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”

As good As It Gets – Romesh Ranganathan

Confronted by the realities of adulthood, Romesh Ranganathan must face an uncomfortable truth: this is not quite how he imagined it.

Watching his friends descend into middle age, his waistline thicken and his finances dwindle to fund his family’s middle class aspirations, Romesh reflects on the demands of daily life and the challenges of adulting in the modern world.

As he reluctantly concludes that he is indeed a grown man, Rom wrestles with the greater questions that threaten his being: Could I save my family in a crisis? Do I possess the skills to assemble flatpack furniture? Am I too old for streetwear? Is it alright to parent my kids through the medium of Fortnite? Is celibacy the secret to a passionate marriage?

I pick up books for many reasona; references in other literature, a cover with books on it, blogger recommendations, and so forth but never (at least as far as I can recall) have I picked up a book because it ‘spoke to me’ and the present situation I find myself in – that being the reluctant adult bit.

Romesh Ranganathan is the reluctant adult here, supporting a family and keeping them happy, trying not to break his children, be a good role model and encourage them in their interests (as long as they are appreciated by their father, of course). It’s life, and its hard yet has plenty of scope to be funny along with it.

There was a lot in this light-hearted book that made me laugh, which is handy as the author is a stand-up comedian. Whether it’s an incisive observation or just the turn of phrase employed to convey a point.  The inherent Britishness in the articulation had me laughing more than the stories themselves in most cases, and that was very much the highlight of the book for me.  Continue reading “As good As It Gets – Romesh Ranganathan”

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.

Holiday Collab

It’s Christmas! And here’s a gift you never asked for.  Namely my good self popping up to ruin Asha’s latest book vlog.

If you fancy some Christmas book recommendations, and also wish to see me trying to do my bit to camera with a harassed look as Amelia faintly cries just out of shot, not to mention completely forgetting all the points I was going to make before hand, then watch on.

An Audio Christmas Present

In the spirit of the season, I am attempting to give, whilst being as cheap as I can possibly be as well, and who doesn’t love something free, literary, and quintessentially Christmassy?

If you’re not already, follow Liz, it won’t bother the bank balance but will tick the seasonal giving and receiving box nicely.

LEAPING LIFE

My gorgeous husband and I share many things in common but we have totally opposite views on books. While I sit surrounded by piles of books I am sure I will one day read, Stephen on the other hand has a handful of beloved titles that he has read many times and so knows with great depth and understanding.

One of his favourite annual traditions is to read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Sometimes it is just to himself. Sometimes it is a special treat for me to hear him read out loud while I sit knitting.

This year he has taken things to a new level. Stephen is an expert YouTuber and so has a range of high-quality recording and editing equipment. This has enabled him to produce a podcast version of A Christmas Carol which I am delighted to be able to share with you. This is…

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Silver Screen Dreams

In the last few days, it’s been announced that Cineworld is shutting down for the foreseeable future, which is really sad news.  I worked at the Nottingham cinema for a short time in what now seems the distant past, and it was a decent job, which my coworkers made really enjoyable, and I wish them all well for the future.

Where I used to spend my days and nights. Photo taken by Arran bee, found at Flickr.com

There were two aspects of the job that will always be fondly remembered, and they were both on the late shift, which I preferred doing once they got going but were always a challenge to drag oneself in for.

The first, was being marooned by myself near the entrance, which was the home of two of the least comfotable screens. This had two good things going for it, the first was a chance to write down copious notes for reviews or do a crossword thanks to it being quieter there, and the second was Funstation.

Funstation is one of those guady arcade type places, with lots of games, and a favourite haunt for teenage gatherings.  It was situated just over the other side of the walkway, and from my vantage point I could observe the everchanging colours of the neon lights flickering on and off, trying to entice people to spend their money.  This always seemed oddly attractive as a meeting place, before the inevitable, yet agreeable, melancholy of closing up for the night.  It reminded me of the meetings, departings and eventual silence of a railway station, or airport. Continue reading “Silver Screen Dreams”

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop – Lewis Buzbee

In The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, Buzbee, a former bookseller and sales representative, celebrates the unique experience of the bookstore–the smell and touch of books, getting lost in the deep canyons of shelves, and the silent community of readers. He shares his passion for books, which began with ordering through The Weekly Reader in grade school. Interwoven throughout is an historical account of the bookseller’s trade–from the great Alexandria library with an estimated one million papyrus scrolls to Sylvia Beach’s famous Paris bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, which led to the effort to publish and sell James Joyce’s Ulysses during the 1920s.

The allure of books that encourage us to shipwreck, or more accurately beach, ourselves on the shores of our local bookshops, are always welcome and it was with great excitement I managed to borrow a copy of this one.

The front cover of The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is an encouragement to indulge the text in a relaxing environment.  The most eye-catching thing about it though, is the subtitle, a memoir, a history, which doubles the anticipation, whilst also appearing a little odd to find both genres fitted into one tome.  Thankfully, the combination manages to work, even if, at times, the results make for an uneven reading experience.

Depending on how much of an interest you have in the enterprising beginning of the sellers, and the subsequent shops, there will likely be quite a bit of familiar ground that is covered – the library of Alexandria being notable – but as the centuries tick by there is still enough obscure information to delight and inform.  Being a short summary of the ages, it has the added bonus of encouraging the curious to hunt out more books on the subject.

The memoir was what I came for, and it doesn’t disappoint.  Nothing beats the reminiscences of a book lover; A Pound of Paper is an excellent case in point. It’s something the reader can both appreciate and on occasion commiserate with and also allows a chance of finding and adding reams of new titles to the ever-growing lists of ‘need to be reads’. Continue reading “The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop – Lewis Buzbee”

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.

Bookending (the right one)

The other week I ended up in Scarthin bookshop, again in Derbyshire but this time in Cromford.  It’s been a long time since my last visit and a lot of new books seem to be creeping onto the shelves, taking over from the second hand variety, so that is something of a concern but there were bargains to be had, of course

Another Émile Zola book was first grabbed because it matched the two from last post, and L’Assommoir according to the introduction of La Bête Humaine,  is supposed to be the best novel of the twenty Rougon-Macquart novels.

A Fine Balance was one that hadn’t really come into my sphere of reading much but as Jilanne was enthusiastic about it, and for a couple of quid its certainly worth it.

Irene Nemirovsky is my favourite female author and finally finding The Misunderstanding after such a long time seeking it, meant I had to splurge on it, after years of hunting for it in various shops and countries. Continue reading “Bookending (the right one)”