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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