There Is No Frigate Like A Book To Take Us Lands Away…

Good Evening, Bookworms!

Thought we’d start off with a suitable line from an Emily Dickinson poem! Not only because any book can transport us far away, but because of a sea-related book I shall be mentioning shortly. I hope you all like the new theme! Don’t worry – you are on the right website, this is Joanne’s Bookshelf, it’s just that it’s gone a bit autumnal! I was getting a tad bored with the background and had a shufty at the other Word Press themes available. When I saw this one, “Misty Look”, I thought it was perfect for this time of year, so I expect I’ll stick with this for a month or so, until the run-in to Christmas! I’ve seen a good one for the Festive Season, so keep your eyes open for that some time during Advent!

Made some progress with In Cold Blood last night and intend to get some more read shortly. I have until 11th October to get it read in time for my book club meeting, so there’s a few weeks to go before I meet up with the ususal bookworms on the top floor of Waterstone’s on Deansgate to discuss this book. Will probably put some music on shortly and have a reading session, along with a bit of chocolate and a drink. I’ve got some yummy stuff from Hotel Chocolat which I can enjoy with my books.  Not decided on the music, but I may well just stick either my BlackBerry or my iPod on shuffle mode and see what tunes it comes up with. I can always skip tunes if they prove to be too distracting from my reading matter! Sometimes I like music on when I’ve got a book on the go, but other times I just want it quiet, like “Oh shut that noise up, I’m trying to read here!”

Do you like music with your books or do you prefer to read in silence? Or, like me, do you feel it depends on both the music being played and the book being read?

I was typing onto a Word document last night the entire list, so far, of Booker Prize Winning novels and noticed that, back in the late 1970s, when I was but a wee bookworm of 5 or 6, there were two consecutive winners with a distinctly sea-based theme to them! For the record, these watery winners were The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch in 1978 followed by Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald in 1979. On this very theme, there is a sea-themed book in the shortlist of six for this year’s prize, and I feel there is a strong current which has pulled me into Jamrach’s Menagerie!

It is as though I have been enticed in by the curly waves on the cover of this book. It is a gorgeous burgundy, star-filled, night sky, with even a few shooting stars around, and a mass of curly blue waves invite me in… “Come on in, Joanne,” they say, “the water’s lovely!” So, like you would do on the beach, I dipped a cautious toe in and found it wasn’t freezing! In fact, it was most pleasant and quite fun, so I have since waded in a bit further to the point where I’ve reached Part Two already!

Strangely, I’ve not been much of a boat person, but I think that can be put down to some bad experiences crossing the Irish Sea on ferries! Rough as a badger’s arse at the best of times. Plus, when you get in and get out of the car to go up to the passenger areas, you get that strong whiff of diesel, which, for me, just added to the general sense of queasiness and upset tum… a prelude to feeding the fishes!  I was fine during the recent day trip Mum and I had while we were in Turkey, though, as we popped over to the Greek island of Kos for the day. Just an hour’s calm sailing on the Aegean Sea.

I’ve not got to the bit where Jaffy Brown sets sail yet, as far as Jamrach’s Menagerie is concerned, but I think it crops up pretty soon in the novel. Have to admit that one of my all-time favourite poems is a seafaring one – Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – actually, both my parents knew this poem pretty well and my dad, growing up in Ireland because of his dad’s job, had to study it at school for his Intermediate Certificate. I have that copy too (a book of Intermediate Cert set poems with some inked-in notes in margins from my dad and his siblings) but at the end, in my booklist, it will be listed under the Selected Poetry anthology from Penguin Classics in which this classic poem also appears. I’m just glad I’m not that mariner! Or any member of his crew, for that matter….

Apologies, fellow bookworms, as I’m being a tad distracted at the moment due to one of my friends and fellow Reds on Facebook who also has great taste in music, as well as football, as he is posting some top tunes onto FB from YouTube. Currently, as I type, it’s “Are Friends Electric?” by Tubeway Army. UK number one in 1979, fact fans! The sound of music to come in the 80s – classic synthesizer stuff!

I was thinking, the other day, while my computer at work was being a right royal pain in the arse, about having a series of blog entries on a certain theme, maybe resurrecting the idea of Around The World In Eighty Books, but including some I’d already read. There would be fiction and non-fiction, particularly a lot of travel writing. I do love a good bit of unusual travel writing. Maybe we could revisit The Dark Tourist in which Dom Joly goes to some of the dodgiest parts of the world so we don’t have to! The bit where he goes skiing in Iran is hilarious, as is the part where he has to explain to US Customs officials why on earth he’d been to Iran! They can’t understand why anyone would go there (unless they absolutely HAD to, like for their job) so they certainly can’t get their heads round our Dom venturing to the Islamic Republic of Iran for the purpose of winter sports! We would also get a perfect excuse to take another look at Penguins Stopped Play by Harry Thompson – a tale of village cricketers going round the world to play cricket on every continent, losing hopelessly nearly every time and getting into so many scrapes away from the crease that the cricket is often incidental to the off-field incidents!

Talking of cricket, by the way, this gives me the perfect opportunity to congratulate my county, Lancashire, on ending an exceptionally long wait (77 years) and being crowned County Cricket Champions for 2011! And you thought Manchester United had ended a long wait in 1993 when they won the Premier League Title and were crowned champions for the first time in 26 years?! Lancashire’s wait makes United’s look rather short! I hope Lancashire go on to win a few more titles in the coming years now that they have won this one! (United have certainly made up for lost time since 1993!) With my beloved MUFC having won their 19th league title in May this year, this means that 2011 sees Champions at BOTH Old Traffords! Excellent stuff!

Even if I were to do this Around The World In Eighty Books thing, I would still be posting other blogs, when necessary, between times, particularly if I have other book news to report. I’d have to work out how to do this thing and stay on course! In fact, I’d have to plot some sort of course around the world with these books, getting a balanced mix of fact and fiction in, “travelling” by books in some sort of sensible order and perhaps we could even include some sense of “time travel” by going back in time with some history stuff which is also travel or geography related! We could throw in some books about, or set in, parts of the old Soviet Bloc! Then we could “travel” to some countries that no-longer exist as those exact nations! Wouldn’t that be exciting?! Any comments and helpful suggestions as to how we could do this project would be most appreciated, especially as it would be such a massive undertaking and spread over several years of blogging, I would imagine!

I think that’s about all for now! And I thought this was going to be a short one, but it seems my blog entries have been getting very long of late! Hope you’ve not been too confused or confuddled (or even discombobulated) by the new-look blog theme and, until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
  • The Sea, The Sea – Iris Murdoch
  • Offshore – Penelope Fitzgerald
  • Jamrach’s Menagerie – Carol Birch
  • Selected Poetry – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • The Dark Tourist – Dom Joly
  • Penguins Stopped Play – Harry Thompson

1 Comment

Filed under Books

One response to “There Is No Frigate Like A Book To Take Us Lands Away…

  1. cornelia

    “In cold blood” is one of the best-ever written true crime novels, in fact I believe Truman Capote sort of invented the genre with this book. I can also recommend the movie “Capote” while we are on the subject, Seymore Hoffman gives a brilliant performance as the eccentric writer.

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