Monday, 21 December 2015

Furiously Happy - Jenny Lawson

I only just remembered that I completely forgot to post a review for this book when I finished it last month! Normally I'm quite good, but I must have been pretty distracted at that point.

Furiously Happy is the second of Jenny Lawson's memoirs. The first, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, is more of your usual autobiography, i.e. an account of the author's life to date, although Jenny Lawson's life is far from average and much of it reads more like a surreal comedy than an autobiography.

Furiously Happy is more of a selection of anecdotes, vaguely arranged by theme. Lawson manages to make her experiences with mental illness hilarious, bizarre and often very touching at the same time. From travelling Australia in a kangaroo onesie to being chased down the road by swans (thinking about it, many of the stories are animal-related in some way, shape or form), Lawson's stories are unexpected and very original.

Of course the core theme of the book is at heart very serious. I'm sure everyone out there has times when they feel depressed, slightly unhinged or just plain wrong, even those who aren't diagnosed with any kind of mental illness, and Lawson's central message behind all of this is that you aren't alone in this.

This is a very candid, warm and open account of her own experiences, which is very funny in itself and behind the humour holds a complex and comforting message to the reader.

Next up: Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Bonus review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

As my other books at the moment are a bit on the long, heavy side, I took some time out to read Gone Girl to break things up a bit.

Nick and Amy Dunne, a recently out-of-work couple from New York, have moved to Nick's much smaller hometown of North Carthage, Missouri, where Nick opens a bar with his twin sister Go. One day he returns home to find his wife unexpectedly missing, and his life is suddenly invaded by police investigations and harassing media.

The story is told in chapters that alternate between Nick's present-day experiences and diary entries written by Amy, and through these a picture builds up of the couple's turbulent relationship beneath their appearance of public normality. Both are flawed individuals with moments (or more than moments) of narrative in which they are unlikable but at the same time very relatable, and the alternating accounts of events by Nick and Amy build up and then strip away layers of deception and conflict.

While I wouldn't necessarily have chosen this novel myself from the blurb (it came recommended and lent by someone at work), it was actually a fascinating and gripping read, and highly original and unexpected.

Gone Girl is definitely worth reading, even if, like me, you prefer more of a plot-based story – trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Next up: Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

Friday, 11 December 2015


This week's Booking Through Thursday is:

I’m guessing most of you like reading (or why would you be here), how do you feel about audio books? 

For me, “reading” means using my eyes, not my ears. As much as I acknowledge their usefulness while doing chores or using your hands, I only ever use audiobooks for the rare long drive–listening, no matter how pleasant, is not READING, yet people persist in telling me they like to read and that audio books are their favorites. Am I the only one to feel that’s just not the same thing?

I feel the same. I've tried to listen to audiobooks, on journeys for instance or when given a free one by Amazon, but for me it just isn't the same relaxing experience as reading. You can't let your mind wander in the middle of a paragraph without having to try and desperately rewind and figure out where you left off, and the story moves either too slowly or too quickly, never at the right pace. It's a similarly soulless experience to Kindles, except with the added disadvantage of needing to pause or rewind every time you get interrupted or distracted.

I completely acknowledge that they're useful, for driving or while doing other things, but for me they lack that feeling of connecting and of shared understanding that makes a book worth reading.

Sunday, 15 November 2015


This week's Booking Through Thursday is:

What book (or books) from your childhood do you think about most often? That had the most effect on your life? 

I devoured books even as a child, but the ones that I really reread and took in most were Terry Pratchett's wonderful Discworld series. I read the lot (and the new ones as and when they came out) several times over, in chronological order, or sorted by character groups, and so on.

I also really loved Jane Austen's novels, particularly Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. George Eliot's Middlemarch was another one - it was my gran's favourite book, and she gave me her own copy before she died. The variety of characters and the depth and complexity of their feelings and situations kept me coming back to reread it.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Film adaptation - Dangerous Liaisons (1988)

I eventually got round to watching the second of the three Dangerous Liaisons adaptations, this one taking the title from the book and released in 1988. It had a surprisingly star-studded cast, with a young John Malkovich playing Valmont, opposite Glenn Close, Michelle Pfeiffer and Uma Thurman as his various love interests.

Although the peasant village that was shown briefly did have a very rough, clumsy feel and the peasants were suspiciously clean by modern, gritty standards, in general it felt as though a lot of effort was made with historical accuracy, with the style of dress, furnishings and hair. One thing that did jar with me was the American accents – I know that, with the original being in French and the novel set in France, even an RP English accent would have been 'wrong', but I guess I'm just so used to period dramas using English accents that it seemed odd. A younger Peter Capaldi with long hair and his strong Scottish accent as a servant was totally worth it though.

The quality of the acting was wonderful (except perhaps from Keanu Reeves, but I didn't expect him to be able to move his face much back then either), and the emotional intensity, particularly between Malkovich and Close, kept me glued to the screen. I particularly liked that this adaptation, while recognising that the Marquise de Merteuil is a very selfish and manipulative character, also gave us a chance to empathise with her rather than demonising her in the way that Cruel Intentions does.

Overall, a very enjoyable and pretty accurate period adaptation.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Lullaby - Chuck Palahniuk

Reporter Carl Streator has been assigned to investigating Sudden Infant Death Syndrome for his newspaper, and notices a pattern in all the scenes he's been called to see. At every single one of them, a poetry anthology is, or has been, open at page 27 on an old African culling song. To confirm this theory, he reads the poem to his editor, who fails to come in to work the following day. However, we discover that this is also a very personal quest for Streator – he accidentally caused the death of his own wife and child 20 years earlier by reading them the very same poem.

Occult real estate agent Helen Hoover Boyle (who specialises in selling haunted houses and profiting by the frequent sales commissions as clients are keen to get rid of them again very quickly), has come to the same conclusion as Streator through her own investigations. The pair, along with Helen's secretary Mona and Mona's hippie boyfriend Oyster, race to destroy the remaining 200 copies of a limited edition print, before the poem becomes public knowledge.

Lullaby is at once disturbing, gripping and surprisingly funny in a bizarre, cynical kind of way. Palahniuk explores the different temptations for people with an inhuman power, the power to kill anyone they want to, instantly, with no more than a thought or a few words. How it changes the characters and the ways they cope with it forms a fascinating part of the story.

The brusque, matter-of-fact narrative tone lends a poignancy to grief, and a sense of detachment to several rather gory scenes, and the characters are colourful and eccentric in a manner more usually found in comedic novels.

Lullaby is a fascinating, dark but sometimes very funny exploration of the power of language and of the corruption of power. Very much worth reading, and I can guarantee you'll never have read anything like it before.

Next up: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Friday, 6 November 2015


This week's Booking Through Thursday is:

Have you ever damaged a book? Dropped it in the bathtub? Spilled a bottle of ink? Used it to mop up spilled wine? Or just broken its back (poor thing).

 Never on purpose! I have spilled water on books a few times, and felt terrible about it while it dried out all crinkly over a radiator. I've spilled food on them a couple of times too, leaving unfortunate food stains on the pages.

I hate seeing them damaged, even newer books, although it's really heartbreaking to see a wonderful old book that's survive 100 years intact get hurt. I have to avert my eyes when I pass shops that use pages from old books or sheet music.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

The Rose Rent - Ellis Peters

The thirteenth Cadfael novel, The Rose Rent, is a little bit more than a detective story. Young widow Judith Perle, who rents property to the abbey for the token price of a single rose delivered on the same day once every year, goes missing a couple of days before this rent is due, following the mysterious near-destruction of the rose bush in question. As the sheriff and the abbey are well aware, failed payment of this rent, would legally result in the property defaulting back to Mistress Perle, and puts suspicion on some of her would-be suitors would might aspire to own it themselves.

Ellis Peters uses more of an open style of narration than usual in this novel, and we see events from a diverse range of points of view. With an ingenuity worthy of Agatha Christie, this is cleverly used to hide facts in plain sight and to bring about a genuinely surprising ending.

The main point of this novel, for me, wasn't simply solving the original murder of a young monk found dead after defending the unlucky rose bush. It was more an exploration of grief and love, seeing the young widow begin to stop mourning her first husband and starting to move on with her life, and we see a wide selection of suitors each with their own agenda, all eager to marry into the prosperous business Judith has inherited.

Overall this novel felt more sophisticated as a plot than many of the preceding ones, and had an emotional complexity that really made it come alive.

Next up: Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Nymphomation - Jeff Noon

Nymphomation is Jeff Noon's fourth novel, and acts as a prequel to Vurt and then Pollen.

Set in 1999 Manchester, it offers a futuristic alternative view of a familiar unglamorous city, in which a trial lottery game called Domino Bones is being held. Along with the weekly domino draws, in which only one person can win the grand prize, AnnoDomino have created flying advertisements which buzz around the city, interbreeding and multiplying. As the city's obsession with with Domino Bones grows, a group of rogue mathematicians suspect that the game is not what it seems and try to break into the system.

Noon tells the story in quick scenes, sometimes no more than snapshots, that tell us almost enough but never too much, and keep you reading as you try to discover more. The characters and setting are drawn briefly but effectively, often using random-seeming and exaggerated language that lends the novel a lurid, unreal quality. Mathematics and the science of chance are blurred with fantasy to form an intriguing universe in which anything is possible.

This novel is a very human experience of something inhuman, while also managing to be extremely thought-provoking and at times sinister and unnerving. At first I didn't realise it linked up to the other books in the series, and by the end it had set the scene for the development into Vurt and made me want to reread that with fresh eyes again.

There's only one I haven't yet read in the series, Automated Alice, and I'll definitely be asking for that for Christmas.

Next up: The Rose Rent by Ellis Peters

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Thank You, Jeeves - PG Wodehouse

This is the first of Wodehouse's novels to feature the wonderful Jeeves, and the first that I've read, although I have watched the Jeeves and Wooster TV series many many times. Usually I'd say that watching an adaptation before reading the book spoiled it for me a little, but Steven Fry, Hugh Laurie and the mood of the production as a whole captured the feel of the characters and the story so perfectly that I didn't mind seeing them play it out in my head as I read.

Bertie Wooster's new musical instrument, the banjolele, drives him by popular complaint from his London flat to a country cottage on his friend Chuffy's seaside estate, and also forces Jeeves to give notice, who is promptly rehired by Chuffy himself. Bertie's peaceful country retirement is shattered by the arrival of his beautiful, charming and unregretted American ex-fiancée Pauline Stoker and her disapproving father, and an amusing sequence of evasions, misunderstandings and reconciliations follows.

Bertie's amiable but vaguely bemused viewpoint gives humour to every scene, for instance one in which he and Pauline are (through a completely innocent if highly unfeasible set of circumstances) about to be discovered alone together in his bedroom, she wearing his pyjamas, begin to argue about the niceties of grammar rather than the problem at hand.

Some of the events in the novel were moved around or taken out to shorten it a little for the adaptation, so even having seen the episode I wasn't sure what was going to happen next. Unusually, I don't feel as though the changes necessarily made the story worse, or better for that matter – it was just a case of reaching the same conclusion through slightly fewer stages. There were a few very funny scenes which sadly weren't kept in, though. One confusing factor, given that this is the first Jeeves novel written, was the casual references to other characters and amusing anecdotes that I'd already seen in the TV series but obviously hadn't in the books.

I laughed frequently throughout the novel, and sometimes worried about waking people up in the next room when I was reading in bed. Having read this I'm definitely going to look out for the rest of the series.

Next up: Nymphomation by Jeff Noon

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding

I've read Bridget Jones' Diary several times before, but that was many years ago, so when I found the French translation in a bookshop in Brittany I had to pick it up. It made for much more relaxing holiday reading than the rather heavier L'Allée du Roi I'd brought with me, and I can actually claim it was vaguely educational, teaching me words for everyday things like types of modern clothing, cigarettes (ok, that one's the same) and minor swearwords, all things not often featured in more classic novels.

The translation felt pretty spot-on, keeping the tone of the original novel very well in spite of its cultural Zeitgeists, although it did have resort to footnotes to explain things such as Eastenders or Michael Howard.

One of the things I love most about this novel (as well as the plot, which as everyone knows is based on Pride and Prejudice, so not totally original to Fielding), is the down-to-earth narrator. Published nearly 10 years ago (and how old does that make me feel!), I have yet to come across another novel that feels quite as real. Nothing about Bridget is romanticised – she's no more glamorous, successful, strong or determined that your average woman, but Fielding doesn't use Stephanie Meyer's irritating wish-fulfilment trick of having the whole world fall in love with her supposedly 'average' heroine. Instead Bridget struggles vaguely through life without things falling into her lap, and not only do we as readers see the external parts of her experience - her conversations with others, dramatic scenes and so on - but we are also privy to the general grime and disorder of everyday life. For me this makes it so much more personal and relatable than reading about protagonists who never have to go to the bathroom or wash their clothes.

Of course Bridget Jones' Diary is, at heart, a romantic story, but the focus is very much on a humorous retelling of the problems and anxieties of romance rather than being swept off your feet by a prince charming. The film is a little different from the book, having switched events round and cut a few characters out to streamline the story, and I do have a friend who said this put her off reading the book afterwards, but I really recommend it personally if you're a fan of the film but haven't yet read the book.

Next up: Thank You, Jeeves by P G Wodehouse

Friday, 9 October 2015

Austen vs Pope

This week's Booking Through Thursday is:

What two authors (dead or alive) would you love to get in a room together, just so you could listen to the conversation?
And what made you put those two together? Are they going to be entertainingly contentious or bosom buddies at first sight?

For me it would have to be Alexander Pope and Jane Austen. Alexander Pope's serious, self-satisfied attitude and pretentiously over-educated poetry would be a fantastic subject for Austen's quick wit, and the fact that a woman had the gall to make fun of him would (I like to think) throw Pope into an extremely entertaining tantrum.

Who would you put together?

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Bonus review: The Shepherd's Crown - Terry Pratchett

This afternoon I took Terry Pratchett's last novel, The Shepherd's Crown, to a café (accidentally buying 3 more books on my way into town), and finished it in 3 hours.

This novel follows Tiffany Aching as she comes into her own as a professional witch and has to face up to the increase in responsibility that entails, as well as another threat of elven invasion.

I don't want to give spoilers to anyone who hasn't read it, but I will say there's a major character death, which feels so autobiographical, almost as though it's Pratchett's own goodbye to the world, that it really was very moving above and beyond its implications for the character within the novel.

The Shepherd's Crown is full of a joy of life and an optimism about human nature, with laugh-out-loud moments and some truly wonderful awful puns. It feels much better put-together than a few of his later works, which for me felt as though they were lacking in structure, whereas this one feels like one complete story in its own right. There are a few loose ends, which is unsurprising for a posthumous publication, but overall it was a fantastic read, a good balance of plot, humour and pathos.

Now that I've finished it it's occurred to me that I'll never again be able to read a new Pratchett novel, and that makes me very sad indeed.

Next up: Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Parker Pyne Investigates - Agatha Christie

Parker Pyne Investigates is more a series of short stories than one novel, featuring Mr Parker Pyne, an ex-statistican who now consults for a living. He claims not to be a detective, and in fact he's almost the opposite of a detective – people come to him unhappy from insecurity in their marriage, dissatisfaction with their lifestyle, or simply out of boredom – and he secretly engineers events which push them in the direction of becoming happier.

The first half of the book has a collection of these 'consultation' stories in London, but the second half follows Mr Parker Pyne on a series of travels around the Middle East, Egypt and Greece, in which he finds himself reluctantly pulled into playing the detective even on holiday.

As a character Parker Pyne feels like a cross between Poirot and G K Chesterton's Father Brown. His apparently haphazard methods and understanding, stolid manner almost always lead to him succeeding somehow, and he takes success or the occasional failure with the same amiable placidity.

This collection of short stories feels almost like an artist's sketchbook, where an idea or concept for one of Christie's more complex plots is briefly sketched out and played with to explore its potential. The stories are amusing, ironic and full of trademark twists and good-humoured melodrama.

Overall, a light, pleasant read for any mystery fan.

Next up: Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding

Sunday, 13 September 2015

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson

Rather longer than the previous novels (at nearly 750 pages in my edition), The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest finishes off Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy. I don't want to give spoilers for The Girl Who Played with Fire, but I will say that we begin this novel with Salander stuck in a hospital bed and awaiting trial for murder.

Of necessity the majority of the action is done by the other characters in this novel, although Salander proves exceptionally resourceful even from a secure hospital room. Blomkvist races to uncover the truth about Salander and her father, while an underground Swedish secret services cell desperately tries to get her committed once again in order to cover up her father's past crimes.

Once again Larsson's style is clear, direct and gripping. Action and subterfuge merge as we follow the manoeuvres and counter-manoeuvres of the opposing sides, and the emotional and moral ambiguities add a refreshing sense of realism. There is no theatricality about the “bad guys'” point of view sections, only a feeling of people with a different sense of loyalty and priorities. Again the only negative I have, especially having read the trilogy spaced out over several years, is that I found the extensive network of minor characters and their relationships and pasts difficult to recall at times.

The frantic action leads up to the culmination of the trilogy, Salander's trial to try to prove her sanity and innocence once and for all. All the strands carefully woven through the series are pulled together to form a very satisfying legal and personal conflict between Salander and her nemesis Teleborian, who was responsible for her original committal in a psychiatric unit as a child.

This was a gripping, addictive novel – I can't tell you the amount of times I meant to stop reading and just had to read one more chapter. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is a fast-paced story full of big personalities and complex intertwined schemes, coming together to form a tense and dramatic climax.

Next up: Parker Pyne Investigates by Agatha Christie

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Travel books

This week's Booking Through Thursday is:

Do you like to read books about far-away places? Travel guides, memoirs, whatever? Places you’ve been? Or places you’ve never been?

That's a good question, but... no. I don't, I don't tend to read books based on real life in general, and I never read straight-up travelogues. I'll only read biographies if it's someone I'm really interested it.

I guess the easiest answer as to why is that I read for escapism, and that reading about real life doesn't feel like I'm escaping, even real life lived in a country I've never visited.

I do however, love to read books about places far off in history, whether long ago or potentially in the future, or about fantasy or science-fiction universes that will never exist. I know that reading for escapism should allow for reading non-fiction about places that exist right now, but somehow that just doesn't interest me as much as reading about places that I'll never see.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Death of an Avid Reader - Frances Brody

This looked as though it would be a fairly gentle Christie-imitation murder-mystery – a widowed lady-detective searching for the long-lost illegitimate daughter of a titled lady on her deathbed, while investigating the murder of a university professor found dead in her local library. This seems to be the second novel in a series, but enough was explained that I didn't feel left behind.

To begin with, the setting and characterisation ambled along, and it took me a while to warm up to Kate Shackleton, the central detective. However, around the halfway mark, the plot picked up the pace and the story became more intriguing, and I found myself really wanting to find out the answers.

Once I gave them time the characters rounded out more and the story began to feel more compelling, including some surprisingly gritty aspects for what seemed on the surface an essentially respectable detective story, and some genuinely surprising twists.

Overall, a slow start, but a detective novel which comes into its own and turns into a mostly pleasant, easy-to-read but still attention-grabbing story.

Next up: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest by Stieg Larsson

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Film adaptation - Cruel Intentions

I decided to begin my trio of Les Liasons Dangereuses adaptations with the most approachable and probably best-known adaptation, Cruel Intentions. I did watch it once before, many years ago, but had almost entirely forgotten it since.

Obviously Cruel Intentions is very a modern retelling of the novel rather than a straight-up adaptation, so I wasn't sure how faithful it would be. I was surprised how well the general atmosphere and the concept of the story translated from idle French aristocracy to overprivileged American teenagers, and while several of the characters' relations to each other had to be altered to fit with the new social structure, the characters themselves were mostly very accurately transferred.

I did wonder how well the necessary flattening of the age differences would work (most notably the difference between Cécile and Danceny compared to Valmont and the Marquise), but actually the difference in their characters' relative life experiences in the film made it very successful. The setting of the overdecorated, faux-historical houses really captured the sense of corrupt decadence of the original novel.

One thing that I felt was a shame was that the Marquise (or Kathryn) was turned into such a clear-cut villain. I loved the fact that in the original novel there was such moral ambiguity, and to me the Marquise de Merteuil felt like an intelligent, independent (but admittedly very selfish) woman bored out of her mind by the constricted, idle role forced on her by society. Kathryn actually explicitly makes this point in the film (“God forbid, I exude confidence and enjoy sex! Do you think I relish the fact that I have to act like Mary Sunshine 24/7 so I can be considered a lady?”), and this very effectively sums up the double standards between genders present in both the original novel and the modern adaptation. Cruel Intentions, however, by making Kathryn such an obvious villain, manages to undermine this protest against ingrained gender roles and makes it part of being a bad female role model. (That's my opinion anyway, but I did have a real soft spot for the Marquise in the novel so perhaps I'm reading too much into it!)

The ending of the film was much lighter than the ending of the novel, although I was impressed by the fact that they did commit to keeping one death in, which gave the ending much more impact and poignancy than the majority of American teen dramas.

Overall, I really enjoyed it, and was pleasantly surprised how faithfully the novel was adapted. A great film even if you haven't read the book.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Les Liaisons Dangereuses - Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

I really enjoyed this novel from the very beginning. The moral ambiguity of each character and the focus on concealment and manipulation make each individual into a fascinating character study, and the fact that the story is told through letters allows each person's differing viewpoints on the same events to shine through. The correspondence between various members of a connected group gradually builds up into a complex web of interdependent relationships, binding the characters' futures together.

In spite of what feels like an obligatory moral message at the close of the novel, there is a joy and humour in the machinations of the central characters, the Vicomte de Valmont and his ex-lover the Marquise de Merteuil. Their charisma and the genuine affection in their letters to each other, if to none of the other characters, makes it impossible to dislike them however badly they act, and although they are the two pivotal characters, the more minor characters are also given enough space to feel real in their own right.

This is a surprisingly unpredictable novel, full of human complexity and lightened with flashes of humour and irony. Very much worth reading, and I have a few film adaptations ready to watch now I've finished it.

Next up: Death of an Avid Reader by Frances Brody

Saturday, 15 August 2015


This week's Booking Through Thursday is:

What’s the most intriguing book you ever read? Something that made you think, explore new ideas, or just be really impressed and awed and amazed at the sheer wonder of the creativity of the thing?

Philip Pulman's His Dark Materials trilogy has always filled me with a sense of wonder and vast potential. The beautiful, vivid descriptions of such a wide range of worlds and the promise of even more unexplored over the horizon gave me a wonderful feeling.

In a completely different sense, Jeff Noon's debut novel Vurt and its sequel Pollen conjured up a much darker cyberpunk dystopia, in which humans, dogs, robots, aliens and spirits interbred to create marvellous and sinister cross-species beings with varied abilities and their own subcultures. The fast-moving plot leaves little time for explanation, so you have to pick up bits and pieces as you go along. That's another world I'd really like to explore at my leisure, look into the history of and figure out how things got the way they did.

I'm always on the lookout for new intriguing novels to explore - are there any that any of you would strongly recommend?

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Stephen Fry in America - Stephen Fry

Even though I didn't catch the BBC TV series this book is supposed to accompany, I didn't find it lacking because of this. The general tone is anecdotal and amusing, like an old friend telling stories of his holiday, and Stephen Fry manages to be honest even about the negatives while remaining warm and generally complimentary.

The book is divided into a chapter for each state, and the photos and short sections make it more approachable and fun than a weighty encyclopaedia of travel knowledge. Of course with such a vast and diverse area to cover, some states aren't as in-depth as they might be, but a general overview is always given, alongside more personal experiences in each state.

I've always found it difficult to imagine such a large country as the USA functioning as one entity, and this book really made me appreciate how different each state is in its interests, attitudes and physical landscapes. This is a proper coffee-table book, entertaining and easy to dip into.

Next up: Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Book storage

This week's Booking Through Thursday is:

How do you store your books? On bookcases? In piles? In piles on bookcases? Are they sorted? Do you know where everything is? What’s the most creative storage you’ve seen or used for your books?

 My books are most definitely sorted, or at least loosely. Read and unread books are kept separate by putting read books to the left of a shelf and unread ones on the right, except of course if it's a series - you can't separate a series, that's just wrong. I have an area on one bookshelf for foreign language books, another for poetry, another for non-fiction, and then the main bulk is made up of English language fiction.

For the most part my books live in (and on top of) traditional bookshelves (which I won't show you pictures of, you people know what bookshelves are) but I do have an overflow shelf made of a wire bathroom shelf I found in the street plus hardback books. Rest assured that no books were harmed in the making of that shelf.

How about yourselves, what's the most creative improvised bookshelf you've made or seen?

Monday, 6 July 2015

Film adaptation - Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

It's been years since I read Susanna Clarke's novel, but I remember being inseparable from it when I did. This 7-part BBC adaptation is a fantastic transition from book to screen, and I thoroughly recommend it to fans of the novel.

At a total of 7 hour-long episodes, it's long enough that nothing felt omitted, and every major character is (in my opinion) very well cast. Bertie Carvel makes a delightfully eccentric gentleman-magician, Eddie Marsan a convincing pedantic academic, and Marc Warren a wonderfully sinister Faerie King, to name only a few.

This adaptation perfectly captures the atmosphere of the original novel, with the sharp contrast between the stiff, mannered Georgian England and the fascinatingly grotesque faerie world of Lost Hope. Every scene looks beautiful, and the series as a whole feels like an intriguing cross between Jane Eyre's country houses and moorland and a particularly noir Alice in Wonderland.

A faithful and gripping adaptation of one of my (many) favourite novels. Watch it if you get the chance!

Saturday, 4 July 2015


This week's Booking Through Thursday is:

What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever read?

I don't know about the absolute most beautiful thing I've ever read, but I've copied several passages I've really liked over the years into a notebook I have. Two passages I thought were particularly well-crafted and are on beauty itself:

"When beauty is universal, it loses its power to move the heart, and only its absence can produce any emotional effect." - The City and the Stars, Arthur C Clarke

"Our muddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous form of things:
We murder to dissect."
- The Tables Turned, William Wordsworth

Another phrase which I found particularly resonant is:

"This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."
- The Hollow Men, T S Eliot

Any favourite passages of your own?

Monday, 22 June 2015

Powder and Patch - Georgette Heyer

In this short romantic comedy, Philip Jettan, heir to a country estate, is told by his childhood sweetheart that he is too unsophisticated and boorish, and that he must go to town to become a real gentleman or she will not have him. Reluctantly he travels to Paris, where (somewhat implausibly) he takes naturally to French fashion and court gentility and is a great social success. On his return, his beloved Cleone barely recognises the new, polished Philip, and he has to win her approval all over again.

Although rather a contrived, unconvincing plotline, Powder and Patch is full of witty dialogue and has some very funny scenes, particularly with the role-reversal of the couple when Philip returns to England. Heyer's usual warmth and humour brings the characters to life and makes them all likeable and enjoyable to read about.

An amusing little novel, great for picking up if you fancy something light and quick to read.

Next up: Stephen Fry in America by Stephen Fry

Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Definitive Guide to Screenwriting - Syd Field

I began this book completely uneducated as to screenwriting – I'd watched and enjoyed films, but had no idea what went into the process of crafting them. Field starts out by explaining the basics of film structure and theory (very useful if, like me, you're a total beginner), then goes on to dedicate individual chapters to specifics like character, plot, and each section of the film. He finishes by explaining the process of turning a freshly-written screenplay into an eventual film, which again was very useful new information for me.

Field has an open, conversational style that makes for approachable reading and ease of understanding. I did find that some points felt rather laboured, and that he takes a rather didactic tone (sometimes it felt like I was being told what to think and feel, as well as what to do, during the screenwriting process), but on the whole this was very engaging and pleasant to read considering it is, essentially, a textbook.

As my own background is in literature, it was especially interesting for me to see the very different methods by which a screenplay must tell a story – by showing only the external, in particular tiny details that would be implicit in a novel – as opposed to the forms I'm more used to, where the reader is usually privy to what goes on in the protagonist's head, and any external cues we're given are those perceived specifically by that character.

I couldn't help but feel a bit annoyed by Field's assertion that for a film adaptation of a novel “you are not obligated to remain true to the original material.” I can see that there are great challenges involved in transferring a story from one medium to another (more than I'd appreciated before reading this book), but I, and probably many others, are familiar with that sense of disappointment that comes when you see a much-anticipated screen adaptation of a beloved novel and it just isn't the same, it doesn't capture what you loved about the book at all. In my opinion there's nothing wrong with a screenwriter reading a novel and feeling inspired to write a screenplay on a similar theme – just please, please, unless you're willing to be faithful to the original, don't label it as an adaptation.

Next up: Powder and Patch by Georgette Heyer

Thursday, 18 June 2015


This week's Booking Through Thursday is:

When you travel, do you bring one book with you? Or a pile of them?

And, is that pile still a load of paper to lug around? Or do you use an e-book reader like a Kindle or your iPad to help carry the load? (Because, even if you prefer paper, it can get heavy when you’re traveling!)

It depends on how long a journey I'm going on, but I always try to take one more book than I think I'll need, just in case. In spite of the inconvenience I still can't bring myself to buy a Kindle, so it's physical books for me. I do make sure that I choose relatively small, densely-typed paperbacks to cut down on weight and luggage space, though.

Much of the time I'll end up accidentally buying more books when I'm away, so I'll come back with twice the quantity I left with in any case!

Saturday, 13 June 2015


This week's Booking Through Thursday is:

What magazines do you subscribe to? Personal ones? Professional ones?
Or do you only/mostly pick up your periodicals at the newsstand?
How do you feel about digital editions versus print?
Do you save the old copies after you read them? Or promptly recycle them?

This is a very boring answer, but honestly I don't really subscribe to any magazines at all. It's true that I do get the occasional one through my door - I think the alumnus magazine from my university is the only one right now, thankfully RSPB stopped sending them about a year after I stopped my donations - but after a brief flick through I never really read them, they just go into the bin.

Those girly magazines with full-page spreads of celebrities' before-and-after diets/divorces/plastic surgery/etc are always lying around at work, and sometimes I'll have a glance at them if I'm bored, but I've never really been interested enough in any one publication to want to pay for it or order it regularly.

I find that I prefer to stay up-to-date by following blogs and clicking through links my friends post on Facebook, and things like that, so for me the internet has made paper magazines pretty redundant.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Lamentation - C J Sansom

In C J Sansom's most recent installment, hunchbacked medieval lawyer Matthew Shardlake is asked to help Queen Catherine Parr recover a compromising book revealing her controversial religious opinions, before it is brought to King Henry VIII and causes her downfall and possible execution. His efforts to discover the book entangle him with some of the most powerful figures in the realm and lead him into danger and self-doubt.

As with the previous novels in the series, one of the best things about this novel is the vividity of description Sansom uses to bring the reader into medieval London. We experience the sights, smells and sounds, and are jostled in the crowds along with Shardlake. I'm not ashamed to admit that much of my historical knowledge is taken from historical fiction, and getting to know historical characters and their deeds by almost experiencing them by proxy sticks in my mind much better than by trying to memorise dates and battles.

Sansom creates memorable, believable characters, and the plot twists and winds deviously with betrayal, double-bluffs, spies and infiltration. Lamentation is full of emotional depth as well as intrigue, and keeps you turning the pages right until the end.

Next up: The Definitive Guide to Screenwriting by Syd Field

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Graduation Presents

This week's Booking Through Thursday is:

May and June … graduation season.
If you were to give a book as a graduation present to some eager person ready to launch themselves into the world … what would it be?

I know the most sensible answer would be 'some kind of inspirational self-help guide on how to achieve your dreams', but I think what I'd actually want to give someone would be Victor Hugo's The Count of Monte Cristo.

Not only is it a coming-of-age story, where the protagonist develops from a naive young man to a worldly, experienced millionaire, but it's absolutely full of adventures, subterfuge and colourful characters. Well worth reading as a novel, as well as thematically appropriate for someone stepping out into the real world for the first time.

Although hopefully very few of the things that happen in The Count of Monte Cristo will happen to this year's young graduates. Hopefully.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Film adaptation - Poldark

In terms of accuracy to the novels, I can only comment as far as the first half of the TV series is concerned, as it seems to cover both Ross Poldark and Demezla, and I haven't yet read the second novel in the series.

The casting didn't exactly fit the characters' appearances as described in the novels – Ross' eyes and Elizabeth's hair were the wrong colour, and I think Eleanor Tomlinson is far too naturally pretty for Demelza - it looked like they had to try quite hard to make her unattractive for the first few episodes. However, the actors played the parts incredibly well, and I soon forgot about the physical differences. I also really liked the fact that the supporting cast playing the poor villagers and the miners actually looked unhealthy, dirty and poor, including Demelza to begin with.

It felt to me as though they'd lost much of the moral ambiguity of the novels, and made more of a 'heroes against villains' feeling with Ross and Demelza on one side and the Warleggan family on the other. In the first novel at least, both Ross and Demelza (who are point-of-view characters) are, although well-meaning, clearly flawed individuals, and George Warleggan is portrayed as nothing worse than a rather selfish, bourgeois rising businessman. The subtle dynamics of Elizabeth and Demelza's relationship were portrayed well, however, as was Ross' incessant brooding (Aidan Turner really does have a fantastic brooding face).

The Cornish scenery was beautifully shot and lent a stunning backdrop to the story, and the house interiors felt solid, dark and lived-in. The soundtrack was also beautiful and evocative. Overall, a surprisingly faithful adaptation of a poignantly human story. Well worth watching if you like period dramas.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Scorn With Added Vitriol - Matthew Parris

Bonus Review: Scorn With Added Vitriol by Matthew Parris

This a fun little book full of hundreds (possibly more than a thousand?) of collected short insults and curses on a wide variety of topics, throughout history to the present day. There are enough in here to appeal to peoples' different senses of humour – everything from open vulgarity to suave lines from Oscar Wilde - and I've enjoyed picking out my favourites to post on my Facebook feed.

Parris has sorted them into themes, some neatly arranged so that they seem to answer each other in an ongoing argument. A great little stocking-filler, ideal for dipping into on a coffee table, in the bathroom, or (my personal favourite) during video game loading screens.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Books into Film

This week's Booking Through Thursday is:

What book would you love to see turned into a movie?

(Yes, with the understanding that it would be everything you hoped it could be, doing justice to the story, the characters, the writer’s vision, and so on. Not a hatchet-job horror.)

While there are many, many, MANY books that I love and think would make great films if adapted properly, Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels always struck me as the easiest to convert into films. He actually said (when I was lucky enough to hear him speak at a literary festival) that he saw the action like a film in his head when he wrote them, and that really translates onto paper.

I know a few Discworld films have already been made, but personally I found them all a bit... wrong. The Colour of Magic majorly miscast David Jason as Rincewind, and then recast him as Albert in Hogfather, which is a much better fit, but the problem for me is that in another novel Albert and Rincewind actually meet each other, so to cast them as the same actor is just so non-canon. They weren't terrible adaptations as such, and it was great to see some Discworld stories make it to the big screen, but personally I think they started with the wrong ones.

Mort would make a fantastic film - it's already written very much like a screenplay, and has plenty of visual jokes written into it that would translate well straight to the screen. I always felt as though The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic were more of a warm-up for Sir Terry than fair examples of the Discworld series, and that the series improved very much from Equal Rites onwards.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy - Helen Fielding

I was a little dubious about a Bridge Jones sequel about her being aged 50 or so, and having finished the novel I'm still not quite convinced.

For one thing, we begin with a narrative voice that feels identical to Bridget in her 30s, and while her naivety and social ineptness were amusing and plausible in her younger incarnations in Bridget Jones' Diary and Bridge Jones: The Edge of Reason, her inexperience sits badly on a woman in her 50s. I found that I was too young to relate to some aspects of the story, and never having had children also meant that I'd only ever experienced the child-related parts as a child – not that that's an inherent criticism of the novel, just that I personally didn't get as much from it as I might have done.

I felt quite uncomfortable throughout with 20-year age gap between Bridget and her new boyfriend Roxter, and it seems to me very convenient (and frankly unrealistic) that she is now so rich she never needs to work except as a hobby.

On the plus side, Mad About the Boy had more depth and poignancy to it, as it showed the changes (some very sad) that had taken place in the lives of the characters in the 15 years that had passed since the last instalment. There are many genuinely funny moments to balance out the melancholy, and as well as a romantic comedy this is about a woman coming to terms with age and beginning to accept herself as she is.

So mixed impressions overall, but I did enjoy reading it for the most part, and by the end was thoroughly heart-warmed and cried a little bit.

Next up: Lamentation by C J Sansom

Monday, 11 May 2015

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever - Stephen Donaldson

It's taken me a long time to finish, but it was worth every minute. On the cover, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever is described as a “classic epic fantasy trilogy”, but it's so much more than that. Yes, it is an epic fantasy, with rolling hills, suspiciously elf- and dwarf-like human tribes, giants, orc-like twisted creatures of evil, and learned Lords who wield magical staves. I expected that much from the cover and blurb.

However, the first chapter begins with Thomas Covenant, previously successful author with wife and child, who was recently diagnosed with leprosy and as a result lost his family, his respect and his health. We have an incredibly vivid and moving account of the discovery of his disease and his sudden change to pariah in his own home in small-town America. It isn't until Covenant is hit by a police car and concussed that the 'fantasy' part of the story begins.

Covenant was warned on diagnosis that many lepers retreat into self-induced hallucinations to try and escape from the harsh reality of his disease, and so when he is plunged into a fantastic, beautiful land where his nerves are healed and he can function as a healthy adult once more, he doesn't believe any of it. One of the most fascinating aspects of this trilogy is the narrative viewpoint – instead of a hero, or even an anti-hero, we have almost a non-participant, a man who doesn't believe that any of what he's experiencing is real. Another thing that really sets The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant apart is the psychology of disability, which is so deeply and accurately portrayed; the foreword tells us that Stephen Donaldson's father worked with lepers in India in the 1940s and 50s, and that the author lived with him as a child when he was performing this work. His personal knowledge of the subject is obvious from the poignant, nuanced but brutally honest portrayal of Covenant's leprosy.

Gender equality was an unexpected but pleasant surprise, too. In most male-written fantasy universes sexual division is rife, but in The Land the council of elders who form a kind of parliament are all referred to as 'Lords', regardless of their gender. Similarly, when a couple marries, the wife takes the husband's name, but the husband also takes the wife's name – for instance, one couple Covenant meets are named Trell Atiaran-mate and Atiaran Trell-mate. Women are expected to be just as competent as men, and in fact the High Lord who leads the council in the second novel is a relatively young woman who is respected for her personal abilities.

Donaldson's unusual use of adjectives gives a lurid, dreamlike quality both to the fantasy Land and to the real-life sections, and he describes scenes using all of the senses, including touch, smell and taste, not just sound and vision. He builds a world rich with detail and background lore, my only criticisms being that he uses certain odd adjectives a little too often so that they start to jar ('extravagantly' and 'anile' being a couple of examples) and that I find his characters' habit of bursting into song or poetry during solemn, ceremonial occasions a little cringe-worthy.

That said, this is a story full of contradictions and moral ambiguity, and Donaldson is a master of the cliff-hanger chapter – many times when reading this I decided to just finish the current chapter and put it down, but found myself compelled to continue to find out what happened. I can't recommend this too highly – it has so much more depth and poignancy than your average fantasy novel, and is a very good epic fantasy story on top of that.

Next up: Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

Thursday, 7 May 2015


This week's Booking Through Thursday is:

It seems like I’m always asking about actual books … but what about poetry? Do you read it? Write it? Like it? Not like it? Do you prefer song lyrics? (Because we can all agree there’s a relation between poems and lyrics, right?)

 I do like poetry, although I much prefer C16-C18 poetry in which rhyme and rhythmic structure were still considered important over modern poetry where poets often deliberately reject these things. It just doesn't feel like poetry to me without that kind of structure, just a weirdly formatted sentence.

I used to write a bit of it at university for my creative writing degree, and once I got used to it I found I really enjoyed it - it was a bit like a crossword puzzle in that you had to fit things into the prescribed structure and rhyme scheme, but it was also easier to condense and express emotion than with prose. I had one poem published in my university's yearly anthology, but I haven't written any since I finished the degree - I just haven't felt the need to sit down and do it, and I don't really feel like anyone would read it if it wasn't their job do to so.

As for song lyrics, I can see the link between lyrics and poetry, but the way many songs are produced means that they lack personal meaning for the final performer, and lose a lot that way - of course there are some wonderful singer-songwriters who perform their own work, but when a song is written by a team of 6 and sung by someone who hasn't written a single word of what they're performing, it doesn't have much soul.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Costume and Fashion: A Concise History - James Laver

Bonus review! (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever, while very good, is also extremely long, being a trilogy in one book. A friend saw me reading it at lunch today and suggested it might also double as a self-defense item, on the grounds that it would probably stop a knife or bullet.)

I got this book from the library on a whim. I've never had much interest in fashion in the modern sense, but I find historical clothing fascinating as a part of life in general throughout the past.

This book had a little less explanation of the factors that led to changes in clothing than I'd hoped, but to be fair it had a lot of ground to cover, and does actually call itself a concise history in the title. There were brief explanations as to motivating factors for change, and very detailed timelines with a lot of wonderful illustrations.

Pivotal changes such as cross-cultural invasions, trading routes, and inventions that led to changes in clothing and fashion all link in to the developments that took place. Although it's a lot of information to take in on casual reading (and I have to admit I did mostly skip through the final chapter about modern fashion and designers) I feel more as though I can watch a period drama or look at a painting and pinpoint more exactly which time period it presents, and know which details to watch out for.

Next up: The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever

Friday, 17 April 2015


This week's Booking Through Thursday is:

What proportion of the books you own are unread? 

 Good question. I think, looking around my bedroom, about 40%. I really need to stop buying new books before I've read (and ruthlessly purged) the ones I have, but I don't have the heart to give away a book unless I really didn't like it, and it's so hard to resist new ones.

Sunday, 12 April 2015


This week's Booking Through Thursday (response delayed by my trip to Derry for a family wedding) is:

Do you read books recommended by friends? Or do you prefer to find your own books to read.

I'm not very good at saying no to things, so if a friend is particularly insistent and actually provides the book in question, yes I will read it, all the way through, whether I like it or not. I do have some friends who share the same taste in books, though, and I'll happily accept their recommendations and look forward to reading them.

Normally I prefer to find my own novels, by browsing at random, searching for new novels by authors I like, or just idly clicking through Amazon recommendations, but I've found some really great authors from friends' recommendations and I hope to discover more in the future.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Le Chef-d'oeuvre inconnu - Honoré de Balzac

Balzac's short story Le Chef-d'oeuvre inconnu (The Unknown Masterpiece) was followed by a bonus even shorter story, La Leçon de Violon (The Violin Lesson) by E T A Hoffman.

I found Le Chef-d'oeuvre innconnu quite heavy going to begin with – it mostly seemed to be a discussion on artistic philosophy disguised as a conversation between Frenhofer, an elderly, gifted artist, and two younger painters, made even denser by the language barrier. Until the last few pages I thought that would be it, but the surprising and touching ending made up for it.

The two young painters are intrigued by their older friend's enthusiastic talk of his masterpiece which has taken him 10 years to complete, but which he won't allow anyone to see. When he finally allows them to view it, it turns out that spending so long on one picture has completely distorted his view, and that what was once a wonderful painting is ruined. When the young friends break this to him, he collapses down in misery. One of them returns the next day to check on him, and it turns out he passed away in the night, after having destroyed his entire works.

Having pushed through and finally finished the story, I could see that the rather dull majority of it was necessary for the effect of the final scene. However, I can't help but feel that a smaller quantity of the philosophical discussion would have been fine for building up the suspense for the final reveal.

La Leçon de Violon was more approachable, if also rather shrouded in artistic philosophy. A promising young violinist is introduced by his tutor, Haak, to Haak's own patron, a baron who was once one of the foremost violinists of the age. After an extended theoretical and philosophical speech (again), the baron allows the narrator to try out his own antique violin. Frustrated with his lack of technique, he shows him how it's done – except that his ability to play has completely disappeared, and only his belief in his own genius remains.

Both stories were interesting studies of human nature, although I can't help feeling they'd be more interesting if I actually cared much about artistic theory.

Next up: The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever by Stephen Donaldson

Monday, 30 March 2015

The Secret Adversary - Agatha Christie

The Secret Adversary is a proper old-fashioned adventure story in Agatha Christie form. 'Tuppence' Cowley and her childhood friend Tommy Beresford are unemployed and underfunded following the declaration of peace after World War I, and decide to make their fortunes by becoming adventurers. As luck would have it, their conversation is overheard by a rather suspicious man who offers them an equally suspicious job, and their investigations bring them into contact with an international gang bent on the destabalisation of the British Empire. At its head is the mysterious 'Mr Brown', who none of the gang members know the identity of, but each suspects it is one of his fellows.

Tuppence and Tommy race to find a girl, Jane Finn, who disappeared years ago with the pivotal package of documents on which the gang's plot hinges, with the aid of an imposing King's Councillor and Jane's cousin, an American millionaire.

This story has a fast-paced, light-hearted theatrical feel, with convenient amnesia, hidden document caches, and a high-speed car chase (with guns!). Great fun to read, with a devilishly thought out plot.

Next up: Le Chef-d'oeuvre inconnu by Honoré de Balzac

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Book vs film results

So a week ago I set up a couple of polls on, to find out the relative popularity of books against their film adaptations. Here are the results, from a sample size of 225 on the book survey and 181 on the film survey (click for a larger, legible version. Books are in blue, films in red):

The most read books were:

1) Harry Potter series: 82%
2) Hunger Games series: 66%
3) Alice in Wonderland: 64%
4) The Diary of Anne Frank: 63%
5) The Hobbit: 61%
=6) The Chronicles of Narnia: 57%
=6) A Christmas Carol: 57%
=6) Mockingjay: 57%
=6) Pride and Prejudice: 57%
10) The Twilight series: 56%

and the most watched films:  
4) The Lord of the Rings trilogy: 77%
=6) Mean Girls: 69%
=6) Jaws: 69%
=9) Twilight (2008): 63%

The lead read books were:

1) Barry Lyndon: 1%
=2) Queen Bees and Wannabes: 2%
=2) Ross Poldark: 2%
=2) Martin Chuzzlewit: 2%
=2) Barnaby Rudge: 2%
=2) The First Men in the Moon: 2%
=2) Dombey and Son: 2%
=8) Bel-Ami: 3%
=8) Father Brown: 3%
=10) The Prestige: 4%
=10) Starter for Ten: 4%
=10) Little Dorrit: 4%
=10) The Mystery of Edwin Drood: 4%

and the least watched films were:

=100) Dombey and Son (1919): 0%
=100) Hard Times (1994): 0%
=98) The First Men in the Moon (2010): 1%
=98) Barnaby Rudge: 1%
=98) The Woman in White (1998): 1%
=94) Martin Chuzzlewit (1994): 2%
=94) A Tale of Two Cities (1980): 2%
=92) The Old Curiosity Shop (2007): 3%
=92) War and Peace (2007): 3%

The largest differences between reading and watching were:

- 67% more watched Mean Girls than read Queen Bees and Wannabes (maybe not surprising as it's a self-help book and a very funny film starring well-known actors)
- 54% more watched Jaws than read the novel
- 52% more watched Disney's animated The Hunchback of Notre Dame than read Hugo's novel (again, not very surprising, given that the film is an easy-access Disney production and the novel is a bit of a dense brick by most peoples' standards)
- 48% more read The Diary of Anne Frank than watched the film. I also discovered that The Diary of Anne Frank is on Goodreads' list of 'worst endings' - a bit of a controversial judgement, surely? It's not as though she ended it that way on purpose.
- 40% more have watched The Princess Bride and The Prestige than have read the novels. Personally I found The Princess Bride to be one of the few books I enjoyed much less than the film, due to the intrusive narrative voice and the fantastic film cast. Non-readers are really missing out on The Prestige, though - it adds a lot that isn't in the film.

I hope that if you're a bit of a statistics nerd, like me, you've found this fairly interesting. Take a look at the graphs for more details!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Constant companion

This week's Booking Through Thursday is:

Do you carry a book around with you? Inside the house? Whenever you go out? Always, everywhere, it’s practically glued to your fingers?
(And yes, digital books very much DO count as long as you’re spending time reading on your Kindle or iPad and not just loading them with books that you never actually read.)

Yes, I definitely carry a book with me almost everywhere I go. I only carry it around my own house when I'm going to be cooking, as then I can read it while stirring things - I don't feel the need to take it to the bathroom and I'm certainly not reading in the shower.

I always take a book when I'm going anywhere with a chance of waiting - for lunch breaks at work, queues in supermarkets, doctor's appointments - and definitely when travelling, I'll bring about 2 books more than I think I can get through in that time because the idea of maybe running out is just awful.

They're always physical books and not digital, I've never really got into reading on Kindle. It just doesn't feel like a book to me, it loses a lot of its character. I can see the logical convenience of it all, but it just doesn't count as a book in my head.