Monday, 24 February 2014

Morrissey Reading

This a purely gratutious post on my part. As I mentioned in my last post, if I like a character or an author, or in this case, a famous singer, then I like to see what they like to read [or liked to read in the past] so here are pictures of Morrissey reading [or posing with books anyway] when he was younger. Enjoy! 

Seems to be a fan of Oscar Wilde...

  Apparently, 1985 was inspired by George Orwell's 1984. In fact, it's meant to have the same premise. Looks intriguing.

Not to be confused with The Happy Prince. Of all the books featured, this one seems the most interesting to me and one I'm most likely to try. 

I have no idea what this one actually is. If anyone knows, tell me.

Finally, a work from the man himself. I am intending on reading this, although it looks a bit long and I've heard that the first half of the book is fantastically interesting....but the other half is apparently not. Who knows? I may do this as my first full on review on here, as so far I've merely offered suggestions of what to read, and how I choose what I read, rather than given a proper English student style review....

Friday, 21 February 2014

How do you choose what you're going to read next?

There are so many books in the world, that I often wonder how people go about choosing what they read. Some people always stick to the same genre, whilst others work their way through the library alphabetically. My Dad went through a phrase of only reading non- fiction [though now he's back into reading fiction]. Still others only read books they have been given, or just read books that have been made into films. I personally don't have any one particular system for choosing what to read next, I tend to choose what I want to read in several ways:

1. Based purely on the cover 
 It's rare for me to choose  a piece of fiction based on the cover alone, but it does happen occassionally. For instance I don't think I would have ever got round to reading Generation X by Douglas Coupland if it hadn't had such a bright cover [even though it had been recommended to me by my English teacher and the premise sounded intriguing] and that would have been a shame, because it's a fantastic book and led me to discover Coupland's other books [I actually chose to write about Douglas Coupland for my dissertation at University because I like his work so much!]. Of course book covers can be misleading, which is why I don't usually choose books based just on their cover alone, but I find it interesting when I do. However, in many instances, a book's cover will attract me, and then I'll read the blurb and be put off.  

 2. Through Goodreads/Online

I'll often stumble across books that look really inviting when I'm just moseying around the internet [on blogs like this one or on one of my favourite sites ever Goodreads], and when this happens I make a mental note of the books title and author. Then if I see the book out in the wild, more often than not I'll give it a try.  

3. Through friends or family

This is probably the least common way for me to choose a book. It's not that I don't trust the judgement of my friends and family, but usually when they recommend a book to me I've already read it or it's not quite to my taste, even though my taste is quite broad. Sometimes though, someone I know will recommend something that I grow to love, and then I'm always grateful to them. For example, I wouldn't have gotten to Harry Potter without the help of my friend's sister, and that would have been a very sad state of affairs. 

4. Through a book itself 

Often, author's will allude to books that have influenced them in their own books, leaving a kind of literary trail over the pages. If I've particulary enjoyed an author's work, sometimes I'll read something that they have enjoyed or have recommended. Author's also allude to books as a way of giving information about their characters, and again if I particulary like a character, then I might read a book that the character reads. For example, in the Twilight Series, Bella Swan's favourite book is Wuthering Heights. If I hadn't already read Wuthering Heights before reading the Twilight books, I probably would have read it after, since it's mentioned so often in the text, and I like Bella as a character.  This also applies to TV characters who read. For instance, since I'm a Gilmore Girls fan, I am interested in what Rory Gilmore reads. Lots of people seem to feel the same way as me as there is a Rory Gilmore Booklist circulating the internet! For me, following in the literary footsteps of an author or character is just a way of getting deeper into a story, and whilst I won't always read something just because a character I love has read it, I will at least consider reading it.

5. My Old Standby's

There are some authors that I love so much that I if I'm undecided about what to read next, I'll choose them. I read most of what these authors write, and I'm always happy when they have a new book out. My standby authors include Marian Keyes, Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella, Terry Pratchet, Dyan Sheldon, John Green and Maureen Johnson. When I was younger, my standby's were Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and Judy Blume

6. Misc.

Sometimes I'll choose a book for no discernable reason. Sometimes I'll choose a book because of its title. Sometimes I'll just read something because I liked the film. Sometimes I'm won over by library propaganda. 

How do you choose what you read?  


Thursday, 20 February 2014

Just Quickly

I was watching the vlogbrothers channel just now [they are the first youtubers I ever watched on a regular basis] and author John Green did a vlog about books he's loved that aren't bestsellers. I thought I would share it with you, as I found it interesting and I'm always happy to share videos by Hank and John Green because I'm a nerdfighter [and if you don't know what a nerdfighter is, you'll have to watch more of their videos!]

And just in case anyone was wondering, I've only read one of these books and that was Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Books to get you in a Spring mood!

Now, I know it's only February, and it's probably freezing where you are [although I have noticed at least one person reading in Malaysia, so maybe its not] but in London today it is sunny, and it feels Springlike and so here are some books to put you in a Spring mood:

1. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim

'To those who appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine....'

The Enchanted April is the original holiday read. First published in 1922, it tells the story of  four women going away on holiday to an Italian castle to escape unappreciative husbands and  over zealous lovers and recuperate in the April sunshine.It is a comedic and uplifting book, and the imagery used is very pretty. This book is the perfect antidote to a bleak Winter's Day. 

2. A world of Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker

'Joy! The winter's nearly gone!
Soon will Spring come dancing on.'

I love the premise of Cicely Mary Barker's Flower Fairies. Each fairy is named after and resembles a particular flower, and each fairy has it's own individual poem or song associated with it. So, for instance the Poppy fairy's dress is red like a poppy and her song is about living in a wheat field.  The picture above is of my favourite flower fairy; the Almond Blossom fairy. To me, she is the perfect symbol of the joy of Spring; I love her expression and the way she is posed, always ready to dance. 

Barker's love of flowers and wildlife spills out onto every page, and her illustrations are all stunning to look at - they are guaranteed to make you want to run off into a meadow and pick wildflowers. They may have been originally aimed at children, but they still give me great pleasure as an adult.       

3. Spring Story by Jill Barklem

'The Spring sunshine crept into every cottage along Brambly Hedge 
and the little windows in the trees were opened wide.' 

This image is actually taken from my copy of The Complete Brambly Hedge, but you can purchase Spring Story as an individual book if you prefer. Spring Story tells the tale of an excited young mouse called Wilfred and the events that take place on his birthday. Again, like the flower fairies above, the world of Brambly Hedge is aimed at children, but the illustrations are so sumptious and detailed, you can't help but appreciate them as a grown-up. Spring Story is so fresh and appealing, that it makes me feel like putting on a crisp white apron [not that I own such a garment] and start Spring cleaning.   

What books put you in a Spring frame of mind? Let me know below [aww, go on, don't be shy!]


Saturday, 15 February 2014

Every Woman's Travel Journal

My lovely friend Mimi got me this as a present for my birthday last year and I'm really looking forward to using it on my next big trip abroad. It is packed full of inspirational travel quotes from women, including quotes from famous female authors such as Jane Austen and Barbara Kingsolver. When I first recieved the book I read all the quotes back to back, and they certainly helped to ignite my wanderlust. In addition to inciteful tidbits from writers, the journal also includes packing and health tips, World maps, information about shipping,currencies and languagues, as well as an essay on writing on the road and a space to journal your own thoughts. I think it would be a useful addition to any travel aficioando's library. Click here to buy a copy.  

'As I passed a window, a young woman with a glowing tan and confident gaze
 stared back  at me. I was looking in a mirror'. Madeleine Cary.

'Too often travel, instead of broadening the mind, merely 
lengthens the conversation'. Elizabeth Drew.


Sunday, 9 February 2014

Worth A Second Look - The Hobbit

I first attempted The Hobbit when I was thirteen. At the time, I found it to be confusing and tedious for several reasons, and I abandoned it after just a few chapters. Firstly, there are lots of characters [12 dwarves, a hobbit and a wizard are all introduced in the first chapter alone, and  background information is also given about some of the dwarves and the hobbit's descendants] and most of these characters have very similar names [the dwarves are introduced in rhyming pairs e.g. Oin and Gloin] and are descended from people who also have similar names e.g. Thorin the dwarf is descended from Thrain the dwarf. As a young teen I had previously not encountered so many characters in one go before; I was not used to reading on such an epic scale and I found it intimidating. Secondly, even though the plot is pretty straightforward [dwarves engage a hobbit as a burgular to get back their treasure from a thieving dragon], I didn't actually fully know what was going on the entire time I was reading it, and even though the book is packed with action, I found it quite slow going. Yet, despite struggling with it myself, I can still see why it is often billed as a children's book, as it's a book that could really fire up a child's imagination if the child was only paitent enough to try and understand the book properly.

I decided to retry the book as an adult again after recently watching the second installment of The Hobbit trilogy, and I'm very glad I did. Normally I would not advocate watching the film before reading the book, but in the case of The Hobbit, I wouldn't have given it another chance if I hadn't. I have now managed to complete it  [which gave me a huge feeling of satisfaction] and this time round I really found myself enjoying the text, and I would even go so far as to count it among my favourite texts. Have you ever given a book that you originally rejected a second chance? If so, what was it? Do let me know in the comments below!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Book Recommendation - The For Dummies Series

I first started reading the for Dummies series a few months ago. Before then, I hadn’t really given the series much thought. I had mistakenly believed that the material covered by the books would either be too basic to be engaging or would only discuss subjects that I wasn’t interested in. I also thought the books would be too text heavy [which is not what I want from a reference book, as I learn better if visual aides are included]. It wasn’t until I saw a copy of Fashion forDummies in my library that I realised that I was mistaken about the series.

 Fashion is something I am interested in and from reading the blurb alone it seemed that the book was very well thought out. The blurb made me want to flick through, and to my surprise I saw that the thickness of the book was down to the fact that it was filled with beautiful fashion illustrations, and therefore it wasn’t too text heavy. I found myself wanting to sit down with it for longer, so I checked it out and took it home. I’m glad I did. Fashion for Dummies was written in a very accessible style, and was the one of the first reference books I’ve read that I would describe as being difficult to put down. It did cover basic things about fashion, but it also covered plenty I didn’t know, from how clothes are made to the history of the sewing machine which helped to sustain my interest. I thought it was far more informative than any style guide or fashion book I’ve previously read and if you’re interested in clothes and style then I cannot recommend it highly enough. Click here to buy a copy.

Fashion for Dummies was so enjoyable that I found myself wanting to read another for Dummies book and that led me to read Blogging for Dummies. Again, the book proved to be very engaging, despite it including lots of technical jargon. Surprisingly, it still has a visual element, which is very helpful and it has proved instrumental in setting up this blog. 

The authors Amy Lupold Bair ( and Susannah Gardner ( really know what they’re talking about and like Fashion for Dummies it proved to be an exemplary guide book. Click here to buy acopy. I shall keep referring to it over the next few months to try and make this blog as good as can be.  

To finish this post, I would like to ask you a question. Have you ever been surprised by how much you enjoyed a series or an individual book and if so what was it? Let me know in the comments!