Outside of a Dog…

Year of the Dog 2018

Year of the Dog. Photo courtesy of my friend Charity on Facebook. 🙂

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Kung Hei Fat Choi! Wishing all my followers happiness, prosperity and plenty of good books in the Year of the Dog, which has started today! As I had mentioned earlier this month, this is the Dog Blog to celebrate Chinese New Year, so I will be mentioning some books with prominent canines, and also a few others on a generally Chinese theme. There’ll also be some of the usual stuff, such as updates on the Ongoing Concerns, and mention of the Winter Olympics, where Team GB are now on the medal table in PyeongChang, I’m pleased to say!

Can’t say the Year of the Dog has got off to the best of starts for me, though, I seem to have another cold, a bit “ruff” you might say, and I’ve not seen one of my best online friends on FB yet today, so I hope she’s OK and whatever is causing her not to be online is resolved as soon as possible. I hope she’s not ill, and perhaps it’s a power cut or an internet problem.

So, then… On with the dog books, before you all go barking mad, lol…

By the way, the title of this blog, as you may have guessed, comes from quite possibly my all-time favourite quote, which is a classic from Groucho Marx…

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.

Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read!

K9 from Doctor Who

K9 on Doctor Who (early 80s, at a guess)

So, there you have it! And let’s take a look at some books with notable four-legged friends of the canine variety, or even K9 if you’re a robot dog, like the one on Doctor Who years ago when I was a kid, lol! One of the obvious dog books is Marley & Me, by John Grogan, about a pooch who requires a fair bit of training. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, however, sees a dog become a sledge dog up in the frozen north! The dog in White Fang, also by Jack London, is part wolf, but we won’t let that stand in the way of his canine credentials on this blog!

The editions of those Jack London books which I found on List Challenges are Puffin Classics, so that indicates they are children’s books, which brings me very neatly on to a dog-filled book for younger bookworms, one my niece recommended to me a few years ago, that being Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy, by Lynley Dodd! I loved this one, so thank you, Charlotte! Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion, also needs a mention while we’re on children’s books, and I’m sure I read that one when I was younger.

If we’re going to mention classic dog-filled books for younger readers, we have to mention The Hundred and One Dalmatians, by Dodie Smith. Probably best known as the Disney film, but it was a book originally! The Incredible Journey, by Sheila Burnford, sees two dogs, and also a cat, make their way across Canada to be reunited with the family who own them. I admit, I’ve not read those two, but I have most definitely read, and loved, this next one – in fact, it helped get me out of a reading slump back in late 2015…

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein, is a wonderful book, in which the dog has a huge part to play! It is on the list of books I often recommend. Oh, and, if you recall a blog or two ago, when I was mentioning science-fiction purchases, and I said I was going to save one book to mention in the Dog Blog, well that book is Sirius, by Olaf Stapledon, about a canine with human capabilities.

I also can’t do a dog blog without mentions of There Is No Dog, by Meg Rosoff, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon, Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight, by Alexandra Fuller, and Even the Dogs, by John McGregor. I think I’ve given you plenty of dog books and dog-titled books to be getting on with!

As far as Chinese-themed books go, there are plenty around, but after the long list of dog books, I’ll just settle for a few I know well enough to mention. One I enjoyed some years ago now is Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, by Dai Sijie. There’s The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, centred around Chinese families in the USA, which I half-read at uni years ago. I still have a copy, so I might yet read it properly, rather than having to skim it as I did in the early 90s during my degree course. I also have Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See, which I have yet to read. I actually have the audiobook on my computer for that one, so I could listen to it. There is also Sweet Mandarin, by Helen Tse, a true account of a family who move from China to Hong Kong, and then to the UK, and Helen was born here in Manchester. That one is about food and the restaurant business, so ties in nicely with going out for a meal to celebrate Chinese New Year!

So, after all the dogs, and the Chinese-themed reading material, how are the Ongoing Concerns getting on? Quite well, as it turns out! Russian Winters, by Andrei Kanchelskis, is at 72%, Mort, by Sir Terry Pratchett, is rapidly catching up and is now on 66% as I have been reading that one on my lunch at work and feel I will soon get it finished. Hawksmoor, by Peter Ackroyd, is on 39%, and my book club book, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman, is on 30% already. Really enjoying it, and am amused by the references to Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë – I’ll not spoil things for you, but let’s say that if you are familiar with Jane Eyre, you’ll find some characters’ names familiar if you read Eleanor Oliphant! I read Jane Eyre twice – firstly in my third year at high school (which is now known as year 9), and then again at university, so I was laughing when I got to one particular bit of my book club book and thinking “I know where you got THOSE names from!”

I’m looking to finish Russian Winters and Mort fairly soon, before this month is out, preferably, and also to get on with Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. If I get my book club book read before 7th March, I might read a bit more of Hawksmoor, move it on another chapter. I am enjoying it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not a quick book to read, and it’s not high up on my reading priorities, really.

Oh, and Not Dead Yet was given back to Sarah yesterday, as I went to Preston to meet up with her and go to the Guild Hall to see Paul Young, supported by China Crisis. Yes, very 80s, which is how we like it, lol! A great night, but a shame about the journey home – damn roadworks on the motorway closing off some of our regular exits, thus we ended up coming off near Prestwich, and thus having to go through Prestwich, into Salford, and eventually chez moi, but it took us about an hour to do so, double the time it usually takes if Sarah’s bringing me home from Preston! It also took her a while longer to get back home, too.

There seemed very little warning, too. Did not expect to be snarled up in traffic so late at night! Not like it was rush hour, or anything! It reminded us of one time when we went to see the Pet Shop Boys at the Apollo, here in Manchester, possibly 2002 or some time around then, and without any warning, the Mancunian Way was shut when the time came to be picked up after the gig! No warning at all that night, either!

dom-parsons-bronze-skeleton 2018

Didn’t they do well?! The men’s skeleton medallists with their cuddly toys!

And, before I love you and leave you for now, on to the Winter Olympics, and although I’m not sure if he’s actually received his medal yet, Dom Parsons has put Great Britain on the medal table in PyeongChang by winning bronze in the men’s skeleton! That’s him on the right with the red had and blue coat, proudly holding his cuddly toy tiger with the other medal-winners. The gold-medallist is from South Korea, and that was his local track they were sliding down, so he definitely made home advantage count! I think the guy who got the silver was one of the Olympic Athletes from Russia, in other words a Russian who has been confirmed as drug-free, thus not a cheat, and allowed to take part.

I hope we can get a medal or two in the women’s skeleton. We’re halfway through that as I write. They’ve had 2 runs, and Lizzie Yarnold, the reigning champion from Sochi 2014, is in 3rd, with Laura Deas in 4th, and fractions of a second separating the top 4, so there is a chance for both to improve and both to end up on the podium if they perk up and slide well later!

So, that’s about it for now, as I head off to have another read and a rest, and watch some more action from the Winter Olympics when it starts up again in an hour or so for another day of mad stuff on snow and ice, lol!  I love the snowboard cross – as Christopher Dean described it on the Beeb the other day, it’s a bit like short-track speed skating but on snowboards! If you’ve never seen it, you’re missing a treat! 6 snowboarders go off together on this course, and they often crash into one another! Look it up on YouTube! One of the best events to be added to the Winter Olympics in recent times!

Talking of Christopher Dean, Valentine’s Day was the 34th anniversary of him and Jayne Torvill winning gold for us at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, one of my all-time favourite sporting moments! I still can’t hear Ravel’s Bolero, even the full 17 minute version, without thinking of those two in their purple costumes, on the ice in Sarajevo. That’s what got me into the Olympics! I was 10 going on 11 and I became an Olympic nut thanks to Torvill & Dean in February 1984!

Right, that’s definitely all for now, before I just waffle on about the Olympics, lol! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Marley & Me – John Grogan
  • The Call of the Wild – Jack London
  • White Fang – Jack London
  • Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy – Lynley Dodd
  • Harry the Dirty Dog – Gene Zion
  • The Hundred and One Dalmatians – Dodie Smith
  • The Incredible Journey – Sheila Burnford
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein
  • Sirius – Olaf Stapledon
  • There Is No Dog – Meg Rosoff
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
  • Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight – Alexandra Fuller
  • Even the Dogs – John McGregor
  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress – Dai Sijie
  • The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Lisa See
  • Sweet Mandarin – Helen Tse
  • Russian Winters – Andrei Kanchelskis
  • Mort – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins

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Filed under Books, Childrens' Books, E-Books & Audiobooks, Fantasy Fiction, Food & Drink, List Challenges, Manc Stuff!, Music, Olympic Games, Ongoing Concerns, School, College & Uni Reading, Science Fiction, Sports, Television, Travel

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