Sunday, 23 November 2008
This week has not been good for all manner of things. Him Indoors was laid up with a mysterious stomach complaint for most of the week. Work, for me, was rather stressful and we had lots of readers in. Next week looks a little calmer, thank goodness.
In the grand scheme of things I've been a tad too tired to read. I did plough through a large chunk of Notes from a Big Island by Bill Bryson. Initially I was disappointed when I discovered it was a publication of articles he had written for the Daily Middle Class and not tales of his travels across the country of his birth. Bryson did have me snorting with laughter over dinner (Him Indoors took over the living room so I had to go to my room for dinner unless I wanted to hear him retching into a bucket) and he was a good post-dinner conversationalist. Not finished it yet but it's a good book to pick up and put down. One for those who have short commutes.
And today? Well, today I decided to dive into the Sunday newspapers. Today's reading choice includes: The Independent, The Observer, The Sunday Herald and *ahem* The Sunday Post. On a sidenote The Sunday Post was wonderfully satirised in William McIllvaney's Docherty as the Dundee Weekly (once the home of the Dandy and the Beano, Dundee's only claim to fame now is to print The Sunday Post) - a favourite of grandparents and that perilous Scottish trait of nostalgia. The letters page for this newspaper is a combination of people complaining about the world and utter pishe about people remembering their schooldays. And it's the only thing I can really concentrate on a Sunday before lunchtime.
So I am back to my newspapers and to munch on the first mince pies of the season. Hmmm is it too early to dig out Charles Dickens's Christmas Tales?
Sunday, 16 November 2008
I was a little horrified to find out my last Sunday Salon post (and last post on here) was in July. July? A lot has happened in that time. One big event was moving flats which caused a bit of a nightmare regarding Mountain Range To Be Read. It's far too big to be just one mountain now, hence Mountain Range. And that just includes the books I have at my flat and not the boxes stored in my old room at my parents's house. After the sixth box of books was transported up four flights of stairs, I think my dad was getting ready to make a massive bonfire in the back garden.
Also, a new toy (for me anyway) on Facebook has made me rather lazy. The Visual Bookshelf is fab and rather easy to manage. Plus I can bore lots of people on my friends list with my thoughts on books. So I better get started here, there's a lot to get through.
In August I decided to re-read the Harry Potter series in preparation for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince coming out at the cinema. Ha bloody har. Due to shorter hours at work (and ignoring any household tasks for a while) I managed to plough my way through them by the end of August. I do know a lot of people who are snobby about the Harry Potter series. "Pah, a children's book? And not even a well written children's book. Chuh!" To them I say "Sod off. The books do not claim to be a piece of wonderful literature. But even if they get one person who would not normally pick up a book reading then is it truly such a negative occurrence?" Ignoring the bad grammar there, that is my defence for reading Harry Potter. As well as being compared to Hermonie by people - a lot *grins*. I did miss the Harry Potter scrum this year. Usually I had the book delivered to my home and last year the poor postman looked like he was about to keel over. It was only 8.30 am which he reached my house and he reckoned he had already delivered almost 100. So, the ordinary postal workers will be relieved The Tales of the Beetle Bard looks a lot lighter.
So, using Visual Bookshelf I shall do a round up of books I have been mostly reading over the past couple of months.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
A point which shall become relevant later on. If you write a book that is related to the Holocaust or the Second World War, however indirectly, then people will read it. The Book Theif felt like one of those books that relies on a whispering campaign and suddenly it's top of the charts. When a friend who barely has time to read admitted she had read this book, I knew it was time to get my greedy mitts on a copy.
The initial structure of the book frustrated me. Each chapter (or relevant scene) is summed up at the beginning in a few simple words. By the end of the chapter each topic has been covered. The narrator is Death (and he isn't Prachett's Death) and he is telling the story of Elise, a German girl. For some reason (but one suspects her parents are Communists) she is packed off to live with a German couple. When an infant is dead within the first 10 pages, you know the story is not going to be a cheerful one. One important thing to remember about Elise. She is a book thief and these actions have an important impact on her life.
The book did veer towards stereotypes: ordinary family sheltering a Jew, one lone person standing up against Nazi ideals, lives shattered by the Great war. And the ending was a bit weak. After a build up of characters and storylines, the ending did seem a bit flat.
As does this blog entry. My plans to update for almost every book I've read since I trudged off into the sunset are a bit great. So perhaps I shall write a quick list of upcoming attractions here which may force me to update more often.
Books which I have read and mostly enjoyed:
Complicity by Iain Banks
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
The Reader by Bernard Schlink (see what I mean?)
Miss Garnet's Angel by Salley Vickers
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
and a few others.