Friday, 30 May 2014

A List of Books to Make You Feel......Something.


The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas
I have read reviews of this book and apparently it is a little 'marmite' for some peoples taste. I can't imagine anyone who genuinely loves literature and is interested in science, nature, fantasy, adventure, escapism and realism being written about in an original way, wouldn't take a lot away from this book. Mostly, I think the author just speaks to my soul, as I have loved everything she has written. It is like reading my own diary, in a world where my life is extremely interesting. 

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Hay Festival 2014: Overview and review #2

Day 1 of our little jaunt to Hay Festival was packed to the rafters, to the point where we didn't have time for food (I love the food court at Hay as well, big loss for the day), so we planned day the to be a bit (lot) more leisurely. We ate double the amount of food needed for a human body, had a wander into town and did a bit of reading (the soggy grass and piles of mud did detract from this).

Flowers on sale in a relatively rain free Hay on Wye
Day 2

Broadcasting House - BBC Radio 4
The 8.30am start for this event seemed painful at first, especially as we were staying in a B&B 40 minutes away from site, however it turned out to a blessing in disguise. We were early enough to beat the crowds to a decent parking spot in town, a leisurely breakfast pastry with the Sunday papers, and a really chilled out event.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Hay Festival 2014 - Overview and Review #1

This is the second year we have braved the rain and mud for the love of literature, to attend the Hay Festival, although, as him indoors in a Geography Teacher, we attempted a 50/50 split between literary/topical events. 

Slightly sodden book sculpture at Hay

Day 1

Ian Goldin - Is the Planet full?
The event took a standard lecture format, with Goldin pacing the stage whilst talking through the overall ideas of his book (Is the Planet full?), which primarily focus on the political and economic issues the world faces relating to population density. Although the book is written solely by Goldin, the ideas within are based on the combined efforts of a group of academic experts at Oxford University, aiming to answer the 'big questions' about the planet and its problems. Despite the relatively dry subject matter and basic lecture format, Goldin did manage to come across as informative without seeming overly rehearsed.

Things I Want, But Don't Need, When I Read #1

My first 'other' blog post begins and, as well all know, the first step to recovering from being a stationary whore, is to admit that you are a stationary whore. So yeah, I covet pointless lovely things, mainly stationary. 

In this case (and I am not in denial) the stationary actually is not pointless. It's a desk planner from Seeso Graphics that has only so far been is use for a week, but has been invaluable. I do feel slightly like writing 'SORT LIFE OUT' in huge letters across the delicate top page, but the exercise of planning out the week has been really helpful. The daily boxes are the perfect size and beat a dairy for me, as a diary can be (accidentally on purpose) forgotten about. 

Short and sweet. Not sponsored in any way, shape or form. Lovely. 

Audio Book Un-Review: "Coraline" by Neil Gaiman.

Another day, another Neil Gaiman audio book un-review. I do listen to audio books by other authors, as will be proven in the next post, but for now, "Coraline".

Unlike "The Ocean at the End of the Lane", I couldn't find this book read by Neil himself but, I saw Dawn French's name and thought that was pretty safe hands nonetheless. Dawn French's reading is warm, comforting and expressive, as we (Brits) would expect, and this is both a positive and a negative. On the one hand, the warm familiar voice adds an extra layer of discomfort to the most sinister passages of the text, however it also adds a slightly 'Jackanory' quality to other parts, which is difficult to shake off. The curse of a celebrity voice isn't anything new - will they ever learn? *shakes a first in the general direction of DreamWorks*. 

The choice of Dawn French makes sense as I suppose I do have to concede that this is a children's book, albeit a hugely disturbing one. I have also read the 'real' book and it really doesn't read like a children's book at all, more like an odd little short story, so this is probably why the choice of narrator was, for me, a little jarring. 

Audio Book Un-review: "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman

I have read this book in paper form but thought the audio book deserved a mention, as I only finished listening to it yesterday. I use Audible to download audio books and listen straight from my desktop whilst I work. I work from home a lot and find I can concentrate on both my work and a good book at the same time without being too distracted. 

I always try to download audio books read by the author where possible, as they are far superior in my opinion. Nobody understands the text quite like the author themselves and I find that you get the most soul from their readings. Neil Gaiman does indeed read my version of this audio book and , particularly as the book is apparently semi-autobiographical, he reads it perfectly. Gaiman reads the book as if he is a man half-remembering the events from his past, and still manages to 'do the voices' skilfully and subtly. Despite the fantastical elements of the story, it does not read like a fantasy novel at all, more a series of odd events, barely believed by the protagonist himself, happening in an otherwise 'normal' world. 

The Blog That Lived

At least ten minutes of thought have gone in to the starting of this blog. I have ideas well above my station of what I would like the blog to be but, for now at least, I am going to talk about books. I don't plan to write reviews, more how books I read make me think and feel, in the hope that it will inspire like-minded people to do the same. Nobody talks abut their books in quite the same way as they talk about their record collection yet my books, and the way I read them, certainly evoke the same depth of feeling more commonly associated with music. I'm thinking it will be part journal, part review, part blog. All will become clear, don't panic. 

Un-review: "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath

My favourite book as my first review? That was my plan, but it is impossible to pick a favourite book. I have read so many, and how can you compare "The Bell Jar" to "The End of Mr. Y" or "Northanger Abbey"? They are all perfect in their own way and make me feel like having a ten day nap every time I re-read them - in a good way. 

Today my favourite book is "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath, for so many reasons. We all know about the darkness in the authors life, so we know as we sit down to read the book that is 'all about depression', but when I first read the book as a 14 year old I had no pre-conceptions and read the book as if it were written just for me, which for all intents and purposes it was (and still is). Like the protagonist Esther Greenwood, I want to go everywhere and see everything but am gripped by a sense inertia and boredom at the world and everyone in it. I want to enjoy the whimsy in life and be surrounded by fantastic people, but find myself refusing to leave the house or answer the phone. Sylvia Plath and her original, authentic prose express my ramblings perfectly in a paragraph, one of the finest paragraphs you will ever read: