Category Archives: Reader’s Block

Sticky Weather!

Sticky Weather June 2017

Avoid sunburn – Stay indoors and read!

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

It’s sticky weather, as Peter Kay would put it! I do have to venture out tomorrow, as I’m volunteering at Start in Salford, as I currently do on Monday mornings, but I shall be taking precautions against this abnormally hot and sunny weather which my country is currently experiencing! Hopefully, though, there will be SOME chance to sit and read and avoid getting sunburned!

The weather’s reminding me of one of the newly-knighted Sir Billy Connolly’s stand-up routines, about holidays and sun cream…

“I’m a kind of pale blue. It takes me a week of sunbathing to get white! I go into a chemist’s… “I’ll have a bottle of suntan lotion, please! Factor 57.” They gave me an asbestos suit and a welder’s helmet!”

This might not be the longest of blogs, but you ought to know the news that Pet Shop Boys, Literally, is now finished! Yep! One more off the OC List. It’s been a bit quiet on the book front this month, I have only finished off one book so far in June, but perhaps it will pick up again later. As I go to see Neil & Chris in concert this coming Wednesday, it is a timely finish for the book about their first-ever tour back in 1989. I didn’t see them on that tour, but I did see them two years later, funnily enough in Blackpool, on the Performance Tour of 1991!

PSB Literally finished

I will be back at the Winter Gardens in midweek with my friend Sarah. She was there that night, too, but although we were penpals at the time, she and I didn’t meet up until the following year. My sister, Ellie, went with me the first time I saw the Pet Shop Boys, and also the first time I saw Erasure, in 1992 at the Manchester Apollo, but all the subsequent concerts where I’ve seen either of my two favourite synth duos have been with Sarah, and all the Erasure gigs I’ve seen with her have been at the Guild Hall in Preston. The PSB gigs have been at either the Arena or the Apollo, including the one in February this year at the Arena.

Obviously, after the bomb last month, the Arena is still out of use at the moment, being repaired, although it is hoped it will re-open soon. Although I was disappointed about the Maccy D’s closing, as it used to be very handy for a post-gig drink to cool us down, I still think it’s the best concert venue, certainly in terms of location. It is so handy for going into town and having something to eat first, then making your way over for the gig.

I will have to make a start on The Power, by Naomi Alderman, my book club book, but it’s not on the OC List as yet, so the list is down to 8 books at the moment. I’m still thinking that I should add a “chunky monkey” to that list, and due to a response from one of my friends on Instagram, my former colleague Jill, it’ll probably be The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett.

Goodreads challenge surpassed

You see, I’ve met my Goodreads Challenge, and I’ve learned from last year! I am NOT going to alter my challenge, I’m going to see how many more books I read beyond the 30 I’ve finished off thus far! So, I will not panic if I have a book hangover after a particularly epic novel, as I did last year when I finished A Little Life. I will probably stick to non-fiction until I feel ready to read a story again. 2016’s challenge was very handy in imparting some useful book-reading lessons!

  1. DON’T increase your target number of books! Just see how many books you read beyond that number when you hit your target.
  2. DON’T panic if you have a Book Hangover! Just read books which are different to the one which gave you the hangover.

I was having a Book Reshuffle earlier. That’s a bit like a Cabinet Reshuffle, except that it’s useful, lol! Actually, that means it’s nothing like a Cabinet Reshuffle, lol! Anyway, I was putting some books in the Book Chest in the garage and taking some out. I think there’s going to be another mini-clearout, might take a few and divvy them out between local charity shops.

I was mostly going into the Book Chest because one of the books I picked up at the church fair last week was Heartstone, by C. J. Sansom which is the 5th book in his Shardlake series of historical fiction, and I knew I had a few other books of his in my book chest, so I was essentially going for a shufty to re-familiarise myself with what the hell I had in there. I discovered that I have Dissolution and Dark Fire, which are the first two books of that series. Sovereign and Revelation are the third and fourth books, but I don’t have those, nor the 6th book, Lamentation. This is not a cause for concern, though. There’s time yet. I will list them in reading order on the List Challenges list, and at the end of this blog. I like series to be in the right order.

Other books I took out of the book chest to have close to hand were Humble Pie, Gordon Ramsay‘s autobiography, which sounds good, and Robbing The Bees, by Holley Bishop, which is described as a biography of honey. I have read books about tea, coffee and chocolate, so don’t be too surprised! Besides which, bees are very much in the news of late, as they’re a symbol of Manchester, so I thought I might add that to Manchester, England, by Dave Haslam in my Manc Reading theme. There are beehives in town, by the way… on the roof of Manchester Cathedral, and also on the roof of The Printworks.

This one’s not from my book chest, but from one of the tubs in my room… Fathomless Riches, by the Revd Richard Coles. Those of you who are my age and into 80s music will probably remember the UK’s best-selling single of 1986, which was “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by The Communards, a song which is still guaranteed to get me on the dance floor at a disco, even though I’m no dancer and will probably just dance around my handbag, lol! Well, Richard Coles was one half of The Communards, along with the rather more well-known Jimmy Somerville. Coles is a vicar now, has been for some time, and his book is about how he went from pop to pulpit!

Well, I need to go from blogging to freshening up, which is pretty tricky in sticky weather, so that’s about all there is for this entry. Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • The Power – Naomi Alderman
  • The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • Dissolution – C. J. Sansom
  • Dark Fire – C. J. Sansom
  • Sovereign – C. J. Sansom
  • Revelation – C. J. Sansom
  • Heartstone – C. J. Sansom
  • Lamentation – C. J. Sansom
  • Humble Pie – Gordon Ramsay
  • Robbing the Bees – Holley Bishop
  • Manchester, England – Dave Haslam
  • Fathomless Riches – The Revd Richard Coles

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, British Weather, Food & Drink, Goodreads, Humour, List Challenges, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Reader's Block, The TBR Pile, Weather

A Sense of Completion

MUFC Europa League Winners 2017

Mission Accomplished: European Silverware and Goodreads Challenge…

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Welcome again to yet another blog from the most waffly bookworm in Manchester! As you can see from the blog title and the photo, there is a feeling of satisfaction and completion here. On Wednesday night, my lads delivered the goods in Stockholm, beating Ajax 2-0 in the Europa League Final to win the trophy for Manchester and complete the set of continental silverware! We have now won every trophy European football has ever had to offer at least once each! European Cup 3 times, the old European Cup-Winner’s Cup in 1991 and now the UEFA Cup (as the Europa League was known for donkey’s years) on Wednesday night in Sweden. Actually, it’s the first time we have ever kept a clean sheet in a continental final! Even in our other victories, the opposition had had a goal back, but not this time!

Yes, we’re still shocked and upset, but the best tribute to the 22 who died at the Arena on Monday night is that the show goes on… the sports, the entertainment… The athletics went ahead this evening on Deansgate and outside the Town Hall, and the Great Manchester Run goes ahead on Sunday. As it says at the end of the poem I posted in my last blog, this is Manchester, and the bees still buzz!

Anyway, on from sports to the matter of books, and United’s trophy collection isn’t the only thing being completed this month, as my Goodreads Challenge has also reached my target of 30 books! Yay! As I had mentioned after our last book club meeting, I never included our current book on the OC List. It was far too short! An overnight read as it turned out, and I finished The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman, by Denis Thériault, last weekend! This took me to 29 books for the year, and I finished Nul Points earlier today, Tim Moore‘s book of Eurovision losers, so that brings up the 30 books I had set as my target!

So, what to do next? My OC List is now down to 9 books at present, I’ve not added to it yet. It’s also a question of what to do next with the Goodreads Challenge side of it. Last year, I set the original target at 25. I met that around May or June of last year. Plenty of time to go, I thought, so I upped the target to 40, thinking another 15 books was perfectly sensible…

But then I read A Little Life. And then I had an Epic Book Hangover! Oops! For the rest of 2016, I did not feel up to reading ANY fiction at all! Nothing appealed to me. Nothing grabbed me. My final total for 2016 was 30 books, and that’s because I managed to read some non-fiction books for the rest of the year! I’d missed my target by 10 books, though, because I’d wasted a lot of time fretting about my inability to read any fiction.

However, I now know that if the same thing ever happens again, I can turn to my non-fiction reads, of which I have plenty I can be getting on with, so I am NOT going to let it bug me if I have Reader’s Block on the fiction front. It would only be a worry if I didn’t fancy reading anything at all! This has also happened in the past, so I am not going to bother upping my Goodreads Challenge total. I will leave it at 30 and see how many more books above and beyond my target number I can read by the end of 2017!

So, back to the Ongoing Concerns… Pet Shop Boys, Literally, now returns to the top spot, followed by Periodic Tales. The number of OCs is currently 9. Do I add to that, or get others off the list first before adding new ones? I really think some of the YA ones on there could do with reading! Perhaps get PSB off the list first, though. The book is at 62% and I am going to see them in Blackpool in June, so back to Chris Heath‘s account of their first proper tour back in 1989…

Just looking over at the OC pile, and the nine books consist of four non-fiction titles and five YA novels! My plan, from a previous blog, was to get the list to a balance of general fiction, non-fiction, and young adult. Three of each. So, next non-fiction to come off the list gets replaced by a general fiction title, and the next two YA books to come off the list are also replaced by general fiction, and we would get to that three of each stage. The others could be like for like replacements. So, let’s say I finish Pet Shop Boys, Literally next. That non-fiction is replaced by fiction. Next book after that is Periodic Tales, another non-fiction, but that could be replaced by another non-fiction, as we’d have got the non-fictions down to three. After that on the list are Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, followed by Finding Audrey, so those are the two YA titles which would be replaced by general fiction once those had been read, but then we’d have that balance.

So, the OC pile stays at nine. No more books are added. Next non-fiction, and next two YA novels are to be replaced by general fiction, and then we’re set.

For one of my next fiction ones, once I’ve finished with Pet Shop Boys, Literally, I have a few in mind. Obviously, Midnight Blue, a recent acquisition could be read, but then again, maybe it’s time I gave The Miniaturist a go? However, I did recently find I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb, at a charity shop in Salford for £2. Bearing in mind that it’s quite a chunky book, and the RRP was £9.99, that’s still quite some bargain, even if I have had much cheaper acquisitions from the local charity shops, of which we have many in Monton, Eccles and Salford! I still can’t see that book without thinking of the Spandau Ballet song, lol!

Anyway, that’s about it for now, and while we’re still on 26th May, 18 years on from the best night of my life in Barcelona in 1999, I wish all my fellow Reds a Happy St Ole’s Day! Until my next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman – Denis Thériault
  • Nul Points – Tim Moore
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • Pet Shop Boys, Literally – Chris Heath
  • Periodic Tales  – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
  • Midnight Blue – Simone van der Vlugt
  • The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton
  • I Know This Much Is True – Wally Lamb

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Filed under Books, British Weather, Charity Shop Bargains, Football, Goodreads, List Challenges, Manc Stuff!, Music, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Reader's Block, Sports, The TBR Pile

Four Out of Five Ain’t Bad!

Missing books found Bookstagram pic

“Don’t be sad, ’cause four outta five ain’t bad!”

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Good Friday today, and a very good Friday it is, too, as yours truly has found FOUR of her missing books! Meatloaf sang that two outta three ain’t bad, which is a fair point, lol, but when you’re a bookworm, and you find all but one of your notorious Missing Books, then four outta five is pretty decent, too!

Missing books found 14 April 2017

I shifted the bags in front of one of my wardrobe units to see which books were in that part, and, sure enough, four of the five missing books were there, as shown above. We have Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher, All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr (thus also on the Duplicate Books List), A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman, and The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje. So, the only book still AWOL is The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy, and I really do not have a Scooby where the hell that one could have disappeared to! Not seen it for bloody ages! Used to be here in Computer Corner, but has not been here for quite some time now! Maybe I did offload it in a charity shop giveaway the other year? I don’t think I did, but I can’t be sure!

Found a few others in there, of which some I have made a mental note of their location, and others have been replaced in the wardrobe so that they can be in a more prominent place. Firmin, by Sam Savage, is one of the books I have got out to have available. A half-finished book, one of many, lol, it’s about a rat who lives in a bookstore. Ella Minnow Pea, another book about books, or at least about words, by Mark Dunn, is one of the others I have retrieved.

I have also found my very old, and sellotaped-together-many-times, copy of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4, by the late great Sue Townsend, which is fairly apt as Adrian, as a fictional character, has recently celebrated his Big 50! Dunno where The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole is, though, as I thought those two were together, but it’ll crop up some time… I know I have definitely not got rid of it. I wouldn’t. Those first two Adrian Mole books are pretty special to me and go back years with me to when I was about 11 or 12!

Some books, including most of the notorious Duplicate Books List, are now in bags as I am starting to get books together for the clear-out. One copy of All The Light We Cannot See will have to join them. The other books from the Missing Books list have not been duplicated, so they’re all staying now that I’ve found them. Actually, I’ll keep my original of the Doerr novel, and give my recently-bought copy to a charity shop or the church summer fair or something. I did pick up a charity shop bargain the other day, though, but with several books due to leave this room in the very near future, I figured that the 75p acquisition of I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You, by Ally Carter, wasn’t going to cause a serious problem in the grand scheme of things! It’s the first book in the Gallagher Girls series, about girls at a school for spies, and I do have it on my Kindle, but I only count books as duplicated if I have more than one physical copy of the book, and this is not the case for the Ally Carter book.

E-books don’t take up physical space, so it doesn’t matter to me if I have the same book as a paperback and on my Kindle as well. In fact, that is the case for a few books of mine, and sometimes it has been very deliberate, such as last year when I got A Little Life for my Kindle, already having the paperback. This is because I wanted to get some of it read on the way to Wembley, but there was no way in Hell that I was going to lug a 720 page epic novel down to the FA Cup Final and back with me, so I got it in e-book format so I could get some of it read on the way down to see United beat Crystal Palace 2-1 in extra-time last May!

[Football Fan Bookworm Problems: When you’re reading a huge epic novel and want to get on with it, but your team is in the FA Cup Final and you don’t want to lug a huge chunky paperback to Wembley and back with you…]

I had other paperbacks as Handbag Books, alongside my Kindle, and also got The Reader On the 6.27, by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent finished off while I was on the coach to Wembley for that final. Can’t remember offhand which other books I took to Wembley with me, so you’ll just have to find my blogs from May and June 2016, as those should give you some clues!

Read a bit more of The Tobacconist earlier, so I’m now on for page 50, which is 21% of the book according to Goodreads. I’m going to have to figure out what to do with the books I have found today. I had started three of the missing books – Thirteen Reasons Why, The English Patient, and A Man Called Ove, and I was a good way through Firmin when I was reading it some time ago. Maybe they could have priority to join the Ongoing Concerns?

Firmin certainly deserves to be finished, I think, rather like the way I finally got Jamrach’s Menagerie finished off this year, when I’d started that one some years ago but then left it half-read for a while for whatever reason… Probably a bout of the dreaded Reader’s Block, I expect.

My friend Liz in Alberta is not happy about the weather, and I don’t blame her in the slightest! If the weather in Canada could kindly remember that it’s supposed to be Easter at the moment, not bloody Christmas, that would be great! Ta very much! The weather here could do with being a bit better, but it’s just bog standard British bank holiday weather, really, and at least it’s not bloody snowing on this side of the “Big Bathtub”! If you’re over in Canada and up to your eyeballs in snow at the moment, I suggest you get yourself a big mug of coffee and have a good read! Talking of Canada and coffee, I was delighted to learn that Tim Horton’s is opening branches here in the UK very soon! The first one will open in May up in Glasgow, so I hope there’s at least one branch here in Manchester pretty soon! I want a box of Timbits! Not had them since I was over in Canada on holiday in October 2009!

Well, I’d better get this finished off before I start wittering on about Timbits and make myself hungry, lol! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
  • All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
  • A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
  • The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje
  • The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
  • Firmin – Sam Savage
  • Ella Minnow Pea – Mark Dunn
  • The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 – Sue Townsend
  • The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole – Sue Townsend
  • I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You – Ally Carter
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • The Reader On the 6.27 – Jean-Paul Didierlaurent
  • The Tobacconist – Robert Seethaler
  • Jamrach’s Menagerie – Carol Birch

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Filed under Books, Books About Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Duplicate Books List, Food & Drink, Football, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, Music, Ongoing Concerns, Reader's Block, Travel, YA Books

Joanne D-J and the Forty Bookworms

book-selfie-march-2017

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

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books knocking around for a while

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

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

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

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

Book and bookmark rediscovered March 2017

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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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

101 Book Mentions

101-dalmatian-puppies

101 dogs for 101 blogs!

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Last night, when I clicked to publish my blog, I received a notification shortly afterwards from WordPress, that I had published 100 blogs on Joanne’s Bookshelf! Wow! I knew I’d published a lot of book blogs, but some time ago, they seemed to stop letting me know blog by blog, so I lost count, although I knew I’d written a lot of these things! Anyway, last night, I reached my century, so this is my 101st blog, hence a photo from the film version of The Hundred and One Dalmatians! Well, it had to be done, lol!

Over the previous hundred book blogs, there have been many more than 101 books mentioned, lol! In fact, when I came to list them on List Challenges, my list came to 500 books! Would have been more if I’d listed every single Discworld book, I know, but I did list a few individually, and there’s one entry to represent the series. It’s just that the late great Sir Terry Pratchett wrote so many that it’d take ages to list! With some of the other fantasy series, there are not quite so many books. The Lord of the Rings is a trilogy, both Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia comprise of seven books each, and A Song of Ice and Fire has five books at present, and there are two more to come, I believe, as George R. R. Martin has not yet finished writing the series.

dalmatian-family

In one hundred blogs, we’ve covered one hell of a lot of issues! Some literary, some otherwise. Travel, music, sports, sports books, food, duplicate books, Young Adult novels and why they’re not just for teens, how much I hate book snobs, the content of books being more important than the authors’ appearances, tributes to poets, musicians and authors who’d passed away, especially last year when the Grim Reaper was overdoing it on the bumping-off front! I still think Phil Collins was taking a massive risk calling his autobiography Not Dead Yet, lol, given the number of celebrities lost in 2016! Looking forward to reading that book, though, when Sarah lends it to me.

We’ve even had cross-stitched bookmarks, Handbag Books, the chunkiness of historical fiction novels, the concept of the Book Hangover and bouts of Reader’s Block, the occasional rant, and of course a few mentions of the Junior Bookworm, my niece Charlotte. She now has a baby brother, of course, my nephew, Reuben, who was born in October, and she is clearly passing on her love of reading to the new arrival!

charlotte-reads-to-reuben

Charlotte reading to Reuben.

Looks like my nephew is enjoying having Eva and the New Owl read to him! It’s a book from the Owl Diaries series, by Rebecca Elliott, aimed at newly-independent readers such as my niece. I’m sure she still likes having books read to her, but she’s now very good at reading them on her own, and, as we can see, reading them to her baby brother!

You might be interested to know that my piles of books were still intact this evening when I returned home from Old Trafford after watching Manchester United beat Watford 2-0 in the Premier League, so neither the Juan Mata goal, nor the Anthony Martial goal, caused my books to topple over as they did last weekend when Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored our opener away to Leicester City! Must have just been a one-off! Let’s hope so! I want my side scoring lots of goals, but I don’t want my books falling over! As I reach 100 blogs, United reach 2,000 Premier League points, which they achieved this afternoon with the three points gained in our 2-0 win. Indeed, our next league victory will be our 600th in the Premier League, another milestone we’ll be the first club to achieve! However, this can’t happen until March, as we now have Europa League and FA Cup ties to contest, plus the League Cup Final against Southampton, before we have another Premier League fixture, which will be a home game against Bournemouth.

With Premier League Years 1992/93 downloaded onto my Kindle, I have at least one suitably United-related read amongst my ebooks for my trip to Wembley on 26th February. That particular date is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s birthday, too, so more reason to hope we win the cup – it would be appropriate to do so on a Legend’s birthday. Ole will be 44, he’s a couple of months older than me. He’s one of the main reasons why Norway is on my to-do list as far as travel is concerned, although I want to see more of Scandinavia anyway!

I have been to Denmark, a very long time ago now, way back in 1991 when I was 18, but we didn’t go to Copenhagen, so I have yet to visit the capital city. I have been to and performed at Legoland though! The original Legoland in Billund. The reason I was in Denmark in 1991 was because I was playing in the City of Salford Youth Concert Band, and every two years the band went abroad and gave a few concerts as well as having a bit of a holiday.Denmark was my first tour with the band, I also went to the Netherlands, France and Spain as part of the CSYCB. I was actually helping the band out by playing baritone sax at the time we went to Denmark, although my main instrument back then was the clarinet, “main instrument” meaning that I had my own, a pressie for my 16th birthday in 1989 just before I sat my GCSEs and left high school. The baritone sax was the music centre’s instrument, as was the bass clarinet I played a few years later in the band. These days, I’m in the Flixton Community Brass Band, in which I play tenor horn.

Anyway, I was on about Scandinavia, wasn’t I?! While Denmark was a long time ago, when I had just become an adult, I have had a more recent Scandinavian visit, when Mum and I went to Reykjavik, Iceland, in 2010. I totally recommend Iceland, especially as it’s an island full of bookworms! Icelandic people are major book lovers, they even have the “Christmas Book Flood” where they all buy each other new books, which they give each other on Christmas Eve, unwrap them, and then spend that night happily reading their new books! What a brilliant way to spend Christmas! I went there before I started writing these book blogs, which commenced later that year, but you won’t be surprised to learn I came home from Reykjavik with a few books, including The Sagas of Icelanders – that one kinda had to be purchased, really! I think it’s in the Book Chest in the garage. It’s a big, chunky book, anyway, as you might expect! Obviously, they were written by various Icelandic people, but the book I own has been put together by Jane Smiley. It’s not ALL the sagas, that would require an even chunkier book, I’m sure, but it’s a substantial introduction to Icelandic history, culture and folklore, and I hope to get around to reading it some time!

Well, we’ve started off with 101 dalmations to mark our 101st book blog, and we have ended up with mention of the bookworms of Iceland! You never know what’s going to turn up in this blog… mainly because I don’t know, either, lol! I just type this stuff as I go along, and sometimes one thing leads to another! Anyway, that’s about it for now, so until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Hundred and One Dalmatians – Dodie Smith
  • The Discworld Series – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The Harry Potter Series – J. K. Rowling
  • The Chronicles of Narnia – C. S. Lewis
  • A Song of Ice and Fire (series) – George R. R. Martin
  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • The Owl Diaries: Eva and the New Owl – Rebecca Elliott
  • Premier League Years 1992/93 – Andrew Hyslop
  • The Sagas of Icelanders – Various (prefaced by Jane Smiley)

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Filed under Authors, Books, Cross-Stitch, Duplicate Books List, E-Books & Audiobooks, Fantasy Fiction, Football, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, Humour, Junior Bookworms, Literary Issues, Music, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Rants, Reader's Block, School, College & Uni Reading, Sports, Television, Travel

Turn-up For The Book(s): Manc Irony alive and well on this blog!

secret-santa-book-1

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Sorry for the lack of blogs since June, but here we are again. Hope you all had a good Christmas! Got a Waterstone’s gift card as one of my pressies, which is always the best idea when you don’t know what book to get someone because they already have so many, which we all know is my situation, lol!

Wasn’t sure what to call this blog. Sometimes I am really stuck for a good idea for a title, so at present, as I type, it’s just got the working title of “Last Blog of the Year” as it certainly will be that! I sure as hell won’t be blogging tomorrow! Got a match to go to, United being at home to Middlesbrough, and then I’ll be off out for a meal to let in 2017 and hope it’s a damn sight better than most of 2016 has been! If the Grim Reaper could please stop bumping off talented people and focus on nasty pieces of work instead, that would be great! The entire right-wing of the political spectrum would be ideal. Just a hint… Especially the far-right. Wouldn’t exactly be too upset at THEIR passing…

As mentioned in the blog in June, I now have a nephew as well as a niece! Reuben David Jack was born on 8th October, a little brother for Charlotte, the Junior Bookworm! I hope Reuben will also love books as much as his sister does. For the record, my pressies for Charlotte were books – a large book of poetry for children and a box set of Roald Dahl’s books. I think there are 15 books in that box set, it’s one I had in from when my niece was little. I saw it and bought it when I was working in Chorlton, and it was always going to be a future birthday or Christmas present for my niece when she was old enough to start enjoying a bit of Roald Dahl. That time has now come, and, indeed, she’s going to be reading some of his stories at school, so Ellie let me know and I decided the time was definitely right!

As you can see, there is a mystery book again. So, let’s open it up a bit further…

Right, the tag and string are off… We shall start to unwrap shortly…

One of the main issues causing the lack of blogging was that I suffered a bout of Reader’s Block once again. Well, sort of, although I did manage to read some non-fiction, but I think A Little Life proved so epic, that I have been unable to face any fiction since I finished the 720 page novel! I had already met my original 25 book target in my Goodreads Reading Challenge, and done so with some months to spare, so I thought upping it to 40 wouldn’t be unreasonable. However, due to the aforementioned issues after A Little Life, I have only managed a total of 30 books this year, the last of which I finished earlier this evening, that being The Ten (Food) Commandments, by Jay Rayner. I recommend this book, not just because it’s about food, not just because Jay makes some bloody brilliant and necessary points, but it is also a small book which would fit in a lot of handbags! I have a nice sizeable Kipling bag and can fit a few books in there, lol, but for those pushed for space, the Jay Rayner one would be ideal. I must say, though, that if you are a hardened bookworm, what the hell are you doing with a small handbag?! Shouldn’t you buy a handbag based on being able to fit a decent amount of reading matter into it?! That’s my criteria, anyway! Why do you think I created a Handbag Books list on List Challenges?!

Ooh! The mystery book is unwrapped a bit…

I mentioned before that I got a Waterstone’s gift card for Christmas, but. talking of book-related gift cards, has anyone else had a go at that game run by National Book Tokens? There are 20 road signs, of which each is a clue to a certain book. Some of them, indeed quite a lot of them, were rather straightforward and easy to guess. For example, the pig on the tractor sign was Animal Farm, by George Orwell, but towards the end, before I finally guessed them all, there were two in particular I was struggling with and had to get help from an online forum in exchange for giving answers to those I’d got which others hadn’t. One of them was the “men at work” warning triangle, and the other was a green arrow with “Emerald Street” on it. Turns out the men at work one was Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel, and the Emerald Street one was The Green Road by Anne Enright

Well, would you Adam & Eve it?!

In a lovely dose of Mancunian irony, the “Secret Santa” book I got at Waterstone’s just before Christmas only turns out to be one of the titles which was giving me such a problem on that pesky National Book Tokens game! The last damn title I guessed! The one which gave me so many problems guessing it! My first guess for that road sign had actually been The Green Mile, the Stephen King novel, and I couldn’t believe it when I was told that was incorrect! So I tried a few other guesses before resorting to an internet forum and an exchange of answers, which gave me The Green Road. Then I go and treat myself to a mystery book at Waterstone’s and it only turns out to be that very novel!

Well, I’ll not keep you any longer, I’m sure you need to get ready for any New Year’s Eve events you’re going to, and I will need to do the same, so I shall love you and leave you for this year! I hope to bring you more utter waffle in 2017, which will probably also mention books, lol! You don’t get any “new year new me” bullshit from me! I’ll spare you that crap! You get the same old nonsense from me year in year out, whether you like it or not, lol! Oddly enough, some people actually seem to like it. Enough to subscribe to my blog and like some of my entries! Very kind of you if you’re one of those people!

Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • The Ten (Food) Commandments – Jay Rayner
  • Animal Farm – George Orwell
  • Bring Up The Bodies – Hilary Mantel
  • The Green Road – Anne Enright
  • The Green Mile  – Stephen King

P.S. The “Joanne’s Bookshelf Blog – Books Mentioned 2016” list is now published on List Challenges for your enjoyment! See how many you’ve read!

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Filed under Arsehole Politicians, Blind Date With A Book, Books, Childrens' Books, Food & Drink, Junior Bookworms, Reader's Block

Book Hangover

Penguin orange book spines

Good afternoon, fellow Bookworms!

I am still “recovering” from the epic that is A Little Life, having read it in time for the meeting last Thursday – I had thought it was Friday, but it wasn’t. At least I found out in time and finished the book, which now leaves me with the old bookworm question of what the hell do I read next?! I think it’s fair to say that this is a big problem when you have finished a particular series of books, but it can also be true for those of us who have just finished one big, long, chunky book!

I don’t think my next one is going to be my book club book, I think we’re back to the bad old days of me not being into whatever we’re reading, which, in this instance, is Deep Water, by Patricia Highsmith. I think there’s a few issues here…

  1. I have just finished reading a rather large, and quite emotionally-taxing at times, work of fiction from which I am still having a Book Hangover!
  2. At our book club meeting, I was one of those who wanted to read King of the World, a biography of Muhammad Ali.
  3. Much as many other readers love them, I guess I am just not into crime novels or thrillers. I don’t know why, but they’re not my go-to genre. As I said, for many, it is their favourite kind of book, but I’ve always been different.
  4. Several other books in my room are giving me the eye!

I did finish one book off last night, getting yet another finished book onto my Goodreads Challenge, but then again, that was non-fiction. It was The Rules of the Game, by Pierluigi Collina, the former referee, and a very interesting and informative read for a footy fan like myself!

I tried to read the Highsmith an hour or so ago, just thought “chill out and try to read some, see if it floats your boat, Joanne. It might manage to hold your interest.”

But it didn’t, and other books here in my room were saying “Yoo hoo! Over here! Read me instead!” The book club next meets on 4th July, but whether I’m even going to have read much of Deep Water by then is highly debatable. It faces far too much competition from the vast hoards of reading matter here in my room. Plus, as I said, I’m having a Book Hangover from A Little Life, so perhaps my best bets are non-fiction books or perhaps some YA. I don’t think Patricia Highsmith is going to do it for me as I recover from Hanya Yanagihara’s epic novel!

Not even a tedious 0-0 draw in the European Championships can entice me into the wrong book! I will read while watching footy on the telly if I’m waiting for the boring tossers to score a goal or two, lol, but England v Slovakia last night just saw me getting some of Collina’s autobiography read. If I’m watching footy, I might as well read about footy! It’s up to the players to distract me from my book. I guess I should have watched Wales vs Russia instead, a game which Wales won 3-0 to top our group and send the Russians packing back home to Moscow.

I’ve just found an interesting book on the landing, on our bookshelves near the bathroom. There’s Only Two David Beckhams, by John O’Farrell, could be my Footy Book now that I’ve finished the Collina. Or I could carry on with Fergie’s book, Leading, which I could do with getting on with. I could also do with getting on with Martin Meijer’s biography of Louis van Gaal. Still annoyed at United for not having a parade after we won the FA Cup last month, and for getting rid of LvG so quickly. They should have let Louis enjoy that weekend after having won us the cup, before parting company with him and appointing that egotistical knobhead, Jose Mourinho!

Talking of footy, Northern Ireland v Germany just kicked off as I type this!

Oh well, I’ll give the Highsmith book around 50 pages if I can. If it still doesn’t float my boat, it probably won’t.

Anyway, onto other book-related matters, and something I’ve touched on previously… the publishing world and its stupid, unnecessary and rather outdated fixations! By this, I mean the idea that, because I’m a female reader, I will want books written by women and in which the main characters are women. I would love to meet these idiots and reassure them that, in the nicest possible way, I really couldn’t give a shit! Look I’ve just read A Little Life, for crying out loud! Written by a woman, as if that even matters, which it doesn’t to me, but the four main characters are all blokes, as are most of the other significant characters in that book, and I loved it! I really am not arsed in the slightest, so there is no need to worry about pointless crap like that!

I’ve been reading books since I first learned to read, which I had managed before I started school. I have NEVER given a shit about the gender of the author, or of the characters. In fact, it probably hasn’t even occurred to me to even take much notice. If a book appeals to me, it’s because its plot or its subject matter appeals to me. The gender of the author is an irrelevance, as is the gender of the main protagonist in the story if I’m reading fiction!

This is 2016, so, as I’ve said before, isn’t it time publishers stopped pushing stuff on us just because the author matches our gender, colour or sexual orientation? It’s not news that there are plenty of female, coloured and/or LGBT authors out there in this day and age, you know?! Maybe it is news in some parts of the world, but certainly not here in the UK. And just because a reader is from one of those groups, does not mean that he or she will be restricting themselves to books by authors who are the same as them. Yes, they may read and enjoy a lot by those kinds of authors, but it’s not nice to be pigeonholed!

(Particularly if you feel you are completely unrepresented in fiction because you’re a knowledgeable female football fan. In fact, unrepresented full stop. Don’t even start me on adverts – advertising agency staff must have attended their most “recent” match back in the bloody 1950s, as they only ever seem to see us lasses as football widows or clueless bimbos! Only the Carlsberg “flatmates” advert has ever portrayed a female as a footy fan! I certainly can’t think of any other adverts which have acknowledged our existence!)

If there are any areas not really covered as yet, perhaps authors with various disabilities or health conditions might be a feature, and major characters in novels having a variety of difficulties of this nature might be the way to go, particularly the highlighting of the frustrations suffered by people with “invisible” disabilities. In terms of main characters with disabilities, A Little Life gives us Jude, arguably the central character, a man with a huge amount of difficulties, physical and mental, on account of the horrendous abuse he had suffered. I promise you no further spoilers on that matter! Just read it!

It is a difficult area, though, not only because, as humans, there are so many things that can go wrong with us, or that we can have wrong with us from the moment we’re born in some instances, so how can you represent such a wide range of conditions in fiction, even without considering the other problematic issue of realistic representation of people with such conditions. Some will applaud a given novel for its portrayal of a character, while others will be up in arms about that very same character and will say “We’re not all like that!” – Then again, even without bringing health issues or disabilities into it, there are too many assumptions being made in fiction, particularly by those who are responsible for publishing and marketing it!

Anyway, rant over, and back to books again. I could always make a start on S, by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst, a book I discovered recently at Chapter One in town. Well, when I say a “book”, it is more of a literary project! Book doesn’t really do it justice! I will return to this matter in a forthcoming blog, but I think the idea is this… you have this book, which is supposedly a library book from a college or university library in the States, and it’s been “written in” by a couple of students who are communicating back and forth because they are studying the rather mysterious author of that book. There are loads of things inside this book, newspaper cuttings, letters, postcards, etc… So, I think there will need to be some strategy for “reading” this thing! Probably involving post-it notes and files on computer to keep track of stuff!

As I said, there will be more about this S malarkey at some point in the near future, but for now, I think I’ve probably waffled on more than long enough. It’s half time, Germany are winning 1-0, but Northern Ireland have had their chances, and I’m off to publish this so that I can watch the second half! Until I type again, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • Deep Water – Patricia Highsmith
  • King of the World – David Remnick
  • The Rules of the Game – Pierluigi Collina
  • There’s Only Two David Beckhams – John O’Farrell
  • Leading – Sir Alex Ferguson
  • Louis van Gaal – Martin Meijer
  • S – J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Football, Literary Issues, My Bookworm History, Rants, Reader's Block