‘Children’ vs ‘Adult’ books… Or, you know. Just books.

As much as I love music, people, and Nutella, the greatest love of my life has been, and will always be, books.

That’s just how it is. The feeling of finishing a book for the first time, and the emptiness you’re left with is a kind of masochistic addiction that I always need more of.

And, look, I’ve tried to be a book snob. I love Dorian Gray and Great Expectations as much as anyone!

But reading classics is like eating an entire cake; it seems like a great idea at first, and you’re really into it! But the novelty quickly wears off, and you’re left feeling a little ill and wishing you had chosen to do anything but that. Yet now the challenge has started and god damn it, you have to finish this entire cake.

But there is a certain prestige that comes with reading The Three Musketeers, and The Odyssey, and Hamlet, when you’re not studying them in school. I would love to be able to read them, remember what happens, and pretend to sound like an intellectual. I have a theory that people read these kinds of books for the ‘stimulating thoughts’ they get from them.

Personally, I’d rather read something fun, but if you want to ‘grow’ your ideas and ‘mature’ as a person, then be my guest!

Though, children’s lit does this too, at a child’s level. Still discussions of death, of living life while you can, of discrimination, abuse, love, hate, war… just, in fewer, easier to understand words.

Same software, different casing, right?

This is why Rick Riordan, Anthony Horowitz, Michael Scott and Lemony Snicket will always be on my list of favourite authors. They tell adult stories in a kid friendly way. They don’t talk down to kids, they don’t patronize them. They simply make the same themes more accessible and easier to read.

And how could I not look up to these authors when I’m trying to do the same dang thing?

 

 

 

Day 12: Favourite Books as a Kid

Whenever I went into town as a kid, the only place I wanted to go was Waterstones. There was a point in my childhood, when I was about seven or eight, when we would go into town about twice a month and I never left without a new book.

All pocket money and birthday money went on books, on collecting books from a series, only to get distracted halfway through by a new series and start collecting them. The most frustrating thing for me, as an eight year old, was if they didn’t have the next book I needed to complete the set.

This happened a lot with the Secret Seven collection of books – they never had certain ones, so eventually I gave up collecting them.

I still own copies of most of the books I loved as a kid:

Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

I think I started reading this when I was nine?

The first in this series was a birthday present from a family member, and I adored this series. It’s about twins (as a twin, stories about them have a special place in my heart) who meet historical figures, creatures from myth and legend.

The only issue was that I got a kindle when I was 13, and now have half the series as book, and half on kindle. It’s a bit annoying, but that’s my fault.

This may have been the first series I cried at the ending of.

Inkheart

I wish I still owned this trilogy. Got them when I was 10, read them when I was 10, went to a charity shop when I was 14.

It’s about a girl who loves to read, and bringing characters to life through reading.

The Secret Series

I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to tell you anything about these books. I signed a contract.

Percy Jackson

There are some Percy Jackson books sitting on my shelf at uni right now. Centred on Greek myth and legend, these books are the best and I think they should be required reading in schools but then, what do I know? They should be read by everybody.

There are so many more books I loved as a kid, but these are the ones I recall loving and obsessing over for a long time. What are some of your favourite books?

See you tomorrow for some more discussion on music!

 

 

 

 

So many books, so little shelf room…

I wanted to write something deep and meaningful about moving out of my childhood home in a week’s time to go to university, but I think I’m going to scare myself if I do. Instead, I’m going to give you a run down of the books I am taking to uni and why.

All of the online forums say that you don’t really get much storage space in Halls – where I’ll be living – so I don’t think I can bring them all. I want to bring them all.

  1. The Heroes of Olympus – Rick Riordan
    I love Rick Riordan’s writing style and especially his characters (that’s really where I fall in love with books) so I couldn’t not take something written by him. Percy Jackson might be the more classic choice, but I’ve read that series a lot, and this one I’ve only read fully once. I don’t care what my youngest brother says, re-reads are golden.
  2. Kingmaker: King breaker – Karen Miller
    Check out my last post for why I’m taking this series; I got the second in the series and am waiting till I get to my dorm to start it. I figured I’d need something quiet to do to fulfil my introverted need to recharge after parties and people time. When I get the third book (not for a while, judging on my weekly budget) it’ll join the others on my uni shelf.
  3. The Three Musketeers
    I’ve had this book on my shelf for over three years and it hasn’t been read yet. If I take it with me, I’m more likely to read it, right?
  4. The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
    This is a beautiful book that took Tumblr by storm about a year ago. I loved it, but have only read it once, so I want to give it another tearful read through.
  5. The Dresden Files – Jim Butcher
    Recommended by a favourite streamer of mine (Ryan Haywood of Achievement Hunter) I got the first two books in this TEN PART SERIES. Honestly, ten books! How will my student loan cope?! Regardless, I loved the first one and want to give this series another go, even if I’m ordering the others from the library.
  6. All of the gothic texts I studies at A Level
    I realise most people would never read their A Level texts again, but I really did enjoy reading them. They were The Bloody Chamber, Frankenstein and Doctor Faustus, and I’m hoping they’ll give me that little bit of extra motivation when I need it – I thought I’d do really badly in English but I ended up doing really well, it’ll remind me I can do things blah blah blah etc.

Andddd that’s it! I know that doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’m hoping there are 5 HoO books, 3 K:K books, 2 DF and 3 gothics, so it comes to around 13 books in total.
Then there’s the others in the incompleted series…

Basically, I want to have enough books so I don’t have to buy more (or collect more from home) but I also want to be able to read them all, so I can do a rotation at Christmas. That’s the dream. Of course, I’ll keep you guys updated as I read them: in all honesty, doing blog posts on what I’m reading makes me more motivated to read and finish more books! Maybe I should do that with school work too!

 

 

Reading Update #3

I finished reading The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller about 10 minutes ago.

God damn, I forgot how much I loathed cliff hanger endings.

Lets start at the beginning – This book is about a young man (Asher) who is destined to save the world. Unfortunately, what he’s supposed to ve the world from, and how, isn’t exactly made clear throughout this book, so I can’t tell you that. The world is very intricate, with many sub-plots and add ons that I think will come back to haunt us.

In all honesty, this can sometimes feel overwhelming, like as a reader, you’re bogged down with too much information to process it properly, but Miller does it in a way that enriches the world and enables you to more fully empathise with the characters plights.

And oh what a series of plights they are. I won’t tell you about them, because that would be spoiling basically the entire novel, but I will say there are many difficulties ranging from mild annoyance at your favourite character being faced with this, to  heartbreak at how anybody could spend so long writing a character and setting them up for such a horrible situation.

Though I am prone to hyperbole, this is not an example of it.

Most of the characters are extremely likable (and if not, you can at least sympathise with their motives) and the plot, while it seems to spiral in all directions, seems to all link together just in time for the next book.

Which I currently don’t own and I am angrily scouring the shelves of Amazon for. Seriously, I hate cliffhangers.

Would I recommend this book? I’m not sure. I think it’s outstanding, one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read – and I breathed fantasy when I saw younger – but I feel it’s one of those cult books, destined to be passionately read by a group of dedicated followers. I hope I’m wrong, and this books comes into the mainstream, with merchandise and film contract, but it’s just a very odd story. So much rides on how much you like the characters; if you don’t like the main few, I doubt you’d finish the books. It just so happens that I fell in love with all of them, so it was an easy read.

Next up: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

I know nothing about this books, but one of my close friends told me I’d love it, so here we go!

 

Summer Reading Update #2

Well, I’ve already failed in my summer target, but I do have some excuses behind this.

  1. I was given more shifts at work than I anticipated.
  2. The books on my list were mainly classic and difficult to read, so I kinda didn’t really want to read them
  3. There was just not enough time given to read each book.

Andddd… I’ve already bought two new books. But hey, it was results day, my results were good and Waterstones was having a buy one get one half price deal on sci-fi and fantasy.

I did manage to finish The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz, one of my favourite authors ever, and it was outstanding.
It’s a Sherlock Holmes story (set in Victorian England but written by Watson during the first World War) about a man who thinks a villain from his past is hunting him down to kill him. This tale twists and turns into something intensely complex and intriguing, crime and incriminations threading through the British Government itself. Holmes’ discovery is deeply shocking and heartbreaking, and I was very nearly moved to tears when finishing it during a long wait in the GP’s surgery, but it does capture a scarcely discussed aspect of Victorian London in a very enlightening way.

As for the writing, I could sing praises about Horowitz all day. He maintains his own style that I’ve come to love from his Power of Five series, but somehow still emulates Conan Doyle in the characterisations and language used. Definite recommendation from me – it’s much simpler to read than traditional Holmes’ stories, even though it’s twice the length of most!

Next, I’m reading The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller (I finally started watching a play through  of Dragon Age: Inquisition and have become a little obsessed with Mages) so I’ll update when I’ve finished!

Summer Reading Update #1

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

To begin my summer reading project of reading all of the neglected books on my shelf, I led with a book not even on my shelf. I took it out of the library  about a month ago, because I was sad our Gothic literature topic had ended.

This was the first Dickens book I’ve ever read, and, like most people, thought it to be dull, hard, difficult to get into and just unenjoyable. I was so wrong.

It’s undeniable that there are passages that drag, and a fair amount of description,  but as this is in a similar style to The Lord of the Rings, though not nearly as much, I couldn’t really complain about it. These passages are also fairly short, and I found myself skimming over them without detracting from the actual story, which helped a lot.

The story is fantastic. Without spoiling too much, it’s built upon a series of coincidences that align in such a perfect way that you only realise what’s going to happen as it happens, leaving you on tenderhooks throughout the story. This is 0ne of my favourite things about reading it; I genuinely had to put the book down and pause for a moment, because everything had aligned so perfectly to a single moment.

Even more so than the plot line, the characterisation was perfect. Pip is the right mix of sweet and bratty, spoilt and selfless, and in typical Dickensian style, there are some truly horrendous characters (looking at you, Compeyson) that I felt physically angry reading about. I also noticed the influence of Frankenstien, I think – it was implicitly mentioned, but Pip reminded me so much of Victor in his conflicting desires, it was rather scary.

I would say read this book if you like the Gothic, if you like a challenge and Victorian London in general. I would also say to keep in mind while reading that Dickens’ books often end happily, even when it all seems hopeless.

Next up, I’m reading House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz, a favourite author of mine. Can’t wait to get started!

Summer Reading Goals

I have a multitude of books to read over the summer, because I’ve been avoiding reading for the past three-ish years. I’d feel bad if I wasn’t reading something Literature related, so the last thing I read for fun was the Illiad. And that was at Christmas.

Currently, I’m reading Great Expectations, because I’ve never read a Dickens novel, and loved the BBC Dickensian series on over January and February, so decided to give it a whirl. Believe it or not, it’s not too hard going – I found The Picture of Dorian Gray more difficult to read, and that’s my favourite book of all time!
Having said that, I have had to renew it twice from the library because it’s still taking a while to get through it, but I’m hoping to finish it by Friday to take it back to the library on Saturday.

I bought David Copperfield to read afterwards, but I’m not sure if I’ll be reading that anytime soon – two Dickens’ books in succession may be the end of me.

Instead, I’m making a plan to read all of the books on my shelf that I’ve had for ages but haven’t had the chance to read yet – The Three Musketeers, Othello, The Lost Symbol, the second to last book of the Mortal Instruments series – just so I can clear them off before moving into Halls.

There’s at least 20 books on this list, and I’m going to need to keep the motivation I need to read them all, so after I finish one, I’m going to post it here with a rating, recommendation and brief overview of plot/what I thought. Hopefully, this means I’ll be both updating more, and posting more, so it’s a win/win for everyone! It does depend on how heavy my shifts at work get – I know they’re going to steadily increase my hours, so that might affect the time I have to read, but I’ll do my best anyway. This challenge will last from now until I start at university (19th September) so that’s just under 2 months to read at least 20 books. Wish me luck!!

 

Feelings Upon Entering a Book Store.

INTERNAL MONOLOGUE

Okay. I don’t really need anything, but I’ve got like 30 minutes to kill before work, so I’ll just pop in here and-

WOW look books! There’s so many books here I wonder if I can read them all. What are they all about? There are 6 different books on that one table, they’re pretty thick too… that has to be, like, at least 6 years worth of work… Maybe I should pick one up, you know, just to justify all the hard work the author/publisher/editor put in…

*Breaths deeply* No, Shannon, you can’t just buy books. You have a whole shelf at home dedicated to brand new books you haven’t read yet.

I’ll just… head to the Sci-fi and Fantasy section…

You know that’s just torturing yourself.

I’m gonna do it anyway. Holy crap! The new cover for this edition of The Hobbit is incredible, I have got to get it at some point! I mean, I know have a copy already, but it’s not THIS copy and-

There’s someone else in this section. Oh god oh no. There’s never anyone here, there’s like, 7 people in the shop and you decide to stand right next to me? Do I move out the way so he can look at this eye-meltingly gorgeous version of The Hobbit, or does that look like I’m being rude?

Just  gonna… turn and look at the comics instead… wish I got into them, but they’re not BOOKS. It’s not the same… Okay, he’s gone. Back to drooling over – NOPE eye caught by the Game of Thrones books – okay, I know I’m not getting them here because I need the whole series and that’s wayyyy too expensive at this shop but let’s read the blurb as though you haven’t already memorised it. Now put it back before you taint it’s majesty. Scanning eye along… finds 3 books already on my shelf. The “to be read” shelf. Now feel incredibly guilty for not reading them. Sorry authors, I’ll get around to it, I promise!

Okay… I already want everything in this section so lets go somewhere else… ew, adult fiction, pls no. Lol there’s no one here, let the shelves keep the romance novels. I’m here for… action? Is that the right word? Never mind.
Can I go to the Young Adult or Children’s section? Does that look odd… I don’t get asked for ID for alcohol anymore, it’s a bit weird for me to look at kids books, right? Though no one here knows I’m not buying for a sibling or cousin… Yeah, lets look at the – NEW RICK RIORDAN SERIES. WHY HAVE I NOT SEEN THIS BEFORE? Dammit I’m broke but OH MY GOD IT’S ABOUT THE NORSE MYTHS I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THEM I HAVE TO READ THAT SERIES as soon as I get paid. You will be read and enjoyed. I swear, Norse God series, you won’t even be put on the “to be read” shelf. You’re getting read on the bus home.

But not today because the only thing in my purse are bus tickets, of varying expiration dates.

Let’s just… read the blurb. Of every book. And maybe the first chapter of the first book, you know, just to be sure I want to read it…

This is going straight on my amazon wishlist.

I should probably start heading towards the exit now I’ve been here for… 20 minutes? How has that gone so fast?? Let’s head towards the door and OH MY GOD STATIONARY. No, the stationary here is hella expensive for what you get but this one has vintage maps on and I need this in my life.

(You literally don’t travel anywhere?)

But it’s so cute… and also £23. I can feel my bank account draining just from holding it.

Okay, okay, walk to the front walk to the front… Man, I really love this place.

***

Well, I hope that was… I’m gonna go with interesting, but I’m not entirely sure that’s the right word. I’ve been going into town a lot more since I FINALLY got a job, so I’ve spent more and more time in bookshops. I’ve also spent more and more money in bookshops, but that’s an unresolved problem that will continue forever, probably, so nothing we can do about that. Anyway, these genuinely are my thoughts when in a bookshop, though a lot of the gaps are filled with me walking around in silent stupor.

I honestly do love bookshops; for whatever reason, they calm my permanently anxious state so much, it’s like a zen zone just being in one. Libraries are even better, but we recently got a brand new one in town and I still feel a little awkward going inside. I did take out Great Expectations though, and do like it a lot. I’ve never read a Dickens novel, and I just expected a really thick, long slog through the text, but it’s surprisingly easy to read. I sat down for one chapter today, and ended up reading three!

 

Week 1: A Book A Week

18/1/16 – 25/1/16

The Illiad – may contain spoilers, but it was written in Ancient Greece, so I feel like you’ve had time to hear the story.

In order for this to be fair, I have to admit something: I started reading this book before Christmas. I know, I know, that’s cheating but I had to finish it! And it 100% counts towards this goal, okay!

Anything with Greek Mythology in, I am down for, so after reading Madeline Miller’s Song of Achilles last year, I had to put this on the list. It was weird though.

Obviously, The Illiad is transcribed from Homer’s Ancient Greek epic poem, and I found reading it as a poem, not a novel, makes it easier to understand. Though the content is more suited to a novel, the in depth description – some of the similes are so long and convoluted I had to skip over them or risk losing track of the narrative – and word for word repetition gives the story a more poetic tone, and I would give anything to see it read aloud, as I believe it would have been performed in Ancient Greece.

The story is fantastic. As I said, I love Greek Myths, all myths actually, and invulnerable Achilles was my 2nd favourite character, only to Icarus. My issue with it (and I am not sure if this was just the edition I had or if this is true of the poem in general) is that it did not cover the Trojan Horse debacle. The story didn’t even end with Achilles’ death, but rather with Hector’s body being returned to the Trojans.

(Break here, to take argument with the Trojan Horse thing. The Greeks and Trojan had been fight each other for LITERALLY DECADES and the Trojans thought it would be a good idea to accept this giant horse? Despite this being the first instance of this trick, they surely wouldn’t have been that stupid? The plan isn’t even particularly clever?)

If you like intense paragraphs of simile and endless lists of names telling you whom has killed whom, featuring tidbits of intense fighting and violence here and there, I would recommend this read. I would also recommend it if you are looking for something to impress people with – I’m half tempted to write that I’ve read it on my CV!

Getting My Life Back Together?

After a rocky start to 2016, I’ve decided we will have a new New Years Day, where everyone can go and actually start their New Year’s Resolutions, rather than sit and mope in bed because January is the worst month in the world.

Sorry to those of you born in January. Not sorry for my comments, sorry you are born in January. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Obviously, there are some people who just… know what they’re doing. They’re on top of everything, balancing insane amounts of work with extra curricular activities and God know what else. I am both mad that these people exist and insanely jealous of them; they have the entire world at their feet when it takes me half an hour just to find my feet. The day I actually get up out of bed when my alarm clock goes off, rather than the latter side of twenty minutes later is the day my brother gets into the snake enclosure in the zoo. And he is petrified of snakes.

So my new New Year actually starts today, January 21st. Well, technically, it doesn’t start till February – that’s when my Bullet Journal begins – and my life is going to be 100% planned from there on out.
I suggest you guys do the same. If you’ve already found yourself not doing you’re resolution, just restart anew. Why should betting yourself just be saved for January. I have failed up to this point, but that doesn’t mean I have to fail for the whole year.

Which brings me to the other part of the blog. Slightly unrelated, but I’m sure I’ll find a way to link the two… My Sociology essays have at least taught me that.

I have decided to read 52 books in the year. That is, on average, a book a week, though some will take me far less time and some will take me far more. As of right now, I am reading The Illiad, the Greek tale of how a bunch of Trojans – who had been literally fighting the Greeks for years – decided that accepting the giant wooden horse left by their sworn enemy was a good idea. I am assuming that’s in the poem… I haven’t even gotten to Patroclus’ death yet.

No, these are not spoilers. The book (and legend) has been around for thousands of years.

I will obviously post a review of the books as I finish them, a compulsory part of a potential English Student’s blog, and let you know what I plan to read next in the next one. I was told to practise reading fast and a lot in preparation for my English course in September, so I am going to do the best I can.

Catch you later!