book review · books · diary · non-fiction · review

Morning

Whenever I’m in doubt of what to read next, when the bookshop is overflowing with inspiration; I turn to the nearest bookseller and ask for their recommendation. Not only are booksellers a very friendly bunch, but they’re also big readers and often have a book in mind you’d never find nestled on the shelves.

I recently popped into Salts Mill (my all time favourite bookshop) and did just that. I was recommended a non-fiction book that would be hard to categorise; it’s a diary, a book of advice and wellbeing, and a little nod to nature too. With that description, I never would have picked it off the shelf. But it’s a small book, that’s beautifully simple.

Allan Jenkins uses Morning as a confirmation of what he already knows. A secret he shares with his readers. It’s effective and calming. It’s also very simple – to wake up earlier. Listen to the birds, watch the sunrise and enjoy the quiet calm before the day really begins.

It’s elegantly put together, a diary of Allen’s pre-dawn thoughts interwoven with interviews of others who wake before the sun. It’s very effective too. Although I’m yet to wake early enough to welcome a July sunrise, I am getting out of bed earlier. And more than that – I’m using that time wisely. For now this might be a little change in my routine, but I really hope it’s one that lasts.

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 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?

book review · books · fiction · review

The Help

the-help-stockettHaving just picked up The Help for the fifth time, I thought it was worthwhile putting pen to paper as to why I keep coming back to this book.

There’s something unique to Stockett’s writing that transports you instantly back to 1960’s Mississippi. Whether it’s Skeeter, Aibileen or Minny narrating we’re pulled back to a time of harsh segregation and a desire to alter the perspective of America’s racists.

I love how this book describes not only the real-time struggles of a coloured maid in the deep south of America, but the hope and resilience of people coming together. It’s a testament of friendship, hope and exceptions. It relies on a group of women willing to risk everything for a chance at making a difference.

It’s a book of defying the society we live within, that shows no matter how small, we can all make a difference.

 

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.