books · fiction · literature · reading · storyteller

Thoughts on the storyteller

There’s an aspect of life that we often find hard to explain. We may understand the  expectations of life, yet we are often left searching for the meaning.

Before you assume this is a philosophical questioning of life, the world, and the universe. It isn’t. I’m talking on a slightly smaller scale. Instead I reach for literature, theatre, film or music as a manner of expression. They hold the form of storytelling at their core, a manner of expressing life as we know it, but managing to turn it upside down too. It gives us a comparison. A metaphor if you prefer, for the heart of life.

Literature allows us to escape to a new story, but one that holds enough similarities to make it appear real — elements that hold meaning and parallels to our own lives. It gives us a platform to feel, to love, and to learn. It turns the everyday into the adventure we crave. Literature places this all back into perspective, we view another life, a story, and compare it to our own. We give an interpretation on the story placed in front of us, an interpretation that we wish to mirror in our own lives; big or small. Afterwards we decide to follow our own dreams, and be above all, the very best versions of ourselves.

If literature can tell us all of that, and be a form of education, inspiration, and entertainment it’s something we maybe should hold in higher esteem.

book review · books · fiction · literature · review

The Little Paris Bookshop

Sometimes I feel as though I can never find a good book, that’s probably why I reread my favourites again and again. But when I spotted The Little Paris Bookshop sat upon the shelves, I thought I couldn’t go too wrong.

The Little Paris Bookshop was an encapsulating read, comfortably set within a bookshop itself (could the setting be more perfect?) it takes you on a tale of adventure, love, and time. Although this bookshop is not one you’re used to walking into off the streets. The Literary Apothecary in a barge bookshop, and its owner can tell what book you require — without any previous description.

Ultimately the best thing about a barge bookshop is its ability to travel. The adventure of Jean is certainly amusing in his decision to cast off without any money, ensuring all necessities must be exchanged for books. Yet, there are more serious undertones to the novel, as Jean desperately travels to seek his forgiveness 20-years too late. The unopened letter previously forgotten holds a past that must be revisited, with intriguing turns to the tale.

This is a witty and funny book at times, with some serious questions on life and death, a book for those who seem to have read everything.

fiction · Harry Potter · literature · London · performance · review · Theatre · West End

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has claimed its place as the play of the year — it is quite simply magic.

hp-the-trioI am more than happy to admit that I am a Potterhead, I’ve read the books more times than I can count, watched the films; I’ve been to the studio, the wizarding world in Orlando, and most of the UK film locations too. So of course, I found myself online last year waiting patiently in the queue for tickets of J.K.Rowlings eighth story.

Wow, just wow, it was worth the wait.

From the emergence of familiar faces, characters we’ve seen grow up to the new; Albus and Scorpius create a duo based on strong friendship and a desire for justice. It’s a story that holds parallels to the series, that of bravery and friendship but also unexpected twists and turns. We return to some of the most memorable times of Harry’s world, in a totally new light, exploring the manner in which Harry, Ron and Hermione fight with the past. But this is truly a tale of Albus and Scorpius and a lesson on magic’s restrictions in today’s world. Albus’ determination mirrors Harry’s own adventures of bravery, and at times disobedience, with one of times biggest lessons to learn.

The theatrical side of this production is really where the play outshone. I’ve never witnessed such clever incorporations of dance, choreography and scene changes — allowing the story to flow continuously.

hp-hogwarts

Yet it is the magic of the show that takes centre stage, perhaps it’s the magic of theatre, the belief of the audience or the Harry Potter world the audience knows and loves. Spells from the good-old expelliarmus, to duels between Harry and Draco were dotted through the performance. My favourites included the use of polyjuice position, I still don’t understand how it happened on stage, to transporting into the Ministry of Magic in the famous red telephone box, and of course the use of floo power. Magic as I have never seen albus-and-scorpiusit before.

Writing about a show can never do it justice, especially a play embedded with magic from start to finish. Sam Clemmett captures Albus’ attributes perfectly, his sidekick Scorpius, Anthony Boyle, and their friendship is one of the strongest I have ever seen on stage. The golden trio are, of course, perfectly cast and captured. A production that shines with talent.

I laughed, I cried and I wanted to head straight back in for more. This was a most magical experience, brilliantly portrayed on stage — the perfect extension to Harry’s story.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is playing at The Palace Theatre, London – currently sold out until 2017 (with more tickets coming soon!). You can read about my ponderings of the play, and other Potter reviews here.

book haul · books · classics · fiction · language · literature · war

September Book Haul

September is in full swing, and unlike the rest of the working world I’m only starting to admit that summer is over. My third and final year has arrived, so here’s a selection of what I’ll be reading across my first semester. img_7932

My first module focuses on the First World War – the literature from within it and also the literature that reimagines the war. This seems to cover quite a range of literature, film and TV (of which Downton Abbey’s involvement may have persuaded me to pick this course). It’s interesting to view the literature that covers such a complex time across the century; from the days of post war Britain to the celebrations surrounding the centenary.

Engaging and a little different to the literature I’ve encounter so far is my experimental literature course; more specifically women’s experimental literature. It covers questions on how women’s writing must differ in its position as experimental and the often misconception that only women’s writing can hold feminist concepts. It’s trying to move away from viewing experimental writing as a failure, and instead show how literature can take any form, genre or purpose.

As you can see I’ve got quite a bit of reading to do as the nights begin to draw in, what are you reading this autumn?

books · fantasy · Harry Potter · literature · play · Preview · West End

Pondering about Potter…

Summer has certainty arrived, the nights are longer, the sun is shining that little bit more and I’m spending more time outside eating ice cream. I’ve also been doing a lot of reading, but very little blogging over the past few weeks… now it’s time to get back on track.IMG_7417

The biggest news, of course, has been the very eagerly awaited sequel in the Harry Potter series. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been published for an entire week, if you happened to be on a desert island the news may not yet have reached you, but to everyone else I‘m far behind. Like all Potter fans, I got my hands on a copy on Monday morning (having missed a midnight release). Yet now I have a dilemma, do I read the script now, or do I wait until I see the play?

In my mind a play can never be read as a substitution to the performance, there’s something truly magical about it appearing in front of your very eyes that the written word is unable to portray. Maybe it’s the lack of descriptive detail, costumes, props and set that make a play so much more than its many utterances and stage directions. Regardless of the individual detail, it has been written for the stage and the stage alone, to take it away from its setting will always create a gap in the text.

I know I am very fortunate in having acquired the tickets, but it’s not making this decision any easier. Three months still feels like a little while to wait and see the story expanded into a new breadth of magic. So far I’ve avoided any spoilers, but most impressively have managed to keep the book tightly shut. For now, it will sit on my bookcase, while I wait for bonfire night and the magic to appear in front of my very eyes.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is currently playing at the Palace Theatre, London.

You can find my thoughts on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and my excitement to see the Cursed Child in London, I’m only a little Harry Potter obsessed, I promise.

books · classics · crime · fantasy · fiction · literature · modern classic · reading · young adult

An ever-growing collection of books…

Now it may not come as too much of a surprise that I like to read, and I read a lot. As such even my bookshelves are starting to overflow, piles of books are appearing around my bedroom and even I feel the books around my bed may soon become a tripping hazard.

Yet I can never feel the urge to give away, throw away or even lend out my books. I’ve invested too much time into each page, learnt to love or hate the characters and been, for a while, part of their story. Most of the time I revisit these books, wishing to be drawn back into various worlds and escape into a story.

I’m currently re-reading a vast array of my favourite novels, getting through a story week after week. It may be from the freedom of university, that once again I have the choice to pick up any book I please. I want to read stories that I’m certain I’ll enjoy – novels that are well-written, plots that are complex and character’s that I know. I don’t want to be disappointed by the next book I pick up.

I’ll continue picking up my books full of well-thumbed pages, and enjoying each story again, and again.

books · classics · fiction · literature · reading · review

Nineteen Eighty-Four

This morning I grabbed one of the first books my hand came across as I headed out the door. It’s been at least a couple of years since I’d last read Orwell’s masterpiece, and I’d quite forgotten the treat I was in for.1984

Nineteen Eighty-Four is now a much-loved modern classic, it contains ideas and words we forget were created entirely for the novel. Big Brother and Room 101 still hold power over the everyday public, with little acknowledgement for Orwell’s creation. Similarly, Winston Smith sits as a well-known character, and the tale’s fist line is often featured in a pub quiz. Not to mention the linguistic heaven of Newspeak, an entirely reimagined version of English- a way to control not just our language but our very thoughts. Orwell was incredible.

It’s a story of rebellion, revolution and self-control. But also of love, finding happiness and a desperate search for truth. Orwell encapsulates the desire for justice and a life of honesty. The laws that surround this world, open your eyes to the freedom we have today, not just freedom of speech, but freedom of thought and expression.

Although the world still has a long way to go, this tale allows the importance of truth and integrity to overcome everything, no matter what the cost.

books · classics · crime · detective · fiction · literature · reading

100 Greatest Novels of All Time

The guardian has a long established list depicting the 100 greatest novels of all time. Although the list is in its 13th year, it continues to be regarded with high esteem so I thought I’d see how many I’ve managed to get through in my twenty years.

I’ve placed a little heart ♥ by the books I’ve managed to read as, after all, who doesn’t love a great book? My grand total may only be seventeen, but I don’t think that’s too bad a starting point, I’ve got a lot of books to get through…

The list:

1. Don Quixote Miguel De Cervantes

2. Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyan

3. Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe

4. Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift

5. Tom Jones Henry Fielding

6. Clarissa Samuel Richardson

7. Tristram Shandy Laurence Sterne

8. Dangerous Liaisons Pierre Choderlos De Laclos

9.  Emma Jane Austen  

10. Frankenstein Mary Shelley  ♥

11. Nightmare Abbey Thomas Love Peacock

12. The Black Sheep Honoré De Balzac

13. The Charterhouse of Parma Stendhal

14. The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas

15. Sybil Benjamin Disraeli

16. David Copperfield Charles Dickens

17. Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë  ♥

18. Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë  ♥

19. Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray  

20. The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne  

21. Moby-Dick Herman Melville

22. Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert

23. The Woman in White Wilkie Collins

24. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland Lewis Carroll  ♥

25. Little Women Louisa M. Alcott  ♥

26. The Way We Live Now Anthony Trollope

27. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy

28. Daniel Deronda George Eliot

29. The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoevsky

30. The Portrait of a Lady Henry James

31. Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain

32. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson  ♥

33. Three Men in a Boat Jerome K. Jerome

34. The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde ♥

35. The Diary of a Nobody George Grossmith   

36. Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy

37. The Riddle of the Sands Erskine Childers

38. The Call of the Wild Jack London

39. Nostromo Joseph Conrad

40. The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame  

41. In Search of Lost Time Marcel Proust

42. The Rainbow D. H. Lawrence  ♥

43.  The Good Soldier Ford Madox Ford

44. The Thirty-Nine Steps John Buchan

45. Ulysses James Joyce

46. Mrs Dalloway Virginia Woolf

47. A Passage to India EM Forster

48. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald  ♥

49. The Trial Franz Kafka S

50. Men Without Women Ernest Hemingway

51. Journey to the End of the Night Louis-Ferdinand Celine

52. As I Lay Dying William Faulkner

53. Brave New World Aldous Huxley  ♥

54. Scoop Evelyn Waugh

55. USA John Dos Passos

56. The Big Sleep Raymond Chandler

57. The Pursuit Of Love Nancy Mitford

58. The Plague Albert Camus

59. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell  ♥

60. Malone Dies Samuel Beckett

61. Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger ♥

62. Wise Blood Flannery O’Connor

63. Charlotte’s Web EB White ♥

64. The Lord Of The Rings J. R. R. Tolkien

65. Lucky Jim Kingsley Amis

66. Lord of the Flies William Golding

67. The Quiet American Graham Greene  

68 On the Road Jack Kerouac

69. Lolita Vladimir Nabokov

70. The Tin Drum Günter Grass

71. Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe

72. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Muriel Spark 

73. To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee  ♥

74. Catch-22 Joseph Heller ♥

75. Herzog Saul Bellow

76. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez

77. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont Elizabeth Taylor

78. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy John Le Carré

79. Song of Solomon Toni Morrison

80. The Bottle Factory Outing Beryl Bainbridge

81. The Executioner’s Song Norman Mailer

82. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller Italo Calvino

83. A Bend in the River VS Naipaul

84. Waiting for the Barbarians JM Coetzee

85. Housekeeping Marilynne Robinson

86. Lanark Alasdair Gray

87. The New York Trilogy Paul Auster  

88. The BFG Roald Dahl ♥

89. The Periodic Table Primo Levi

90. Money Martin Amis

91. An Artist of the Floating World Kazuo Ishiguro

92. Oscar And Lucinda Peter Carey

93. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting Milan Kundera

94. Haroun and the Sea of Stories Salman Rushdie

95. LA Confidential James Ellroy

96. Wise Children Angela Carter

97. Atonement Ian McEwan

98. Northern Lights Philip Pullman

99. American Pastoral Philip Roth

100. Austerlitz W. G. Sebald ♥

books · fiction · literature · reading

Comfort Reading

This time of year I become stuck in the revision madness that makes up exams, essays, and general deadlines. So in order to keep myself sane, I end up reaching for the same battered titles on my bookshop and revisiting a story I know well. I always go back to the same few books, normally it’s a Harry Potter book that ends up on my bedside table, but other things pop in there too. There’s always something comforting in the choice I make, it’s a book I’ve read tens of times, a book that I already know the ending to but I re-emerge into the tale again and again.

It might be that somewhere subconsciously I’m trying not to get sucked into a new story when I have work to do, or it could be a way to be securely kept in a world and with characters I know. Regardless of the psychosocial reason behind it, I love revisiting a story I know I will enjoy, a novel I could never become bored with.

Which book do you find yourself reaching for again and again? Is there such a thing as comfort reading? Just a few thoughts from a girl who’s had too much Shakespeare.

 

 

book haul · books · classics · fiction · literature

Spring Book Haul

The days are getting longer, the sun is starting to shine; I believe spring has sprung. Now, with all this extra daylight, what better way to spend it than reading way into the evening, or if you’re really lucky, escaping to the park with a book in hand on a sunny afternoon. I have some small hopes that the Manchester weather will allow this in the weeks to come, so I’m going to indulge myself with a spring book haul.

IMG_6811First things first are some classics I’ve had on my list, and even on my shelves for a little while now.

The Collector – John Fowles; When Frederick takes his butterfly collection to the next level by capturing an art student and keeping her in the confines of his cellar. Dark and eerie, the tale explores the desire for ownership at all costs and the fight for freedom and understanding that unfolds.

Catch-22 – Joseph Heller; Heller’s masterpiece has been on my to-read list for years, the war tale of the century will have me gripped to see what this ordinary man will achieve.

The Hanging Garden – Patrick White; Another war-time tale, this time, two children find themselves evacuated to Sydney, trapped at the other side of the world, they bond through their shared abandonment. A story of finding hope and adventure in the unknown.

IMG_6812The next two books seem to share a few similarities; they are both trying to find their relatives and strangely both begin their tales with the arrival of a suitcase.

The Finding of Matha Lost – Caroline Wallace; Martha is lost, abandoned and alone. She embarks on a tale of returning, lost possession to their owner and even herself to her parents. It’s a search of beginnings to find endings.

Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase – Louise Walters; Two stories are wound together through this novel, Roberta’s love for collecting old letters and postcards takes her on her own mystery. While Dorothy, hides a secret that takes 60 years to unearth.

I’ve given you a peak at what I’ll be reading in the coming months, let me know what you’re reading this spring.