Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Habits and resolutions

As you know, I’m sticking to a resolution tree this year, so I can keep it visual and keep myself reminded of those things I’d like to do. One of those things relates back to something a very wise lady told me. That lady was Elizabeth Laird, a children’s author, who I met at a book festival a few years ago. She said that she maybe had 20 good reading years left before her eyesight failed, and even if she read three books a week, a total of 150ish books a year, she’d only have another 3000 books in her. That’s a scary tale. There’s so much I want to read!

Whilst I cannot aspire to 150 books a year, I’m going for 100. This has been much improved by my acquisition of a lightbulb for the lamp in my bedroom, as I was too forgetful to get one for ages (it’s kind of a special bulb, a slim screw in and I just kept going past the bulb aisle in the supermarket because I’m usually so focused on other things and speeding round there. Plus, I don’t ever go the 15km round-trip to the supermarket for a one-off item…) so now I have light, I don’t go straight to bed to go to sleep. I don’t read many other places, and I never read ‘sitting’ if that makes sense. I like to lounge, to maul about, to enjoy it, to recline.

So, this has been the most important part of my quest. Once I am in bed, under my double duvet, one dog on either side, trapped in the divine cocoon of warmth with both a hot water bottle and an electric blanket, in my super-warm pjs and bed socks, I am perfectly happy. Like my mother, I have terrible circulation, so I sometimes even wear the fingerless gloves my sister sent me as a present. I know. I’m such an old lady.

So what have I been reading?

Having made the most of the Hope Association book sale last summer, I have a stack of good books to read. I have already read Michael Moore’s Dude, Where’s My Country? which I bought because I did enjoy Stupid White Men. I gave this to a friend to read when we were in Brazil and she was depressed for about three days. To a small Cambridgeshire girl, uninterested in politics, she’d never even thought this way. I’m kind of sorry I popped her bubble and turned into a cynic, but then I also think we have to accept the truth of things. It’s also timely to be re-reading this in light of the Chilcot Inquiry into the invasion of Iraq in 2003. I do think it’s important to think about how our lives are altered irrevocably by politicians.

The next one I’ve just finished is Steve Boggan’s Follow the Money which is about him following the track of a 10$ bill from the kind-of geographical heart of continental, continuous USA to wherever it goes…

As he says at the end, he realises it’s not the normal course a bill would take – people tend to do more extraordinary things with it than they would if it were just a normal bill. It was still a good read though. You can see the premise of the book in this Guardian article. As with many things, I liked it most because he was born in the North West, in St Helens in fact. The town without an apostrophe that should have one. Also, I liked it because although he looks like he’s in his thirties, apparently he’s had a thirty-year career as a journalist. That means he’s aged very well.

No… I’m being facetious. It was an interesting kind of travelogue of the mundanities of real America. It was no Peter Moore, my favourite travel writer, and it was no Bill Bryson. But it was a slice of almost-real-life USA.

Next up… On Chesil Beach. I love Ian McEwan. Atonement is one of my favourite books ever. I can’t stand the film; Keira Knightley’s wooden, bouche bée expression makes me want to hurt her. She has just one expression… this one

I want to say “you started life in Bend it Like Beckham when you weren’t afraid your face would crack if you actually looked happy or smiled or had an actual, genuine emotion. You’re just a skeletal clothes-hanger who needs to stop looking so miserable and actually realise it won’t hurt to expand your ‘acting’ repertoire to include a smile”

I can’t bear to watch Anna Karenina. She’ll wreck it like she did Atonement. See, here is her face again…

Spot the difference?

In one she has a hat on with a feather, and a dress off her shoulder.

Luckily, I’ve refused to watch Pride and Prejudice because nothing could live up to the Colin Firth/Jennifer Erhl adaptation. Nothing. He was awkward, reluctant, reticent. I remember thinking he was totally the wrong casting. Until…. I fell in love with him; I think a nation of women felt the same. And that’s what Mr Darcy is about. This is my favourite clip. The atmosphere between these two is divine. He’s a perfect Darcy. And she’s a perfect Elizabeth.

So, Keira Knightley can go and wreck all my favourite books. I should just send her a list of my favourite books and say ‘Go ahead. Pout all you like. Tu as la bouche en cul-de-poule*. If you don’t speak French, that means you have a mouth like a chicken’s arsehole. She does. After it’s just laid an egg.

*Technically speaking, having a mouth like a chicken’s arsehole is more of a trout-pout or duck-face than it is Keira’s particular expression, duplicating that of empty-headed mouth-breather. Unless she has a deviated septum, there’s no reason for her to always be so vacant-looking.

Hmmmm. Time to go and get highbrow, I think.