Monthly Archives: June 2015

Not A Book To Be Tossed Aside Lightly…

Good afternoon, Bookworms!

Book club tomorrow evening, and, as such, I have tried to return to our choice of reading, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept, to see if it has got any better. However, all this has resulted in is myself becoming even more annoyed with Elizabeth Smart than I already was from what I had read of it before today! Stephanie, one of my fellow book club members, often quotes Dorothy Parker when she dislikes a book, and I am about to do the same…

This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly… it should be thrown with some force!

Ugh! I have absolutely NO sympathy for Smart! None whatsoever! She annoys me even further with her accusations towards those who treat her as she deserves to be treated for trying to split up someone else’s marriage. She doesn’t even take the hint when she is arrested in Arizona. She dribbles on in what she thinks is poetic language – it’s just waffle and pathetic excuses for not being able to handle the fact that the bloke she hankers after is spoken for! She accuses several of being religious nutters and, while it is true there are a fair few of those in the USA, I think it’s a very unfair statement. One does NOT have to be a “Bible basher” to disapprove of Smart’s behaviour or attitude!

I have somehow managed to get to “Part 6” but I have no wish to continue. I do not see the point. I already dislike this woman immensely. She is an adulteror, trying to split up a marriage because she loves the guy and won’t accept the fact he is happily married. If people have tied the knot, be that a man and a woman, two men or two women, I would not approve of someone trying to split up that relationship. Marriages, be they straight or gay, should be admired and people should be encouraged to stick together, as Bryan Ferry once sang, and thus make it work for the rest of their lives. To me, it’s about remaining loyal. Barker himself is not exactly without fault – at some point he fathered children to Smart, but I suspect he was mithered into it by Smart! It seems very one-sided to me. She loves his poetry, so she actually forks out for him and his missus to join her in the States. This is so she can be in close proximity and try to worm her way into his affections, even though he is clearly unavailable.

As I said, in the previous blog where I expressed my dislike for what I was reading, it caused me to pencil in comments in a book for the first time since my student days! These comments, though, are about what a stupid cow I think Smart is. I don’t see any advantage to continuing with this book ahead of tomorrow’s book club meeting. I have had enough of her stupidity to last a lifetime. I can’t relate to the main character at all, I have no sympathy for her whatsoever, so I need to find other reading matter with at least one likeable main character! I shall put my pencil back in my tenor horn case and save the graphite for more positive pencillings – such as writing additional instructions or valve fingerings on my sheet music for brass band rehearsals! * returns pencil to horn case, gets out mouthpiece and starts buzzing – essentially blowing raspberries, which I am aiming at Smart in this instance for her stupidity. *

Music… I need music… I’d say I needed football, but it’s the closed season at the moment, i.e. the silly season with no footy and too many stupid rumours. Every man and his dog gets linked with a move to Old Trafford just because “journalists” have to find something to write about to keep themselves in jobs. My beloved Reds HAVE made a signing, snapping up Memphis Depay from PSV Eindhoven, but I am now waiting for any further official confirmations of signings from my club, as we really could do with a couple of quality defenders and a central midfielder. Preferably players who are not injury-prone, as we’ve had enough problems of that nature in recent seasons!

Back to books, though, and I was thinking “What should I read instead of the Smart book?” However, with having book club tomorrow night, I will be getting new reading matter anyway, so there is little point, other than to return to one of my half-read books and get on with that again. I always have several books on the go at any one time. Guess it stems from my student days when I had to have a few on the go for the various literature modules of my degree. You don’t get to read books properly as a literature student. You don’t have the time, so you have to skim through them the best you can and highlight what you consider to be the salient points, underlining in pencil and also writing things in margins. I graduated half my life ago now, back in 1994, as a 21 year old, but I still have more than one book on the go! The other half of my degree was in history, but I would often just borrow the books from the uni library for those modules. Bought one or two of the books on the reading list, but, as I said, I got by with help from the library.As it was, on the literature side, I had a lot of half-read books by the time I graduated. Never mind Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, this was a case of Joanne Dixon-Jackson And The Half-Read Books! Anything from Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning to The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. However, when Mum and I moved house in 2006, I had to have a clearout of my books, essentially halving my personal library of reading matter which I had acquired over the years. I had to decide what to keep and what to give away – much of it to my place of work who were having a charity book stall at the time, rather fortunately – so many of my uni books went in that clearout. I figured I probably wouldn’t get around to finishing them off and that there were other books which had come along since then which I had more urge to read, so that was that! I have built up my book collection again since the move, of course!

Got a few slim books lying around here near my computer, could try one of those. Then again, the Smart book is a slim volume, but it is doing my head in with its content and I have decided to give it up as a lost cause! What have I got round here? Couple by Japanese authors; The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami, and The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide. I also have I Think Therefore I Play by Andrea Pirlo, and The Auschwitz Violin by Maria Angels Anglada. Of course, I could also return to By The River Piedra I Sat Down & Wept by Paulo Coelho, as an alternative to the Smart book of similar name! However, I think I shall see what tomorrow’s meeting brings on the book front and bring this blog entry to an end for now.

Until next time, take care and happy reading!


Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept – Elizabeth Smart
  • Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince – J.K, Rowling
  • Aurora Leigh – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • The Magic Mountain – Thomas Mann
  • The Strange Library – Haruki Murakami
  • The Guest Cat – Takashi Hiraide
  • I Think Therefore I Play – Andrea Pirlo
  • The Auschwitz Violin  – Maria Angels Anglada
  • By The River Piedra I Sat Down & Wept – Paulo Coelho

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Filed under Books, Football, Music, Rants

Now That’s What I Call Reading!

Good evening, Bookworms!

I’m back! Back! BACK!!! Yes, your blogger returns with another entry, inspired by a couple of serious sessions in Waterstone’s this week! I’d been into town on Tuesday to suss out a place I need to go to next week for a job interview, so, with this location being on Deansgate, it was natural that, once I had found what I was looking for (which was fairly straightforward – I’m not Bono, thus I have found what I’m looking for, he’s still looking for it, lol!), and had some lunch, the inevitable visit to Waterstone’s occurred! So long did I stay, and with it being a Tuesday, that at least a couple of members of staff thought it was Book Club Night, lol! I had to confirm that it wasn’t, as that had been the previous week and my next meeting is on 30th June! I also saw our current lady in charge of the book club, she served me at the counter as I acquired some reading matter.

She asked me how I was getting on with the book, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept, and I had to tell her I really wasn’t getting the author, finding Elizabeth Smart annoying. She agreed with me about the parts and chapters issue! Such a short book does not need parts! Indeed, it is debatable as to whether it even really needs chapters! Most of my Tuesday acquisitions were not for myself, but one book was. I chanced upon a book called Play It Again by Alan Rusbridger. An amateur against the impossible is the subtitle, as this guy is a journalist, the editor of the Guardian, no less, and in 2010 he set himself the task of learning to play Chopin’s Ballade No 1 on the piano, a piece of music so tricky that many professional pianists dread it! Rusbridger challenged himself to learn it within a year, a tough enough task without the demands of his work and all the news that he had to cover in 2010 and 2011 including the Arab Spring, Japanese tsunami and the riots here in the UK! Not started reading it yet, and I think I need to hear this piece by Chopin first, to familiarise myself with it and how bloody tricky it is for someone to perform.

However, the book I am currently engrossed in, since I bought it yesterday in the Trafford Centre branch of Waterstone’s, is also on the theme of music, albeit popular music from my era – the 1980s, and by an author I have previously read and enjoyed. We shall come back to that shortly, but I went in Waterstone’s looking at a couple of books on special half price offers – So, Anyway, the autobiography of the comedian and actor, John Cleese, and The Sunrise, the most recent of Victoria Hislop’s novels, this one set in Cyprus. I have read one of hers previously, The Return, which was set in Spain. I enjoyed that one very much.

In the end, however, I bought neither of these, and left the shop with two completely different books, those being The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett, which is apparently one of the most popular books at the moment, and Wired For Sound: Now That’s What I Call An 80s Music Childhood, by Tom Bromley, who also wrote All In The Best Possible Taste, which I read and loved a few years ago, and which is about 1980s television. As you can imagine, I am loving Wired For Sound – it is my era, and I worked out that the author is a mere 4 months older than I am, being a December 1972 baby as opposed to an April 1973 baby like myself. Anyway, he’d have been in the same school year as me and sat his GCSEs in 1989 as I did. He also watched Top of the Pops, taped songs off the charts on a Sunday evening and read Smash Hits, so we clearly have much in common, Tom and I! For a statto, though, he does get one or two facts wrong, so I do need to correct him on the following matters… Tom, if you’re reading…

Abba’s year of Eurovision glory with “Waterloo” and thus the start of their international success, was 1974, not 1972!

And Michael Jackson sadly passed away in 2009, not 2010. Indeed, he popped his clogs on my sister’s birthday! 25th June 2009 was the day he ceased to be. For future editions, you may wish to put these matters right.

Apart from those two errors, however, the book is a truly great read. He also, handily, points out that, in the build up to the 80s, 1979 was a pretty significant year. The final year of the 70s contained a lot of synthesizer-based music which gave us all a taste of the sounds to come, particularly with Gary Numan and Tubeway Army hitting the charts with “Are Friends Electric” and “Cars” in that year. Bromley also blows a punk myth out of the water, regarding the Sex Pistols concert in 1976 at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester. Our author points out that the actual attendance was more around the 40 people mark. If all the people who like to claim they were there that night had actually been there, it would have been a more Old Trafford-like attendance! (And that’s Bromley’s description, not mine even though I am a biased Red as you probably all knew long before now, lol!). Punk, Bromley points out, did encourage teenagers of the time to take up instruments and have a go themselves, but not necessarily to make punk music, simply to make music in general. Many of them would give the latest technology a go and experiment with synthesizers and electronic music, hence the sounds which defined the 80s and the decade in which I grew up, starting out as 6 going on 7 at the start of 1980, and 16 going on 17 as we waved goodbye to 1989 and prepared to let in the 90s.

I am already around halfway through Wired For Sound, which has a chapter entitled What Have I Done To Deserve This?, so I feel confident that I’ve got some serious mention of the Pet Shop Boys to enjoy at some point, but Neil Tennant has already had a few mentions, due to him having been deputy editor of Smash Hits prior to becoming a pop star. I have been a PSB fan since my teens, so I may be a tad biased, lol! As Yoda might put it: PSB fan I am. Deal with it you must!

Trevor Horn gets some mentions, too. Firstly for being a member of the Buggles, having enjoyed a number 1 in 1979 with the prophetic Video Killed The Radio Star, the first song whose video was shown on MTV in the USA when the channel started up a couple of years later, but also, mostly because of his success as a producer and his work with many of the bands of the 80s, including Spandau Ballet and Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Horn also produced some Pet Shop Boys stuff in the late 80s, particularly on the dance music album Introspective, including Left To My Own Devices, still amongst my fave PSB songs – if I was compiling my top ten all-time fave PSB songs, that would be one of them. I am still a huge fan of their early stuff. It was the 80s, it’s synth at its best, and I was a teenager then. It got me through that crap time called high school, so, as Abba would put it, Thank You For The Music! 🙂

Once I have finished Wired For Sound, I should return to some other half-finished book, probably The Storied Life of A J Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, although I have also started By The River Piedra I Sat Down & Wept by Paulo Coelho. I have a few Coelho books, and have read a couple already, but that one was in my collection, and having a similar title to my current book club reading matter, I thought I would try it to see how it compares to Ms Smart’s book. It compares much more favourably at present. Far more readable. I don’t know how it will continue as yet, and I don’t know if the Smart offering will improve or not, but right now, I’d rather be sitting by the River Piedra with Pilar than by Grand Central Station with Elizabeth! I shall leave you with that thought for now! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!


Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept – Elizabeth Smart
  • Play It Again: An Amateur Against The Impossible – Alan Rusbridger
  • So, Anyway – John Cleese
  • The Sunrise – Victoria Hislop
  • The Return – Victoria Hislop
  • The Versions Of Us – Laura Barnett
  • Wired For Sound: Now That’s What I Call An 80s Music Childhood – Tom Bromley
  • All In The Best Possible Taste – Tom Bromley
  • The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry – Gabrielle Zevin
  • By The River Piedra I Sat Down & Wept – Paulo Coelho

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Filed under Books, Manc Stuff!, Music, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Television