Category Archives: School, College & Uni Reading

Brillo pad! It’s Adrian Mole’s Big 50!

Adrian Mole

Gian Sammarco as Adrian Mole in the TV adaptation.

Sunday, 2nd April, 2017.

Hello again, fellow Bookworms! Couldn’t possibly blog today without noting the fact that one of my favourite characters from the world of literature, Adrian Albert Mole, is hitting his Big 50 today! Brillo pad, as Adrian himself was noted for saying in his diaries, penned by the late great Sue Townsend! Such a shame she didn’t live to see her most famous creation celebrate this milestone birthday.

For me, Adrian is a character very close to my heart, and only 6 years older than I am – he’s 50, I’m only a few weeks away from turning 44. We shared an enormous dislike of and ineptitude for PE and pretty much had a crap time at school all round, although I did have music to get me through my lousy time in compulsory education, particularly at high school! The first two Adrian Mole books were the YA books of my 80s childhood and adolescence! I was around 11 or 12 when I first read them, in my first year at high school, some time around 1984 or 1985, and back then, they were very contemporary – they were set in the early 80s, so only a few years previously, spanning a time period which included such events as the Royal Wedding, the Falklands Conflict, and the start of Channel 4!

Much as I’ve also enjoyed the later ones, it’s those first two books, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4, and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole, which are probably my all-time most-read books! They’ve had to be sellotaped back together several times! They were my coming of age books as I went through some of the same shit as Adrian, particularly the spots and the general awfulness of high school.

(Probably why I still like nerdy lads in today’s YA novels, such as Greg Gaines in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and Colin Singleton in An Abundance of Katherines. It’s that sense of being in the same boat as them, I can relate to their difficulties in fitting in. I’d be able to relate to nerdy girls, having been one, too, but it seems most nerds in fiction are lads, so I have to make do with my male equivalent!)

Over the years, as I’ve read and re-read these books, and the subsequent volumes of Adrian’s diaries, I’ve got more and more out of them. There were things in those books that maybe I didn’t “get” when I first got those books, although I loved them from the start. I made the same mistake as Adrian on one score, actually. I also thought Evelyn Waugh was a woman! Evelyn was a woman’s name, as far as I was aware – had no idea until much later that it could also be a bloke’s name! One of the other literary amusements which I understood later was when Adrian borrows Pride and Prejudice from the library, but finds it very old fashioned and comments that he thinks Jane Austen “should write something more modern”!

Having read that novel for GCSE English Literature in my high school days, I can say that Pride and Prejudice was actually quite modern for its day, dealing with such contentious issues as circulating libraries, which were a big deal back then! However, Miss Austen is unable to write anything we would see as modern, Adrian, because she popped her clogs in July 1817, two hundred years ago this summer!

(Unless, of course, Adrian might fancy reading that mash-up edition, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, lol!)

I have not read ALL the same books as Adrian, but I know we have at least another one in common, without even getting my paperback or e-book editions out. Adrian definitely reads Animal Farm, by George Orwell, at one point, a book which I also read at high school for GCSE English Literature.

Wonder if the TV series based on the first two Adrian Mole books is on YouTube? The title song, Profoundly In Love With Pandora, was recorded and performed by the late great Ian Dury. Gian Sammarco played Adrian, his mum, Pauline Mole, was played by Julie Walters in the first series, and Lulu in the second. Beryl Reid played May Mole, Adrian’s grandma.

I’ve been known to keep diaries, on and off, over the years, particularly on holidays, and these blogs are diaries in a way, although not secret ones, obviously, lol! These are an account of my lifelong love of books and my adventures in the world of reading matter… books I’ve heard of, books I’ve read, books I skimmed when I was at uni because I needed to note the important bits for essays and exams but didn’t really have time to read the entire novel… I guess this blog, if we’re doing it in the style of Adrian Mole, would be entitled something like this…

The Not-Remotely-Secret Bookworm Diary of Joanne Dixon-Jackson, Aged 44 In 3 Weeks’ Time!

But that’s a bit long-winded, so Joanne’s Bookshelf it is, lol!

Since August 2010, I’ve blogged about books I’ve loved, books which have had me laughing my arse off in public and getting some odd looks (Fever Pitch, by Nick Hornby springs to mind here!), books which grew on me, books I’ve thought were alright, the occasional book I’ve not enjoyed and have left unfinished because it wasn’t floating my boat… Life’s too damn short to be reading stuff which doesn’t grab you when there are hundreds of thousands of other books out there which might be your cup of tea!

I shall get this published so you can spend Adrian’s birthday reading it and, hopefully, enjoying it! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 – Sue Townsend
  • The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole – Sue Townsend
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jess Andrews
  • An Abundance of Katherines – John Green
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith
  • Animal Farm – George Orwell
  • Fever Pitch – Nick Hornby

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Filed under Authors, Books, Humour, Music, My Bookworm History, School, College & Uni Reading, Television, YA Books

Missing Words

Eric the Seagull

Eric the Seagull – he’s following the trawler!

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Those who have ever read at least the first book of the Discworld series, The Colour of Magic, by the late Sir Terry Pratchett, will know of a character called The Luggage, which is a wooden treasure-style chest on a lot of little legs. I am beginning to think some of my books have similar little legs as I can think of quite a few in my collection which I cannot put my hands on and I haven’t a Scooby where they’ve got to!

I know I had a bit of a clear-out last year, taking a number of books to charity shops in the local area, but I am pretty convinced that the books I have in mind as being AWOL were not amongst those taken and dished out to help local causes in 2016! Thus the Missing Words title of this blog – also, as music fans will know, a song by ska band The Selecter, in the late 70s or early 80s. (It was 1980 – I’ve just looked it up.) Fronted by Pauline Black, whose autobiography, Black By Design: A 2-Tone Memoir, should be available from all good book shops, as the saying goes!

Anyhow, onto the missing books themselves, and the first, which has been AWOL for some time, is The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy. I have absolutely NO idea where that has got to! It used to be around here, near Computer Corner, but it hasn’t been for some time now and I am at a loss as to where it has got to. It could be in the Book Chest, but I can’t remember seeing it when I went in the garage the other week.

The English Patient has also gone walkabouts, and I don’t mean discharged from hospital, lol! In my case, it’s actually part of a box set of  various Picador books, the rest of which are on our landing, in their box, and I have read one of the books from that set, that being Holidays In Hell by P. J. O’Rourke. I had started on The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje, but I can’t continue it at any time in the near future unless I actually get my hands on the damn book!

A Man Called Ove is also amongst the disappeared! The Fredrik Backman novel about Sweden’s answer to Victor Meldrew is nowhere to be seen! I know I’ve got this book somewhere , but the fact that it has gone missing is enough for me to do a Victor Meldrew impersonation and exclaim loudly I DON’T BELIEVE IT!!!

The fourth and final book of the quartet of missing reading matter is one of my YA novels, Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher. Again, I’d started the damn thing, and I now haven’t got a Scooby where it’s buggered off to! In fact, apart from The God of Small Things, I had actually started the other three on this list, which makes it even more bloody frustrating that I haven’t a clue where they are! They could well be in hard to get to places, they could be lurking in a dark corner of my room. They are not in Computer Corner, that’s for sure. If they were round here, they wouldn’t be missing as I’d have found the little buggers by now!

That reminds me, I had a bookmark when I was a kid or at least a teenager, and I think it was a Forever Friends one with one of those teddies on it… I probably still have it somewhere. Anyway, it had a little rhyme on it, which went…

If this book should chance to roam

Box its ears and send it home!

Well, there are at least four books of mine right now which could do with a clip round the ear for doing a runner on me! I know there was a time, a few years ago when I thought I had a book but didn’t know where it was, but it turned out I didn’t have that book, however, one of my Facebook friends very kindly sent me a copy! The book in question, in that instance, was Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and the irony is that I DO know where that book is, even if I can’t find these four others which are clearly having a game of hide and seek with me, and are very much winning right now, lol!

Ongoing Concerns 8th March 2017

The Ongoing Concerns

With seven books on my Ongoing Concerns list, I’m not really in a major hurry to add any of the Missing Books to the list and resume them, but I still want to know where the damn things are in good time for when I get a book or two finished and need some new ones on the OC front!

As yesterday was a Tuesday, I made good inroads with Tuesdays With Morrie, and it is now part of the OC list, as seen in the above photo! I still need to decide if I’m just going to read it on Tuesdays, or going to get it finished off sooner and not care what day I read it. I want to get some more finished, and the short ones are a decent bet, especially as they make for good Handbag Books, so there’s always a chance I can do some reading when out and about. My current placement, though, is pretty local, so, as I think I said the other day, unless I’m stuck in particularly heavy traffic coming home from Eccles, there’s little chance of getting some epic Bus Reading done! I’m not there tomorrow, though, and have to go to town, so that’s a better bet for a bit of reading on the bus or tram!

No need to go to Wythenshawe now, however, as my dad is back home in Macclesfield. Hopefully looking after himself, but I know what he’s like and he is going to have to change the habits of a lifetime and get off his arse a damn sight more than he had been doing! He is such a stubborn git, always has been, and won’t be told! He thinks advice doesn’t apply to him and that he can do what he wants and he’ll be fine. Over the years, my sister has tried her hardest to get it through to him that his lifestyle has been doing him no favours, but he wouldn’t listen to her. The one sensible thing he did do was when he gave up smoking back at the end of 1987, so this December, just before Christmas, it’ll be 30  years since he gave that up!

He used to smoke a pipe, but that particular December, he had the flu and was having a massive coughing fit any time he tried to light his pipe, so he decided to pack it in while he was ill. By the time he was well again, probably early in January 1988, he realised he’d not smoked for about 2 or 3 weeks and just didn’t go back to it!

Fake gnus

Anyhow, enough of that waffle about my dad! Back to the books! I am well aware that today is International Women’s Day, but I have said in countless previous blogs that we should move away from fussing over whether authors, or even main characters, are female. There is only one true distinction we need to make when considering any book… Is it non-fiction or fiction? Or, as The Fart would put it, does the book contain facts or alternative facts?! This is 2017 – we shouldn’t be caring about what an author looks like, we should be more bothered about what he or she has put in their books!

There is no need to over-analyse! Yeah, I’ve been to school, college and uni, I learned to read things into books, and into poems, and I’m not saying it’s completely useless once you graduate, but it’s mostly unnecessary! It’s a skill which comes in handy AT TIMES, like working out what some lying arsehole politician is not telling us, for instance, lol, but I truly believe analysis of literature is done to death and it’s annoying and actually gives a false idea that people even care about these things!

If an author writes that the room was blue, can we not just accept that as a description, without reading anything else into it?! The room was blue, as opposed to being red, or green, or cream, or whatever alternative colour scheme you choose! It does NOT mean the author was depressed! He or she could be as happy as Larry, but they were simply describing a room in a house which had clearly been furnished and decorated with a blue colour scheme!

And, for crying out loud, STOP over-analysing children’s books! Especially those for young children nowhere near going to college or uni yet! They should just be encouraged to enjoy books, reading whatever takes their fancy. They generally couldn’t give a toss if the main character is a girl, a boy, a polar bear, a hippopotamus or even a damn caterpillar! And why the hell should they?! There’s plenty of years ahead, when they’re much older, for all that shite, but for f**k’s sake let them develop a love of reading so that they’re not put off reading when they are in their teens and have to suffer that obsession with analysing every damn word of a novel or poem which they’ll probably be forced to do when they are working towards their GCSEs!

Look, I fulfilled my childhood ambition in 1994 when I graduated, I wore my cap and gown and I am still proud of that, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have issues with education as a whole. There is so much unnecessary rubbish we seem to need to learn in order to get those qualifications which we will never or rarely need again once we’ve got them! And don’t even start me on that crap about it preparing you for work – it does nothing of the sort!

Why the hell is education such a big long test of how good one’s memory is?! I’m lucky that I have a very good memory, but others aren’t so fortunate. But you can’t take notes into a test or an exam because that’s “cheating”. Why?! Seriously, why?!

When you’re in work, you are ACTIVELY ENCOURAGED to take notes! You are also ACTIVELY ENCOURAGED to take notes into interviews in order to try to get a job! People do NOT expect you to memorise stuff! Companies are perfectly happy for you to make notes, in fact it’s expected! They KNOW you’re not going to remember everything, and there’s a lot of important stuff for you to know, so you have to write it down and have it with you the first few times you perform a certain procedure, or if you’re doing something you don’t need to do very often. Yes, you’ll get used to some things which you’ll need to do every day, or at least quite frequently, in your job, but you will need those notes you made in training and, seriously, no-one is going to mind at all! They’d rather you had your notes than you forgot how to do something important, or you forgot some vital piece of information because you didn’t write it down!

If you REALLY want to make education a good preparation for work, you need to make a lot of changes, mostly in your attitude towards those at school! Have a dress code, perhaps smart casual, as not everywhere has uniforms. Sure, some places still do, but not everywhere. Plus, that old tale about school uniforms being a great leveller is just a load of bullshit! They’re not. They don’t prevent bullying for a bloody start-off!

Don’t make a big fuss about hairdos or jewellery except where there are hygiene or health & safety concerns. I was a civil servant for 13 years, and worked with some great colleagues, some of whom were long-haired guys. Some of my colleagues had multiple piercings and tattoos. Didn’t stop them getting hired or doing a bloody good job once they were in work! So stop trying to knock the individuality out of kids! They need to stand out at least a little bit in order to get noticed and chosen, so stop doing them a disservice!  And, for crying out loud, stop expecting them to rely on memory! They wouldn’t need to in work, so why the hell should they have to at school?!

I guess you could argue that school assemblies prepare you for being bored out of your arse in meetings, though, so that is SOME preparation for working life, lol!

Anyway, I really should stop waffling on and get this published! Just had to get a few things off my chest, but having done that, I can bring this to a conclusion until next time when, maybe, the Missing Books might have turned up. Stranger things have happened, lol!

So, until that next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Colour of Magic – Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Black By Design: A 2-Tone Memoir – Pauline Black
  • The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
  • The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje
  • Holidays In Hell – P. J. O’Rourke
  • A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
  • Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
  • Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom

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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Computer Corner, Facebook & Other Social Media, Literary Issues, Music, My Bookworm History, Ongoing Concerns, Rants, School, College & Uni Reading, The TBR Pile, YA Books

The Literary Slap List

An Abby Wright illustration of a women reading a book outside in the snow

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Message for Goodreads:

No, I haven’t “just started” Finding Audrey, by Sophie Kinsella. I’m on for page 44 now, as I type! I actually started reading the damn book while I was still stood in W H Smith’s at Wythenshawe Hospital, after I’d been visiting my dad! Hence I am using my Metrolink tram ticket as a bookmark! Off-peak adult return between Cornbrook and Roundthorn. (I have a bus and tram pass, but only certain tram lines are covered, for others I need a ticket.)

My dad had a heart attack last week, but could feel it coming on, so thankfully he was able to get himself home and call for an ambulance, and he was taken to hospital. Wythenshawe is a heart specialist hospital, if you get my drift. Dad lives in Macclesfield, but having had this heart trouble, it’s brought him back in the Manchester area for now. He’s due to have a double bypass on Thursday.

Anyway, enough about my dad’s dodgy ticker for now, and back to the books. Actually, he had a pretty huge history book when I went to visit him – my sister’s partner had lent it to him. History, whether it’s fact or fiction, seems to result in some pretty huge books! I’ve mentioned chunky works of historical fiction on many occasions, as regular readers will know, lol!

Finding Audrey, which I found myself reading at W H Smith’s at the hospital, is a YA novel, set here in the UK, although I’m not currently sure if it’s set in any specific part of these shores. Audrey is the middle child of Chris and Anne Turner in this particular story, with both an elder and a younger brother by the sound of it. She has two brothers, anyway. Whilst I will try not to spoil things, Audrey has mental health issues, and personally, I can see why she and her brothers are like they are when you consider that their mum reads the Daily Fail! Enough said, methinks! Perhaps Ms Kinsella wrote this book to poke fun at the sorry excuse for a “news” paper?! I might only be 44 pages in, but I sense that the author is having a significant dig at Daily Fail readers!

This means that Anne Turner has the dubious distinction of being added to my notorious Literary Slap List! This is my list of characters from various books who could all do with a damn good slapping because they are all seriously annoying in one way or another! As we add our latest candidate to the list, I shall now run through the list of characters who are already on there, and we shall start with Jane Austen‘s classic novel, Pride and Prejudice

I had to study Pride and Prejudice when I was at high school, it was one of my set books for GCSE English Literature. Whilst it did grow on me eventually, and gives us some good characters, I’m afraid to say there are actually FIVE characters in this novel who feature on my Slap List, and Mr Darcy is NOT one of them! Mr Darcy is just a bit misunderstood. I think he’s probably an introvert, and doesn’t really enjoy all those balls he is compelled to attend. He’d rather just be in the company of one or two other people instead of the whole damn town!

However, Mrs Bennet and her two youngest daughters, Kitty and Lydia, are most definitely on the Slap List! Kitty and Lydia are just a pair of airhead bimbos, and their mother is an overgrown airhead bimbo who encourages her two youngest in this tarty behaviour! She’s more than old enough to know better! Mr Collins joins them on the list – can we say “obsequious little toad”? Yes, I thought we could! Elizabeth was right to turn him down! The fifth member of the Pride and Prejudice cast list to be added, but by no means least, is Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Two-faced, hypocritical old bag with serious double standards! Wants every other young lady to have a list of accomplishments as long as her arm, but makes every excuse under the sun as to why her own flesh and blood hasn’t got any strings to her bow!

After that, there were no more additions for years, although there were times when I was doing A Level French at Eccles College when I would have liked to have slapped Jean-Paul Sartre because trying to get my teenage head around the concept of existentialism was NOT an easy thing to do! I’d also like a word with whoever it was who came up with the Past Historic tense in the French language! Seriously! How many versions of the past tense does any bloody language need?! Do you really need a version of the past tense which you only actually use in works of literature?! No, I don’t bloody think so! So, grrrr at French for inflicting this upon us! Grrr at whoever invented A Levels as well, come to think of it!

We have to go to The Catcher In The Rye, by J. D. Salinger, next, as our next entrant on the Slap List is none other than Holden Caulfield. This caused much debate on my book group on Facebook, I’d Spend All Day In Waterstone’s If I Could Get Away With It, when we discussed this way back in around 2008, but plenty of people were in agreement that he was a very whiny, moaning teenager who really ought to stop sulking and realise how lucky he actually was! Just to amuse you, though, I recall reading that book, due to the kerfuffle it had caused on our Facebook group, and I kept misreading Pencey Prep as Poncey Prep! I guess Holden might have seen it as poncey, lol!

Dolores Umbridge absolutely HAS to be on this list! Ghastly woman! We first meet her in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and she is just such a vile two-faced character that I actually prefer Lord Voldemort! At least you know where you stand with Voldemort! He doesn’t disguise it. He’s a nasty piece of work, but he makes no pretence at being nice, which is fair enough, whereas Umbridge comes over all simpering and pretending to be nice, when she’s actually a right nasty bitch! The other thing about two-faced people is that you don’t know which face to slap first!

This next one is actually non-fiction as it is autobiographical, but I really want to slap the author, Elizabeth Smart, for what basically amounts to a pity party in writing! Two years ago, as one of our book club choices in 2015, I had the misfortune of encountering By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept. This may have been a short book, but it really wasn’t short enough! She loved this poet guy, and actually paid for him and his wife to move over to the States. Thing is she did it in the hope that he’d leave his missus for her. She just wanted to get in his pants and basically sulked because he was spoken for and carried on like some whingeing teenage girl. As I think I said at the time, save yourself the time and money… just listen to “Love’s Unkind” by Donna Summer, and you’ll get the general idea!

And now, that brings us back to Anne Turner, Audrey’s mum in Finding Audrey, by Sophie Kinsella. The fact that this character is a Daily Fail reader, and a pretty typical, annoying one, is absolute proof that she needs to be on my Slap List! Probably needs to be at the top of it, actually, even above the irritants I’ve just been mentioning!

The novel may well be coming to Wembley with me, though, along with I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Round Ireland With a Fridge, as chances are I may still be reading both of those come Sunday. I’ll certainly still be reading Zlatan‘s autobiography. and probably the Tony Hawks book as well. Not finalised the list yet, will have to see what still needs reading come Saturday, but as the EFL Cup Final approaches, things become clearer on the book front.

I’m clearer on my need to get some kip right now, as we’re in the wee small hours as I type this, so until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • The Catcher In the Rye – J. D. Salinger
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J. K. Rowling
  • By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept – Elizabeth Smart
  • I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  • Round Ireland With a Fridge – Tony Hawks

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Filed under Books, Facebook & Other Social Media, Goodreads, Handbag Books, Literary Slap List, Mental Health, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, School, College & Uni Reading, YA Books

Back In Time For A Good Book!

1985-fa-cup-winners

Nine men and Norman, we won with nine men and Norman...

Good afternoon, fellow Bookworms!

Fancy a bit of time travel? I hope so, as I have an idea for a blog, inspired by something I saw on Facebook this morning, on one of the book groups I belong to. The idea is thus: If you could take 12 books and go back in time to meet your 12 year old self, which books would you give to him or her?

So, for me to go back to the 12 year old version of Joanne Dixon-Jackson, we need to set the co-ordinates on our literary time machine to go back 32 years…

Year: 1985, Date: From 23rd April onwards…

So, the summer of 1985 will do nicely. The 1985 version of Joanne is 12 years old and lives in a semi-detached house in Monton, with her parents and younger sister, Ellie, who’s 9. She’s coming to the end of her first year at high school (Year 7 as it is known these days), and only has to walk round the corner to go to school as the lower building is right nearby!

1985-number-one-singles

UK number one singles in 1985

“Frankie” by Sister Sledge is number one, which Ellie has bought on 7″ single. Live Aid has just taken place at Wembley Stadium and in Philadelphia. M****e T******r is Prime Minister here in the UK, Ronald Reagan is President of the USA. 12 year old Joanne is still a year away from her first perm, lol, has Dangermouse wallpaper in her bedroom, has had a telly in her room since her 11th birthday in 1984 and loves staying up late, watching it. She is especially fond of Spitting Image on ITV on Sunday nights.

Everton are league champions (these are still the days of League Division One, before the Premier League, which doesn’t start until 1992), and Manchester United are FA Cup Winners, beating Everton in the final, 1-0 in extra time thanks to Norman Whiteside. This was achieved despite the fact United were reduced to ten men in normal time when Kevin Moran became the first player to be sent off in an FA Cup Final. Barry McGuigan is world champion at his weight in boxing and will be the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 1985, and Dennis Taylor is World Snooker Champion, having beaten Steve Davis in an absolutely legendary final!

The 12 year old Joanne is very much a bookworm, and has been since before she even started school, so at the age of 12 she is pretty much reading teenager’s books and her favourites back then would be the first two Adrian Mole books by Sue Townsend, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4, and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole. So, when we go back to 1985, we might find Joanne watching Live Aid, or reading about Adrian being profoundly in love with Pandora, lol!

So, which 12 books does the current version of Joanne, aged 43 going on 44, take to her 12 year old self in her time machine as she heads back to 1985?

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J. K. Rowling. I could, of course, take all the Harry Potter books, but that would take up seven of my twelve books, and I don’t even know if 12 year old Joanne is much into witches and wizards. Going back to my high school days, I remember our class reading Elidor, by Alan Garner, and at that time, I wasn’t really into it, so I think I am going to have to persuade my 12 year old self by emphasising the character of Hermione Granger and highlighting what a bookworm she is! That would probably convince my younger version to give it a go!

The Colour of Magic – Sir Terry Pratchett. OK, another book with wizards in it, but I’m going to stress how funny this series is to my 12 year old self. I’m going to tell the 1985 version of Joanne that she’ll like this series because she liked The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. (She will also like Red Dwarf on telly, although I don’t think that starts until 1988, so there’s another 3 years to go before she discovers the delights of that particular comedy!) Yes, there are definitely elements of humour in the Harry Potter series, but the Discworld series is full of comedy, and she’d love it!

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak. Right, 12 year old Joanne, you’re going to love this one! Definitely suitable for a 12 year old, and it’s a book featuring books. It’s set in Germany, just before and during the Second World War, and it is brilliant. It is quite sad, but there are some funny bits with reference to Jesse Owens, so that should appeal to your love of the Olympics! In years to come you will get to go to Berlin and visit the stadium where Jesse won his four golds and inspired Rudy in The Book Thief to do what he does…

Under The Frog – Tibor Fischer. You will love this and laugh your head off! It’s set in Hungary during the Cold War era. OK, for you, it’s still the Cold War era, of course, as it’s 1985, and the Berlin Wall is still very much up. But that’s going to come down in another 4 years! No, I shit you not, Joanne! The whole Iron Curtain thing has only got a few more years to run! The Berlin Wall will come down in 1989, East Germany and West Germany will become just Germany again in 1990, and will be “Western” like us, despite what Dad thought when you asked him years ago, and the USSR will cease to exist at the end of 1991! For real! I’m from your future, remember?! I know what happens, at least up to February 2017, which is where I’ve come from in time!

In years to come, you’ll be able to get to know lots of other people via computer. It will be called the internet, and there’ll be a site on it called Facebook. You’ll make lots of friends, and some of your friends will recommend books to you. One of your friends will recommend Under The Frog, plus a fair bit of other literature from, or at least set in, what you now know as Iron Curtain countries. A guy called David Hunt will recommend that one to you. It’s a way off now, I know. You’ll be in your 30s and working in an office in town by then!

Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson. This is from an American guy who’d been living here in the UK for years and, before he takes himself and his family back to the States, he goes off on a tour round this country, marvelling at what makes us tick. It’s VERY funny! As you’re in 1985, it’s not even going to be published for another ten years! Accurate at the time, but a year after the book is first published, the Arndale Centre will have to be rebuilt and will finally lose those awful yellow tiles! (Pity it will be because of a bomb going off in town in June 1996, but the silver lining will be the regeneration of Manchester afterwards and the redesign of the Arndale in particular.)

Odd Man Out – Brian McClair. A football autobiography, and one of the best, and funniest, ever written! You won’t know Choccy yet, but you will come to know and appreciate him when you start going to Old Trafford in 1991! Yep, I know… in another 6 years’ time, you’ll become a match-going Red and will end up as a Stretford Ender, singing your heart out for the lads at home games, and also cup finals…

My Story – Eric Cantona. Another football autobiography, this one purely because it’s Eric Cantona. Watch out for this guy! You won’t know him now, of course, any more than you’d know Brian McClair. Right now, you only really know Bryan Robson and Norman Whiteside, lol, but this French bloke is going to play for United from 1992 to 1997, and he will become your all-time favourite player, and you will still love him to bits years after he’s retired!

The Good Soldier Svejk – Jaroslav Hasek. Another of those Iron Curtain Country reads, although this was set long before then, during the First World War in fact, but it is VERY funny, goes off at a tangent at times, and has some great illustrations! Another book which was recommended to me on Facebook by David Hunt, and you will love it! It isn’t actually finished, really – Hasek died without bringing it to an obvious conclusion. He was a bit of a pisshead, actually. Yeah, rather like certain people I could mention! This one’s set in Czechoslovakia as you’d know it. That country splits up in 1993, quite peacefully, into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but there’s another 8 years to go yet before you see that happen on the news!

Penguins Stopped Play – Harry Thompson. Yeah, I know, you’re going to wonder why the hell I’m bringing you a book about cricket! Going to be years before you finally get your head around one of our national sports! But it’s not really about the cricket, it’s about the travelling and the mishaps which befall the team, that’s what makes this book so hilarious! Travel is funny. Very funny. You will see some seriously daft shit on your travels, such as a wall with eyes on it, which looks like it has a face!

Fever Pitch – Nick Hornby. And back to football again. No, he’s not a Red, he’s a Gooner – an Arsenal fan, and it’s about him growing up supporting Arsenal and waiting for them to win the league again after a pretty long wait. They’d won in 1971, but then he had to wait until 1989 before his team were champions again. Your older self first read this book in 1994, on a day when she wasn’t at uni herself, so she was going round Sunderland Uni with Mum, Dad and Ellie, as it would be Ellie’s turn to go to open days.

I picked this one because I was at university at the time, in my final year, so you now know that you get to fulfil your childhood ambition of wearing a cap and gown – you will graduate in the summer of 1994. Also, you will have seen United win the league by the time you read this book, and United will end an even longer wait for a league title  than Arsenal do in this book, when they win in 1993, a 26 year wait will be over when the Reds are crowned inaugural Premier League Champions in May 1993. 8 more years to go for you, yet…

The Story of Music – Howard Goodall. Yeah, I know, you do have that copy of Introducing Music, by Otto Karolyi, which Dad gave you, and that will certainly help you work out the pitch ranges for various instruments when you have to compose music for your exams in later years at high school. By the way, it won’t be O Levels, it’ll be these things called GCSEs, which will replace O Levels and CSEs a couple of years before you sit your exams and end your compulsory education. Oh, and Winton High School will be merged with Ellesmere in 1987, and become Wentworth High School, so there’s a change of school name and uniform in two years’ time! However, in years to come, the school’s name will revert back to Ellesmere Park High School, but not for a bloody long time, lol!

You’re going to get an A, anyway – along with foreign languages, music is one of your best subjects, but I’m bringing you a copy of this from the future as I know it will be of interest and of use to you, both as a musician and a music fan. You currently play the recorder and are attempting the oboe. Those double reeds are a pain in the arse, though, aren’t they?! Never mind, though, as you’ll be better off with single reeds, as you’ll find out in a year or so when you try the clarinet instead and have rather more luck with that one! It’s hard to curl your lips around two reeds, one reed is much more manageable!

Prepare to play quite a few different instruments during the course of your life! Music will play a big role in your spare time over the years. You’ll do a bit of singing, too, but mostly playing musical instruments.

And finally, book number 12…

Attention All Shipping -Charlie Connelly. I’ve brought you quite a few books to make you laugh, and this is one of them! You know when you’ve stayed up late at night to discover how television channels and radio stations close down for the night? I know it’s not your usual choice of station, as you’re definitely a Radio 1 girl, and will be for some time to come yet, but you know how Radio 4 has that Shipping Forecast late at night just before the national anthem and close down? Well, this guy goes on a tour of all the places mentioned in the Shipping Forecast and it is VERY funny! Especially a bit near the end about Faroese puffins!

Not only is this book very funny and informative, but it is a souvenir of what will be your 40th birthday holiday in Mexico! I know you’ve lived in Switzerland, and that you went to the USA for the first time last year, but you’re going to do a lot more travelling when you’re older! By the end of the 80s, Ellie’s trampolining will cause us to go to France and Switzerland for competitions, but from 1991 onwards, once you turn 18, you are really going to go to a lot more places on a far regular basis, and you will love it!

Oh, and in about 25 years from now, 2010, the fact that computers will let you make contact with other people around the world electronically will prompt you to start writing regularly on the internet about books, and some people will start to read and even enjoy what you write about those books! I know! Mad, isn’t it?! Madder than a box of frogs!

So, these are my 12 books I am bringing you from the future, Joanne! Happy Reading!

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J. K. Rowling
  2. The Colour of Magic – Sir Terry Pratchett
  3. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  4. Under The Frog – Tibor Fischer
  5. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
  6. Odd Man Out – Brian McClair
  7. My Story – Eric Cantona
  8. The Good Soldier Svejk – Jaroslav Hasek
  9. Penguins Stopped Play – Harry Thompson
  10. Fever Pitch – Nick Hornby
  11. The Story of Music – Howard Goodall
  12. Attention All Shipping – Charlie Connelly

Other books mentioned during this blog…

  • The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 – Sue Townsend
  • The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole – Sue Townsend
  • Elidor – Alan Garner
  • The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  • Introducing Music – Otto Karolyi

smash-hits-live-aid-1985

* Joanne gets back in the time machine and heads back to February 2017… *

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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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Essential Reading

to kill a mockingbird

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Actually, it’s quite a sad day in the literary world, with the news breaking  yesterday that Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird, had died at the age of 89. I really must get round to reading that. Perhaps next up once I’ve finished one of the books I’m currently reading. I have to admit I have never read it, although I do know that it has been on the curriculum for years, so many others have read it at school. I think it was on the syllabus when I was doing my GCSEs at high school years ago, but four out of our eight English sets studied English Literature as well as English Language, so the set texts were divided between the four sets. I would have to find out which books, poems and plays others studied, but I’m pretty sure Harper Lee’s novel would have been one of them.

For the record, our main novel in my set was Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and our play was Macbeth, about which I am sure our Shakespeare-mad teacher, Mrs Walsh, was delighted! We also studied Animal Farm by George Orwell, and quite a bit of First World War poetry, particularly by Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. The poems were not from a specific anthology, but I can recommend the Penguin Book of First World War Poetry should you wish to read any poems from that conflict.

I have put a question out on Facebook, both on my timeline, and on the book group I run, so we shall see if I get any responses about what other people studied when they were at school, and whether anyone read To Kill a Mockingbird as one of their set texts. I am sure quite a few people will have done so.

Reading, however, has to start years before you’re in an examination hall at high school. A love of books needs to start at home before you’ve even started school! Doesn’t matter what your background is, you don’t have to be well-off. We weren’t particularly flush when I was younger, but I had books of my own and also used to go to Eccles Library. My sister and I were regular patrons of the children’s library there when we were little! In this day and age, despite cutbacks, there are still libraries around, and there are also charity shops, so you can still borrow books for free or buy them pretty cheaply. My link is for a blog by the author James Patterson, and his blog entry about how a love of reading needs to start in infancy.

http://www.jamespatterson.com/about_we-can-get-kids-reading.php#.VscvnfmLTIV

There are a couple of provisos to that, I’d say. Firstly, that it depends on the age of the child. Even if they are an advanced reader for their age, there are some books which wouldn’t be suitable for them until they are older due to the subject matter. For example, I wouldn’t advise that they read erotica until they are of the age of consent.

Obviously, they will need factual books about the facts of life long before they are old enough to put some of them into practice. I think my mum gave me the book she had had on this matter when I was about 9 or 10. Everything from how you came into this world and how you changed from boys and girls into men and women, to relationships, courting, and some sexually transmitted diseases to watch out for. However, this book had come out years ago, so there was no mention of HIV or AIDS, which was unknown until the 1980s when I was a kid! I was a teenager when the whole “don’t die of ignorance” campaign hit our TV screens in around 1987.

The book I’d been given, The Facts of Life by Cirrel Greet, was very helpful to an extent, but a couple of books which came out during my teen years were really good at giving a more updated message and information on the birds and the bees… The Diary of a Teenage Health Freak, and I’m A Health Freak Too, both by Aidan McFarlane gave us the essential facts, as far as they were known, presented to a teenage readership in the late 1980s. Sex, drugs, alcohol addiction… the same stuff you get at school in Personal, Social and Health Education lessons, but without the cringing that such classes induce! I’m sure they’ve probably been updated further for today’s teens, or that teens today have similar books to help them through life. Chlamydia would need to be mentioned in today’s facts of life books.

The other matter is that I would be against stereotyping when it comes to subject matters kids might want to read about. Not all boys want to read about typical “boy” subjects, and not all girls want to read about typical “girl” subjects, and one girl recently caused publishing houses to have a rethink about their books and put an end to the gender-based titles they were putting out. Whether they are a girl or a boy, find out what interests them and encourage them to read books on those themes. Girls might be just as likely as boys to want to read books about football these days! This is 2016, not the 1950s! Plenty of us women and girls go to matches these days, and do so of our own choice. We are NOT dragged there unwillingly by fellas! This September, it will be 25 years since I first became a matchgoing Red! Yep, I will have reached my quarter century of going to Old Trafford on 7th September 2016!

I like the sound of the “Knowledge Is Power Program” which Patterson mentions in his blog, and would easily have been able to go along with that, reading at least 20 books a year and carrying a book around with me at all times! Indeed, I carry three books round in my handbag at present, although I’m getting towards the end of Fight Club, so I’ll need another Handbag Book soon! He is also right about rewarding kids for reading non-fiction books, such as books of world records and suchlike. Whatever gets people reading, as I have said previously, is a good thing. You have to find out what floats their boat and encourage them to read books on the matter.

Hmmm…. now here’s a challenge for James Patterson… perhaps he could find out what, if anything other than himself, interests Kanye West?! The rapper has stated he is a proud non-reader of books. I personally believe there are books out there for everyone. Yes, even Kanye! Perhaps he had crap books foisted on him at school, ones which didn’t appeal to him. That has been known to put a lot of kids off reading. Whatever the root of Kanye’s book-related issues, surely there must be SOME books he might like?!

Charity shop book bargains Feb 2016

Anyway, been a busy old week on the book-buying front. All cheap ones, I must add. The top row in this photo were all purchased on Tuesday, and the bottom two on Thursday. Ranging in price from £1.50 right down to 25p! Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Sisters Brothers will probably end up as duplicate books. I am pretty sure I might already still have copies of those two somewhere. It’s just that I am not sure where the hell they are. I didn’t see them in my recent sort-outs in my room and the garage, so they are not somewhere where I can put my hands on them easily. Therefore I decided it was reasonable to get copies in at charity shop prices (I paid £1.50 for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and just a quid for The Sisters Brothers) so I have the books to hand. I know where one Truman Capote book is, it’s on the landing, near the bathroom, but that’s In Cold Blood, which I have already read a few years ago.

The Book Lovers’ Companion is one of those book recommendation books. It has a forward by Lionel Shriver, but it’s basically just a list of 200 other books you might want to read if you’re stuck for ideas. That one set me back £1.50 like the Capote, so those two were the dearest of the five books. The least expensive of the five books, setting me back a mere 25 pence, was The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. I picked that up at Start in Salford where I do my crafting twice a week. I have given them some of my books for their shelves.

Then we come on to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, the book I ummed and aahed over a bit in the St Ann’s Hospice shop on Monton Road. It’s a chunky one! A VERY chunky one! Good job I was sitting down last night when I decided to see just how long it was… 1006 pages! But it only cost me £1. That’s a lot of book for a quid, isn’t it?!

I also bought three books when I was at Bents Garden Centre on Wednesday. Not really quite the bargains which charity shop books can be, although The World To Come by Dara Horn was only 99p, but the other two were in a two for £5 deal, and I chose Saving Agnes by Rachel Cusk, and Wolves In Winter by Lisa Hilton.

I should not really overlook books in other formats, though. I have never actually listened to an audiobook, other than a brief sample the other day, when I listened to an excerpt from The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon. Not sure I’d get round to listening to them, though, unless I end up commuting some distance on a regular basis. Might have come in handy when I worked in Chorlton for three years, or, previously, the three years in the early 90s when I was a student in Bolton. My bus journeys in those days took around 45 to 50 minutes.

I do, however, have a Kindle, and I also have a Kindle app on both my mobile phone and my iPad, so I shouldn’t really ignore the stuff I have on there, and I recently purchased and downloaded Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithian. Of the various themes and subject matters I like reading about, music is very high up on my list! Perhaps, in my next blog, I should have a look at some of the stuff I have on my Kindle…

Anyway, for now, that is about all, otherwise we would be on for another epic blog, and I guess you are still recovering from the one I posted the other day! So, until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • Macbeth – William Shakespeare
  • Animal Farm – George Orwell
  • The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry  -Various
  • The Facts of Life – Cirrel Greet
  • The Diary of a Teenage Health Freak – Aidan McFarlane
  • I’m A Health Freak, Too! – Aidan McFarlane
  • Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
  • The Sisters Brothers – Patrick de Witt
  • In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
  • The Book Lovers’ Companion – Lionel Shriver (forward)
  • The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke
  • The World To Come – Dara Horn
  • Saving Agnes – Rachel Cusk
  • Wolves In Winter – Lisa Hilton
  • The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
  • Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn & David Levithian

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NeverEnding Story

neverending story

Good evening, fellow bookworms!

Another blog entry for  your reading pleasure, lol! The title refers to my infamous To Be Read list, of which I will never reach the end, rather than the book, film or the record by Limahl in the 80s! For the record, The Neverending Story is the English translation of a German fantasy novel by Michael Ende, published in 1979, originally Die unendliche Geschichte, the film of which was released in 1984. Limahl’s single was the title song from the said film and released in the charts in early 1984, reaching number 4 here in the UK singles charts. Perhaps I ought to read the book. Then again, perhaps I should just read Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, another fantasy novel originally in German. I do have a copy of Inkheart handy, whereas I’d have to acquire the other book.

Anyway, the Never Ending Story is incorrect as a title as the story clearly DOES end! Which is more than can be said for my TBR list, especially as recommendations are never far away and they come from all sorts of sources. Friends, family, Facebook, List Challenges… Don’t start me on that last one! I see so many other books which sound interesting when I am going through any chosen list and clicking on the books I have at least partially-read!

I have been giving out some surplus books, the ones I mentioned the other day as being ex book club books. I have gift-aided them to a few charity shops in Monton and Eccles. I was going to take a couple to the Barton Arms in Worsley, but, sadly, to my enormous disappointment, they had a refurbishment in January and no longer have the bookshelves to do the book swap service they used to offer. You could either buy a book for 50p in aid of St Ann’s Hospice if you didn’t have one of your own with you, or you could swap your book(s) for theirs if you did. This was how I got hold of Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier a year or two ago. I think I parted company with The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, a book club book I didn’t really get started with. Booker Prize winner, though, so that says it all, really!

I might have mentioned this issue before, but what is it about prize-winning books? Sure, it’s not true of ALL of them, and I enjoyed Life of Pi by Yann Martell when I read that some years ago now. That was a Booker Prize winner, but it was readable! It is possible! However, it could be the case that some authors just set out to write a book with book prize judging panels in mind, rather than having a wide readership in mind. Yes, all right, the prize might help shift a few more extra copies at Waterstone’s, but I would be very interested to find out just how much time elapses between the initial victory and increase in sales at the book’s original RRP (recommended retail price, which would probably be something like £7.99 or more), before it fetches up on the shelf of a charity shop for 99p!

I mean, have you seen the most recent Booker Prize winner? A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. Except, it’s hardly brief, is it, Mr James?! Page count of 704 pages! If that is brief, I dread to think what a longer history of seven killings would’ve been like! Probably about the same as a certain epic novel by Leo Tolstoy…

If a book won a prize, the Booker Prize in particular, maybe the best strategy would be to wait until you see a copy in a charity shop for 99p, or a church fair for 50p, or whatever, and risk it for a biscuit then! If it turns out to be readable and you enjoy it, you got yourself a bargain, and if you couldn’t get into it, you’ve not made too much of a loss on it when you give it to another charity shop or church fair!

Books SHOULDN’T be hard-going! On the whole, books really should be enjoyable and readable by many! We need to encourage people to read, not put them off! Literary prizes are a form of book snobbishness, and I can’t stand all that! On a similar note, I am about to post a link to an interesting idea from Book Riot…

10 Best Books I’ve Never Read

In no particular order, here are a few of mine… Many are genres rather than any particular novel, but one or two might be authors or a particular book.

  1. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy. OK, it’s true that I have read almost 300 pages of it thus far, but it’s over 1000 pages long, and it is hyper-descriptive. You want to slap Tolstoy and tell him to get to the point! Does he really have to be that descriptive? I’m sure there’s a lot he could’ve left out and it would still have made sense…
  2. Booker Prize winners. As mentioned above, with the honourable exception of Life of Pi, many BP winners in recent years have been unreadable, hard to get into. They are writing for a select shortlist of people, a few select book critics who seem to want something specific in the literature they plough through, and what they’re looking for is probably what the rest of us don’t give a toss about!
  3. Anything by Ayn Rand. I don’t know what it is, but when I go on List Challenges, I see her books on so many lists. I think I am put off because I either heard or read that her books leaned towards a right-wing perspective, so I am avoiding her works on the grounds that they would probably annoy me and do my blood pressure and/or mental health no good whatsoever! I am, and always have been, very much left-wing. I cannot abide the right-wing, and the further right they lean, the more they disgust me! As I’ve said before on these blogs, I think such people are heartless, greedy, selfish, uncaring bastards and a disgrace to humanity! So, Ayn Rand can do one!
  4. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Nothing against any of her other novels, indeed I have read Surfacing (back in my uni days, a long time ago), and The Year of the Flood, and I quite enjoyed the latter, but the setting of The Handmaid’s Tale would just anger me too much, I’d want to kill every single character who represented and enforced the sexist establishment in that novel! In the best interests of my blood pressure and anger management, I am deliberately avoiding that book forever!
  5. Horror novels. For the same reason I avoid horror films. I am a wuss and I do NOT enjoy having the living shit scared out of me! I was NOT one of those teens who read Stephen King novels. My sister read a fair few at that age, but not me! I know not all of his are horror, I might be able to find a few of his readable without causing nightmares, but I would have to be advised very carefully on that front!
  6. Chick Lit. With the honourable exception of the Bridget Jones books by Helen Fielding, which I read and enjoyed, I find very little to relate to in this genre. As I said in previous blogs, I’m just not a womany woman! I am far more blokey and would much prefer to read stuff like Fight Club than read about some shoe-obsessed or diet-obsessed woman! I especially love reading about football or music. Or both!
  7. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers. If you’ve seen the film that many times because it’s on telly every Christmas, do you really need to read the book? I’ve never read the actual book, and will admit I didn’t even know, for years, that it was originally a book. I’ve grown up knowing this story as a musical film which was always on television at holiday times, particularly Christmas, but I’m pretty sure it’s been shown at Easter as well. So, is the book actually necessary? Same goes for a few other stories, particularly folk tales and suchlike, which have become so well known in their animated form (Disney films, usually) that you know the story without ever having read the book. Pinocchio (by Carlo Collodi) also springs to mind here.
  8. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I actually own a copy of this book, which is lurking somewhere in my room, but I ask a similar question about this novel as I do with Mary Poppins – If you’ve seen the musical, and you own a copy of the cast recording, do you really need to read the novel given that you already know the plot?! Can I not just listen to “Do You Hear The People Sing?” or “Master of the House” – I’d probably be listening to the cast recording, anyway, if I did attempt to plod through the novel! Anyway, while we’re mentioning Victor Hugo, it reminds me of when I was at high school, learning French. When you get to that section in your textbook about learning to ask for directions, and there is a town plan on the page for some fictitious French town, there is ALWAYS a Rue Victor Hugo, isn’t there?! There is also always an Avenue Charles de Gaulle! It must be the rules! I did French to A-Level. I know these things! I know this much is true, as Spandau Ballet would put it!
  9. Literary Theory/Criticism books. This is one of those categories of books which I have had to read in the past, during my uni days, and which I have neither the need nor inclination to pursue further. I enjoyed my degree, don’t get me wrong, but some modules on the literature side of my degree were a tad dull and dry, and I’m pretty sure you can guess which ones those were! Yep, the “lit-crit” modules. The ones which press you to over-analyse nearly every damn thing in any given novel from a certain perspective! I am through with hyper-analysis! Since graduating in 1994, I have been free to enjoy books as they are, and, if I do want to read anything into them, that is my own decision!
  10. Self-help books. Yep, to end with, let’s look at another genre of books I HAVE previously read from, but which I now wish to decline in terms of further reading. I am not sure that they are as helpful as they like to make out. I believe they make rather too many wrongful ASSumptions. (Never assume – it makes an ass out of u and me!) I think these books over-simplify as much as the previous genre over-analyse! They seem to treat the reader as though there is a “one size fits all” solution to whatever their problem might be, and there certainly isn’t!

I don’t think this final category of books takes introverts into account, nor do they account for a huge range of disabilities their potential readership may have. This is the real world! Shit happens. A lot of shit! Thus, there are a lot of problems which CAN’T be overcome, and implying that the reader is making excuses is just going to make them feel WORSE than they were before they started reading! We are human beings, not robots! Plenty of us have LEGITIMATE limitations which we can’t overcome. We’ve tried and failed countless times! For someone, or some book, to then come along and try to suggest that the reader hasn’t tried hard enough, or that they’re making it up, is crass, thoughtless and hurtful in the extreme, and does them far more harm than good!

I am not negative. I am neutral. I respond according to how I’m treated. The problem is that I’ve had to put up with too much negative treatment, including pushiness and bossiness. They say that a definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. People have tried the pushy approach again and again, and every time it pushes me back into my shell. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to them to think up a fresh approach. An approach which showed affection and gentle encouragement might be a good idea… In fact, it might be a VERY good idea…

I have never responded well to pushiness and bossiness. That approach does not work for me. It makes me want to head off in the opposite direction as fast as my slow little body will allow! It makes me retreat into my shell. I have always been like this, certainly for donkey’s years since I started school, and I finished my compulsory education over a quarter of a century ago!  Some people have a decision to make – either change their approach towards me, or leave me the hell alone and go and find someone of a similar nature to themselves!

Apologies, but that last category set me off on a bit of a rant, something which needed saying. I doubt certain people will take any of it on board, though. They’ll just do the usual… When I post the blog on my Facebook timeline, they’ll give it a “like” without really having read this and understood what I was trying to get over! Those wanting a positive response need to treat me positively. They could start by believing me, taking my word for it.

I have something wrong with me. Always have had, always will. I tried my damnedest to overcome a lot of physical difficulties, but many of them remained impossible to overcome by the time I left high school in 1989. 12 years of significant effort every damn PE lesson went completely unrewarded. I got to 16. I was still shit, and I was still the object of ridicule. I wonder, sometimes, if people think I actually LIKE being shit at physical activities! I am NOT doing it on purpose! I genuinely CAN’T do things others take for granted, and I HATE the fact that I can’t do these things! I also HATE the fact that some people don’t seem to believe that and insinuate that I ought to go through all that hell again just for their benefit! NO! Believe me or bugger off!

Further apologies for this blog entry going into extra time, and I haven’t even listed the books mentioned in tonight’s entry yet! Feels like ages ago since I mentioned books, and I probably need to go and read something pleasant. That last point on my list was too much of a reminder for me about matters which piss me off enormously! I’d be fine if people just let me be me, but, unfortunately, some people don’t seem to want to let me be myself…

I shall try to keep it at least a little shorter next time! Thanks to anyone who has seen this through to the very end tonight! Until next time, when I hope to return to the joy of books throughout the entire entry, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned somewhat earlier in this blog entry before my rant…

  • The Neverending Story – Michael Ende
  • Inkheart – Cornelia Funke
  • Girl With A Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
  • The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
  • Life of Pi – Yann Martell
  • A Brief History of Seven Killings – Marlon James
  • War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
  • The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  • Surfacing – Margaret Atwood
  • The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood
  • Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
  • Mary Poppins – P.L. Travers
  • Pinocchio – Carlo Collodi
  • Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

 

 

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