Category Archives: World Book Night

Bookworm’s Progress and All Manner of Reading Matters…

Not Dead Yet finished Jan 2018

Phil Collins and also H G Wells finished this week!

Good afternoon, fellow Bookworms!

Been a good week on the book front, although some sad news has meant it will be longer before my friend and I meet up and I return her book to her. As you can see from the photo above, the brilliant Not Dead Yet was finished earlier this week, and I then polished off The Time Machine the following day! As I planned, I am lining up The War of the Worlds to go on the Ongoing Concerns list, one H G Wells science fiction novel replacing another. Well, novellas, actually, as neither book is particularly long. Even The War of the Worlds is under 200 pages long!

While we’re on science fiction, we have to mention the sad news from earlier this week, as Ursula K. Le Guin passed away on Monday, aged 88. I have not yet read any of her books, but I might look into them, The Left Hand of Darkness being one of the best-known of her novels. Rest in Peace, Ursula. ūüė¶

Priority lies with The Red House Mystery, though, as that is my book club book and I need to get on with that before 7th February. My 15th February deadline which I set for Not Dead Yet is irrelevant as I have finished the book in good time, but I won’t be giving Sarah the book back on that date. She and I were due to see Paul Young at the Preston Guild Hall. However, Paul’s wife sadly passed away yesterday after a battle with cancer, so Paul has understandably postponed his February concerts, which will be rescheduled for later this¬† year. I will have to see if I can cancel the half-day leave I booked, as I won’t need it on that date now, and I might need it whenever the new date for the concert might be if it’s also a midweek gig.

Blogging today, I do realise I am too late for an Australia Day special, might have to do one of those next year if I remember in time. Would have to do it on 25th January here, though, so that it would be 26th January Down Under. That way I could mention any books set in Australia, and also some by Aussie authors, such as Hannah Kent, who has already given us two awesome novels, Burial Rites and The Good People. If I am not mistaken, Markus Zusak is also an Aussie, so I could mention The Book Thief, which is on my list of favourite books, and which I gave out for World Book Night in 2012 on my 39th birthday! Someone remind me to do an Aussie-themed book blog in 2019! I did an Irish special last year for St Patrick’s Day, so if you want to read that blog, check out the March 2017 archives!

The thing about these internationally-themed blogs is that I only need a few examples from any country to make up a blog. Where would I even start with my own?! So many English authors to choose from, and probably all the usual suspects anyway, such as the Bront√ęs, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens! Besides which, our patron saint, St George, has his day on 23rd April… which also happens to be Chief Bookworm’s birthday! I tend to spend the day having a lie-in, unwrapping pressies and going out to eat… Whether I could fit a blog in on my birthday is another matter, or even whether I’d want to…

While we should never rule anything out completely, I would say that it would be highly unlikely that you would have a blog from me on my 45th birthday later this year…

Right, anyway, I need some hydration, so I shall just get myself a drink, and I shall return shortly…

* Chief Bookworm pops downstairs for a drink *

Right, I’m back! Sorry about that! Hot Vimto in my Cantona mug on a coaster on top of the printer as I sit here at Computer Corner, tapping away on my laptop!

I might have been too late for Australia Day, but it is Holocaust Memorial Day today, so we can at least mention a few works of fiction set around that terrible time, including The Auschwitz Violin, by Maria Angels Anglada, which I read a couple of years ago – pretty sure it’s on my Goodreads Challenge of 2016. The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas, by John Boyne, is an obvious mention as well, and The Book Thief also touches on those sent to concentration camps, although not actually based around a camp. One other book, one which I read some years ago now, is a collection of short stories based on the author’s experience, and it was recommended to me, on Facebook, by David Hunt probably about 9 or 10 years ago now. The book is by Tadeusz Borowski, and it’s called This Way For the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen. It’s what he doesn’t say, what is implied, which gets to you. One which should be read, but maybe not in public as you might find it too upsetting.

There’s actually one I mean to get, The Librarian of Auschwitz, by Antonio Iturbe, and I shall have a look for it next time I am in a book shop, which won’t be long off knowing me! There’s also The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris, another recent book, only just published earlier this month. That one’s based on the true story of a concentration camp tattooist, and as we’re on for books based on true stories of World War II, we need to mention Schindler’s Ark, by Thomas Keneally, which inspired the award-winning film Schindler’s List.

I was going to mention some more of the books I’ve acquired in recent times, and I have some charity shop bargains to mention, but first, we go back to my childhood, and I found a book the other night which had my name in it, and it was one I have had since I was in the first year juniors at primary school, what is now year 3, and that’s the year my niece is in at school. The book is Mrs Pepperpot in the Magic Wood, by Alf Pr√łysen, a Norwegian author who passed away in 1970, before I was even born, but his stories of this little old lady who shrunk to the size of a pepper pot at inconvenient times were read to us by our teacher, Mrs Lloyd, when we were in that first year junior class at Monton Green Primary School, which would have been the academic year of 1980-81. So the book turned up on the Puffin Club book catalogue and it was bought for me as I had enjoyed some of the stories in class.

Mrs Pepperpot book

So, this is my book from when I was Charlotte’s age, and I am going to re-read it, and then perhaps my niece might like to borrow it! After all, I enjoyed it when I was 7 going on 8, so it’s probably the right age range for Junior Bookworm! Mrs Lloyd was great, one of the best teachers I ever had. Years later, she even bought me some chocolate to celebrate when Mum and I met up with her in a supermarket shortly after I’d graduated from uni in 1994!

Right, as I promised, the charity shop books which I didn’t mention the other night because I already had a pretty long list of books to mention by the end of that blog, lol! One of the charity shops on Swinton Precinct had a four books for a quid offer, essentially making these items of reading matter 25p each… I chose Playing With Fire, by Gordon Ramsay, which I think is the follow up autobiography to Humble Pie, which I already owned.

East of the Sun, by Julia Gregson, was one of the four books. I also have another of hers on the notorious TBR list, Jasmine Nights, which I either got from a charity shop or a church fair. Either way, it was a cheap acquisition.

Broken Music, by Sting, was another of the four books. It’s his autobiography. Useless fact time here, folks… Sting went to the same school as Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys! Sting would have been two years above Neil. They both attended St Cuthbert’s RC Grammar School in Newcastle Upon Tyne. So there you go! I know this because I’ve been a Pethead for years, but I’m also partial to the music of The Police and some of Sting’s solo stuff, particularly Fields of Gold and Englishman In New York – that latter one, of course, providing the melody for our terrace song about Henrikh Mkhitaryan who has gone to Arsenal in the swap deal which saw Alexis Sanchez come to United!

He had a good debut last night, actually, setting up two of our goals as the lads won 4-0 away to Yeovil Town in the 4th round of the FA Cup. The goals came courtesy of Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku, giving us a convincing win and a place in the draw for the 5th round, which will be made on Monday.

Anyway, back to the four books, which brings us to the fourth, that being Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It sounds like a humorous one – after all, the late great Sir Terry was the author of the Discworld series. The edition I picked up at the charity shop was actually a World Book Night edition from 2012, which was the same year I was giving out special copies of The Book Thief¬†for free at the Trafford Centre! Go back to my blog archives from early in 2012 and you’ll read about my preparations for that!

Oh, and I picked up Ulysses, by James Joyce, at one of the other charity shops in Swinton the other day. That’s a right chunky monkey, though. Might have to find some sort of guide to the novel before attempting it. I have read some Joyce, previously, but only Dubliners, which is a book of short stories set in the Irish capital.

This pretty much brings my book news up to date. Just a thought… We’re not even at the end of January and the list of books mentioned so far in 2018 is already at 66! Of course, as things go on, books get repeat mentions, and they’re already on the list, but plenty of previously unmentioned books get added and last year’s list was over 500 books long when I came to publish it at the end of December! If you’re on List Challenges, and you like big lists and you cannot lie, lol, check out Joanne’s Bookshelf – Books Mentioned in 2017 and see how many you’ve read from all the books I mentioned on here last year!

So, that’s it for now, I’m off for a reading session! Until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Not Dead Yet – Phil Collins
  • The Time Machine – H. G. Wells
  • The War of the Worlds – H. G. Wells
  • The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Red House Mystery – A. A. Milne
  • Burial Rites – Hannah Kent
  • The Good People – Hannah Kent
  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  • The Auschwitz Violin – Maria Angels Anglada
  • The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne
  • This Way For the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen – Tadeusz Borowski
  • The Librarian of Auschwitz – Antonio Iturbe
  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris
  • Schindler’s Ark – Thomas Keneally
  • Mrs Pepperpot in the Magic Wood – Alf Pr√łysen
  • Playing With Fire – Gordon Ramsay
  • Humble Pie – Gordon Ramsay
  • East of the Sun – Julia Gregson
  • Jasmine Nights – Julia Gregson
  • Broken Music – Sting
  • Good Omens – Sir Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  • Ulysses – James Joyce
  • Dubliners – James Joyce

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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.


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…


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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Joanne D-J and the Forty Bookworms


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

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books knocking around for a while

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

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

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

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

Book and bookmark rediscovered March 2017

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

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

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

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

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

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

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Put The Kettle On!

Tea and coffee books 1

Nothing quite like a brew and a good book, is there?!

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

You may recall yesterday’s blog, and the rainbow tower of books, which contained two books by Vanessa Greene on the theme of tea, those being The Vintage Teacup Club, and The Seafront Tea Rooms. I mentioned, at the time, before I went downstairs for a brew, that I had had an idea for a themed blog. Well, here it is… I would definitely advise you to put your kettle on and make a hot leaf or bean-based beverage, because my theme for tonight is books about tea and coffee! I hope you enjoy this blog – I’ve been into part of my wardrobe unit to get some books and teas out for the photos, and I’m now having a mug of Maple Tea. As you can imagine, I purchased the tin of Maple Tea when I was in Canada, which was October 2009. The maple teabags were in a bag within the tin, though, and so they seemed OK!

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me” – C. S. Lewis

In recent blogs, I also mentioned a non-fiction book on the discovery and history of coffee, that being The Devil’s Cup, by Stewart Lee Allen, and, as I like both tea and coffee, I thought I’d do a blog about books on a theme of those drinks. One or two books are non-fiction, plus a few fictional works with mention of either beverage in the title.

Tea books 1

The Maple Tea is a souvenir of Canada, the other tin was in a set from a shop in Manchester’s Chinatown!

Obviously, we have the two Vanessa Greene novels, dealing with vintage teacups and with tea rooms in seaside resorts. I have yet to read these, and I have also yet to read The Tea Planter’s Wife, by Dinah Jefferies, but I expect I will get round to them. Ooh, that maple tea is nice! Anyway, sorry, where was I?! Ah, yes, unread novels about tea, lol! I have, however, read the non-fiction books about tea in this photo, those being A Taste of Tea, by Brian Glover, The Book of Tea, by Kakuzo Okakura, and Tea: The Drink That Changed The World, by John Griffiths. At the back of that book, in the sources list, as I’ve read this particular tome, is a bookmark from Niagara Falls, so I obviously acquired that in 2009 and must have been reading that book some time shortly after I came home from Canada. I doubt very much I was reading that book when I was in Toronto or Montreal on that particular holiday, as it is a chunky hardback and thus not really the most ideal reading matter for overseas travel!

On the first photo, at the top of this blog, you will also see the spine of The Story of Tea, by Mary Lou Heiss, another non-fiction guide to the history, preparation and world traditions surrounding tea. You can tell I like a cuppa, can’t you?!

So, that’s the tea sorted, now the coffee, lol! Obviously, my non-fiction book for this beverage is the Stewart Lee Allen book, The Devil’s Cup, a fascinating read about the discovery and history of coffee. It was discovered by Arabs who, being practising Muslims, found the plant’s berries and beans were great for keeping them awake and alert for their night-time prayers! Thus were the joys of caffeine discovered! I was actually reading Allen’s book when I was still working in town, so that shows you how long ago that was! That particular office closed in 2009, so it’s at least 8 years, probably more, since I read The Devil’s Cup! I was on some course or other in our meeting room, possibly a fire & bomb warden refresher session which I had to have every two or three years, and we were having a break from our training, so I was having a read while I could.

One of my younger colleagues didn’t seem to get why I loved reading. I find it hard to understand why people don’t love reading! Well, I can understand it if they have dyslexia, or some similar issue, but if you have no actual difficulties in reading, you just need to find a book you like! There’s plenty out there for everyone!

Along with the factual coffee book, I have put my hands on two fiction books with coffee in their titles, although how much either book focuses on the java remains to be seen as I have yet to read one of them, and have only read a very small percentage of the other. The one I have yet to read at all is The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, by Deborah Rodriguez, and the other book is Last Bus To Coffeeville, by J. Paul Henderson, of which I have read a smidgeon, but not really much. Can’t really call it an ongoing concern as yet. It was a free book I acquired last year at Chapter One in town, a giveaway for World Book Night.

Anyway, it’s a start. A selection of tea and coffee books, some factual, some fictional, and if you have any suggestions for books about either drink, feel free to mention them in the comments! I’m quite happy for people to comment, as long as I don’t get spammed! I don’t like spam! (Just don’t get me started on Monty Python sketches, or we’ll be here all bloody night, lol!)

“I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK! I sleep all night and I work all day!” – Oops! Sorry!

You’ll probably be ready for another cuppa now, so I suggest you put your kettle on, make yourself a brew, and until next time, Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • The Vintage Teacup Club – Vanessa Greene
  • The Seafront Tea Rooms – Vanessa Greene
  • The Devil’s Cup – Stewart Lee Allen
  • The Tea Planter’s Wife – Dinah Jefferies
  • A Taste of Tea – Brian Glover
  • The Book of Tea – Kakuzo Okakura
  • Tea: The Drink That Changed the World – John Griffiths
  • The Story of Tea – Mary Lou Heiss
  • The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul – Deborah Rodriguez
  • Last Bus To Coffeeville – J. Paul Henderson

P.S. Which one of you’s called Brian?!

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Filed under Books, Food & Drink, Free Books, Historical Fiction, Humour, Non-Fiction, Television, The TBR Pile, Travel, World Book Night

The Bookworm On The Bus


The bookworm on the bus goes read, read, read… all day long!

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

If there isn’t a verse of “The Wheels on the Bus” dedicated to bookworms on the bus, then there bloody well should be! That gentleman was reading on the 33 bus when I was on my way home from Eccles earlier this evening. The book he was reading was We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler, of which I also own a copy. Mine being a 99p charity shop bargain, actually, as it’s still got the price label on it, lol!

I imagine our bus bookworm had a rather longer commute than I did. As I am currently based at the West One retail park, near Eccles, I am not far from where I live, which is a good thing, but it doesn’t really present much of a reading opportunity for me unless the traffic is particularly shite and then I might get the chance to get one of my Handbag Books out and have a good read as the bus crawls its way along at the speed of an arthritic ant with some particularly heavy shopping, to paraphrase from Blackadder!

The book being read, the novel by Karen Joy Fowler, was from a few years ago now, when a lot of book covers seemed to be yellow and black! Not sure what the current trend is, but a yellow and black bandwagon was clearly being jumped upon by publishing houses some time around 2013 and 2014! I can understand why The Bees, by Laline Paull, had a yellow and black cover, that made perfect sense given the theme of the novel, but why did nearly every damn book which came out around that same time go for the same bloody bee-like colour scheme?!

We are now on 1st March, so Happy St David’s Day to any Welsh bookworms reading this blog, and I expect many kids up and down the UK are preparing for World Book Day at school tomorrow! My niece, Charlotte, is going as Verruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl. Charlotte is very much like me – a bookworm and a chocoholic, so it’s not too surprising she chose a character from that particular book.

The actual World Book Day, for most of the world, is 23rd April, St George’s Day here in England and in a few other countries and regions too – Catalonia in Spain springs to mind, and it is also my birthday. It is still World Book Night for anyone participating in that event, as I did back in 2012, when I gave out copies of The Book Thief at the Trafford Centre. However, the thing about 23rd April, from an academic year perspective, is that it often falls during the Easter holidays every few years, so in order to use World Book Day to promote literacy and a love of books in UK schools, they had to choose a time which would be term time every year, thus early March got the nod.

As I’ve said previously, I’m in several book groups on Facebook, and I have one of my own, which I started in April 2008, so we’re coming up to the ninth anniversary of the creation of I’d Spend All Day In Waterstone’s If I Could Get Away With It! on 14th April! I usually just refer to it as the Waterstone’s group for short! At the time I started that group, I was still a civil servant, and still working in town, not far from the massive Deansgate branch of Waterstone’s, which would explain why my flexi-time at work was often up shit creek without a paddle, lol! I didn’t really want to return to the office after lunch – I just wanted to stay in Waterstone’s all day and read books!

Two weeks to go to my next book club meeting, in which we will be discussing If I Could Tell You Just One Thing, by Richard Reed. As mentioned in a previous blog, it’s one of those which can be dipped into, as it’s various famous people giving bits of advice. Emma, who currently runs the book club, emailed the other day. She was apologising, rather unnecessarily, for having been ill when we last met up, and reminding us to bring suggestions for our next book. I have told her that I’m prepared to try most books with the obvious exceptions of horror, dystopia, and current affairs!

I’m not really all that crazy for thrillers, either, to be honest. Loads of other readers go mad for the latest thrillers – books such as Behind Closed Doors, by B. A. Paris, or The Girl On The Train, by Paula Hawkins, get raved about online, and people talk of long waiting lists to borrow those books from libraries, but I’d be the one calmly looking at other books and not caring that everyone else is in a queue! I will take a passing interest and make a mental note of its popularity, but I will leave it for other readers if it’s not my cup of tea. I don’t get put off by the popularity. Other books are popular too, and I might buy them if they appeal to me. After all, the Harry Potter series is hugely popular, and I love those books!

Ten years ago, while I was on holiday in Las Vegas, the final book of the main series came out, so Mum and I went to an event at the branch of Borders in a mall just off the Strip, and that’s where I got my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. So, popularity of book does NOT put me off! It just depends on the book! I’m a very random reader, though, and I guess I’m programmed differently to many other bookworms. I don’t really have a favourite author or genre. I just look at random books and see if the blurb makes me want to read them or not! And I know they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but there are some seriously good covers out there, and they DO attract readers! One of the best covers in recent times was the cover of Look Who’s Back, by Timur Vermes, and that was a brilliant book, too! Very funny.

So, I read a lot of different books to many people, but I still don’t hold with Haruki Murakami‘s line from Norwegian Wood

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

Not necessarily, Murakami san! Sometimes you HAVE to read the same books as others, such as when you’re at school and your whole class is reading the same book. However, that does NOT mean you’re all going to feel the same way about that book! Some will love it, some will hate it, and others will just think it was OK but nowt special! I’ve had plenty of set books at school, college and university in my younger days, so I’ve been in plenty of classrooms with other people who were reading the same books as myself. I am fairly certain we all got different things out of those books!

I don’t recall disliking any, but there were a few which I have forgotten all about, lol, so they were clearly not resonating with me all that much to begin with. I may have skim-read those in a hurry for certain weeks of certain modules. I think my main complaint about any of the books would have been that some of them were dull, and those were usually the textbooks from literary criticism modules! Since I graduated, which was back in 1994, I have needed literary criticism about as much as I’ve needed A = pi r squared since I sat GCSE Maths in 1989! In other words, not at all, lol!

I don’t doubt that it is OCCASIONALLY useful to look deeper into a novel and work out if the author was telling us anything between the lines, but there is such a thing as overdoing it, and literature courses at degree level definitely overdo it! I think people read far too much into books, they look for all sorts of possible symbolism, but what if the author genuinely hadn’t given a shit about any of that nonsense?!

Maybe the curtains being blue had bugger all to do with depression, maybe the lady’s dress being green had bugger all to do with environmental issues, but you can bet your life that if some people are at a lecture at uni right now, reading some novel where there’s a lady in a green dress in a room with blue curtains, they’ll be over-analysing the author’s descriptions and reading stupid shit like that into the story!

Anyway, no need to read anything into the fact that I need a brew, other than the fact that I’m thirsty! So, I shall bring this to a close and go and make myself a cuppa! Until the next blog entry, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
  • The Bees – Laline Paull
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
  • The Book Thief ¬†– Markus Zusak
  • If I Could Tell You Just One Thing – Richard Reed
  • Behind Closed Doors – B. A. Paris
  • The Girl On the Train – Paula Hawkins
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J. K. Rowling
  • Look Who’s Back – Timur Vermes
  • Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami

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Filed under Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Childrens' Books, Facebook & Other Social Media, Handbag Books, Literary Issues, World Book Day, World Book Night

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Is Not In The Book Chest!

I Am Zlatan

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

You’ve heard of Howard’s End Is On The Landing, by Susan Hill, which, appropriately enough is on the landing here at home, but tonight’s book blog is named in honour of this evening’s search for a football autobiography and the realisation that it was not where I thought I’d put it! Don’t even ask me how many books I own! Hundreds of them, at the very least! They are everywhere! I have more books than I have storage space, and enough to last me several lifetimes! Even if I were a cat and had nine lives, I’d probably have more books than I could read in all nine of those!

Anyway, with constant talk of the Swedish international footballer being linked with a free transfer to the club I love, I thought I would have I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic a bit closer to hand, and I headed out to our garage to look in the book chest. I found plenty of books of interest in there, but no Zlatan! Oh Zlatan, where art thou?! I brought in a couple of short novels by Andrey Kurkov – Death And The Penguin, and Penguin Lost, in exchange for One Day, by David Nicholls, which I have read some years ago, and I found a few interesting items of non-fiction, including Stasiland by Anna Funder, Nothing To Envy by Barbara Demick, and The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad, but no sign of Mr Ibrahimovic!

Actually, when I was reading Nick Hornby’s book, which I finished the other night, he mentioned both Stasiland and Nothing To Envy, which reminded me that I had those books. I knew I certainly had Stasiland, and thought I also had the one about North Korea, and indeed I have! As I said, I’ve finished Stuff I’ve Been Reading, and I made further inroads with The Guest Cat this afternoon. I’m not too far from the end of that one now. It’s a nice book, as I’ve said, quite sweet, but it doesn’t really pull me back in the way some other books do. Perhaps because it’s Japanese and too polite to make demands of me! It never seems to say to me, “Oi! Joanne! When are you gonna get on with me again?!”

Some books do that to me, and others don’t. A Little Life beckons me over every few days at least for another lengthy session. The Guest Cat just waits around patiently for me to get it out of my handbag and have another read, whenever that might be! On the other hand, The Guest Cat possibly knows it has the advantage of being a slim book which has been in my handbag for months, it knows how portable it is, therefore it knows I can easily read it on the go somewhere. A Little Life is a big chunky wodge of a book and, even though I also have it on my Kindle, I’d have to find where I was up to between the two editions I own (paperback and ebook) and update each. So that is a different matter entirely, which means when I am home and reading A Little Life, I read it in bigger chunks at a time to compensate for not really reading it on the move, apart from when I was going to Wembley for the FA Cup Final.

Before we return to the whereabouts of Mr Ibrahimovic, or at least the whereabouts of the Swedish footballer’s book within our house, I’d just like to let off steam about the fact that some people are still more bothered about authors than what they’re actually writing! By that, I mean, some people are still rather too bothered about whether a book is written by a man or a woman, whether they’re black, white, or whatever, whether they’re gay or straight, what nationality they are, what faith… Seriously, who bloody cares as long as they write well and you enjoy what they have to say in their books?! It’s 2016, for crying out loud, not the bloody Victorian times! Why should it still be a big deal about the gender of an author? I honestly couldn’t give two shiny shites!

I give a shit about the plot if it’s fiction, or the subject matter if it’s non-fiction, and whether a book is readable or hard-going. Are they writing about something which floats my boat, such as music, books or football? (Or volcanoes – I have had an interest in those since I was about 8.) Can I get through the book fairly quickly, or is the writing style such that I feel like I’m wading through treacle? Have they researched their subject well, or are there glaring inaccuracies? Has it been proof-read or are there any spelling errors or grammatical errors which the publishing house should have corrected before going to print? Is it an interesting read, or a bit chalk-dry and a cure for insomnia? THESE are the concerns I have when it comes to books!

Does the book make me laugh? Humour is a big plus as far as I’m concerned, and I’ve found it just as much in non-fiction as I’ve found it in fiction! Some of the funniest books I’ve ever read have been factual! Fever Pitch, by Nick Hornby, springs to mind! I laughed my head off reading that! Not literally, obviously, as I still have a head, lol, but you know what I mean! I totally recommend Fever Pitch, and you don’t even have to be a Gooner to like it. I’m not a Gooner, and I loved it! If you’re a match-going football fan, you’ll find things to relate to! I think it may even have been a World Book Night book a few years ago! Just looked up previous World Book Night books, and it wasn’t. Perhaps I was getting mixed up with The Damned United, by David Peace, which WAS a WBN book in 2012, the same year I gave out copies of The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, as a Book Giver on my 39th birthday! Oh well, Fever Pitch SHOULD be a World Book Night book!

I’ve not read The Damned United, although I own a copy somewhere, and I have seen the film, starring Martin Sheen as Brian Clough. It’s about Cloughie’s very short time as manager of Leeds United way back in the early to mid 1970s, he was in charge for 44 days if I’m not mistaken, and Leeds did utterly shite while he was in charge, so for those of us who detest LUFC, it is actually very funny! Cloughie’s time in charge of Leeds makes even Moyesy’s time at Old Trafford look good! And that’s saying something, ’cause most of 2013-14 was bloody awful!

So, I was going to return to the whereabouts of Zlatan, or at least the whereabouts of his autobiography, wasn’t I? When I was in the garage, looking in the book chest and not finding what I was looking for, as per the U2 song, lol, I was thinking it must be in my room somewhere. And it was. Thankfully, the first place I checked was in part of my wardrobe unit, and it was on the shelf in there, so I have got it out, ready to have to hand should Mr Ibrahimovic fancy a couple of seasons at Old Trafford before he hangs up his boots or does the MLS thing like a load of old footballers seem to do these days when they get a bit too long in the tooth for the Premier League and the other major European leagues of any importance! (Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, etc…)

Of course, this actually depends on Zlatan’s choice, which he has not yet made. I’d quite like to see him at United, even if he is getting on a wee bit, but we’ll have to see. In the meantime, I am getting on with The Rules of the Game, by Pierluigi Collina, the former referee, the guy who reffed our European Cup Final vs Bayern Munich when we won the Treble in 1999. I was going to mention something, but, no, I won’t give away any spoilers, but let’s just say there’s quite an interesting revelation from him about his preparation for that night in the Nou Camp… Now, you’re all going to have to order copies and read it for yourselves, aren’t you?!

Time I got off my computer and got some reading done! Until I blog again, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • Howard’s End Is On the Landing – Susan Hill
  • I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  • Death And the Penguin – Andrey Kurkov
  • Penguin Lost – Andrey Kurkov
  • One Day – David Nicholls
  • Stasiland – Anna Funder
  • Nothing To Envy – Barbara Demick
  • The Bookseller of Kabul – Asne Seierstad
  • Stuff I’ve Been Reading – Nick Hornby
  • The Guest Cat – Takashi Hiraide
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • Fever Pitch – Nick Hornby
  • The Damned United – David Peace
  • The Rules of the Game – Pierluigi Collina


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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Football, Literary Issues, Rants, Sports, The TBR Pile, World Book Night

P-Pick Up A Penguin!

Penguin orange book spines

Good evening, fellow Bookworms!

Apparently, according to Farcebook at least, today is World Penguin Day! Therefore, I thought there was only one way to celebrate this as a bookworm… with some Penguin books! Of course, Penguin Books were celebrating all last year, as it was their 80th birthday since the publishing house was started in 1935!

I may well be picking up a Penguin or two soon enough, although that depends which books take my fancy. I reached the ripe old age of 43 on Saturday and one of my pressies was a ¬£20 Waterstone’s gift card. Add to that the fact that I met up with a couple of my aunties the previous weekend, and got a National Book Tokens gift card from Auntie Andrea! Yay! That one’s for ¬£15, so I have ¬£35 worth of book-related gift cards! I also received The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson, which I am looking forward to reading! So, all in all, a pretty good birthday on the book front.

I finished American Housewife last week, which was pretty good, very funny in parts, and the first book club choice I’ve finished in absolutely ages! Progress has been made with How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the FA Cup, which is rather appropriate given that my lads added to my birthday celebrations by booking their place in this year’s FA Cup Final with a 2-1 victory over Everton at Wembley. We did it in the traditional United manner, too… last-minute winner, three minutes into stoppage time! As with 1990, we will play Crystal Palace in this year’s FA Cup Final on 21st May.

Actually, in terms of birthday and books, the bookfest started the previous day, on 22nd April, when I was in town. After my appointment, it was time to wander to Chapter One, a cafe and book shop on Lever Street in the Northern Quarter of Manchester. Ahead of World Book Night, the following night, they had a few free books on the table, one per customer, although Liam, the owner, let me take an extra book when I mentioned my birthday! Of the free books, I selected Last Bus to Coffeeville, by J. Paul Henderson, and Treachery, by S. J. Parris.

I also bought a couple of books while I was there and got a bit of discount off those, as they were the last remaining “reading copies” of each book. Chapter One has lots of brand new copies, wrapped in shrinkwrap, but there are reading copies available for anyone to sit and read while they’re having a drink and perhaps something to eat. If they are down to that last reading copy, and you wish to buy it, you get 20% off because it’s been opened and read. I bought Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne, and Viper Wine, by Hermione Eyre.

A lot of books have come and gone in recent times, although the mass exodus to the charity shops of Greater Manchester has calmed down for now. Thing is, although I have offloaded plenty of books, a fair few new ones have made their way in return! When I say new, some of them might be brand new, some might be second-hand, but if they are new to me, that is what counts. Having said that, I recently bought one at a charity shop which I had previously tried and not got in to. It was a former book club choice, and a Booker Prize winner, actually… The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton. Thing is, I now don’t know if I couldn’t get into it because of the writing style, or whether it was simply a case of not getting into anything much at that time because I had reader’s block. I didn’t really feel like reading much back then. This was around 3 years ago, and my mind was not really on books, other than Attention All Shipping, which I read and loved on holiday in Mexico that October, so perhaps I should give some book club books another go to see if I like them second time round.

This is why I have not parted with some former book club books. Indeed, The Sisters Brothers is on my notorious Duplicate Books List! Other books I still have, which were Waterstone’s Deansgate book club choices, (although I only have ONE copy of these, or at least I think I do, lol), include The Axeman’s Jazz, by Ray Celestin, and High-Rise by J. G. Ballard, which was the recent book before American Housewife.

The next book club meeting is on 12th May, so a couple of weeks away yet. Having already read the book, it gives me a chance to get others finished and start new ones. In my recent book reshuffles, a couple of chunky Ken Follett books have made their way into my room from the book chest in the garage. Steven, who has been helping me at Remploy, recommended The Pillars of the Earth. He said even though it’s a chunky book, it is very readable. I have made a start on When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi, and on Treachery, by S. J. Parris, which, as I mentioned earlier, was one of the free World Book Day titles I picked up on Friday.

So, with that, I think I shall go and pick up a book, whether that is a Penguin or not, and¬†listen to a bit of Prince. I seriously can’t believe this year! The Grim Reaper really needs to take a chill pill and stop bumping people off! If they’re in their late 80s or have reached their 90s, you can say they’ve had a good innings, but far too many talented people are being taken from us far too young this year, including Victoria Wood at only 62, and Prince at the ridiculously young age of 57! What the hell is Death playing at?! It’s NOT big, and it’s NOT clever! Give over with taking people from us! We are not amused!

Anyway, until the next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • The Road to Little Dribbling – Bill Bryson
  • American Housewife – Helen Ellis
  • How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the FA Cup – J. L. Carr
  • Last Bus to Coffeeville – J. Paul Henderson
  • Treachery – S. J. Parris
  • Am I Normal Yet? – Holly Bourne
  • Viper Wine – Hermione Eyre
  • The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
  • Attention All Shipping – Charlie Connelly
  • The Sisters Brothers – Patrick deWitt
  • The Axeman’s Jazz – Ray Celestin
  • High-Rise – J. G. Ballard
  • The Pillars of the Earth ¬†– Ken Follett
  • When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

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Filed under Books, Charity Shop Bargains, Football, Free Books, Historical Fiction, Humour, Music, World Book Night