Posts Tagged ‘books’

Sometimes, you just have to abuse your overdraft

When I sent the five pigs off for slaughter, the sale of one paid for all the slaughter costs, one went to the guys for the rent on the field and the other three were divided up between five friends. I’m still waiting to be paid for one and a half, but the rest of the money went into the bank, and I originally intended to use it for useful and practical things like buying food or paying off debts.

But then I had a thought. (Yes, just the one. You at the back, stop giggling.)

Since I have this whole panic-attack-when-I-leave-the-house thing going on, I need stuff to keep me busy and/or occupy my mind when I’m in said house and there’s only so many times a day that you (ie me) can do the washing up – or any sort of cleaning, for that matter.

I’ve always loved reading, and rarely need an excuse to cram some more novels onto the bookshelves, and so I spent a wonderful afternoon browsing the book sections of some local charity shops, in addition to the ones I got for my birthday.

However, I’m having a few concentration issues, in that my mind tends to wander after about twenty minutes or so, so reading isn’t always the answer.

DVDs, on the other hand, are spot on, especially TV series.

And that is why I recklessly and shamelessly abused my overdraft and am now the proud owner of, amongst other titles, the complete Friends box set, the complete Buffy box set, seasons 1-5 of NCIS, the complete Band of Brothers, and season 4 of Bones.

Yes, I know. But in my defence, each and every one of those was a bargain!

What’s more, every penny I spent on them has been justified. I already owned the complete West Wing box set and have worked my way through that, leaving the final season for another time, just to make it last (*sniff*). I’ve watched seasons 1-3 of NCIS and the same for Friends.

I’ve decided to give crime and comedy a break and am now making my way through Band of Brothers, a show I wish I’d watched much, much sooner.

However, my timing was slightly off as I didn’t realise it starred David Schwimmer. The last I saw him, he was picking between Rachel and Bonnie at the beach house, then I went to cook up some sausages and scrambled eggs and hey presto, Ross had gone back in time and was Captain of Easy Company. And no, I don’t know what I put in those eggs…!

It’s where I go next that’s got me puzzled. Should I sit down with Bones, or go back to NCIS, Friends or The West Wing? Alternatively, I also own seasons 1-3 of Bad Girls, which I haven’t watched for years, so I could always settle down with Nikki and Helen…

But what about Buffy, I hear you cry…

Well, Ally’s husband, B, has been muttering something about his data projector and the rather large wall in their living room. Which sounds great to me, just so long as he realises that I saw Willow first. 😀

Book Clubs and Fat Clubs

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m a regular poster on the Downsizer forum, a network of like-minded folk, all as mad as a box of frogs, whose interests range from poultry and pigs to knitting and felting to baking and gardening … the list is endless. Even more so when you throw in the non-downsizery topics of interest, such as everything and anything that I haven’t already mentioned…

As a result, I’ve joined two DS “clubs”, one to broaden the mind, the other to narrow the waistline.

I never got round to reading the first book up for discussion, The Lost Estate (Le Grand Meaulnes), by Henri Alain-Fournier, but I have promised myself that I will read Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand Of Darkness by the deadline at the end of March. Really, I will!

On the other hand, Fat Club (not my choice of name) is going a lot better. We’ve only just started, so it’s early days, but I was thrilled to discover that I lost two pounds in the first week. No, I don’t know how either, as I consumed more than my fair share of cake and chocolate. Luckily, the dogs need lots of exercise!

My aim is to drop a stone, which is a lot better than the four stone I lost the last time I gave my weight any thought, but even more annoying as a result. Standing on the scales, I had a strange sense of deja vu but hey, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Hmm, I suspect it’s the cookie that holds the blame!

In other news, the books I bought with my Amazon voucher have turned up and I’ve made a start on Troy: Fall of Kings by David and Stella Gemmell. So far, so good 😀

I’ve also hit some of the charity shops in Taunton, that being the closest Big Town, and bought a load of crime books, from Jeffrey Deaver to PD James, as well as a couple of Robert Harris novels (Fatherland and Archangel, if you’re curious).

And … I bought a few photo frames, so my long-awaited project of framing my old photos has finally started to come to life. All I’ve got to do now is buy another twenty or so – and then make a start on printing off some of my 30GB of digital photos! 😯

Oooh, and being a thrifty sort*, I also picked up a pair of cord trousers (Wranglers, don’t you know!) for the shockingly low price of three pounds fifty in my charity shop escapade. Unfortunately, they’re a couple of inches too long so it’s a case of hoping that She-Who-Promised-To-Hem-Them-For-Me will indeed hem them for me, lest I be forced to have a go myself and end up with one leg several inches shorter than t’other…

But, before you roll your eyes and tut maddeningly, take note: I am going to have a bash at mending the pockets in my favourite jeans – I put my keys in them the other morning and was somewhat taken aback when I felt the cold metal slipping down my leg owing to the fact that said pocket is hanging on by a few threads too few, if you catch my drift?!

Hmm, just thinking about attempting to thread a needle is enough for me for the time being. Please excuse me, I’ve got ten books to make my way through…!

*Cardi, as some of you may being muttering under your breath…

Thank you, Jennie!

Those of you with long memories will recall that last month, my wonderful friend Jennie gave me a £25 voucher for Amazon and I have spent the past four or so weeks agonising about what to spend it on.

Drum roll, please maestro, as I have finally made a decision!

If you’re interested, I have purchased:

  • Lords of the Bow and Bones of the Hills, the second and third books in Conn Iggulden’s Conqueror trilogy about Genghis Khan.
  • Troy: Fall of Kings, the final installment in David Gemmell’s trilogy about, funnily eough, the Trojan War.
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire, the first two books in Stieg Larsson’s The Millennium Trilogy.
  • Last, but by no means least … a set of dog claw clippers.

Thanks Jennie. I can’t wait to get stuck into them all, though I’m quite certain that the dogs will not be impressed with their share of the haul! xx

Which books?!

I recently ticked off another year and was absolutely thrilled to be given a £25 Amazon voucher by the lovely Jennie, though my pleasure rapidly vanished when I visited the books section of the Amazon website.

I’d forgotten how horrendous it is to browse there! Browsing in a bookshop is a wonderful experience, where you get to touch the books, pick them up, open them to random pages, get a feel for your potential purchase.

Amazon’s great if you know what you want to buy … but to go in open minded is always a bad plan.

So I’ve decided to cheat!

Have any of you got any recommendations?

I like historical fiction (Rome, Greece, early British/European history, colonial America being the usual suspects), fantasy, light-hearted travel anecdotes, and biographies / autobiographies of people who have something interesting or funny to say.

It’s already been suggested that I try the following:

Any other thoughts?!

She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain

And now for something completely different.

Growing up on an isolated Welsh hillside as an only child, I spent hours and hours and hours with my head buried deep in a book, devouring the words, savouring the freedom and escapism that the magical combination of paper and printed words provided. My favourite authors fired my imagination and my physical world readily adapted itself to my demands. Grass became sea, trees became crow’s nests as I sailed the Seven Seas (my reputation was fearsome and bloody. I took no prisoners). I joined the ranks of Robin Hood’s Merry Men and Women in the woods on a neighbour’s land (Marion and I kicked butt). And, of course, the wonderful, scruffy ponies who were my other companions were more than willing to take on new identities (small wonder, since it usually involved galloping at top speed).

I’ve had several conversations over the past few weeks about childhood books, which have stirred up a lot of wonderful memories. I dare say that any attempts to read most of those books now would result in disappointment, but that matters not. At the time, they were wonderful.

Naturally, I became the honorary member of the Famous Five, the Secret Seven, the Adventurous Four and The Five Find-Outers (not forgetting the Adventure Series and the Barney mysteries), and joined in the midnight feasts at both St Clare’s and Malory Towers.

Josephine, Christine and Diana Pullein-Thompson took up a considerable amount of room on my bookshelves, as did Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion series, Patricia Leitch’s Jinny and Shantih books, Pat Smythe (The Three Jays), Ruby Ferguson (Jill) and Judith Berrisford (Jackie), to name but a few. Not forgetting the likes of Monica Dickens and Mary O’Hara, plus a whole host of short stories and annuals, as well as wonderful one-offs such as Coco the Gift Horse, Jerry: the story of an Exmoor pony, Topper, Rosina Copper and Black Beauty.

James Herriot was a firm favourite of mine, though I only read the last books in his series a couple of years ago, and he was joined by a whole host of books and stories about animals in general, though only one author I can currently remember is Dick King-Smith.

As a teen, I discovered my mother’s collection of novels, fact and faction, about the Second World War (my favourites being the POW escape stories) but it only occurs to me now that this was preceded my some of my favourite books in younger years: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, The Silver Sword, I am David, Fireweed, and Carrie’s War.

Other authors, titles and series that randomly spring to mind as the ones I read and reread the most often are The Hobbit, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Robin Hood, William Tell, the Green Gables books, Rosemary Sutcliff, Roald Dahl, Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island, The Children of the New Forest, Louisa May Alcott (all four, not just Little Women), Malcolm Saville (the Lone Pine books), Kidnapped, The Call of the Wild, The Wind in the Willows, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, The Three Investigators, Goodnight Mister Tom

Hmm, my memory is clearly failing me as that list is far too short! Well, I enjoyed them at the time, even if I can’t remember them now!

(I wasn’t a huge fan of many “classics” and still shudder at the memory of What Katy Did and The Secret Garden. I have never read the Alice books and gave up on fairy tales at a very early age because the girls were all wimps.)

Yup, it’s safe to say that books were my friends as I was growing up – and still are today, though I’ve only read a handful of books in recent months.

I aim to change that and for me, 2010 will be the Year of the Book.

No, honestly, it will. I’m going to join a library and everything. 😀

Marley and Me

Last night I did something for the time in ages: I went to the cinema! I say “ages” because the last films I saw in the cinema were Transformers, Harry Potter, The History Boys and Brokeback Mountain…!

But, thanks to some dodgy deal that Jennie did over the internet, not only did I get to spend a great evening with herself and her parents, but we also got free tickets to the film about every dog owner’s worst nightmare: Marley and Me.

A young Marley and the remains of the garage

A young Marley and the remains of the garage

If you don’t like spoilers, stop reading now!

Continue reading

100 books

I saw this on a friend’s Facebook account but thought I’d share it on here instead:

1) Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read.
2) Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
4) Tally your total at the bottom.

(Instead of the ‘x’ I’ve put the ones I’ve read in bold and I’ve underlined the ones I love. The ones I plan to read are in italics.)

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bront
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Alborn
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

If my counting skills are accurate, I’ve read forty six, loved sixteen and have put six on my “must read” list. Not bad, considering the point of this meme is, supposedly, because the BBC claim that most people have read no more than six of the books on the list which is, I presume, the top 100 best-selling books or something.


According to wongaBlog (and after five years of blogging, he should know), it’s Buy A Friend A Book Week:

Celebrating BAFAB is easy. Just get yourself to a real-life or virtual book store during Buy a Friend a Book Week (the first weeks of January, April, July, and October) and, well, buy a friend a book! But here’s the fun part: you can’t buy your friend a book because it’s their birthday or they just graduated or got engaged or had a baby or anything else. You have to give them a book for no good reason. In fact, this present out of the blue from you should shock the pants off of whomever you decide to give it to. And it’ll make them happy. And that’s the point: promote reading, promote friendships. Just make sure to let them know about Buy a Friend a Book Week, so they can spread the joy in turn.

I must confess that I am in no position to buy anyone a book, but if anyone fancied indulging me, here’s my Amazon wishlist. It’s short – it has to be, I’d spent the next month adding all the books I want if I spent any real time thinking about it!