Monthly Archives: May 2016

Stuff I’ve Been Reading

Natural Born Bookworm!

I Read Therefore I Am!

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Yet another book finished, ladies and gentlemen! Stuff I’ve Been Reading, by Nick Hornby, has now become, rather appropriately, stuff I’ve been reading! I have just finished that one off this evening, and am now just over half-way through The Girl of Ink & Stars, so sufficient progress has been made on the book club book, ready for 6th June, next Monday.

With the recent weather, and the fact it’s 40 years ago this year, I was tempted to start something set in 1976, and I may still do that before the year’s out, but I’ll be blunt with you all – I feel more football-related reading coming on. There are a few books of that nature I could do with getting on with, and it’s set to be a fairly interesting summer. We’ve just won a cup, our first silverware for 3 years (first since Fergie retired) and it’s the first time since 2004 that we’ve won the FA Cup, ending a particularly long wait for it to return to our trophy cabinet! I was using my cup final ticket as a bookmark for the Hornby book. I think he’d appreciate that, even if he does support a rival team, as he tried to sneak footy into his regular columns in the Believer magazine!

New manager, new players expected, European Championships ahead… and an excuse for me to read about footy. As I said in my previous blog, Jose is on a probationary period as far as I’m concerned. I shall give him a chance, and if he does prove himself to be right for the job of managing the club I love (by which I mean behaving himself and playing the youngsters, as well as winning trophies), I shall read about him! So, I might eventually need a good biography about Mr Mourinho, but not just yet! That can wait!

Not sure if it was last year or earlier this year, but I bought I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic, although I’m not sure where it is lurking right now. I have a feeling I may have put it in the book chest. We still had LvG as our boss at the time and the likelihood of Zlatan joining us when he and Louis had had “previous”, as the saying goes, was pretty remote. Probably why I shoved it in the book chest when I had that sort out in recent months, I guess I felt there was no way he’d be coming, so the likelihood of me needing to get the lowdown on the guy was considerably reduced! I do like to do background reading on players, and I don’t just mean via Google and Wikipedia!

However, it is now being mentioned on an almost daily basis that he may well be joining on a free transfer this summer, his contract up at PSG. He’s 34, so there is always a concern about acquiring a player so close to retirement age, but if he’s available for nowt, we might as well give him a go. Zlatan never stays anywhere for long, he’s had more clubs than Rory McIlroy, lol, but given his age, he probably won’t have many more clubs before he hangs his boots up, so it wouldn’t matter if we got him and he was only with us for a couple of years. As long as he can stay fit, and he has a few tricks up his sleeve to split open opposition defences, that’d be the main thing!

Most rumours never happen, of course, 99% of them are utter bullshit invented to sell papers, and I’ve blogged about that countless times on my footy blog, In Off My Chest, but when certain ones just won’t go away, and seem to become more plausible, there is always the chance the press might actually get one right! They do get one right every now and again, lol! They hit the bloody jackpot in 2012, correctly going to print about United signing Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie! Not saying they’ll be that accurate ever again, but sometimes they get lucky, and maybe they’ll be right about Zlatan this summer.

Anyway, back to books, and after my previous blog, I went downstairs to swap some books over for a couple which were on shelves in the living room. As I had mentioned this book, Crime and Punishment was brought upstairs, but I also brought Gould’s Book of Fish, by Richard Flanagan, up to my room as well. The latter is a book I have had for absolutely ages, about a convict sentenced to a penal colony on Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania, as we know it now) and ordered to paint a book of fish. I guess it must have caught my eye years ago. It has £2.99 pencilled inside it, I guess I may have got it from a charity shop, possibly Oxfam, quite a while ago. Perhaps I should finally get around to reading it and seeing if it’s any good! It’s in my room now, anyway, so close at hand should I wish to give it a read!

Does seem rather a link between both books which I brought up, both are on the theme of crime and its consequence, although it was purely coincidence! I HAD gone downstairs simply to bring the Dostoyevsky novel up, due to it being mentioned in The Rabbit Back Literature Society, but while I was downstairs, Gould’s Book of Fish also caught my eye, as if to say “When are you going to get round to reading me, Joanne?” – books can be so impatient at times, lol! Actually, there are probably quite a few, which, if they could talk, would be making demands on my time and moaning that I’ve had them in my possession for donkey’s years and have never got round to reading even a page of them yet!

Yes, I know, I called this blog entry Stuff I’ve Been Reading, but, as always, my blogs are just as much about stuff I’ve not been reading, or stuff I’ve only partially read! That’s normal with this blog. I need more non-fiction to replace the Hornby, and will probably need more YA soon, after I’ve finished my current book club book. As I said at the start, I’m halfway through that one now, and it’s only short, so the need for more YA will crop up very shortly! There are lots of YA books hanging around in here, waiting for me to read them, so I have quite a choice! Perhaps Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist will be on my reading list at last? There’s a music theme to that one, which is what attracted it to me.

Anyway, to find out what stuff I end up reading next, further progress made with A Little Life, and what gets finished off next, you will have to wait for my next blog! Until that time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • Stuff I’ve Been Reading – Nick Hornby
  • The Girl of Ink & Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave
  • I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  • Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Gould’s Book of Fish – Richard Flanagan
  • The Rabbit Back Literature Society – Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen
  • Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

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Filed under Books, British Weather, Football, Half-Finished Books, The TBR Pile

Stuck In The Middle With You

Part-read books May 2016

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome to another blog entry from yours truly, and although I’ve not got clowns to the left of me and jokers to the right, the photo does feature a selection of the books I am part-way through reading!  I recently finished The Reader On the 6.27, which, as you may recall, I polished off on the coach on my way down to Wembley last Saturday when I was going to the FA Cup Final, and I have also recently finished off The Story of Music, and Cheer Up Love, so it is fair to say I DO get books finished off! It’s just that I have several on the go at any one time!

I need to get on with The Girl of Ink & Stars, as that’s my book club book and the meeting is on 6th June, but that’s a week tomorrow, so I do have some time to read the other two thirds of that… My main go-to books at the moment are A Little Life, which I get through in chunky instalments, lol, and Stuff I’ve Been Reading, as I love books about books, and as I think I said last time, I really like Hornby’s non-fiction stuff. The other thing is that he is 16 years older than me, which I worked out while reading his book, and he loves young adult books, so the fact that I’m 43 and enjoy a good helping of YA amongst my reading matter is perfectly OK, given that Nick Hornby likes these kind of books and he’ll be 60 next year!

Pear Shaped, by Adam Blain, is one I have de-archived from my e-books. Not sure if it is actually available as a physical book, I just had an offer on it some time ago, possibly a Kindle Daily Deal or suchlike, and it sounded like a good read, so I downloaded it. It was either free or very cheap! But I think there are more pressing concerns than progressing with that one. I really should get on with Leading, by Sir Alex Ferguson. It was a Christmas pressie from my sister, and I know both she and my mum will also want to read it. Also, given that he’s no longer our manager, I really need to finish off Martin Meijer’s biography of Louis van Gaal.

Personally, I was very sad to see Louis go, I think United’s board behaved shabbily, and should have waited at least until after the Cup Final weekend to bring an end to his time with us. I actually wanted him to stay, firstly as I thought he was doing a good job, I can see the big picture and thought he’d got a lot sorted out, even if we could’ve done with more goals. Also, I did NOT want Jose! You will not find anyone who doubts his ability to win silverware, but the trouble is that too many people are blinded by that and don’t seem to understand that there are OTHER requirements of a Manchester United manager beside trophies! Good behaviour and the continuation of our youth policy are also vital to the club! Anyone who does not understand that and thinks it’s just about silverware is NOT a proper Red as far as I’m concerned!

That includes my ex-friend, Helen, who I have now blocked on Facebook. I’d unfriended her in April over her lack of respect for me, but I was still seeing her comments on things my mum had posted, and her pro-Mourinho comments were the last straw. No point trying to talk any sense into the stupid woman, so I’ve blocked her. Maybe one day I will unblock, but she’s done my head in far too much in recent times for that ever to be likely in the near future!

As we now have Jose as our manager, I guess I shall have to read up about him. Not in any rush to do so right now, though. I’ve kind of put him on a “probationary period” to prove to me he’s suitable for the job and that he can manage not to behave like a knob! Gives me a bit of time to look into any possible biographies about Mr Mourinho, anyway. If he behaves, I might read about him, lol! Enough about him, though, let’s get back to books, shall we? After all, books don’t have oversized egos which block out the sun!

The Guest Cat has been a Handbag Book for ages, and one I read every now and then. For a short, slim book, it’s taking a while to get through. It’s not as though it’s a bad book, it’s nice enough, but I have not found it gripping enough to keep going back to very often. I mean, I can go a day or two not reading anything, let alone A Little Life, but that one DOES keep pulling me in! Hiraide’s novella doesn’t really do that. Never judge a book by its size! Some books can be slim but take forever to plod through, others can be big chunky doorstoppers, but be highly readable, and you can get through them quite quickly!

So, what after the Hornby’s finished? I am giving serious thought to Where I’m Reading From, by Tim Parks. Firstly, it’s about books, secondly, it’s by the guy who wrote A Season With Verona, which I read and loved some years ago now, so I am hoping he does a Hornby and drags football into it! I could also do with getting on with Pierluigi Collina’s autobiography, The Rules of the Game. That is on my bed right now, along with Why We Love Music, by John Powell.

Thing is, I have so many books, it’s hard to decide which ones to read next! There is no such thing as too many books, of course, but one can be very spoilt for choice as a bookworm! But there can be a logical order to reading certain books after others, and I don’t just mean when it comes to series of books, either.

When I handed my CV in at the Urmston Bookshop the other day, I had a look around and ended up purchasing The Rabbit Back Literature Society, by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen, which looked an interesting read. A book about books, it actually starts with one character questioning her own knowledge of what happens in Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. So, perhaps I should read the Dostoyevsky before I read that one? In the same way, I probably need to read Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, before I tackle Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi! However, having already read Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens, I should be able to get the references in Mister Pip, by Lloyd Jones when I get around to reading that one!

Anyway, I should probably get round to reading something right now, so I shall bring this blog entry to an end and return to Nick Hornby and his reading material! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • The Reader On the 6.27 – Jean-Paul Didierlaurent
  • The Story of Music – Howard Goodall
  • Cheer Up Love – Susan Calman
  • The Girl of Ink & Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • Stuff I’ve Been Reading – Nick Hornby
  • Pear Shaped – Adam Blain
  • Leading – Sir Alex Ferguson
  • Louis van Gaal – Martin Meijer
  • The Guest Cat – Takashi Hiraide
  • Where I’m Reading From – Tim Parks
  • A Season With Verona – Tim Parks
  • The Rules of the Game – Pierluigi Collina
  • Why We Love Music – John Powell
  • The Rabbit Back Literature Society – Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen
  • Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi
  • Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  • Mister Pip – Lloyd Jones



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Filed under Books, E-Books & Audiobooks, Football, Half-Finished Books

Books and Footy – FA Cup Special!

Book spree at Waterstone's 7th April 2016

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome to another helping of book blog, interspersed with considerable waffle about football, lol! But, what else can you expect, given that I was at the FA Cup Final yesterday?! Indeed, the long coach journey down to Wembley was the perfect opportunity to get some epic reading done, and so I had a pretty good day, not just because my lads won the FA Cup, but also because I felt I’d accomplished a fair amount of reading on the way down. I could easily have read on the way home, too, but I felt more like eating than reading, and I was busy celebrating our win, in which we came from a goal down, and overcame Chris “Mike” Smalling getting himself needlessly sent off for a second bookable offence, the numpty, to win 2-1 in extra time and win the FA Cup for the 12th time in our history, putting us level with Arsenal both in terms of FA Cup victories and appearances in the final – 19 appearances, 12 wins for both ourselves and the Gunners.

Funnily enough, one of the books I took down with me, although I didn’t get around to reading it, was Stuff I’ve Been Reading, by Nick Hornby, a rather well-known Gooner author! I have to say I absolutely LOVE Fever Pitch, it had me laughing my head off back in 1994 when I read it, which got me some pretty odd looks at the time as we were going round Sunderland Uni for my sister who was doing her A Levels and looking at universities at the time – I was in my final year of my degree, but did not have any lectures that day, so I was in Sunderland with my parents and sister, rather than Bolton!

Besides Fever Pitch, I have also read The Complete Polysyllabic Spree, which is a collection of columns Nick Hornby wrote for a monthly publication from 2003 to 2006, book reviews into which he tried to bring other interests of his, particularly football, and so there were mentions of Arsene Wenger, the Gunners and anything else he thought he could get away with! In a way, I guess I have much in common with Hornby, except that I support a different team, and I am not writing this blog for anything other than my own pleasure, so what I write on here is what the hell I like, and if I want to waffle on significantly about Manchester United, I bloody well will do!

Hornby strikes me as a very random reader. In the blurb on the back of Stuff I’ve Been Reading, it says that we will find every kind of book that just happens to have taken the author’s fancy! Fiction and non-fiction alike, if it appeals to Hornby, he’ll give it a go, and that’s very much how I am with books.

Anyway, I’d already finished reading How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the FA Cup, so that one wasn’t coming to Wembley with me, as it was one of my recently-finished books, along with Mind Your Head, by Juno Dawson, and The Story of Music, by Howard Goodall.

One problem which presented itself to me was that I am currently reading A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara, and, as documented, that is hardly a little book! It’s a big, chunky wodge of a book, with 720 pages. Thus I decided I would also get the book in e-book format on my Kindle, so that I could find where I was up to in my paperback, and continue from there while on the move, and then adjust my bookmark in the paperback accordingly when I got home. On the coach, on the way down to Wembley, I got a fair bit read, so I am now 35% of the way through the novel, just over a third of it read. I am finding it very readable, certainly thus far.

I then decided to focus on The Reader On The 6.27, by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent. I figured that I was on a coach, so I may as well read about a bloke on a train! A VERY readable, enjoyable book! I could definitely recommend it, it is quite quick to read, quite funny, too, and I managed to finish it off on my journey down to Wembley.

I wanted a suitable photo for this blog, and chose the top one. To be fair, I have read 3 out of 4 on the bottom row, and I am over a third of the way through A Little Life, as previously mentioned, so there’s just those three on the top row which I’ve yet to read. I hope to get around to those. I think Stuff I’ve Been Reading is going to be my current non-fiction, though, especially as I know Hornby will probably try to drag football into it at various points, just as I do on here!

What about more fiction, though, to replace The Reader On The 6.27? I don’t want anything mega-chunky, as I already have A Little Life on the go for those purposes, lol. Perhaps Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes? Or, given that it’s the 40th anniversary of one of the biggest heatwaves the UK has ever known, Summer of ’76, by Isabel Ashdown, or Instructions For a Heatwave, by Maggie O’Farrell? Perhaps I should get on with The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, by Joanna Cannon? That one’s also set in the long, hot summer of 1976! Only thing is, that one’s a hardback. Don’t really want to be lugging anything big around. Something which would be a good Handbag Book would be ideal.

My current YA read is The Girl of Ink & Stars, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, as that’s my latest book club book, so that’s sorted out, and there’s still one or two other ongoing concerns, such as The Guest Cat, by Takashi Hiraide. I was thinking of starting on one of the series I own, perhaps one of the trilogies, but maybe I should leave those until I’ve finished A Little Life. It’s not just that I’m talking at least 2 or 3 books in any of these series, most of the ones I have in mind are trilogies, but each book in that series is fairly substantial. So, forget that… I’ve got Mend The Living, by Maylis de Kerangal, which I discovered recently at Chapter One in town. I think we’ll settle for that at the moment along with all the other ongoing books!

Before I finish, I must mention that I have got yet another book about books, lol! Another of the sort of book you just dip in and out of to find recommendations for other books to suit your mood. The book is Book Lust, by Nancy Pearl. I had ordered it from Waterstone’s and got a text on Friday to say that my order had arrived. As I was going to town that afternoon, anyway, I went to the Deansgate store to collect it. I have just discovered that there are other sequels by Nancy Pearl. I shall have to investigate…

Oh, and I have a ticket for another author event at Waterstone’s Deansgate. Jessie Burton, author of The Miniaturist, is coming in July!

In the meantime, that’s about it from me for now. I’m off to sort out the Handbag, lol! Thus, until next time I blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • Stuff I’ve Been Reading – Nick Hornby
  • Fever Pitch – Nick Hornby
  • The Complete Polysyllabic Spree – Nick Hornby
  • How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the FA Cup – J. L. Carr
  • Mind Your Head – Juno Dawson
  • The Story of Music – Howard Goodall
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yangihara
  • The Reader On the 6.27 – Jean-Paul Didierlaurent
  • Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
  • Summer of ’76 – Isabel Ashdown
  • Instructions For a Heatwave – Maggie O’Farrell
  • The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
  • The Girl of Ink & Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave
  • The Guest Cat – Takashi Hiraide
  • Mend The Living – Maylis de Kerangal
  • Book Lust – Nancy Pearl
  • The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton

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Filed under Books, Books About Books, British Weather, E-Books & Audiobooks, Football, Travel, YA Books

More Waffle About Books!

Mystery book 1

What’s that in the middle? All will be revealed!

Good evening, fellow Bookworms, and welcome to another blog entry and another mystery book! It’s not quite a blind date with a book, as I actually knew which book it was, but it’s a mystery to the rest of you, so I shall be revealing it shortly. It’s our book club’s choice for our next meeting on 6th June, anyway… For the moment, it is resting between Prince, by Matt Thorne, and Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All, by Jonas Jonasson, which were my other two purchases at Waterstone’s earlier this evening.

Before we start to open the Mystery Book, let’s get you updated on a few matters. I have finished the very moving When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi, and the short but sweet Marly’s Ghost, by David Levithan, and I have got a few on the go, including Mind Your Head, by Juno Dawson, Cheer Up Love: Adventures in Depression with the Crab of Hate, by Susan Calman, The Reader On the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent, and I am continuing with How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the FA Cup, by J. L. Carr.

Mystery book 2

So… what’s in this package? Let’s open it and find out…

Let’s just get back to Marly’s Ghost a moment – this is a good read, especially for anyone who loves A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It’s basically a modern reworking of the Dickens novella, but set in the States and just before Valentine’s Day. Don’t be put off by it being classed as Young Adult. It’s a good read whatever your age! I read quite a few YA books, as regular readers of this blog will already know, and I’m 43!

I had to get the Susan Calman book when I saw it the other day. I don’t even know of this lady at all, I don’t really watch all that much telly, but from a mental health point of view, I started reading a bit when I was in Waterstone’s on Tuesday, and knew I had to buy it, I was agreeing with so much of it already! Many people see depression as being a black dog, Winston Churchill saw it that way, but Susan Calman sees it as being a crab of hate! She’s a 1974 baby, so she’s also of a similar age to me, just a bit younger.

Mystery book 3

The ribbon is off… Time to unwrap…

The Reader on The 6.27 is a novel which originally came out in the author’s native France two years ago. It tells of a guy who works at a recycling plant on a rather aggressive book pulping machine, which he hates using, and not just because it actually caused one of his workmates to end up disabled in a nasty accident… he hates the fact that he’s responsible for pulping books. He loves books, and tries to save pages, random pages from random books, and he reads these to passengers every morning on the train to work! Guylain, the main character, reminds me a lot of Hanta in Too Loud a Solitude, by Bohumil Hrabal, which I read quite some time ago now. Probably around 2008. I have to thank David Hunt for introducing me to a fair chunk of Central European literature, including Czech novelists and Polish poets… He also recommended Under The Frog, by Tibor Fischer, to me, one of the funniest books I’ve ever read! Fischer is a British author, but of Hungarian parentage, and the novel is set in Hungary in the Cold War days. Don’t let that put you off – it’s hilarious!

Mystery book 4

The end flaps are open…

I have also started reading A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara. Despite the title, it’s a chunky book to say the least! 720 pages! There is actually an event at Waterstone’s Deansgate on 17th June, the “A Little Life Therapy Group” at 6:30pm that evening, so let’s see how much of it I have managed to read by then, and then I can determine if I should go along.

Mystery book 5

Ooh! A sneak peek!

I have a right pile of hardbacks, or mostly hardbacks, which has mounted up on top of my bass amp! OK, the primary purpose of that black cuboid is to provide amplification for my bass guitar, but it has taken on the secondary role of being another surface on which I can rest a pile of books! There is one paperback on there, World Without End, by Ken Follett, but the others are all hardbacks. A few autobiographies and a couple of novels.

Mystery book 6

And there we have it!

Ta dah! The mystery book is revealed! The Girl of Ink & Stars, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. It is our latest book club book for our next meeting. Such a lovely cover, isn’t it?! The publishers are Chicken House, I have a few other YA books from that house, including Cornelia Funke’s trilogy, which I really need around to get reading… Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath. Perhaps I should finish this blog and get on with some reading?! Actually, that’s a pretty good idea, so, until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • Prince – Matt Thorne
  • Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All – Jonas Jonasson
  • When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
  • Marly’s Ghost – David Levithan
  • Mind Your Head – Juno Dawson
  • Cheer Up Love: Adventures in Depression With the Crab of Hate – Susan Calman
  • The Reader On the 6.27 – Jean-Paul Didierlaurent
  • How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the FA Cup – J. L. Carr
  • A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
  • Too Loud a Solitude – Bohumil Hrabal
  • Under the Frog – Tibor Fischer
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • World Without End – Ken Follett
  • The Girl of Ink & Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Blind Date With A Book, Books, European Literature, Humour, Mental Health, YA Books