Posts Tagged ‘reading’

A book review:

Have you ever read a book you couldn’t finish fast enough? Not because it was boring you or because it wasn’t what you were expecting, but because it was wholly compelling?

After reading only the first few lines of If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, the debut novel by Jon McGregor, not only did I want to lock myself in a room until I finished it, I knew that as soon as I did I would want to start it all over again.

I was not disappointed.

Owing, perhaps, more to poetry than prose, McGregor’s masterpiece draws you in from page one, and believe me when I say there is no turning back.

There is nothing here which is extraordinary excepting, of course, the breathtakingly ordinary – the fullness of each character is portrayed in an instant, a flashbulb only, revealing secrets, longings and regrets in stark contrast – all set into the context of a lovely summers’ day.

If I may borrow from a review written at the front of the book; McGregor has the startling ability to remind his readers of the infinity in a grain of sand.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes, to anyone who will listen. Will I read it again? I have already started.

He says my daughter, and all the love he has is wrapped up in the tone of his voice when he says those two words, he says my daughter you must always look with both of your eyes and listen with both of your ears. He says this is a very big world and there are many many things you could miss if you are not careful. He says there are remarkable things all the time, right in front of us, but our eyes have like the clouds over the sun and our lives are paler and poorer if we do not see them for what they are.

He says, if nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable? (239)

I know it is only February, but this may be my book of the year.

So, to remarkable things.




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a page about books!

When asked whether I read a lot I always have to qualify: “As compared to whom?”

I have friends who devour books and think nothing of reading 75 or 80 titles a year, and at the same time friends who read perhaps five or six.  I like to think I’m quite comfortable in the middle ranges.  I can go weeks without even picking a book up, yet at certain times I’ll be in the middle of reading three different ones at the same time.

There is nothing wrong with people who don’t read so long as they are otherwise gainfully occupied.  It irks me when someone says they “have no free time for books” yet watches hours and hours of television.  If I can fit TV, books and my unhealthy facebook addiction into my own free time, certainly you can Sky+ the X-Factor and take time out to read something other than the gossip pages of the newspaper.

With that little rant well and truly over, I thought I would take the time to share with you the books I’ve read over the past few years that I have found particularly enjoyable and would recommend.  As a side note I would like to emphatically point out that I only have a written record of these titles because someone challenged me to read A Book a Week and I thought, “Well, if I’m going to do it I may as well have proof!” (Plus I have a terrible memory – absolutely awful – this list keeps me from endlessly wandering around book shops going “Have I read this? Who knows!?”)

So I have added a new page to this website.  If you look at the top of the page there should be a tab that reads: On Books.  Here you will find my list of recommendations as well as a short list of those titles that I am planning to read.

As always I am up for suggestions, so if you can think of something I haven’t mentioned please comment!

Also, the opinions stated are my own and do not represent those of my affiliate stations. 🙂  Feel free to disagree, vehemently, and comment as such!



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2010 books

My Book-A-Week regime for 2009 has turned out rather well, acutally. I’ve managed to read 49 books so far and it’s only mid-November.

I’ll probably post a summary of the books I’d recommend out of the ones I’ve read this year nearer to January, but with Christmas fast approaching I’m thinking more about what I’d like to read in the future.

So, here we go, the top-ten books I’d like to read in 2010. (In no particular order!)

An Arsonist’s Guide to Writer’s Homes in New England by Brock Clarke

The Diving Bell & the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Netherland by Joseph O’Neill

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (which has been on my list since 2007)

Shining at the Bottom of the Sea by Stephen Marche

Submarine by Joe Dunthorne

Singer by Ira Sher

Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Hopefully at the end of 2010 these will make my list of recommendations!  Fingers crossed I actually get them read over the next year or so, some of them aren’t easy to find.  Especially considering our library in Kilmarnock leaves much to be desired.



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In case you’re someone I don’t know, or have been living under a rock lately, I should probably say that I HAVE A JOB. YES!!! All that positive thinking (joke!) paid off, finally, and since the 12th of August I’ve been gainfully employed.

I started off as a personal assistant in the Service Futures department, but from this past Tuesday I’m officially the National Health Service Ayrshire & Arran Data Sharing Partnership senior support officer. One heck of a job title, don’t you think? Basically I’m administrative support, but I think that a mouthful of words is always the best option!!

Other than getting up in the morning to go to work (YAY!) and actually enjoying my job (seriously!!) I’ve not been up to much. S and I are trying to keep a low profile until our funds eek their way out of the red.

Kate came back from Kansas and her and John got engaged which as sent me into a bit of a frenzy of excitement. I can’t imagine being happier for them!!! Although I am still formulating my plan to kidnap Kate and lock her in my basement garage so she doesn’t ever have to move back to Kansas. 🙂

I have also been reading A LOT. Seven books in the last 11 days, actually. Which ones?

Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince and HP & the Deathly Hallows and The Tales of Beedle the Bard by my good friend JK Rowling. I always enjoy re-reading Harry Potter but this time was different – because it has been too long I’d forgotten what happened. It was all very exciting and page-turning near the end.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman which I’ve read before but still enjoyed. It is totally different from the movie, which I’m afraid I actually like better. Sorry Neil. I would recommend both the book and the movie to anyone, but if I could make a suggestion, read the book AFTER you’ve seen the movie.

How Much of Us There Was by Michael Kimball which may actually been the saddest book I have ever read. It’s about an elderly couple and is written in the husband’s point of view. His wife has a seizure in the night and remains in a coma and he tries everything he can think of to wake her up, he sets her alarm clock on her hospital bedside table every night thinking if she hears the alarm going off she’ll wake up. It is a story of their declining lives amidst their strong love for each other. It reminded me of my Nana and Papa a lot, which I suppose made it even sadder. But I absolutely loved the book and will read it again, once I have stopped crying every time I think about it.

Light on Snow by Anita Shrieve which is about a father and daughter who discover an abandoned freshly newborn baby when snowshoeing one evening near their home in New Hampshire. The mother of the baby shows up at their house a week or so later and ends up getting stranded there during a particularly bad storm. The novel focuses mostly on how the young girl deals with trying to understand the horrible crime this woman committed by abandoning her newborn in the snow and at the same time forming a close friendship with her. It was pretty good, although I was kind of just reading it to finish reading it.

And tonight I finished Addition by Toni Jordan. It’s a very clever novel in which the lead character is nearly crippled by obsessive-compulsive disorder. She counts everything in her life and can’t function without her strict routine. She falls in love with a guy and together they try to cure her of her obsession but it all falls apart. It was gently comic and throughly enjoyable. A great bubble-bath read.

So, I guess, that’s what I have been up to.

I am working on something for my next post, which may take a while. I am also going to be reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman next.

And I will be going to work at my fabulous new job. Wish me luck!


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More than I’d like to admit, most of the time.

Especially in literature.  If you are taking the immense time and effort to write a novel, please pay attention to yourself.

Now, while I happen to love her books, Jodi Picoult  is often guilty of these inconsistencies.  While I hate it, and S will vouch for my frequent mini-tantrums, at least it gives me something to do while reading the books.  I am always on the lookout for these differences, that most people wouldn’t realise because they’re so insignificant or so far apart in the text.

For instance:  On page 219: “Jack glanced own at his Hanes T-shirt, his striped boxers, and a pair of sweatpants he’d bought with Addie at Kmart.”

Then on page 227: “Jack sat back down and inspected his fingernails.  He scratched a a loose thread in his jeans. He unlaced his sneaker, and then retied it.”

Well, that bothers me.  How can Jack scratch a loose thread in his JEANS when he is wearing SWEATPANTS?  And, before you ask, no – he didn’t have the chance to change – he’s in jail.

It just annoys the heck out of me.  There was another, more significant one in that book (Salem Falls, for anyone who is interested – it was pretty good), but it showed up at the very end and I was in such a hurry to find out what happens (I predicted the outcome on page 224, if anyone is interested) that I didn’t take note and, after a cursory glance to find it again I gave up deciding it wasn’t worth it just to prove my point.

Then there are poorly edited novels which get underneath my skin and make me completely insane.  I will repeat myself, if you are going to take the time and effort to write a novel and get it published, please, PLEASE proof-read it – for spelling errors, at least.

Anyway, I suppose that’s my little rant over with.  Now, I’ve read Change of Heart and Nineteen Minutes and Salem Falls and of course My Sister’s Keeper – the next of Picoult’s novels on my list is Handle with Care which is due back at the library on Tuesday, so I’d better get cracking.



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Once you’ve quit your job, that is.

So far I’ve watched 4 films (An Affair To Remember, Minority Report, Pretty In Pink & Almost Famous), 4 episodes of Criminal Intent, 4 episodes of Without A Trace, and 8 episodes of Friends.  Not to mention some daytime television, Tennis and UK TV Food. 

I’ve also finished reading To Kill A Mockingbird and have assembled notes on the text for our “book club”, and I’ve started reading Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. 

I’ve taken three baths and two showers.

I have read the entire back catalogue of 9 Chickweed Lane comics on Comics.com (3,040 strips).

I have had lunch with a former Temp who worked at Land Engineering. It was an interesting conversation.

I have eaten an entire “giant” watermelon. 

Oh, and I also revised my C.V., spoke to the temp agency twice and wrote 4 cover letters to send out on Monday.

If any of you have any desire to wish me well, I am waiting to hear whether I’ve got an interview for a perfect job next week sometime, so cross your fingers!!

In the next few days I plan to watch more TV, more films, read more books (I got 4 out from the library) and eat more watermelon.  Summertime is a great time to have no job.

If only I had a job!!!



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a book a week…

At the beginning of every year I resolved to finally, finally read one book a week for the duration of the year.  I have yet to stick to my goal.  This year is the closest I have gotten since I started counting.  With 10% of the year (and 16 days off work) left I have read 30 books.  Which is only 58% of the total, but 10 of those were over 400 pages (one @ 584 and one @ 768) and the 30 books add up to a total of 10,525 pages – so I think I have done pretty well. 

Among them: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, A Quiet Belief in Angels by R. J. Ellory,  Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen (finally), The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and lastly The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger which I finished today. 

The Secret Life of Bees is one which I have been wanting to read for a few years now and I am wondering if I would have read it differently a few years ago.  Even a few months ago.  Read it for yourself and see if you know what I am talking about.

The Time Traveller’s Wife gets 6 Stars out of 5 in my book.  I couldn’t read it fast enough.  I wish I had stopped halfway through, though, because the ending hit me hard.  “Had we but world enough, and time,” Marvell.

The list of books I want to read does not think to stop growing to let me catch up.  It is 45 strong today, but probably 50 by tomorrow.  Kate seems to be the only one who recommends books to me these days, so I don’t know where the list comes from.  Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England,  A Prayer for Owen Meany, The Pillars of the EarthStardust.  Many, many others.   None of the Classics are included – that list is 40 strong in and of itself.  Of Human Bondage, or Their Eyes Were Watching God.  The list does not include a single novel by  Dickens and if you have to ask why you do not know me very well at all.

Next I think I will read something by Terry Pratchett even though it is not on the list.  Niffenegger’s poetry and rawness has hollowed me out and I want to cuddle up with the literary equivalent of a big mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows on top – I think Soul Music will do wonders.


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