Monday, 1 February 2010

January Books

First of all thank you for your words of advice – having a look through it I think there’s a general consensus that I should just leave him to get on with things. He knows he can talk to me, god knows I’ve said it enough, so I shall continue with my inane chatter until he decides to speak.

Now. On to more uplifting things.

The observant of you may have noticed that a new box has appeared on the right hand menu. (I’ll give the less observant a moment to frantically scroll up and down the page to figure out what it is they’ve missed.)

Found it? Give up?

I have decided to keep track of all the books I’m going to read in 2010. I thought it would be nice to keep track of what I spend my time doing when I’m not stabbing a needle through a piece of fabric. I started the list and then had a rather marvellous thought. I shall do a speedy review at the end of each month of the books I’ve read, pick a favourite and there we go, a recommendation for my blog readers. How. Lovely.

I have already noted the potential pitfall of this idea. There’s going to be a month where I don’t finish a book. Or I only finish one. But that’s ok. I have acknowledged this, accepted it and I feel ready to barrel on regardless. There’s also another potential hazard. I suck at talking about books for some reason. I feel able to say whether I did or did not like a book but lose the power of speech when it comes to the details. But let’s just ignore this hazard.

Got off to a good start this month, 4 whole books read although a couple were technically started in December and one was really short BUT THAT’S NOT IMPORTANT.

The Selected Works of TS Spivet – a purchase that was the result of me spending too long in a bookshop. I begin wandering and looking through every book in front of me. I came across this wee beasty when I was in Manchester a while back. I liked it because a) it had pretty maps and drawings in the margins of the pages and b) Stephen King said he liked it and what Stephen likes, I like (have I revealed my King obsession to you yet? Don’t judge me please.)

It’s a story of 12 year old T.S. who maps and draws every aspect of his life. He is awarded a prize for his drawings (they don’t realise how old he is) and he runs away from home to travel across country to collect his award. In a nutshell.

I guess you could say it’s about growing up – about the way in which a child and an adult view the world, how they deal with what life throws at them. The adults in T.S.’s world seem a little one dimensional at times, like Larsen only took the time to briefly sketch down some notes about their character and didn’t bother filling them out. But then was this on purpose? Is this just the way that TS sees the adults in his life? (And here begins the merry go round of discussing a book.)

Wedlock: How Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband Met His Match – A TV Book club book this one. You’ll hear them say that the story seems too wild to be true. They’re not kidding.

Mary Bowes is tricked into marrying Andrew Stoney when he pretends to be mortally wounded after a duel defending her honour (as you do). Once wed he makes a miraculous recovery and then spends the next 15 years or so making the woman’s life hell, routinely beating her, keeping her away from friends and family and keeping her a virtual prisoner. She eventually escapes, only to be drawn into the surreal world of the law in Georgian Britain which did little to protect women’s rights.

Considering the potential for a factual story to become a little dry, this book races along at breakneck speed, the unusualness (is that a word? Who cares! Onwards!) of the story means that it’s very difficult to lose interest.

One thing that’s sad about this book? Mary is supposed to be a champion of women’s rights, taking on the law courts at a time when women had no rights in the eyes of the law, but I couldn’t help feeling a little uncomfortable that the same thing still happens in society today. Yes the law has moved forward but there are still women out there, kept in their homes and subjected to terrifying abuse – they might be able to escape and find some recourse in the law but shouldn’t we be trying to stop it happening at all?

Mister Pip – I feel a little ambivalent about this one. Africa. Civil war. White person who is viewed with suspicion and fear at first but then turns out to be good. Bloodshed. Blah blah blah. I feel like I’ve read it all before.

In fact I cared so little about it I can hardly remember what it was about. Maybe there was some subtle message that was so subtle is got lost along the way for me.

Best thing I can say is that it was an ok story. I didn’t have to abandon it halfway through, I kept reading to the end. But I put it down and didn’t think about it again. Not a good sign.

The Boy with the Cuckoo Clock Heart – you see this is why I was going on about independent bookshops when I was in London – you’re not blinded with the agenda of the Waterstones Board who want you to buy the books they want you to buy. You are free to wander and pick up what you will. Which is how I came in to possession of this little fella.

When Jack is born his heart doesn’t work properly so he has a cuckoo clock grafted on to his heart to keep it ticking. It comes with a warning that he’s not to fall in love – his heart will not be able to cope with the inevitable grief. So, like all good characters in a book, he goes and falls in love, with disastrous consequences.

It’s a small book, you’ll most likely be done with it in a weekend and I guess it falls in to the genre of fairytales for grown-ups, although I feel like this is doing it a bit of a disservice. It is translated from French, but I didn’t pick up on that to be honest, sometimes translated books feel a little stilted I think but this flowed nicely and carried me away with it. Apparently the film rights have already been bought – I pictured a Tim Burton, Nightmare Before Christmas or Coraline type film, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Now to pick just one to recommend....

(I think we know what it’s not going to be)

And I reckon Wedlock has enough publicity at the moment, being part of the TV Book Club.

I’m going to go with The Boy with the Cuckoo Clock Heart although The Adventures of T.S. Spivet is running a very close second.

It’s short and sweet and you’re more likely to miss it than any of the other three. And sometimes, we all need to hear a fairytale (even if it doesn’t have a normal fairytale ending). Reading for me has to be about being transported away somewhere else for a little bit and this book did its job perfectly.

Now leave me be, I have to make sure I’ve read some books for next month. Why is February so short? I could do with an extra couple of days!



Oh the boy with the cuckoo clock heart sounds great, I will have to have a read. Kx

The Curious Cat said...

ooo I enjoyed reading this - it is good to get recommendations for new books! And by giving us a range I can pick out the one I like the sound of best! :) xxx

Florence and Mary said...

I'm actually quite pleased Feb is a short month as I'll have moved into my flat by the end of it!

Victoria xx

Petit Filoux said...

thanks for that wonderful summary!!! I’m off to try and find what that last one is called in French so I can read the original version! I’m on my third book this year, 2 by Emile Zola and 1 by Russell Brand – oops!!! What can I say, mix and match!!! x

P said...

I managed 11 in Jan, but a few of mine were teen reads (yup, I'm 30 but occasionally I like to pretend to be a teenager!) and the rest exclusively chick lit so all easy reads!

Maddi Makes... said...

Great post! Love the reviews - I'm off to order The Boy... from amazon! x