A weekly meme
Barbara wants to know:
What books did you get for Christmas (or whichever holiday you may have celebrated last month)?
Do you usually ask for books on gift-giving occasions or do you prefer to buy them yourself?
This Christmas I asked my Mum for my Amazon wishlist for Christmas and I got another book-related gift as well! My pictures of Christmas books is here, and includes:
- The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo
- Muriel Spark. The Biography
- I Am a Cat
- The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
- Our Spoons Came from Woolworths
- The Reader
- Atticus the Storyteller’s 100 Greek Myths
I love getting books as presents as its one of the gifts I’m more likely to like! Plus it’s nice to get books you wouldn’t necessarily have bought yourself.
Did you get any nice book-related presents for Christmas?
A weekly meme
Q: What items have you ever used as a bookmark? What is the most unusual item you’ve ever used or seen used?
I have become better at using book marks in the past year or so. I used to regularly dog ear pages or if reading a hardback, use the cover to mark the page, but resounding gasps of horror from my boyfriend and from Simon (Savidge Reads), eventually caused me to rethink. I personally don’t have a problem with dog-earing, as while I don’t think you should mistreat books, I like them a little well-loved!
I had a lovely ‘P’ book-clip which I used when reading Anna Karenina, but I think I’ve left that in another book that I’ve stashed away! I’m using a pretty blue butterfly book-clip to mark my copy of Ulysses which I am slowly getting through. One of my favourites is a Jamaica Inn bookmark which I picked up last year on a trip to Cornwall, a literary diversion in honour of Daphne du Maurier however I don’t seem to be able to find that lately either.
At the moment I am using a lovely Postcard featuring a painting of a mermaid by John William Waterhouse which I picked up at the Royal Academy exhibition to mark the pages of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, which seems apt given that he was sort of contemporary to the time period.
What do you use to mark the pages of your books? Do you often lose your favourite book marks like me? Do you recoil in horror at dog-eared pages?
Inspired by Dot Scribbles who has been posting regularly on the serialised version of Alexander McCall Smith’s The Dog That Came In From The Cold, I’ve started listing to the podcasts (or rather catching up!).
I thought I’d share a short snippet which made me giggle yesterday in which William, one of the residents of Corduroy Mansions is musing about a potential love interest – Angela, and whether her employer MI6 has a clear desk policy:
“He thought that they probably did; the sort of papers these people dealt with certainly could not be left lying about for the prying eyes of cleaners who might have been recruited by the other side. And it would be very easy, he reckoned, to recruit a cleaner; their weakness was tea, and they could doubtless be tempted by a large cup of Darjeeling …”
Chapter 4, The Dangers of Boeuf Stroganoff, The Dog Who Came In From The Cold, Alexander McCall Smith.
If you’re interested in listening to the Telegraph’s free podcasts like me or reading the daily chapters you can find them here.
A weekly meme.
This weeks question:
It’s Thanksgiving in the U.S.A. today, so I know at least some of you are going to be as busy with turkey and family as I will be, so this week’s question is a simple one:
What books and authors are you particularly thankful for this year?
This year I’m thankful for Alan Bennett and his wonderful Uncommon Reader which was short but sweet and made me smile. I keep forgetting it’s fiction and keep thinking of the Queen as this lovely bookaholic lady.
A close second would be Neville Shute for A Town Like Alice which has a leading lady I really admired.
I was swept away by Wilkie Collins’ sensational Armadale which features possibly the best femme fatale ever written, and was shocked by Lloyd Jones’ Mister Pip which I finally got around to reading!
And finally for a bit of mystery and suspense, Sophie Hannah for her brilliant thrillers, A.A.Milne for a good old fashioned murder mystery and Tom Rob Smith for one of the most gripping books I’ve read this year.
What books and authors are you thankful for this year?
This week my quotation comes from Plato’s Republic, which I am reading for a book group. I have to admit that I’m a bit daunted by all the philosophising, but I’m curious to give it a go and read the ideas. As I am only on the introduction right now, this quotation is completely random:
“It turns out, then, that people to whom intelligence and goodness are unfamiliar, whose only interest is self-indulgence and so on, spend their lives moving aimlessly to and fro between the bottom and the halfway point, which is as far as they reach. But they never travel any further towards the true heights: they’ve never even looked up there, let alone gone there; they aren’t really satisfied by anything real; they don’t experience steady, pure pleasure.”
Page 335, Plato, Republic (Oxford World’s Classics).
Have you read any philosophical writing? What do you think of the point made here?
A weekly meme.
Q: Do you think any current author is of the same caliber as Dickens, Austen, Bronte, or any of the classic authors? If so, who, and why do you think so? If not, why not? What books from this era might be read 100 years from now?
Thinking about posterity while sitting on my posterior. The simple answer to this weeks question is yes. I’m sure that there are people writing now that will be remembered for their work just as much as Dickens, Austen and the like. Isn’t it a bit silly to imagine that they are in some kind of untouchable bubble of brilliant-ness?
I feel certain that Ian McEwan will be remembered for his beautiful prose as well as stories that can carry you away, particularly Atonement and Enduring Love. Surely Alan Bennett will be remembered for his distinctively human and funny writing style and perhaps Peter Carey too. Those would be my guesses and I’m looking forward to seeing what other people think too.
Which authors do you think will be remembered in years to come?
“Here was all laughter and confusion. Here beautiful women, their hair dyed gorgeous colours, squashed soft, pale furs into golden chairs, bright lipsticked cigarettes into their mouths, and exhaled a heady perfume, while high above them the crystal chandeliers sparkled and tinkled in accompaniment.”
Page 37, The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy.
This weeks BTT Question is:
Which do you prefer? Biographies written about someone? Or Autobiographies written by the actual person (and/or ghost-writer)?
To be honest, I’m not a big fan of factual writing so I don’t read many autobiographies. I think it would depend very much on
a) If the personality was still alive – yes I would prefer to read their Autobiography
b) If I thought they were a bad writer / would give an un-informative version of events – no I would prefer to read a Biography.
What I’d really prefer would be a semi-fictional account by a brilliant writer – for example I very much enjoyed Peter Cary’s True History of the Kelly Gang because of the quality of writing and storytelling. The one biography that has piqued my interest lately is this Muriel Spark Biographyby Martin Stannard but it’s in hardcover so I may have to wait until it be comes a bargain or comes out in paperback!
Do you read (auto)biographies? If you do, what do you enjoy about them. Do you think I should try reading more or should I stick to fiction?
Q: “What words/phrases in a blurb make a book irresistible? What words/phrases will make you put the book back down immediately?”
Off the top of my head, words or phrases that make me want to read a book:
- “Hidden past”
- “no one could have predicted the outcome”
Words that make want to put it down:
- “Lifechanging journey”
- “True life tale”
I tend to like big stories, mysteries or tales that teach me something about the world I didn’t know before and come at life from a different angle. Often the best blurbs are the ones that simply summarise the story neatly without giving too much away. I don’t tend to like blurbs that make the book seem too simplistic, or seem to be overstating how brilliant it will be.There is absolutely nothing worse than a blurb that is totally misleading.
Of course there are exceptions to every rule. I have read many books set in wartime that I enjoyed, but those were usually elegant enough to tell a story without making war the only theme. I do like true stories but usually good books based on real events do not need to state it on the cover because they are so intriguing they make you want to find out more. I know ‘submarine’ is a bit of an odd choice, but really for some reason I have an aversion to anything with a submarine in it be it film or book!
I suppose what you make of a blurb, quite often depends on how you feel or what you are looking for at the time. What do you think? What kind of words put you of or turn you on to reading a book?
After getting thoroughly annoyed running around the shops at lunchtime trying to post a parcel and failing, I was cheered to see a parcel for me on my desk when I got back to work. Of course it was a book parcel and this time it was one that I ordered from a recommendation (thanks Homefrontgirl!) based on my glowing review of Neville Shute’s A Town Like Alice. I fancied reading more Shute and imagine my delight when the one that Homefrontgirl suggested, Requiem for a Wren was on eBay going cheap – a lovely 1956 copy with a pretty zodiac print cover:
So even though I haven’t started it yet, I thought I’d do my Tuesday Teaser from this one:
“I was intensly reluctant to open that case. To do so would clearly be an act in opposition to the dead girl’s earnest wish and one should respect the wishes of the dead.”
Page 47, Requiem for a Wren, Neville Shute.
I’m all intrigued now to find out what the case was and whether he did or not!
Has anyone else read Requiem for a Wren? What was your Tuesday Teaser?