Category Archives: Literary Issues

This Book Will Change Your… Er, No It Won’t!

Row of Penguin Books

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman is now back in my handbag, ready for tomorrow’s book club meeting. Hopefully we will choose something else I will enjoy. So, no horror and no dystopia, please. No current affairs, either! I read to escape from that crap!

As well as a few other issues, I want to open up to fellow bookworms and ask if there is anyone else out there who has the same issue as me… This issue is with books which other people claim “will change your life”. I just don’t think any of them have!

I love books. I have loved books all my life. My parents read to me when I was a baby and I soon learned to read for myself. I was reading before I started school, and was thus already a bookworm by the time I started in the reception class at Monton Green Primary School in the September of 1977, 40 years ago this coming autumn! But, as an adult, I have come across several books in my general awareness of all things literary which certain people will claim are life-changers.

I have read a few of these, but I don’t feel my life has been changed!

Don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying I’ve not enjoyed them. There have been a few I have enjoyed, such as The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, and Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, but these books have had no significant effect on my life other than to be able to say “yes, I’ve read that one” and to be able to tick it off on book lists when I go on List Challenges, lol! That’s hardly what you call life-changing, though, is it? I am that little bit more well-read than I was prior to having read that particular book, but that’s all I can honestly declare!

I’ve not changed my diet, not taken up any unusual pastimes, not changed career, and I’ve not upped sticks and buggered off around the world and off the beaten track! Isn’t that what those books are supposed to cause people to do?! Give all your possessions away and live up a tree in some remote village?! Go and climb a mountain or something?! Hell, I’ve never even climbed one of those rock walls, let alone a bloody mountain, and with my dismal track record on physical activity, it’d be a cold day in Hell before that is likely to change! In fact, Hell would have frozen over and hosted the Winter Olympics if you ever see me at the summit of a mountain, lol!

(My niece has climbed one of those rock walls, though, at some place in town!)

Have any books changed my views? Er, no. Or, if so, only slightly. The Dirtiest Race in History, by Richard Moore, did shift the focus of my disgust more towards the athletics coaches and doctors rather than the athletes themselves, but I still maintain that those athletes, the likes of Ben Johnson, were grown men, thus they could and should have stood up to their coaches and insisted on remaining clean! Not as though they were kids, like the East German swimmers, whose coaches were tricking them into cheating, taking advantage of their age, inexperience, and the fact that no-one from that particular country would want to miss out on a privilege that very few others from the DDR got to enjoy!

I’m not including so-called “self-help” books in this, though. I’ve already been over that issue before now, if I recall rightly. I have already said I find such things pretty patronising and unrealistic. They certainly don’t help me, and bear no resemblance to real life. I swear the people who write those things are living in cloud-cuckoo land where everything’s perfect and no-one has anything wrong with them which can’t be overcome! Whereas real life is full of shit, far from perfect, and the fact is that not every obstacle can be overcome!

If something sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is!

That whole law of attraction rubbish has got to be one of the biggest cons in recent years, and stuff like The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, should be sent for recycling so it can actually be turned into something more practical or realistic to read! It’s just designed to prey on gullible people, con them into getting their hopes up, and then that just sets them up for disappointment! It’s no better than our so-called “news” papers whose sports “journalists” write a load of shite on the back pages to get fans’ hopes up about top players joining their clubs in the transfer windows!

Fortunately, things have calmed down on that front, maybe even the journalists have now realised that a certain Portuguese striker I could mention is perfectly happy at the club he’s always supported since he was a boy, and that he will NOT be returning to one of his previous clubs, but there were several seasons when I used to despair because those “journalists” were conning a load of less-intelligent “fans” to believe that a certain Mr C. Ronaldo would be returning to Old Trafford, the biggest pile of bovine excrement being the tall story in which Nike and Chevrolet were supposedly getting together to bring him back! What an absolute load of drivel!

One transfer which DOES look set to happen is the arrival of Swedish centre-back, Victor Lindelof, from Benfica, as United confirmed the other night that a fee had been agreed for the player. Of course, he needs to come over and have a medical, which I think is going to happen tomorrow after he’s been on international duty these past few days, and then agree terms and conditions. Then we should see an official unveiling of a new player.

Anyway, back to books and the matter of none of them having changed my life despite the claims of others. By others, I mean both the reviews on the covers of books, plus word of mouth mentions from people I know, or even recommendations on social media… “Oh, you should read [insert book title] – it’ll change your life!” – yeah, right! Maybe I’m just too cynical to fall for that.  Perhaps too well-educated to go along with certain daft ideas, especially if they sound particularly impractical or unrealistic!

Also, maybe part of it is my rebellion against the idea of “must reads” anyway! As far as I’m concerned I don’t HAVE to read anything! There are no specific books I NEED to read! Not since I graduated from university, anyway, and that was way back in 1994! I’ve done the school, college and uni thing, I’ve been there, done that, read the books, and worn the cap and gown at my graduation in Bolton in October 1994!

So, I’ve not had a set reading list for 23 years now! I’ve written the essays, sat the exams, underlined stuff, made shitloads of notes in my arch lever file, analysed certain passages of certain books to death… I did that when I had to, but I’ve not needed to do that for over two decades now! I read what I want, when I want, because I want! It’s all about reading for fun, for enjoyment, with books as a form of entertainment! Even with the non-fiction, where I am still learning and discovering stuff, this is out of choice, I am reading these books because I want to know more about certain subjects which I find interesting!

If any book or books DID change my life, they would have been ones I read as a little girl, the books which made me fall in love with reading and want to spend my life being a bookworm! Thus, I’m more likely to have had my life altered by The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle, than by anything I’ve read as a grown bookworm! That book was fun, enjoyable to read, and that’s the lesson that book imparted on me… Books are fun! Reading is a great way to spend your time, and you’ll be able to entertain yourself for hours on end!

I will still appreciate book recommendations, as long as they’re for the sort of books I want to read. No horror ones, please, and I’m not much of a crime or thriller reader, either, but general book recommendations are welcome. Just don’t make any grandiose claims about life-changing properties of whatever you’re recommending to me! I may well take you up on some of your recommendations, I might enjoy some of these books, as I have done in the past, but don’t bother with the “life-changing” stuff – that side of it probably won’t happen for me!

I think that’s about it for now. I just had to get that out. There may also be a forthcoming blog about other things which just don’t happen to me even though they seem to happen to other bookworms, but for now, I think we’ve covered the issue of life-changing books which haven’t changed my life, lol, so until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman – Denis Thériault
  • The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
  • Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Dirtiest Race in History – Richard Moore
  • The Secret – Rhonda Byrne
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle

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Filed under Authors, Autobiography/Biography, Books, Literary Issues, Non-Fiction, Olympic Games, Rants, Travel

Signed, Sealed, Delivered…

Tobacconist finished May 2017

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Another blog, another book finished and off the OC List! Not quite in time for yesterday’s book club meeting, but The Tobacconist has been finished off, and I can recommend it! Historical fiction without being too chunky (we all know historical fiction, as a genre, has a well-earned reputation for chunky novels!) Very well-written. So, currently, until I add another book, there are 10 books on the OC list, and now 28 on my Goodreads Challenge! Woo hoo!

Going back to my OC List, it may have occurred to you that when I give percentages for how far through any book on my OC List I have progressed, they are always at least 10% or more. Usually coming in on the list at around 12 or 13 percent. This is my OC List policy and it also means that I can try a bit and see if I like it first. If it doesn’t grab me, it’s not even going to go on the list! It’s my escape clause so that I don’t feel pressured into reading stuff which really doesn’t fizz on me, such as horror novels! So, if you WERE wondering why books had to be read, at least a little bit, before even appearing on the OC List, that is why! In case my book club chooses something which isn’t my cup of tea, or if I try one of my many books from my TBR List only to find that I can’t get into it…

New books May 2017

My latest acquisitions from Waterstone’s yesterday…

Anyway, talking of the book club, the next book, for our meeting on 14th June, is The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman, by Denis Thériault, a novella set in Quebec, Canada. The author lives in Montreal, according to the info at the front of the book, so that’s our new one, with the postman theme giving us the blog title for today! Thing is, it’s a short one. 137 pages. Thus I am debating whether it will even need to go on the OC List at all, or whether it will only take a day or two to read and I needn’t list it as an Ongoing Concern, in the same way I didn’t bother listing Diary of an Oxygen Thief as an OC.

The other book in the photo is one which caught my eye in Waterstone’s yesterday, Midnight Blue, by Simone van der Vlugt. Historical fiction set in the Netherlands, in both Amsterdam and Delft. I have been to Amsterdam, of course, been there twice, let in the new year there once, back in the noughties, but not been to Delft as yet. I believe it’s in the south of the country and not far from Rotterdam, which I mentioned on here earlier this week due to Feyenoord winning the league and due to the anniversary of United winning the European Cup-Winners’ Cup at their ground in 1991.

Anyway, back to Midnight Blue. I read the blurb on the back, and it struck me that it seemed like the sort of book I might like, having enjoyed Girl With a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier, a couple of years ago. Actually, I really should get round to trying The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton, sometime soon, if we’re discussing historical fiction set in the Netherlands, lol! Plus, I met her last year, and she signed it for me, along with my copy of The Muse.

Really should read some more of my hardbacks. Thing is, they’re not always the most ideal handbag books, are they? So I don’t feel as inclined to lug them around as I do with paperbacks, which I just stick in my handbag and take them around with me. Some books just come everywhere… Nul Points is still in my handbag. That’s top of the OC List now that I’ve finished The Tobacconist. Still got a lot of YA novels on there to get on with. Perhaps I need to get Nul Points finished and have a good go at the YA stuff… get it off the list and some fresh stuff on.

Talking of YA novels, anyone who knows me on FB book groups might know that I’ve recently commented that I much prefer the cover of the US edition of The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, rather than the UK version. Very helpfully, the young lady who was working in the YA section at Waterstone’s yesterday said that the Book Depository would be the place to go if I wanted to get a copy of that book with the US cover, so when I get around to acquiring one, I shall look online at that site. The book has different publishers in different countries. I don’t dislike the UK cover, but I have to say I much prefer the US one.

Bit of a List Challenges mini rant! Grrr! Why is it that sometimes they either change the edition or put image not available?! I’ve had to find new images for a couple of books and I’ve had to put those back in where they belong on a very long list, meaning I had to scroll upwards quite a bit, not just for 11/22/63, by Stephen King, but especially for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J. K. Rowling! Very irritating, and a total pain in the arse, but covers have been found and the old ones deleted.

The other rant, although this applies to other sites, not just List Challenges, is that when you hide an advert for whatever reason, they bloody lie to you with that “We’ll try not to show that advert again” bullshit, but you know that’s not true as it crops up yet again shortly afterwards. If they are trying, which I very much doubt, then they’re NOT trying anywhere near hard enough as far as I’m concerned! Lying tossers!

The standard of advertising on the internet is subterranean to say the least! So much misleading shite! I just wish there was some kind of strict regulator, like we have the Advertising Standards Agency here in the UK. That tends to cover TV, radio, papers and magazines. Sadly, websites don’t come under their remit and there’s a load of bullshit “adverts” on the internet which would NEVER get shown on telly for a bloody good reason – they’re false and misleading and just bloody clickbait! If pigs ever fly, and I ever get to be in charge, a whole host of shite ads would get banned! Why should people’s enjoyment of time online have to be spoiled by shitty fake adverts?!

Been on the Book Depository website, but, disappointingly, it just seems to have the UK edition of The Hate U Give. Is there anywhere where I could get a copy of the edition with the cover I prefer? Anywhere at all? Not that I’ve really got the dosh right now, but on a need to know basis for when I do get around to buying it…

Well, time to get a bit more of Nul Points read, I think! So, until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Tobacconist – Robert Seethaler
  • The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman – Denis Thériault
  • Diary of an Oxygen Thief – Anonymous
  • Midnight Blue – Simone van der Vlugt
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
  • The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton
  • The Muse – Jessie Burton
  • Nul Points – Tim Moore
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  • 11/22/63 – Stephen King
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J. K. Rowling

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Filed under Books, European Literature, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Historical Fiction, List Challenges, Literary Issues, Music, Ongoing Concerns, Rants, 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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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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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Books About Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Computer Corner, Cross-Stitch, Football, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Literary Issues, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Reader's Block, Television, The TBR Pile, World Book Night

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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Filed under Adult Fiction, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Childrens' Books, E-Books & Audiobooks, Foreign Languages, Handbag Books, Humour, Literary Issues, Rants, YA Books

One Word Titles

Books and nibbles March 2017

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Been to book club this evening, so If I Could Tell You Just One Thing, by Richard Reed, has been discussed, and we’ve gone from one extreme to another in terms of book title, as Moonstone, by Sjón, is our next book, and our next meeting is on 12th April. While I was at Waterstone’s, I also purchased Ink, by Alice Broadway, as I couldn’t resist the strikingly beautiful cover of this YA novel. Thus, this blog has a bit of a theme – one word titles. Well, if it’s a good enough policy for Pet Shop Boys album titles, then it’s good enough for a book blog theme!

Technically speaking, Moonstone bears the subtitle The Boy Who Never Was, which, I think, might actually be the title of the book in other editions, perhaps overseas in certain countries. Don’t get me started on that matter! There is a book I read some years ago for book club, one which I enjoyed, called The Other Hand, by Chris Cleave, but in the USA and New Zealand, this same book is known as Little Bee.Why do publishing houses do this?! It’s just bloody confusing! It’s actually a good job I’d read this book and knew both titles, because I was once in Waterstone’s in the Trafford Centre a year or so ago, and was able to help a fellow customer who said she was looking for Little Bee by letting her know that it’s known as The Other Hand over here! Is it really asking too much for publishers to have the same title for any given book the world over?! Stop confusing bookworms! Different editions having different covers is one thing, but different bloody NAMES?! Find a title you like and stick to it!

And, while we’re at it, this latest book club book is Moonstone, and is set in Iceland, so it’s not to be confused with The Moonstone, which is a much older, and chunkier, novel by Wilkie Collins. If I make that distinction here, it means both books are on List Challenges, on the Joanne’s Bookshelf Blogs – Books Mentioned 2017 list, and therefore people will know I mean two different novels! There shouldn’t be any of that “D’ya think she meant THE Moonstone?” type of confusion. There’s a volcano in this Icelandic one, so that should be of interest to me, plus the fact that I’ve been to Iceland, so I can picture it, as I could when I read the excellent Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent.

I was actually looking for a rather long-titled book in the YA section, but couldn’t find Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, and it was while I was meandering amongst the young adult novels that Ink caught my eye – well, it couldn’t really fail to with that beautiful cover! I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover if proverbs are anything to go by, but it can’t be helped sometimes! Some covers are just too eye-catching and/or gorgeous to resist!

I’ve also got my eyes on Diary of an Oxygen Thief, by Anonymous, for a future read. Has to be said the rather mad-looking snowman on the cover attracted me, lol, and it seemed amusing and fairly short, so it would be a good potential Handbag Book.

Anyway, back to short titles… there are a fair few books I have in on my notorious TBR list which have one word titles. There’s Fishbowl, by Bradley Somer, which was one of the ones mentioned when I put books to the vote to be my Wembley Book for the EFL Cup Final last month. My sister gave that one a vote because of the title! There’s also Dumplin’, by Julie Murphy, which is hanging around on my book piles wondering when I’m going to get around to reading it! I also have a YA trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater, all three books of which have one word titles – Shiver, Linger and Forever, so if we were having a one word title book binge, that would be a good trilogy to go for! I have three books by Kate Mosse, each with a one word title, although I think Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel are all stand alone novels.

Wonder, by R. J Palacio, and Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli, are another two YA books on the TBR pile, they were both in the rainbow tower I featured in a recent blog, and there’s Ghostwritten, by David Mitchell, which is on the notorious Half-Read Books list! Only thing is, last time I tried to progress with that one, I wasn’t really in the mood for it. Maybe I will be in the mood to progress with it some time soon, but it wasn’t doing anything for me the last time I picked it up. Even following it via audiobook seemed like a chore, it just wasn’t grabbing me, so it rejoined the Half Read Books list.

I’ve just looked on the Bass Amp Book Pile, but none of those books have one word titles, so that rules those out of our current theme. Just looking around Computer Corner, I see my Paulo Coelho books, and notice Brida, one I’ve yet to read, and one which would fit the bill on the one word title front. It also has an Irish setting, so would be rather apt given that it’s St Patrick’s Day on Friday. Down here, by my side, on a revolving shelf unit, I have Lolita, or “that book by Nabokov” as mentioned in the lyrics of “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” by The Police! I also have Nocturnes, by Kazuo Ishiguro, which is a book of short stories about music and nightfall. Should I want the original vampire novel, Dracula, by Bram Stoker, is close at hand, and for my volcano fix, Krakatoa, by Simon Winchester, is also readily available, and you know I like my non-fiction as much as my fiction!

Anyway, I shall see what at least one of my new books is like, as Moonstone will have to be added to the Ongoing Concerns for now, and I will be giving you an update on the others pretty soon, although none of the other OCs have one word titles, so it’s not really the time and place to do an update in this particular blog entry. Thus, I shall bring this blog to its conclusion and, until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • If I Could Tell You Just One Thing – Richard Reed
  • Moonstone – Sjón
  • Ink – Alice Broadway
  • The Other Hand – Chris Cleave
  • The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins
  • Burial Rites – Hannah Kent
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • Diary of an Oxygen Thief – Anonymous
  • Fishbowl – Bradley Somer
  • Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy
  • Shiver – Maggie Stiefvater
  • Linger – Maggie Stiefvater
  • Forever – Maggie Stiefvater
  • Labyrinth – Kate Mosse
  • Sepulchre – Kate Mosse
  • Citadel – Kate Mosse
  • Wonder – R. J. Palacio
  • Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli
  • Ghostwritten – David Mitchell
  • Brida – Paulo Coelho
  • Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
  • Nocturnes – Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Dracula – Bram Stoker
  • Krakatoa – Simon Winchester

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Filed under Books, E-Books & Audiobooks, Half-Finished Books, List Challenges, Literary Issues, Music, Rants, The TBR Pile, Volcanoes, YA Books