Tag Archives: reading

Exploring my bookshelves

This morning I read a fun little exercise from a newly discovered blog Addlepates and Book Nerds  via another excellent blog The Novel Orange and I thought why not join in! As explained by Maggie at ‘the novel orange’ the premise is straight forward …

Exploring My Bookshelves is a relatively new bookish meme hosted by Victoria at Addlepates and Book Nerds.  Every week Victoria will post a new prompt, each regarding something different about your personal library.  The idea is to post a picture related to the prompt for the week. Victoria also brilliantly came up with the idea of bloggers posting photos of their personal bookshelves for the world to see!

IMG_3515I may not take part every week but as I dug around my bookshelves this morning out of curiosity to learn what is the longest novel on them (this weeks prompt is ‘book with the most pages’) I was tickled to see it is a Barnes & Noble Classics Edition of The Arabian Nights – clocking in at 680 pages of the tiniest of text. Those of you who know me will not be shocked to learn that this book (plus many, many others on my shelves) has not been read yet. As I’ve touch on before I’m a book gatherer rather than an avid reader – though I am actively trying to make steps towards reading more of the books I have stockpiled! However, what tickles me about Arabian Nights being the winner is that it was another version of the book that started my love for Folio books. I talked about Folio books and my (minor?) obsession withDSC_0251 them in the post “Accumulator of books” so I won’t talk of it further other than to say one day I hope to have bookshelves full of Folio books! 

Although this edition doesn’t hold the ‘magic’ of a Folio book, I really love the cover – it reminds me of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain and the wonderful December day a decade ago that my sister and I spent pottering around the castle and grounds. The second part of the exercise from ‘Addlepates and Book Nerds’ is to post a photograph of your bookshelves … and I certainly don’t need to be asked twice to show off my shelves! I love my shelves almost, but not quite, as much as I love the books they house. When the hubby and I left the Southwest and moved to Ohio we bought our first ever home (neither of had been house owners before – thanks to being perpetually moving academics!) and to celebrate we each got to treat ourselves to something in the house. My choice, of course, was custom made bookshelves. And so we had a local carpenter make solid maple shelves that fit perfectly onto two walls of our living room. But I’m a smart cookie. I had him make them completely freestanding and screwed together (rather than nailed) so if we ever move I can totally break them down and take them with me! Whoop!DSC_0397

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When the book spoils the movie.

Warning: if you intend to read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn or indeed watch the movie adaptation then back away from this blog post now – do not pass Go, do not collect $200 – cause there are gonna be spoilers ahead!

When you are the owner of a toddler getting out to the cinema to watch a movie is a rare thing. In fact I have not crossed the threshold of a movie theatre since my daughter was born two years ago! Partly the reason it is so hard for us is that we live 700 miles from our nearest family members and MV5BMTk0MDQ3MzAzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzU1NzE3MjE@._V1_SX640_SY720_so to arrange an adult-only night out really is a special occasion – more special than most movies. And, partly I’ve been so shattered over the last two years that staying awake for two-plus-hours in a dark, cosy cinema was just not a realistic expectation! However, late last year I saw the trailer for Gone Girl and for the first time in a long while I wanted to go to the cinema. The trailer promised a bunch of goodies that made me intrigued: good actors (Ben Affleck, yum!), mystery, director I like, cool looking cinematography, dark story line. And so we made a plan to go catch the movie not long after it was released – we even got as far as setting a date and drafting in a friend to baby sit. But it fell through at the last gasp.

But I consoled myself with the idea that I could now read the book before I saw the movie – something I think about doing a lot but rarely achieve. I had been wary about reading the book due to its overwhelming popularity but I got a deal on the Kindle edition and went for it. I finished reading it last month and was loathed to give it even a one-star review on Goodreads! It was a terrible, terrible book. I am baffled by its popularity. I liked the premise (wife disappears in suspicious circumstances and her husband is left to prove his innocence but surprise, it’s all a big scam by the wife to get revenge on her cheating husband) and I’m ok with the seriously unlikable characters (I mean, seriously unlikeable characters – wifey is a crazy with a capital C and hubby is just kinda pathetic) but I’m not ok with the shockingly bad writing. I plodded though the first half of the book muttering under my breath about the clunky first person narrative and the over-used gimmick of alternating chapters from his & her’s perspective. And then I hit half way and the big reveal happened – dum dum dum – she ain’t dead and she is a horrible person who has completely lied to the reader through a fabricated diary about the behaviour of her beloved.

But from there the book got more and more annoying. Honestly, I think if this story were in the hands of a better author it would have been great. Some aspects of what she weaved into the story were great (the I’m-pretending-I-love-you-but-I’m-really-just-framing-you treasure hunt, for example). The lengths which the wife went to orchestrate her return to her husband but still be ‘loved’ by the populace was scary but her believing that her husband honestly wanted her back rather than him just trying to prove his innocence did not ring true for me. It could be that I’m missing some nuances though – perhaps Flynn wanted to paint the husband as being utterly addicted to his psychopathic wife and his wife knew this even when it wasn’t clear to the reader. And this rational would actually help me buy the ending. But the writing was so poor … yada, yada, you get my gist!

After finishing the book I was disinclined to watch the movie which annoyed me cause, well hello, did I mention Ben Affleck! But both the hubby and I needed a break from our daily sludge this weekend so we snuggled up in bed on Saturday night and rented it on our laptop. My honest opinion of the movie? Man, I wish I hadn’t read the book first!! It had all the elements that I would have enjoyed in a thriller if only I didn’t know everything single thing that was going to transpire before it did – it really kills the mystery! The whole movie just felt pedestrian as it slugged its way through the story. Rosamund Pike was excellent as the craaazzy wife and Ben (yes, as in Affleck) was reasonable although his version of the husband felt too ordinary of a man to want to stay married to a psychopath. The supporting roles were all really good except, in my humble opinion, Neil Patrick Harris who played the lamb-to-the-slaughter old friend of the wife. To me this character read so much more creepy and weird on the page than Harris played him and although the character is fundamental in the story he didn’t get enough screen time for me to care about him. My hubby hadn’t read the book before seeing the movie and it was cool to see his reactions to all the twists and turns but it just rubbed it in how much the film watching experience was spoiled by reading the book – grrrrr.

So, what is my take away? I guess three things: only read a book before seeing the movie if it isn’t a thriller that relies on surprise twists; or only read the book first if you know it is going to be a phenomenal book and you aren’t that fussed about seeing the movie; and listen to your gut that says for, whatever reason, don’t read a book – it’s going to suck no matter how popular it appears to be!

Reading Challenges – friend or foe?

For the last couple of years I’ve been suckered into partaking in a reading challenge through the goodreads website. The first year I was particularly gung-ho and signed up to read fifty books … and then I thought about it … and then I realized that I would have to average reading one book every 7.28 days! Yeah … no. I think I dropped it down to thirty books but still didn’t get even close. Last year I was more “reasoned” and challenged myself to twenty books. Twenty books seems like a fairly small number but you still have to average a book every two and a half weeks, and by this time my little Books2014sleep-stealer had come into our family so at the end of the day watching “shite tele” was typically the preferred option over concentrating on reading a book. So, did I do it? Well, no. But I did read 18.70 books! Though, in the spirit of full disclosure, ten of the books were compulsory reading for various classes.

Reading challenges appeal to many aspects of my personality:  I’m competitive so I like to see if I’m doing “better” than others; I’m numerical (I did spend the years from age 16 to 34 only studying maths, physics and astrophysics) so to see the number count of read books increase makes me happy; I’m visual so I love to see my progress in the pretty infographics that goodreads produce (see above!).

Of course, the whole point of reading challenges is to make you read, or at the very least be conscience of making reading a priority even if the most recent episode of your guilty-pleasure-drama wins over the book sitting on your nightstand four out of five times. But do they make you read the “right” things. Over the last year I found myself not once but twice hunting the house for a thin book – a quick read that I could blast through in less than two hours in order to bump my flagging reading tally (notice Wonderstruck in my list above? Yup, that was one of those books). Now, to be fair to thin books, they need the love and attention of being read just as much as the thick-could-be-used-as-a-murder-weapon books of the world. But should I really only be hunting them out to up a reading count? Or do they not care as long as they are read?

2015ReadingChallengeSome reading challenges up the ante and take things beyond the simple “how many books you gonna read?” to here are suggestions of books you should read, or here are suggestions of the sorts of books you should read. This one caught my eye the other day from popsugar.com and I love some of the prompts such as a book with non-human characters, or a book that came out the year you were born. But I know which prompt the hubby will be hoping that I follow for all the books I read in the next year … a book that you own but have never read.

And so it is on to 2015. I’ll be sticking with goodreads to track my reading but I’ll dip into the popsugar list for inspiration. But for now I have 19% left of the book that I managed to read 69% of in 2014 and once I’ve hit the last page I will duly scuttle off to goodreads and make it my 1st of 20 for 2015. Happy reading!