Category Archives: My Bookworm History

What’s So Hard About Animal Farm?!

The Good People

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Back again with another blog, and it was nice to have four of us at book club on Thursday. Nick and Diane had returned, and one of my council colleagues, Michelle, came along, so there were four of us and it made for a much better book club meeting than I’d had for some time! It felt as though we were able to have some proper discussion and bounce ideas and book suggestions off each other, which is what book club is about, and that’s bloody hard to do if only two of you turn up and the other person is just happy to go along with your choices. So, much better, as I said. We decided on The Good People, by Hannah Kent, as our next book, and our meeting will be on Wednesday 6th December.

As I’ve said previously, Hannah’s first book, Burial Rites, was a book club book of ours about 4 years ago. When the novel was first published, Hannah and her publisher came to Waterstone’s to promote the book, and as we were due to have book club that night, Emma from Waterstone’s had said to us “Would you be happy for this to be a book club event?” so we said yes, and Hannah talked to us about her book and how it came about. She’s from Adelaide, Australia, but had gone on an exchange programme to Iceland and, in learning about the country and its history, became intrigued with the story of the last woman to be executed in Iceland, hence the story behind Burial Rites.

She’s gone from Iceland to Ireland with this one, but yet again it is a work of historical fiction based on Irish folklore. I have started it, so let’s see what it’s like! It’s a handbag book, anyway, although it’s not the only reading matter which has been making a home in my purple Kipling bag. Currently sharing the handbag space with The Good People are What Light, by Jay Asher,  which is a Christmas novella, and The Outsiders, by S E Hinton. I was kinda hoping that short books, and possibly some short stories, might get me feeling fictional again.

This year is 50 years since The Outsiders was first published. Not one I’ve read before, but it is a book which has been read by many in the last half century, especially teenagers. It has often been a set book for literature classes at school, on the syllabus for the old O Levels and CSEs and then GCSEs when those came along in my high school days. My year were the second lot ever to sit GCSEs, way back in the summer of 1989. Perhaps one of the other English sets, 2 to 4 read this book? Not sure. All I know is what we read in set 1 with Mrs Walsh. (There were eight sets, but only the top four studied literature as well as language.)

Our play was Macbeth, it was always going to be something by the Bard as our teacher was a total Shakespeare nut, lol! Our novel was Pride and Prejudice, so we were introduced to Mr Darcy long before Colin Firth played him in that adaptation! Animal Farm, by George Orwell, was our novella which we looked at both as a straightforward story and as a political allegory, and our poetry, rather appropriately for Remembrance Day weekend, was from the First World War, as we studied a fair few poems from both Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. Not sure which book Mrs Walsh used for our poetry, but I always recommend The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry should you be looking to read what I read at school!

Right then… back from my high school reading to the present day, and yesterday I was at St Paul’s Church in Monton for our Christmas fair. While we did have one or two little kids’ books, Mum and I don’t have a book stall, but there is one, and I managed to get five books for a mere £1.50 so I think we should class church fair book bargains in the same category as charity shop bargains for the purposes of this blog.

Church fair book purchases 2017

As you can see, this haul includes two large books about Abba! Abba The Book, by Jean-Marie Potiez, and Mamma Mia! How Can I Resist You? This is the inside story of the making of the musical and film based on Abba’s songs. Bit irritating that I can’t see the exact edition of Abba The Book for my List Challenges list. I have put one on for now, but I shall keep trying for the white cover edition. Grrr! It annoys me, that! It’s all very well if I haven’t got a copy of a certain book, but if I have, I want the right edition on List Challenges. Except for The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, as I prefer the US cover anyway, as I’ve said before!

My other books are Prophecy, by S. J. Parris, The Tenko Club, by Elizabeth Noble, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. I have a feeling I do already own a copy of the latter, but as I’m not even sure where it is or whether I could get my hands on it easily, I chanced getting a copy yesterday at the church fair.  I remember seeing the film version when I was at uni, and then again some years later, on telly late one night, and it’s brilliant. It’s mostly in black and white, but the portrait is in Technicolor!

Actually, going back to List Challenges for a moment… I was on there in the past week or so, and there was a list of “difficult to read” books, but I have to say that some of them weren’t what I’d call difficult at all! The Picture of Dorian Gray was one of them, but I fail to see what’s so difficult about this book! SPOILER ALERT! Well-to-do good-looking young bloke has his portrait painted, as people did in those days when they were well-off, and he’s gone to see and admire the finished product. While he’s admiring his portrait, he makes a wish that he could stay young forever and that the portrait would grow old instead. This wish comes true and Dorian remains young and handsome. However, this goes to his head, and he becomes a right arsehole, and he does some pretty nasty shit to some people. As his behaviour deteriorates, his portrait grows not only older but uglier too, so he hides it away.

Anyhow, that’s enough Dorian spoilers! A couple of the other books on the “difficult to read” list were Jane Eyre and Animal Farm! Seriously?! Those are seen as hard to read?! As I have already said in this blog, I read Animal Farm for my GCSEs when I was at high school, so it’s not that bloody hard! If we’re discussing Orwell’s writing, I could see how people might find 1984, with its newspeak, difficult to read, maybe, but what’s so hard about Animal Farm?! I was about 15 or so when I read that! And I was even younger when I read Jane Eyre! I was in the third year at high school, 13 going on 14! If Jane Eyre was a difficult book, I doubt very much I’d have read it at that stage of my education!

Well, I think that’s about it for now. I had a bit of a book tsunami earlier, but then again, the previous one was in early February, so it’s not too bad considering the huge piles of books I have, lol! Quite a lot of book mentions in here for you tonight – I know some of you like it when I have a big long list at the end as it gives you reading ideas! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Good People – Hannah Kent
  • Burial Rites – Hannah Kent
  • What Light – Jay Asher
  • The Outsiders – S. E. Hinton
  • Macbeth – William Shakespeare
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • Animal Farm – George Orwell
  • The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry – Various
  • Abba, The Book – Jean-Marie Potiez
  • Mamma Mia! How Can I Resist You? – Benny Anderson, Bjorn Ulvaeus & Judy Craymer
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  • Prophecy – S. J. Parris
  • The Tenko Club – Elizabeth Noble
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
  • 1984 – George Orwell
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Filed under Authors, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, List Challenges, Literary Issues, Music, My Bookworm History, Poetry, School, College & Uni Reading, Uncategorized

Trophies, OCs, and Book Club Emergencies

Me and Mum with EFL and UEFA Cups 2017

Me and my mum at Old Trafford with the EFL Cup and Europa League trophy

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Yes, I’ve been to have my photo taken with the silverware we won last season! Had to be done! Obviously, the Community Shield has already gone back, Arsenal having won that last weekend, beating Chelsea on penalties in the traditional “curtain-raiser” to the new season. That has got under way now, with a very entertaining game to kick off the 2017-18 season, Arsenal beating Leicester City 4-3. United are at home to West Ham United on Sunday afternoon, so I shall be back at Old Trafford, in the Stretford End, and hoping for a home win and an actual proper challenge for the title this season for the first time since Fergie retired!

Still awaiting the start date for my job, hopefully I might hear something this coming week. I guess they are getting in touch with the references I provided.

Periodic Tales is now up to 82% having read a bit more of it earlier. We’re getting there, lol! It’s a very interesting book, and I am enjoying it, but it’s not one I feel I can read quickly. I have to take my time with it, and I sometimes need to look things up. Actually, what I was looking up was about sea squirts, as I had never heard of them before!

Dark Fire is up to 8%, but still not quite really enough to get it on the OC List officially as yet. However, I am unofficially adding it, and I have got 7 books on there at the moment. 2 fiction, 3 non-fiction, 2 young adult. The reason that I’ve got three non-fictions is because one of them is the book club book, and thus a “wild card” of sorts. As discussed in recent blogs, that book is The Angry Chef, by Anthony Warner, and I have got that one up to 10%. I have chosen Dead Ends, by Erin Lange, for my newest young adult addition to the OC List, a book I bought on Wednesday night, along with The Angry Chef, and My Turn, by Johan Cruyff.

Currently, the OC List looks like this…

  1. Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams. 82%
  2. Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson. 50%
  3. The Beach Hut – Veronica Henry. 35%
  4. A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard. 16%
  5. Dead Ends – Erin Lange. 11%
  6. The Angry Chef – Anthony Warner. 10%
  7. Dark Fire – C. J. Sansom. 8%

Priorities are to get Periodic Tales off the list, it’s been an Ongoing Concern for quite some time, lol! Also, to continue with The Angry Chef, and to get going with Dark Fire.

Very disappointingly, there were only two of us at book club on Wednesday night, consequently it was a bit pants!

Sorry, but you really do need a few of you there for it to be a good book club! It’s not all that much fun when there’s only the two of you, and the other is one of the least-forthcoming members! OK, in one way it was handy, as Anne was quite happy to go along with my choice of The Angry Chef for our next meeting, and to agree on the date, which will be 6th September, but sometimes I get the feeling she thinks I’m in charge of the club and that I know more than I do! I don’t! I might be a long-serving member of that book club, I’ve been in it since October 2008, after all, so 9 years this coming autumn, but I’ve not been the one to send emails round or anything like that! I have had to do the communications after this meeting, but that’s because there were only the two of us!

Anyway, I messaged Waterstone’s Deansgate on Facebook after the meeting to let them know the situation, and they forwarded the message on to Emma, who has now sent out an email. I have forwarded the email to Anne, and also replied to Emma to ask her to add Anne’s email address to the contacts list, as she has only joined in recent times. Emma’s a manager now and pretty busy, so it’s unlikely she can attend much, if at all, but she’s still happy for us to meet up there and to recommend any book ideas to us for book club reads.

I’ve also been having a problem in that my email was returned with an error message. I think I may have written Anne’s email address down incorrectly. Trouble is, as I’ve said, she’s pretty quiet volume-wise, and she does also have a bit of an accent, so I actually find it a bit hard to hear what she’s saying. All the more problematic, then, that she seems to lean on me so much. I really wish she wouldn’t. Particularly as, while I was trying to type a private message to Waterstone’s Deansgate on my iPad, therefore trying to do my best in the circumstances, and she’s there wittering on, fussing, and basically doing my head in!

Apologies for the rant, and I don’t wish to sound harsh, but she really annoyed me! I dearly wanted her to shut the hell up! Firstly, so I could concentrate on what I was typing, and also because there was no point anyone talking to me while I was trying to concentrate, because I wouldn’t really hear a word of it properly! There’s only the two of us, and if those two had been me and one of the others, I think we could have handled things evenly and fairly between us, but no chance given who the only other person was besides yours truly! So, she’s leaning on me, expecting me to do bloody everything, when I’ve never even taken full charge of a book club meeting before, but while I am ACTUALLY TRYING TO DO JUST THAT, she is bloody wittering on pointlessly, fussing, and just basically pissing me right off!

If anyone has any tips on how I can get someone to stop leaning on me and leave me alone, without being horrible to them, that advice would be much appreciated! How do I shake someone off?! I don’t want to be horrible, as I said, but I need her to get the hint and thus leave me alone. I feel I’m the last person she should be coming to, for her own good she needs to ask someone else. Especially as I feel I don’t hear her properly. I’m not deaf by any means, but perhaps I do need my hearing tested? Anyway, the fact is that I find her very difficult to hear for whatever reason, but perhaps someone else in the book club hears her perfectly and would be a much better person for her to ask?!

For the common good of the pair of us, I need a bit of help! What can I do to convince her to go to someone else?! How do I let her down gently and let her know I’m not the right person for her inquiries?!

Right, enough about book club stress, and back to other book-related matters… Picked up a few charity shop bargains in Eccles earlier, including The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham, for a mere 10p from the Mustard Tree shop, which is where I used to volunteer a few years ago! Wyndham, of course, is perhaps best known for The Day of the Triffids, the BBC TV adaptation of which, when I was a kid, scared the crap out of me, lol! I did enjoy Chocky, though, when I was a bit older, and that was adapted for a series on Children’s ITV, and I read the book because of that series.

The other bargain purchases were Foundation, and Foundation & Empire, both by Isaac Asimov, both 70p each, and Possession, by A. S. Byatt, at a mere 20p. However, there is supposed to be Prelude to Foundation, which goes before the two Asimov books I acquired.

Actually, Prelude is a prequel, so I guess it might be possible to just read those two, then find a copy of Second Foundation, to complete the trilogy if I enjoy it enough to do so. Anyway, if I ever do get around to trying these books, they certainly would make good Handbag Books! For now, though, I shall get this finished and published so you can have a good read! Until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Dark Fire – C. J. Sansom
  • The Angry Chef – Anthony Warner
  • Dead Ends – Erin Lange
  • My Turn – Johan Cruyff
  • The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
  • The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
  • Chocky – John Wyndham
  • Prelude To Foundation – Isaac Asimov
  • Foundation – Isaac Asimov
  • Foundation & Empire – Isaac Asimov
  • Second Foundation – Isaac Asimov
  • Possession – A. S. Byatt

 

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Sit Down With a Good Book!

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

One week of July left, folks! Latest updates on the OC front coming later, but I have been promising you some photos of the book benches in Manchester, haven’t I?! I think I posted the above ones before, and those are amongst the benches in the Arndale Centre. This event is running for two months, from 10th July to 10th September, so if you’re in Manchester at any time, get yourself a map and try to find as many book benches as you can! They all seem to be indoors, and there’s plenty yet for me to check out, as I’ve not been to Central Library yet. I have, however, been in Manchester Cathedral and the National Football Museum, and there are benches in both those locations.

These are the ones in the Cathedral ( see above). Yes, you can sit on them, but you should also explore the other side, as they are illustrated on the back as well as on the bench bits!

These ones are in the National Football Museum, so people can sit on a book bench rather than the subs’ bench, I guess, lol! There are four benches in the museum, two on the ground floor and two on the second floor.

I guess I thought, at first, it would be like when we had Cowparade, which was in 2004 if I remember rightly. Although one or two bovines were indoors, and could be found in hotel receptions and Piccadilly Station, most of the cows were outdoors, so I was a bit taken aback not to see any book benches around town, but it seems they’re all indoors. Certainly the ones I have tracked down so far! There are supposed to be some on Salford Quays, so I will have to investigate those – at the Lowry I believe, some at the theatre and some at the outlet mall. Also, if I were to take a trip back to Chorlton, where I worked for three years, I understand there’s a book bench at Chorlton Library.

Chorlton was very good for books, as anyone scrolling through my archives of this blog will discover! Not been for a while, but certainly when I was working in that part of town from 2009 to 2012, there was the Chorlton Bookshop, the Oxfam Bookshop, and several other charity shops with a decent selection of bargain books! I bought that Roald Dahl box set, which I gave Charlotte for Christmas last year, when I was working in Chorlton, and, although I’ve yet to read it, I acquired A Game of Thrones, by George R R Martin for just 79p at the PDSA shop! Despite the TV series being called Game of Thrones, the actual book series is called A Song of Ice and Fire, with A Game of Thrones simply being the first book in what is an ongoing series, with another couple of books expected in the coming years.

I think I shall have to watch the excellent Thug Notes video again before I do attempt the book – I don’t know if you’ve ever watched any of the Thug Notes videos on YouTube, and they’re definitely Not Safe For Work because of the language, lol, but they are a brilliant guide to literature! You know when you’re at school or college and you’re studying some work of literature for your English exams, and you have study guides for that particular book, like Letts’ revision guides or York Notes?! Well, Thug Notes is like a video-based guide to literature in a very colloquial way!

As you know, I’m all in favour of stuff which encourages people to read who possibly wouldn’t. I’m against book-snobbishness, and I am all for things like Thug Notes. Also, it doesn’t matter which format you read in! Hardback, paperback, e-books, audiobooks, large print, Braille… the main thing is to read for pleasure. Yes, audiobooks count, especially if they are the unabridged versions. After all, along with large print and Braille books, audiobooks are good for those with visual impairments, and are more readily available as a format than large print editions or Braille books. E-readers do enable you to enlarge the font size, so those can help, too.

Charlotte bookmark 2017

Now that my niece has had her birthday, turning 7 on Saturday, I am able to show you the bookmark I made for her. I couldn’t really post this any sooner! I need to get on and mention a few more actual books, though, don’t I? I’ve been on about book benches and a bookmark, but let’s get down to mentioning some actual reading matter!

I had One Italian Summer and Neither Here Nor There in my handbag today, and managed to get a bit of each read at lunchtime. I think Keris Stainton must be a fellow Potterhead, as there is a mention of Voldemort in her novel! With the Bill Bryson book, I was reading about his visit to Amsterdam, a city I have visited twice, although I really must go again, as I’ve yet to visit any of the museums! I am now on for a chapter about Hamburg, which I have not really visited, but I did pass through the city in 1991 when I was going to Denmark with the City of Salford Youth Concert Band. We sailed from Harwich to Hamburg on the ferry, and then our coaches drove up through Germany and into Denmark. Coming home, though, we sailed from Esbjerg in Denmark back to Harwich.

I do believe, though, that there are parts of Hamburg where the walls have been coated with hydrophobic paint. Once a surface has been treated with this stuff, it repels liquids, and it has been done to stop drunken revellers peeing against the walls! If they attempt to answer the call of nature and have a wee against the wall, the wee rebounds back on them, wetting their shoes! Ruthless German Efficiency, if you ask me! If you’re a bloke, you’re in Hamburg, and you’ve been caught short, please DO find a proper public loo! You will need Toiletten, and Herren if you have a choice of Damen und Herren. Hope that helps!

On the footy front, STILL waiting for the stupid bloody Gnome to get his arse in gear and sign a couple more players as per Jose’s shopping list! Hence the books I am getting through while waiting for pigs to fly, lol! We had another pre-season friendly last night, and it finished 1-1, thus it went to penalties and one of the most farcical shoot-outs I’ve seen in a long time! If it were a film, you could promote it thus…

Starring Manchester United and Real Madrid in…

HOW NOT TO TAKE PENALTIES!

We won the shoot-out 2-1, so Real were even more useless from the spot than we were, although some of that was due to Dave’s Saves! DDG saved a couple of theirs, and they missed the other two they failed with! Our two successful penalties were converted by Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Daley Blind, so our Dutch defender essentially won it for us. I should have a stroopwafel, then, shouldn’t I?! Dutchman scoring a goal! Thing is, I have less need for stroops now, as the Dutch players we still have at United are both defenders – Daley Blind and Tim Fosu-Mensah. I needed more stroops when RvP was still with us, but as Mr van Persie went to Fenerbahce in 2015, my stroop requirements have decreased in the past two years. I may well need Belgian chocolates, though, as we have signed Romelu Lukaku from Everton this summer, and he is a striker.

A couple of charity shop bargains were acquired earlier, from the Age UK shop in Salford, where I picked up Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne, and Iris & Ruby, by Rosie Thomas, which looked interesting. Anyway, I shall get this published and then you can admire the book benches! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin
  • One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton
  • Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson
  • Around the World in 80 Days – Jules Verne
  • Iris & Ruby – Rosie Thomas

 

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A Truth Universally Acknowledged

Jane Austen ten pound note 2017

The forthcoming plastic £10 note featuring Jane Austen

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of one of the new £10 notes will find a picture of Jane Austen on it! This week marked the 200th year since Austen passed away, so it does make it rather appropriate that when the new plastic tenners come out this autumn, she will be on them. At least the Bank of England have got things right this time, actually bringing a note out featuring a certain famous person in an appropriate anniversary year, as opposed to a few years ago when they actually phased out the £20 notes with Sir Edward Elgar on them a year or two before a significant anniversary regarding one of our most famous composers! I expect, after the strident complaints received from disgruntled classical music buffs over their Elgar error, they have learned from their mistake and chose 2017 to actually launch the Jane Austen ten pound notes. And, as you can probably tell from the title and the opening sentence of this blog, yes I did study Pride and Prejudice when I was at school!

The OC Overhaul is working well, getting the list down to six was one of my better ideas, lol! Today I have been making progress with our latest book club book, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old, and am presently up to 37% of the way through the book. If you can imagine Adrian Mole, but elderly and Dutch and in a nursing home in Amsterdam, you can probably get a fair idea! The diary is set in 2013, and I am up to the end of April, or early May, I think, so I’ve just gone past a significant time for me – not that Hendrik mentions it, he doesn’t, but April 2013 for me was about United’s 20th league title and my 40th birthday! As many of you know, our 20th title was clinched the night before my Big 40, thanks to Robin van Persie’s hat-trick at home to Aston Villa, the second goal of which was an absolute beauty and definitely one of the best goals I have ever seen!

Talking of goals, it was good to see Romelu Lukaku get off the mark with his first goal for us the other night as we came from behind to beat Real Salt Lake 2-1 in our second game of our pre-season tour in the USA. I know we have got Lindelof and Lukaku, but we still need more players this summer! The Gnome is being very tardy, and Jose has had to mention it a few times in press conferences – you can tell Mr Mourinho isn’t happy about it! He gave Ed the “shopping list” in May at the end of the season we’ve just had, and we have got two players, but Jose has said we need four! I would say we need at least four! I am not best pleased that Morata’s going to Chelsea, I thought we should have gone for him as well as Lukaku! We need all the strikers we can get after not scoring anywhere near enough goals last season, especially in the league!

So, some of the progress I have been making in recent days with both Dissolution and the Hendrik Groen book has been as part of a challenge to see how much I can get read while I wait for that useless Gnome to get his finger out of his arse and make some more signings! Dissolution is up to 75% read now! Serious progress, and I am really enjoying it, so I hope the other books in the Shardlake series are as good! Of course, when I finish Dissolution, Dark Fire will be next.

Charlotte's summer reading challenge 2017

My niece’s summer reading challenge – I’m sure she’ll complete this!

My sister posted that photo on my timeline on Facebook earlier. It’s Charlotte’s summer reading challenge from her primary school. As she takes after me on the bookworm front, I’m sure she will excel at this! The Junior Bookworm will be 7 this weekend – yes, I know! Time flies, doesn’t it?! Seven years since I became an auntie! I had been an “honourary auntie” to friends’ kids prior to 2010, but I became an actual auntie that summer, and I remember having to phone in to work and speak to my boss to get that day off – my niece was born at a silly time in the morning, and I hadn’t had much sleep when I woke up to phone work – thankfully my boss, Dawn, could tell I sounded utterly knackered, congratulated me on becoming an auntie, and gave the go ahead for my leave. I then went back to sleep, as you can imagine!

Actually, next month will be my 7th blogging anniversary! I have been doing this Joanne’s Bookshelf blog since August 2010. August will also mark my 10th anniversary on Facebook! I joined on either 9th or 10th August 2007, not quite sure which date, but I am sure FB will let me know next month with my “10th Faceversary” video, lol! One of my long-time FB friends, Robert Rush, recently celebrated his 10th FB anniversary, although I think it was probably around the September of 2007 when I became friends with him thanks to a group called A Cup of Tea Solves Everything!

Of the charity shop bargains lately, there have been a couple of chunky monkeys by Charles Dickens which have ended up chez moi – The Pickwick Papers set me back a mere 50p on Monday when I was in Salford, and Nicholas Nickleby wasn’t much more expensive when I acquired it in Eccles earlier today for 99p. You can get some of the classics really cheaply, I have noticed! I once got Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes, for a mere 20p! It was when I was volunteering at The Mustard Tree in Eccles, I think. And that’s a real chunky monkey of a book! It weighs in at 785 pages in the edition I own! 785 pages of novel for a mere 20p?! A snip, as they used to say in the legendary pop magazine Smash Hits back in the day!

Well, I shall be at Waterstone’s tomorrow evening… the book event with Stuart Maconie has soon come around, hasn’t it?! Hence I will be meeting one of my favourite non-fiction authors. I think I will take either The Pie at Night or The People’s Songs with me just in case, but I intend to buy Long Road From Jarrow anyway, so I can certainly get him to sign that. I must remember that if there are any drinks, as there often are at these things, I can’t have any of the vino, unfortunately! I’ve got a dental infection and I’m on the “uncle-biotics”, lol, so no booze for me for a few days! Will have to stick to juice.

Talking of which, I must remember to have my third and final one for today, three a day for five days, so I shall get this blog finished and published, and then I can attend to my medication. I will be back again soon enough with another blog, lol! Hopefully a photo or two from the Stuart Maconie event! Until then, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old – Hendrik Groen
  • Dissolution – C. J. Sansom
  • Dark Fire – C. J Sansom
  • The Pickwick Papers – Charles Dickens
  • Nicholas Nickleby  – Charles Dickens
  • Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes
  • The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
  • The People’s Songs – Stuart Maconie
  • Long Road From Jarrow – Stuart Maconie

 

 

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You’re a Wizard, Harry!

Harry Potter series

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

Yep! 20 years ago today, back on 26th June 1997, readers were first able to see that opening line in print as the first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published! Further books had come out by the time I was actually introduced to the series a few years later, some time around 1999 or 2000, by one of my colleagues at Manchester DBC. I shall admit now that, at first, I had thought they were for kids, but as it was a fellow adult who recommended them to me one day at work, I decided to give them a go and thus I became a Potterhead! I was on holiday (vacation) in Las Vegas in the summer of 2007 when the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was published, and went to a party at Borders in a shopping mall near the Strip!

I have also read two of the mini books which were published originally to help Comic Relief – Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, and Quidditch Through the Ages. I need to read Tales of Beedle the Bard, which was brought out after Deathly Hallows, as that was a book which was in Dumbledore’s will. Personally, I still think there is more mileage from some of the other books which are mentioned within the Harry Potter series, some of the other set texts which are on the reading lists of witches and wizards at Hogwarts would make good books. Particularly Hogwarts, A History. Hermione quotes from it in Philosopher’s Stone, showing how much swotting up she’d been doing since she got her Hogwarts letter, and I think it’d be a good accompaniment to the main series and give a good back story to the founding of the wizarding school. So, if there’s any way of passing on that suggestion to J. K. Rowling, that’d be great…

Right, on to other stuff now, and I still need to start on The Power, by Naomi Alderman. It’s our book club book, so I’d better get a move on, really! At least enough to see if I like it. As I’m back in Salford again tomorrow morning for another appointment, I guess I could always pop it in my bag as a Handbag Book and take it along with me.

Need to do an assessment of the OC List, too, and continue with Periodic Tales and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Those are the top two on my list at present, but still some way to go in both of them before I finish them.

Picked up Revelation, by C. J. Sansom this afternoon at the British Heart Foundation shop in Salford, so that’s another of the Shardlake series acquired. The fourth in the series, as I recall. Still numbers 3 and 6 to go, but as I said previously, not in a major rush at the moment, so there’s time yet! Charity shops are so good for bargain books. For my readers across the Atlantic, I understand such shops are known as thrift stores in the USA, and that there are bargains to be had in those, too!

As you no doubt know, I’m on Facebook, have been for almost ten years now – joined in August 2007, so not far away from my Farcebook Anniversary, lol, and as you can imagine, I go on a lot of groups and pages for bookworms! I even run a book-related group, as some of you regular blog readers will know! Anyway, on one of these many groups or pages of a literary nature, there was a quote, which I think was from Margaret Atwood…

The book to read is the book which makes you think.

To an extent, yes, but that kind of assumes that you’re quite a reader already and up for the challenge of some reading material which will make you sit up and take notice! Therefore, I would say that there’s a piece of advice which should precede Atwood’s…

The book to read is the book which makes you want to read!

First things first, Ms Atwood! Get people reading in the first place! Get more people reading more books! The way to do that is not to get all picky about what those people are reading! There is no room for book snobbishness! The last thing we want to be doing is to put people off reading.

It doesn’t matter if what people read is lightweight and fluffy! Chick lit, holiday romances, cosy crime fiction… People need to find things they enjoy reading, the books which make them want to read other books…

Further down the line, there MIGHT be scope for assessing what people are actually reading and maybe trying to encourage them to get out of their so-called “comfort zone”, but I’m not one to advise risking that! After all, who bloody cares if someone just reads holiday romances, or cosy crime novels?! Reading SHOULD be fun! It should be seen as something people can enjoy purely for entertainment, NOT just as something you have to do at school, college or uni!

Also, we may well be dealing with grown-ups who were put off reading when they were at school! They might have had books foisted upon them as class readers, books which were not their cup of tea, and that may have put them off books! Having to write essays about those books, having to sit exams and write about those books in some boring school hall for 2 to 3 hours, such events may well have put a lot of people off reading when they were at school!

You really need to have been a bookworm from an early age to be able to withstand the occasional set text you don’t enjoy! I was, so I have remained a bookworm throughout my life despite the occasional tedious “class reader” book, and despite having to over-analyse various books at school, college and uni – don’t forget I had to experience French Literature when I was at college and doing my bastard A-Levels! How many bloody variations on the past tense does a language actually NEED?! It sure as hell doesn’t need a version of the past tense which is only actually used in literature! Yes, past historic, I am looking at you!

So, the book to read is the book which makes you love reading and want to read more books! Let the “fluffy” readers read their “fluffy” books. They might eventually try something a bit deeper. They might not. Not everyone’s going to be on the same intellectual level, and that’s fine. There are books out there for everyone. The trick is not to be so bloody high-handed about it! Stop being so prescriptive! We’ve got light readers, non-readers and reluctant readers to try to help… we can’t afford any form of literary snobbery.

It’s shouldn’t be “You must read this!”

It should be “What sort of things do you enjoy? Which television programmes? Which films? What music do you like? Do you follow any sports? Which team do you support? What are your hobbies?” – from those questions, we might be able to figure out the sort of books people might enjoy! Perhaps they might enjoy autobiographies by various celebrities? I enjoy autobiographies, particularly by musicians and sports stars. Can’t wait to get stuck into Not Dead Yet, by Phil Collins!

In short, these people need some bibliotherapy! They need a “book prescription” which suits their interests, reading suggestions which might get them reading on a more regular basis and help them find their genre(s). Just like with regular medicine, what you or I might take for our various conditions would not necessarily be right for another patient, so that’s why I warn against foisting your own likes on a light or non-reader! If we bookworms are to serve as “book doctors” or “book coaches”, the patient’s tastes in other matters will help guide us as to what we recommend for them. Getting hold of a copy of The Novel Cure, by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin, may also help, as might Book Lust, by Nancy Pearl – the subtitle of which is “recommended reading for every mood, moment, and reason.”

Have a trawl through the archives of this blog of mine! My book mentions are many and varied! I am a very random bookworm, lol! I do a recap at the end of each blog, listing the books I mentioned in it, so you might get some ideas from those, and don’t be put off even if I didn’t like that book. You might enjoy it! You might even enjoy that one I read a couple of years ago and thought of as just a pity party in writing, lol! Some time around this time of year two years ago, so May or June 2015, if you want to look it up!

Anyway, I’m off to see where my Hogwarts letter’s at, lol! Where’s an owl when you want one, eh?! Until the next time I blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J. K. Rowling
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them – J. K. Rowling
  • Quidditch Through the Ages – J. K. Rowling
  • Tales of Beedle the Bard – J. K. Rowling
  • The Power – Naomi Alderman
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • Revelation – C. J. Sansom
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • The Novel Cure – Ella Berthoud & Susan Elderkin
  • Book Lust – Nancy Pearl

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Filed under Authors, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, Literary Issues, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, School, College & Uni Reading, The TBR Pile, YA Books

I Spy

Le Carre bargain book

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with B…

B for bargain, obviously! Regular blog readers might know that I have tried to get my dad to get his arse back on Facebook, but that pulling his finger out and doing something about anything is not really his strong point, lol! He had been on FB, briefly, but his place of work weren’t happy about their staff being on it. However, he has been retired since April 2010, so I really don’t see why he can’t get his arse back online, and there are plenty of things I could share with him if he did.

Then again, there is ONE advantage to him NOT being on Farcebook… It does mean that if I get anything which is supposed to be a surprise for him, I can share it with others on FB knowing he won’t see it! Hence the book in the photo, John Le Carre: The Biography, by Adam Sisman. Not a charity shop book, but an epic bargain nevertheless. Mum and I had gone to Blackpool for the afternoon, and happened to pop into a branch of The Works.. and there it was. Full price would have been £25, but it cost me all of £3! Dad has always been a fan of spy thrillers, I grew up seeing him read books by John Le Carre and Len Deighton, as I may well have mentioned in my previous blogs about my family’s tastes in books, so I thought this would be the ideal birthday pressie for him for his 70th birthday in September!

I doubt very much he reads blogs, and he’s not on Facebook, as I said, so I’m hoping I am safe in letting you lot know that I’ve got him this for his birthday. If you DO know Kevin Dixon-Jackson, not a word to him about this, please! It’s a surprise!

Right, what else is there on the book front? Apparently, according to a new study, bookworms are nicer, kinder, and more empathetic people. Yay! However, I would argue there is a proviso to this… We are nice people except when you interrupt our reading! Just don’t even think about doing that to us, and we’ll be nice, lol!

Still reading Nul Points, by Tim Moore, as one of my OCs, and the Eurovision Song Contest is coming up this Saturday! Woo! I actually braved listening to a couple of entries which Tim had mentioned in his book. And I mean “braved” listening to them. Having exposed my eyes and ears to YouTube clips from the 1983 Eurovision Song Contest of the Turkish and Spanish entries for that year, I have to say that I can understand perfectly well why those entrants went home from Germany without a single point to their names! Particularly the Spanish entry. I’m very sorry, my Iberian chums, but that is 3 minutes I will never get back! It’s not just the wailing attempt at a “song”, in which she asked umpteen times as to who was steering her boat, but it was what she was wearing! A blue, white and grey stripy shower curtain would have been an approximation to her “dress” that night! Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…

Makes me wary of trying to look up some of the other nul point entries, but I guess I’ll end up doing so, even if it’s purely out of morbid curiosity, to see if they are any worse than the two I’ve already endured, lmao!

While we are on the subject of Eurovision, it seems that my family were ahead of their time! Many people these days hold Eurovision parties and make a big event of watching the contest. Nothing new for us – I can recall Eurovision nights in the late 70s and early to mid 80s where Mum, Dad, me and Ellie would be round at Grandma and Grandad’s and the six of us would be watching the Eurovision Song Contest in their living room, with my dad “translating” the non-English songs! For some reason, known only to Dad, most of these foreign warblings seemed to be about nuns with bicycles stuck up their arses! Especially the French entries! Those were ALWAYS about nuns with bikes stuck up their bums, according to my dad! Google Translate?! Pah! Who needed that in the early 80s when you could have my dad telling you what the songs were about?!

We used to go round to Grandma and Grandad’s on a frequent basis, anyway, when my sister and I were little, particularly for tea on a Saturday evening, so it wasn’t that surprising that we would be watching Eurovision round there. One point that I’ve not mentioned about those Turkish and Spanish entries who ended up with nul points in 1983, was that the contest that year took place on 23rd April, thus these poor pointless creatures were going away from Eurovision with the proverbial wooden spoon on my 10th birthday! So maybe, that year, I might have been watching Eurovision at home while stuffing my face with birthday cake!

Maybe the Turkish guy could have got a point or two, but… sorry, Spain, but that woman did you no favours in 1983! I’ve seen it on YouTube, as I said earlier, and it is bad. I mean BAD! We’re talking bad singing AND a terrible outfit! Just asking for nul points, quite frankly! Oh well, with singing that bad, just as well she was over in Germany, and not at our house singing happy birthday to me on the day I reached double figures, lol! Thankfully, I don’t recall much if anything about that year’s Eurovision, so clearly her bad singing didn’t spoil the day I completed an entire decade on the planet!

Without Tim Moore’s book, about the only thing I probably would have been able to figure out was that it would have been in Germany as Nicole had won in 1982, so the ESC is in the country of the previous year’s winning entry. I remember 1981 ’cause that’s when Bucks Fizz won with Making Your Mind Up, and I remember 1982 as the UK hosted it and Nicole won for Germany (West Germany as it was then) with Ein Bisschen Frieden, but I have a bit of a blank for a year or two until 1985 which I remember because there was a massive shock when Norway, who’d previously become infamous for getting nul points, actually won the Eurovision Song Contest that year!

Norway, however, were relatively lucky, compared to other multiple nul-point countries such as Finland and Turkey! Norway won the Eurovision Song Contest as early as 1985, and have since won it twice more, in 1995, and in 2009. Their ignominious failures of the early days have actually been outweighed by their ESC successes in more recent times. Turkey and Finland both had to wait much longer to be making headlines for the right reasons, with Turkey finally winning in 2003, and Finland three years later in 2006. To date, those have been the sole successes for the countries in question.

This is probably going to be one of those blogs where few books are mentioned. It happens from time to time. I am sure, though, that I’ll return to the usual long list of reading matter in coming blogs, so it’s nothing to worry about if I have only mentioned a couple of books in this one!

Update on the nul point recipients I have watched. I have now seen Jahn Teigen’s performance from 1978 which earned Norway one of its big fat zeroes. I can see why. What the hell was he wearing, and what the hell did he think he was doing with those on-stage antics? The pulling of his braces! That jump! WTF?! I am thinking the song itself wasn’t too bad, I’ve heard much worse, but if anyone was thinking of awarding him any points, his cringeworthy antics on stage probably cost him a few votes!

Video unavailable for Finn Kalvik, another nul-pointer from Norway, from 1981, sparing his blushes at least for now, but maybe I will find that somewhere else on the internet?

Onto Finland’s Kojo in 1982 and Nuku Pommiin. Oh dear! Not the greatest of songs, and what was with that red leather suit? It’s admirable enough to sing a song protesting about nuclear missiles, but there are probably better ways of going about it, chuck! Look at Nicole. That same year, she sat on a stool with her big guitar and sung about wanting a little peace. She won!

I’ve already dwelt upon Turkey and Spain and their pointless performances in 1983. We move on to 1987, then. and, sorry, Turkey, but it’s you guys again! The 1987 contest gave us an Israeli entry whose title translated as Lazy Bums, but their own country were a bit more upset about that than the others as it did receive at least some votes! Cetin Alp would no longer be the only Turk to have come away from Eurovision pointless after this contest… Not actually a bad song in 1987, although maybe too much hyperactive jigging about on stage was considered offputting? Maybe it got zilch because other songs were just much better, or it got forgotten about as more memorable acts caught the imagination and won the votes?

Clearly the late 80s were a rich source of nul-pointers. Consecutive ESCs in 1987, 1988 and 1989 each saw an act go home without a single vote. As mentioned above, Turkey got the wooden spoon in 1987, with Austria receiving it in 1988 and Iceland in 1989. Wilfried Scheutz for Austria… Lisa, Mona Lisa…  Nein. Nicht gut! Keine Punkte, mein Herr! You need something a bit more cheerful for Eurovision, matey! Something a bit upbeat and boppy! Or at least not so bloody gloomy-sounding! Daniel made a pretty similar mistake the following year as Iceland got the cold shoulder from the other countries’ juries.

Well, I’d better call it a day. Otherwise I’ll end up getting nul points for this blog! Or nul likes, more to the point! More utter waffle will probably follow in my next blog, but for the time being, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • John Le Carre: The Biography – Adam Sisman
  • Nul Points – Tim Moore

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Humour, Music, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns

Love In The First Degree

An Equal Music finished 18 April 2017

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

First day of jury service done and dusted, and very successful on the book front as I wasn’t called to serve on any of the four juries for which they were selecting people today. I have phoned up, and I am not needed tomorrow, so I just need to phone again after 6pm tomorrow to see if I am needed on Thursday. Otherwise, I have a day off. I still plan on reading, though! I am seeing this whole jury service thing as a major opportunity to get through a lot of books!

An Equal Music is now finished! Yep, the orchestra has played the final chord on that one, and it was a mostly-enjoyable read, although some bits puzzled me, as in wondering if they led to anything or if I needed to remember that little detail, was it really significant to the plot? Having finished a work of fiction with a musical theme, I then decided to make further progress with a non-fiction book on music – Stuart Maconie‘s The People’s Songs. That’s now up to 59% in Goodreads terms.

As I said in the previous blog, I feel a pull towards more non-fiction on my Ongoing Concerns list, and I am thinking of adding Tim Moore‘s Nul Points to the collection. It’s a partially-read non-fiction book about acts which have failed on an epic scale at the Eurovision Song Contest! Acts which did not receive a single vote from a single country! It goes up to 2005, so, yes, it’s a bit old now, but should be a good read and it is coming up to the Eurovision time of year anyway, so good timing, I think! I was up to page 98 the last time I read it and that is out of 378, so we’d be talking over 25% when I check Goodreads and then put it on my OC Board and in my handbag to take around with me.

* marks the book as currently reading and that she is on page 98 of 378, and Goodreads has informed her that she has read 26% of the book thus far… *

The other books mentioned the other day, on the non-fiction front, are still possibilities for the OC list in the very near future, but we shall go with Nul Points with Eurovision on the horizon.

Wind in the Willows 8 Editions

After we had been informed, this afternoon, that we were no longer required to stay, I left the courts and headed for Waterstone’s. Yeah, I know… you’re so gobsmacked about that, aren’t you?! NOT! Rather a good job I was in my natural habitat as I got a message from my mum asking me if I owned a copy of The Wind In the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame. Unfortunately, not something I have actually ever read, although I recall the animated TV adaptations on Children’s ITV in the 80s, with Mr Toad being voiced by the legend that is Sir David Jason. However, at the time of being messaged, I was in the children’s and young adults’ section at Waterstone’s so I offered to get a copy… and that is when I found out that the Deansgate branch boasted no fewer than EIGHT different editions of the classic children’s novel! I shit you not! EIGHT different editions of The Wind In the Willows! Weighing in at a range of prices from £5.99 to a whopping £16.99! See the above photo for the eight editions lined up!

I challenge any of you to find me ANY instance where ANY branch of ANY book shop, worldwide, has MORE than eight different editions of the same book! I think you’d be hard-pushed to beat eight different editions of Kenneth Grahame‘s novel at Waterstone’s Deansgate in Manchester!

Wind in the Willows 2

I bought the Oxford Children’s Classics edition on the right in this photo.

There are still seven different editions left at that branch, although I did buy a copy. It’s for the Junior Bookworm, Charlotte. Looks like they’ll be reading it at school. I expect schools still do have multiple copies of certain books, but I know my niece and what she’s like with books. I know she’ll want one of her own! I also saw another interesting book while I was in the children’s department, The Bookshop Girl, by Sylvia Bishop, which might also appeal to my niece.

On the YA front, I admit I am still after Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, and have not seen a copy in store yet. I might just have to bite the bullet and get it ordered some time. but I saw yet another book whose title made me think of a song (I’m often finding books which do that for me, lol!) – The Bombs That Brought Us Together, by Brian Conaghan. I am pretty convinced the title is inspired by lyrics from “Ask” by The Smiths, although slightly paraphrased from the original words of Morrissey…

So ask me, ask me, ask me!

Ask me, ask me, ask me

Because if it’s not love, then it’s the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb the bomb…

The bomb that will bring us together.

See? Definitely inspired by Smiths lyrics if you ask me! (See what I did there?!) The title of this blog, however, is from a Bananarama song, lol! I just wanted the title of a song on a “legal” theme given that I’m on jury service! I know I’m not needed tomorrow (well, actually today as it’s just gone midnight here as I type), but I have to phone up later and see if my presence is required on Thursday. In the meantime, the reading marathon will continue!

Well, I think I’d better either get on with some reading or catch up on Pointless! Perhaps I should delete some or I’ll never get round to watching them. I think they’re repeats anyway – pretty sure I’ve seen some of the contestants before! It’s very hard, with quiz shows, to know if they’re running a current series, or just old ones, especially when they’re on every weekday, and with Pointless Celebrities on Saturdays! (I can think of a lot of “celebs” these days whom I would regard as pointless, lol!) In Pointless, of course, the whole aim of the game is to score 0 points, which is the exact opposite of the Eurovision Song Contest! And with that, I shall get this published and return to Nul Points! Until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • An Equal Music – Vikram Seth
  • The People’s Songs – Stuart Maconie
  • Nul Points – Tim Moore
  • The Wind In the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
  • The Bookshop Girl – Sylvia Bishop
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • The Bombs That Brought Us Together – Brian Conaghan

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Filed under Books, Childrens' Books, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, Humour, Junior Bookworms, Music, My Bookworm History, Ongoing Concerns, Television, YA Books