Murdering Books

There exists in my house a shelf which I call The Bookshelf of Guilt.  It’s reserved for all those really thick tomes that I usually avoid, not because I don’t want to read them but because they are so Big.  It’s easy to spend years shying away from these massive books that sit judging you every time you pick a ‘normal’ sized book.

Reason suggests that reading shorter books will allow you to experience more now, and will also mean more time to read the longer books ‘sometime later on’.  Let’s be honest it won’t happen, with that reasoning.

I set myself a goal to read one such big book a year, mainly because people gravitate to the largest book on a shelf and without fail ask if I have read it.  That was half the reason I got around to reading War and Peace. Choosing this time was fairly easy. The Brothers Karamazov, and The Mysteries of Paris were in the early running, to name but two but I finally I narrowed it down to a couple of philosophy books in the end.

After so many recent fiction reads it seemed sensible to mix things up a bit. My next read was chosen from the non fiction pile, and finally came down to either: Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy or Diarmaid MacCulloch’s A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. Continue reading “Murdering Books”

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Books, Again

After the good news of last post, Crissy’s anniversary gift to me was to let me run rampant in a bookshop.  This excitement was slightly sullied as half of the shop was blocked off due to cleaning so I couldn’t get to the science section, amongst others. The history section was disappointingly lacking too.

Rallying, I did manage to pick up three books, and went to a coffee shop, pleasingly empty, to review my new purchases.  Supping a hot Mocha, and trying not to gag at the stupidly powerful smelling cheese meal the woman half the café away was eating, it was with great pleasure that I slowly peeled back the plastic bag to review the new reads.

Having read The Great Gatsby all the way back in sixth form, and being reminded of the pleasure I had from that book by the Leonardo DiCaprio movie.  I fancied reading more by F. Scott Fitzgerald so Now The Beautiful and Damned can take its place on the unread shelf next to Tender is the Night, which I also picked up a while back for the same reason. Continue reading “Books, Again”

An Eye for a Good Book

In case I didn’t already know that I had a keeper – and I do, just to be clear – every so often Crissy will gift me a book she has picked up before coming home from work.  I am impressed at her taste in book choices, from the known classics like Don Quixote, to the lesser so, in Ironweed, which I am currently enjoying at the moment.

On another note, I don’t know if anybody else has been having this problem but my recent two post review of A Suitable Boy (which went up earlier this week) was randomly given the posting date from the week before so I am unsure if notifications about it went out, or if it even appeared on the WP radar.  Lack of visits would suggest that it hasn’t shown up on the reader, or reached many regular readers.

The only way I can find to correct the date is by, somewhat bizarrely editing the ‘publish immediately’ date.  That still shows as today’s date but for some reason registers as the 17th January when published.  Shameless plug for my own posts complete, have a pleasant day.

The Top 100 Stories that Shaped the World

There is something strange about watching the news, specifically when they greet viewers just joining from overseas when it is last thing at night in your mind, now I get to watch the same shows on BBC News that I used to drop off to, with my morning coffee.  Had I been up late watching, I would have certainly forgotten to check out The Hundred Stories That Shaped the World by the next morning.

I’m not sure if this flew under the radar back home or not but for those of you not familiar, here is the catch up.  In April the BBC polled authors, academics, journalists, critics, translators in 35 countries to nominate five works of fiction that they felt had changed or shaped history.  The top ten with the most votes were as follows:

1. The Odyssey (Homer, 8th Century BC)
2. Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852)
3. Frankenstein (Mary Shelley, 1818)
4. Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell, 1949)
5. Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe, 1958)
6. One Thousand and One Nights (various authors, 8th-18th Centuries)
7. Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes, 1605-1615)
8. Hamlet (William Shakespeare, 1603)
9. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel García Márquez, 1967)
10. The Iliad (Homer, 8th Century BC)

The other 80 books of the list, and the author’s reasons for picking the top ten can all be found here and is well worth a look. As I never usually bother to ask pointed questions, as I know you lot are intelligent enough to pick up on my unspoken cues and will always give me good comments, I may as well, for novelty’s sake, indulge in doing just that for once.

What fictional books do you believe have changed or shaped history, and/or the works that have changed or shaped your personal views upon life?  Did the Harry Potter series really deserve to be on the list?  Feel free to add and answer our own questions as well, such is my generosity.

Stocking Up

Recently, I went into Booksale, a second-hand bookshop that always makes browsing a challenge.  Not only do you have to uncomfortably squeeze past people in the narrow aisles, which stops you from taking in the books on show but worse than that is the way they are laid out.  Piles of books on the floor mean moving the stacks should your chosen book be at the bottom, which is bad enough when people want to get by but there is nowhere to put the books so it becomes a big game of Jenga.

Another setting out issue is that books are placed spine up and then other books stacked front facing on top – again with no real room for moving – so it becomes an actively horrible and awkward place within which to spend time.  I did manage to pick up a couple of books though, amidst much shuffling and mumbled apologies for being in the way, and generally just existing in the place.

On a positive note though, it was good to pick up some cheap books and a nice mix as well.  Winter in Madrid, recommended to me yonks ago by Alastair when I was enjoying exploring the both the Civil War and WWII eras of Spain.  The Lunar Men, which I have just started is about the famous Lunar Society, a group of exceptional individuals who helped kickstart the Industrial Revolution.  Twenty Five pages in and so far it is oozing facts and passion, and promises to be an absorbing read.  I shall keep you updated.

Reading out Loud #2

The second entry in a (very) occasional series of words that caught and held my attention, that are well worth sharing.

https://pixabay.com/en/book-manipulation-nature-fantasy-2152349/

“Human relationships flourish and decay, quickly and silently, so that those concerned scarcely know how brittle, or how inflexible, the ties that bind them have become.”  – Anthony Powell – A Question of Upbringing

“He reached for his pocket, and found there, only reality” – Victor Hugo – The Hunchback of Notre Dame

“He was one of the numerous and varied legion of dullards, of half-animated abortions, conceited, half-educated coxcombs, who attach themselves to the idea most in fashion only to vulgarize it and who caricature every cause they serve, however sincerely.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Crime and Punishment

“Proof is what lies at the heart of maths, and is what marks it out from other sciences. Other sciences have hypotheses that are tested against experimental evidence until they fail, and are overtaken by new hypotheses. In maths, absolute proof is the goal, and once something is proved, it is proved forever, with no room for change.” – Simon Singh – Fermat’s Last Theorem Continue reading “Reading out Loud #2”

Free Books, Good Home

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It is always a pleasure to welcome a new book into the fold and I have two to show that have recently been added to the collective.  The first, The Lyons Orphanage, arrived today generously and promptly sent by author Charlie King only yesterday and a few weeks ago Liz was kind enough to send me The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson.

Both of which look like being fascinating reads, the first a mystery novel set in an orphanage and the other about companionship over a long winter in a small hamlet.  Both promise lost souls in different ways, as ever you shall have reviews on them both.

For those of you wondering about my lack of posts of late and also the shortness of these two latest, fear not normal service of travel posts and reviews will resume shortly as will my ability to visit all your blogs.  Until then, here are the respective blurbs. Continue reading “Free Books, Good Home”