Rendezvous with Literature

Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash

Recently, a memory was sparked off in my head of a vast abyss, and floating in the pitchest black possible, alone,  with who knows what waiting to be discovered in its dark depths.

Thankfully – or sadly – all this was experienced between the covers of a book, the one I’m referring to is the slim volume with plenty of imagination, Arthur C. Clarke’s, wonderfully realised Rendezvous with Rama.

Rereading that particular chapter in the cold light of day didn’t have anywhere near the same impact as being cuddled up in bed, touch lamp on low, with the details of my peripheral vision suitably obscured, and reading to the soundtrack of a near all consuming silence. Continue reading “Rendezvous with Literature”

Literature Binge

After my Charles Dickens birthday binge chronicled in the last post, a bit more variety was needed in my reading collection, and what better place to turn to for inspiration than book bloggers.  After hunting around for a short time I came up with three books that would add depth to my collection.

Again thanks to Crissy for the classy book shots.

First port of call was Claire over at Word By Word, for those of you who haven’t discovered this blog yet please be warned you will end up wanting to spend all your money on a variety of books, all of which are wonderfully reviewed.  Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat caught my eye with short stories of a Haitian flavour.

Next up was Asha’s recommendation for Twilight in Delhi which sounds like an atmospheric historical fiction novel that will captivate the senses.  Ever since finishing A Suitable Boy, I have hankered for an Indian novel to read, although I have Rohinton Mistry’s  A FIne Balance still to read, I had to have this book too. Continue reading “Literature Binge”

Getting on a Bit

Finally getting a few moments to write up some notes for the books that I have been reading this year, two completed so far,  a notification popped up with the news that this is my twelfth year on WordPress, making this the tenth year of Book to the Future.

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. from Pexels

An unexpected milestone for sure, not that there was ever a thought of the blog carrying on this long.  When conceived, this space was created with the soul aim of talking about books and making friends, those expectations have been far surpassed in the most surprising way.

From making friends in many different countries as well as meeting blog friends on two other continents, working with Penguin/Random House, meeting my wife,  and being an ocassional proofreader and editor with a couple of small publishing companies.

Not too mention all the free books that authors have been kind enough to send, as well as the reviews that have inspired me to read widely and have bulked up my to read list.  My writing has improved a bit too, so as always a huge thanks to the people who make this all viable, you wonderful readers, especially my regulars.

More book reviews will be coming shortly, they are like a dam waiting to burst.

In Which, Bestsellers are Discussed, and Cowardly Actions Take Place

With a heavy heart I dragged my feet, which is hard to do whilst also pushing a pushchair, towards ASDA, the local supermarket.  Inevitably the usual torturous shopping trip loomed.  The routine is usually something like this; we have a list, then wander aimlessly around the store, before settling on said original items.

This time though a plan was forming in my devious mind.  It involved volunteering to take Amelia to the books, so she wasn’t bored and joining up somewhere in store later, which actually in reality meant hiding in a cowardly fashion near the books until the shopping was completed.

The books on offer were not exactly thrilling. As you would expect there were an array of bestsellers, you know the type, a book with Clive Cussler’s name emblazoned on it when the other co-author (in much smaller print) wrote most of it, yet another book about someone doing a job in Auschwitz, and some grim true crime, etc.  Admittedly I once saw a copy of To Kill a mockingbird hanging around on the bottom shelf so since then I have been keeping a keen eye out. Continue reading “In Which, Bestsellers are Discussed, and Cowardly Actions Take Place”

Killer Clergy

A year or so back I recalled reading a book from my distant past which I wanted to visit again but I couldn’t remember the name of it.  It was Liz who managed to track down The Quilt for me so today I have another query as to a certain book which a friend expected me to know the name of, on account of reading over ‘devouring one hundred and forty-seven books a week’.

All I have to go on is this,

Tell me the name of the book where, I think it was a preacher, and a deaf and mute man were killing criminals. In one part they buried someone alive and gave him a straw to breathe through. When they finished burying him they poured acid into the straw… bit vague I know but it’s been bugging me for years!

I have no idea what this book is but it sounds like it could either be a grim serious read, or something utterly slapstick and hilarious like the Guy N. smith’s Crabs series, which are a guilty pleasure of mine.  Any leads would be great.

Geographically Challenged

Back in the day I used to go a local pub that had  ‘award winning’ bangers and mash on the menu,  even the staff didn’t know anything about this award, and the meal wasn’t up to much anyway.

The day was sunny, but I was sulky.  This had to do with my usual reading table being occupied, as well as my back up reading table.  Making do with a different view and some less than satisfactory light and shooing away a work colleague who wanted to chat on a day off, I settled down to my book, accompanied by a pint of mediocre bitter.

The book in question was Hugh Thomas‘, The Conquest of Mexico. This is a weighty tome detailing how the Spanish came to the Americas and into great depth on the titular conquest itself.

I slowly became aware of a chap in my peripheral vision who seemed to be bobbing up and down whilst facing my direction.  In the end I made the mistake of looking. He was stood up but was contorting his body in an uncomfortable manner in an attempt to read the title on the spine of my book.

Making eye contact – a big mistake – he decided this was an invitation to join me.  Amiable as I was back in the day, I was happy to chat with someone who showed an interest in books.  The conversation started well as he commented not many people read in pubs, especially in our town. Continue reading “Geographically Challenged”

The Other One Hundred

After yesterday’s post, it makes sense to add that the last few pages of The BBC Big Read book listed the books that didn’t make it into the top one hundred.  There are far too many Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Wilson books for my liking, which underlines the major flaw in the survey.

There are some good quality books that didn’t make it, and plenty of choice for the book pile.  After the forty-three that I had read from the top one hundred, it’s even more dismaying to find that I have only read thirty-six of this offering, although I did start Moby Dick, and The Handmaid’s Tale but didn’t finish them.  I trust your scoring will put me to shame. Continue reading “The Other One Hundred”

The Big Read

Here’s a blast from the past!  In 2003 the BBC launched a survey to find the nation’s best loved book of all time.

Although the results are somewhat engaging, by allowing unlimited entries per author the final list clogs up a bit.  The rule of only one book per author in the top twenty-one places, which then went on to the final round of voting, balances this out a little. Below is the final order.

As a retrospective it makes for interesting reading, it’s not a surprise to see the Harry Potter books placing so highly (as well as Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials), although that probably speaks more for the demographic of voters and the HP phenomenon being at fever pitch at the time, perhaps.

Now is your turn to play along at home, how many of these have you read? I’ve finished the highlighted forty-three books, which is a bit disappointing, especially as I have owned plenty of the other books at times but never gotten around to reading them when they were within my grasp. Continue reading “The Big Read”

Right Night Light

Recently I have been reacquainting myself with reading in low light. I spend an inordinate amount of time getting the illumination exactly right for my nightly reading forays. During my experiments, I have found that the best light is that which is almost too dark, but just bright enough to make out the words with a bit of concentration.

My reasoning is simple, to truly connect with the book, quite literally in hand, there needs to be complete immersion.  With less light, the world beyond the page in my peripheral vision becomes just a black abyss, and visual distractions are extinguished, except for what my imagination conjures in that murk. Add to this the near silence (Amelia permitting) and complete escapism is fully achieved.

I spent most of my 20’s engaged in doing this as I didn’t go out clubbing or whatever else was ‘hip’ back then. The plethora of books I first enjoyed in this way varied, and of the calibre which was thus: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, The Woman in Black, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rendezvous With Rama, Phaedo, The Wind in the Willows, The Stand, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Complete Hercule Poirot short stories, The Midwich Cuckoos, The castle of Crossed Destinies, The Extraordinary Voyage of Pytheas the Greek, The Island of the Day Before,  Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Peter Pan, and Endymion Spring.  Continue reading “Right Night Light”

Circus Bewitchery

It’s always enjoyable when, on occasion, reading a book can recall other books and times since past.  This afternoon I’ve been getting close to the finale of Something Wicked This Way Comes, which I stopped my race to the conclusion specially to write this.

The sun is shining here, and this together with the carnival setting, took me back to a time in 2016, when I spent some time, with Tom and fellow blogger Morgan, in which we wandered around Boston and stared at things.

This particular time we headed out to Salem by boat, appreciating the planes coming into land as they passed over, the island where Shutter Island was filmed, and then passed into the sometimes creepy, sometimes tacky Salem.

At one point, we three sat on the park for a bit of a rest.  The sun – coincidentally the same one as today –  was shining down on us, Tom had fallen asleep in the faintly sinister way that some people have of sleeping with their eyes partially open, and I was engaged in The Book of Speculation, picked up, speculatively enough from the Barnes & Noble near the hostel. Continue reading “Circus Bewitchery”