Category Archives: School, College & Uni Reading

Not As Badger’s Arse As I Thought I’d Be!

black book covers

Hello there, fellow Bookworms!

Good evening, and, for my followers in the USA, Happy Thanksgiving! I guess you’re probably busy right now, you’ve got family round, or you’ve gone round to theirs, and you’re stuffed to the eyeballs with food, but I hope you’re having a good day and that you’ll eventually get some time to have a nice read! I guess you’re hoping for some book sales on Black Friday?!

Right then, back to events here in my part of the UK!

So, as you might recall from Tuesday’s blog, I’d had my x-ray appointment at Hope Hospital (Salford Royal) on Monday morning, and they then booked me in for my surgery on Wednesday, thus yesterday afternoon… so I have been off work yesterday and today. When you have the sedation I opt for, it can last in your body for up to 24 hours after it’s been given, so I have to have the next day off as well as the day of my surgery. I’ve had this done a few times over the years, as you can probably tell, so I’m very familiar with the procedures.

Well, I had the surgery yesterday afternoon, and they actually took me in at 2:30, so half an hour early (I think a previous op had been cancelled, so as Mum and I arrived in plenty of time, they took me in ahead of my original 3pm appointment), and took the teeth out, two of them together, upper left 7 and 8 for any of you who wish to know, and then after some time in recovery and being advised on aftercare, we went home, although not before stopping at WH Smith’s in the hospital and purchasing a book, lol,  and I had a snooze for a bit once I got home. I did feel a little sore when the anaesthetic wore off, but considering I had had two neighbouring teeth out, I didn’t feel as “badger’s arse” as I thought I would. A little sore, yes, but not exactly in serious discomfort.

I have also been using some of the time to have a good read, and I have made good progress with The Good People, by Hannah Kent, our current book club choice. I am now 30% of the way through the novel. I am enjoying it, but perhaps a glossary of Gaelic words and names would help matters, particularly a pronunciation guide! I do have family over in Ireland, but I don’t exactly want to mither them to death with pronunciation queries! Hopefully there’s something online that I can look up… If anyone who has already read the novel could come up with some sort of guide to all the Gaelic names and words in it, that would be much appreciated! Still hasn’t spoilt my enjoyment of the book, thus far, though, even if I look at certain words and think “How the hell do you say that?”

Anyway, as I was saying in the previous blog, I know many of you like blogs where I mention lots of books as it gives you ideas. I’ll have to be doing some book shopping soon, but for others as I have Christmas shopping to get the hell on with! But as for my books, before we get into that “review of the year” mode which tends to happen at this time, let’s see if there’s some books I’ve bought but not mentioned on here already… Caraval, by Stephanie Garber, was the book I purchased yesterday at the hospital, but I have already mentioned that one. Pretty sure, though that there’s a few which haven’t been listed yet in 2017…

Of the books in the photo at the top of this blog, I have already mentioned Dumplin’, by Julie Murphy, and The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern, but I knew I had definitely mentioned that latter one on a few occasions as it was a charity shop bargain. It only cost me a quid from the British Heart Foundation shop on Salford Precinct, and that’s the hardback edition! Caraval has already been mentioned, of course, which just leaves A Man of Shadows, by Jeff Noon. I really do like that cover! I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and I’ve been a bookworm more than long enough to know that, so I did read the blurb on the back, and thought it was worth it – “let’s risk it for a biscuit” I thought!

At the same time as I purchased A Man of Shadows, I also purchased Welcome To Night Vale, by Joseph Fink. The blurb and the cover both attracted me. Looking around my room for anything which might not have been mentioned, but to be fair, a hell of a lot of books have been mentioned this year! 518 different books, and we haven’t even got to the end of this blog entry yet, let alone the end of the calendar year!

Apparently, there are nearly 130 million (129,864,880) books in the entire world, according to a post I saw on Facebook earlier! One of several interesting facts in a post on a group called “I’m Not Obsessed, I Just Love To Read”, posted by Firdyawkal Nigussie. This list also says that the first book described as a “best-seller” was Fools of Nature by US writer, Alice Brown, way back in 1889! Wow! As someone on FB said, it would be especially amazing, as many female authors at the time either had to publish anonymously or under a male pen name in order to get their books in print. Indeed, Mary Ann Evans took the pen name George Eliot, and it is under this very blokey-sounding name that her novels are still published, including The Mill On the Floss, which I read, or at least skim-read, at university! Even the Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, originally took male pen names, being first published as Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, although they eventually DID get published under their actual names.

Other interesting facts from that list, and my thoughts on these matters…

It would take 60,000 years to read all the books in the world. It would probably take that long to read all the books in my room, let alone the whole world, lol!

The M6 toll road was built on two-and-a-half million copies of pulped Mills & Boon novels. Do you remember that Oxfam bookshop in Wales which was inundated with copies of the Fifty Shades trilogy? So many that they built a fort out of them in their back room?! Maybe they could offer them up to make a motorway if any new roads need building near Swansea?!

The page most readers lose interest at is Page 18. Wow! That early in a book? Well, if you get past page 18, from now on, you know you’re over at least one reading hurdle! I usually say give it rather more pages than that unless it’s a pretty short book! For a full-on novel, some say anything from 70 to 100 pages. Personally, when I’ve been doing my Ongoing Concerns lists during this year, I work out what 10% of the book is and see how that first 10% goes… So, if I’ve got a book that’s 380 pages long, let’s see how I feel about it when I get to page 38.

Thankfully, for you, this blog is not that long, lol, and we have got a few more “fresh” books mentioned which hadn’t already been on the list, and we’ve had some facts about books thanks to Firdyawkal’s post on Facebook, so I hope it’s been an entertaining blog tonight! Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Good People – Hannah Kent
  • Caraval – Stephanie Garber
  • Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy
  • The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
  • A Man of Shadows – Jeff Noon
  • Welcome To Night Vale – Joseph Fink
  • Fools of Nature – Alice Brown
  • The Mill On the Floss – George Eliot
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Filed under Authors, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Facebook & Other Social Media, Food & Drink, Foreign Languages, List Challenges, Literary Issues, Ongoing Concerns, School, College & Uni Reading, The TBR Pile

What’s So Hard About Animal Farm?!

The Good People

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Church fair book purchases 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Good People – Hannah Kent
  • Burial Rites – Hannah Kent
  • What Light – Jay Asher
  • The Outsiders – S. E. Hinton
  • Macbeth – William Shakespeare
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • Animal Farm – George Orwell
  • The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry – Various
  • Abba, The Book – Jean-Marie Potiez
  • Mamma Mia! How Can I Resist You? – Benny Anderson, Bjorn Ulvaeus & Judy Craymer
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  • Prophecy – S. J. Parris
  • The Tenko Club – Elizabeth Noble
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
  • Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
  • 1984 – George Orwell

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Filed under Authors, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, List Challenges, Literary Issues, Music, My Bookworm History, Poetry, School, College & Uni Reading, Uncategorized

A Truth Universally Acknowledged

Jane Austen ten pound note 2017

The forthcoming plastic £10 note featuring Jane Austen

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

Charlotte's summer reading challenge 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

 

 

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Filed under Authors, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Chunky Monkeys, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Handbag Books, Historical Fiction, Junior Bookworms, Manc Stuff!, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns, School, College & Uni Reading, The TBR Pile

Dissolution and Distraction

Shardlake selfie 1

Shardlake Series Selfie: Already over 25% of Dissolution read…

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

You’ve had Pride and Prejudice, you’ve had Sense and Sensibility… now meet Dissolution and Distraction, lol! Well, in so far as I’m reading Dissolution, while hoping that United will provide the distraction by signing players! It nearly worked, too! There was some actual interest in the transfer window! However, Everton are denying that they accepted a bid for Romelu Lukaku, from ourselves, and part of me is hoping that it might be a ploy to worry Real Madrid and get the price of Alvaro Morata lowered!

Personally, I’d like both players at Old Trafford! Not just because, as one guy tweeted, you could fit both names (Lukaku, Morata) in a terrace chant to the tune of Hakuna Matata from The Lion King, lol, but because we bloody well need at least a couple of centre-forwards! We’ve already released the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and it looks very likely that Wayne Rooney will be heading back to Everton after 13 seasons at United and more trophies than you can shake a stick at! Maybe not the numbers of trophies won by Giggs and Scholes, but Rooney will be up there on the list amongst the well-decorated players, and he also holds the club goalscoring record, of course, having overtaken Sir Bobby Charlton’s 249 goals this season just gone. Wazza scored 253 goals for us, so that looks like it will be the new total to beat, and that will take some doing! It took 44 years for anyone to beat Sir Bobby’s record!

So, back to Dissolution, for a moment, and it seems my book challenge had an effect! It’s like the days when I couldn’t read while in a vehicle which was in motion, which was the case back in my student days at uni, and I could only get a book out and read on the bus if the driver had stopped for a 5 minute break. They seemed to sense that someone who couldn’t read while in motion was reading, and they took that as a signal to get their arses, and their buses, back in gear, and get moving again! In a footballing sense, my Shardlake Series challenge seems to have had that sort of effect on The Gnome! Perhaps Ed Woodward can sense that a bored and pissed-off Stretford Ender has got fed up of the lack of activity and decided to read a particularly chunky series of historical fiction novels?! Thus he thinks “Oh shit! I’d better get a move on and sign someone!”

Dissolution has joined the Handbag Books list, and the Ongoing Concerns list, and is currently at 27% read as I type, so I’ve already got through a quarter of the novel since I started it yesterday evening after my previous blog!

Not got band practice this coming Saturday, so a potential reading opportunity presents itself… Still need to decide what I’m doing regarding The Power. Going to get on with Dissolution as I’ve started the Shardlake series as a challenge to the Gnome (see above) and I’m enjoying it, plus I’ve regained interest in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, so I can make some progress with that, get that one read and off the OC List. Maybe even look at some of the other YA books on there and get some of those read… Finding Audrey hasn’t been read for ages.

Talking of books that haven’t been read for ages, you will probably know by now that I have many half-read books lying around, some of which eventually come back onto my radar and join the OC list. One such book could possibly be The Beach Hut, by Veronica Henry, which has been lying around near Computer Corner for ages! The only reason it has come back into my mind is because of a forthcoming event for which a beach hut has been hired for a day. It was something Mum mentioned to me, and it reminded me that I had a book called The Beach Hut!

While we’re on forthcoming events…

STUART MACONIE IS COMING TO WATERSTONE’S DEANSGATE!!!

Sorry! Please excuse my excitement, but I am going to an event on 20th July at the Waterstone’s branch in town as one of my favourite non-fiction authors has a new book out! Woo-hoo! I hope he might also sign some of my other books of his if I were to take them along, such as The Pie at Night, and The People’s Songs, which I read earlier this year! I think Pies and Prejudice is in the book chest in the garage. Read that one some years ago now.

The forthcoming book from Mr Maconie is Long Road From Jarrow, and it is an account of his retracing of the route 80 years on from when 200 men from the Tyneside town of Jarrow marched down to London in 1936 to protest against the destruction of their towns and industries.

https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1109317/long-road-from-jarrow/

I have included the link for any interested readers. The book is published on 20th July, which is actually the same night that I shall be seeing Mr Maconie launch this book at the Deansgate branch in town! He is one of my favourite non-fiction writers, along with Bill Bryson and also Nick Hornby‘s non-fiction stuff! Fever Pitch is on my list of all-time favourite books, so I couldn’t forget Hornby!

I was good, and didn’t buy any books today, but that’s not to say I didn’t spot some potential future reading material, including One Italian Summer, by Keris Stainton, which is a YA novel, and Around Britain By Cake: A Tour of Our Traditional Teatime Treats, by Caroline Taggart. Before you ask, yes, the latter of those DOES feature Eccles Cakes and contains a recipe for them! Sounds like the sort of book to read while enjoying a cuppa and a good big slice of cake! Actually, most books can be enjoyed with a cuppa and a cake. You might not want to eat if you were reading horror novels, they might become too gory and put you off your food, but as I don’t read horror, because I don’t want the living shit scared out of me, that’s not an issue in my bookworm life!

Anyway, it’s been warm again, and I’m not getting any cooler sitting at my laptop, so I shall get this published and then I can chill and return to my reading! Until the next helping of waffle, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
  • Dissolution – C. J. Sansom
  • The Power – Naomi Alderman
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
  • The Beach Hut – Veronica Henry
  • The Pie at Night – Stuart Maconie
  • The People’s Songs – Stuart Maconie
  • Pies and Prejudice – Stuart Maconie
  • Long Road From Jarrow – Stuart Maconie
  • Fever Pitch – Nick Hornby
  • One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton
  • Around Britain By Cake – Caroline Taggart

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You’re a Wizard, Harry!

Harry Potter series

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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

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