Friday, 3 January 2014

North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell

The Classics Club did a spin in November to select a book we had to read from our list by the end of December. I ended up having to read North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, my first Gaskell and certainly a novel I had been meaning to read for years. Although I had put this down as a book I wasn't all too excited to read I soon after found numerous booktubers who raved about this book so I went into it with high hopes.
This novel is set in the 19th century but unlike the novels of Jane Austen the novel lies outside of the Regency ballrooms and large estates and in largely set in the Industrial North. The main character is a fiesty young women, raised among the rich, with a middle class family and an urging to befriend the poor and scare off any wealthy, hardworking men who show any interest in her.
Even without having seen the booktubers videos I knew within minutes of meeting Mr Thorton that he was the love interest and all would turn out well in the end, it was just a matter of getting there. Much like Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy the pair are rivals and seem unable to say anything agreeable to each other.
I really enjoyed much of this novel, despites its predictability, however I lost a bit of focus in the middle section with the story of the brother, it just distracted from all the other characters I had come to care about.
I'm looking forward to picking up Cranford in the near future.

Monday, 9 December 2013

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Despite being nearly 33 I had never read or seen The Wizard of Oz -my Mum protests that this is a lie, but as my brother and sister haven't seen it either I think I'm the one who is right. Of course I know parts of the story - the Yellow Brick Road, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the red shoes (which weren't red in the book!), so much of the story was familiar but undiscovered.

I've been trying to get back into my reading and as my biggest issue is time I'm trying to utilise those empty pockets of time. In the morning I can wait between 5 to 20 minutes extra for my housemate to be ready to leave for work with me, but It by Stephen King, certainly isn't a pick it up and read a few pages kind of book so I was looking for something easy, light (weight and topic), cheap (I've been eating breakfast, cleaning my teeth etc. whilst reading this week so I need a book which I'm not too precious about) and that could be read in small chunks. I week of little dribs and drabs of The Wizard of Oz and I wasn fnished.

This book had a lot more to it than I knew so despite being a cultural reference point I was surprised to find the monkeys, the Emerald City, the Lion and many other sections which I'm sure are well known to most of the world.

I really enjoyed the story and I will be looking out for the film on Christmas TV. Now I need to go in search for my next morning read.

Century of Books: Published in 1900.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce

 I read this book a few weeks ago but wanted to wait until after I had been to my book group meeting before I posted about it.
Harold Fry is old, retired and stuck in a rut. His marriage is a strain, his relationship with his son is non existent and his life barely extends beyond the boundaries of his back garden. Everything changes when he receives a letter from an old friend who is dieing, she was the woman who once saved him from a disaster, he let her take the blame knowing she would have to move away and sacrifice her life for him.
Harold writes her a letter and pops out to post it, but when he gets to the post box he finds he wants to go a bit further,and at the next one he goes a bit further and there starts his pilgrimage from the south of England up to Scotland.
The beautiful thing about this book was the people Harold met along his journey, everyone had a story to share, their own deep secret. The book is also a love story to the British countryside, in these segments the prose - which is fairly simple - becomes almost poetic. I also really loved the journey his wife takes whilst she stays home waiting to hear from him each day.
When I went  to the book group it was the first time we had ever met, everyone was lovely and with the exception of one person everyone gave this book 8 or 9 stars out of 10.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

A Century of Books

All of my other challenges that I'm partcipating are in one post here, but I thought this one would need its own post as it'll form a big list.
This challenge, held over at Stuck in a Book is ongoing, it doesn't need to be completed within a year. The aim is to read one book for each year of the 20th century. This is perfect, but as I read quite a lot of older books, and I'm going to also keep note of what I read in the 19th century and see if I can make that a personal goal. (P.S I'm starting straight away, I'm only a month and a week early)
These are my possibilities taken from my TBR stacks, I will place read books in bold and link to my reviews
1999 The Great Ideas/Girl with a Pearl Earring
1998 The Notebook of Don Rigoberto/Girlfriend in a Coma
1997 Enduring Love/Seven Years in Tibet
1996 Salt/Hunger
1995 In the Cut/The Unconsoled
1994 East, West
1993 A River Sutra/The Matisse Stories
1992 Wildreness Tips/The Troublesome Offspring...
1991 Senor Vivo and the Coco Lord/The Virgin in the Garden
1990 Haroun and the Sea of Stories
1989 Foucault's Pendulum/Canal Dreams
1988 Bonfire of Vanities/Satanic Verses
1987 Strangers/A Sport of Nature
1986 It
1985 Hardboiled Wonderland.../Tobo
1984 The Riddle of the Wren
1983 Rise Up O Young.../Blood Brothers
1982 Schindler's List/A Boy's Own Story
1981 Rabbit is Rich/Tar Baby
1979 The Sea, The Sea
1978 The World According to Garp
1977 Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams
1976 Meridian/Fiesta
1975 The Autumn of the Patriarch
1973 Crash/Rainbow's Gravity
1970 Losing Battles
1969 Dora Flor and her Two Husbands
1968 The Iron Man/Slouching Towards Bethlehem
1967 The Third Policeman/The Master and Margarita
1963 V/The Collector
1962 Pale Fire/ The Golden Notebook
1961 A House for Mr Biswas/Hertzog
1960 The Child Buyer
1959 Titus Alone/Billiards at Half-Past Nine
1958 Borstal Boy
1957 Devil By the Sea/Kokoro
1956 Everything that Rises Must Converge
1955 Lolita
1954 The Story of O/ Lord of the Rings
1953 Golden Apples of the Sun
1952 Invisible Man
1951 Secret Tribe/Day of the Trifids
1950 Gormenghast
1949 A Rage to Live/The Second Sex
1948 The Pearl
1946 Titus Groan/All Men are Mortal
1945 Cannery Row
1942 Embers
1941 Frenchman's Creek
1939 Grapes of Wrath
1937 Nightwood
1936 Eyeless in Gaza
1934 Now in November
1933 Over the River (Forsyte)
1932 Flowering Wilderness (Forsyte)/The Radetzy March
1931 Maid in Waiting (Forsyte)
1929 Steppenwolf
1928 Swan Song (Forsyte)/Orlando
1927 Seven Pillars of Wisdom/Tarka the Otter
1926 The Silverspoon (Forsyte)
1925 Shen of the Sea
1924 White Monkey (Forsyte)
1923 Kirstin Lavransdattar
1921 To Let (Forsyte)
1920 In Chancery (Forsyte)
1915 The 39 Steps
1913 Pollyanna
1910 Howard's End
1908 A Room With a View/Anne of Green Gables
1906 Man of Property (Forsyte)
1905 Jungle
1902 Just So Stories
1900 Lord Jim/ The Wizard of Oz

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Book Haul and Update

Today I left the house with a stack of books and authors who I wanted to check out at the local secondhand bookshop - I can't afford to buy lots of new books, nor jusify it with a 500+ unread TBR pile - but the bookshop was shut! :( I wasn't too happy, but as I live in one of those trendy little coffee shop villages there are a lot of charity shops and generally their book selections are better than you'd find in the average town. I also had a stack of reservations to pick up from the library so I ended up with quite a haul.

From the library I got:
The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefevre and Frederic Lemercier - this book is a mix of real life photographs and graphic novel. Lefevre is a photographer who travelled to Afgahnistan during the war with doctors and nurses from the Doctor's Without Borders programme. It looks amazing but harrowing.
Epileptic by David B. another graphic novel which is an autobiography about growing up with an epileptic brother. Both of these were found on an amazon search and then reserved at the library.
Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata a Japanese book I know nothing about, except it's tiny, ordered because it is the International Reads goodreads group books for December.
Lolita by Vladamir Nabokov because in January the Bookish group, also on goodreads, are doing a joint reading of a memoir by Nabokov called Speak. Memory alongside Pale Fire, so I thought I would like to read his most famous work first.

From the chrity shop I brought the following for less than £12
Eve was Framed by Helena Kennedy - for my flatmate but I'm planning on reading it too, (although she doesn't know that yet)
America by Stephen Fry- I love Stephen Fry, I've met him several times too when he would shop in a quirky shop I worked in whilst at university, and I'm planning on reading more non-fiction next year.
A Rage to Live - John O'Hara - never heard of this or his other novels but this is a Vintage classic and I love that series.
Losing Battles by Eudora Welty - I saw this for 50p and knew she was a Southern author and I think their is a Southern reading month this January on Brooke's youtube channel/blog.
The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon- I actually went into this charity shop because last weekend they had The Amazing Adventure's of Kavalier and Klay (which I keep hearing great things about) but I didn't have any cash on me and the shop was about to close, unfortunately someone else had snapped it up but this was still there.
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel - I read Wolf Hall and loved it, despite knowing nothing about history and getting a bit mixed up with the names. I've been meaning to buy this for ages.

This is a big book haul for my, normally I'm fairly conservative as there isn't any space left to store books in the house, I think it maybe a reaction to signing up for the final TBR Triple Dog Dare where I can only read from my shelves for three months from January 1st till April 1st.

I'm off to spend the next hour finishing The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which I have a feeling is going to make me cry, this is a bookclub read for a brand new RL bookgroup, in a trendy delicatessans/coffee shop/location of many wine and cheese nights, live jazz nights, poetry reading nights etc. I'm really looking forward to the group meet, but will certainly be doing some research as I'm not sure what other type of people will be there - not sure my Literature degree and MA in Literature will hide my w/c accent in a room full of plumming accented, shiny-never-seen-a-speck-of-mud Land Rover driving stay-at-home Mums. But maybe I'm the one being the snob!

Oh, and I am now addicted to booktube. I blame Estella's Revenge, I watched one of her videos and it's now become an obsessesion. Some favourites are MercysBookishMusings, From the Shelf and chboskyy. I swear if I had used the video watching time this week to read I would have fininshed my next read It by Stephen King.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Slynx - Tatyana Tolstaya

The SlynxThe Slynx is a Russian dystopian novels written by a relative of Tolstoys. I had never heard of this book before and only became aware of it because of the International Reads group formed on goodreads and book tube.
Set hundreds of years in the future life has regressed. People spend their days catching mice to eat and sell to be made into clothes, they live in primative buildings and the society is ruled over by one man. The dictator is praised for the things he brings them such as fire and the written word. There are three sets of people the Oldeners, who remember the time before, those with Consequences - some type of mutation like claws for feet and the regular people.
The main character starts off as a fairly poor man constantly hungry and searching for food, until he marries a richer woman and is welcomed to novels and fiction.

I liked many aspects of this book, but I thought much of it was a political message that went straight over my head as I know nothing of Russia. Many parts of the book seemed silly, and I think that within a week I will have forgotten the majority of this novel.

Book 3 of 5 for The Dystopian Challenge

The Classics Club Spin

The Classics Club are having a spin this Monday, I have to pick 20 books, number them 1-20 and then they will pick the number and I have to read that book by the end of the month. I'm only picking books on my TBR as I'm on a buying ban this month. I've put them in the suggested categories but them muddled the numbers up.

Twelve Months of Classic Literature5 I am dreading:
5. Dombey and Son - Charles Dickens
3. Moby  Dick - Meilville
17. The Brothers Karamakov
15. The Master and Margarita
11. The Lord of the Rings

5 I can't wait to read
7. Invisible Man - Ellison
6. Hunger
4. The Namesake
12. Gilead
19. Snow Country

5 I'm feeling neutral about
1. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
10. North and South - Gaskell the choosen book
13. Gulliver's Travels
14. Crime and Punishment
9. Don Quixote

5 Free Choices
8. Howard's End
2. Orlando
16. The Princess Bride
20. Dora Flora and her Two Husbands
18. The Sea, The Sea