Me and My Books

I’ve seen this meme circulating, so decided to answer the questions for you.

1. What author do you own the most books by?
It is probably Ian McEwan or Penelope Fitzgerald, as they have the most books on the Booker short list – books which I intend to read one day, but haven’t got round to yet (because I’m not massive fans of their books)

2. What book do you own the most copies of?
I don’t own more than one copy of any my own books, although I do have 10 signed copies of The Invention of Hugo Cabret gift edition with DVD for sale in my online shop!

3. Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?

4. What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
It is shocking, but I don’t think I’ve found my type of man in a book yet. Can you recommend any books with a great male character I can fall in love with?

5. What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children)?
I don’t re-read books, as I have too many other books I want to read. I love reading for the plot, and not the language, so once I know how it ends I’m not really that interested. I might start reading books again when I’m older and have forgotten how they end!

6. What was your favourite book when you were ten years old?
I loved reading about other children and so at that point I was reading all the Bobsey Twins and Jennings books.

7. What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?
Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald. I need a bit more action in my books.

8. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins manages to beat Blindnessby Jose Saramago by a tiny margin.

9. If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
I would force all book lovers to read A Fine Balance, and all people who claim not to enjoy reading to try The Hunger Games. Do you think anyone could fail to love reading after trying it?

10. Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
I’m afraid this is one prize I’m not qualified to judge. Samantha Harvey should win the Orange Prize, and probably the Booker prize for The Wilderness though.

11. What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
I am very scared they’d ruin it, but I think The Hunger Games would be great.

12. What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
Offshore – can you imagine how slow that would be?!

13. What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?
I’m not sure, I can’t think of anything particularly difficult – possiblyRushdie’s Midnight’s Children, but that wasn’t too bad, perhaps I should be stretching myself a bit more. 

14. Roth or Updike?
I love Roth, but have never read any Updike. I have some of Updike’s work in my TBR pile, so I’ll let you know next year!

David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
I’ve not read either I’m afraid. Should I?

Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
I’m not a big fan of any of them – sorry!

Austen or Eliot?
I’ve not read any Eliot either. Terrible aren’t I?! I loved Jane Eyre though.

Feel free to copy this and answer the questions on your own blog, as I’d love to know your answers!


Please put a search box on your blog!

A little plea from me…PLEASE put a search box on your blog!
I love your blogs, and it is great to read the new posts that you put up daily, but sometimes you write really good posts that I want to read again a few months later. Sometimes it’s because I’ve just got hold of a book, and want to re-read your review, sometimes I remember that you’ve written a really good post on how to do something, whatever the reason there are occasions when I want to look at posts you’ve written a while ago.

The problem is that I don’t remember whether you wrote that amazing post in November or February, so digging through the archive section on your sidebar is annoying. Some people have great A-Z lists of the books they’ve reviewed (which everyone should have too!) but it isn’t always the books I’m after, so please, just for me….


Is there anything else you wish everyone would add to their blog?

2000 - 2007 Chick Lit

The Post-Birthday World – Lionel Shriver

I loved We Need to Talk About Kevin, so was really looking forward to reading this one. Unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to expectations, but was still a great read.

The Post-Birthday World follows Irina, who is in a long term relationship with Lawrence. One night Lawrence is away and Irina goes to dinner with Ramsey, her friend’s ex-husband. The first chapter ends with Irina almost kissing Ramsey. The book then splits into two sections. Alternating chapters show Irina in parallel worlds. In one world she kisses Ramsey that night, whereas in the other she doesn’t. It is a great idea for a book, and shows how one tiny decision can have a massive effect on your life.

The main focus of the book is relationships. I loved the detailed analysis of how couples interact with each other and the character observations. Every character was well formed and behaved realistically. I have to admit that I got bored by Ramsey’s snooker playing (I’m not a big fan!) but I guess we’re are meant to, as we are supposed to be empathising with Irina, who also has to endure watching the snooker.

I was going to say that the book felt very dated, but it progressed to end only a few years ago. The first half of the book was set in 1996/1997 and the news stories and technology were very obvious. I guess the fact it felt so dated was actually the great skill of Lionel Shriver in setting the scene for that period in history so accurately. It feels weird saying that a book set only 12 years ago feels dated, but when you are reading about small news items, which I have long since forgotten about, it really shows.

I also felt that the book was a bit long. By the half way point the novelty of the two different worlds had worn off, and I began to get bored by having to read the same events happening twice, but from the two different perspectives. I felt that the book could have benefitted from losing about 200 of it’s 500 pages.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book, but if you only read one Lionel Shriver book, make sure it is We Need to Talk About Kevin.



Warning: This book contains many scenes of a sexual nature, so avoid it if you don’t like that sort of thing.

I have heard that these are the best two Lionel Shriver books. Have you read any of the others? If so, are they as good?


Blogger problems and RSS feeds

I normally view all the blogs I subscribe to using the RSS feed option in my email programme – Microsoft Outlook. I love this, as it means every time someone writes a new post it comes straight into their own folder just like an email. This means that I can take a little break while I’m working to read the latest posts. If you have never tried this option, then I highly recommend it. It is the best way I have found to view blogs.

In the past week I have had big problems viewing new posts this way. When I went to read the new post Microsoft Outlook would freeze, sometimes for a couple of seconds, sometimes so badly that the whole programme shut down. Yesterday I worked out that all the problems I was having only occurred with Blogger blogs. WordPress ones seem to be OK. I did a little research and found that this is a known problem which is affecting Blogger at the moment.

To avoid this problem I am going to be transferring all blogger based blogs onto google reader. This will mean that I will only check blogger blogs once or twice a day, as opposed to constant checking of the others. Hopefully the only difference you’ll see is that I may be a bit slower commenting on your blogs. I hope they fix the problem soon, as I do love my RSS feeds!

How do you view blogs? Have you ever tried using RSS feeds?


Look what I’ve bought!

I don’t normally do posts like this, as I usually only buy one or two books at a time, but this morning I struck book gold!!

Someone with great reading taste must have made a donation to the charity shop recently!!!
16 books I really want to read…..


 The Secret Scripture – Sebastian Barry

I’ve been wanting to read this for a long time. I’m so pleased I finally found a copy.

Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve never read this. I must rectify this situation as soon as possible!

Rabbit at Rest – John Updike (The last book of his trilogy, so I’ll need to do a bit more buying before I can read this!) 

In the Beauty of the Lilies – John Updike

I have never read any books by John Updike, and don’t think these are the right ones to start with, but at least I have them for the future! Can anyone recommend a good Updike book to start with?

A Quartet in Autumn – Barbara Pym

I have heard so many good things about this book, so it is really good to finally find a copy.

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami

I love Murakami, but for some reason I’ve never read the most famous of his books.

Faceless Killers – Henning Mankell

I have a few of his books in my TBR pile already, but now I’ve finally got hold of the first in the series I can start working my way through them!

The Red Book – Meaghan Delahunt

Has anyone read this book? I saw an amazing print review of it in a paper once, but haven’t seen anyone mention it since.

Kristin Lavansdatter – Sigrid Undset

I have been wanting to read this ever since I saw Michelle’s reviews. I am so lucky to have found the complete trilogy!

New Moon – Stephanie Meyer

Eclipse – Stephanie Meyer

I still haven’t read Twilight, but it makes sense to have the rest of the series waiting doesn’t it?!

Cloudstreet – Tim Winton

Megan recommended that I try this book, so it is great to find a copy!

Birds of a Feather – Jacqueline Winspear

Messenger of Truth – Jacqueline Winspear

I have never read a Jacqueline Winspear book, are either of these a good place to start?

A Fraction of the Whole – Steve Toltz

This was nominated for the Booker prize last year, so is a compulsory addition to my TBR mountain!

Shadow Without a Name – Ignacio Padilla

Finally, this arrived in the post this morning via bookmooch. It is Matthew’s favourite book of all time, so I’m really looking forward to reading it.

and to top it all off I also found this brand new pasta maker for only £12:


You can’t beat days like today!

Books in Translation

2666 – Roberto Bolaño. Part 1: The Part About the Critics

Steph and Claire are hosting a read-along for the highly acclaimed book, 2666, by Chilean author Roberto Bolaño. The novel is 900 pages long, and divided into 5 parts. We are reading one part a month, for the next five months.

Here are my thoughts on Part 1: The Part About the Critics, pp. 1-160

Part 1 introduces us to four academics who specialise in the German author Archimboldi. Archimboldi has disappeared, and the academics are keen to discover his whereabouts. They travel to various literary conferences to discuss his work, and hope to find potential clues to his location. There is also a strange love triangle which develops between three of the academics. Not much happens in this section, but each of the characters is introduced vividly. Part 1 doesn’t really work as a book in its own right, but is a good beginning to what will hopefully be a well developed plot.

I found the formality of the book strange to begin with. Perhaps it is just the British culture, but it was really weird for me to read all the characters being referred to by their last names. I got used to it after a while, but then some characters started to be introduced by their first names. Does anyone know why this is?

Sometimes the book went into too much detail:

All four were put up at the same hotel. Morini and Norton were on the third floor, in rooms 305 and 311, respectively. Espinoza was on the fifth floor, in room 509. And Pelletier was on the sixth floor, in room 602.

I felt like it was waffling a bit, and adding too much unnecessary information. I’m sure the book could be reduced down to half its size without losing any crucial points. Does anyone else feel it would benefit from some word pruning?

The plot was a bit unbelievable in places. The scene with the taxi driver was a bit far fetched for me. It is quite normal for someone to say that:

….London was such a labyrinth, he really had lost his bearings.

The cabbie isn’t quoting Borges in saying this, it is a phrase in common usage. I certainly didn’t know that this phrase originated from Borges, and even if the taxi driver was aware of this fact I’m not sure why it resulted in him being severly beaten. It was all a bit odd to me. Did anyone else understand why this section was in the book?

The writing was reminiscent of Robertson Davies’ The Rebel Angels, although this maybe just because both were set in the world of academia. Does anyone else see a similarity between these two books?

I think it has the potential to be a really good book, and look forward to reading the next four sections, but I am really pleased that we are reading the book over several months, as I think the density of the text would really put me off completing this book in one go, and I would probably have been tempted to give up.

Overall, part 1 was quite average, but has the potential to be the start of a really good book.



What did you think of part 1?

Are you enjoying the read-along?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this massive book!