Category Archives: School, College & Uni Reading

Blogging I am. Read it you should.

darth vader reading

Good afternoon, fellow Bookworms!

Happy Star Wars Day! May the 4th be with you! Sad that Chewy didn’t make it to today, though, as Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca, passed away yesterday. He will now be in a galaxy far, far away, though, and reunited with Princess Leia.

Don’t go over to the Dark Side… it’s too dark to read! Stay here with a good book and enjoy this blog, lol! I shall start with poetry, as I mentioned a few poetry books in my last blog and I have added a couple to my “books read” list. Poetry anthologies are something you can dip in and out of, though. I think, if you’ve read and enjoyed a significant amount of poems in any given book, you can say you’ve read that book. It’s not like a novel where you start off and read all the way through it, or at least try to. I mean, for instance, with Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, you start off with her at Gateshead with her mean aunt and spoilt brat cousins, and then you end up with her marrying Mr Rochester, don’t you? Poems, however, are not usually a continuation of the same story. They might be on a theme, you might have an anthology of love poems, for instance, or war poems, something I studied 30 years ago for my GCSEs, and I can recommend The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry should you wish to read any Wilfred Owen or Siegfried Sassoon.

If there’s anyone reading this at the moment who’s currently sitting their exams, good luck to you you for the remainder of your exams, hope they go well. Doesn’t matter if it’s GCSEs, A Levels, degrees, or any other qualifications. As I said, it’s three decades ago since I was sitting my GCSEs, so 28 years since my Bastard A Levels (worst exams ever) and 25 years since I was about to graduate from university.

Ice cream van’s outside, playing the Match of the Day theme as the jingle, lol! Nearly the end of the footy season now, though, ha ha! Only two more league games left. My lads are away to Huddersfield Town tomorrow, and then at home to Cardiff City next Sunday, on what would have been my grandma’s 100th birthday! She did make it to 95 and a half, though, so she did have a good innings!

Anyhow, back to books, and I have added You Took the Last Bus Home and The Luckiest Guy Alive to my list of books read in 2019, so those are the third and fourth books for this year so far. May the fourth be with you, indeed, lol!

I have a book here beside me at Computer Corner as I sit typing this blog, and it’s Jacob’s Room is Full of Books, by Susan Hill. You may recall that, some time ago, I read Howard’s End is On the Landing, by the same writer. Well, this is the follow-up! If she thinks Jacob’s room is full of books, which it may well be for all I know, and I hope it is, but she’s not seen mine! Mine is definitely full of books! A lot of them in huge piles, one or two of which, quite memorably, came toppling down one day in February a couple of years ago just after United had scored away to Leicester, lol! Never underestimate the excitement caused by a good goal, even my reading matter was celebrating!

My copy of Howard’s End is On the Landing is, appropriately enough, on our landing!

I had started the second of the Susan Hill books. Might resume that one, but am also considering The Rhine, by Ben Coates, which I have mentioned again recently. Wondering when it might be right to return to the fiction, though. Should I stick to factual stuff just to get through what is still a difficult time, or will something made up grab me?

I could actually start The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher, which is here in Computer Corner, and it would be apt to start that on Star Wars Day, wouldn’t it?!

Star Wars musicians

One for Star Wars AND music nerds.

Talking of music, I’ve been playing steel pans for 6 months now, well just over that, and as part of Salford Steel, I will be off to the north-east in July, to North Shields for a steel band festival! Going to be a massed pans bit at one point, with over 100 of us all playing.

Oh, and, if you recall a couple of years ago, I mentioned on this blog the Learn to Play Day, well weekend, that Forsyths held in March – it was a national, or possibly international, thing where music shops offered free short lessons on various instruments… Well, I did that again in March this  year! You may recall I had a go on the accordion the last time, but this time there were strings attached, lol, as I had a go on the cello!

Me on the cello March 2019

I really enjoyed it! If space wasn’t such an issue, I wouldn’t mind learning the cello. It has quite a huge pitch range, around four octaves from its lowest possible note to the highest achievable note, so the register goes from the bass clef into the treble, essentially two octaves below middle C up to two octaves above it.

The keyboard is out again, been in the garage for ages, but it’s back in our house. Running on batteries at the mo as it needs a new adaptor for it to run on mains, but I was playing it the other day, attempting “Always On My Mind” and “Rent” like the Pethead that I am! I thought, seeing as my old keyboard was out again, I may as well play some Pet Shop Boys stuff and pretend to be Chris Lowe, ha ha! My niece, Charlotte, is learning the piano on keyboards, so that’s why it’s out. She’s still also learning the violin. Taking after her Auntie Jo and playing more than one instrument…

Ironically, when I watched the old Top of the Pops from 1987 the following day on BBC 4, Neil and Chris were actually on it and performing “Rent”! The Bee Gees were number one with “You Win Again” so I think we were on for some time around October 1987 at that point. Sad that there’s only Sir Barry Gibb left now. Very partial to their music, especially all the disco stuff from Saturday Night Fever that was out when I was a little girl in the late 70s!

I think that’s the music news caught up with. I am going out in a bit, to a quiz night, so this won’t be a particularly long blog compared to the previous couple, but it’ll have to do for now! I just wanted to get the Star Wars references in, given today’s date, lol! Otherwise, I know you’d find my lack of blog disturbing! So, until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

The Force was strong with these books during this blog entry…

  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
  • The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry – Various
  • You Took the Last Bus Home – Brian Bilston
  • The Luckiest Guy Alive – John Cooper Clarke
  • Jacob’s Room is Full of Books – Susan Hill
  • Howard’s End is On the Landing – Susan Hill
  • The Rhine – Ben Coates
  • The Princess Diarist – Carrie Fisher
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Filed under Books, Food & Drink, Football, List Challenges, Music, My Bookworm History, Poetry, School, College & Uni Reading, Science Fiction, Sports, Television

O.U. Pretty Things!

Recent Pixelhobby designs completed – I scanned the photo of King Eric into my software for that kit and just ordered the necessary pixels.

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Well, I did say in my last blog entry that I’d show you some of my completed Pixelhobby kits, so there you have it! I’ve made some keyrings and magnets, too, but those are for another time. This time, enjoy Sydney Harbour, “Amber” the fairy, and King Eric! I have the software on my laptop, so I scanned a suitable Cantona photo into it and then printed off the charts and ordered the pixels I needed. Those other two designs, though, were kits I bought.

Hope  you can all see that and watch the ident. Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the start of the Open University! Yep, the OU has been going since 1969. Even though various members of my family, including my dad and I, have done our degrees at actual physical universities, the OU has had an indirect part in my education, and has certainly been a constant in the background when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, because Dad was ALWAYS watching OU programmes!

Dad graduated when I was a toddler, with his Bachelor’s degree. He was on day release from work to go to Manchester Polytechnic, as it was in those days – it’s now MMU – Manchester Metropolitan University. A bit more about MMU later, but anyway, Dad did his chemistry degree alongside working, and then later also did his Master’s in conjunction with work – when he graduated from the University of Sheffield with his Master’s, I was at university myself, halfway through my degree in Bolton, although I was studying history and literature, rather than chemistry! I was at Bolton Institute, now the University of Bolton, and this summer it will be 25 years since my graduation – the ceremony was in the October, though, so this autumn will be a quarter of a century since I fulfilled my childhood ambition of wearing a cap and gown! That made Dad and I the Three Degrees, lol!

Partial credit for this ambition has to go to comic books, The Dandy and The Beano, which I read in the waiting room at our dental surgery while awaiting a check-up! I guess our former dentist, Norman Hoy, has long since gone to that great dental surgery in the sky, but he was our dentist for absolutely donkey’s years, and when I was waiting for my dental checkup, and usually those of my mum and sister in the same visit, I would be reading these comics and noticing that the teachers in comic strips such as The Bash Street Kids all wore gowns and mortar boards! I was about four years old. If I had started school, I would have been in the reception class at primary school, so I would only just have been starting my formal education, but I thought caps and gowns looked ace! I decided I wanted in on that!

So, the next thing that would have happened, probably around the same time, would have been to see actual people on the telly wearing caps and gowns, which happened one day when I was still around this young age, still only about 4… I am guessing that this might have been an Open University programme about people graduating from the courses that they ran, having watched a lot of the programmes that my dad seemed to watch for his entertainment! I guess, because he already had a degree, and worked for a chemical firm, and actually worked in the labs when I was little, the science programmes were of particular interest to him. I asked Dad if the people wearing caps and gowns were teachers. This is when he explained to me that wearing a cap and gown didn’t necessarily mean you were a teacher, although some of those graduates may well have gone on to become teachers – it simply meant they’d been to university and got a degree. So, that’s basically what started my childhood ambition!

I had no idea at that time what, if anything, I would be good at! As I said, I might not even have started school at that point, so I had no idea about school subjects. I did know that I liked books, and I was a fluent reader by the time I started school in the autumn of 1977, but I just knew I had to be brainy, and the more subjects I turned out to be good at, the more choice I would have of what I could feasibly study up to the age of 21 or more! It was indeed up to 21, and I graduated 25 years ago with a BA (Hons) Combined Studies degree in history and literature (joint). I got a “Desmond” – a 2:2, lol!

I’d better actually write something about books, hadn’t I?! However, I couldn’t go without mentioning the Open University’s birthday, as the TV programmes are part of the soundtrack of my life, part of growing up. Especially that ident and that fanfare. It is also a huge reminder of Dad.

I also suspect that it’s the OU that’s responsible for broadcasting the programme which got me into volcanoes! By that time, I think I would have been around 7 or 8, I was certainly in the first year juniors at primary school, what is now known as year 3 in the national curriculum. It was a programme which was on telly late at night, on BBC2, which makes me suspect it was the Open University, so it was probably shown for a geology degree or something. Anyway, Dad thought it would be of interest to me, and he knew I was a night owl, lol, so he let me come down to watch this programme with him. I had never seen an erupting volcano before, and I was fascinated!

There aren’t any volcanoes where I’m going on holiday (vacation) this year, which will come as a relief to many who suspect that I’m some sort of volcano goddess who goes around standing on them and causing them to erupt! Look, just because that happened when I stood on Mount Etna in 2001, that does NOT make me Volcano Woman! Reunion does have an active volcano, Piton de la Fournaise, but, as far as I’m aware, Mauritius doesn’t. Anyway, surely a volcano goddess would actually hail from a part of the world which does have at least one active volcano? That would rule out the United Kingdom, then!

Anyway, this talk of jollies, does bring me on to a book at last, you’ll be pleased to hear! I don’t know if you’re aware of Bloomsbury’s non-fiction Object Lessons series or not, but this is a series of small, short books which take ordinary, everyday objects, and delve into the history of them and popular mythology around them. The book I am reading is Souvenir, by Rolf Potts. It has an Eiffel Tower keyring on the cover. Keyrings are one of the items I tend to seek out when I’m on my travels, along with magnets and postcards. There are other items as well, but those three things usually top my list of holiday artefacts to purchase and bring home as a reminder of my jollies!

The book by Rolf Potts is most likely to be my second finish of the year. As I said in the last blog, just before my birthday, I am not doing the Goodreads Challenge this year. I hadn’t started it when 2019 started as I was in a reading slump anyway since the end of 2018. Then, twelve days into the new year, I lost my dad, so add bereavement to a book slump and it’s a recipe for not getting much read! This is why I’m only just feeling like reading a bit again now, and as with several previous slumps, it seems to be factual books which are helping me back to reading. It always seems to be non-fiction with me, although in 2015, there were two books which helped me, and one of those was fiction, that being The Art of Racing In the Rain, by Garth Stein. The non-fiction book was Why the Dutch Are Different, by Ben Coates. I actually have another book by Mr Coates, which I did start just before I went into the book slump. The Rhine, as the title suggests, is about the river which runs through a large swathe of Europe and passes through several countries, actually more countries than I suspected! We lived on the banks of the Rhine way back in 1978 when we lived in Basel, Switzerland, for six months because of Dad’s job, so I really should read that book, although it might make me sad as Dad’s not here for me to lend it to once I’ve read it, and I know he would probably have been interested.

I did mention, earlier, that I would return to the matter of Manchester Metropolitan University, and I do so now with some news from the literary world this past week. Although some posts on social media called it a sequel, the writing of Anthony Burgess which has been found at MMU is NOT a sequel to A Clockwork Orange, but more a non-fiction explanation of the novel, including how the title came about. It is not known, as yet, whether this stuff will be published, but it has at least been found, having previously been thought lost. The film version was released in 1971, but then withdrawn in 1973 at the director’s request when Stanley Kubrick heard about cases where violent incidents in the film had been copied. It was re-released in 1999 after Kubrick died.

Anyway, back to the book situation, and I will obviously have to think about what I am taking on holiday with me when I jet off, as it won’t be too long now. I will be taking my Kindle Paperwhite, so I have plenty of ebooks on that, but I’m sure there might be one or two paperbacks coming with me, and who knows what books I might find while I’m away?! It’s not unusual, as Sir Tom Jones would put it, lol, to acquire a book on my jollies! The best instance of this, so far, was in 2013 when I was in Mexico, and I found the brilliant Attention All Shipping, by Charlie Connelly, at the resort! This is a journey around the Shipping Forecast and it is very funny as well as informative, especially a certain part towards the end which mentions Faroese puffins! No more spoilers, I promise – just read it! I have actually seen it in charity shops in the past, so you might even be able to nab yourself a cheap copy of this book and help some good cause or other at the same time!

One book which probably won’t be coming on any holiday any time soon is The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon, due to its extreme chunkiness! It is a true chunky monkey, that one! Beautiful cover, though! Over 700 pages of novel, over 800 pages in total given the glossaries and maps, and it’s a hardback, so, no, it’s probably not going to be going in the suitcase despite the generous weight allowance and the fact I’ll be away for a fortnight! It’s just not practical! I know I took Dune, by Frank Herbert, to Cape Verde with me last summer, but even that one was not as large and bulky as the Samantha Shannon novel! I took Dune so that I could read it on a dune in June! I suppose I could take Dune again… I’m away for quite some time this time, travelling time and actual holiday time… and the resort where we’ll be staying boasts three beaches, so there’s scope to read Dune on a dune in June, and maybe read more of it this time round…

By the way, if any of you read The Priory of the Orange Tree either at a priory, or even underneath an orange tree, feel free to post photographic evidence! I will give a mention for anyone’s Relevant Reads! Perhaps you’ve read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in a tailor’s shop? Maybe you’ve been reading Kitchen Confidential in a kitchen? Please do feel free to join in and interact with this blog! I couldn’t care less if it’s fiction or non-fiction. Maybe it’s a children’s book? Maybe it’s a poetry anthology? Perhaps you’ve read You Took the Last Bus Home on the last bus home?! I can recommend that anthology, by the way – you’ll probably recognise some of the poems, as they’ve appeared on social media in the past few years, written by a guy called Brian Bilston. If you like the poetry of Roger McGough and or John Cooper Clarke, you might like Brian Bilston. I happen to like all those poets! I’d recommend The Luckiest Guy Alive by John Cooper Clarke, and Watch Words by Roger McGough, which is a book of my dad’s that I bagsied when I was a kid. I discovered it by chance when I was around 10 or 11, I think, in our dining room cabinet, and that was that!

He did have an appreciation for literature, even though his degrees were scientific. He studied chemistry because that was his job, and it did obviously interest him, hence all the Open University science and maths programmes he watched, which I mentioned earlier in this blog, but Dad also had a love for poetry. I bagsied the rest of his poetry books back when he and Mum split up, back in 2004, so I have had those for a long time now, it wasn’t a case of reclaiming them after he died earlier this year.

One book of my dad’s I would have liked to have reclaimed, but it wasn’t amongst his stuff when we picked up several crates of his belongings, was the book I bought him for his 70th birthday, which was John le Carré: the Biography, by Adam Sisman. It would, however, have had to have been that copy, as I wrote in it at the front for the occasion of his Big 70 in 2017. If it’s been given away and is in some charity shop, probably in the Macclesfield area of Cheshire, could someone please alert me? Ta! Pretty unlikely that I’ll get it now, but if there is a chance, I might as well have back what I got for my dad as another reminder of him. I would have written my birthday dedication to him somewhere near the front of the book, probably inside the front cover, and it’d be dated September 2017 and wishing my dad a happy 70th birthday.

Well, I think that’s about all for now. Plenty to be getting on with, lol! So, until the next blog entry, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Souvenir – Rolf Potts
  • The Art of Racing In the Rain – Garth Stein
  • Why the Dutch Are Different – Ben Coates
  • The Rhine – Ben Coates
  • A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
  • Attention All Shipping – Charlie Connelly
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon
  • Dune – Frank Herbert
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – John le Carré
  • Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain
  • You Took the Last Bus Home – Brian Bilston
  • The Luckiest Guy Alive – John Cooper Clarke
  • Watch Words – Roger McGough
  • John le Carre: the Biography – Adam Sisman

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Filed under Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Chunky Monkeys, Computer Corner, E-Books & Audiobooks, Facebook & Other Social Media, Fantasy Fiction, Humour, Manc Stuff!, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, Pixelhobby, Poetry, School, College & Uni Reading, Science Fiction, The TBR Pile, Travel, Volcanoes

April, blog she will…

 

Birthday photo 23 04 2018

Me last year on my birthday – nearly that time again…

Hello, fellow bookworms!

Long time no blog, I know! Regulars will know this has happened before in the history of my blogs, but I’m here now. I see I have 82 people following this blog now, so thank you very much! Especially given that you’ve had bugger all to read from me since November! Got some catching up to do, fill you in on the missing months. I think you had sussed out, though, towards the end of last year, that the reading had kinda dried up a bit and that I’d gone into a book slump again. You probably won’t be terribly surprised to learn that I didn’t meet my Goodreads Challenge last year. I was two books short, having managed 28 books during the course of 2018, whereas I’d set the target at 30. I have not bothered this year.

The List Challenges lists that I promised have now, finally, been published, so if you want to go through what I read in 2018, or the Handbag Books list, or even the list of books I’ve mentioned on here during the course of last year, you can now do so. Very sorry for the delay.

So, as I said, I’d been having Reader’s Block since the end of last year. I had hoped, as we let in 2019, that my reading mojo would return but, it certainly didn’t do so in time for the new year. In fact, things got worse. When you’re already a bookworm going through a book slump, the last bloody thing you need is bereavement, but that’s what happened. On the evening of Saturday 12th January 2019, my sister came round to inform Mum and I that Dad had died. He was 71, same age as his dad had been when he died, back when I was a teenager. We knew he’d had his health issues, but didn’t think, at the time, that it was something that couldn’t be put right if he got some medical advice.

However, as I’ve probably said before on here about my dad, he was a pretty stubborn bloke, not the sort to take advice from other people, and definitely the sort who, if he did go and see a medical practitioner, would tell them a few tales and would not be honest with them about the fact that he was a couch potato and that he liked a drink or three… His second wife, Gill, had found him dead in their bathroom, she had been away. She had phoned one of Dad’s sisters, and she in turn had phoned Ellie. Then Ellie came round to tell us.

Obviously, one or two people reading this will already know, some who are friends on FB, but for the rest of you, I’m fairly sure it will explain why I’m only just blogging now for the first time in 2019. I’ve not been reading much, if anything, and finally had my first book finish of the year last night! We’re in April, a few days away from my 46th birthday, and I have actually got a finish under my belt for this year at last! Regulars won’t be terribly surprised to learn that it was a non-fiction book which did the trick! Factual stuff gets me out of slumps! I have Mark Manson to thank, as the book was The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, and I really enjoyed it! You know my opinion of most so-called “self help” books, but occasionally something comes along in that genre which I actually find I can relate to, rather than finding it patronising and ableist like I do with so many others of that ilk!

You may recall that I read a similar book in 2017, that would have been Sarah Knight‘s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, so I would recommend both books to anyone who is not struck on the usual bog-standard self-help books and wants something a bit different, a book that does look at things in a different way to most books of that variety. Back to the Mark Manson book, however, and I certainly found that a lot of stuff was very relatable, particularly dealing with people who were very like that ex-friend of mine – you know the one, initials HLA. Reading Mark’s book made me feel vindicated that I’d kicked that toxic bitch out of my life.

I can’t even recall what was on my Ongoing Concerns back in November. All of that kinda fell by the wayside, and I don’t even know where my magnetic wipe board is at the moment, although probably in the garage. You did know about the loom knitting and Pixelhobby, though, as I’d started those activities before I went into the book slump, and had mentioned them in blogs in the autumn. I will give you a catch-up some time on the Pixelhobby projects. I don’t currently have a project on the go, although I’ve got something in mind. Recently completed a couple of 4 baseplate kits, my largest ones so far, and it would be another of that size that I have in mind and have got some of my pixels put aside so that I know what I’ve already got.

The one thing that has been good, though, came the week before Christmas, when the Bus Parking One was sacked after our 3-1 defeat away to Liverpool. Personally, I think he should have been sacked at the end of last season. I would have preferred it if he hadn’t been appointed in the first place, as I’ve never liked him and I have made that quite clear over the  years, but anyway, United finally had enough of his crap and booted him out on 18th December, replacing him, the following day, with the Treble-winning Legend that is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer! So, Ole’s been at the wheel since just before Christmas, and the immediate response at the time was for the lads to thrash Cardiff 5-1 away! Then, on Boxing Day, we had our first home game with Ole in charge, a 3-1 win against Huddersfield Town, and that was the last time I saw my dad. At least Dad got to see a match under Ole and know that United were playing the proper way again before he died.

Ole was made permanent at the end of last month, so it should be interesting to see who he buys in the summer. He has certainly got the best out of most of the lads he inherited from the Portuguese Pillock, though! That’s what the second half of this season has been about – believing in the current players, encouraging them to attack and score goals, and to be a good man-manager and keep the hairdryer treatment behind closed doors. Ole learned from Sir Alex, though, so this comes as standard. This is why we’re back to the United way. Even when results haven’t gone our way, you still see the effort, which is what you weren’t always seeing in the previous five and a half seasons, especially the two and a half under the Tax-Fiddling One!

It also brings me neatly onto one of my current Ongoing Concerns, which is the biography Ole, by Ian MacLeay, a book which first came out in 2007, apparently, which would have been when he retired as a player, but has now been updated this year to take in his return to United as our manager. While we’re on the subject of football-related books, I got Michael Carrick‘s autobiography, Between the Lines, for Christmas, so I’ve still got that to read yet. It’s Carrick, you know. Hard to believe it’s not Scholes, lol!

Sort of still footy related, although the book isn’t, my next mention is for a book which was mentioned by Juan Mata not long ago. I love reading Juan’s blogs, One Hour Behind, but this was actually an interview with Guillem Balague, and Juan mentioned that he’d been reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari. One of the many things I love and admire about Juan is that he’s not just a great player on the pitch, but a really lovely, and very interesting, bloke away from footy! The sort of person I’d love to have a cuppa and a chat with – a natter with Mata! I would definitely love to have a chat with Juan about books!

Sales of Notre Dame de Paris, by Victor Hugo have rocketed following the devastating fire which has destroyed the roof of the famous cathedral earlier this week. I purchased a copy from Waterstone’s at the Trafford Centre on Wednesday night, and it said, in the introduction, that the cathedral had been in disrepair before, particularly after the French Revolution, but that when Hugo’s novel was published, its popularity led to necessary repairs being made back then! Hopefully sales might help once again.

I already had one of Hugo’s works, but that’s Les Misérables, and I’ve not got round to reading that yet! I would probably end up singing songs from the musical if I did, lol!

Victor Hugo always reminds me of when I was at high school, learning French… whatever textbook you use, and we used French For Today at the time, there’s usually a unit about asking for and giving directions, and so there’ll be this map of some made-up French town with various buildings on it so you can practice asking «Pour aller à la bibliothèque, s’il vous plâit?» and other similar questions. You will note that I’ve used the example of asking how to get to the library – have to keep it book-related, lol! Anyway, when you get these pretend French towns and their maps, it doesn’t seem to matter which damn text book it’s in, you can guarantee at least two of the street names! I shit you not! There will always be an Avenue Charles de Gaulle, and there will always be a Rue Victor Hugo! I would be absolutely gobsmacked if there wasn’t!

Recently been in France, actually, as we were in Disneyland Paris at the start of April, but no Rue Victor Hugo there, even though Disney did do a film of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, so Quasimodo did become a Disney character some time ago. Not really a holiday where I could get much, if any, reading done, though. Not that sort of holiday, unlike the one Mum and I are going on in the summer. That will be a more relaxing, chilled-out holiday, and some lengthy flights, so I should get some reading done!

The blog title, by the way, is based on April Come She Will, by Simon and Garfunkel, as I saw Art Garfunkel at the Lowry Theatre last Sunday. Just in case you were wondering. Yes he sang a few of the old ones from when he and Paul Simon were a duo – I pretty much grew up with their music. Mum and Dad had the Bridge Over Troubled Water album, and also I performed a fair few of their songs in the orchestra and choir when I was at high school. He also sung Bright Eyes, which was a solo number 1 for him here in the UK 40 years ago in April 1979 when I was 6! It was used in the film Watership Down at the time, which was about rabbits. As my Dad used to say… You’ve read the book, you’ve seen the film, you’ve heard the song… now eat the pie!

He’s going on the piss with Georgie Best, my dad. That’s how I see it now. As in our terrace version of Spirit In the Sky… “Goin’ on up to the spirit in the sky. That’s where I’m gonna go when I die. When I die an’ they lay me to rest I’m gonna go on the piss with Georgie Best!”

Anyway, I think that’s about it for now. I’m back and I’ve mentioned a few books, so we’re up and running for this year. I’ve started the blog-related list on List Challenges. This is the one where I mention them whether I’ve read them or not, so there should be a decent amount of books there by the end of the year, I hope! Dunno which ones I will actually have read by the end of 2019, but hopefully a few! Trying to decide whether to try a nice big chunky bit of historical fiction, perhaps Paris by Edward Rutherfurd. I have been looking at my copy of The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Yeah, it is over 1000 pages long, but, as I’ve said before, if a book is readable, size shouldn’t be a turn-off! World Without End, which is the sequel, has been moved to a higher position on the Bass Amp Book Tower. Just in case, lol!

Adam Kay book signing

Oh, and before I go, some news re Adam Kay. You may remember the brilliant This is Going to Hurt, which I read in 2017, my favourite book that year, and indeed I met the author that autumn when he came to Waterstone’s on Deansgate (see photo above)… Anyway, he’s just announced that he’s got a new book, also about his time in the medical profession before he became a comedian, and it’s due to be published in October. So I will probably be looking to pre-order Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas.

I think that definitely is all there is for now! That’s all folks, as they used to say at the end of Looney Tunes cartoons! Until the next time I blog, take care, Happy Easter and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k – Sarah Knight
  • Ole – Ian MacLeay
  • Between the Lines – Michael Carrick
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari
  • Notre Dame de Paris – Victor Hugo
  • Les Misérables – Victor Hugo
  • French For Today – P J Downes & E A Griffith
  • Watership Down – Richard Adams
  • Paris – Edward Rutherfurd
  • The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
  • World Without End – Ken Follett
  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay
  • Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas – Adam Kay (due October 2019)

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Talking Leaves

Hot coffee and red book with autumn leaves on wood backgroundHello there, fellow Bookworms!

A suitably autumnal photo for the time of year, eh?! Books, leaves and coffee, although you’d need to take that leaf out first, lol!

Not really been all that much to report of late, I didn’t get anything finished last month, but have just finished My Name is Book, by John Agard, which is basically an autobiography of the written word and its many formats over the centuries. I think my niece would probably like it. I certainly loved it, and it brought back some memories of my student days, back in the early 90s, as there is a poem, or at least an excerpt from a poem, by Grace Nichols in this book – Book-Heart. I studied some of her poetry when I was at uni! Pretty good stuff, actually. Trying to find which anthology includes the poem, and I think it’s called Everybody Got a Gift. I remember reading The Fat Black Woman’s Poems when I was at uni.

The title of this blog is from My Name is Book, as Agard mentions that the Native Americans call books “talking leaves”, so that gave me the idea!

While we’re on the subject of across the Atlantic from me, I shall wish all my followers in the USA a very Happy Thanksgiving for tomorrow! I can take an educated guess at some of the things for which you’re thankful… Books, bookshelves, authors, bookshops, the invention of the printing press, ink, pens, typewriters…. am I correct?!

I didn’t manage to read Elizabeth Is Missing, by Emma Healey, for our council book club, but our next one is Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson – bit of a chunky monkey at 611 pages! I took a library copy at lunchtime, but I will offer that up to any council colleague who needs it as I do own a copy of the book myself, and was able to locate it this evening after work. The book club that has been meeting at Waterstone’s has now been postponed until the new year, although that does give us more time to read Why Mummy Swears by Gill Sims. Also, we are changing the location to the cafe at Asda in Swinton. It’s nearer to where we work and they have book offers on. I have ended up going to the Asda in Trafford Park for the books, though, as the past couple of times, they’ve not had any left in Swinton for the chosen book.

The loom knitting continues apace, and that’s what I’ve been pretty busy with although only one item of that was bought from the church fair at St Paul’s. We did very well on 10th November, but I was a bit disappointed that my knitted stuff didn’t go other than a mug rug. I hope those coming to St Thomas’s on Saturday might be more willing to buy my handicrafts. I have made some mobile phone holders now to add to the knitted stuff. A small circular loom from a kit I bought at the weekend has proved just the right size to make phone holders. So, there’s not only loads of books in my room, but plenty of yarn, too! All sorts of yarn, different colours, different effects and different thicknesses from double knit to seriously chunky stuff! Loom knitting suits chunkier wool, but sometimes I do combine a few balls of double knit.

I have still got All Quiet On the Western Front on the go, actually, and that’s a Handbag Book at the moment. The Eighties: One Day, One Decade, by Dylan Jones, is still my main current read on my ebook.

Got my first gig as part of the steel band tomorrow, a Christmas Lights switch-on at Media City, Salford Quays. I think we’re performing near the BBC studios. There’s also supposed to be some giant snowmen! It’s to do with the children’s book The Snowman, by Raymond Briggs. I think it’s a special anniversary year. So there’s going to be big snowmen on the Quays, twelve of them I understand, like the twelve days of Christmas.

Not long now until I need to check my emails for the Madness tickets. That’s soon come around, hasn’t it? Only a couple of weeks now until Sarah and I go and see the Nutty Boys at the Manchester Arena! Can’t wait! Funnily enough, due to having lost just over two stone now at Slimming World, I’ve ended up with a lot of Baggy Trousers, lol! Many of them have gone to a charity shop as Mum and I sorted the kecks out the other week and I found loads of pairs in my wardrobe which may well fit me again now I’m slimmer, to replace those which are far too big for me! I will be giving Sarah her book back, but as  I now have my own copy of What Does This Button Do?, I am not panicking over getting it finished.

Went to the cinema for the first time in absolutely bloody ages on Saturday! Mum and I went to the Vue cinema at the Printworks in town, as we were doing some shopping, and I had got myself an absolute bargain from Gap (I had an offer in the post, but it had to be the Arndale store and I needed to use it by 19th November, which is why we went into town at the weekend) so we went to see “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which was brilliant! Saw a trailer for “Rocketman” which is due in cinemas next year, and is a biopic of Sir Elton John, so I already want to go and see that one when it’s released!

Yes, I admit I was singing along during the film, lol! Can’t help it! Can’t beat a bit of Queen! There’ll never be another like Freddie Mercury ever again!

Anyway, I think I’ve covered nearly everything for now. Books, poetry, book clubs, loom knitting, music, films, shopping… just don’t mention the footy. Still waiting for that idiotic manager of ours to get the sack. Should have happened at the end of last season, as I’ve said before, but certainly should have happened after we lost the derby at the council house! I don’t want any players to leave. I just want the manager to park his bus as far away from Old Trafford as possible. He can park it on the dark side of the moon for all I care!

I just want a manager who encourages an attack-minded style of play, brings players into the first team from the youth team, and who keeps criticism of players private and behind closed doors, NOT in front of the media! Is that really too much to bloody ask?!

Anyway, rant over, and blog over for now! I’ll be back again soon enough with another helping of waffle and some mention of books, lol, but for now, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • My Name is Book – John Agard
  • Everybody Got a Gift – Grace Nichols
  • The Fat Black Woman’s Poems – Grace Nichols
  • Elizabeth Is Missing – Emma Healey
  • Life After Life – Kate Atkinson
  • Why Mummy Swears – Gill Sims
  • All Quiet On the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
  • The Eighties: One Day, One Decade – Dylan Jones
  • The Snowman – Raymond Briggs
  • What Does This Button Do? – Bruce Dickinson

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Filed under Books, Chunky Monkeys, Goodreads, Half-Finished Books, Handbag Books, List Challenges, Literary Issues, Loom Knitting, Music, Ongoing Concerns, Poetry, School, College & Uni Reading, The TBR Pile

September Review: Books, Bags, Pixels…

Planet Earth finished Sept 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Time once more for a monthly review of the stuff I’ve been getting up to, and it does include two books being finished off this month, one ebook and one paperback. It also includes a lot of loom knitting and a not inconsiderable amount of fiddly little pixels, lol! As you can see from the above photo! I am not sure when I last blogged, it might have been just before I went to the craft show, in which case you wouldn’t have known about the pixels as I discovered them by chance at the Creative Crafts Show on 8th September.

I had gone there looking for wool and for loom knitting stuff, and I certainly found some wool, but I chanced upon a stall run by The Craft Dookit, which was offering Pixelhobby kits and accessories and where you could do a make and take pixellated keyring! So, I paid the necessary and made a keyring, choosing a snowman design. I also bought some other kits while I was there, some keyrings and magnets, and the Planet Earth kit which you can see at the top. Yeah, before you ask, it did make me think of the Duran Duran song, but I guess you worked that out, knowing what an 80s girl I am, lol!

The Planet Earth kit does look very science fiction, doesn’t it?!

Not that there has been any science fiction read in September. Both the books I finished this month have been non-fiction, those being Your Eighties, by Sarah Lewis, on my Kindle, and Good As You, by Paul Flynn, in paperback, celebrating 30 years of Gay Britain and covering the three decades from 1984 and the release of both “Relax” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood and “Smalltown Boy” by Bronski Beat, to 2014 and the go-ahead for gay weddings here in the UK. Not only did I love all the 80s music references, but a lot of the book focused on events up here in Manchester, so there were plenty of mentions for places I know. As I think I may have mentioned in previous blogs, I had a work placement in the late 90s, where the office was on the edge of the Gay Village, so I am not unfamiliar with that part of town.

I really need to get on with Snap, by Belinda Bauer, as I need to get a decent amount of it read for 16th October, and have just over a fortnight. I also need to get on with What Does This Button Do? That’s the autobiography of Iron Maiden frontman, Bruce Dickinson, and it’s the one my friend Sarah has lent me, so I need to get it read before we go to see Madness in December at the Manchester Arena. Two months to get on with it. May have to do some each night. It’s a hardback, so I don’t really want to be lugging it around, and wouldn’t want anything to happen to it anyway, as it isn’t my book.

The next book for the book club at work is Salmon Fishing In the Yemen, by Paul Torday. I haven’t actually read that one before, although I’ve had a copy for some time now. All the previous work book club choices have been re-reads for me, but this one isn’t. On the Kindle, there’s a couple of books which I am reading, and may well be my post-match reading matter. I’m already reading them at lunchtime at work, though. The Eighties: One Day, One Decade, by Dylan Jones, is about the Live Aid gig on 13th July 1985, so that’s my 80s music fix sorted, and Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading, by Lucy Mangan, is a book about books, so also right up my street! I was 12 when Live Aid took place, and was watching it on my telly. I still think, however cheesy it might sound, that “Rockin’ All Over The World” by Status Quo was the most appropriate song with which to open that gig! I have the DVD set of Live Aid. It has everything on it except Led Zeppelin, as they thought their performance was so bad that they didn’t want it on the box set because they were too embarrassed!

Sometimes I feel like I would be better off reading during the bloody match, though! Just keeping everything crossed that Jose gets the boot sooner rather than later! How can the board justify him remaining as manager when we’re losing?! It’s apparently our worst start to a Premier League season. Yes, that’s right. Even worse than under Moyesy in 2013-14! And Moyes was out of his depth as our manager, so the so-called “Special One” (more like the Boring One) being worse than Moyesy…

I know you can’t entertain ALL the time, but we can and should be able to expect our team to entertain MOST of the time! The style of play is shite, to use a technical term, and it’s not even as if it’s getting the results, is it?! It’s not even effective! The players hate it, the fans hate it… and if we don’t do well enough in the league, the business partners aren’t gonna like it either, so if that’s all the bloody directors think about, they need to wake up and smell the coffee because they NEED the performances on the pitch to be winning and attractive in order for the performances on the financial front to be good too! Whatever it costs to sack Jose and pay him off would be worth it if we can get a manager in who does things the right way! Get back to attack-minded football, give our forwards and midfielders free rein to entertain and bang in the goals, bring up a few more from the youth team, and only criticise players in private!

Defend in public, throw the teacups behind closed doors! That’s how you get players on board, that’s how you retain their trust! Then they know that even if they’ve had a total ‘mare and they know they’re going to get the hairdryer treatment, as it was known when Sir Alex was manager, they know that the gaffer will stick up for them in the press conference, and the kick up the arse will only happen either in the dressing room, or in the manager’s office at the training ground. That is the way things SHOULD be done! I wouldn’t mind if the manager came out with Arsene Wenger’s old catchphrase and told the press that he didn’t see the incident! Wenger, like Fergie, knew how to treat players. That’s why he was Arsenal’s manager for over 20 years.

Pixel piano and owl

Anyway, enough of that. Back to the crafts, I think. Obviously, the pixels have been a big part of this month’s creativity, especially as one of my orders arrived on Wednesday, from Crafter’s Cavern. I’m still awaiting an order from The Craft Dookit, though, with a couple of kits. As I have done cross-stitch, there is a similarity, although you’re putting diddy little pixels onto baseplates rather than threading some floss and stitching it onto aida or evenweave. The pixel shades all have colour codes, so in that respect it’s similar to stitching! There are keyrings, which are 11 pixels by 14, little squares which are 24 by 24, and standard baseplates, which are 40 by 50 pixels. You can also get XL pixels which cover 4 prongs on a baseplate (2 by 2) and are less fiddly – you can put those in by hand rather than needing tweezers!

That’s the latest finished bag, by the way! I have now started another, although the second picture shows an earlier picture of the scarf I have started. The cream wool is now being used for my latest bag, as I’m onto brown wool on the scarf – I have two huge balls of this stuff, one cream, one brown, it has a bit of a towelling feel to it, Bernat Blanket it’s called, and I’m alternating colours, about 12cm of one, then I change over to the other. On my second lot of brown now. I think of it as coffee and cream. As well as finishing  the bag, I also finished a purple snood.

That’s the snood on the left. On the right is my niece, taking after me on the music front as well as being Junior Bookworm! I came home from work one night this week to be treated to a violin recital from Charlotte! She’s just got a new violin – gone from a quarter-sized one to a half-sized one now that she’s bigger. She’s really good at playing, really fluent with it, and played us a few tunes, including the Can Can! I will be busy this coming week getting a card and gift wrap – it’s nearly my nephew’s 2nd birthday, and we’ll be having the party next weekend! Reuben also likes books, as well as diggers and dinosaurs! I understand he is also partial to Thomas the Tank Engine! Anyway, Auntie Jo is going to be busy!

Oh, and Slimming World. Nearly forgot. I have now lost over 1 and a half stones! The Monday after the craft show, I reached that particular milestone exactly, and have dropped another 3lbs since then, so I’m only 4lbs off a 2 stone loss… that’s my next aim. I have changed my target weight. I may yet change again, but at the moment it is a weight that would give me a 2 and a half stone loss in total from what I started at when I first got on the scales on my sister’s birthday in June!

I think that’s about it for now. I’ve probably covered everything… Books, loom knitting, pixels, footy, music, Reuben’s birthday, Slimming World… yep, that’s pretty much it… Hopefully there will be a Waterstone’s book club to report on in October, everything crossed for 16th October and for a few people to turn up! Until the next time I blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Your Eighties – Sarah Lewis
  • Good As You – Paul Flynn
  • Snap – Belinda Bauer
  • What Does This Button Do? – Bruce Dickinson
  • Salmon Fishing In the Yemen – Paul Torday
  • The Eighties: One Day One Decade – Dylan Jones
  • Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading – Lucy Mangan

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Instructions For a Heatwave

Recent purchases July 2018

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Ooh, it’s sticky weather, as Peter Kay would say! It’s just gone 10pm here, as I start this blog entry, and it is still boiling. Hence the blog title, Instructions For a Heatwave, which is actually a novel by Maggie O’Farrell. I think that book is set 42 years ago, back in 1976, which is what this year is being compared with, lol! Talking of reads set in the Long Hot Summer of ’76, there’s also The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, by Joanna Cannon, and Summer of ’76 by Isabel Ashdown. So, grab a cold drink, possibly an ice cream or a lolly, and chill out with a good book! Get some 70s music on, too! Bit of Abba should do the trick, lol!

Right, so… World Cup’s over, won by France, and what a brilliant final they and Croatia served up, eh?! Best World Cup Final for bloody years, unlike some of the boring ones of recent times which had just one goal and went to extra time before that happened… It wasn’t coming home, though, for England, sadly, but under Gareth Southgate (and his M&S waistcoat), the Three Lions equalled their best World Cup finish in my lifetime, and the joint-second-best of all-time, finishing 4th, as they had done way back in the summer of 1990! The previous time we’d got to the semis in the World Cup, it was taking place in Italy, I was old enough to learn to drive, but not quite old enough to drink or vote until the following April! I was at Eccles College and coming towards the end of my first year there, so halfway through my Bastard A-Levels! For anyone who doesn’t know, A-Levels are awful! They certainly were back in the early 90s when I was doing mine. My degree was easier!

They are also a very good example of why getting out of your comfort zone is NOT always a good idea! I know I went off French at A Level, but I look back at the other subjects I did at college, which were totally new to me in the autumn of 1989 when I started there, and I think I should have stuck to what I knew. If you do stray from that comfort zone, don’t go far. Imagine the comfort zone to be a house and a back garden. At the bottom of the path alongside the lawn, there is a fence and a little gate. Even if you undo the latch and open the gate to step outside, you are still in familiar territory. Do new stuff, but stuff which isn’t too dissimilar from things you already know how to do! Out of your comfort zone, but not out of your depth.

Take, for example, me learning another new musical instrument. I would have to learn the notes and the techniques for playing the new instrument. However, as I can already read music, and have had plenty of experience of playing in ensembles before, it would not be a completely new thing for me, and I would think, with my track record of learning instruments, that I would be able to reach a decent standard of proficiency.

Right, anyway, after the mini slump since early May, you’ll be pleased to learn that I have recently finished another book! Ego Is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday, was finished off last Saturday, making it book number 19 for this year. Funny how non-fiction seems to help me get out of book slumps! Three years ago, towards the end of 2015, when I finally got out of quite a lengthy book slump, it was a book called Why the Dutch Are Different, by Ben Coates, which got me in the mood for reading again. Back to the book about ego, though, and I think there are a lot of people who really could do with reading this and taking on board the message. I’m thinking particularly of an orange-faced bloke with a bad wig and childish demeanour, a bus-parking Portuguese football manager, and a certain female ex-friend of mine who failed to take the hint even after I blocked her arrogant arse on all social media platforms two years ago!

As I’ve just mentioned a bit of footy again, I should mention that my season ticket came on Wednesday! Yay! I do wish we’d get a manager who plays attractive, attack-minded, entertaining football, though! And who doesn’t criticise his players in public. Surely there must be a new Fergie out there?! Someone who would go back to having the lads play the United way instead of all that tedious bus-parking shite?! (By the way, in case you’d forgotten, shite is a technical term!)

Let’s have a look at the other books on that photo at the top of this blog… The Mermaid, by Christina Henry, is a reworking of a fairy tale, The Fire Court, by Andrew Taylor, is historical fiction, and the sequel to The Ashes of London, which I read and enjoyed last year, and Notes On a Nervous Planet, by Matt Haig, is non-fiction and deals with mental health issues and the increase in stress and anxiety levels worldwide. The thing with Matt Haig is that he writes both fiction and non-fiction!

The Nancy Mitford novella, Wigs On the Green, is my current book club book and I am 34% of the way through it with a couple of weeks to go before my next meeting at Waterstone’s Deansgate, which will be on 15th August. The red bookmark is one that I have made using my afro comb as a knitting loom, lol! Think it has come out quite well! Wigs On the Green sends up fascists, hence the reason Stephanie and I chose it. Anything taking the piss out of the far-right is fine by me!

Earlier this month, it was my friend Sarah’s birthday, so I popped up to Preston with her pressies and card. Her main pressie is that we’re going to see Madness in December at the Manchester Arena, and I can tell you all now because she knows! Anyway, she was able to lend me What Does This Button Do? by Bruce Dickinson, the Iron Maiden frontman and qualified pilot, so I have started that and I want to have read it in time to return it to her when she comes for the Madness gig. I know December’s a bit of a way off, but if I don’t get started, it’ll be upon us all too quickly. Only just started that one, though so it’s not technically an OC yet until it reaches 10%. Islander by Patrick Barkham, as I may have mentioned previously, was picked up on my jollies in the Cape Verde Islands last month. That’s up to 14%, but it has now been overtaken by The Man I Think I Know, by Mike Gayle, which I discovered thanks to the Zoe Ball Book Club on telly. I am already on 17% and I only got it on Wednesday night when I was at the Trafford Centre. Really enjoying it already!

On my Kindle, there are a couple of ongoing concerns, those being Twisting My Melon, by Shaun Ryder, currently on 55%, and Fire Woman, by Josephine Reynolds, on 25% – that one being her true account of how she became Britain’s first female firefighter. I read an article not long ago, and ended up downloading the book for my Kindle Paperwhite.

I would continue, I do have more recent books to mention, lol, but sitting here at my laptop is doing NOTHING to cool me down at all! Therefore, I shall have to do another blog and mention some more recent purchases, but at least I have got a second blog published for this month and I have finished at least one book, so a considerable improvement on June, lol! Until the next time, try to keep cool and hydrated, and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Instructions For a Heatwave – Maggie O’Farrell
  • The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
  • Summer of ’76 – Isabel Ashdown
  • Ego Is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday
  • Why the Dutch Are Different – Ben Coates
  • The Mermaid – Christina Henry
  • The Fire Court – Andrew Taylor
  • The Ashes of London – Andrew Taylor
  • Notes On a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig
  • Wigs On the Green – Nancy Mitford
  • What Does This Button Do? – Bruce Dickinson
  • Islander – Patrick Barkham
  • The Man I Think I Know – Mike Gayle
  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • Fire Woman – Josephine Reynolds

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Outside of a Dog…

Year of the Dog 2018

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

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

K9 from Doctor Who

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dom-parsons-bronze-skeleton 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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