Monthly Archives: March 2017

March Review

ongoing concerns and possibilities 31 March 2017

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

What a productive month March has been on the book front, ladies and gentlemen! At the end of February, I had 11 books on the Goodreads Challenge, and I’d also posted my 100th blog on here earlier that month. February ended with United winning the EFL Cup at Wembley, 3-2 vs Southampton, and with me starting The Pie at Night as a result of your votes when I asked which book from a choice of about 15 I should take down to Wembley with me!

Anyway, March has seen me reach and pass the 200 total likes milestone for my book blogs, and I also have over 40 followers! So chuffed! Thank you for reading my utter waffle! My Goodreads Challenge, as of today, 31st March, stands at 17 books, so 6 have been read this month, 3 quick reads and 3 which had been on my Ongoing Concerns list! I also have an almost-finished League Cup Winning Years bookmark, although I still need to add a couple of little finishing touches to it. The actual cross-stitching and backstitched border have been completed, though!

The quick reads, which I read in a day, or over 2 days max, were Esio Trot, The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark, and Headhunter. They didn’t even go on the OC list for rather obvious reasons – they were so short that I could finish them pretty quickly, there was no point in adding them to the list!

The books which are no longer Ongoing Concerns are The Pie at Night, Moonstone (my book club book), and Tuesdays With Morrie. Those have come off the OC List, taking the list down from 8 to 5, although I have since added Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, so I’ve got 6 OCs right now. The YA novel I have just mentioned is now at 34%, by the way. Making quick work of that one, and I reiterate what I said the other day about Greg Gaines – I am enjoying his nerdiness!

Couple of problem areas… 1) I’d like to know whereabouts I put my EFL Cup Final ticket. I know it’s in my room somewhere, but not sure where it’s disappeared to, and 2) I now have 19 books on the notorious Duplicate Books List, an increase of 2 books on the 17 I realised I had this time last year! Yes, one of them was intentional due to the book being on the Missing Books List, but the other is accidental – I have discovered that I somehow own two copies of Shakespeare, by Bill Bryson, and it’s not the only Bryson on the Duplicates list, either!

An Equal Music tops the OC list at present, and is on 78%, but I’m making short work of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, now at 34% and I only started it the other day! Either of those could be finished next, I feel. However, Finding Audrey is still stuck at 29%, I Am Zlatan Ibrahimović at 53% and The Saffron Trail at 55%, so those could do with a kick start. Personally, in the case of Finding Audrey, I shall blame her mum for reading the Daily Fail, lol!

In The Saffron Trail‘s case, I blame Greg’s dad, Ted, for being a right-wing arsehole. In fact, he can join Audrey’s mum, and the others, on the Literary Slap List next time I revise that! I try not to post spoilers for any book, but the plot kinda moves between certain characters, locations and periods in time, and part of it is set at the time of the Vietnam war. Much of the novel is set either in the UK or Morocco, though, and I bought it just before my holiday in Marrakech because of the whole Moroccan theme – quite a bit of the book is set in Marrakech, although some of it is set in Essaouira.

Zlatan is currently serving a domestic ban, although I think he misses his final game of it tomorrow at home to West Brom, so he should be back soon. I was going to read a bit more of his autobiography had he scored in our most recent European game, at home to FC Rostov, but it was Juan Mata who scored the only goal of that match in our 1-0 win, so Zlatan didn’t get read! Maybe after this weekend, then…

I have checked. This is the final game of his 3 match ban, so he’s back after we play the Baggies at Old Trafford tomorrow. Can you believe we actually kick off on a Saturday afternoon at 3pm?! A proper traditional kick off for Manchester United! Wow! You may need to sit down with a stiff drink on reading that, lol!

Eric the Seagull

Today is 22 years since King Eric came out with his legendary speech…

“When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you.” – Eric Cantona. 31st March 1995.

Good excuse to post the photo of Eric the Seagull, lol! Anyway, back to the books! Let’s get this month’s review sorted and then I can chill and watch Masterchef in a bit! Not that I’ve anything against John Torode, but I really do love Greg Wallace! He makes me lol, and he loves his desserts! I have a majorly sweet tooth, as everyone who knows me will probably tell you, so I have an affinity with Greg, even though I do envy him ’cause he gets to eat that yummy food and I don’t! Mind you, I don’t envy him or John when one of the contestants has had an absolute ‘mare in the kitchen and their cooking has been an absolute disaster and is either burnt or raw! Greg also presents the brilliant Inside The Factory series on BBC2, which I also really love!

So, as we head into April, there are 6 books on my OC list at present, of which 3 are YA novels, plus two “chunky” general fiction novels and an autobiography. My book club book for my next meeting, Moonstone, has already been read. The meeting is on 12th April. I have jury service at the end of April, so I am hoping I will get a lot of reading done when I’m on that! I am off to put the kettle on and make another brew and then watch Masterchef, so until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
  • Esio Trot – Roald Dahl
  • The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark – Jill Tomlinson
  • Headhunter – Jade Jones
  • Moonstone – Sjón
  • Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • Shakespeare – Bill Bryson
  • An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
  • Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
  • I Am Zlatan Ibrahimović – Zlatan Ibrahimović
  • The Saffron Trail – Rosanna Ley

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Cross-Stitch, Duplicate Books List, Food & Drink, Football, Goodreads, Handbag Books, Literary Slap List, Month in Review, Ongoing Concerns, Television, The TBR Pile, Travel, YA Books

A Tale of Two Copies

all the light we cannot see

Good afternoon, fellow Bookworms!

It was a charity shop bargain. Only a quid. At that price, it’s worth it to risk it for a biscuit! I firmly believe I already have a copy, but it’s in the Missing Books List, as mentioned a few blogs ago, lol, and so All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, also joins the notorious Duplicate Books List. That’s how some of my others on that list came to be on it… because I either thought I’d lost it or given it away to a charity shop, or that I had it but not in a place I could put my hands on it easily, so I went and bought a copy cheaply at one of the local charity shops around here, and then the original copy turns up eventually, and I have two of them… The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt, ended up on the Duplicate Books List in this manner!

So, having bought the Doerr novel, I was wondering where the original was, decided to make a certain part of my wardrobe unit accessible by shifting the stuff in front of it… I open the door and find out that Shakespeare, by Bill Bryson, now needs to join the Duplicate Books List! Aargh! And it’s not the only Bryson book of which I have two copies, either! I have two copies of The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, too! So, I think we now have n-n-n-n-nineteen books on the Duplicate Books List! Oh dear!

Yes, just checked. I have found my Word document from this time last year, when I listed my 17 duplicate books, so we do have 19 now, and they are as follows…

  • The Year of Reading Dangerously – Andy Miller
  • The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne
  • Attention All Shipping – Charlie Connelly
  • The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
  • Anita and Me – Meera Syal
  • Manual of the Warrior of Light – Paulo Coelho
  • The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell
  • The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid – Bill Bryson
  • The Sisters Brothers – Patrick deWitt
  • The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith
  • The Rotters’ Club – Jonathan Coe
  • A Passage To India – E. M. Forster
  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D. H. Lawrence
  • The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks
  • The Periodic Table – Primo Levi
  • A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  • All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
  • Shakespeare – Bill Bryson

Some were different editions with different covers, so I was completely unaware that I already had a copy – The Year of Reading Dangerously, and Lady Chatterley’s Lover definitely come into that category.  Saw them on offer, couldn’t resist, completely unaware of the fact that these very books were already amongst the reading matter in my room, and then I eventually discover that I have two copies of the same damn book… Oh bugger!

The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, was a half-read book from my student days, so I probably thought I’d given my first copy away to a book sale at work when Mum and I were moving house to our present address in 2006 and I had to have a major cull of my books. Thus I was VERY surprised to find that I still had my first copy!

Usually, at the end of my blog, I list the books I’ve mentioned in that blog, but I’m not going to do that with this one, as I’ve already listed them above. So, unless I mention any books which are not on the Duplicate Books List, you’ll have to refer to the list above. There might be one or two if I mention my Ongoing Concerns, but there’s unlikely to be a big list as I’ve already done that for this blog and I’m not bloody listing them all at the end as well! I’m no parrot- I’m not repeating myself!

Some blog news now, and a guy called Jack Faivish commented on my last blog, Tuesday Night’s Alright (For Reading), inviting me to contribute to his blog, tvandcity, which was very kind of him, although I suspect my televisual interests are very retro and I’m not really into much in terms of current telly! I’m not a fan of much stuff which is on the box these days – far too much rubbish which doesn’t appeal to me at all!

When I tend to mention telly, the only current stuff I usually bother with is Pointless, Masterchef, footy matches, occasional other sports (usually the Olympics and Winter Olympics when those are on), and music videos. Maybe a documentary every now and then if it’s something which interests me, such as volcanoes, but that’s not really a lot, is it? Besides which, I don’t watch soap operas, I don’t watch most reality tv shows, I don’t watch those serials from the States which are always being plugged on Channel 5, Sky One or Sky Atlantic… I really don’t follow anything like that, so I doubt I’d be of any use to a television blog unless they are into the old stuff from the 70s and 80s, when I was a kid, there weren’t many channels, but what was on them was much better than the crap we see today!

And today’s stuff is too dumbed-down for the most part. People called the television the “idiot box” when I was younger, but it really is in this day and age. At least when I was a kid, you had a lot more informative stuff on the box, particularly when BBC2 showed Open University programmes late at night and at weekends! My dad used to watch loads of those! Now, the OU is online, but they’re not on telly any more, adding to the sense that there’s little of any real value on the box. Then again, that means I’m not missing much by reading instead!

“I find television to be very educational. Every time someone switches on the set, I go in another room and read a book!” – Groucho Marx.

Right, anyway, back to books of which I only own ONE copy, at least as far as I’m aware, lol! An Equal Music now heads the Ongoing Concerns charts and completion level is now at 78% so it shouldn’t be too long before that particular “chunky” has been read. The number of OCs is currently 6, as Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews, has been added to the list. I had a cursory read the other night, liked what I read, and decided that it should join the list. I must like nerdy lads in YA novels, lol, as I liked Colin Singleton in An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green, when I read that one last year, and Greg Gaines makes me lol for pretty similar reasons. I don’t think he’s quite as geeky as Colin, but he’s definitely a nerd, and that seems to amuse me.

The geek shall inherit the earth!

Well, maybe, maybe not, lol, but certainly the act of having a geeky character in a book seems to appeal to me. Audrey’s brother, Frank, in Finding Audrey, by Sophie Kinsella, also makes me laugh, and he’s definitely a geek!

More books may well be added to the OC list fairly soon, but at the moment, we have six on there while I decide which of my countless unread or partially-read books should enjoy a larger share of my attention! I love YA, as you know, but I’m conscious of the fact I’ve already got a fair bit of that on my OC list – my current list of 6 is half YA at present, with Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Finding Audrey, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl representing that category of books! I had already compared books to food in recent blogs, saying you don’t want the same thing all the time, you want some variety. Just as much as you fill a plate with various bits and bobs from an eat as much as you like buffet, you need a balanced diet in general. Even if you love a certain meal, you wouldn’t have it every bloody day, would you? So, I need other books on my OC list, not just young adult novels with geeky lads in them, lol!

I still intend to start on Dumplin’ fairly soon, and the idea of reading through that “rainbow tower” of books still appeals to me, and that would start off with Stargirl, so that would be YA. I think I should finish at least Nick & Norah, though, before any more YA makes its way on to the OC list! Some general fiction, rather than YA, could go on my list, or perhaps some non-fiction. Another autobiography, perhaps? I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic is on my list at present, though, so maybe non-fiction which isn’t autobiographical, or at least less autobiographical. Perhaps some historical fiction, too. Those are usually amongst the “chunkies” of the book world, but there’ll certainly be space on my plate for a chunky novel once An Equal Music has been read. Perhaps I should give Gould’s Book of Fish a go, or even re-try The Luminaries?

Anyway, I’m off to close the wardrobe door and put things back where they were. Maybe the missing books I blogged about earlier this month are hiding out in another part of that unit? We don’t have time for that episode now, but it will probably crop up in a future blog! For the time being, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Non-duplicate books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • An Abundance of Katherines – John Green
  • Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
  • Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
  • Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy
  • Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli
  • I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  • Gould’s Book of Fish – Richard Flanagan
  • The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Duplicate Books List, Football, Humour, Literary Issues, Music, My Bookworm History, Olympic Games, Ongoing Concerns, Television, The TBR Pile, Volcanoes, YA Books

Tuesday Night’s Alright (For Reading)

Tuesdays with Morrie finished March 2017

My Tuesdays with Morrie are complete…

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Sir Elton John, who celebrated his 70th birthday on Saturday just gone, opined in song that Saturday night was alright for fighting. I would argue that any night is alright for reading, but as I’ve been reading Mitch Albom‘s book for the past four Tuesdays, it’s as good a day as any for the title of this blog! Tuesdays With Morrie has now been read, and is yet another book off the OC list this month! Moonstone, my book club book, was finished off the other day. When I come to the March Review in a few days’ time, I will be able to look back on a VERY productive month on the book front, with several OCs finished off, a few quicker reads also read, ones which were that short they didn’t even need to go on the OC list at all, lol, and a bookmark almost completed, too!

EFL Cup bookmark so far

It’s not quite finished – I could still do with adding some sort of tassel to it, plus putting red, white and black threads through it as ribbons on the handles of the cup, but most of it was completed last night pending those final flourishes. The book behind it is a 2017 diary, and I’m keeping track of my reading in it, using it as a book diary for the year. I got that idea earlier this month, wish I’d thought of it in January, rather than March, but never mind! The bit at the back of the cup is the other handle – for some weird reason, the League Cup has three handles! Absolutely no idea why – guess it’s just one of football’s great mysteries, lol!

Anyhow, back to the books – after all, I’m going to be putting my newly-stitched League Cup winning years bookmark into service fairly shortly, and adding another book or two to the OCs, as the list is now looking a bit short! I’ve only got five books on it now, lol! Five books! I had eight books on that list only a week ago, lol, but since then The Pie at Night, Moonstone, and Tuesdays With Morrie have all been completed and added to the Goodreads Challenge 2017, thus they are no longer Ongoing Concerns! Moonstone was a bit of an odd read at times, lol, but I enjoyed it, and particularly when I discovered that the main protagonist’s birthday was the same day as mine! Obviously, this novel was set in 1918-19, so the character would be a damn sight older than me, indeed he’d be in his hundreds! There’s a bit in 1919 where he points out to the elderly lady with whom he lives that he had turned 16 on April 23rd, so he would have been born in 1903 and therefore would be exactly 70 years older than yours truly! He’d be approaching his 114th birthday shortly, as I approach my 44th birthday!

I was originally expecting to blog that I’d had to shift some of the notorious book towers, but I’ve not had to do that. I’ve been able to make other arrangements in case the gas man needs to check the heater in my room, arrangements which leave the book towers intact, unless they decide to take a tumble again, but the only time they’ve done that, thus far, was due to a Henrikh Mkhitaryan goal for Manchester United away to Leicester City in February, and United don’t play again until Saturday when we have a proper, traditional Saturday afternoon 3pm kick-off against West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford, so I’m not expecting any falling books prior to that, lol!

Yes, you read that right. We have a proper Saturday afternoon 3pm kick-off! You may need to sit down with a stiff drink upon reading that shock news, lol!

Back again. Sorry. You won’t realise it when reading this, but I’d been watching telly, the documentary Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad on BBC1. Such a brave guy, and a class act, and it was an honour to have had him as one of our players at United from 2002 to 2014. I met him before a match in 2012 and he signed my United drawstring bag. I recall him once saying that he had initially thought he’d be with us for 3 or 4 years but he ended up staying for 12!

Back to the books, though, and we need to sort out some potentials to add to the OC list. My next book club meeting is due on 12th April, so we’re a week or two away from that just yet, and I’ve read Moonstone already, as I mentioned, so there’s no book club representation on the OCs at present. I think I’m probably going to opt for Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, that is looking highly likely to join the Ongoing Concerns list in the very near future! I also quite like the idea of  working through the Rainbow Tower of Books, which would make Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli the first port of call on that book cruise, so to speak! Of course, both Dumplin’ and Stargirl are YA novels, and the number of shits I give about the fact that I am almost 44 years old and I read YA books is likely to be overestimated by many people! Next bit is NSFW due to un-asterisked expletive, but I know at least some of you will appreciate the humour in this…

added a f I didn't give

I saw that one the other day on Facebook and had to save it for future use! Especially when dealing with matters of literature and failing to give a shit what any book snobs might think about a grown adult woman reading young adult novels! To be frank, my giveashitometer has been malfunctioning for donkey’s years, so the likelihood of yours truly giving any flying f**ks about the opinions of literary snobs is on a par with Leicester City’s chances of retaining the Premier League title this season. In other words, Not. Gonna. Happen.

As I’ve said countless times, I aim to ENCOURAGE reading! This is why I am so anti-snobbishness! I am against anything which puts people off and stops them from enjoying books! Reading should be entertainment. It should be fun. It should be a pleasant experience, not just a necessity which people have to do in order to get on at school or in work! Therefore I salute any Book Heroes who do their bit to encourage reading! I have a few here…

Henry Winkler for one. Yes, I know most people just think of him as The Fonz from Happy Days, but did you know he had an honorary OBE, which he was awarded for services to literacy? He received it in 2011 for helping people with dyslexia here in the UK, having been diagnosed with the reading difficulty in his adult life.

It must be hard to motivate yourself to read if you have a problem which makes reading difficult for you. It is the book-reading equivalent of me being motivated to do any form of exercise when I have a dodgy thyroid gland (under-active from birth) and a track record of having been utterly shite at PE when I was at school! So, for one dyslexic to still make the effort to read, and then to help others, that is truly deserving of his OBE. It is actually a shame that he’s not from the UK or the Commonwealth, so he isn’t really entitled to use the letters after his name, because he bloody deserves to as far as I’m concerned!

Greg Smith in Orlando, Florida, for helping a local homeless lady, Amy Joe, learn to read so she can enjoy reading and also use the skill to get on in life and improve her chances of getting a job and a roof over her head.

Sidney Keys III from St Louis, Missouri. This fine young man, all of 11 years of age, thus at elementary school (primary school as we’d call it here in the UK), has set up a club called Books N Bros to encourage his fellow young black males to read more books! He has helped to source more African-American literature for children around his age, and set up a book club to encourage more reading amongst his peers… Hope this link works…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/book-club-for-black-boys_us_58c7f308e4b081a56def641d

So, those are some serious Book Heroes for us to applaud! We definitely need people like this, so if you know of anyone who goes out of his or her way to encourage reading, give them a mention! Perhaps in the comments of my blogs! This one is coming to an end right now, I think I’ve pretty much typed everything which needs typing at present! So, until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom
  • Moonstone – Sjón
  • The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
  • Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy
  • Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli

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Filed under Books, Cross-Stitch, Football, Goodreads, Junior Bookworms, Literary Issues, Music, Ongoing Concerns, Television, The TBR Pile, YA Books

Joanne D-J and the Forty Bookworms

book-selfie-march-2017

Book selfie: Reading The Pie at Night, now finished, of course!

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Over 100 blog posts, just over 200 likes, and now 40 followers! Thank you for all the likes and follows! Much appreciated! I’m glad you enjoy my vaguely book-related waffle on the internet which has been coming in the guise of these blogs since the summer of 2010!

As far as my Goodreads Challenge for 2017 goes, I am now halfway towards my target of 30 books! I read Headhunter, by Jade Jones, yesterday while I was at band practice, my 15th read of the year. So far, things are going well as we head towards the end of March. However, this blogger is taking nowt for granted, especially after the bout of Reader’s Block she suffered last summer once she’d finished Hanya Yanagihara‘s epic novel, A Little Life! That was one hell of a book! I really enjoyed it, but it certainly took a lot out of me on the reading front, and I didn’t read any more fiction for the rest of 2016 after that! Just couldn’t get into anything which wasn’t factual! Managed some non-fiction stuff about music, food, and a few autobiographies, but my appetite for fiction had gone! I was stuffed after a 720 page epic! The literary equivalent of Mr Creosote in the Monty Python film, The Meaning of Life! I couldn’t even have managed the “wafer-thin mint” of a short story or novella, lol!

I tried reading fiction after A Little Life, but, no matter what I tried to read after that, it was like… nah… this is just not going to happen. Can’t get into this at all…

So, non-fiction it was. Good job I like factual books as much as I like fiction!

As for fiction, I’ve said this before, but let’s get away from the idea of “must reads” – people have enough of that during their education, and I think that puts a significant number of people off reading. Not a lot can be done about the fact that there’ll always be required reading during education, so the best bet is to encourage a love of reading from birth! If a child is a bookworm before he or she starts school, if that child associates reading with fun and with love, the chances are that they will always love books and will be at less risk of being put off by the occasional book foisted on them at school which doesn’t float their boat!

It’s OK to read books for fun, even when you also have to read some for school, college, university, or even work! Read a bit of what you need to read, then treat yourself with something you actually WANT to read! That would be my advice for those of you who are still at a “required reading” stage of life.

Yes, I DID enjoy some of the stuff I actually had to read during my time at school, college and uni, and the likes of Jane Eyre, Great Expectations and Pride and Prejudice will probably always feature on set lists for literature coursework! However, it’s time to focus on more recent works and maybe decide on some newer classics! We’re in 2017, so by now, anything written in 1997 will be 20 years old, anything written in 1987 will be 30 years old, anything written in 1977, which is the year which saw me start school that autumn, will be 40 years old! Music from these decades is featured on such channels as Vintage TV, so we’re talking about A Bloody Long Time Ago Now!

Even a novel such as The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, is 12 years old this year, published back in 2005, and it was 2008 when I first read it and fell in love with it enough to want to give out copies for World Book Night in April 2012 on my 39th birthday!

Books knocking around for a while

Books which have been knocking around for quite some time, lol!

In order to celebrate having posted over 100 blogs, having gained over 200 likes, and having acquired 40 followers, what should we do? Perhaps we could look at some of the books I’ve had knocking around for seemingly donkey’s years, books which include Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden, and Gould’s Book of Fish, by Richard Flanagan. The fishy one, with a pot-bellied seahorse on the cover, weighs in at just under 400 pages, so maybe when one of the “chunkies” on the OC list is finished, I could start Gould’s Book of Fish. Perhaps once I’ve finished An Equal Music, as that’s nearer to being finished than The Saffron Trail.

I could read To Major Tom: The Bowie Letters, by Dave Thompson, which has been knocking around for a while since I picked it up as a charity shop bargain. It would be rather apt given that Royal Mail have issued a set of David Bowie album cover stamps this month! With books set to come off the OC list, and one already having done so, I need new ones to go on there, lol, so I am weighing up the options!

Looks like there’s a couple of charity shop bargains on that photo! People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks, and Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters have been hanging around Computer Corner for quite some time, along with A Prayer For Owen Meany, by John Irving. That’s quite a chunky one, but having said that, let’s not forget I’ve got jury service coming up in April, so as long as no-one’s wanting me to actually sit in on a case in court, I should be able to get some epic reading done in that fortnight! That’s what I’m hoping for, anyway!

Book and bookmark rediscovered March 2017

Not only did I find one of my books, but also one of my bookmarks!

The other two books on that photo of “books which have been knocking around for a while” are non-fiction, with the autobiographical Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, by David Sedaris, as pictured above, and A History of Modern Britain, by Andrew Marr, making up the selection on the photo. It was also nice to discover one of my cross-stitched bookmarks in the Sedaris book – I’d wondered where that one had got to, clearly it was keeping my place somewhere early on as I started to read about diabetes and owls, lol!

Talking of cross-stitched bookmarks, just in case you were wondering, yes, I have started on a bookmark to celebrate United’s EFL Cup victory in February! I’ve stitched the five years we’ve won the trophy, but actually need to stitch the cup, and obviously some sort of rudimentary border around it, but the League Cup Bookmark has been started! Obviously, it’s not as long as my FA Cup Winning Years bookmark which I stitched last year, but then we’ve won the FA Cup 12 times, we’ve only won the League Cup 5 times.

Anyway, time I got either some reading or stitching done, so that’s about all for now! Until the next time I blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
  • Headhunter – Jade Jones
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  • Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  • Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
  • Gould’s Book of Fish – Richard Flanagan
  • An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
  • The Saffron Trail  -Rosanna Ley
  • To Major Tom: The Bowie Letters – Dave Thompson
  • People of the Book – Geraldine Brooks
  • Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
  • A Prayer For Owen Meany – John Irving
  • Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls – David Sedaris
  • A History of Modern Britain – Andrew Marr

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Polishing Off The Pie

Pie at Night finished March 2017

Finished! The Pie has had its chips (and gravy), lol!

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

That’s The Pie at Night finished! 14 books on the Goodreads Challenge now, as Stuart Maconie‘s brilliant guide to what the north does for fun joins the list of books I’ve read this year! Wahey! It can now come off the list of Ongoing Concerns, although I might want to get that list down further before adding more to it. Then again, I might not! There are plenty of books round here begging to be read, lol, so it won’t be too long before new ones are added! After all, I expect others to come off the OC list pretty soon.

Unless anything drastic happens, I’m expecting this coming Tuesday to be the last of my Tuesdays With Morrie sessions! That one is certainly a very moving and poignant book, although I am not one to cry over reading matter. Doesn’t mean I don’t experience feelings when reading, I certainly do, but not what some people would describe as “ugly crying”.or “ugly sobbing”. When I was reading A Little Life last year, I wanted to hug Jude on several occasions, and wanted to punch the living daylights out of several characters in that novel who had mistreated him! Willem was my favourite from that novel.

Moonstone will still need to be a priority as it’s for book club. Mind you, it’s only short and I’m just over halfway through it at present, so that should be off the OC list fairly shortly, and I also think Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist is making good progress. It’s not that I’m not enjoying the others on the OC list, but maybe I’ve just been more in the mood for certain books rather than others.

So, with one book off the OC list, and with others soon to follow, we need to think about which fresh books or half-read books to add to the mix! Do we opt for Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, particularly as it’s going to be made into a film? It has to be said that I’m not much of a cinema-goer anyway, so it’s not all that important to get something read before it appears at the flicks! It’s not that I don’t like films, I do, but I really have to get my arse in gear to go and see them, and it’s not really something I lose sleep over if I miss out on seeing something – I can always get it and watch it on DVD, and even then, I’ve got plenty of those I’ve not got around to watching yet!

I think it’s the matter of wondering if I really have a couple of hours to set aside for a film. A book can be picked up and put down and picked up again. Yes, I have read books in one sitting before now, but it’s been a long time since I did that with anything other than a kid’s book! I managed The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark in one go the other day, but that’s a children’s book, it had fewer than 100 pages!

Rainbow Book Tower March 2017

The Rainbow Book Tower

What I COULD do on the OC front is tackle that rainbow pile of books from pink-covered Stargirl at the top down to The Sisters Brothers whose spine serves as the “pot of gold” at the bottom! I could add the next book from that pile any time I need a new item of reading matter on the OC list. There are also some of the runners-up from the vote to become my “Wembley Book” for the EFL Cup Final last month, the vote which was won by The Pie at Night, which I have just finished. One of the runners-up on that front was The Lady and the Unicorn, by Tracy Chevalier, so that one should be given serious consideration.

If you recall my recent blog, I mentioned a book with a “mad-looking snowman” on the cover – the anonymously-penned Diary of an Oxygen Thief – well, I took the plunge and acquired it the other day, and it has become a Handbag Book, as has Headhunter, by Jade Jones, the Olympic Taekwondo Champion from 2012 and 1016. It’s from the Quick Reads series and was written after London 2012, but before Rio 2016. As it’s a very slim volume, I expect to get through that one fairly rapidly once I decide to make a start on it! I have a couple of “chunkies” on the OC list at present, so I don’t feel remotely bad about having one or two at the short end of the scale. I also managed to pick up a book in a sale the other day, but I have not yet read Eragon or Eldest, so Brisingr is a long way off being read! The fourth book of that series is Inheritance, but I don’t have a copy of that, and that’s not a major concern right now!

I am not sure if I mentioned this in previous blogs, but I recently received documentation calling me up for jury service in April, straight after Easter. My parents, and my late maternal grandparents, have done it, and if their experiences are anything to go by, I am hoping to get some epic reading done during the fortnight I expect to be fulfilling that obligation at the courts in town! Crime is not my usual genre when it comes to books, so it’s unlikely I’ll be reading anything of a legal persuasion, unless, perhaps, I choose to read Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood! That one’s in the rainbow tower, though, so if I decide to read books in order of coloured spines, there’d be three others I’d need to read before the Atwood!

Anyway, I think that’s about it for now! The pie has been eaten, but there are plenty more books on the menu, and it’s so hard to choose! I want a bit of everything on my plate, a sort of read-as-much-as-you-like buffet on the literary front, as it were! Hence the Ongoing Concerns – I can have a bit of YA, a bit of travel, some autobiography, and a couple of chunky helpings of general fiction… A food court but for books, so no matter what you’re in the mood for on the reading front, if you’ve got a few different types of books on your OC list, you can get on with whichever suits your mood at that time!

Until the next time I blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
  • Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • Moonstone – Sjón
  • Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
  • Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy
  • The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark – Jill Tomlinson
  • Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli
  • The Sisters Brothers – Patrick deWitt
  • The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracy Chevalier
  • Diary of an Oxygen Thief – Anonymous
  • Headhunter – Jade Jones
  • Eragon – Christopher Paolini
  • Eldest – Christopher Paolini
  • Brisingr – Christopher Paolini
  • Inheritance – Christopher Paolini
  • Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood

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Educational Porpoises

Books that make you happy

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Don’t you think that above photo contains some much-needed advice?! I have lost count of the times I’ve had to rant about the unnecessary issues which seem to crop up all too often in the otherwise wonderful world of books! Therefore, I’m going to offer bits of advice and some random waffle here…

Firstly, the ONLY age restriction,when it comes to books, is for erotic novels! Such “mucky books” should only be read by those of us 18 years old or over! That, for me, is the only age restriction I would ever place on any book! If the content is of a sexual nature, it’s adults only. Otherwise, anything goes! Read above your age, read below your age. You could be 77 and reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or you could be 7 and reading Pride and Prejudice. Whatever floats your boat!

Read books written by men, and read books written by women. If you only read one of those sets, you are missing out on some great books in the other set! Stop restricting yourself unnecessarily! It’s pointless and stupid!

The “Dead White Men” couldn’t help being white. Or male. And at least some of them may have been dead before their works finally got published! Some of them wrote some great books – don’t snub them just because you’ve heard some “right-on” person slagging them off! They didn’t choose their works to go on some literary canon or other, it wasn’t their decision, so don’t take it out on them! Try a bit of Dickens – I can recommend A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations.

PROPER diversity is about including everything, therefore in book terms, that means reading books by all sorts of authors INCLUDING some dead white men, it does not mean reading books by all sorts of authors except the DWM!

Read books by people from all around the world! Books give you the chance to “travel” when you have to stay where you are! Sometimes they can remind you of where you’ve been, or give you ideas of where you might want to go. Well, books set in real locations can, anyway. You might have a spot of bother doing this with fantasy fiction, as I’ve not yet discovered how any of us can get to Hogwarts, Narnia, Middle Earth or the Discworld! Sorry! You should still read some fantasy, though, but travel to those places is still only in our imaginations as yet. (A pity, ’cause I’d love to go to Hogwarts!)

Don’t over-analyse books and read loads of extra meanings into them! Yes, OK, you might have learned this skill at school, college or uni, and might have to apply it to certain books you are studying, but I can assure you there is NO need to apply it to any other books you’re NOT studying! I had to do it in my student days, but it’s not something I’ve bothered with since graduating! As I’ve said before, if an author describes a room as blue, it simply means the room was decorated in that colour scheme, it does not necessarily mean the author was going through a bout of depression when he or she wrote that book!

If you’ve ever read, or even heard of, A Farewell To Arms, by Ernest Hemingway, and wondered if there was such a book as A Farewell To Legs, I’m pleased to be able to tell you that such a novel does exist! It’s by Jeffrey Cohen, and it’s the second book in the Aaron Tucker mystery series. So now you know!

There’s NO shame in reading Young Adult novels when you’re an older adult! There’s some damn good stuff out there which is seen as YA – don’t be afraid to read it! Yes, even on buses, trams or trains! I was already in my late 20s when I started reading the Harry Potter series, and it was recommended to me by one of my colleagues at work.

There’s also NO shame in reading younger kids’ books, either! There’s loads of good books out there for youngsters, and you can’t beat a bit of Roald Dahl! I’ve recently read Esio Trot, one of my niece’s books.

Join a library and borrow books for free! Not just physical books, but you can also borrow audiobooks, too. You may even be able to borrow e-books which would then go on your device for a limited time, just as you would borrow a physical book from a library for a number of weeks, but you’d have to check with your local library.

Check out charity shops for cheap books! There are plenty of bargains to be had! It is still on my notorious TBR pile, but I bought The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern, from a charity shop, for a mere £1. AND it was the hardback edition! Epic Win! Also, if you do need to make space for new books, donate old ones you’ve read, or are probably not going to get around to reading, to charity shops so they can offer them as bargains to other bookworms!

As the penguin in the photo advised, read books which interest YOU! The raved-about books might not float your boat, and I myself have had issues with some of the books which have won prizes in recent years! Don’t get me started on Booker Prize Winners, lol! If you read the blurb, and the book appeals to you, read it. It doesn’t matter how popular it is, if it means something to you, that’s all you need to care about! No need to give a shit about what anyone else thinks!

If a book ISN’T grabbing you, give it around 70 to 100 pages, and if it still hasn’t done anything for you, put it down and find another book. There is NO point wasting time persisting with something you’re not enjoying, so unless you have to read it for educational purposes, or even educational porpoises, try another book. You can always try that book again later, see if it’s any better on a 2nd or even 3rd attempt, but you don’t have to finish it! Giving up is NOT a negative thing! It is a positive thing because it shows you’ve had the common sense to stop wasting your time with something you’re not enjoying, and you’ve decided to try something else instead! One day, I might try The Luminaries again, which was a book I didn’t make much progress with the first time I tried a few years ago. I swapped my original copy for a copy of Girl With a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier, which I loved, but I have since bought another copy of the Eleanor Catton novel at a charity shop, so it might end up being given a second chance.

Educational porpoises

Are there such things as educational porpoises? Who knows?!

Read fiction and non-fiction. Find factual stuff which interests you, and read about that, as well as reading stories. As I’ve said in other blogs, when I’ve been off on a rant, the ONLY distinction we ever need to make when it comes to any book is whether it is fact or fiction we are reading! We do NOT need to worry nor care whether an author is male or female! There is absolutely NO need to budget for any flying f**ks on that front, as they do not need to be given!

If you’re learning another language, try finding a translation of a book you already know in your own language. When I was studying GCSE Spanish at evening classes in the late 90s, I bought myself a copy of Charlie y la fábrica de chocolate – I’m pretty sure you can work out which Roald Dahl book that is…

Poetry anthologies can be dipped in to. Even with a “favourite poet” you’ll like some poems more than others. I don’t think we are meant to “get” every single poem, we are to find the ones which resonate with us. So, even if you’ve only read one or two poems by that particular poet, I’d still tick off the anthology if it turns up on List Challenges! A couple of my faves are quite long poems – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Goblin Market, by Christina Rossetti. The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe, is pretty good too.

There’s no such thing as too many books! The most common problem amongst bookworms is having insufficient bookshelves! I definitely experience this problem, lol! I think it’s time I brought this entry to a close, as I think I have covered most issues! As long as it’s not spam, do feel free to comment on these blogs. I appreciate that a lot of people seem to enjoy them, some entries more than others, but if there’s anything you want to ask or say, please do! As I said, as long as no-one’s spamming, and people are asking relevant stuff, I don’t mind!

So, until I publish another long waffly post onto this blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books and poems mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
  • Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  • A Farewell To Arms – Ernest Hemingway
  • A Farewell To Legs – Jeffrey Cohen
  • The Harry Potter series – J. K. Rowling
  • Esio Trot – Roald Dahl
  • The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
  • The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
  • Charlie y la Fábrica de Chocolate – Roald Dahl
  • The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Samuel Taylor Coleridge (poem)
  • Goblin Market – Christina Rossetti (poem)
  • The Raven – Edgar Allan Poe (poem)

 

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Book of the Irish

Happy Reading Gaelic

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

If there are any Irish bookworms amongst my followers, Happy St Patrick’s Day! We’ll get some Irish books, or at least Irish-themed books in this blog, as that’s our obvious theme for this one! Talking of which, as you know from My Family and Other Bookworms, two of my aunties were over from Ireland last weekend, Andrea and Jennifer, and I had mentioned that my Auntie Jenny had left her Kindle on the plane on the flight over from Dublin to Manchester. Actually, her Kindle and her iPad. Thankfully, though, they were found by cabin crew and looked after at Manchester Airport, so when my auntie phoned up, they were able to put an owner to the items and were sending them out to her in the post, so I hope she’s now received them and has got all her electronic books back!

As we are going to be mentioning Irish books, or at least books set in Ireland, I think we should start off with one I read and loved very recently, that being Round Ireland With a Fridge, by Tony Hawks. I can definitely recommend this one, as can my dad! It’s the result of a drunken bet, and it’s VERY funny! For anyone who doesn’t know, Hawks was a minor pop star back in the late 80s, as part of a one hit wonder act called Morris Minor and the Majors. You may recall, if you were around in 1988, a song called Stutter Rap (No Sleep Til Bedtime), which was a parody of No Sleep Til Brooklyn by the Beastie Boys. Well, Hawks was partly responsible for that! Hmm…. that’s “responsible” in the loosest possible sense of the word, of course, lol!

I also mentioned, in a recent blog, one of my Paulo Coelho books, one of the as yet unread ones – Brida. Now, I KNOW Coelho is definitely NOT Irish – he’s Brazilian if I am not mistaken, but Brida is set in Ireland, so it’s getting a mention in this blog! That’s hanging around here, in Computer Corner. Talking of which, if we actually go under the laptop and thus into the sort of Computer Cave, as it were, we will find Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt. That is definitely set in Ireland and by an Irish-American, as it’s the first instalment of his memoirs. He followed that up with ‘Tis, and also wrote Teacher Man, a book about his experiences as a teacher in several New York schools.

Onto books lurking in my wardrobe… Not that I can get to this without shifting some stuff in front of the doors, but I know the Barrytown Trilogy, by Roddy Doyle, is somewhere in my wardrobe unit, or at least I am pretty certain it is! I have the trilogy edition, but as separate novels, the books are The Commitments, The Snapper and The Van, all of which feature the Rabbitte family in Dublin, and I’ve put them on the List Challenges list as a trilogy and as the three separate novels, so come the end of this year when I publish the list, you’ll be able to tick them off as you see fit if you have read the all-in-one version or individual novels. Or even both!

Well, we can’t have a blog about Irish books without mention of James Joyce, can we?! That would be an epic fail! I have to admit that the only book of his that I have read is Dubliners, which is a collection of short stories of Dublin life in the early 20th century. I have yet to attempt Ulysses – if anyone has read that one, what’s it like? I have heard it has a reputation as a “challenging” read!

It’s not the most comprehensive blog regarding Irish books, I know, but if it gives readers a starting place and a few ideas, that’s the main thing. I do need to move on to an update regarding the Ongoing Concerns now, as I made progress with a few of them yesterday! I have started Moonstone, by Sjón, and am almost a third of the way through it already, reaching 32% according to Goodreads! It has been added to the OCs, so there are currently 8 on that list right now, and I have updates for three more of them…

The Pie at Night, by Stuart Maconie, now tops the OC charts, as it is up to the 70% read mark, and is a truly good read. He just strikes me as the sort of bloke I’d like to have a good chat with about music, and books, and footy! I was reading the chapter about footy yesterday, actually, which mentions matches at all sorts of levels, including Manchester United’s Champions League home game against Olympiakos in March 2014, three years ago, when we overturned a 0-2 first leg deficit, winning 3-0 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate, thanks to Robin van Persie’s hat-trick! Rochdale and FC United also get significant mentions in this chapter. Mention of ‘Dale reminds me of one of my former colleagues, Mark Owen (no, not the one from Take That, lol, a less-famous one) who once called his fantasy footy team Up The Dale Down The Ale!

Before we go on to the other two books with which I made progress yesterday, I must also mention that United made progress yesterday in the Europa League, as we won 1-0 on the night with a 70th minute goal by Juan Mata at the Stretford End, to win 2-1 on aggregate, and we found out this lunchtime that we have been drawn against Anderlecht of Belgum in the quarter-finals, with the first leg away, second leg at Old Trafford. Anderlecht were United’s first-ever opponents in Europe, back in the autumn of 1956 in the European Cup. We stuffed them comprehensively, as we won one of the legs 10-0, which is still our record victory to date, I believe. I doubt a 10-0 thrashing is on the cards this time, but I just hope we win and make progress – we need to be more clinical and finish teams off. We also really need to stop fannying about at the back! (That’s a technical term, by the way, lol!)

OC List March 16th 2017

My Ongoing Concerns wipe board…

So, back to the books now we’ve got the footy out of the way, and I decided we needed to make some further inroads with the YA novels on the Ongoing Concerns list, and got Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist up to 40%, and Finding Audrey up to 29%. They are still quite a bit behind some of the other books on the OC list, but if we can get some of the others OFF that list, we can focus more on some of the YA stuff. The likelihood is that Moonstone will be finished fairly quickly, which gets that out of the way, and Tuesdays With Morrie will be read again this coming Tuesday and thus that will be even nearer completion. I also think getting The Pie at Night finished off fairly soon is a distinct possibility.

Yes, those are magnets from a few of my holidays at the bottom of the wipe board! From Berlin, Chichen Itza and Marrakech, respectively. The books are listed in order of closest to completion. If I added another couple of books, I could have a top ten, like the charts, lol, but eight is more than enough, really, and I need to get it down a bit! As I have said, though, in previous blogs, I had to have several books on the go at one time in my student days, so it goes back to the early 90s and I never got out of the habit even after graduating in 1994. Half of my degree was in literature, so I had to half-read a lot of books!

Anyway, I think that’s about all for now, so I hope you’ve enjoyed our little look at books of an Irish persuasion and an update on the Ongoing Concerns! Until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Round Ireland With a Fridge – Tony Hawks
  • Brida – Paulo Coelho
  • Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt
  • ‘Tis – Frank McCourt
  • Teacher Man – Frank McCourt
  • The Barrytown Trilogy – Roddy Doyle
  • The Commitments – Roddy Doyle
  • The Snapper – Roddy Doyle
  • The Van – Roddy Doyle
  • Dubliners – James Joyce
  • Ulysses – James Joyce
  • Moonstone – Sjón
  • The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
  • Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
  • Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
  • Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom

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