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Author Archives: Ste J

About Ste J

Living my life through the pages of books and attempting to be social from behind the covers.

Mt. Pulag

Doing the hike was only half the drama of the Mt. Pulag (the 3rd highest mountain in The Philippines) experience, the nightmare of getting there was challenging enough.  Attempting to head across Manila at half six on a Friday evening is not the most fun thing to do.  It took nearly three and a half hours and took one van, two buses and a taxi. It was my first experience of the EDSA highway, the busiest in the Philippines.

That got us to the place where we would take a six-hour coach trip through the night to get to Baguio City, in which we were told to shut the curtains so we would be less conspicuous to bandits.  When we arrived we had another four-hour drive up to our base camp, up a long and winding road with some stops along the way – including a breakfast with spectacular view that it was too early to remember to photograph ans some sulphurous geysers – and an orientation which was less than entertaining.

Our group arrived utterly exhausted and after a bit of a walk and food, it was finally off to bed for a few hours.  There had been a lot of talk about extreme cold so we wrapped up and started walking at 1:30am in order to beat the sunrise which happens around 5:30.  For a hardy European fresh out of a British Spring, the 12 degrees was just a fresh morning for me and I promptly delayered much to the surprise of my fellow hikers. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 20/08/2017 in The Philippines, Travel

 

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More Bromley House Library

Whilst touring the library’s several floors, it was wonderful to see plenty of cosy reading nooks and comfy chairs (as well as the day’s papers) which had me in mind of one of the old Gentlemen’s clubs frequented by Sherlock Holmes or Bertie Wooster.

Pottering around we were told that Bromley House has one of only four meridian lines in England and for some reason I straddled it as if I was in two different time zones.  Serious amounts of books will make me do odd things, although in the olden days Nottingham would have been 4 minutes and 33 seconds behind Greenwich.

The history section is one of the most fascinating as the books are classified in the order received, so wandering around the piles I found some amusing shelf mates such as Stalin next to Gandhi and Florence Nightingale sat next to…Lucretia Borgia!  It was also great to see the British Sundial Society Library housed here too, which is certainly something I would love to go back to and discover. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 19/08/2017 in Architecture, History, Travel

 

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Lagom Reprise

A while back I did a short post on the new ‘lifestyle trend’ Lagom and how it seems to be a bit of a money grab like all those other fads that come and go.

A day after that post, I got an email from Lola A.Åkerström asking me to read her book on the subject.

Åkerström lives in Sweden and tells me her book helps counter the craze and bring much needed perspective to the subject so naturally I accepted the offer so as to be better informed about the subject in general, as I love to learn.

The book has moved up my pile as I once again find myself reading several books simultaneously to catch up on all my commitments.

The most important thing to report so far is that the book smells absolutely fantastic, a proper new book smell which I wish I could bottle and sell on and thus make my fortune.  I shall keep you informed with my Lagom findings once the book is finished.

 

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Posted by on 17/08/2017 in Life

 

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Bromley House Library

After finishing The Secret Library: A Book-Lovers’ Journey Through Curiosities of History, I idly typed into my search engine of choice, ‘secret library Nottingham’ and was surprised by actually finding one. Bromley House Library is smack bang in the centre of town, its unassuming doorway sandwiched between a charity shop and a newsagent.  It was very much like finding the Book Cemetery in Barcelona á la The Shadow of the Wind.

Arriving for my tour – which can be taken every Wednesday at 2:30pm for the excellent price of £2 – this is the scene that first greets the visitor, from there I knew it was going to be a book lovers dream to wander around in.  I later found out that that staircase is only supported at top and bottom so only one person can ascend or descend at a time.

This magnificent old building, built in 1752 has held the library since 1822, the library was in fact established earlier, in 1816 and has now amassed around 40,000 books, including local author (with a truly awesome last name) Alan Sillitoe’s own personal library (not pictured to due to my shaky hands phone camera work that rendered most of my photos a shocking mess) and the oldest book is Dante’s Opera held, dating from 1578.

Due to Bromley House being a grade II listed building, a lot of original features are still to be seen dotted around the place which makes the feeling of history and the real library reading experience feel more real.  I fell in love with this place as soon as I entered and wandering around the building I saw so much, more of which in an upcoming post.

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Posted by on 15/08/2017 in Architecture, Classics, History, Travel

 

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At Horizon’s End – Chris Sarantopoulos

The Man Who Fed On Tears always knows whose time it is to pluck from the world of the living. His existence is one of a symbiosis between his need for the tears and woe he causes to those closest to the deceased, and the natural order of life and death to which he is bound. He never questions himself or his actions and has never made a mistake. Until now.

Stella is a four-year-old girl who misses her mommy and wants to see her again. She doesn’t yet understand the concept of loss, so when she sees close family members crying, she tries to stay cheerful and optimistic. After all, Mommy said they’d see each other again when the time comes At Horizon’s End. So if they’ll meet again, why is everyone crying?

Short stories are always challenging to review, especially ones of exceedingly short length, such as At Horizon’s End.  However having been sent a preview copy, I was willing to take the task on so shouldn’t complain about the challenge.

The story is a poignant dealing with, and understanding of grief, essentially from three sides; four-year old Stella, her family (to a lesser extent as they are mostly in the background) and Death, who is having something of a wobble in his understanding of the impact of the job.

The touching, simple and sparse narrative switches between these two main characters, offsetting a child’s innocence and moving way of looking at things with something more timeless and harsh in death who, is humanised to good effect.  The split narrative works well and fleshes out the scene to good effect.

This is a story of love, a short, sharp piece of prose which I really did enjoy.  The conclusion is strong and raises some interesting speculations which adds to the overall story.  It’s a lovely piece of writing, it won’t take you long to finish but if you are anything like this reader you will think on it for a good time after.

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Posted by on 31/07/2017 in Fiction

 

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The Lagom Trend

Torturing myself with visits to local bookshops to window shop – whilst purposefully leaving my wallet at home – I have been noticing all these books on Lagom.  At the beginning I thought it was just one or two popular books that were around all the time due to popularity but no, it’s an uncalled for glut.

It was perhaps inevitable after all the literature and TV from Scandinavia that has been coming over to these shores of late, that other less interesting aspects would also.  This is being marketed as a new lifestyle trend in the form of Lagom.  The closest translation of Lagom (so the internet informs me) is ‘in moderation’, or ‘just enough’.  A cynic may suggest the success of Hygge has encouraged this new trend. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 30/07/2017 in Life

 

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The Secret Library: A Book-Lovers’ Journey Through Curiosities of History – Oliver Tearle

The Secret Library is a fascinating tour through the curious history of Western civilisation told through its most emblematic invention – the book.

As well as leafing through the well-known titles that have helped shape the world in which we live, Oliver Tearle also dusts off some of the more neglected items to be found hidden among the bookshelves of the past.

You’ll learn about the forgotten Victorian novelist who outsold Dickens, the woman who became the first published poet in America and the eccentric traveller who introduced the table-fork to England. Through exploring a variety of books – novels, plays, travel books, science books, cookbooks, joke books and sports almanacs – The Secret Library highlights some of the most fascinating aspects of our history. It also reveals the surprising connections between various works and historical figures. What links Homer’s Iliad to Aesop’s Fables? Or Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack to the creator of Sherlock Holmes?

The Secret Library brings these little-known stories to light, exploring the intersections between books of all kinds and the history of the Western world over 3,000 years.

Books about books are great, they reaffirm our love for the medium and encourage us to go out and buy more, not to mention the exciting finds of obscure literature that can be shared and kept alive by intrepid reading adventurers.

What drew me to the book originally was the cover. Who can resist looking at a cover that has a bit cut out of it?  Stripping off the cloak, rows and rows of books are seen, as through the key hole.  It’s a nice touch and puts the reader in mind of being close to discovering lots of new books, always a good feeling.

This history of sorts is broken down into eras of Western civilisation and the chronological order is as follows: The Classical Age, The Middle Ages, The Renaissance, The Age of Enlightenment, The Age of Romanticism, The Victorians, The Americans, On the Continent, The Modern World.  There is a lot to be enjoyed in each age but it would have been fun to have read about the other continents, but then that was not the remit of the book so hopefully a future book of the sort could grace the shelves. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 14/07/2017 in Essays, History

 

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