Month in Books: May 2017

I hope you’ve all had lovely Mays! Here’s a little book summary of how mine went:

The Arrival – Shaun Tan – 5 stars If you saw last month’s wrap-up, you’ll know that I only recently discovered Shaun Tan’s work, and that I am completely in love with it.

The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood – 3 stars I was actually really disappointed about this. 3 stars is by no means a bad rating, but I usually really love Atwood’s books! This is a Dystopian, but I felt like it didn’t ring true. Of course The Handmaid’s Tale must be horrifically difficult to try and match, but I did think this one fell a little flat.

The Communist Manifesto – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Just out of curiosity! I found this a lot more readable (in terms of accessibility, this isn’t a comment on the politics!) than I thought it would be.

Citizen of the Galaxy – Robert A. Heinlein – 4 stars I heard that this was a childhood scifi classic, so I decided to give it a try. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I don’t really have a scifi-reading background, but although it was very ‘genre-d’, I found it accessible, and still very human. I was actually really surprised to find that it had been written in the 50’s; it still stands as futuristic – and just really cool – today.

The Abolition of Work – Bob Black – 2 stars A little essay pertaining to the idea that all work is slavery and therefore no one should do it. Very readable and mildly humorous, but also a little too silly to really take seriously. I found the perspective interesting though!

Vicious – V.E. Schwab – 4 stars A Young Adult novel that takes the superhero trope and refreshes it. This was a re-read for me, and you can see my latest review for it here!

By Searching – Isobel Kuhn – 5 stars This is an autobiography of Isobel Kuhn, who was a Canadian missionary in China during the 1920’s. She writes fluently and I love her tone! She’s such a cool woman, and I just loved hearing her story from such a personal level; she’s very open and vulnerable. This is the first of what I believe to be three books detailing her life story – I’m really looking forward to getting to the other two!

The Glories of God’s Love – Milton Vincent – 3 stars A little Christian book to remind people of what the gospel message means day to day. Although I love the concept, I have to admit to getting a little bored with the writing style – maybe that’s me being a terrible person? Either way, its very short and very accessible. Three stars!

And that’s all for May! Recognise any of the titles, or have any recommendations for me to tackle in June? I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading this month!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Dani

A is for Atwood

I see a lot of bloggers and vloggers going for the whole ‘A-Z of my bookshelf’ thing, and I felt like it was a pretty cool idea! I’m taking up my version of the challenge – basically, I’m going to write 26 posts (not necessarily consecutively), one for each letter of the alphabet, and talk about a book, author or theme represented. Yeah…all will become clear.

Today is day one, so for ‘A’ I’ve chosen Margaret Atwood!

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is a Canadian writer, born on 18 November 1939. In case you were interested.

I was first introduced to this lovely lady in my A Level English class – we got to study her dystopian novel, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, and although it deals with difficult themes, I really enjoyed diving deeper into Atwood’s gorgeous writing.

While this lady started her writing career in poetry, she has since moved onto a wider variety of projects including novels, essays, and even a libretto for an opera! She’s also credited with the invention of the LongPen, which allows the author to sign books and chat with fans without actually being present.

Atwood’s father was an entomologist, which means he studied insects. Due to this heritage, Margaret, reportedly, has nothing against eating insects, and is particularly partial to roasted great locusts. Each to their own, I guess.

Another fun thing to remember is that her first book signing was in a shop…in the men’s sock and underwear department.

We nearing the end of things I have to say about this author, but let’s end up with this: Margaret Atwood is the first fiction writer ever to be place on Canada’s Walk of Fame. You go, girl!

What’s your favourite Margaret Atwood book?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Interesting Facts About Writers

Recently, I’ve been reading a few autobiographical books of authors, and it struck me that writers can be quite strange and acutely interesting people. Here’s a little collection of facts about famous writers that I found fascinating.

  • Margaret Atwood once had a boyfriend who sent her a real, blood-sodden cow’s heart pierced by an arrow  for Valentine’s Day. What a romantic.
  • Michael Morpurgo’s grandfather was a poet, some of whose works were set to music by Edward Elgar himself!
  • If you reading this have published a piece of writing and are disappointed with the ten copies you’ve sold, take heart – you’re doing better than the Brontes’ first did, my friend! In 1846, the Bronte sisters collaborated and published a book of poetry…it sold two copies.

Virginia Woolf beard hoax

 

  • The above photograph details what is known as the ‘Dreadnought hoax‘. Basically, a group of Bloomsbury writers and artists including, Virginia Woolf, dressed up and donned fake beards to trick the crew of the HMS Dreadnought into thinking they were Abyssinian princes. They were given a forty minute tour of the ship.
  • As a schoolboy, Roald Dahl worked as a taste-tester for Cadbury’s chocolate.
  • Victor Hugo’s cure for writer’s block was…nudity. He’d get his servants to remove his clothes, and instruct them not to return them until he’d met his deadline.
  • John Steinbeck’s first manuscript for Of Mice and Men was eaten by his puppy. He later wrote telling his editor: “I was pretty mad, but the poor little fellow may have been acting critically.”
  • Charles Dickens always carried a compass with him: he liked to sleep facing the north. He thought it would improve his writing.

I hope you enjoyed this little collection of trivia – let me know your favourite literary facts!

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

~Dani

Month in Books: September 2014

This month has been my best reading month this year! I had a lot of spare time working as a receptionist, and hanging around before university, so I got through quite a selection! As always, you can clicking the title will send you to the Goodreads page for the book.

Tales from Ovid – Ted Hughes – 5 stars This is Ted Hughes’ translation and interpretation of some of the Roman poems presented in The Ovid. They’re nicely written and very accessible to read.

Disappearing in Plain Sight – Francis L. Guenette – 3.5 stars The story of a small lake-side community that run a camp for teenagers who are working through problems. It’s a great read, with a real emphasis on psychology so if you’re into that, this book may be for you! I reviewed this here.

Be Bright: Living for Christ at University – Dr Andrew King – 4 stars The title is pretty self-explanatory! This is a really short little book that is both wise and very practical.

Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell – 4 stars This is a really well-loved contemporary romance, although I’ll admit I was expecting more magic and less Jacqueline Wilson.

New Weather – Paul Muldoon – 5 stars This is the most expensive collection of poetry I’ve ever come across! That said, it’s really beautiful and thought-provoking. I thoroughly enjoyed working through these poems.

The Hobbit – JRR Tolkein – 5 stars I loved this! It was my first Tolkein book, so I was excited to get stuck in. The world, characters and whimsical story-telling completely enthralled me. I wrote a post about it here.

How to Climb the Eiffel Tower – Elizabeth Hein – 5 stars I reviewed this here! I really loved this story, which I think is perfectly described here: “A moving, surprisingly humorous, sometimes snarky novel about life, friendship… and cancer.”

The Luck Uglies – Paul Durham – 4 stars I believe this is what you call ‘Middle Grade’ reading, but I flew threw it. It’s a great fantasy story with lovely characters, and it’s just so much fun.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar – Roald Dahl – 4 stars I’m actually not Dahl’s biggest fan, but I did really like this story! It’s unusual and fun with a strong moral core.

Goldfinger – Ian Fleming – 4 stars Seventh in the James Bond original series, this is actually the first one I’ve ever read! I really enjoyed it, and wrote a review here.

Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable – Valorie Burton – 5 stars I wrote a review here. This is a Christian self-help book, and I found the layout and content really helpful and relevant.

The Lord of the Flies – William Golding – 3 stars Yes. This is the story where a lot of stranded children take over an island and go crazy. It was genuinely terrifying.

Negotiating with the Dead – Margaret Atwood – 4 stars This is a book made up of what were originally Atwood’s lectures on creative writing. It’s been described as erudite, chatty and fun, and I think that’s completely accurate!

Shutter Island – Dennis Lehane – 4 stars A really psychological read set in a mental institute on an isolated island. I wrote a review here.

That Summer – Sarah Dessen – 4 stars This is my first Sarah Dessen book, and it really wasn’t what I was expecting! It’s a sweet and relatable little contemporary.

Love, Rosie – Cecelia Ahern – 5 stars I wrote a review here. I absolutely loved this book! The quirky structure and heart-warming characters really made it something special for me.

And that’s a wrap on September! (Sixteen books – I think that’s my record!) What have you been reading? Are you interested in any of the titles listed above?

Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

~Dani

Why Write?

I’m reading Negotiating With The Dead by Margaret Atwood, which is in essence ‘a writer on writing’. There’s one particularly long quote that I love, and wanted to share – I’ve cropped it and messed about with the format, but I think the intended message is still there.

Why do you [write]?

To record the world as it is. To set down the past before it is all forgotten. To excavate the past because it has been forgotten…

Because I knew I had to keep writing or else I would die. Because to write is to take risks, and it is only by taking risks that we know we are alive.

To produce order out of chaos. To delight and instruct…To please myself. To express myself. To express myself beautifully…

To hold a mirror up to Nature. To hold a mirror up to the reader. To paint a portrait of society and its ills. To express the unexpressed life of the masses. To name the hitherto unnamed…

Because to create is human. Because to create is Godlike….To say a new word. To make a new thing. To create a national consciousness, or a national conscience…

To spin a fascinating tale. To amuse and please the reader. To amuse and please myself. To pass the time, even though it would have passed anyway…

Because I was driven to it by some force outside of my control…

To experiment with new forms of perception…Because the story took hold of me and wouldn’t let me go…To defend a minority group or oppressed class.

To speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

To expose appalling wrongs or atrocities…To speak for the dead. To celebrate life in all its complexity…To allow for the possibility of hope and redemption.

To give back something of what has been given to me.