Ex Libris 2012… Part 1

I don’t write enough about books.  They occupy a massive place in my life (and my house), but I just don’t write enough about the insane pleasure they bring.  I know there are people who go through life and feel it’s a badge of honour that they never read for pleasure or have never read a book.  That just beggars belief, I don’t get those people at all.  Reading is a precious thing and if you don’t read books then you are missing out on one of the best things ever!  I am not about to count exactly how many books I have in my house, but I have lots, seven big bookshelves worth and it’s growing.  I do have a Kindle but I’m a sucker for a paperback.  In the last seven days alone I have bought five books:

Sometimes why you buy a particular book isn’t at first obvious… ;-)

Fallen in Love – Lauren Kate. I bought it because I’m enjoying the series and even a stop-gap until the final book is good enough to quell the craving.  It’s teen fiction about angels.  It’s reading heroin, in the same way Twilight was.
Bel-AmiGuy de Maupassant. OK, so I only bought it because it had a film tie-cover. Does that expose what a shallow human being I am?! *grin*
Game of Thrones
– George R R Martin.
I’m starting the DVD series but I always like to read the book before I do that.  This time it will be DVD first and book second.
Land of the Painted Caves – Jean M Auel. Before the world had Edward and Bella, it had Ayla and Jondalar. This book concludes a series I started reading at University.  Stunning amounts of research have gone into this series about early humans and this is not just what fell out of her head.
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck. Daughter’s GCSE set book and I’m going to read it too.

So four of those are now parked in the ‘to read’ pile – which is about a bookcase worth of stuff.  The Lauren Kate book  got read the day after I bought it, which is what I mean by the ‘reading heroin’ thing.  Oh goodness…those angels!

But what about other books I’ve read over the first four months of this year?  Here’s a little gander through my current ‘I’ve read it’ pile.

Note: I am member of a bookgroup (Middle Narnia Bookgroup) and so a lot of what I read is for that and contributes to the ‘no rhyme or reason’ nature of my reading.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis.  (A re-read and read for bookgroup).  I think most people on the planet must have read this book as a child, but to come back and re-read it as an adult was an odd experience.  Not least because I am now ‘in on it’, I can see the very allegorical nature of Lewis’s writing and that is worth a read of it alone, even if the 1950s idioms do jar a little.  I have never read my way through the entire series, an omission I must correct at some point.

Adam Croft – Stupidly talented and obscenely nice.

Too Close for Comfort – Adam Croft.  I never read crime books (I’m allergic to blood, death and gore); but as this is written by someone I actually know, I felt I should push myself out of my comfort zone and give an unfamiliar genre a go.  I was a bit dubious at first, but I soon got into it, raced through it and realised that this crime fiction thing isn’t half bad and that annoyingly, I am friends with a very talented writer.  This was Adam’s first book; he’s written two more since: Guilty as Sin was his second and his most recent book, Exit Stage Left is currently being adapted for radio.  The man is too talented for words.  What’s worse is that he’s a very nice person, which makes him an annoying specimen of humanity.

Being Elizabeth – Barbara Taylor Bradford. (Read for Bookgroup).  Summed up in one word:  Dire.

The Lollipop Shoes – Joanne Harris. (A re-read and read for bookgroup).  Joanne Harris is one of my favourite writers and this is another faultless book which I have now soaked up on two occasions.  I can’t say enough good things about her books, however I will say one particular thing about The Lollipop Shoes.  For maximum effect read Chocolat (in one sitting with a big block of Dairy Milk) and then read The Lollipop Shoes straight after.  You will ‘get it’ and the whole thing ties together in a wonderful neat…ish bow.

Carole Matthews: Another member of the stupidly talented and obscenely nice brigade

Summer Daydreams – Carole Matthews. Also appearing in the category of ‘books by insanely talented and very nice people’ is the new one from Carole.  In a first for me I got to read it ahead of its publication because I won an advanced review copy from her publishers.  This is another book I picked up and devoured on receipt – more ‘reading heroin’.  Summer Daydreams was a very poignant book for me to read because the character of Nell is modelled on Helen Rochfort, who in real life went with her desire to do something that she really wanted to do – make handbags.  If you know me you’ll realise that with writing, that’s something I’m dealing with.  As with everything Carole writes it’s told with so much spirit, humour and warmth that she makes you fall in love with her characters. So much so, that after finishing the book I went straight over to Helen’s website and bought a bag.  I’m not stalking her, honest! Summer Daydreams is out on May 24th and available from all good bookstores including Waterstones in Milton Keynes.  If you go upstairs there’s a very high chance you’ll find la Matthews sat there drinking tea.

Not Quite World’s End – John Simpson.  (Read for Bookgroup).  Not only do I shy away from crime fiction, but I also shy away from autobiographical works and especially books of this magnitude (as in their sheer physical size and written by someone who does one of the most dangerous jobs you can do).  However, this book was a revelation, I loved it!  Not only did I come away with a even more respect for the BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson, but I learned something about the world in the process.  It was a wholly fascinating read and as I know his voice so well, the experience was as if John Simpson was reading the audiobook in my head!

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini.  I read The Kite Runner last year.  That and A Thousand Splendid Suns are definitely in the category of ‘books you must must read.’  Brilliant and heartbreaking. Makes you want to fly to Afghanistan and just hug random women in the street for being marvellous.

The Confident Woman – Joyce Meyer.  A faith-based, good natured slap round the face from Joyce.  Needs to be administered three times a day with a swift kick up the backside to boot.  Very much in the ‘get out there and get doing it’ mould, albeit nicely delivered.

Runemarks – Joanne Harris.  Joanne Harris does teen fiction and drop kicks the competition to somewhere beyond the outer reaches of Neptune without ever letting her heroine lock lips with anyone or anything.  Marvellous, just flipping marvellous and she’s written a sequel which is out in paperback in August. Squee!

Fallen in Love – Lauren Kate.  And then we have lots of ‘locking lips with anything’ variety of teen fiction.  Reading heroin for me and I am unashamed.

Notes from a Small Country – Bill Bryson. (A re-read for bookgroup).  Oh good grief, Bill Bryson, I love him!  I could quote him time and time again on some of the most preposterous and the most wonderful things about Britain.  He’s not British; he’s American and he’s been here on and off since 1977.  He ‘gets us’ and as he’s a ‘foreigner’ he can point out to us some of the idiotic things we do as a country.  Notes from a Small Island is snortingly funny. Oh if I could write and make people laugh like Bill Bryson I would be a very happy woman indeed.

Currently reading: Rebecca’s Tale – Sally Beauman.  It’s a prequel to Daphne du Maurier’s book Rebecca, or as my husband Simon says:  Glorified fan fiction

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6 Responses to Ex Libris 2012… Part 1

  1. Pingback: April News | Rachel J Lewis

  2. Brilliant! (said very excitedly and then with a sigh) that’s more books to add to my Kindle/paperback list!!

    I was brought up with a strict respect for books. I was never allowed to bend the corners to save my place, I was never allowed to write in my books (not even in pencil), and I was most definitely not allowed to break the spine to make it stay open easier!

    I am on a campaign to get a new bookcase – quite where I am going to put it I don’t know – though having said that, son no. 1 is going to Uni in September which leaves me with a spare room :D

    Thanks Rachel – always bring a smile to my face and always an inspiration
    —-> tiptoes off to look at handbags :)

  3. Graceann says:

    Thanks for sharing your reads. I’ll be very interested in what you think of “Of Mice and Men.” Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors, and this is a hard-hitting story – I don’t envy anyone teaching it, because the shades of grey are numerous.

    • Rachel says:

      I pretty much read ‘Of Mice and Men’ in one sitting and really enjoyed it. As is the way with my own reading development, I initially struggled with the classics in my late teens, so I shied away from them. But, I think age and experience helps you to see books with different eyes and I am glad that I am now reading them with so much more of ‘life’ under my belt.

      I do think my daughter is going to read it and have that (slightly predictable) negative reaction to it. I think that as she’s very much a product of the Harry Potter generation, anything that has its roots firmly in reality will not find a ready home with her. She’s currently immersed in Lord of the Rings.

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