Banned Books

I’ve made the decision to stop buying books for a bit. I can hear your sharp intake of breath right now. You’re thinking

But you love buying books. You have a book depository wish list that is ten deep. What about all those awesome books that are about to be published?!

And believe me, I hear you. I pretty much buy a book every time I go out. And that’s kind of my problem. While my wish list is ten books long, so is my physical to be read pile. And they’ve been piling up since Christmas.

I’ve got the new Maria V Snyder and a new Traci Harding. Plus Sebastian Bach’s memoir (the rock one, not the classical one). Plus I’m only like a hundred sites into 1001 Historical sites you should see before you die, I haven’t even ventured out of the Americas yet.

So I’m sticking to this self imposed ban until I do some reading. Or maybe just until the new Patrick Ness is out next week.

Reading Challenge 2017

Every year I complete a reading challenge. For the past three years this challenge has been set by my colleagues at work and is based on the Read Harder model.

Reading Harder means picking up books that you never normally would. It’s not about reading more in quantity, but makes you read more widely. Because we all know if I really had the choice I would just read YA non stop all year.

So this challenges gets you to read 50 different books that are each used to fill one category on the list.

Sometimes I plan what I am going to use for each category and other times I have to do a bit of tweaking to make the book I want to read fit. This year I think there is going to need to be a lot of planning as the categories are more specific than ever.

Category

Title

Author

1

A book based on a fairy tale

2

A Young Adult bestseller

3

A book set in your home state

4

A book translated into English

5

A book set in Europe

6

A book that’s becoming a movie this year

7

A book written by a celebrity

8

A book at least 100 years older than you

9

A book recommended by a family member

10

A book with a protagonist who has your occupation

11

A book that takes place during summer

12

A book with a blue cover

13

A dystopian novel

14

A book about a road trip

15

A book that takes place on an island

16

A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy

17

A book written by a local author

18

A book published this year

19

A book based on a true story

20

A book whose author has an X in their name

21

A ghost story

22

A book with a month in the title

23

A book by a female author

24

A book recommended by a librarian

25

A book that is a story within a story

26

A book with multiple authors

27

A book with a cat on the cover

28

A book by an author who uses a pseudonym

29

A book with a subtitle

30

A book from a non-human perspective

31

A steampunk novel

32

A book set in two different time periods

33

A book set in a hotel

34

A book that’s been mentioned in another book

35

A book from a genre you’ve never read before

36

A book with a synonym for chase in the title

37

A book by an indigenous author

38

A book of short stories

39

A book by your favourite author

40

The first book in a series

41

A book with more than 350 pages

42

A book about history or science

43

A prize winning book

44

A book by an author you’ve never read

45

A classic

46

A book of poems

47

A play

48

A book with an alliterative title

49

A book with a great first line.

50

A book you love – read it again!

Reading, reading, reading

It seems like I am a passenger of the reading train, and it doesn’t stop for anything – not even blogs.

These are what have kept me from blogging this month

 
These and an inherent laziness that I can’t seem to shake.

Next month I plan on doing an exponential clutter clearing challenge and also pledge to blog every day. It seems if I don’t set myself that goal and write it down it just doesn’t get done.
Coming up on my next blog: back to the every day grind. 

There Will Be Blogs

March has been an excellent reading month for me, which should mean it is also an excellent blogging month. But while I have found the time to sit down and read I haven’t really found the motivation to sit down and write. This is mostly because I would have to use my brain and at the moment it’s a little bit mush.
Any spare time I have had lately I have given over to eating and sleeping and some reading. Blogging just hasn’t been high on my list of priorities.
But I promise to be better.
I’ve got four books to write about and I will endeavour to do it before the end of the month.

Coming up on my next blog: Writing, writing, writing.

8. A Funny Book

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I am not quite sure what to write about this book. I am not even sure I should be putting it on my list, because while it’s author and publishers obviously intended for it to be funny, I can probably count on one hand how many times I laughed aloud.
I guess I am just disappointed. I like David Mitchell as a comedian a lot. He is always good when he is on QI and I enjoy many parts of The Mitchell and Webb Look. His humour just doesn’t seem to have translated into this collection of articles.

To be honest, I didn’t realise that this was just a collection of articles when I bought it. I did think it would be humorous essays of some kind, but the fact that he has just picked some articles that he has already written does not work well for him. I understand it’s a tried and true format for many column writers, heck it’s what gives Carrie Bradshaw her big break (yes, I know she is fictional, but it’s a good example anyway), but I feel like Mitchell just threw all his old articles in the air and whichever ones he could catch are the ones that went into this book.
Many of them are incredibly dated, like those about the GFC, or they are just very British, like those about the 2010 General Election. As a non-Briton none of that is really funny to me, I have my own political pundits from my own country to laugh at.
That’s not to say everything that he is writing about is irrelevant. Whenever he mentions himself and his childhood you cannot help but laugh. He has that classic self-deprecating tone that is the basis of all good humour. His social commentary is also good for a laugh, it’s just that there doesn’t seem to be enough of it.

One thing that really irked me about this book was it’s structure. I don’t mind that Mitchell has grouped his columns together into themes and that each has a little introduction. It helps to give some semblance of order and purpose to an otherwise ramshackle collection. What I do mind is that he has taken out all the headlines. You don’t know what each of the columns was called, and therefore don’t have any real clue as to what they are about before you start reading them. Often it is very difficult to see how one article relates to the others in each section. And yes he may have said it in the introduction to that section but I can’t remember back that far.

I did learn something reading this book though. I need to stick a post it to the front if every book I read this year so that when something comes up that I want to write about later I will remember it. Sure I could do gear the page, but to me that’s a desecration of the sanctity of a book, plus I probably still wouldn’t remember what it was on that page that I had wanted to write about.

Coming up on my next blog: 11 days until D day.

99 bottles of beer on the wall

I was going to call this post

84 books on the shelf

But it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, and while the tune might be playing in my head it certainly wouldn’t be playing in yours.

84/100 is a very bad stat for me at this time of year. We are only four days off the end of November and therefore 35 days off the end of the year and I should be much further towards reaching my goal by now. Fifteen books in thirty five days is a big ask.

To compensate I am currently reading two at the same time. It works, because one of them, Break Down, I can’t read at night because it is too unsettling. That is one gripe I have about the dystopian genre. Why does so much bad stuff have to happen? Why can’t the characters just catch a break and perhaps survive despite the mess the world is in?

So before bed I am rereading Sabriel. I find that the rereading helps too because I am not so stressed about what will happen because I know I like it and I was happy when I read it the first time. I’m reading it because I recently finished Garth Nix’s new book Clariel which is in the same series but set a long time before. I had forgotten just how much I love his writing and am hoping he will continue to write others based in the same world and fill in the gaps between Clariel and Sabriel.

I’ve also just been given both Jurassic Park novels to read in anticipation of the next film coming out mid next year. I figure I will probably be able to knock them over quickly because the are written by Michael Crichton. There seems to be this rule with Crichton’s novels that you’re not allowed to run a second hand book stall at a fete without having a copy of Prey for sale. Which means his novels are either very quick and easy to read, or that nobody likes them.

If you love Jurassic Park as much as I do you may want to watch the new trailer here. It won’t be the same without Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill, and it’s kind of sad Sir Richard Attenborough isn’t alive to see his park open to the public, but I’m definitely going to see it anyway.

Say it Loud

Did you know that today is International Read Aloud Day?
I didn’t until yesterday. But that didn’t stop me from jumping on the band wagon and exercising my vocal chords.
I shared one of my favourite books aloud today.

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My grandmother bought is for me a year or two ago (she was afraid that I was going to permanently borrow a copy from my work and so got me one of my own). I love this book because it is so funny and I like reading the voices.

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My favourite joke is the mouse.
I also read a little of In Cold Blood and I Capture the Castle, just a few pages to get my audience hooked.

I find reading aloud a great way to get people to want to read something. I am of the

judge a book by its cover

school ad so often don’t know what I am missing. And often it’s not enough to say

oh this book is about such and such

I don’t know if I will like such and such. I need to know what it sounds like or feels like.

But you have to have someone who reads well. Or at least with passion. There is nothing worse than a monotone drone to ruin even the most exciting story.

Coming up on my next blog: I can prove to you I have taken up swimming.

Water, water, everywhere

Honestly I should be reading right now. Reading books that is. Instead I’m browsing through trashy mags and now blogging (obviously).
I feel a bit like the Ancient Mariner.

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I have bought too many books lately and now I don’t know what to read. I don’t feel in the mood for the ones I bought, and the book I do want to read I left on my desk at work.
I feel a bit accomplished because I did read two things over the weekend, and have read 15 books during the first month of 2014, which is a good amount if I can keep it up for the rest of the year.
1. Cat book
2. Murder in Mississippi by John Safran
3. Bellman and Black: A Ghost Story by Diane Setterfield
4. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
5. Taste of Darkness by Maria V Snyder
6. A Symphony of Echoes: Volume 2 The Chronicles of St Mary’s by Jodi Taylor
7. Taronga by Victor Kelleher
8. A Child is Born by Jodi Taylor
9. Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
10. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
11. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
12. The Last Thirteen: 13 by James Phelan
13. The Intern by Gabrielle Tozer
14. The Club by David Williamson
15. The Giver by Lois Lowry

I don’t really have a favourite out of the ones I have read so far, Burial Riteswas pretty good, but there is nothing on the list that I feel I need to read again.

The Intern is probably the most exciting book I read all month, not least be a use I was so so lucky to find one with the elusive red cover. But I’ve already banged on about this so I won’t do it again.

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I did enjoy this book. It was an easy and interesting read, and as some of the praise suggests, is a bit more (and different from) than a teenage Devil Wears Prada. I liked the main character, Josie, and she is comparable to that other Josie I have read lately of Alibrandi fame. I am interested in her family and story and do want to know what happens next. Luckily for me, as with all young adult fiction, this too is going to be a series, and it is a series I will definitely keep reading. What I liked best I think is how it was age appropriate. A lot of characters in Young Adult seem to be doing things too mature for their age, and many in New Adult also seem mature beyond their years. Tozer has hit the age just right and made her character likeable, relatable and appropriate.

I also reread The Club last month (and then watched the film the same day).

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I had forgotten how much I like Williamson’s style. His words are so precise. He captures his setting perfectly. It also reminded me that Travelling North is playing at the STC at the moment so I’m off to see that next month too, and I will try to read it before I go (if I can find a copy at the library).

The last thing I read for the month was The Giver.

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I had been meaning to read it ever since I had heard it was going to be turned into a movie. It is one of those books where I wish children’s writers had realised they could make heaps of money off sequels. I just want to read more. More about what happened before and definitely more about what happened after. It is just classic children’s sci fi. And perfect in only the way children’s science fiction can be. Really, I should be calling it speculative fiction, but lets not get pedantic. I just can’t believe nobody had ever told me to read it before. It is such an excellent book. So I’m telling you all – read it if you haven’t already. It’s the perfect book to give on Give a Kid a Book Day (feb 14).

Coming up on my next blog: I won’t leave it seven days in between writing again.

Electronica

Just before new year I went on a bit on an iBookstore binge.

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I actually paid for a number of books. Normally I just download the free ones, but there were a few in some series that I needed to get so I actually paid for them.

I am not against e books in general, it’s just that I like keeping books, like having a physical representation of money spent.
I can’t read e books at night, it keeps me awake in the same way trawling on social media does. I don’t like reading them in bed either, and with a real book I don’t need robe near a power point when I read either. You can’t take e books in the bath either, even though I don’t like getting paper books wet, it’s a little more dire is you splash an electronic one.

I have to be in a certain mood to read e books too. Conditions have to be just right. The book has to be just right for my mood.
I feel like I have to read them in one sitting. There is more of a feeling of urgency to read quickly and finish a book when it is an e book. I don’t know why, I just feel myself rushing. I don’t feel like I savour the reading experience like I do with a paper book.
It could just be the books I have chosen to download though. I feel like e books lend themselves to the action and suspense genres, which contributes to a sweeping glance as well as a quick swiping finger.

There is just a real immediacy about e books that I am not sure that I like.

Coming up on my next blog: I need to find some books to read.