Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Bookworm’s Glossary

Natural Born Bookworm!

I Read Therefore I Am!

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

This is a bit of a guide to this blog, as I sense I’ve had a few new followers of late, since I started blogging quite frequently this month. Basically, I just waffle on about books, often quite randomly, sometimes getting off topic. The books are usually a wide mix of reading matter, fiction and non-fiction alike, and it doesn’t mean I’ve read them. Some I will have read, some will have been partially-read, and others will not have been read.

Autobiographies: Books written by the authors about themselves. I particularly enjoy autobiographies by musicians and footballers, and recently read I Think Therefore I Play, by Andrea Pirlo.

Books About Books: Whether fact or fiction, I like reading books on the subject of other books, and fiction set in book shops or libraries!

Book Chest: This is in our garage, and contains a large quantity of my books, stacked three deep in places…

Book Club: A bunch of bookworms getting together on a regular basis for reading purposes. A book is decided on, and the date of the meeting. The aim is to have read the book, or as much of it as possible, and discuss it at the meeting, then choose the next book. I have been in a book club since 2008. Mine is at Waterstone’s on Deansgate, but many book groups are round at peoples’ houses.

Book Jar: A great idea in theory, but then you give some thought to using it and picking a random piece of paper from it, only to realise you don’t know where some of those books actually are, especially as you had a bit of a book reshuffle not long ago… You start wondering where the hell Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is actually lurking at the moment…

Bookshelves: Mythical things! Or, at least, almost-mythical items, of which the average bookworm does not have a sufficient quantity for all their reading matter!

Computer Corner: Where I am right now. The corner of my room where my laptop and the printer/copier/scanner reside! There are piles of books surrounding me here, and more piles under this corner! Sometimes I get under the corner with the flashlight on my mobile phone and see what’s under there! I had a shufty the other day. Amongst other reading matter down there, I found four books by Edward Rutherfurd: The Forest, Dublin, New York, and Russka. You know the other day, when I was going on about historical fiction being chunky? Those certainly prove that point! I read The Forest a few years ago now, it was a book club choice, and one which I enjoyed, but I have not yet read the other three Rutherfurd books.

I did bring a book up from under Computer Corner the other night, but it was not one of the Rutherfurd books. I surfaced holding a copy of A Case of Exploding Mangoes, by Mohammed Hanif.

Crime: This genre covers a wide range, from the likes of Agatha Christie to the Scandinavian crime writers such as Jo Nesbo and Henning Mankell. Not really my genre, although I am about halfway through The Snowman, by Jo Nesbo. There is also True Crime, but that should really come under non-fiction.

Donaldson, Julia: Author of a huge range of children’s books, including Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book, and The Smartest Giant In Town. She is my niece’s favourite author.

Erotica: Fiction of a sexual nature, for readers aged 18 or over…

Fantasy: Fiction usually set in different worlds to our own, with lots of non-human creatures involved. Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is an example of fantasy fiction, a very humorous example I might add!

Fiction: Stories. Non-factual stuff. Within fiction, though, you have different genres, e.g. fantasy, crime, science fiction, historical fiction, etc…

Football: Something I love watching, and thus reading about. (Soccer, to my US readers.)

Goodreads: Deadly website for bookworms, as it just tempts us into even more books than were already on our TBR piles!

Handbag Books: Books slim enough to fit in a decent-sized handbag (or purse, as my readers in the US would say). Preferably with a view to fitting more than one book in said bag at the same time and still having room for your other essentials, such as your keys and wallet.

Historical Fiction: A genre which generally results in chunky books! Definitions of what actually constitutes historical fiction vary, but here is the Wikipedia entry for the genre…

If the book’s setting is a bloody long time ago, and that is the basis of the novel, then there is a decent bet it can be classed as historical fiction. The Goodreads definition is as follows… (see link provided)

It is said that if the setting of the book is at least 25 years before the year in which the author is writing it, that novel may constitute historical fiction. I’m not so sure on that 25 year rule, but I’d think that if a significant period of time has elapsed since the setting of that book, it is historical. For me, anything set in the 1970s or 1980s would be historical fiction, thus Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell, set in 1982 at the time of the Falklands Conflict, is just as much a work of historical fiction as Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel.

If that’s the rule, and it’s 25 years, then anything set in 1991 would now be historical fiction! So, suppose you wrote a book set in that year against the backdrop of United winning the old European Cup-Winners’ Cup in Rotterdam, and Bryan Adams being number one for 16 weeks that summer, and it would, technically speaking, qualify as historical fiction!

Horror: Fiction designed to scare the living shit out of you! I am a wuss, so I really tend to avoid this sort of stuff!

In Off My Chest!: My football blog, also hosted by Word Press. However, I have been known to mention football on this blog fairly frequently, and have occasionally mentioned books in my football blog. If I am reading the biography or autobiography of a player or manager, it’s pretty obvious that there is going to be some football and book overlap! For those who don’t already know, I am a die-hard Manchester United supporter and a season-ticket holder in the Stretford End. I go to all home games.

Junior Bookworm: My niece, Charlotte. It can also be applied to any young readers, but I am usually referring to my niece. She is currently five going on six and loves reading, enjoying both fiction and non-fiction alike.

List Challenges: Another deadly and very tempting website, as the book challenges just act as recommendations for even more books! Mind you, it’s quite useful as a record of all the damn books I mention on here, lol!

Music: One of my favourite subject matters in works of fiction and non-fiction alike.

Non-fiction: Factual stuff, including reference material. I read a lot of factual stuff as well as fiction, and have done from a young age. It would appear my niece is doing likewise!

Olympic Games, The: Another of my favourite subject matters. Usually non-fiction.

Potterheads: Fans of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. I am a Potterhead, thanks to one of my colleagues when I worked at Manchester DBC.

Science Fiction: Usually set in some imagined future, often with a space-aged theme, but could also be an alternative reality. Science fiction is sometimes lumped together with fantasy, as there can be elements of fantasy in some SF writing.

Sheet Music: Music in its written form. If that music is compiled into a book, I figure that it should be classed as a book on here, for example Best of Bowie, which I bought recently, as that is a book of sheet music for the songs on the double album of the same name. I have also mentioned an orchestral score before now. I have a lot of sheet music, for a variety of instruments, and combinations of instruments!

TBR Pile (or TBR List): To Be Read. A never-ending list of books you’d like to get around to reading when you’ve finished your current book or books. For the average bookworm, this is a very long list, so long we usually don’t know how long it is exactly and it would actually scare us to find out!

Travel Writing: Something I enjoy, both factual and fictional. I particularly recommend Bill Bryson as a travel writer.

Volcanoes: Another of my favourite subject matters, I have had an interest in volcanoes since I was about 7 or 8 and my dad let me come downstairs late one night to watch some television programme with him which featured an erupting volcano. I think it was an Open University programme on BBC2, he watched a lot of those, but anyway, it was enough to fascinate me and make me want to find out more about volcanoes.

Waterstone’s: UK book store chain. It is nigh on impossible for me to enter a branch without purchasing at least one book. In fact, it’s hard for me to buy just one – there are usually multiple purchases each time! The main one, locally, is on Deansgate in Manchester, and it is huge, and I belong to the book club there, but there is also a branch in the Arndale Centre in town, and at the Trafford Centre.

Young Adult: Books, mostly fiction, aimed at teenage readers. However, it does not just include books aimed particularly at the teenage market, but also general fiction which publishers think might also be enjoyed by 13-18 year olds, particularly if at least one of the main characters is a child or teenager. Mind you, ANY adult can also enjoy YA, and I enjoy a fair bit of it! It has a lot to recommend it!

Zeds: Something I say I need when sleep comes upon me! That is not quite true right now, but it does bring this blog entry to an end, so, until next time, Happy Reading!

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • I Think Therefore I Play – Andrea Pirlo
  • Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – Helen Simonson
  • The Forest – Edward Rutherfurd
  • Dublin – Edward Rutherfurd
  • New York – Edward Rutherfurd
  • Russka – Edward Rutherfurd
  • A Case of Exploding Mangoes – Mohammed Hanif
  • The Snowman – Jo Nesbo
  • Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book – Julia Donaldson
  • The Smartest Giant In Town – Julia Donaldson
  • The Discworld series – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Black Swan Green – David Mitchell
  • Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel
  • The Harry Potter series – J. K. Rowling
  • Best of Bowie – David Bowie (sheet music)

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Autobiography/Biography, Books, Books About Books, Childrens' Books, Football, Goodreads, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, Junior Bookworms, List Challenges, Music, Non-Fiction, Sports, The TBR Pile, Travel, Volcanoes, YA Books

A Handbag?!

Handbag books Feb 2016

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome to another entry in the life of this book blog! As per recent blogs, I seem to have invented the concept of the “Handbag Book” and the photo illustrates what I mean… Slim books which can fit into a decent sized handbag along with your other essentials. These ones are particularly slim, therefore they are especially suitable Handbag Books, but I would say anything which isn’t too chunky would probably fit. Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie, which arrived on Wednesday, would be fine in my handbag, should I see fit to carry it around with me when I get around to reading it.

I now find myself looking at the chunkiness of books and thinking either “Handbag book” or “definitely NOT a handbag book” if the book is quite a door-stopper!

Most of the ones in my bag are Penguin editions, other than The Guest Cat, which is a Picador book, I think. Anyway, these are all slim enough to be Handbag Books, thus proving my point. Plus, I had finished reading An Abundance of Katherines the other night, so that has now come out of my handbag to make way for others! Bonjour Tristesse has established itself in my handbag while I read it, and The Guest Cat has crept back in there, as cats tend to do anyway, lol!

The new inductees to the handbag are..

The Book of Tea, by Kakuzo Okakura, a VERY slim volume and thus probably the ultimate Handbag Book if ever there was one!

Breakfast At Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote. Another pretty slim book, indeed there are three other short stories in it even after the main one, so that shows how short each one must be!

The Wall Jumper, by Peter Schneider. Fiction set in Berlin and based on real life tales of Berliners who crossed between West and East in the days of the Cold War before the Wall came down in 1989.

The Periodic Table, by Primo Levi.The author assesses his life in terms of the chemical elements he associates with his past.

So, those are my current Handbag Books at time of blogging! There will probably be plenty of others as time goes on. It may be more interesting, now, to look at some of the chunky books which will NOT be making the list at any time!

All big hardback books are out of the question to start with. They are usually too large for a handbag anyway, as well as often being chunky. For instance, my copy of Anger Is An Energy, by John Lydon, is not coming round with me on my day to day travels any time soon, as it is too big to fit in my handbag! Even amongst paperbacks, some are just too chunky. War And Peace is a definite no-no, as is Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell! The Name of The Rose is pushing it a bit… that one is a bit on the chunky side, and there are a few works of historical fiction by Edward Rutherfurd lurking under Computer Corner, all of which are far too chunky for consideration on the handbag front! One of them is The Forest, which I read some years ago now for the book club I belong to. I enjoyed that and bought a few others by that author at the time, but I have yet to get round to them.

A lot of historical fiction is chunky, isn’t it?! It’s a very chunky genre! The Book Thief is a chunky book, and then there are the works of Ken Follett, C J Sansom and the aforementioned Edward Rutherfurd… Most certainly NOT Handbag Books by any stretch of the imagination! One of the few exceptions to the “historical fiction is chunky” rule would be Girl With A Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier. That one, if I hadn’t already read it, would be a good Handbag Book!

Historical fiction is hardly the only chunky genre, though. There are quite a lot of crime and horror novels which are sizeable, and don’t start me on fantasy! Even as separate books, the three parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy are not slim! Part 2, The Two Towers is about the slimmest volume of that series! Don’t even start me on a certain series by George R. R. Martin… If I mentioned it, I would be obliged to name each individual book in the series, as I have done for other series, and there are loads. And they are all chunky…

I do actually have the first book of the series, got it for 79p at the PDSA charity shop some time ago, probably when I worked in Chorlton. While the TV adaptation has taken this name, A Game of Thrones, is actually simply Book 1 of A Song of Ice and Fire. Having looked into it, there are currently 5 books, with two more due. Thus, it should end up as a 7 book series like the Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia series. In that case, we shall list the five books already published on my List Challenges list for this blog. It would not be fair to list unpublished books.

And there was me thinking there were loads of books! There are loads in the Discworld series by the late great Sir Terry Pratchett, so I am just going to list the ones I’ve read, which are The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic and Equal Rites, which I am still reading. Those books, though they are many, can be reasonably slim and handbag-sized if you have them in paperback. I have a lot of Discworld books in, and most of those are paperbacks, but I do have about half a dozen hardbacks, so those will not be handbag books at any point! The next one, in order, once I have finished Equal Rites, would be Mort, and that’s a paperback copy, so that’s always a possibility. I stocked up on my Discworld books when I worked in Chorlton – got them from the Oxfam Bookshop on Wilbraham Road. Got plenty of those to get through, lol!

A genre which is often lumped together with fantasy is science fiction, although, to be fair, those books are reasonably slim. You could fit I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov, or Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick in your handbag fairly easily! Flowers For Algernon is fairly slim, potential Handbag Book if I knew where on earth I’d put it, as I bought it not that long ago and I doubt I’ve put it in my book chest in the garage, although I am fairly sure I didn’t! I have recently acquired Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, which is sizeable for science fiction, but not unduly chunky.

Anyway, before I bring this to an end, we have a satisfactory outcome on the book club front. My book club usually meets on Tuesdays for our monthly get-together, every 4 or 5 weeks, so usually once a month… However, this next one is on a Thursday, taking place on 10th March. Potential clash with the footy, given that my beloved United are in the Europa League and have Thursday matches. I knew that if we got through against FC Midtjylland (a Danish side which was formed in 1999 when two clubs merged), one of the two legs of the next round would be on the same night as my book group. Thus, last night, at Old Trafford, watching my lads overturn the 1-2 deficit from the first leg over in Denmark by stuffing our opponents 5-1, the book club was not far from my thoughts. The draw, which was made this lunchtime, paired us with arch-rivals, Liverpool, but the important thing for me was that we will be away on 10th March, so I can go to the book club that night, and to Old Trafford the following week!

So, other than to say that if anyone knows where the hell I put Flowers For Algernon could they please let me know, ta very much, that is about it for now! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie – Jordan Sonnenblick
  • The Guest Cat – Takashi Hiraide
  • An Abundance of Katherines – John Green
  • Bonjour Tristesse – Francoise Sagan
  • The Book of Tea – Kakuzo Okakura
  • Breakfast At Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
  • The Wall Jumper – Peter Schneider
  • The Periodic Table – Primo Levi
  • Anger Is An Engergy – John Lydon
  • War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke
  • The Name of The Rose – Umberto Eco
  • The Forest – Edward Rutherfurd
  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
  • The Lord of The Rings trilogy – J. R. R. Tolkein
  • A Song of Ice and Fire series – George R. R. Martin
  • The Harry Potter series – J. K. Rowling
  • The Chronicles of Narnia – C. S. Lewis
  • The Discworld series – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • I, Robot – Isaac Asimov
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
  • Flowers For Algernon – Daniel Keyes
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Fantasy Fiction, Football, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, YA Books

Come Blow Your Horn!

charity shop books 23 feb 2016

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Another day, another blog, another shedload of books from the charity shops of Eccles! The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, by John Boyne, joins the ever-growing list of books in the “I’m Pretty Sure I Already Have This, But Haven’t A Scooby Where It Is” list! I DO know that I have the Lord of The Rings trilogy, and I am pretty certain I know where it is lurking. However, my copy of Tolkein’s fantasy classic is an all-in-one version, so it is one huge book! Beautifully illustrated, but not something I’d want to be lugging about, even if I retrieved it from where I believe it to be! Therefore, it made some sense, to me, to have individual books of the three parts.

The Young Hornblower Omnibus, by C.S. Forester is actually three books in one. Technically, I’m a hornblower – I play tenor horn in a brass band, and actually need to lug my horn in to Forsyth’s to have the pearly inset put back in the third valve – damn thing came out on Saturday at band practice! It is a decorative thing on the top of the valve, where you put your finger, so the fact that it came off did not mean the horn was broken or unplayable, but I’ve only had that horn around a month, and they should therefore put the piece back on the valve for me. Back to the book, though, and the whole series has 12 books. I think this is the first three in one book. My previous experience of this author was in my 3rd year at high school, and I have to admit I didn’t really get into The Gun. Maybe, if I found a copy now, in my 40s, I might gain more from it than I felt I did back at high school. I enjoyed most of the stuff I had to read at school, but there was the occasional book which didn’t fizz on me. Elidor, by Alan Garner, was another at the time. Might try that again some time.

Actually, I’ve just found this Wikipedia entry about Hornblower omnibus editions…

The first three novels written, The Happy Return, A Ship of the Line, and Flying Colours were collected as Captain Horatio Hornblower (1939) by Little Brown in the US. Both a single-volume edition and a three-volume edition (in a slip case) were published.

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, Lieutenant Hornblower, and Hornblower and the Atropos were compiled in one book, variously titled Hornblower’s Early Years, Horatio Hornblower Goes to Sea, or The Young Hornblower. Hornblower and the Atropos was replaced by Hornblower and the Hotspur in later UK editions of The Young Hornblower.

Hornblower and the Atropos, The Happy Return, and A Ship of the Line were compiled into one omnibus edition, called Captain Hornblower.

Flying Colours, The Commodore, Lord Hornblower, and Hornblower in the West Indies were presented as a third omnibus edition called Admiral Hornblower to fill out the series.

Commodore Hornblower, Lord Hornblower, and Hornblower in the West Indies were also compiled into one book, called The Indomitable Hornblower.

Four “Cadet Editions” were released by Little Brown and later by Michael Joseph, each collecting two Hornblower novels and edited for younger readers: Hornblower Goes to Sea(1953, 1954), from Mr. Midshipman Hornblower and Lieutenant Hornblower; Hornblower Takes Command (1953, 1954), from Hornblower and The Atropos and Beat To Quarters; Hornblower in Captivity (1939, 1955), from A Ship of the Line and Flying Colours; and Hornblower’s Triumph (1946, 1955), from Commodore Hornblower and Lord Hornblower.

The short stories The Hand of Destiny, Hornblower’s Charitable Offering, Hornblower and His Majesty plus other Hornblower material not previously published in book-form was collected in Hornblower One More Time (Jul 4, 1976) though only 350 copies were printed.[11]

So, it would appear that I have a later UK edition of The Young Hornblower, which comprises Mr Midshipman Hornblower, Lieutenant Hornblower, and Hornblower and the “Hotspur”. Indeed, the front of the book boasts about it being a major new ITV series, Hornblower, and this edition came out in 1998, the film and TV tie-in edition. I don’t actually have the first three books in the series, just three from the series, or so it seems.

I actually went in the charity shops of Eccles and Salford to see if any had a copy of The Name of The Rose, by Umberto Eco, but I didn’t find a copy. I’m in town later, so I might try the charity shops in Manchester. I know there’s an Oxfam shop on Oldham Street, and I’m pretty sure there’s some charity shop or other along Deansgate. I know it’s not a charity shop, but I’m wondering if there’s a branch of The Works in the Arndale? They have cheap books! Usually cheap copies of the classics – stuff like Dickens, Austen, the Bronte sisters, etc…

What I might also be looking for, although this will be in Waterstone’s, will be kids’ books about learning French. The junior bookworm, my niece, Charlotte, is learning French at her primary school, in after-school classes! I didn’t learn French until I was at high school, but I had learned German at Charlotte’s age because I’d lived in Switzerland for 6 months, thanks to my dad’s job, and I picked it up over there! I was too young for school when I lived in Basel, but you pick it up soon enough when all the signs and the packaging are in other languages! When I was learning French, as well as the textbook I had from school, I also had The First Thousand Words In French (Amery, Folliot and Cartwright), an Usborne book with plenty of vocabulary, and a hidden duck on each double page! The textbook we had at school, certainly in my first 3 years at high school, was French For Today by P. J. Downes and E. A. Griffith. Anyway, that’s enough about French, unless you actually WANT me to start wittering on about Eric Cantona! Any mention of anything remotely French generally leads to mention of King Eric in our house, lol!

That’s quite enough for now, anyway, even though I’ve not mentioned that many books. I don’t always have a long list. There have been occasional blog entries, since I started writing these things in 2010, which only name one or two books, but most of my blogs mention an eclectic selection of reading matter! The fact that I’ve even mentioned French textbooks from my school days should come as no surprise to regular readers. If a book has been published that I have had cause to read, it is quite likely to crop up on here, along with the half-read books, the books I want to read, and a few others I’ve heard about as well! Until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne
  • The Lord of The Rings trilogy – J. R. R. Tolkein
  • The Young Hornblower Omnibus – C. S. Forester
  • The Gun – C. S. Forester
  • Elidor – Alan Garner
  • The Name of The Rose – Umberto Eco
  • The First Thousand Words In French – Amery, Folliot & Cartwright
  • French For Today – P. J. Downes & E. A. Griffith

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Filed under Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Childrens' Books, Duplicate Books List, Foreign Languages, Music, My Bookworm History

Whatever Gets You Reading…

Natural Born Bookworm!

I Read Therefore I Am!

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Back again with yet another blog. One in which I want to put an idea to you. Probably an unusual idea, but it is this…My definition of a TRULY life-changing book is whatever gets you reading! Whichever book you enjoyed so much that it made you want to be a bookworm and read absolutely loads more books. That is the life-changing book for you!

It might not necessarily be a self-proclaimed “self-help” book, nor might it be one of those books which plenty of other people have claimed changed their lives. Indeed, for many of us, that book might actually be a children’s book. For very young, pre-school children. It might be The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or perhaps Where The Wild Things Are, or, indeed, The Gruffalo. It could even be Hairy Maclary From Donaldson’s Dairy! One of my niece’s favourites, that one! I am using those as examples, because, for many of us bookworms, our love of books started in childhood, therefore the books with which we fell in love, the reading matter which made us want to be bookworms, shaped our lives ever since!

Whichever book made you fall in love with reading is the book that changed your life. It probably provided you with far more self-help than some of the books you’ve read in your adult life which were aimed at helping you!

I may be in a minority here, but I’m not sure I have read anything in my adult life which has changed me. I’ve read stuff which has moved me, that’s certainly true, but if anything has changed me, it would only be that a book has helped me out of a bout of “reader’s block”, and for that I can thank Why The Dutch Are Different, by Ben Coates, which got me out of a reading slump towards the end of last year! I was also assisted out of this slump by Garth Stein’s wonderful novel, The Art of Racing In The Rain. So, non-fiction got me out of a rut, but it wasn’t a conventional “self-help” book, simply a book by a British guy now living and working in the Netherlands because he’d once been left stranded at Schiphol Airport due to bad weather and a Dutch girl he’d once met on his jollies agreed to let him stay with her, so he simply made the journey from Amsterdam to Rotterdam and stayed!

My apologies just then. I meant to save this, not publish just now. I’ve only just got going! This blog is not finished at this stage. The blog is not finished until I have listed all the books I’ve mentioned in this entry at the end of it in bold print and bullet points!

I’ve only mentioned six books so far! This is nowhere near the end, lol!

Sorry for being a numpty! Let’s resume with the matter in hand, which was, I believe, the idea that the book which changes your life is that which encouraged you to love reading in the first place! It may come later in life with some people, particularly if they didn’t have the access to learning in their younger days. Maybe they had learning difficulties, dyslexia perhaps, so might not have enjoyed books when they were younger, but perhaps someone has given them a lot of support, possibly tinted glasses or a coloured sheet of acetate, as those are said to help in some cases, and they might now enjoy a good book. Whichever book they fell for when they were finally able to regard reading as a pleasant experience would be a life-changing one for them.

As I have said in previous blogs, there is NOT a one size fits all solution. Books are a very personal matter! That’s why there’s hundreds of thousands of them in this world, ready to cater for millions of people all over the globe, with different native languages and different interests and tastes in books! I have also hit out, in past blogs, at book snobbishness. I blogged about this a few years ago when some pretentious book snob in some US magazine or newspaper was slagging adults off for reading Young Adult fiction on public transport. This book snob got my back up because he’d been especially critical of adults reading the Harry Potter series.

Well, book snob… One of my colleagues recommended the Harry Potter books to me! Yep, a fellow adult I worked with at the time, and I’m bloody glad she did recommend them to me, ’cause I love them! I’ve read all 7 books AND the two which were brought out for Comic Relief some years ago – Quidditch Through The Ages, and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. The latter of those is being made into a film, and will be at the cinemas in November this year, if I’m not mistaken!

Also, the clue is in the genre title… Young ADULT. It is perfectly OK for those of us over 18 to enjoy these books! Indeed, many books have been seen in both the general fiction and young adult sections of the same book shops! Also, some of the classics are now regarded as YA if publishers feel they will appeal to teenagers. For example, because many teens are into dystopian fiction, novels such as 1984 by George Orwell fetch up on YA lists! I was a teenager when I read that one, I was 17 at the time, I think.

The other thing which irritates me is when people make a big deal about the author’s gender. I mean, who cares?! This is 2016. Men and women write books, and both are equally capable of writing thought-provoking stuff and classic novels. They’re also both capable of writing light, fluffy, unchallenging reads! Thus, they are also both capable of everything in-between those two extremes!

It’s not just about the two extremities of writing either chick-lit on one hand, or dull, worthy, heavy-going books which end up on reading lists at universities for literary theory modules! The late Sue Townsend didn’t write either of those kind of books! My fellow females who have ever had books published have written all sorts of books: Humour, crime, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, etc…

Essentially, the whole idea of books is to read whatever you find enjoyable. OK, there are books you end up having to read throughout the course of your education, and some of those might not necessarily float your boat, but that’s all the more reason to become a bookworm at a very early age, preferably before you start school, so that your general love of books will override those occasions where you have to read something which you are not enjoying! That experience can and does put a lot of people off, so the aim is to be a bookworm before you actually HAVE to read books for any reason! If you associate books with love, and with pleasant experiences, the odd dull book at school should not be a problem, and nor should book snobs, however annoying and worthy of a good slap they might be!

The main thing is that people read, and that they enjoy reading. I am against anyone who tries to spoil the enjoyment of reading for others! Forget what anyone else may tell you, or at least put it to the back of your mind. It’s the book which gets you reading, or gets you to read again after a spell of not reading, which will be your life-changing book! That is exactly the self-help you need!

That’s about it for now, I think! I’ve probably covered everything for this entry, so until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
  • Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
  • The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson
  • Hairy Maclary From Donaldson’s Dairy – Lynley Dodd
  • Why the Dutch Are Different – Ben Coates
  • The Art of Racing In the Rain – Garth Stein
  • The Harry Potter series – J. K. Rowling
  • Quidditch Through the Ages – J. K. Rowling
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them – J. K. Rowling
  • 1984 – George Orwell

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Filed under Books, Childrens' Books, Literary Issues, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Rants, YA Books

Ebook Exploration


Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Before I switch on my Kindle and start the promised exploration of some of my ebooks, I have to mention the sad passing of yet another author. Not only did we lose Harper Lee yesterday, we also lost Umberto Eco, best known for his 1980 work of historical fiction, The Name of the Rose. Not a book I actually have, unlike To Kill a Mockingbird.

Anyway, in my previous blog, I said I was going to have a look at my ebooks and see if there were any of particular interest which I should get on with reading electronically. I had recently downloaded Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithian, but what else have I got on there? Part of me wishes I’d downloaded Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie onto my devices. I do love physical books, though, and it’s not as though I don’t have anything else to read, is it?!

* switches Kindle on… *

Got a fair bit of Dickens on here! 9 items! I have already read A Christmas Carol, but there are a fair few other novels on here, including, amongst others, Our Mutual Friend, A Tale of Two Cities, and David Copperfield.

Look Who’s Back, by Timur Vermes, is also on my Kindle, although I actually have the paperback of that novel, the one where Adolf Hitler finds himself alive and well in Berlin in 2011. I have quite a few on here which I also have in paperbacks. Makes sense, though – means I can read those books on my travels, even if I don’t take that physical copy of the book with me.

Actually, looking through my Kindle, there’s plenty of stuff which could do with archiving, stuff which probably no longer needs to be on my device. Ooh! Twisting My Melon, Shaun Ryder’s autobiography, is on here! That’s not getting archived. That’s staying on the Kindle, as is Adam Ant’s autobiography, Stand and Deliver. I’m going to see him in June when he comes to the Bridgewater Hall. To be fair, though, I think a few physical autobiographies need reading first, including Chapter and Verse by Bernard Sumner, Anger Is an Energy by John Lydon, and I Know This Much, by Gary Kemp. That one needs reading so I can give it back to my friend, Sarah!

Thing is, with my Kindle, I can’t remember when or why I downloaded several of these items! They must have sounded good at the time, but I haven’t a scooby what they’re about when I come to read the titles now! I’ve had my Kindle since the end of 2011, I think, so at the end of this year, it’ll be 5 years! Those of you who’ve followed my blogs for a long time will remember that I actually won the thing, but that there were problems with getting it to me. Finally, it arrived, and I started downloading ebooks on to it.

* Takes her Kindle out of aeroplane mode, thus WiFi is now on… *

Let’s see what’s being offered to me in the recommendations… sheet music for Fleetwood Mac. Hmm… Might look into that, albeit I might want a physical copy of that book rather than having it electronically, and I can already play the bass riff from The Chain, anyway! You probably know The Chain… used by the BBC as the theme for Formula 1 Grand Prix coverage…

Just sit back and enjoy… especially that bass part!

I’m probably being offered sheet music because I recently bought Best of Bowie. Amazon have recommended sheet music for Elton John to me, too, since I bought the Bowie book. Ooh, and my Kindle is also recommending me Don Quixote by Miguel de Cerventes… albeit in the original Spanish! Don Quijote de la Mancha. I do actually have the English version in paperback, I think I got it from the Mustard Tree charity shop where I used to volunteer, so it would have been all of 20p if that were the case. Cheapest books of any local charity shop. 20p for paperbacks 50p for hardbacks! Cheap as chips! The Spanish version is only 99p for my Kindle… I have done GCSE Spanish at college, and I have the English translation…perhaps I should give it a go…

Back in 2014, when I was volunteering, I noticed there was quite a gap between the cheap prices of books at the Mustard Tree, especially compared to those at the British Heart Foundation shop where I also helped out at the same time. I know these things have to be determined nationally in their case, but I really think they should consider drastically reducing the price of many of their books. They’d get a much quicker turnover if they did! Many of their paperbacks were £2 or more, which is pretty steep for a charity shop book, especially when you consider the competition from several other charity shops in the local area!

And they were rather fussy about what state the books were in! I thought that was a poor attitude from a charity shop! Especially as I don’t think potential buyers really care! If I go in charity shops, as I often do, I EXPECT things to be second-hand. Pre-loved, pre-owned… So, some books might be yellowing… So what?! If it was a book I really wanted to read, I would not give a shit if the pages were yellowing! I expect books to be brand new and in pristine condition if I am buying them from the likes of Waterstone’s or W H Smith’s, but I am realistic about the state of items in second-hand shops!

Anyway, I finished Fight Club last night, so I am down to two Handbag Books at the moment while deciding on a third. Perhaps I should restore The Guest Cat to the handbag, or I should choose something else given that I’ve already let the cat out of the bag, so to speak! I am almost two thirds of the way through An Abundance of Katherines, so more potential contenders for a place in my handbag are mounting up! It’s the second John Green book I’ve read, and I’m really enjoying it. I think some people might find Colin Singleton annoying, but I like him as a character. Probably because I’m quite nerdy myself! His friend, Hassan, also makes me laugh. One potential candidate for the handbag could be Tuesdays With Morrie, by Mitch Albom. I’ve had that book quite a while, and it’s been hanging around Computer Corner, as has The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald. That’s a really slim one – would go very nicely in my handbag! Slim books go in my handbag, so that I can fit 2 or 3 in there at a time!

Before I finish this for tonight, let’s return to the late Umberto Eco, and his idea of the “unlibrary” – that is to say, one’s collection of unread books… Eco argued that these are actually more use to us than those we have read, which is a fair point. After all, however many books we have read in our own personal book collections, there are always plenty more we could read next! It also makes us bookworms feel much better about all the unread books we have, and our huge TBR piles!

Umberto Eco’s Antilibrary: Why Unread Books Are More Valuable to Our Lives than Read Ones

Well, that just about brings matters to a close for now, and I shall return to my reading matter, trying to get one or two more near to completion. Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco
  • To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  • Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn & David Levithian
  • Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie – Jordan Sonnenblick
  • A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
  • Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens
  • A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  • David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
  • Look Who’s Back – Timur Vermes
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • Stand and Deliver – Adam Ant
  • Chapter and Verse – Bernard Sumner
  • Anger Is an Energy – John Lydon
  • I Know This Much – Gary Kemp
  • Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes (English translation)
  • Don Quijote de la Mancha – Miguel de Cervantes (Spanish original)
  • Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
  • The Guest Cat – Takashi Hiraide
  • An Abundance of Katherines – John Green
  • Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Filed under Authors, Autobiography/Biography, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, E-Books & Audiobooks, Foreign Languages, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, Music, The TBR Pile

Essential Reading

to kill a mockingbird

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Actually, it’s quite a sad day in the literary world, with the news breaking  yesterday that Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird, had died at the age of 89. I really must get round to reading that. Perhaps next up once I’ve finished one of the books I’m currently reading. I have to admit I have never read it, although I do know that it has been on the curriculum for years, so many others have read it at school. I think it was on the syllabus when I was doing my GCSEs at high school years ago, but four out of our eight English sets studied English Literature as well as English Language, so the set texts were divided between the four sets. I would have to find out which books, poems and plays others studied, but I’m pretty sure Harper Lee’s novel would have been one of them.

For the record, our main novel in my set was Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and our play was Macbeth, about which I am sure our Shakespeare-mad teacher, Mrs Walsh, was delighted! We also studied Animal Farm by George Orwell, and quite a bit of First World War poetry, particularly by Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. The poems were not from a specific anthology, but I can recommend the Penguin Book of First World War Poetry should you wish to read any poems from that conflict.

I have put a question out on Facebook, both on my timeline, and on the book group I run, so we shall see if I get any responses about what other people studied when they were at school, and whether anyone read To Kill a Mockingbird as one of their set texts. I am sure quite a few people will have done so.

Reading, however, has to start years before you’re in an examination hall at high school. A love of books needs to start at home before you’ve even started school! Doesn’t matter what your background is, you don’t have to be well-off. We weren’t particularly flush when I was younger, but I had books of my own and also used to go to Eccles Library. My sister and I were regular patrons of the children’s library there when we were little! In this day and age, despite cutbacks, there are still libraries around, and there are also charity shops, so you can still borrow books for free or buy them pretty cheaply. My link is for a blog by the author James Patterson, and his blog entry about how a love of reading needs to start in infancy.

There are a couple of provisos to that, I’d say. Firstly, that it depends on the age of the child. Even if they are an advanced reader for their age, there are some books which wouldn’t be suitable for them until they are older due to the subject matter. For example, I wouldn’t advise that they read erotica until they are of the age of consent.

Obviously, they will need factual books about the facts of life long before they are old enough to put some of them into practice. I think my mum gave me the book she had had on this matter when I was about 9 or 10. Everything from how you came into this world and how you changed from boys and girls into men and women, to relationships, courting, and some sexually transmitted diseases to watch out for. However, this book had come out years ago, so there was no mention of HIV or AIDS, which was unknown until the 1980s when I was a kid! I was a teenager when the whole “don’t die of ignorance” campaign hit our TV screens in around 1987.

The book I’d been given, The Facts of Life by Cirrel Greet, was very helpful to an extent, but a couple of books which came out during my teen years were really good at giving a more updated message and information on the birds and the bees… The Diary of a Teenage Health Freak, and I’m A Health Freak Too, both by Aidan McFarlane gave us the essential facts, as far as they were known, presented to a teenage readership in the late 1980s. Sex, drugs, alcohol addiction… the same stuff you get at school in Personal, Social and Health Education lessons, but without the cringing that such classes induce! I’m sure they’ve probably been updated further for today’s teens, or that teens today have similar books to help them through life. Chlamydia would need to be mentioned in today’s facts of life books.

The other matter is that I would be against stereotyping when it comes to subject matters kids might want to read about. Not all boys want to read about typical “boy” subjects, and not all girls want to read about typical “girl” subjects, and one girl recently caused publishing houses to have a rethink about their books and put an end to the gender-based titles they were putting out. Whether they are a girl or a boy, find out what interests them and encourage them to read books on those themes. Girls might be just as likely as boys to want to read books about football these days! This is 2016, not the 1950s! Plenty of us women and girls go to matches these days, and do so of our own choice. We are NOT dragged there unwillingly by fellas! This September, it will be 25 years since I first became a matchgoing Red! Yep, I will have reached my quarter century of going to Old Trafford on 7th September 2016!

I like the sound of the “Knowledge Is Power Program” which Patterson mentions in his blog, and would easily have been able to go along with that, reading at least 20 books a year and carrying a book around with me at all times! Indeed, I carry three books round in my handbag at present, although I’m getting towards the end of Fight Club, so I’ll need another Handbag Book soon! He is also right about rewarding kids for reading non-fiction books, such as books of world records and suchlike. Whatever gets people reading, as I have said previously, is a good thing. You have to find out what floats their boat and encourage them to read books on the matter.

Hmmm…. now here’s a challenge for James Patterson… perhaps he could find out what, if anything other than himself, interests Kanye West?! The rapper has stated he is a proud non-reader of books. I personally believe there are books out there for everyone. Yes, even Kanye! Perhaps he had crap books foisted on him at school, ones which didn’t appeal to him. That has been known to put a lot of kids off reading. Whatever the root of Kanye’s book-related issues, surely there must be SOME books he might like?!

Charity shop book bargains Feb 2016

Anyway, been a busy old week on the book-buying front. All cheap ones, I must add. The top row in this photo were all purchased on Tuesday, and the bottom two on Thursday. Ranging in price from £1.50 right down to 25p! Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Sisters Brothers will probably end up as duplicate books. I am pretty sure I might already still have copies of those two somewhere. It’s just that I am not sure where the hell they are. I didn’t see them in my recent sort-outs in my room and the garage, so they are not somewhere where I can put my hands on them easily. Therefore I decided it was reasonable to get copies in at charity shop prices (I paid £1.50 for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and just a quid for The Sisters Brothers) so I have the books to hand. I know where one Truman Capote book is, it’s on the landing, near the bathroom, but that’s In Cold Blood, which I have already read a few years ago.

The Book Lovers’ Companion is one of those book recommendation books. It has a forward by Lionel Shriver, but it’s basically just a list of 200 other books you might want to read if you’re stuck for ideas. That one set me back £1.50 like the Capote, so those two were the dearest of the five books. The least expensive of the five books, setting me back a mere 25 pence, was The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. I picked that up at Start in Salford where I do my crafting twice a week. I have given them some of my books for their shelves.

Then we come on to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, the book I ummed and aahed over a bit in the St Ann’s Hospice shop on Monton Road. It’s a chunky one! A VERY chunky one! Good job I was sitting down last night when I decided to see just how long it was… 1006 pages! But it only cost me £1. That’s a lot of book for a quid, isn’t it?!

I also bought three books when I was at Bents Garden Centre on Wednesday. Not really quite the bargains which charity shop books can be, although The World To Come by Dara Horn was only 99p, but the other two were in a two for £5 deal, and I chose Saving Agnes by Rachel Cusk, and Wolves In Winter by Lisa Hilton.

I should not really overlook books in other formats, though. I have never actually listened to an audiobook, other than a brief sample the other day, when I listened to an excerpt from The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon. Not sure I’d get round to listening to them, though, unless I end up commuting some distance on a regular basis. Might have come in handy when I worked in Chorlton for three years, or, previously, the three years in the early 90s when I was a student in Bolton. My bus journeys in those days took around 45 to 50 minutes.

I do, however, have a Kindle, and I also have a Kindle app on both my mobile phone and my iPad, so I shouldn’t really ignore the stuff I have on there, and I recently purchased and downloaded Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithian. Of the various themes and subject matters I like reading about, music is very high up on my list! Perhaps, in my next blog, I should have a look at some of the stuff I have on my Kindle…

Anyway, for now, that is about all, otherwise we would be on for another epic blog, and I guess you are still recovering from the one I posted the other day! So, until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • Macbeth – William Shakespeare
  • Animal Farm – George Orwell
  • The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry  -Various
  • The Facts of Life – Cirrel Greet
  • The Diary of a Teenage Health Freak – Aidan McFarlane
  • I’m A Health Freak, Too! – Aidan McFarlane
  • Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
  • The Sisters Brothers – Patrick de Witt
  • In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
  • The Book Lovers’ Companion – Lionel Shriver (forward)
  • The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke
  • The World To Come – Dara Horn
  • Saving Agnes – Rachel Cusk
  • Wolves In Winter – Lisa Hilton
  • The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
  • Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn & David Levithian

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Authors, Books, Childrens' Books, Duplicate Books List, E-Books & Audiobooks, Facebook & Other Social Media, Literary Issues, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Poetry, School, College & Uni Reading, YA Books

NeverEnding Story

neverending story

Good evening, fellow bookworms!

Another blog entry for  your reading pleasure, lol! The title refers to my infamous To Be Read list, of which I will never reach the end, rather than the book, film or the record by Limahl in the 80s! For the record, The Neverending Story is the English translation of a German fantasy novel by Michael Ende, published in 1979, originally Die unendliche Geschichte, the film of which was released in 1984. Limahl’s single was the title song from the said film and released in the charts in early 1984, reaching number 4 here in the UK singles charts. Perhaps I ought to read the book. Then again, perhaps I should just read Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, another fantasy novel originally in German. I do have a copy of Inkheart handy, whereas I’d have to acquire the other book.

Anyway, the Never Ending Story is incorrect as a title as the story clearly DOES end! Which is more than can be said for my TBR list, especially as recommendations are never far away and they come from all sorts of sources. Friends, family, Facebook, List Challenges… Don’t start me on that last one! I see so many other books which sound interesting when I am going through any chosen list and clicking on the books I have at least partially-read!

I have been giving out some surplus books, the ones I mentioned the other day as being ex book club books. I have gift-aided them to a few charity shops in Monton and Eccles. I was going to take a couple to the Barton Arms in Worsley, but, sadly, to my enormous disappointment, they had a refurbishment in January and no longer have the bookshelves to do the book swap service they used to offer. You could either buy a book for 50p in aid of St Ann’s Hospice if you didn’t have one of your own with you, or you could swap your book(s) for theirs if you did. This was how I got hold of Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier a year or two ago. I think I parted company with The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, a book club book I didn’t really get started with. Booker Prize winner, though, so that says it all, really!

I might have mentioned this issue before, but what is it about prize-winning books? Sure, it’s not true of ALL of them, and I enjoyed Life of Pi by Yann Martell when I read that some years ago now. That was a Booker Prize winner, but it was readable! It is possible! However, it could be the case that some authors just set out to write a book with book prize judging panels in mind, rather than having a wide readership in mind. Yes, all right, the prize might help shift a few more extra copies at Waterstone’s, but I would be very interested to find out just how much time elapses between the initial victory and increase in sales at the book’s original RRP (recommended retail price, which would probably be something like £7.99 or more), before it fetches up on the shelf of a charity shop for 99p!

I mean, have you seen the most recent Booker Prize winner? A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. Except, it’s hardly brief, is it, Mr James?! Page count of 704 pages! If that is brief, I dread to think what a longer history of seven killings would’ve been like! Probably about the same as a certain epic novel by Leo Tolstoy…

If a book won a prize, the Booker Prize in particular, maybe the best strategy would be to wait until you see a copy in a charity shop for 99p, or a church fair for 50p, or whatever, and risk it for a biscuit then! If it turns out to be readable and you enjoy it, you got yourself a bargain, and if you couldn’t get into it, you’ve not made too much of a loss on it when you give it to another charity shop or church fair!

Books SHOULDN’T be hard-going! On the whole, books really should be enjoyable and readable by many! We need to encourage people to read, not put them off! Literary prizes are a form of book snobbishness, and I can’t stand all that! On a similar note, I am about to post a link to an interesting idea from Book Riot…

10 Best Books I’ve Never Read

In no particular order, here are a few of mine… Many are genres rather than any particular novel, but one or two might be authors or a particular book.

  1. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy. OK, it’s true that I have read almost 300 pages of it thus far, but it’s over 1000 pages long, and it is hyper-descriptive. You want to slap Tolstoy and tell him to get to the point! Does he really have to be that descriptive? I’m sure there’s a lot he could’ve left out and it would still have made sense…
  2. Booker Prize winners. As mentioned above, with the honourable exception of Life of Pi, many BP winners in recent years have been unreadable, hard to get into. They are writing for a select shortlist of people, a few select book critics who seem to want something specific in the literature they plough through, and what they’re looking for is probably what the rest of us don’t give a toss about!
  3. Anything by Ayn Rand. I don’t know what it is, but when I go on List Challenges, I see her books on so many lists. I think I am put off because I either heard or read that her books leaned towards a right-wing perspective, so I am avoiding her works on the grounds that they would probably annoy me and do my blood pressure and/or mental health no good whatsoever! I am, and always have been, very much left-wing. I cannot abide the right-wing, and the further right they lean, the more they disgust me! As I’ve said before on these blogs, I think such people are heartless, greedy, selfish, uncaring bastards and a disgrace to humanity! So, Ayn Rand can do one!
  4. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Nothing against any of her other novels, indeed I have read Surfacing (back in my uni days, a long time ago), and The Year of the Flood, and I quite enjoyed the latter, but the setting of The Handmaid’s Tale would just anger me too much, I’d want to kill every single character who represented and enforced the sexist establishment in that novel! In the best interests of my blood pressure and anger management, I am deliberately avoiding that book forever!
  5. Horror novels. For the same reason I avoid horror films. I am a wuss and I do NOT enjoy having the living shit scared out of me! I was NOT one of those teens who read Stephen King novels. My sister read a fair few at that age, but not me! I know not all of his are horror, I might be able to find a few of his readable without causing nightmares, but I would have to be advised very carefully on that front!
  6. Chick Lit. With the honourable exception of the Bridget Jones books by Helen Fielding, which I read and enjoyed, I find very little to relate to in this genre. As I said in previous blogs, I’m just not a womany woman! I am far more blokey and would much prefer to read stuff like Fight Club than read about some shoe-obsessed or diet-obsessed woman! I especially love reading about football or music. Or both!
  7. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers. If you’ve seen the film that many times because it’s on telly every Christmas, do you really need to read the book? I’ve never read the actual book, and will admit I didn’t even know, for years, that it was originally a book. I’ve grown up knowing this story as a musical film which was always on television at holiday times, particularly Christmas, but I’m pretty sure it’s been shown at Easter as well. So, is the book actually necessary? Same goes for a few other stories, particularly folk tales and suchlike, which have become so well known in their animated form (Disney films, usually) that you know the story without ever having read the book. Pinocchio (by Carlo Collodi) also springs to mind here.
  8. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I actually own a copy of this book, which is lurking somewhere in my room, but I ask a similar question about this novel as I do with Mary Poppins – If you’ve seen the musical, and you own a copy of the cast recording, do you really need to read the novel given that you already know the plot?! Can I not just listen to “Do You Hear The People Sing?” or “Master of the House” – I’d probably be listening to the cast recording, anyway, if I did attempt to plod through the novel! Anyway, while we’re mentioning Victor Hugo, it reminds me of when I was at high school, learning French. When you get to that section in your textbook about learning to ask for directions, and there is a town plan on the page for some fictitious French town, there is ALWAYS a Rue Victor Hugo, isn’t there?! There is also always an Avenue Charles de Gaulle! It must be the rules! I did French to A-Level. I know these things! I know this much is true, as Spandau Ballet would put it!
  9. Literary Theory/Criticism books. This is one of those categories of books which I have had to read in the past, during my uni days, and which I have neither the need nor inclination to pursue further. I enjoyed my degree, don’t get me wrong, but some modules on the literature side of my degree were a tad dull and dry, and I’m pretty sure you can guess which ones those were! Yep, the “lit-crit” modules. The ones which press you to over-analyse nearly every damn thing in any given novel from a certain perspective! I am through with hyper-analysis! Since graduating in 1994, I have been free to enjoy books as they are, and, if I do want to read anything into them, that is my own decision!
  10. Self-help books. Yep, to end with, let’s look at another genre of books I HAVE previously read from, but which I now wish to decline in terms of further reading. I am not sure that they are as helpful as they like to make out. I believe they make rather too many wrongful ASSumptions. (Never assume – it makes an ass out of u and me!) I think these books over-simplify as much as the previous genre over-analyse! They seem to treat the reader as though there is a “one size fits all” solution to whatever their problem might be, and there certainly isn’t!

I don’t think this final category of books takes introverts into account, nor do they account for a huge range of disabilities their potential readership may have. This is the real world! Shit happens. A lot of shit! Thus, there are a lot of problems which CAN’T be overcome, and implying that the reader is making excuses is just going to make them feel WORSE than they were before they started reading! We are human beings, not robots! Plenty of us have LEGITIMATE limitations which we can’t overcome. We’ve tried and failed countless times! For someone, or some book, to then come along and try to suggest that the reader hasn’t tried hard enough, or that they’re making it up, is crass, thoughtless and hurtful in the extreme, and does them far more harm than good!

I am not negative. I am neutral. I respond according to how I’m treated. The problem is that I’ve had to put up with too much negative treatment, including pushiness and bossiness. They say that a definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. People have tried the pushy approach again and again, and every time it pushes me back into my shell. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to them to think up a fresh approach. An approach which showed affection and gentle encouragement might be a good idea… In fact, it might be a VERY good idea…

I have never responded well to pushiness and bossiness. That approach does not work for me. It makes me want to head off in the opposite direction as fast as my slow little body will allow! It makes me retreat into my shell. I have always been like this, certainly for donkey’s years since I started school, and I finished my compulsory education over a quarter of a century ago!  Some people have a decision to make – either change their approach towards me, or leave me the hell alone and go and find someone of a similar nature to themselves!

Apologies, but that last category set me off on a bit of a rant, something which needed saying. I doubt certain people will take any of it on board, though. They’ll just do the usual… When I post the blog on my Facebook timeline, they’ll give it a “like” without really having read this and understood what I was trying to get over! Those wanting a positive response need to treat me positively. They could start by believing me, taking my word for it.

I have something wrong with me. Always have had, always will. I tried my damnedest to overcome a lot of physical difficulties, but many of them remained impossible to overcome by the time I left high school in 1989. 12 years of significant effort every damn PE lesson went completely unrewarded. I got to 16. I was still shit, and I was still the object of ridicule. I wonder, sometimes, if people think I actually LIKE being shit at physical activities! I am NOT doing it on purpose! I genuinely CAN’T do things others take for granted, and I HATE the fact that I can’t do these things! I also HATE the fact that some people don’t seem to believe that and insinuate that I ought to go through all that hell again just for their benefit! NO! Believe me or bugger off!

Further apologies for this blog entry going into extra time, and I haven’t even listed the books mentioned in tonight’s entry yet! Feels like ages ago since I mentioned books, and I probably need to go and read something pleasant. That last point on my list was too much of a reminder for me about matters which piss me off enormously! I’d be fine if people just let me be me, but, unfortunately, some people don’t seem to want to let me be myself…

I shall try to keep it at least a little shorter next time! Thanks to anyone who has seen this through to the very end tonight! Until next time, when I hope to return to the joy of books throughout the entire entry, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned somewhat earlier in this blog entry before my rant…

  • The Neverending Story – Michael Ende
  • Inkheart – Cornelia Funke
  • Girl With A Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
  • The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
  • Life of Pi – Yann Martell
  • A Brief History of Seven Killings – Marlon James
  • War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
  • The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  • Surfacing – Margaret Atwood
  • The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood
  • Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
  • Mary Poppins – P.L. Travers
  • Pinocchio – Carlo Collodi
  • Les Miserables – Victor Hugo



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