Monthly Archives: August 2011

Readin’ On A Jet Plane…

Good Evening, Bookworms!

Just a fairly short one tonight as my bags are packed and I shall have to get some sleep soon – up pretty damn early in the morning to jet off on my jollies! Turkey here I come! Just thought I’d let you all know the book situation for the forthcoming week overseas. Crime And Punishment is coming in my hand luggage with me, as is my Sony Reader, complete with 202 ebooks on it! Meanwhile, The Flea Palace and Tolstoy And The Purple Chair are in my suitcase, as is The Beach Book, which is an anthology of seaside-related short stories by various authors and the book is actually supposed to be waterproof ! May test that theory out by the pool at our hotel!

Just thought for a moment, “Should I pack The Beach Hut?”, but then I realised I have it on my Sony Reader, so it is coming with me in electronic format, if not paperback, should I wish to read it! I doubt they have beach huts in Turkey anyway, they seem to me to be a very British seaside thing! The other variant on that is the kind of beach hut you get in far-flung exotic locations like the Maldives, Bali, or places like that! I’m sure many of you know the sort of huts I mean! Thatch-roofed ones, often on some sort of pier or jetty, surrounded by white sands, crystal-clear blue seas (teeming with sea life) and basking in gorgeous sunshine…. Wish you were here? Damn right, I do! When the pigs standing on runway one are cleared for takeoff and my six numbers come up on the national lottery, that’s where you will find me, chilling out with an exotic cocktail and a good book, in a hammock between two palm trees…. bring it on!

Other reading matter is coming on hols with me, but this is just a matter of holiday guide books, one slim Thomas Cook publication about Turkey’s Aegean Coast (as that’s where Gumbet is located, next door to Bodrum in case you were wondering), and my Teach Yourself guide to Getting Started In Turkish, although I have got my notebooks with me, in which I have copied down a few basics of the language. The usual “hello, goodbye, please and thank you” sort of stuff. I always try at least a little bit of the language. The fact that you’ve even attempted a word or two is usually always appreciated, and nothing annoys me more than some of the idiots from my country who go abroad and don’t even try! I hate people like that! What do they even go abroad for?! If they just want to speak English and eat the food they have at home, why the hell don’t they stay in Britain?! Seriously!

And their menfolk in particular think they’re so hard they don’t need sun lotion! Stupid bastards! Stereotypically found on the Spanish Costas, these brainless dipshits can be spotted a mile off…. they’re red as lobsters, they usually have either England Flag or Union Flag shorts and they’re probably reading the locally-printed edition of the Sun! Page 3, I suspect… Well, when these human lobsters are being told by their GPs that they have skin cancer, they’ll be crying more tears than Gazza did at Italia ’90! I’m fairly sure, though, that you my fellow Bookworms are all far more sensible than that and that you DO take care in the sun! Talking of which, I’ve just got out my cap for my jollies – opted for my MUFC Moscow 2008 Champions of Europe cap! (Not remotely biased then, lol!) I have fair skin and blonde hair so I burn very easily. It’s not quite a case of Factor 57 and a welder’s helmet, as Billy Connolly once put it, but I usually need at least factor 40 as far as lotion is concerned, and also a hat to prevent sunstroke.

Oh well, better finish there for now as I’m up ridiculously early in the morning to go to the airport and jet off! Take care and Happy Reading!

Books mentioned in this blog entry (other than travel or language guides):

  • Crime And Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Tolstoy And The Purple Chair – Nina Sankovitch
  • The Flea Palace – Elif Shafak
  • The Beach Book – Various
  • The Beach Hut – Veronica Henry
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Full Of Eastern Promise…

Good evening, Bookworms!

Much of today’s blog was actually mapped out on a piece of scrap paper while I was at work earlier today because I was waiting for the stupid computer application, which I require to do my job, to allow me to actually get on with my work! At the time of this epic computer fail, I was wondering why I had bothered returning to the office, particularly as I would much rather have continued chatting to the bloke at the K Shakes milkshake shop about the Harry Potter books and how one of my favourite bits comes towards the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. This is the part when Harry is still concerned about what the Sorting Hat had said to him when he first started at Hogwarts about being sorted into Slytherin. Harry’s concern was that it was only his decision not to go in Slytherin that saw him put into Gryffindor, but Professor Dumbledore points out that it was exactly that choice to go in Gryffindor that set him apart from Tom Riddle, the future Lord Voldemort, and, if Harry hadn’t been a true Gryffindor, he would never have been able to pull Godric’s sword out of the Sorting Hat! I feel that bookworms, like ourselves, may have been sorted into Ravenclaw if we’d been pupils at Hogwarts!

Talking of choices to be made, reading choices can also be vitally important, even if only for determining which books you are going to take with you on your travels for your reading pleasure! More about this later…

You know how I had Pride And Prejudice and War And Peace? Well, I also now have Crime And Punishment! Thanks to Lizzie Harvey, I now have a paperback copy of the Dostoyevsky novel for my reading pleasure. All I need now is for the copy I thought I had to turn up and it will be Murphy’s Law in action!

Whilst I’m on the subject of Russian novelists, a book entitled Tolstoy And The Purple Chair grabbed my attention on Tuesday evening while I was at Waterstone’s on Deansgate after my book club meeting! This autobiographical book by Nina Sankovitch details her year of reading a book a day every day for a year, chiefly to help her overcome her grief following the death of her eldest sister from cancer. Readers of this blog will know that I am very much into books about books and this is one such book! The first book she reads in her epic year of reading is The Elegance Of The Hedgehog, a book that has been recommended to me by a few of my fellow bookworm friends on Facebook, Donna Hasinoff in particular, if I remember rightly. I still haven’t got round to reading this book yet, but I will do so eventually. Notably, Nina recalls having difficulty getting into this book at first as “the first forty or so pages of the novel have lots of obscure references thrown in here and there about philosophy and music, movies and art” and when I have had a look at the start of the book to see if I should read that or start some other book, the other book has always tended to win on account of me thinking philosophy was quite a tricky thing to get my head around!

Yes, I know… people think of me as brainy. I’ve always loved books and I have a history and literature degree. But there are certain subjects that, when mentioned, make me come to a juddering halt and lead me to wonder “How the hell does anyone understand that?” – I feel this way about Economics – I often wonder how anyone comes to know anything about certain matters, let alone know enough to do certain jobs for a living! And, for some reason, I find the mention of Philosophy to be fairly daunting too! It probably isn’t! Maybe I should see if there’s a Philosophy For Dummies book? There probably is! I bought Cricket For Dummies not so long ago at a charity shop and that has helped in my understanding! I admit now that it is only in recent years I have remotely started to understand cricket scores! Yes, I know, it’s one of our national sports, but for years, particularly as a kid, I found the whole scoring system incomprehensible and the game just seemed to go on for eternity and I just couldn’t understand, for the life of me, what the hell my Dad saw in this game that gave him enjoyment! He’d be watching a test match on tv and I couldn’t see why tv bothered with this “cure for insomnia” as I’d viewed it for years!

As I previously mentioned in this blog entry, I had been to my book club on Tuesday evening, the main point of which was to discuss Tamar and then to determine our next book, which is to be Truman Capote’s true crime account, In Cold Blood. Our next meeting is on 11th October, so as of Tuesday, that was 7 weeks away. I feel I can safely leave that book behind while I go on holiday and still have five weeks to tackle it once I return home!

Which brings me neatly onto holiday reading and the matter of deciding which books I shall be taking to Turkey with me! Which book will I read on the plane? Which book(s) will I read on the sun lounger by the hotel pool? Decisions, decisions! Obviously, my Sony Reader, which has just over 200 books on it now, most of which I haven’t read  yet, will be coming with me, as will my BlackBerry which has Kobo on it, so there are plenty of e-books there, but I still intend to take one or two actual physical books too! I’m thinking that The Flea Palace by Elif Shafak might be one book to take with me as it is set in Turkey, albeit in Istanbul whereas I’m off to Gumbet, and also, if I have not finished it by Wednesday, the Tolstoy And The Purple Chair book. Much as it is a hardback, it’s a fairly slim book. Then again, the way I’m reading it thus far, I probably WILL have read it by Wednesday, especially with a bank holiday weekend upon us! Crime And Punishment will also feature, particularly as I now have it in paperback. Might read that on the plane, actually, when I’m not eating my in-flight meal or solving sudoku puzzles! I am a sudoku fiend, especially when I’m on my holidays!

One book I started reading tonight on my Sony Reader is The Year That Changed The World by Michael Meyer which is about 1989, the beginning of the end of the Eastern Bloc and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Ok, I am a history buff anyway, as half my degree proves, but I have  a particular fascination with certain parts of history and this is one of them, particularly because I was alive and old enough to remember these events and understand their huge significance! I admit this now… I’d had a curiosity about the Eastern Bloc since I was about seven or eight years old. It all started one Christmas, either 1980 or 1981, with an encyclopaedia which was one of my Christmas presents that year from my parents. One section of this reference book, over a two page spread, was Flags of the Nations and my dad went through this and put a “C” next to the names of all the Communist countries, which basically meant China, Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba and a significant chunk of Europe! I then asked my dad something along these lines….

“Dad, do you think East Germany and West Germany will ever be just Germany again? And, if so, do you think they’ll be Western like us or Eastern like the Russians?”

My dad responded that he thought, if it ever happened, they’d be Eastern like the USSR. Not that either of us saw it ever happening back then in the early 80s! I was in the juniors at primary school when Dad marked out the Communist countries in that encyclopaedia of mine. I was a teenager embarking on my A Levels at Eccles College when all hell broke loose on the other side of the “Iron Curtain” in 1989!

This Christmas will mark 20 years since the end of the Soviet Union! Can you believe it’s now two decades since the USSR last existed? Me neither! As a child, I thought the whole Soviet Bloc would be around forever, I thought we would never find out the answer to that question I put to my dad about Germany being reunified! Now, many people have been born since those days and never knew the USSR, Yugoslavia, or Czechoslovakia, let alone knew Germany as being divided in two! I imagine, in years to come, my niece Charlotte requesting my help for history homework and asking me, “Auntie Jo, what was the Berlin Wall?” and other such questions about the events of 1989-1991. Makes it all the more apt that I’ve seen an offer in the local paper for city breaks to Berlin, an offer which may well be taken up sometime early next year!

Better end this here as it’s already a pretty long blog entry tonight! Then again, it should help keep you all going in case you feel deprived of blogs while I’m in Turkey! If there’s anything book-related to report on from my holidays, you will be reading about it when I get back! Take care and Happy Reading!

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
  • Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Tolstoy and the Purple Chair – Nina Sankovitch
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery
  • Philosophy For Dummies – Martin Cohen
  • Cricket For Dummies – Julian Knight
  • Tamar – Mal Peet
  • In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
  • The Flea Palace – Elif Shafak
  • The Year That Changed The World – Michael Meyer

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I’ve Got The Book Factor!

Nothing quite like a good book on a rainy day!

Good evening, Bookworms!

Welcome to yet another blog entry from Joanne’s Bookshelf as yours truly concentrates on literary matters and listens to some quality 1980s music while deliberately avoiding that reality drivel on Channel Five which goes by the name of Big Brother. Ok, it’s Celebrity Big Brother. Like as if I care. It’s shite of the highest order and I really wish they had never brought that dreadful programme back when Channel 4 pulled the plug on it. Worse still, bloody X Factor is set to return, too! Another dreadful show full of talentless attention-seeking dipshits trying to achieve fame despite having very little in the way of actual talent! Not only do I not want to watch this pair of freakshows, I do not appreciate my Twitter timeline being saturated with tweets about this drivel, either! Therefore, I’m actually avoiding Twitter at the moment and typing this instead, trying to work out a Reality TV Avoidance Strategy and I think  reading books and listening to proper music, the stuff I grew up with, should do the trick very nicely.

Sometimes, I might be lucky enough to be away from here, anyway, when these awful shows are on, e.g. if I’m out for a meal, at a football match or, as will be the case shortly, away on my jollies, and thus the alternative entertainment is taking care of itself. But if I’m here when those shows are on, and you are in a similar predicament, you can join me in having a good read – let’s swap notes and see what we’re all reading while avoiding reality tv shows on the idiot box! It could be our “Big Bookshelf” or even “The Book Factor”! Or even “Strictly Come Reading”! I may well get on with One Steppe Beyond which I am now over halfway through as Thom and Jo make their way across Russia in their VW Campervan. That sounds very dodgy at times, but still sounds like a better bet than watching X Factor audtions and loads of talentless numpties proving that they can’t carry a tune in a bucket! Once I get my copy from Lizzie, I will also have Crime And Punishment to enjoy, while I try and think up a suitable punishment for whoever it was who invented reality tv shows in the bloody first place! Perhaps we could send him or her to the Siberian salt mines?!

Anyway, enough ranting about televisual drivel, and on with more mention of books, and something I mentioned recently about having both e-books and actual books and hoping that they never stop making actual books. I was pondering this while I was at work and reached the conclusion that they actually COULDN’T stop making physical books for several reasons, one of them being people of my gorgeous niece’s age… babies! You can no more give a baby an ebook any more than you could give them a paperback! A baby’s first books are cloth books and board books, books with bright colours, pictures and books made of stern stuff, which can withstand dribble, sucking and being flung about! If you noticed the photo at the top of this blog entry, of my niece Charlotte having a good read, you will see that she is intent on looking at a board book with some brightly-coloured pictures in it. Even if older children’s books and general adult books go over to electronic versions, you will always need actual books for our youngest bookworms when they first start out on their reading  journeys! As her auntie, I am thrilled to bits that Charlotte is taking after me on the bookworm front!

There are, however, occasions when older readers will need to have actual physical hardback or paperback copies of books. For example, occasions where several people need the same edition of the same book. This is required for set texts at school and college. It’s also rather necessary at church – could you imagine if the congregation had different e-reader devices and on them they had different hymn books and different editions of the Bible?! That wouldn’t do, would it?! Quite literally, you all have to be singing from the same hymn sheet! And then there’s the visually-impared, young and old alike. Ok, so e-reader devices can give you large print settings, but I’m actually on about the actual blind here… those whose sight is so limited or non-existent that they require books in Braille. They will need books! How would they be able to feel the raised dots on an e-reader? Answer? They couldn’t!

I’ve got my book group on Tuesday. Not finished Tamar by any stretch of the imagination, but at least I’ve read a bigger chunk of it. Might give it a bit more of a go at the weekend, although I may just have to go to my bookclub just having read as much as I’ve read and wait and see what our next book is going to be. Let’s see if that holds my attention more than this book has done! I’m thinking of suggesting a possibility for our next book, that being that we read Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman, which is actually on the longlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize. We’ll see, anyway…

Ooh, my BlackBerry, which has been playing random music from my memory card all this time, has now chosen the 1812 Overture! Yay! Can’t beat a bit of Tchaikovsky! Actually, that brings us back on to the theme of all things Russian. Perhaps I should read that big hardback Jonathan Dimbleby book that I bought a few months ago in a sale at WH Smiths? Simply entitled Russia, it accompanied the BBC series, one of many tv series I have meant to watch but didn’t get around to. Never mind, at least I have the book! Books are almost always better than any films that are made of them so I imagine the same goes for tv programmes, although I expect the tv series of “Russia” was pretty damn good – Auntie Beeb is pretty nifty when it comes to a good documentary series! Sometimes, there can be some utterly brilliant tv series’ on the box. Just don’t expect me to class any reality tv shows amongst them! Snowballs will have been found in Hell before that ever happens!

As they used to say on telly, when closing down for the night in the old days, that’s about all we have time for tonight, so take care, Happy Reading, and don’t forget to switch off your sets! (Cue drum roll and national anthem, followed by test card with that girl, the toy clown and the half-finished game of noughts and crosses!)

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • One Steppe Beyond – Thom Wheeler
  • Crime And Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Tamar – Mal Peet
  • Pigeon English – Stephen Kelman
  • Russia – Jonathan Dimbleby

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One Free Book Leads To Another… (Or Several Others!)

Good Evening, Bookworms!

Let me take you back to last month, 21st July to be exact, and a blog entry called I Love It When A Book Comes Together. Most of this entry concerned my friend Helen Adams and her self-help book, Gorgeous… Inside And Out, which had just been published and, of which, I was one of the first people to receive a copy – presented to me by the author herself as she paid a visit chez moi! Anyway, a couple of other books were mentioned in the same blog entry, and one of these other books was by newspaper columnist and tweeter extraordinaire, Grace Dent, because I had found a free copy of her book, How To Leave Twitter, when I was having lunch at the Barbakan Deli in Chorlton!

On the inside of Grace’s book was a sticker explaining that not only was this book a free copy, but if I were to email the given code to the given email address, I would be in with a one in 450 chance of winning an Amazon Kindle, pre-loaded with The Guardian’s selection of summer reads! I shall attempt to re-post the appropriate paragraph as a wee reminder…

Getting your hands on a book is always good. Even better if it’s cheap. Even better still if it’s FREE! Imagine my delight yesterday when I was having lunch at the Barbakan Deli in Chorlton and found a free book! “How To Leave Twitter” by Grace Dent was lying there on a counter, with a sticker inside explaining that this was a free copy and that I could also email a code and be in with a shout of winning a Kindle pre-loaded with the Guardian’s selection of summer reads. The book is hilarious, so many thanks to @gracedent although I have no intention of leaving Twitter whatsoever – what else would I do to occupy my hour-long bus rides to work and back if I didn’t tweet?! Well, ok, that is a bit of a rhetorical question as sometimes I read books, and I almost always listen to music, but I do find a damn good tweeting session certainly helps pass the time while I travel on the 22 bus from Monton to Chorlton or back again.

Ring any book-related bells? Anyway, I was on my lunch, as you might imagine, although I’d opted for Subway today, and sat down to check my BlackBerry for texts, tweets and emails, when I found an email from Guardian Books informing me, to my surprise, but also to my joy, that I had won a Kindle! Woo-hoo! The device will be posted out in early September, meaning that I’ll probably have to pick it up from the post office when I’ve just got back from my holidays, but never mind! I am also looking forward to finding out which books, exactly, constitute the Guardian’s choice of summer reads! I’m sure some of them will be my cup of tea!

I did figure, when I emailed, that the odds were fairly decent for this draw compared to many other prize draws and competitions I have heard about let alone entered my name into, but I factored-in the matter that, even if I didn’t win, I have loads of actual books, plus a Sony Reader and I also have Kobo on my BlackBerry, so this device and the ebooks on it are added extras and pretty damn good ones too – a Kindle alone, even without any books on it, is £111 here in the UK and, regardless of whichever books are on it, the paperback versions of said titles are around seven or eight pounds each these days as an average going rate for works of general fiction in paperback!

There is only one thing I can conclude from this… I am just a complete and utter bookaholic. I just have to have books, regardless of format. Much as I do love the convenience of and amazing technology behind ebooks, though, I never want to see the end of books and bookshops – I’m a sucker for a good browsing session! I love to physically browse bookshops and pick up paperbacks or hardbacks, read blurb on the backs of books, or maybe even have a shufty at the opening sentence of the novel – see if it hooks me right in and convinces me I have to take it to the till and buy it! I never want actual books, as in the physical hardback or paperback publications, to ever stop being printed and published – I would be extremely upset if books and bookshops ceased to exist!

Apologies that not many different books have been mentioned here. I did look on the Guardian’s website, but I still can’t seem to find any indication of which books they have actually classed as this year’s summer reads! I’ve just had another shufty on the Guardian Books pages… nope, still no clearer, folks! Oh well, when I receive this ‘ere Kindle, I shall let you all know and I shall list the pre-loaded books for you so we can all stop wondering and get back to whatever we’re reading! Hope you’re enjoying whatever it is you’re reading now and whichever format it is in!

Happy Reading!

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • Gorgeous… Inside And Out – Helen Adams
  • How To Leave Twitter – Grace Dent

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Like J. R. Hartley In The Yellow Pages Advert…

Good evening, Bookworms!

Well, I did what I intended to do… At lunchtime today, I went on a tour of the charity shops in Chorlton to search for Crime And Punishment, but the result was an Epic Dostoyevsky Fail at every shop. By the end of it, I felt rather like poor old J. R. Hartley felt when he’d tried all those bookshops in vain, searching for a copy of Fly Fishing! For those of you unfamiliar with this old commercial, try looking it up on YouTube – they seem to have loads of mad stuff on there! However, I’m sure some of you will know what I’m on about! I will see if I can get the video on here somewhere so you can see for yourself the classic 1980s Yellow Pages commercial featuring Mr Hartley and his book hunt. I was having an equally fruitless time at the charity shops in Chorlton when I wanted to see if they had a copy of Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. (It is rather old, just like Fly Fishing, lol!)

However, just as Yellow Pages came to Mr Hartley’s rescue, Lizzie Harvey has come to mine and the classic work of Russian literature should be on its way shortly. Even if my name isn’t Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Or J. R. Hartley!

 In a panic due to having just over a week until my next book club meeting, I did a bit of reading and some skim-reading of Tamar today to make some futher progress. Just reached quite a sad part where the girl Tamar is losing her Dutch grandparents. First her grandma goes into a care home due to dementia and then that essentially sees her grandad, the male Tamar, end his life as he can’t handle what has happened to his wife. Tragically, the dementia has also caused her to relive the nightmares of wartime in Nazi-occupied Holland and when she is in care she is discovered hoarding food in her room and fearing that the birds in the garden, particularly the crows, are Gestapo men coming to get her.

I have been blogging a lot lately, haven’t I?! This might actually become even more frequent, particularly at weekends, as I have had warning that two reality shows I especially hate are due to return to our tv screens very shortly, namely Big Brother and X Factor. I utterly HATE both these shows with a vengeance!

I had hoped that when Big Brother ended on Channel Four, that that would be the end of this vile, sordid excuse for television, but unfortunately it is returning. Granted, it’s now going to be relegated to Channel Five (as in the same channel that shows Thursday night football for teams too shit to qualify for the Champions’ League), but I didn’t want it back on televison at all, thank you very much. I have blogged previously about the sort of vile and talentless attention-whores who appear on this repulsive show, people who do not possess an ounce of class or dignity and are far too willing to make an arse of themselves on national television in order to become famous.

And then there’s X Factor, whose contestents are, for the most part, hardly that much more talented than anyone who goes on Big Brother! I hate everything about this show. The fact it produces boring, lookalike, soundalike acts which monpolise the charts at the expense of talented bands & singers, the identikit videos made for the winning acts which basically show how they won X Factor and don’t have a hint of Festive Season about them even though the show is deliberately timed so that the final will be in December and the winner will usually have the Christmas number one (with the honourable exception of 2009 when Rage Against The Machine won the race to Christmas Number One with “Killing In The Name” thanks to a Facebook campaign against X Factor!). I hate that smarmy tosser Simon Cowell, don’t see why anyone would phone up to vote as the voting is all fixed and the numbers are premium-rate rip-off phone numbers, and, when this bloody show is on tv ruining my weekends every autumn, my Twitter timeline is absolutely flooded with stupid shitty tweets about the damn show! It has run for more than long enough, thank you very much. Time to pull the plug on it and get it off our screens, thus also giving PROPER music a chance to flourish once again instead of being overpowered by identikit, manufactured shite!

Talking of stuff that needs removing from our tv screens, I would like to know which utter numpty thought it was a good idea to start showing that Vision Express commercial again?! I hated it the first time round because of the noisy, hyperactive brat who goes tear-arsing around the house and jumping up and down on the sofa (breaking his dad’s specs in the process), and I already wanted to give that little brat a damn good hiding in the days when that commercial was first aired. However, with all the recent riots and unrest, now is NOT the time to be showing adverts featuring ill-disciplined brats! The last thing we need is to give anyone the remotest encouragement to misbehave! I also want to collar the so-called “dad” in that advert and question him on a) why he is such a stupid numpty as to have left his specs on the sofa in the first place and b) why he hasn’t dealt severely with that child of his for having no respect for furniture! I know… I’ve got a good idea… Why don’t we take the Vision Express advert off the air and replace it with a nice, gentle commercial featuring an amiable old codger looking for a copy of the book he wrote years ago?! Get J R Hartley back on the box! As I mentioned in a recent blog, when we had an uncaring Tory government, a Royal Wedding and rioting in our streets thirty years ago, at least the music and the television programmes were far better back in 1981! So were the bloody adverts! Even the Shake ‘N’ Vac woman is an improvement on the Vision Express brat!

I will finish with the usual list of books mentioned in this entry, but I shall also post a link, which I hope will work, so that you might be able to enjoy one of British television’s most classic commercials from the 1980s as Mr. J. R. Hartley goes on his book hunt! Take care and Happy Reading!

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • Crime And Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Fly Fishing – J. R. Hartley
  • Tamar – Mal Peet

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you…. Fly Fishing by J. R. Hartley… Take it away, Yellow Pages…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abt6wGtWVX8

 

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The Phantom Book

Good evening, Bookworms!

Following on from last night’s blog entry, I would like to put a question to you…

Have any of you ever been utterly convinced you own a copy of a certain book, only to discover that you don’t?

I have Pride And Prejudice. I have War And Peace. However, it now seems as though I do NOT have Crime And Punishment. The Dostoyevsky is nowhere to be seen, and I have been having an extensive shufty this afternoon! I have been out to the book chest in the garage and had the books out of there and back again. Complete absence of C&P in there. I have looked under Computer Corner during the daylight at the piles of books under this here laptop… Again, C&P is conspicuous by its absence… I have also looked in my book cupboards. I know I sometimes have more than one layer of book rows in those cupboards, but I have had books, tea, chocolate, etc, out of those cupboards and parts of my wardrobe unit and I am now starting to suspect that I don’t own a paperback copy of Crime And Punishment after all! I could’ve sworn I did, a Penguin paperback I’m convinced it was, but evidence of my vast book collection is suggesting that Dostoyevsky’s classic work of Russian literature is not amongst my vast horde of reading matter.

There  is only one thing left to do…. Tomorrow lunchtime, there will be a trawl of the charity shops in Chorlton as I look to rectify this matter. I am wary of paying full price for a book of which I thought I owned a copy and the chances are, knowing me, that as soon as I go and acquire a copy, fate will conspire to turn up and wave a copy in my face and say “You’ve already got it, you numpty!”

This is how I have ended up with two copies of the same book in the past! I’d completely forgotten I already had a particular book when, browsing in a charity shop, I see something that grabs me… 99p, sounds an interesting read, take book to counter along with pound coin and buy said book…. only to get home and then discover, some time later, that I had already bought the book! With the exception of The Catcher In The Rye (which I bought a cheap charity shop copy of in case a Facebook friend of mine wanted it to replace the copy someone had nicked years ago), the other books I have two copies of have had their duplicates acquired because I’d completely forgotten that I’d already bought these books in the first place! I have two copies of: The Catcher In The Rye, The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Sophie’s World, The Pillars Of The Earth, I Capture The Castle and One Day. Actually, I have two copies of the David Nicholls novel, now a film and about to go on release at cinemas, because I already had a copy but a colleague gave me some books and that one was amongst them, but four of my duplicates were obtained because your absent-minded blogger here forgot she’d already bought said books!

I am currently perusing a book I bought not long ago for a mere 69p at a charity shop – one of those books of books – a guide to other books! Ok, I’m no longer a teenager (haven’t been since I hit my 20s in 1993) and my baby niece is a mere one year old and nowhere near the teen stage of her life yet, but The Ultimate Teen Book Guide is a great book guide! In the 700 books reviewed, they are not all what you would immediately think of as “teen” books. Yes, there are several books in there which were definitely written for and aimed at a teenage readership, but there are plenty in there that I would say are seen as older people’s books and would be found amongst the classics or general adult fiction sections in libraries and bookshops, rather than in the children’s or young adult sections. Having said that, though, set texts for GCSE English Literature are hardly kids’ stuff – they certainly weren’t when I was doing my coursework and exams. I’d already read Jane Eyre at school in the 3rd year (Year 9 as it would be known now), and then during my GCSEs, studied Pride And Prejudice, Macbeth, Animal Farm and a considerable amount of 1st World War poetry, particularly by Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. I particularly enjoyed Macbeth and Animal Farm. Not sure of all the texts my sister read, but I do recall one of them was Great Expectations, which she enjoyed.

What did you study when you were at school, college or university? Did you enjoy any of the set texts?

I’ll leave you all to ponder on that and possibly even get back to me with replies! You’re welcome to comment, you know! As long as it’s polite and constructive, I welcome your comments on my blog entries! I shall be off now to read Crime And Punishment on my eReader, while I await the opportunity to find a paperback copy in one of the many charity shops near work tomorrow! Take care, Happy Reading and I hope you find the books you wish to read!

Books mentioned in this blog:

  • Pride And Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • War And Peace – Leo Tolstoy
  • Crime And Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • The Catcher In The Rye – J D Salinger
  • The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith
  • Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder
  • The Pillars Of The Earth – Ken Follett
  • I Capture The Castle – Dodie Smith
  • One Day – David Nicholls
  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  • Macbeth – William Shakespeare
  • Animal Farm – George Orwell
  • Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  • The Ultimate Teen Book Guide – Daniel Hahn, Leonie Flynn & Susan Reuben

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Travel Writing…. And Books That Have Just Gone Wandering Off…

Hello Bookworms!

Need to get back to the matter in hand, the matter of BOOKS! There weren’t many books actually mentioned by name in my previous blog entry as I was busy berating the mindless chav scum who had been rioting in our towns and cities, but now it is time to get back to the books and an admission that I’ve not got very far with the book I’m supposed to be reading for my book group, Tamar by Mal Peet. My group meets up on 23rd August and thus far I have read up to page 65 of 434! Eek! It’s not even as if I don’t like it, but I guess I’m just finding other books I have a greater desire to read. Ever had that issue? I imagine it’s a fairly common problem, particularly for those who might have something they have to read for the purposes of study or work, but would much rather read something else instead. Guess I should try and get to around page 100 or so of Tamar and see if I get into it more, thus managing at least a quarter of the book….

One consolation is that I know that, from time to time, depending on what we’ve been reading, the various members of my book group have had similar issues with our reading matter… Sometimes it’s just a case of giving it about 70+ pages, or perhaps 100 if it’s a bit of a chunky book, and if you either hate it or it just hasn’t “grabbed” you, then you may as well move on and read something else.

Prior to my previous bookgroup meeting, I’d finished our book some time in advance, which had meant me reading other stuff by the time we reconvened at Waterstone’s on 12th July. Also, towards the end of last month, I received an email notifying me that the Red Hot Chili Peppers would be coming to the Manchester Evening News Arena this November. I will be going to the 1st night of the 2 nights at the MEN, and am really looking forward to it! With the Chilis on my mind, I remembered I had Anthony Kiedis’ autobiography, Scar Tissue, amongst my books, so I’ve been reading that. Really enjoyable and VERY eye-opening read! RHCP’s frontman is totally honest about the number of times he has messed-up on the drug front and about the times when he’d only made half-arsed efforts to get clean, acknowledging that unless you commit yourself totally to ridding yourself of whatever you’re addicted to, you won’t rid yourself of it! That book had actually been on my lengthy “to read” list for several years, so, much as I’ve not made many inroads into my bookclub book, I have got another book off my waiting list at long last!

I have also found myself in the mood for travel writing, particularly if it seems quirky and unusual. I will be off on my jollies shortly, but I think that only partially explains my current preference for the genre. Probably inspired by England having won the Ashes in Australia over the Christmas period, I opted for Penguins Stopped Play by Harry Thompson earlier this year, an account of village cricketers travelling to every continent to play cricket matches…. and end up getting utterly stuffed in nearly all of them! While we’re on the subject of cricket, I shall take this opportunity to congratulate the England team on their Test Series victory over India which means that, when the new rankings are drawn up this autumn, England will be the world’s number 1 test cricket nation! I expect that may well land them the Team of the Year award in December at the annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards! Deservedly so, if that is the case.

Anyway, back to the matter of travel writing, and a book I saw and bought the other day, a book I am now around a third of the way through already… One Steppe Beyond by Thom Wheeler – an account of two people going across Russia in a VW Campervan! Fed up with no work prospects here in the UK, the author & his girlfriend get offered work in Estonia, so they head off over there. When that doesn’t work out so great, the same uncle who promised them that job, offers them another… however, this one’s all the way over in Vladivostok! Hence they need to make their way across Russia, all the way over to the Siberian region! So, why a book about Russia? Hmmm….

Firstly, well, why not?! Secondly, I grew up during the Cold War. Maybe I’m nosey, but I guess I wondered what was behind the “Iron Curtain” which finally came down (or the curtains were opened, more to the point) in the autumn of 1989 when I was 16! I believe it’s pretty expensive, so it would probably require a lottery win, but I would quite like to go to Moscow one day and visit Red Square and get one of those furry hats! I missed out on it, for expense reasons, when my beloved Manchester United won the European Cup there in 2008, beating Chelsea on penalties after a 1-1 draw at the Luzhniki Stadium, and actually the fact that my beloved team has enjoyed continental glory there just adds to me wanting to go to Moscow one day! To see Red Square, as I’ve wanted to do for years, but now also to see the stadium where John Terry fell on his arse and then Edwin Van der Sar made the crucial penalty save from Nicolas Anelka which meant United were Champions of Europe!

See? After the previous blog entry, which was just me getting on my soapbox and reading the riot act to rioting chavs (Why are you rioting when you should be READING BOOKS?!), normal service has now been resumed and you are reading a blog entry with several books being mentioned by name and I have also managed to get in some mentions of football and music, so things are firmly back on course!

And now your resident blogging bookworm is looking for one of her books… Bearing in mind she’s reading a work of travel writing set in Russia, she has now decided that maybe this is the time to settle down and get stuck into Crime And Punishment, of which she is convinced she owns a copy. That is to say, she is convinced she owns a paper copy, although she also knows she does have it on her e-reader device…

Oh where, oh where has my Dostoyevsky gone? Oh where, oh where can it be?!

I’m sure I have it in paperback and I thought I knew where it was. But it isn’t there. Hmm…

Ok, I have it on my eReader and also on Kobo on my BlackBerry, but I’d still rather read an actual BOOK. I prefer to leave ebooks for being on my travels. Even then, there is nothing like having an actual book to hold and to turn its pages… Is it in the space in this corner, underneath my laptop desk? If so, I may need a torch… it’s pretty dark under there….  and the question plagues me… “Do I actually have this book or do I just think I have a copy?” as my lack of being able to locate said paperback in my room casts doubts over my actual ownership of said novel…. I know where War And Peace is, but I’m not after that particular work of Russian literature! Besides, I started W&P bloody ages ago, got to page two hundred and something, but it’s been so long since I even read to that stage of the book that if I were to pick up the epic novel again, could I get away with continuing where I left off or might I have to start all over again?! I don’t think it’s in the chest in the garage, although it might be. The reason I don’t think it is there is that I started a book inventory a while ago on an Excel spreadsheet, and Crime And Punishment is not on there, so, in theory, if it’s not even on that list, then it shouldn’t be amongst the books in the chest in the garage. However, it is not in the cupboard I thought it was in – I thought it would be alongside War And Peace in a certain cupboard where I’d put some books by Central and Eastern European authors and poets!

By this time, dear blog reader, it is getting quite late at night and your blogging bookworm is reaching the tired, impatient and irritable stage. Thus we shall have to call off the search, at least for now, and read it on ebook for the time being until the paperback version does show up somewhere in the house…. We shall also have to bring this blog entry to a satisfactory conclusion, which is sometimes almost as tricky a task as trying to find a particular book in this room of mine! Oh well, at least I have C&P close to hand in electronic format and at least we have got back to mentioning books again, rather than dwelling on chavs, so it has not all been in vain! And our bookstores remain unmolested by the rioters, too! Epic win!

Take care and Happy Reading! Hope you can find the books you especially want to read!

Books mentioned in this blog:

  • Tamar – Mal Peet
  • Scar Tissue – Anthony Kiedis
  • Penguins Stopped Play – Harry Thompson
  • One Steppe Beyond – Thom Wheeler
  • Crime And Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • War And Peace – Leo Tolstoy

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