a classic children’s book?! I have also bought her the little Very Hungry Caterpillar Buggy Book for her pram! She will be five months old at Christmas so I have to bear that in mind with whatever I buy for her.

 Books mentioned

  • Life’s Too Short – Val McDermid (ed)
  • Your Presence Is Requested At Suvanto – Maile Chapman
  • The Gift And The Curse – Sarah Shivnan
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar Buggy Book – Eric Carle
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The Manc Booker Prize

13th October 2010.

 Hello, fellow Bookworms! Welcome back to the weird and wonderful book-related world that is my blog, and we have to start this entry by congratulating the Whitefield-born author Howard Jacobson on winning the Booker Prize for “The Finkler Question”, the announcement of which was made last night. For those who don’t know, Whitefield is an area of Manchester, on the way to Bury, and is particularly well-known for Slattery’s, a fantastic confectioner’s shop. Confectioner does not do it justice – they make awesome cakes and chocolate goodies and have an excellent dining room upstairs! The only problem with Slattery’s is that the car park is tidgy, but I digress….

 Went to my book club last night where we discussed “The Year of the Flood” by Margaret Atwood which got a mixed reception. Most agreed it was an easy to read book, although some of us liked it more than others and there were plenty of talking points in the book, particularly the themes of environmental issues and religion which run throughout the novel, thus making it a great book club read! I personally enjoyed the book and would rather like to read “Oryx and Crake” as those characters feature in The Year of the Flood. Our new book, for our meeting on 23rd November, is “Your Presence Is Requested At Suvanto” by Maile Chapman. As it’s set in Finland, I may start my Around The World In 80 Books project early and start it off with this novel.

 I am actually nearing the end of “Second Hand Heart” by Catherine Ryan Hyde, a book about a young woman in her late teens who is given a new chance of life with a heart transplant after a lady is killed in a road accident, and who then finds herself falling in love with the lady’s widowed husband! I guess it was just a case of The Call of the Book, as I’m not entirely sure what attracted me to this book, but something did and I’m glad this was the case as I’m enjoying the book.

 Ok, a thyroid that doesn’t do what’s required is far less serious than a heart that doesn’t function properly, but I feel for Vida, particularly the sense of being overprotected and fussed-over all her life. It grates with me that if you have a disability or illness, however minor, there is a tendency for others to treat you like you’re much younger than you actually are. I used to collect used stamps for guide dogs and give them to my grandma to take to church. From what she’d said about the blind guy, James, I thought for ages that he was a young boy. I was rather taken aback when I first met him at some church do and discovered he was a grown man! The way my grandma had always talked about him, and the tone of voice she used, had made me think James was a child. Personally, I believe that, unless you actually KNOW that the person’s disability is a mental impairment, there is NO excuse for treating that person in such a patronising manner! I hope I’m preaching to the converted here, as this treatment of disabled people really infuriates me. If someone’s an adult, it’s best to treat them as one. Even if they turn out to have a mental impairment which limits their understanding, at least you have erred on the side of caution rather than talking down to them.

I don’t mean to lecture in my blogs but Second Hand Heart has touched on an issue I feel very strongly about. As I said, I have only a very minor health problem compared to many, but technically I do have a disability and have been overprotected by certain people in my family because of it, a treatment that I especially resent.

 Books mentioned:

The Finkler Question – Howard Jacobson

The Year Of The Flood – Margaret Atwood

Oryx And Crake – Margaret Atwood

Your Presence Is Requested At Suvanto – Maile Chapman

Second Hand Heart – Catherine Ryan Hyde

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Bookblog – No Such Thing As A Bad Book

Bookblog 10th October, 2010.

 

No Such Thing As A Bad Book

 

Seems like it’s been a while since my last book blog. I have my next book club meeting at Waterstone’s on 12th October and I have just finished The Year Of The Flood by Margaret Atwood. Overall, I enjoyed it, but I did find it puzzling. Jumping about between the aftermath of the Waterless Flood and the years before it does not help. I can deal with it, but it has to be said that I prefer chronological order. Hence, I liked it much more towards the end of the novel when it didn’t keep flitting back to the past and stayed with the aftermath of the flood. Also, I’m not entirely sure how to take this book. Is Atwood singing from the God’s Gardeners’ hymnsheet, or taking the piss out of them? I can’t quite make up my mind whether the author endorses the whole green thing and that this book is a warning of impending environmental doom, or whether she’s just sending up the doom merchants with this novel. My colleague, Catherine, who has also started coming to book club meetings with me this year, is a fan of Atwood’s but even she shared the same queries as myself when we caught up with each other after work recently.

 

The date of our next book club meeting also coincides with the announcement of this year’s Booker Prize winner. With this in mind, it has set me wondering at what time the announcement will be made and, if it is before the meeting, what is the likelihood that we’ll be reading the winning book as our next choice of reading matter?! There’s a couple of novels on the shortlist which have caught my eye and I’ve acquired for reading. The books in question being C by Tom McCarthy and Room by Emma Donoghue. C is on my Sony Reader as an eBook and Room is a hardback.

 

Talking of eBooks, I’ve now read seven of the ebooks on my Sony Reader, recently finishing The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura, a guide not only to the Japanese Tea Ceremony but to the art and philosophy surrounding the rituals,  and Overqualified by Joey Comeau, a short and amusing collection of cover letters he fired off to various companies in the hope that they would give him a job, although I can imagine his chances of employment were very slim given the sort of stuff he wrote in these letters! Well, not unless a company is so off-the-wall and unconventional that they’d appreciate a cover letter which consists of expletives and irrelevant waffle! Before anyone comments, yes, yours truly can also do expletives and irrelevant waffle. I could waffle for Britain as several of my friends would readily testify! However, I am not daft enough to do so if I have to write a cover letter for a job!

 

A tweet by GuardianBooks earlier today caused me to reply. It had a link to an article about how eBooks helped him go away on holiday and still take plenty of reading material. However, I hasten to point out that the fella concerned was daft enough to fly with Ryanair! Yes, that’s right, the bunch of money-grabbing swines who charge people for needing the loo during flights! If they go to the wall in this recession, they only have themselves to blame for being the most passenger-unfriendly airline going! I would have to be pretty damn desperate to ever fly with them. Thankfully, there are plenty of other airlines. Even so, any eReader device is a good idea for travel. Lots of books on one device, whether it’s purely for eBooks like a Sony Reader or a Kindle, or whether it’s an app on your iPhone, BlackBerry or other smartphone. I have Kobo on my BlackBerry so have a few books on that as well as on the portable bookshelf that is my Sony Reader!

 

Anyway, finishing the Atwood means I’ve now read 39 books so far this year, needing just 11 more between now and New Year’s Eve to complete the 50 Book Challenge once again! My Sony Reader and a few short reads have been a great help in this respect. I don’t plan on doing the challenge again in 2011, though, as I have my Around The World In 80 Books idea which I intend to start in the New Year for however long that may take me…. I need a readable representative for each of 80 different countries. I’ve certainly got enough potential reads listed on an Excel spreadsheet to account for just over half of that global literary journey, but I will still need more, so be prepared for me to ask for suggestions and recommendations! Countries listed below are those for whom I have at least one potential book…

 

Afghanistan, Australia, Bosnia, Botswana, Brazil, Burma, China, Colombia, Congo, Crete, Czech Republic, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kefalonia (Greek island), Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Trinidad, Ukraine and the USA.

 

Anyway, I feel the need to progress with Robin Ince’s Bad Book Club, although I would debate the concept of the title as there is no such thing as a bad book. Books are Good Things. I grant you that there are some that just wouldn’t appeal to me, but then books have to account for all sorts of tastes in reading and just because I wouldn’t want to read anything about or by that lying, warmongering tosspot, Tony Blair, and think that his book is a shocking waste of good trees, this does not prevent others from being strange enough to want to read that particular tome. Similarly, I’d leave any book on Alan Shearer to the Geordies to enjoy, as I’d much rather read about trophy-laden legends, such as Ryan Giggs! I concur absolutely with the foreword by Sir Alex Ferguson in Giggsy’s book, My Life My Story, in which Fergie says that Ryan should get a knighthood. Absolutely! Arise Sir Ryan!

 

I would’ve suggested Ryan be nominated for next year’s Booker Prize, but that award is for fiction, so perhaps I should nominate GMPTE for their splendid series of fantasy fiction, otherwise known as bus timetables! Events in Discworld novels are more likely to occur than some buses are to turn up at their allotted times and it really wouldn’t surprise me if I were ever to see the Luggage scuttling by on its hundreds of little legs while I wait for a 22 bus to turn up and take me to work, or bring me home from Chorlton of an evening!

 

As for the B-liar book… Will I ever read the book by Dubya’s little pet arselicker? Only if it was available for free as an eBook so it didn’t cost me a penny and didn’t cost the planet any trees! And also only on the proviso that I didn’t have anything better to read. And, as a hardcore bookworm since I first learned to read, I seriously doubt that will EVER happen!

 

Books mentioned:

The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood

C – Tom McCarthy

Room – Emma Donoghue

The Book of Tea – Kakuzo Okakura

Overqualified – Joey Comeau

Robin Ince’s Bad Book Club – Robin Ince

Ryan Giggs: My Life, My Story – Ryan Giggs

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