Happy Book Lovers Day ❤️

I rarely pay attention to these 'blah blah day' things, but when it is relation to books, I felt I'd better celebrate. And what better way to celebrate than with a tag. The tag is borrowed from the lovely Kayleigh, and you should certainly check out her book blog.

1. What was the last book you read?
I finally completed Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

2. Was it a good one?
Yes. It is quite absorbing and took a lot to get through. Though the story is interesting, and not really what I would normally read.

3. What made it good?
Most of the books I look at, are either modern day or fantasy. This book had more of a period setting, and it has actually made me want to read more like this.

4. Would you recommend it to other people?
Yes, though if you have a short attention span, like me, it may take a while to get through. It is well worth it.

5. How often do you read?
Sometimes I get a little bit of information overload, and I can focus on anything, including reading. Which blows. But I counter that with the days where I can read books in one go.

6. Do you like to read?
Yes. It has been a relaxing thing for me to do for most of my life.

7. What was the last bad book you read?
About A Girl by Lindsey Kelk.

8. What made you dislike it?
The characterisation felt so contrived and fake. I couldn't feel anything for any of the characters. It made me think of reality TV and I hate reality TV.

9. Do you wish to be a writer?
I think that's the dream, isn't it. To just write anything that touches someone. It's kind of magical.

10. Has any book ever influenced you greatly?
Probably The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It was a book that helped settle my mind, when I struggled most with my mental health. It's a great book.

11. Do you read fan fiction?
Yes. Started with boy bands, progressed into anime… a true captain will go down their ship. 😂

12. Do you write fan fiction?
I did, a long time ago.

13. What's your favorite book?
Out by Natsuo Kirino

14. What's your least favorite book?
The Twilight saga… in general. I bought the whole lot, read the first one, and donated the lot to my local library. I maybe would have liked it when I was younger, but I was in my 20s and it was strange.

15. Do you prefer physical books or ready on a device (like a kindle)?
Whilst I like having books anywhere I am, like on my phone, nothing beats a book. I love the whole process of reading a physical book. And, second hand books are great, because you can think about any differences the last reader had about the imaginary world unfolding in front of you. It's why I rent a lot at the library.

16. When did you learn to read?
Probably early Primary School, with Link-Up books and Puddle Lane.

17. What is your favorite book you had to read in school?
I really loved To Kill A Mockingbird at school, to the point I bought it as an adult.

18. What is your favorite book series?
Harry Potter by JK Rowling, The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dan and The Millenium saga by Steig Larrson.

19. Who is your favorite author?
Only one? Between Chuck Palahnuik, John Grisham and Paulo Coelho.

20. What is your favorite genre?
Depends on my mood, but I like drama orientated books, but will try to read anything.

21. Who is your favorite character in a book series?
Sasuke Uchiha, because I made it this far without mentioning NARUTO. I like this character, because when I was younger and starting to have mental health issues, i felt I understood Sasuke's take on the world. Why he became so focused on one thing. He was hurting, and I empathised with that.

22. Has a book ever transported you somewhere else?
A good book should always paint a world and take you there.

23. Which book do you wish had a sequel?
I don't know. I tend to find things go a bit off kilter in a sequel, so I prefer stand alone books.

24. Which book do you wish DIDN'T have a sequel?
50 Shades… I tried, I did. It is horrible in every way, and it shouldn't have a first book, never mind sequels and movies.

25. How long does it take you to read a book?
It depends, but because I have an awful attention span, I normally flit between one or two books at a time. So longer than it would be if I just read one.

26. Do you like when books become movies?
Most of the time I have imagined something completely different, so I am left disappoint. The Harry Potter books were okay, and John Green adaptations tend to be pretty spot on.

27. Which book was ruined by its movie adaptation?
Not really the point, but my interpretation of Harry Potter changed after the movies started coming out. And that disappoints me. I started reading Harry Potter back in the late 90s, before any movies. The world was good, but I thought differently of the characters.

28. Which movie has done a book justice?
I think Lord of The Rings did a good job, considering all the the walking.

29. Do you read newspapers?
Sometimes, more editorials rather than tabloid-y stuff.

30. Do you read magazines?
Mostly anime or food related. Sometimes music. I used to buy loads of magazines, I've cut down a lot.

31. Do you prefer newspapers or magazines?
Magazines, because rather than an overview, you can get what you are actually interested in.

32. Do you read while in bed?
Yes. Sometimes just before bed, and in the morning when I'm waking up.

33. Do you read while on the toilet?
Sometimes. Usually end up playing a game on my phone.

34. Do you read while in the car?
Not really. I did when I had to get the bus, now I have my own car. I read the road… if that counts.

35. Do you read while in the bath?
I drop things in the bath. So not really.

36. Are you a fast reader?
If I can get into the book.

37. Are you a slow reader?
Probably. It's to with my attention span, again.

38. Where is your favorite place to read?
Anywhere, really. But I love sitting in the garden on a sunny day.

39. Is it hard for you to concentrate while you read?
Normally I'll be able to focus for a while. After about 20 minutes my brain starts ticking on to something else. Unless the book is super good.

40. Do you need a room to be silent while you read?
I like music. So no.

41. Who gave you your love for reading?
Both my Mum and Dad love books, and still read a lot.

42. What book is next on your list to read?
I have a selection. Amy Poehler's Yes Please probably, because I need a laugh these days.

43. When did you start to read chapter books?
Primary 3/4… I'd be about 7ish… I am guessing.

44. Who is your favorite children's book author?
Colin Dan

45. Which author would you most want to interview?
I don't really know. Maybe John Green or Paulo Coelho.

46. Which author do you think you'd be friends with?
Anyone. I think being friends with someone who is good at writing, would be so great. I'd just ogle them, no matter who it was.

47. What book have you reread the most?
Probably Lord of The Rings by JRR Tolkien. It just pulls me in, so hard. I could get lost for days.

48. Which books do you consider "classics"?
Books like Emma… books that have been published for possibly hundreds of years.

49. Which books do you think should be taught in every school?
The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dan. It's animals traveling from their woodland home, which is being bulldozed to build houses. Lots of animals travel together to find sanctuary in White Deer Park. It has a lot of lessons about how the human world hurts the animals living around us. And although I read it when I was at Primary School, it wasn't taught.

50. Which books should be banned from all schools?
Books breed ideas… no book should be banned. Allow for free critique, but don't ban.

The Journey to White Deer Park

I am a bit of a bookworm. But in periods where I become a bit ‘stuck’, it can include finding it difficult to do hobbies, as well as create things. That means, i find it hard to relax to music and I just can’t focus on a book to read. Now, these can be issues, as both music and books are ways I like to relax. So sometimes, i feel like I just can’t unwind, and it is so frustrating.

So I made a choice to try and read 50
books this year. Its a big number, as I really struggled last year reading that same target, in fact I think I ready 11 books. 11 books in 12 months is really bad, as I used to read ALL THE TIME. So, in keeping of 2017’s plan I thought I’d try and red a book from my childhood to get me started.

The Animals of Farthing Wood.

It was a good idea. Because although the story was a lot mor simplified than I remember, was still super entertaining. And it made me think. If I want to do things, and am finding it hard, then maybe do baby steps. Working a really small bit towards your goal is better than working towards nothing at all.

When I was young Farthing Wood was a favourite. I read it so much, and became convinced I was going to get a pet fox. As a fox was one of the main characters. I loved animals, and the idea of different animals banding together to travel to a safer place, after the pond in their home of Farthing Wood is filled in by humans. People were building on their homes, and the animals leave whilst they still have the chance. But where do they go? To an animal reserve called White Dear Park, where they could all be safe. So the animals, a badger, fox, snake, weasel, mole, owl, rabbits, mice, voles and more, make a pact to live together in unity, until they reached their new home.

I read the book when the cartoon, based on the book, was aired on Children’s BBC, when I was about 10 or 11. The book disappoint, in fact, when I re-read it last week, it still kept me entertained. Okay, the way the animals all talked to each other was just like they were people, did annoy me. But it was still a book I could get right into.

So maybe, if you are struggling, try to do something you loved as a kid. It might help you re-discover why you love what you do, and give you the push to carry on.

Life Is A Plotline

I have been reading a lot of non-fiction books lately, where people publish their thoughts, feelings and general anecdotes about their life. You find out about the inner workings of their brains and really get to know someone. It is something that is really magical about books and reading. You can get a sense of complete understanding for someone you have never even met.

But how can a person experience enough to write books on their life? A normal average life is not something to write home about. Life is mundane and uneventful 99% of the time. Or mine is anyway.

But then, it is maybe not what you experience, just how you experience it. Some people believe that those who look through the world as if they were a child, tend to lead happier lives. It isn’t the physical aspects of life that makes these people happy, it is the idea that everything is an adventure, no matter how medial the task may seem. As we get older, it seems that we get more apathetic about the world we live in. It as if we have seen that failure is a part of life, so we prepare for any future failure by looking at the world negatively. But, if we push the apathy aside, appreciate things on face value. A sunny day, pretty flowers, tall buildings, anything. Maybe thinking of every day as an adventure, creates more stories to tell. Makes life seem more exciting.

Another aspect of ‘how you experience life’, may come down to a person’s thought processes. Some people speak their minds about particular topics, a bit like Karl Pilkington.  Karl is a man who is honesty seems to be the voice that other people ignore. He has an overly pessimistic, realist attitude about seemingly everything. Karl speaks and writes about his honest opinions, which resonates with people as well as keeping attention with subject matter that could be considered as mundane.

So I guess, the best thing to do is be honest, although I doubt I would ever be able to write a book on my life. But, it is an interesting thing to think about. Could you write some kind of autobiographical book?

Book Review: The Help

I feel I should point out, I am not formally educated in anything to do with literature. But, it is something I feel passionate about, and have done since I learned to read. So, I felt I could document books I read, by posting regular reviews for them. Any thoughts are my own, and I will try to limit spoilers, because no one likes that.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Frequently tagged as ‘the opposite to Gone with the Wind’, I picked up this book at my local library because it seemed different. The novel covers the problems in 60s Mississippi, encountered by the hired black help, as they work for white families. Helped by a young aspiring writer, the maids put across their side of the story, in a bit to make things better for their families and friends.

Seems very noble. And the main characters of Skeeter, Minny and Aibileen are very likeable, and this helps the story a lot. Aibileen is a black maid working for the Leefolds, and raising their young daughter Mae Mobley. The relationship between Mae Mobley and Aibileen is sweet. Due to Miss Leefold’s hesitance to handle her child, most of the parenting comes down to the maid. Something, which is described as being normal at the time. You can’t help but feel sorry for children, whose parents
simply don’t want to parent. To those children, their maids are everything, and the children mean the world to the maids.

Minny is Aibileen’s best friend. She has spent most of her life waiting on white families, much like her friend, but she has what she calls ‘sass mouth’, which causes confliction with her employers. She is a feisty character who has a large family and an alcoholic husband. She spends most of the novel working for Miss Celia Foote, who I found one of the more genuine characters in the book. Miss Foote has never had a maid before, and she struggles with what she can or can’t do. And Minny, doesn’t quite know how to take this woman who wants to be friends. In their own space, these two woman are feisty and strong, but together, they both seem nervy and unsure.

And then there’s Skeeter, a recent college graduate, who has just returned home to Jackson to stay at her parent’s plantation. She loved her family’s old maid, Constantine, but is upset to find her gone on her return. She wants to be a writer, and finds herself questioning her values to get where she wants to go. It is her, who approaches Aibileen about writing a book, from the point of view of the help. And starts things changing, coming to loggerheads with her best friend, Hilly Hollbrook, the queen bee of Jackson.

It’s the idea, that a white woman was catalyst for everything, that bothers me. Evidentially, from the piece written by Stockett at the end of the novel, she wanted to be Skeeter. She wanted to change things for the black workers, that worked for her family in 60s Mississippi. But she didn’t, she buried her head in the sand, like so many others did during that time. Whilst I try to ignore the author’s backstory, I can’t help the overtone I felt on the book. It was like ‘white people are awful, but some can make things better for black people’. I find that Skeeter does it all, to further her career as making the whole thing fall a bit flat. I am sure that if Minny or Aibileen had been the instigator, the tone would be different.

Despite what I have said, I did really become emotionally involved in the storyline, and was willing the characters on with their goal. And to me, that alone makes me want to recommend you read this book. The overtone I picked up, did dampen how I feel about the book. Because I felt Skeeter to only push the boundries for her job prospects, whereas Aibileen and Minny wanted to do it for their family. And that idea, wouldn’t shift. So for that, I do have to mark the book down a little.

Rating: 3.5/5

A Life In Print

For the majority of my life, I have been a nerd, the type of girl who would rather read a good book, than go out on the town. This hasn’t changed at all, in fact, if anything I am find myself reading books more and more. I find it relaxing, and I love the idea that just by reading some words on a page, I can be carried away to another world.

I wanted to crawl in between those black lines of print the way you crawl between a fence…— The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

I guess, I get it suggested that movies and TV shows should also have the same effect on me, as they are also a form of escapism. A break away from the real world. But it doesn’t, unless it is very character driven and dialogue heavy, I can’t seem to get into TV or movies. I am guessing, that is because there is a lot of substance in most novels, so that the writer can paint the reader an accurate picture. Because story has to have depth, I find a lot of things on TV fall flat. I like when there is 3 or 4 stories interlinked and you follow them all, and it always takes more than one viewing to get EVERYTHING.

It’s just most things I try to watch, seem to try too hard, and end up being flat. That is all in my opinion, of course. But I think it helps that because I work during prime-time TV watching time, I have gotten out of the habit of watching the same shows, with the same story lines, just different words. And once you get out of that habit, you find yourself wondering how you could ever spend so much time in front of a TV.

Anyway, books are the opposite to TV, and reading one makes me happy and keeps me occupied. I love the idea of getting lost in a world, that noone else can see. It is like, the book creates a little world for only you. Like it’s my secret. I like holding a book in my hand, and knowing how perfect each printed page is. I’m sorry, I can’t see myself getting such an attachment to an ebook reader. A piece of plastic, which ultimately takes value out of literature, as much as the value was taken out of music. Yes, there is still value in music, but it has decreased massively. In fact, the only way a lot of bands make money these days, is through selling merchandise and touring. People think they are owed music and things for free.

I had someone tell me that they had downloaded the whole Shakespeare collection onto his Kindle. He downloaded it off Frostwire, for free, and didn’t care who he told. He said he really enjoyed the plays, and it was the best thing on his device. This upset me, because although he liked it, he didn’t value the work enough to even pay for it. That is the one thing I hate about the digital age. Everything is condensed into files which hold no value to anybody.

A book or an album, when you hold them, you feel great having the product. You feel like you can really appreciate it, because you own it. It is the self-satisfaction that you worked hard, and you are going to enjoy what you spend your money on. But that’s maybe just my brain that works like that.