Thursday, 18 December 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Do you give books as gifts?
To everyone? Or only to select people?
How do you feel about receiving books as gifts?

Easy one this! Perhaps that's why I chose this one as the first Booking Through Thursday post. I only really buy books as gifts for my children, as they've inherited a love of books from me! Apart from them, anyone else I buy gifts for doesn't read and as I like to buy gifts that would be appreciated I won't buy books, much as I might want to! The exception to this would be my mum, and although I could buy her numerous books,she wouldn't appreciate them because she works in a library and doesn't see any need to own books!

It is a similar scenario for receiving books. Anyone who would buy gifts for me has no knowledge of books so would never even consider buying books as presents! However the exception to this again is my mum, who will buy me books and has a very good insight into what I would like. I do like receiving books from her though,as she always manages to find something I would never consider and I usually love it!

What is the best book you ever bought for yourself?
And, why? What made it the best? What made it so special?

The best book I ever bought for myself is a new copy of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'urbervilles which I bought about 6 months ago. I first read it when I was 15 and loved it. Since then have studied it both for A-level and for my degree, none of which detracted from how much I loved the book. However as you can imagine my original copy was a bit dog eared and full of notes, highlighted passages and the like. This does enhance my understanding of this novel, and I do still add notes and similar to this copy, but it was a pleasure to read it without being reminded of significant passages and just appreciate the beauty of the writing, and remind myself of what made me fall in love with it in the first place!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

I'm not sure how to review this book. As a children's story it was fantastic but it is also full of interesting ideas for any book lover. Who hasn't, adult or child, wished they could bring a favourite character out of a book, or disappear into the story themselves?

12 year old Meggie's father is a bookbinder and booklover who has obviously instilled a love of books into his daughter,although he has never read aloud to her. When a stranger arrives at their home looking for father, Meggie eventually has to be told why this is. Her father can read characters out of books and since he read some particularly unsavoury characters from a book, he has never read aloud again. But once these characters find him, he is forced to tell Meggie the truth and they both get drawn into a frightening world of alternative fantasy characters.

The story itself was fast paced and entertaining, and my 11 year old son loved it too so it definitely appeals to a child's mind. But the most interesting aspects of this book for me were the ideas about story telling and the power of words. The author touches on the fact that the writer of a story is always overlooked and usually forgotten about, and tries to remedy this in this story by involving the author in the successful conclusion to the book. This was an interesting idea for me and made me think about how i personally never think about the author of what I read and how their own circumstances can impact upon a novel, and perhaps that I should!

However, by far the most interesting idea for me was the interweaving of stories into stories. As well as the book in the story being Inkheart, so to start with its a book within a book, the author precedes each chapter with a passage from a different book, which is usually relevant to the action in the chapter. And as well as this there is a running theme throughout the book that suggests that our world is just a story, just as the world created in the book.

Perhaps the story in the book is just a lid on a pan; it always stays the same but underneath theres a whole world that goes on developing and changing like our own.

Do you know how your story ends?

The first of these is said by a real world character, musing on the world created when an author writes a story, and the second is said by a character from the story to a real world character. It just seems to blur the boundaries between story worlds and 'real' worlds. The book is full of such musings and seems to merge the ideas that by reading a story you immerse yourself into the world of that story, and that world actually existing.

Overall, I loved this book, both for the story and for the things it made me think about. So much that I think this review is a bit garbled because there was just so much I wanted to say! But I'm sure I'll get better at posting reviews the more I do.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Watching the English:The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour

Morning. Nice day isn't it? Ok, ok, I'm not actually asking! Its just that if you asked someone what was a defining characteristic if the English, they would most likely mention our obsession with the weather! This book aims to discover a general identity for the English as a people,which naturally involves exploring the aspects of the English behaviour that are peculiar to us. It explores many aspects such as an obsession with queues, moaning, privacy, class divisions, which appear to be endemic throughout all behaviours, and many others. In summary, this book claims we all live by a series of rules that govern everything we do, from conversation to flirting! And even when we fell we might be breaking rules we do so in a very prescribed way, confirming to another set of rules! For example there is a hilarious description of the complex queue system that takes place at an English pub, even though it looks like there is no queue.

I enjoyed this book immensely, but it has caused me a problem. It means that I'm very conscious of what might actually be happening in any conversation i might be having and find it difficult not to smile and try and break the rules to see what might happen! Lol. I haven't done this yet, but its so tempting. I find myself watching and listening all the time and applying the rules described in this book! One day I will disagree with someone when they start a conversation about the weather( which is apparently just a greeting, so you are expected to agree),or bump into someone to see if THEY apologise!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

1st Post!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hmmm, I have spent quite a while setting this up but not actually posting anything! I am a bit nervous about this because although this is mainly just a way of organising and recording my own reading someone might actually read it! You never know. LOL! Anyway, I have just finished a book so I will write something about it soon, before I forget what I actually want to write about it!