Thursday, 30 April 2009

Booking Through Thursday

Which is worse?

Finding a book you love and then hating everything else you try by that author, or
Reading a completely disappointing book by an author that you love?

This is really hard to answer! I don't think I can actually think of anything that would fit into either category. I'm actually not often disappointed by a book, and its very difficult to say I hated one! Perhaps I'm just not a very discerning reader!

The only example I could think of would be Ian McEwan. The first I ever read was Enduring Love, and I loved it, and nothing else that I've read by him has ever matched up. But I've by no means read everything he's written and I didn't hate any of them. I just didn't love them like I loved Enduring Love.

In terms of hating a book by an author I love, its never happened! I think all authors have a weakest work, or just one that doesn't appeal personally. Taking the question on this level, I would have to say Margeret Atwood's Surfacing disappointed me a bit. Everything else I've read I've loved, I just wasn't as enamoured with this as with the others. But again, I've not read everything she's written yet, although I'm coming close.

I think that is a bit of a cop out answer really, but it would take a lot for me to say I hated a book, especially if I had an affection for the author.

Monday, 27 April 2009

The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon by Richard Zimler

I was pleasantly surprised by this. I only really picked it up because it was a Z author that looked fairly interesting. Oh, and the blurb said it was similar to Umberto Eco's name of the Rose, which is a fantastic book.

Set during the seventeenth century Jewish Pogrom in Portugal, this is a murder mystery, historical fiction and philosophical treatise. As to which of these aspects is more important, I'm not sure. The base for the story is a young man's search for the murderer of his beloved uncle, who is killed during the horrific anti Jewish riots that take place at the start of the novel. This central to all the aspects of this story but it is not easy to read. It only covers two fairly short chapters but the atrocities committed against Jews (or New Christians as they were known after a forced conversion nine years earlier), are quite graphically described and left me with a sense of disgust that human beings could be so cruel to each other.

Berekiah, the boy who is looking for his uncle's killer, is part of a secret Jewish family, of which is uncle is head. His uncle also leads a group of secret Jews in discussion and debate about the finer points of Judaism and Kabbalism, as well as organising the smuggling of Jewish texts out of Portugal to save them from destruction. During the riot, he is found with his throat slit in his cellar, and this kicks off Berekiah's search for the killer. It is at first assumed to be part of the Pogrom, but it soon become clear that he has been killed by a Jew, so presumably, there are other motives at play.

Berekiah is helped in his search by his longtime friend, Farid, a Muslim who is deaf and mute, but they communicate perfectly through lip reading and complex gestures. He does however have an enhanced sense of sight and smell, so he notices things that Berekiah doesn't which ultimately helps with the search.

The main part of the story occurs over a few days, and the turbulent events of this time take their toll on Berekiah. Not only does he lose his Uncle, his younger brother disappears during the riot, and he witnesses some terrifying events. From the moment the whole thing kicks off, he begins to question his faith in God, and eventually loses faith both in himself and God. He is understandably violent towards anyone who tries to attack him, and although this is understandable and easily justified, he questions this in himself, and his faith. This questioning has an effect on his life permanently, but never does he lose faith in his Uncle, who continues to appear in is dreams with cryptic riddles to lead him to the killer.

Although this is historical fiction, it appears to be surprisingly relevant to modern society. Most strikingly, it is impossible to ignore the obvious parallels to the Holocaust, which we are all familiar with. But although I was aware that Jews have always been persecuted, I wasn't aware of this event, or others like it throughout history. Less obviously, but almost as relevant, Berekiah and Farid make constant references to masks, either in reference to their suspects wearing masks to hide themselves or their actions, or themselves wearing masks to protect or shield themselves from the horrors occurring. And, without giving too much away, it is a crucial part of actually discovering the killer's identity.

Friday, 24 April 2009

The Book of Other People edited by Zadie Smith

I'll try my best to review this but I never really know where to start reviewing short story collections. The Book of Other People is a collection of stories written (mostly) by well known authors in response to the brief-make someone up!

This results in a very varied collection of stories, all focused on one particular character. In a lot of cases, these are like little snapshots of a certain moment in their lives. Some of them are ordinary people, a couple are historical characters(which I'm not sure really fit the brief), but were interesting all the same, and some were about fantastical creatures, and one about an animal. There were also two graphic stories, but I couldn't really get my head round these. I did try, but I just don't think telling a story in pictures is for me.

As to which ones I liked best, I think Theo by Dave Eggers was one of my favourites. Basic premise being that three 'hills' suddenly 'wake up' and are revealed to in fact have been sleeping giants! And since there are three of them,one female and two male, the inevitable love triangle occurs. Interesting, and a bit strange. I also liked Aleksandar Hemon's The Liar, an interesting take on Jesus at his crucifixion.

I suppose that since this is a book about character, the stories that presented the most interesting characters really deserve a mention. A.L Kennedy, in Frank, creates an introspective character who seems slightly disturbed, and is in a situation that I would like to know more about, including how it came to be. However, I think my all time favourite would be Roy Spivey, written by Miranda July. Here, a woman meets a famous person on a plane, and feels an almost immediate attraction to the man. Taking his phone number, minus the last number, which she has to memorise, they part at the airport. The interesting part of this is the way the woman uses the phone number. Although she never calls it, it plays a big part in her life. I think is the story that appealed to me most on a personal level, and that's way it's my favourite.

This is not a very inspiring review, partly because of my difficulty in reviewing short stories, but I also think partly because I wasn't that inspired by this book as an entity. Some of the stories were good, and those are the ones that will stay with me. The rest I enjoyed as I read them, but they've gone from my mind fairly quickly. So, enjoyable, not brilliant, but definitely worth a read,especially if you enjoy short stories.

It has made me want to go and read some more from the authors who wrote the stories I liked though. So I'm on the lookout now for Aleksandar Hemon, Dave Eggers, Miranda July and A.L Kennedy.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Booking Through Thursday-Symbolism

My husband is not an avid reader, and he used to get very frustrated in college when teachers would insist discussing symbolism in a literary work when there didn’t seem to him to be any. He felt that writers often just wrote the story for the story’s sake and other people read symbolism into it.

It does seem like modern fiction just “tells the story” without much symbolism. Is symbolism an older literary device, like excessive description, that is not used much any more? Do you think there was as much symbolism as English teachers seemed to think? What are some examples of symbolism from your reading?

It's been a very long time since I've had to think about literature in this way, and it's starting to hurt my brain a bit to do this! I think part of the reason for this is the way I read has changed over the years. I remember when I was studying, I would be reading everything with a fine tooth comb, always looking for deeper meanings within the words. I tend to read a lot more for pleasure now and so probably miss a lot of the symbolism anyway.

I think symbolism is usually secondary to the story anyway, and can add meaning if you look for it, but is not essential enjoying the story in any way. I sometimes think that at school, teachers can put people off reading by focusing too much on the symbolism of literature, rather than on the way the author conveys his ideas, characters and what he's actually trying to say. And symbolism is arbitrary anyway, because by definition, it requires a knowledge of biblical, literary or cultural traditions, in order to be able to make the connections. Surely telling a story is uppermost in an author's mind, and although the symbolism is placed there to enhance the story, it's not essential.

A prime example is Shakespeare. His work is full of symbolism, but he wrote his plays to be enjoyed as performances, and dissecting his plays word for word, especially at a young age, is detrimental to what he wrote for! Fine, go ahead and look for all the symbolism in his work if it grabs you, and get a deeper meaning from his work, but never forget that first and foremost, they are entertainment, just as novels are.

As for examples of symbolism, I can't think of any in any modern fiction I've read, but that may well be because I don't look for it anymore. Maybe it's there and I absorb it on a subconscious level, rather than being able to pick it out. I think that's probably it. It underpins what I think and feel about a novel without me realising it. And that's fine. I don't need to know exactly why I enjoy a book, as long as I do!

And as for classic literature, the most obvious to me would be the symbolism of the river in Huckleberry Finn. It symbolises, Huck and Jim's escape, Jim from slavery and Huck from his abusive father. The flow of their life follows the flow of the river, as their personal journey's become more treacherous, so does the flow of the river. And in Hardy's Tess of the Durbervilles, Tess is at one with nature and the landscape, her environment symbolising her state of mind at each part of the novel. Talbothays is a happy place, and she is happy, being courted by Angel, yet Flintcomb Ash is a desperate, god forsaken place, just as Tess feels god forsaken at that point in her life.

And I think I've rambled on enough now! I hope this makes sense because I can't say any more. My brain really hurts now!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Wicked; The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

I finished Wicked about three weeks ago and never got around to writing about it, and now the book’s gone back to the library, so I’ll do my best to make this coherent, although it might be quite short.

This is an alternative take on the well known Wizard of Oz story, told from the perspective of Elpheba, who come to be known as the Wicked Witch of the West. It starts as she is born, and her parents are horrified with her green skin and irrational aversion to water. She is born into an Oz that is very different from the world imagined from the original stories. It is a world full of religious and political unrest, with the Wizard being a fascist dictator and the old unionist religion being overcome by a more secular, pleasure seeking ‘faith’.

As the novel progresses we follow Elpheba through early childhood, college, political activism and her adult years, until the inevitable moment when Dorothy enters Oz her meeting with the witch, and it’s inevitable outcome. Although the motives behind this are very different to the version we are all familiar with.

We also come into contact with many other memorable characters , including Elpheba’s younger sister, Nessarose, born a normal colour but with no arms, and Elpheba’s room mate at college Galinda. These three girls become close eventually, but after being told their intended destiny by their headteacher each take very different paths. Nessarose ends up as the Wicked Witch of the East, and Galinda takes on the role of the Good Witch who gives Dorothy the shoes. And the shoes are so important, but again, not in a familiar way!

Sentient animals also play a large part in the story, differentiated from ordinary animals by a capital letter (lion, Lion). During the Wizard’s reign they are persecuted, and gradually their rights to live in human society are removed. Elpheba questions this, and this is one of the main factors which determines the way her life pans out.

But there is so much more to this book than just the basic story. It’s full of moral, ethical and political dilemmas. Elpheba never means to do evil. She does some questionable things, but, at least in her mind, they are all for ultimate good. It raises issues of the nature of good and evil, and whether someone can be perceived to be evil just because their actions go against the normal behaviour of society. Perception also comes into play with the issue of judging people by their looks. Wealthy Galinda initially judges Elpheba on her looks, and wishes to have as little to do with her as possible, but eventually starts to see through her looks to the person inside, and perhaps start to see that beauty doesn’t always equal goodness.

All in all, it’s an interesting read. Was she wicked, or was she just misunderstood? What does it mean to be wicked at all? Was her reputation based on her looks, negative propaganda spread by the fascist dictator who calls himself the Wizard, and belief in equality and justice for all? Or was her life determined from the start, and were her, her sister and Galinda just fulfilling the requirements of the spell placed on them by their headteacher at Shiz college?

I know what I think, but the book doesn’t really answer these questions. In fact it poses more questions than it answers. But read it, and see what you think.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Year of Wonders-A novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks

I've been putting off reading A Year of Wonders for one major reason. I was born and grew up in Derbyshire twelve miles from Eyam, where this novel is set. I remember being taken to visit this place as a child and the story of the village disturbed me and gave me nightmares! Irrational to think it might still affect me in that way, but I got the shivers every time I picked this book up!

Geraldine Brooks took the basic factual account of Eyam, the village in Derbyshire that isolated itself when the Plague struck so that the contagion could not spread, and created a fantastic fictional account of how this decision might have affected the villagers. The narrator of the story is eighteen year old Anna Frith, the widowed mother of two small children. The story starts when she takes in a lodger from London, who brought the plague with him in some cloth that he had sent up for his work as a tailor. He is the first person to die, and at first the villagers do not recognise the signs of plague. It takes a few more deaths before it becomes clear.

It's the vicar, Micheal Mompellion, who decides and preaches the necessity to seal the village off from the outside world. This at first is received with understandable trepidation from his congregation but the vicar manages to convince everyone to stay, apart from the wealthiest family, The Bradford's,who have scarpered from the church to pack before he's even finished preaching.

As the novel progresses, the majority of the village population die, but we see all this through the eyes of Anna, herself bereaved of both of her children. Anna is the voice of reason throughout the story. It is Anna who comes across the mob of villagers attacking the local 'medical' women, accusing them of witchcraft because they use plants, herbs and roots to ease peoples sufferings. And it is Anna, and Elinor Mompellion who take on the mantle of these women once they are dead, in an attempt to find a way out of their suffering before they are all dead.

There is so much about this novel I could talk about. The descriptions of the Derbyshire countryside are fantastic. Brilliant and opulent early on before the plague strikes, getting harsher as the novel continues. The landscape seems to respond to the trials of the village. Then there's the realistic, if sometimes brutal descriptions of village life. Anna's memories of her mother's death in childbirth is horrendous, and even the more successful childbirth descriptions are pretty unpleasant.

There are also questions asked about religion itself. Micheal Mompellion is the vicar, and although seemingly a very religious, self effacing man, has a very dark side, which we witness in flashes. He also has a crisis of faith, questioning God, and his plan, although never revealing his doubts to his flock. This did make me question slightly, as i would wonder how fair it is to preach something to a congregation but not believe it. It is also a bit of a shock when his darker side is fully revealed in relation to his relationship with his wife, which is not revealed until the end of the novel.

This crisis of faith is not restricted to the clergy. The villagers also start to disbelieve in God and his power to redeem them and turn to witchcraft and superstition to try and cure their stricken relatives and prevent being struck by the plague themselves. This runs throughout the book and it is Anna that guides us through this and enables us to see it from both sides. I did sometimes think that Anna was a bit ahead of her times in the way she thought, but not enough to detract from this novel at all.

And as to whether it disturbed me as much as when I first heard this story, well the answer would have to be no. It is distressing in places, but more for some of the horrific descriptions of seventeenth century life than anything else. I'm glad I read it because it was a fantastic story, the language is beautiful, haunting and ominous and it did actually set some of those long buried nightmares to rest. I'd like to finish with a quote from the story that sums up exactly how it feels to read this book.

"I drew a ragged breath at this and his my face in my hands. I could not bear to imagine such suffering but I could not prevent my mind from conjuring such terrible images of it"

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Booking Through Thursday

Yesterday, April 15th, was Tax Day here in the U.S., which means lots of lucky people will get refunds of over-paid taxes.
Whether you’re one of them or not, what would you spend an unexpected windfall on? Say … $50? How about $500?
(And, this is a reading meme, so by rights the answer should be book-related, but hey, feel free to go wild and splurge on anything you like.)

$50 Dollars, If my maths is correct(which its very likely not!), I reckon that's about £30. So what would I spend it on?

Well, I'd probably buy books. In fact there's no probably about it, I'd definitely buy books! I've just read Wicked by Gregory Maguire from the library. I really enjoyed this and would like to read the next two but the library doesn't have them, so I'd buy these. And I'd probably have to buy Wicked too because I can't just have part of a series. That's just not right!

So if I went to the bookshop with £30 now, that's what I would intend to buy. Whether that's what I would buy when I got there is another matter all together. I could quite easily get sidetracked and buy something else entirely!

And $500 (£300), can I get away with saying I'd buy more books! Well I could quite easily spend that much on books, but I'd probably spend that on a laptop Dylan. He's off to our grammar school in September, and I've promised him he can have his own by the time he goes because he did so well to get in. So I'll have to find this money anyway, but it would just be nice if it was a unexpectd windfall!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox is the sixth in this series of books about the young criminal mastermind and his adventures with the technologically advanced fairy people, who live below the Earth’s surface. Except he’s not criminal anymore! When we first met him in 2001(I think) he was a twelve year old criminal genius and he’s now nearly eighteen, although due to time travelling escapades in his previous adventure, he only looks fourteen!

Artemis has been getting gradually more ethical and, (for want of a better word) nice throughout the series and in this book he discovers his mother is gravely ill, and that he caused it by using his ill gotten magical powers on her to mesmerise her into not questioning why he only looks fourteen. He calls for help from Captain Holly Short, his fairy friend, and comes to realise that the antidote to this fairy illness is only available from a certain type of lemur, which unfortunately, Artemis himself sold to an extinctionist group eight years ago to raise an obscene amount of money to rescue his father.

So cue more time travelling adventures as Artemis and Holly travel back in time to when Artemis was ten to rescue the lemur and save his mother. Being as Artemis knows when and where this exchange happens this should be a relatively simple job, but in true Artemis style it leads to a mad chase across continents pursuing the younger version of himself and managing to involve just about every fairy character ever to appear in these stories, all before they knew Artemis, of course.

The most interesting part of this story was the juxtaposition of Artemis then and Artemis now. The ten year old Artemis is very much the character we met in the first books of the series, obnoxious, cunning and devious, and the present day Artemis is shocked to realise exactly how obnoxious he was, and this realisation is pressed on him all the more firmly because to outwit his former self, he has to think like him.

This was a good read, and probably the best of this series since the first one. It had some lines that really made me chuckle, but unfortunately I can’t quote them because I left the book with my Mum to read. And it had lots of surprises, including an inter species kiss between Artemis and Holly. I really didn’t see that coming! Nor did I see the end coming, which without saying too much, ties the whole series up very nicely, but also leaves it open for more, depending I suppose on how Colfer feels. I do think it would be difficult to top this one though.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

This was my first David Sedaris book, and it was recommended to me by so many people I was really looking forward to reading it. And because so many people seemed to like it, I really wanted to like this. And I tried really hard to like it, but ultimately, I failed.

This is a collection of autobiographical essays, told in a style that is supposed to be humorous. And I could see how they were supposed to be funny, they just didn't make me laugh. Some of them made me chuckle slightly in places, but unfortunately not enough to sway my opinion of this book.

I think one of the main reasons I didn't have a good reaction to this was it was so dark in relation to family life. I just don't think I could relate to a family where their seemed to be no love and support, and everybody just seemed so angry and spent all their time hurting each other. But all credit to him to bring humour out of this, for those that find it funny anyway.

I did however find one of the essays funny. Six to Eight Black Men, about a very strange Christmas tradition in The Netherlands really did make me laugh. I can't remember much about it though, just that I found Sedaris' reactions to the strange events funny.

I've put off writing this for a couple of weeks because I really didn't want to write something so negative. I hoped something good might come to me if I let it stew for a while. But all that really achieved was that I forgot most of what I'd read, and am just left with the impression that I didn't like it. So I'm very sorry to Mr Sedaris, but this just wasn't for me!

Friday, 10 April 2009

Once upon a Time Challenge

This is a challenge to read fantasy type books. This is not something I read much of but I thought I'd give it a go!
Full details are Here. I'm going to go for the first challenge, The Journey, which doesn't commit me to a specific number of books. I'm just going to see what I can read.

The End of the World Challenge

This is the End of the World Challenge challenge. I'm a bit late joining this one and I don't know what I'll actually read apart from that I really want to read The Road, but I'll find another three and list them as I read them.

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Thursday, 9 April 2009

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

This was one bought for me my mum and have been putting off reading it because we don't usually read the same things. But I'm glad I did because I really enjoyed it. It concerns three cold cases presented to ex police officer, Jackson Brodie, now a private detective. The three case histories are presented at the beginning and then it is left to Jackson to decipher the truth from the information he's given.

The first case history concerns a three year old girl who went missing from a tent in the back garden 30 years ago, the second is about an eighteen year girl who was murdered in her fathers office ten years ago and the third is a woman looking for her niece who was supposedly witnessed the murder of her father by her mother twenty-five years ago.

The book is not just about these three case's though. Jackson himself, and his dysfunctional family life and tragic past is revealed slowly throughout the story. His pain at being separated from his eight year old daughter and his reaction towards his wife and her new lover illuminate his distress at his current life. He also expresses great concern at the provocative way his daughter is allowed to dress and behave, juxtaposed in his head with the atrocities that have occurred in the cases he is working on.

The stories themselves interlock and when the endings are finally resolved, nothing is as it seems. What we are given at the start is a brief overview of the three stories, and the rest of the story unfolds in small parts over the course of the novel. We get multiple points of view for the events that happened in the past, sometimes from Jackson, sometimes from the characters that are searching for the person, but more often than not from the people Jackson interviews that were connected with the events. Each viewpoint illuminates another aspect to each case which moves the story on a bit more, although sometimes it confuses more than elucidates!

I'm not sure whether I liked the case histories themselves or the development of Jackson Brodie best in this book. I found the case histories interesting, although the last one was fairly predictable. But I also found Jackson himself to be a really interesting, and human investigator. I suppose the histories themselves and Jackson's history are interlinked, and maybe neither would be as interesting to read about without the other. All the characters have lost at least one thing, some more, whether it a cat, sister, daughter, family, niece or even life as they knew it. Maybe this is what brings them all together, and makes the novel so coherent and readable.

And I definitely want to know more about Jackson Brodie, so I've been visiting my mum this week so I've picked up the second and third to take home with me.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

In the Fold by Rachel Cusk

I was totally gripped by this book, even though nothing much actually happens! The book starts with university friends Adam and Micheal visiting Micheal's large country home, known as Egypt, for his younger sister's eighteenth birthday celebrations. This serves to elucidate the slightly odd set up of this family, not least being the Micheal's fathers first and second wife seemingly so close. Adam is slightly awed by the well to do and bohemian attitude of the Hanburys, and the way he seems to be taken in without question.

From here we fast forward years. Adam is married (incidentally into a similar wealthy family to the Hanburys) with a child and living in a slightly unsatisfactory marriage with a woman who is not content with her life since having a child. This is probably the most action packed chapter in the novel, when the balcony in his town house collapses, nearly crushing him. I can't help but feel that this is overt symbolism for the crumbling of his marriage. When he gets a call from Adam, he jumps at the chance to go and spend a week with him lambing at the farm at Egypt.

From here the novel becomes a exposition of family relationships, modern life and character study. Adam lives in Georgian town house in bath, whereas Micheal lives in a modern housing estate. During his tour of the house by Adam's wife, Lisa, Micheal is struck by the sterile nature of the house and the estate, and therefore the people

"I did not dislike her, though I saw she was suffering from a madness of convenience. She had decided to concern herself with the morality of inanimate objects"

He also seems ultimately concerned with her attitude towards the children. Due to his wife's seeming inability to cope with the child on her own, he has taken Hamish with him to the Hanburys, and he is left with Lisa whilst the men are lambing. At various points he comments on the way she always has sweets available to keep children quiet, and the omnipresence of television.

"While preparing to take me on the tour of the house she had placed the children in front of the screen, switched it on, and then, like an anaesthetist, waited fr a count of ten, before the end of which they had happily vacated their bodies."

However, social commentary aside, there is a climax to this book. Its very quiet and really involves a long conversation in the kitchen at Egypt, but it prompts everybody to think about their lives and Adam goes home in a pensive state of mind. His absence means everything has changed back home and his already distant wife is even more distant.

I know I haven't done this book justice but it's really hard to write about. I loved it, found it quite depressing, and didn't think I got everything out of it I should have done all at the same time.

Friday, 3 April 2009

A Natural History of Unicorns by Chris Lavers

I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this up. The title just intrigued me! Its a fascinating look at the history of unicorns. We all know that unicorns don't exist but this book looks at both the history and development of the myth, and the actual animals that could have inspired the myth in the first place.

It covers a lot of ground, starting with accounts of one horned beasts stretching as far back as 398BC. As well as producing these accounts, Chris Lavers goes on to suggest what the beast discovered could have actually been. Many theories are suggested, including a rhinoceros, antelope and other such horned beasts.

It also goes into the reasons the myth of the unicorn has lasted so long. I actually found these parts most interesting. It explores ideas of the unicorn as a symbol of Christ, and how this association developed, as well as the unicorn in heraldry, which would be the image of the unicorn most of us have in our imaginations today. One of the reasons the unicorn myth is so enduring is the idea of the anti-poisoning and magical properties of the horn. This is traced back to its origins and goes on to examine what the horns that turned up claiming to be unicorn horns could have been. Narwhal tooth, a type of fish, was the prime suspect!

This book comes as far forward as the early 20th century and the search into the African heartlands for the elusive unicorn. It is theme running throughout the search for the unicorn that reports of sightings are always far away from where the report is made! Another reason the myth is so enduring.

It asks a lot of questions about where the idea of a unicorn came from and doesn't really give any definitive answers. But then there are no definitive answers to give. It's entertaining and does explain where the ideas may have come from and how and why they were perpetuated. I also like the fact that it uses language that makes you feel you are on the hunt for the unicorn. Words such as searching, tracking and hunting.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Booking Through Thursday-Libraries

I saw that National Library week is coming up in April, and that led to some questions. How often do you use your public library and how do you use it? Has the coffeehouse/bookstore replaced the library? Did you go to the library as a child? Do you have any particular memories of the library? Do you like sleek, modern, active libraries or the older, darker, quiet, cozy libraries?

Libraries are fantastic! I love mine and couldn't live without it, but I don't actually spend a lot of time in it. I spend more time on their website checking the catalogue and requesting books. I live in a small rural town so consequently the library I use is small. But it is part of an excellent county network which has most books I would like to read somewhere in the county. So my library visits are short, usually just to collect books that have come in on request. And since I have to pass it every day taking my daughter to and from school, I don't even have a particular time to visit. I'm usually in their to collect my books the moment they text me to tell me they have arrived!

I do spend more time in there when I take my daughter though. She loves the library. She always chooses her books really quickly then sits down to read them and is quite upset when she has to come away. This is the time that I will just browse the shelves and look for anything that might just catch my eye.

As for childhood experiences of libraries, my mum is a librarian so I spent a lot of time in the library. Visits to the library were a regular thing and I spent some of my school holidays in the library when mum had to work. I loved that though, and I even got to help out behind the desk when it was quiet.