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Magnifique! From foreign books to bargain books…

Cantona signing 25th anniversary 2017

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

I was going to do that in French, in honour of it being the 25th anniversary of my club signing my all-time favourite player, but bookworm translates as <<rat de bibliothèque>> or “library rat”, which doesn’t sound all that flattering, does it?! I know some people actually prefer to be book dragons rather than book worms, even in English, so I shall forego the rodent comparisons!

Funnily enough, on one book-related group on Facebook, earlier this week, someone asked whether any of us have any books in other languages beside their own, and whether we read books in other languages. Yes, I can read in other languages, although I am much slower in French, German or Spanish than I am in English, and I would also need a dictionary or some form of translation technology handy. I guess you can probably Google verb tables for various languages these days? Anyway, back to the books in other languages, and one of my prized books in another language is Un Rêve Modeste et Fou, the original French edition of Eric Cantona‘s autobiography. I also have the English version, My Story, both of which were signed by the King back in the mid 90s while he was still at United.

I miss those days… when United trained at The Cliff, and it was reasonably easy for a fan to go down there, watch the lads train, and then meet the players afterwards to get their autographs and have photos taken with them before they headed home! Not been the same since they started training at Carrington!

Today and tomorrow, 26th and 27th November, are the significant dates… I always celebrate the Cantona anniversary over two days because the news broke on the 26th, that Thursday evening in 1992, at around 6:30pm our time, and then Eric actually signed for United the following day. I was 19 at the time, a student, in the second year of my degree, at home with my parents and sister, but only my mum and I were at home that particular evening. My sister was at trampolining and I think my dad was away on business. I thought my mum was pulling my leg at first when she called me downstairs to tell me the news, which had just come on the telly. She wasn’t, though! It was for real! Manchester United had agreed to sign Eric Cantona from Leeds United for an “undisclosed fee” – later revealed to be a bargain, a mere £1.2 million!

United marked the anniversary weekend with a 1-0 home win against Brighton and Hove Albion yesterday afternoon, amazingly a 3pm kickoff which is pretty rare for United these days, lol, and I don’t care what others say, I think Ashley Young SHOULD claim the goal as his, rather than it going down as an own goal! I am totally against the current trend of treating slight deflections as own goals! The defending team’s player does NOT want it going against him, so let the attacking team’s player claim the goal as his! It should ONLY go down as an own goal if it was bloody obvious that the unfortunate player put the ball in his own net! For example, the then Blackburn Rovers defender, Jeff Kenna, at Old Trafford in November 1997 in a 4-0 win for United around this time 20 years ago! Now, THAT was a definite own goal if ever there was one! He rolled the ball back, thinking his goalie was there. His goalie, however, was at the other side of the net, as I recall, so the ball rolled over the line and into the net at the Stretford End, 4-0 to United, and Kenna stood there wishing the pitch would open up and swallow him!

Anyway, never mind my own goal rant, back to books… and we were on for books in foreign languages, weren’t we? Besides Eric Cantona’s autobiography, I do own a few other books which are not in English, including Charlie y la fábrica de chocolate, by Roald Dahl (I think you can work out the English title from the Spanish one in this instance, lol) and Die Bücherdiebin, by Markus Zusak, and I reckon you could take an educated guess at translating that from German… I bought myself that one when I was in Berlin in 2012. A good tip is to go for books you already know fairly well in your own language!

I don’t actually own copies of the books I studied for A-Level French, though. Those were Eccles College’s copies, and I never bought my own. Mind you, I didn’t want reminding. I found French literature hard to get my head around at the time, and I really went off the language for a couple of years, until United signed Eric Cantona, lol, so no, I don’t have my A Level French set texts, even though I do own copies of the books I read at high school for GCSE English Literature. Mind you, I don’t have ALL the books I read at uni for the literature half of my degree! I gave quite a few away when we moved house in 2006! If I hadn’t read them and didn’t think I was going to get around to it, I gave many of them away. My office’s charity committee were having a charity book fair at the time, so I gave a lot of books to my colleagues for that.

And now we return to our regularly scheduled look at books in English, lol! The Good People now stands at 37% read, and I am on for page 142 of 380. Over a third read, and I hope to get some more read in the coming weeks. The next book club meeting is on Wednesday 6th December, so there’s still time to get more of it read!

church fair bargains St Marks 2017

Oh, and I got some bargains yesterday! Prior to the match, I went to St Mark’s Church in Worsley for their Christmas fair. My niece is at the primary school there, and she’s in the choir, so she was performing at the event. Thus I listened to my niece and her classmates, and I also managed to get 4 books for the whopping sum of… wait for it… 50p! Yep! Bargains! It isn’t every day you get four books for 50p, is it?! And, unlike in the “Cheap Flights” song by Fascinating Aida, there are no additional extra costs – it genuinely did set me back a mere 50p to acquire the above books, lol! If you have never heard “Cheap Flights”, I suggest you look it up on You Tube! It’s a classic!

So, I picked up American Gods, by Neil Gaiman, quite a chunky monkey that one, lol, The One Memory of Flora Banks, a YA book by Emily Barr, The Odyssey, by Homer, for no particular reason, and same applies to The Pelican Guide to English Literature, edited by Boris Ford! Just seemed like a good idea at the time, lol! Actually, I’d picked two books, American Gods, and The One Memory of Flora Banks, and handed over my 50p, and the bloke said “You can take two more if you want to” so I chose the other two as well!

Flixton CBB Xmas Lights Urmston 24 Nov 2017

Blowing my horn on Friday evening in the Flixton Community Brass Band

Yep, that’s me on there, photo taken by my mum, but I took a screen shot when she uploaded it onto Facebook. It was the annual switching on of the Urmston Christmas tree lights, and our band have performed at this occasion since the Community Band was formed in 2014. Usually, it absolutely pisses it down throughout, but we actually had a spell on Friday where it stopped raining for quite a while, so it’s the least wet we have ever been, lol! Despite my dental surgery on Wednesday, I was fine playing my horn, as I found out on Thursday evening when I attempted it. Mind you, the teeth which had been removed had been at one side of my mouth, so putting my mouthpiece to my lips and blowing in it did not affect anything.

So, yes, for fairly recent followers, that is one of the other things I do besides reading books, lol! Well, I also work, of course, but I meant things I do in my spare time, when I’m not at Unity House in Swinton working as an admin officer! Oh, and as I’ve just mentioned my dental surgery from this week just gone, I meant to mention that Mum is now reading I Am Zlatan Ibrahimović – she started it on Wednesday, as she took it along to the hospital with her to read while I was having my dodgy teeth removed! She’s certainly enjoying it so far, finding it very amusing!

Well, I think that’s about it for now. I have covered a multitude of sins tonight, though, to be fair, lol! Eric Cantona, yesterday’s match, own goals, books in foreign languages, the latest progress of my book club book, church fair book bargains, brass bands, Christmas lights, dental surgery and Zlatan! All being well, I plan to get some Christmas shopping done tomorrow after work, so you probably won’t be getting a blog from me tomorrow – I’ll be mooching round the Trafford Centre, no doubt heading to Waterstone’s during the course of the evening, lol! So, until I do present you with the next instalment of vaguely book-related waffle, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Un Rêve Modeste et Fou – Eric Cantona
  • My Story – Eric Cantona
  • Charlie y la fábrica de chocolate – Roald Dahl
  • Die Bücherdiebin – Markus Zusak
  • The Good People – Hannah Kent
  • American Gods – Neil Gaiman
  • The One Memory of Flora Banks – Emily Barr
  • The Odyssey – Homer
  • The Pelican Guide to English Literature vol. 3 – Boris Ford (editor)
  • I Am Zlatan Ibrahimović – Zlatan Ibrahimović
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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Chunky Monkeys, European Literature, Facebook & Other Social Media, Football, Foreign Languages, Goodreads, List Challenges, Music, Rants, Sports, Uncategorized, YA Books

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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October Review – Better Late Than Never!

Adam Kay signing his book, This is Going to Hurt

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

I am back! First up, my apologies for not having blogged since mid-October, but you may recall that not only was I not feeling fictional, I was also not feeling very well, either! I wanted my cold to piss off and leave me alone, which it eventually has, more or less, but not without causing me to need time off work. I was in on the Monday after that blog, but even then I had a coughing fit, and stayed off the phone for the rest of that day, just doing the admin stuff – paperwork and computery stuff, and then I was too ill to be in work for the rest of that week! Absolutely streaming with a bloody cold! I did attempt to go in on the Friday, but it didn’t last long and I went home again.

I’d booked the following Monday off, and I was well enough to go out for the day, to Cheshire Oaks, and I came home loaded with a huge stash of chocolate, lol! I did buy a book, I acquired The Hate U Give from The Works for £2, although I still maintain that I prefer the cover of the US edition! Still got a bit of a cough, but I am generally a lot better than I was on the health front.

Still not feeling fictional, though! It’s book club this coming Thursday, and I have hardly read any of Do Not Say We Have Nothing. It’s not as though I dislike it, I don’t, what I have read has been fine, but I’m still not feeling it on the fictional front. I have been in the mood for factual stuff of late. I finished On Writing, by Stephen King, the other night – loved that book! I have thus finished 42 books this year, with just a bit of 2017 left to go.

The other thing is, that, while I was off sick, it was as though our internet came out in sympathy with my cold and decided to slow down! I mean right down. Really sluggish. Things taking ages to load, video clips buffering every few seconds… that sort of annoying slowness. Having given it a week or two to perk up, we contacted our providers with the results of a speed test my sister’s partner had performed for us, and they did some tests on Sunday, and then sent someone round earlier today. He did more tests and sorted things out, so we’re back up and running again! Nice and fast, as it should be. No longer fannying around, which is a technical term, by the way, but you knew that already, lol!

Anyway, you want to know about books, don’t you? You don’t want to hear my moans about how slow our broadband had been for the second half of October, do you?! You do realise, though, that this blog regularly contains large helpings of utter waffle!

The other book which was read last month, and utterly loved, was This is Going to Hurt, by Adam Kay, and I went to the book event at Waterstone’s on 27th October. He read to us from his book and then signed copies, so I had brought my copy with me for him to sign. Epic Win!

In the past few months, the only work of fiction I have finished is If I Stay, one of my YA books. I did also read one of my niece’s books, but that was fairly short, and even that was a few months ago, August, just before I started my job at the council! Since then, it’s been mostly non-fiction, having read about the periodic table of the elements, why internet food fads and diets are dangerous, how the Nazis were totally off their tits on drugs, the hilarious incidents in the life of a junior doctor, and the memoirs and writing advice of a hugely-successful author!

How do I get to feel fictional again? Why have I gone off fiction? I don’t understand what happened to cause it. I understand it in previous years. I remember a general book slump which started in 2012 and meant that I read very little from then until 2015, only managing the occasional book until around this time two years ago. 2012 was a pretty rubbish year for me, certainly the first half of it was, due to my grandad passing away and my redundancy after 13 years as a civil servant. It did pick up a bit in the summer though, as the London Olympics and Paralympics were on, and my club signed a certain Dutch centre-forward  that August at the start of the 2012-13 season, one whose goals would fire us to our 20th league title in 2013 when we would be declared champions the night before my 40th birthday! Oh, Robin van Persie! 🙂

I only managed the occasional book between those times. I loved Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent, Girl With a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier, and Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple, but a lot of books, even with promising blurb, didn’t grab me until the end of 2015 when a fiction book and a non-fiction book both helped get me in the mood for reading again. The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein, and Why the Dutch Are Different, by Ben Coates, are to be thanked for helping me out of that slump!

Last year, I had a fiction slump, but only because I had just finished A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara, and that is one seriously epic book! So, I completely understand why I was only able to manage non-fiction for the rest of 2016 after THAT chunky monkey! However, I’ve not read anything quite so epic in 2017! Nothing to rival the 720 pages of A Little Life, that’s for sure, so why the hell am I having a fiction slump now?!

This is one reason why I’ve not even started Turtles All the Way Down, the latest book by John Green, which was published in October. I don’t want my experience to be clouded by doubts over my ability to enjoy fiction! Despite the slump, I am still acquiring fictional titles, and I even purchased a few last week when I headed off to Waterstone’s at the Trafford Centre, picking up Sabriel, by Garth Nix, What Light, by Jay Asher, a Christmas-themed YA novella by the looks of it, and the Booker Prize winner for 2017, Lincoln In the Bardo, by George Saunders. I have to admit I had no idea what the hell a bardo was. Not in the sense of that book’s title, anyway! To me, the only Bardo I knew of was the one-hit-wonder duo, Bardo, who represented the UK at the 1982 Eurovision Song Contest with a song called “One Step Further”!

That was also a bit of a risk – regular readers of my blog might recall some of my rants about prize-winning novels and how difficult they are to read! I think the only Booker Prize winner I have finished and enjoyed so far in my life was Life of Pi, by Yann Martel! But Lincoln In the Bardo sounded interesting – something to do with spirits fighting over the soul of Abraham Lincoln’s son.

I think that about brings me up to date, anyway, except for some news on the children’s book front. It seems David Walliams has a new book out, Bad Dad, so no doubt my friend Sarah’s son, James, will be wanting that one! My niece, Charlotte, the Junior Bookworm, has recently been reading and enjoying The Twits, by Roald Dahl. A classic! And on that note, I think we’ve covered everything, and I have returned to my regular waffly and very nerdy self – come on, it doesn’t get much nerdier than mentioning Bardo in the 1982 Eurovision Song Contest, does it?! So, until the next time I blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay
  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  • Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
  • On Writing – Stephen King
  • If I Stay – Gayle Forman
  • Burial Rites – Hannah Kent
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – Maria Semple
  • The Art of Racing In the Rain – Garth Stein
  • Why the Dutch Are Different – Ben Coates
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • Turtles All the Way Down – John Green
  • Sabriel – Garth Nix
  • What Light – Jay Asher
  • Lincoln In the Bardo – George Saunders
  • Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  • Bad Dad – David Walliams
  • The Twits – Roald Dahl

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Bad Medicine

this is going to hurt book

Warning: Reading this book may cause your sides to split.

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Open wide and say aah, lol! Bit of a medical theme tonight, really, on the book front. Hence the Bon Jovi song as blog title, although I could just as easily have opted for Doctor Doctor, a hit for the Thompson Twins back in the 80s. But, Bad Medicine it is! So, I’m prescribing this mad, waffly blog for you!

I doubt there’ll be any new books mentioned I’ve not already mentioned this year, though.

Not only am I still reading about the Nazi druggies in Blitzed, just over half way read now, book club a week away, but I am loving the book in the above photo This is Going to Hurt. Adam Kay is a former doctor, and these are incidents from his time in the medical profession before he became a comedian, and if you read it, you can see why he became a comedian! You may end up as a patient whose rectum has become detached from the rest of your body. In less than medical terms, you might laugh your arse off!

A look through my List Challenges list of all the books I’ve mentioned thus far this year throws up quite a few dealing with matters of life, death, health, illness and disability, some fiction, some non fiction, so instead of the one usual list at the end, there will be two for this one. One factual, one fictional, with lists of books and their medically-related themes. Some might just be vaguely on the subject, others might focus very much on the matters of life and death and all which comes in between. One or two books will be mentioned in the coming paragraphs, then there will be the two lists at the end of this blog.

APOLOGIES IN ADVANCE, BUT THERE’S PROBABLY GOING TO BE A FAIR FEW SPOILERS COMING UP HERE FOR SEVERAL BOOKS! SCROLL DOWN QUICKLY IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW!

Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig. Author of The Radleys and The Humans, amongst other books, but this is his own personal tale of battling against severe mental health issues and the suicidal thoughts he was having at one point.

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak. Set in Nazi Germany just before and during World War II, so Death, the narrator, is exceptionally busy! One of my favourite books, I gave out copies for World Book Night in 2012.

Blitzed – Norman Ohler. My current book club book. Drug addiction on a grand scale, especially drug addiction dressed up as being respectable and in the national interest during the war effort!

The Novel Cure – Ella Berthoud. This book deals with Bibliotherapy, the concept of prescribing certain novels to help patients with a range of illnesses and other issues. This is the book which said Shantaram was a cure for constipation! I don’t know if it’s true or not, lol, as I’ve yet to attempt that epic novel, although I do own a copy and it’s hanging out right here by Computer Corner!

When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi. My favourite non-fiction book from last year! Paul was a surgeon who, himself, got cancer. He was helping other patients with cancer while having to deal with the fact he also had the disease.

A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara. My epic novel from last year, the one which caused a major Book Hangover, lol! 720 pages long, but well worth it. It’s a big pull emotionally, though, and issues of illness, disability, abuse and death run through it, hence it has to be mentioned on the Bad Medicine book blog!

A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard. Young adult novel, in which one of the main protagonists suffers from selective mutism, and the other main protagonist is deaf. British Sign Language plays a big part in this novel.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews. More YA fiction, this time with a couple of nerdy amateur film makers and a classmate with cancer…

The Fault In Our Stars – John Green. I know, this one’s pretty obvious to those who are well-up on their YA. Two teens meet and fall in love at a cancer support group, get to go over to Amsterdam due to a charity which grants terminally-ill youngsters a wish.

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old – Hendrik Groen. At the other end of the age scale, life in an old people’s care home in Amsterdam. Elderly care, dementia and death are the issues raised here. Fiction, I think, although probably based on a real Dutch OAP in an old folk’s home…

The Angry Chef – Anthony Warner. A recent read, obviously, but with all his advice on food and on diets, I think it should be included in our medically-themed blog!

One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton. YA novel, in which the main characters are sisters suffering bereavement after their dad had died suddenly, so this novel looks at themes of grief and coping with loss, especially when faced with a lot of reminders of the person you’ve lost.

Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom. Mitch returns to one of his former favourite teachers, finds him in seriously ill-health but still able to impart valuable lessons. Again, terminal illness, deterioration and death are prominent.

If I Stay – Gayle Forman. YA novel in which a promising cellist suffers multiple serious injuries and multiple loss. I really should stop giving out spoilers, though. As there’s a sequel, though, you already know she lives, albeit a very different kind of life from the one she’d had before the family car was ploughed into.

Pear Shaped – Adam Blain. Not sure if this is available in hard copy, but I read it a while ago on my Kindle and finished it earlier this year. The true tale of Adam’s brain cancer.

The Ten (Food) Commandments – Jay Rayner. One of them is about not mistaking food for pharmaceuticals, so it touches on some similar ground to Anthony Warner’s book. Indeed, there’s praise from Jay Rayner on the cover of Warner’s book.

Mind Your Head – Juno Dawson. Non-fiction young adult guide to mental health issues and where to get support.

I think that’s enough to be getting on with. They’ll be listed soon enough, along with a few others, plus the odd one or two non-medical mentions right at the end. Anyway, talking of medical, and of mental health, I really do think the men in white coats should hurry along to the White House! As if we didn’t already know that the Mango Mussolini was several sandwiches short of a full picnic basket, he really has gone and done it this time with perhaps the barmiest and most pointless decision ever…

You remember that travel ban of his? Where people from certain countries couldn’t go to the US of A? Well, look which country the dozy Dotard has added now…

North Korea.

Yep. North Koreans cannot visit the United States of America.

Hello! Earth calling Donald! Got some news for you, sunshine, and it sure as hell ain’t fake! Get this little fact into your stupid orange head, dipshit…

NORTH KOREANS AREN’T EVEN ALLOWED OUT OF NORTH KOREA!!!

I think this therefore constitutes The Most Pointless Ban Ever! It has to! In the long history of things being banned in various countries at various times for various dubious reasons, this has got to be the most ridiculous ban ever! Fancy banning people from something they already couldn’t do anyway?! I was trying to think of a more pointless ban, but I don’t think I am able to! The nearest I could get would be to ban someone from doing something they wouldn’t want to do anyway, for instance banning die-hard Stretford Enders, like myself, from ever swapping clubs and supporting Liverpool! That would be a pointless ban ’cause die-hard United fans wouldn’t dream of supporting that lot!

But if citizens can’t even leave their own country, no other country needs to worry about admitting them, therefore Donald’s ban is even more pointless than a pointless answer on the TV quiz show Pointless!

I would have said that Dodgy Donald had lost the plot, but that would imply that the Tango-tinted Twat had a plot to lose in the bloody first place! For the good of the whole planet, PLEASE get Donald under psychiatric care PDQ!!!

Well, that’s about enough about President Fart’s mental health, so I think we should get this finished off and those lists made! Until next time, which will probably be the September Review, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Some non-fiction books on a medical/health theme…

  • Blitzed – Norman Ohler (drug addiction)
  • This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay (life as a doctor)
  • Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig (mental health)
  • The Novel Cure – Ella Berthoud (bibliotherapy)
  • When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi (surgery, cancer)
  • The Angry Chef – Anthony Warner (diets, food fads, health scares)
  • Tuesdays With Morrie – Mitch Albom (terminal illness, death)
  • Pear Shaped – Adam Blain (brain cancer)
  • The Ten (Food) Commandments – Jay Rayner (food is not medicine)
  • Mind Your Head – Juno Dawson (mental health, esp for teens)
  • This Is Your Brain On Music – Daniel Levitin (music and health, psychology)
  • Fragile Lives – Stephen Westaby (heart surgery)

Some fiction books with medical/health themes in them…

  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak (death)
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara (disability, mental health, drugs, abuse, death)
  • A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard (mutism, deafness)
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews (cancer)
  • The Fault In Our Stars – John Green (cancer, cancer support)
  • The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old – Hendrik Groen (old age, mobility, dementia, death)
  • One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton (bereavement, grief)
  • If I Stay – Gayle Forman (serious injury, loss, disability)
  • Me Before You – Jojo Moyes (severe disability, mental health)
  • The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje (injury, deformity, disability)
  • Wonder – R. J. Palacio (facial disfigurement)
  • All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr (blindness)
  • Veronika Decides to Die – Paulo Coelho (mental health)

And a few which were mentioned even though they’re not on a medical theme…

  • The Radleys – Matt Haig
  • The Humans – Matt Haig
  • Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts

 

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OC Overhaul, Book Benches and an Emergency Book!

OC Overhaul July 2017

Bullet journal documenting my Ongoing Concerns overhaul…

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

Yes, I have gone and done it! I have taken decisive action on the notorious Ongoing Concerns List, and trimmed it down! I decided it was unfair on certain books which were not being read, I hadn’t touched them for weeks, if not months, and I thought let’s just take them off the list, at least for now, and put them back on some time later if I CAN be arsed reading them instead of leaving them on there for decoration without them making any ounce of progress as far as Goodreads percentages are concerned.

Several YA books are therefore back in the TBR pile as partially-read books, with receipts or travel tickets in them as bookmarks so I know where I’m up to when I do decide to resume them at any time in the future. There are now two YA novels on the new OC list, those being Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews, and One Italian Summer, by Keris Stainton. She actually liked one of my posts on Instagram the other day! I am a frequent Bookstagrammer on there, most of my posts on Instagram are about books! There are some which aren’t, but I’m very much into the whole Bookstagram thing.

One non-fiction book has been returned to the TBR list, but Periodic Tales, by Hugh Aldersey-Williams, and Neither Here Nor There, by Bill Bryson, remain on the OC List as our current representatives of factual reading matter! This coming week, on Thursday, I will be meeting one of my favourite non-fiction writers, Stuart Maconie, who is coming to Waterstone’s on Deansgate to promote his new book, Long Road From Jarrow, which will be published that day. That one will have to join the TBR pile though, as I’ve got two non-fictions on the list, and I said I was going to resume Manchester, England by Dave Haslam as my next non-fiction selection on the OC List once one of the current factual books has been read, and will be using my “and the bees still buzz” bookmark in it!

It’s all go on the book front in Manchester at the moment, and I shall return to the matter of Mancunian book-related events shortly, once I have covered the fiction section of my new trimmed-down OC List, lol!

OC Wipeboard July 2017

The OC Wipeboard – cleaned and tarted-up with the new list. The magnets have been on for a while, from Berlin, Chichen Itza, and Marrakech respectively. The blue thingy is a wipeboard eraser, and is magnetic. I might just plonk that on the top and put a few more magnets on, or sometimes change them around. I needed a new pen for it anyway, as the one it came with had gone funny. The board itself needed cleaning, too, but I sorted that out, so it looks pretty good now, and I have a few colours I can use on it. I’m sure non-permanent OHP pens would also work on it…

So, the fiction section… Obviously, this currently consists of Dissolution, by C. J. Sansom, the first book of his Shardlake series, and my current book club book, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old. I am now 12% through that so it has joined the list because I have read at least 10% of it. Thus the OC list is at six, with a nice balance of 2 fiction, 2 non-fiction and 2 young adult. If I find even that is too much and things are not being read, I will have to trim it down further, but it’s a lot better than it was!

Bookbench trail map

Bookbench Trail Map

I did promise you more book-related goings-on in Manchester, so this is what I was on about, the Bookbench Trail. A bit like when we had Cowparade in the noughties, but with sets of benches in the shape of books, decorated by various groups and schools, and dotted around Manchester, both in the city centre and out in various suburbs. This is on for 2 months from 10th July to 10th September, so it just started this Monday just gone.

The above photos are from some of the benches in the Arndale Centre in town. The crayons remind me of some of Charlotte’s books, actually, lol! I’m thinking about The Day the Crayons Quit, and The Day the Crayons Came Home, both by Drew Daywalt. If you haven’t read these books, you really should! They’re brilliant and very funny!

Anyway, one foolish thing I did yesterday was that I forgot to put any books in my handbag! Oops! I was going in to town for my volunteering, and also to give blood afterwards, although it turned out that my haemoglobin was low, so I couldn’t donate a pint of my O positive on this occasion. I realised in the morning, after leaving the house to get a bus to Eccles, that I had forgotten to bring any books with me. I was not best pleased, as you can imagine! Chief Bookworm had no Handbag Books! Oops!

Emergency Book July 2017

Emergency Book!

Bearing in mind I’d be volunteering in the morning, and that I’d be doing the sudoku in the newspapers while on the tram to town, I wasn’t so much bothered about not having a book for the outgoing journey, but I figured that, if I was going to be giving an armful to the vampires, I would need a book to pass the time during my donation, so just before I went to the donor centre, I nipped into Fopp, where they have a selection of cheap books as well as music and films, and picked up Life After Dark, by Dave Haslam, for £3 to take with me. Hence the bit in the title of this blog about the Emergency Book!

So, I took the Emergency Book with me to the donor centre, only for me to turn out to be a bit low on iron and unable to give blood! Oh well, never mind! The book is a history of British nightclubs and music venues, as you might expect from a DJ, and I read a little bit of it on the bus on the way home from town, although the rest of it will have to wait, at least until after I have finished with one of his other books, and that’s still not on the OC list yet, anyway!

Didn’t have a fellow bookworm on that bus, but the previous day, I had a fellow bookworm on the tram to Eccles when I was coming home from town. I was reading Dissolution, she was reading The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, which she said she was enjoying. I said it was on my TBR List. She said she’d read and enjoyed Dissolution! My copy of The Essex Serpent is in the pile of books, mostly hardbacks, known as my Bass Amp Book Tower!

Well, I shall now go and get myself a brew, and do some reading perhaps. My lads have their first game of the pre-season tour later, at what is silly o’clock for us here in the UK, but that’s not too much trouble as I can always watch it in bed and I am a night owl, so I will probably be awake for most of it anyway!

Wonder when the Gnome will get his finger out of his arse and get some more players off Jose’s shopping list?! I don’t think the manager is very chuffed at the extremely lethargic “speed” at which Gnome is progressing with this task, and we fans certainly aren’t! We need more players, and we need to be buying them, not letting other players go in exchange! Especially not strikers, as we don’t have enough as it is! No, Inter Milan, you cannot have Anthony Martial! We don’t have enough forwards! We might possibly have some spare defenders or something, if you need anyone in those positions at the back, but we need all the strikers we can get!

We have practically exchanged Rooney for Lukaku, so we have Lukaku, Martial and Rashford. That in itself is not enough strikers. We need at least one more, because we cannot bank on Zlatan returning. If he comes back mid season and manages to bang in the goals despite his age and despite having had a serious knee injury, that should be considered a bonus!

Anyway, that is about all from me for now, you’ll be relieved to learn, lol! So, until the next blog, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton
  • Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson
  • Long Road From Jarrow – Stuart Maconie
  • Manchester, England – Dave Haslam
  • Dissolution – C. J. Sansom
  • The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old – Hendrik Groen
  • The Day the Crayons Quit – Drew Daywalt
  • The Day the Crayons Came Home – Drew Daywalt
  • Life After Dark – Dave Haslam
  • The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry

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NeverEnding Story

neverending story

Good evening, fellow bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 Best Books I’ve Never Read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

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

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

 

 

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