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.
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.
The second entry in a (very) occasional series of words that caught and held my attention, that are well worth sharing.
“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”
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”
I am finally back with a tan, photos, great and sometimes – mostly – unexpected experiences, and a whole lot of things to say about my escapades. Whilst I get all the photos and notes sorted for that, not to mention my sleeping pattern and such, I can, to keep up this spirit of the blog’s original intention introduce you to the books I procured whilst over there in the sun. Also a quick thanks to Dreaming Robot Press who this morning offered me a review future copy of The Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide 2018.
First a note on the bookshops, I only visited three surprisingly, one had pretty steep prices for second-hand books but seemed more reasonable for new books oddly; a chain called National Book Store, which was one of those shops that has more gift ideas than books. It’s always a sad state of affairs seeing the books diminish and the choice was lacking in my opinion, unless you are a fan of bestsellers that is. My taste for obscure gems I so love to find was reserved for Fully Booked which had the best selection and a sexy set of Penguin Classics that had me caressing the spines with a one track mind.
To the books though and there seems little point in going to a country if you aren’t going to immerse yourself in its past, especially one which isn’t so popular on Western shelves. Having chosen to start reading José Rizal’s incendiary classic, Noli Me tángere (Touch Me Not) for the journey (of which a review is coming soon), I nevertheless picked up some books which will give me some insight into this fascinating country, which I can’t wait to visit again. Continue reading “Philippine Back A Few Days Now”
After a week or two in the wilderness – by which I mean not on the internet much – I am returned (and will do a drive by commenting on all your blogs tomorrow) and it seems like a good time to recap on the books I have been picking up cheaply in the last few months from second hand places.
I Stared at the Night of the City will be the first book I have read which has been translated from Kurdish so looking forward to that and it is good to see that my quest to collect émile Zola’s Rougon-Macquart sequence in completely non matching editions is still going strong. Continue reading “Taking the Long Way Around”
It’s been a while and although this is sadly not the review I mentioned in the last post, it is nonetheless a post. Recently I have been distracted by even more good literature (fiction and non fiction) and I’m really excited to be in the process reviewing. I will do that as soon as I can but first, here is a bunch of new books that cost less than a tenner.
There is a sensible reason for these purchases, wanting to downsize my books somewhat this year, It makes sense to buy more books so I can feel inspired to start clearing the ones I don’t want anymore as I read/review them.This is logical as otherwise I would be drowned by paper through my own laziness and/or hoarding tendencies.