Tag Archives: books

New year, new bookcases!


I’ve done the unthinkable – I’ve streamlined my bookcases! 

Every room in the house has at least one bookcase in it, and with my Christmas haul they were groaning under the weight. Books were stacked haphazardly and blocked the view of other titles, and my carefully organised system was out of the window. A culling had to happen, and the bags in the picture show my progress so far. 

I’ve gone through my romance bookcase, my classics bookcase, my reference bookcase and my cookbooks, which now have a bookcase of their own as the classics have been shifted upstairs. I haven’t yet gone through my sci fi and fantasy bookcase, my detective fiction bookcase or my history and biography bookcase. I don’t think I’m going to lose many from those, to be honest. 

All of this was in aid of getting out of buying a new bookcase, but I honestly think I might need one despite the cull.  The only problem is, of course, is that I’ve got nowhere to put it! 

Bedtime stories – 31 days of writing prompts!

What was your favorite book as a child? Did it influence the person you are now?

enormous

 

Now, to be completely honest,  I can’t actually remember this book myself. This was, apparently, my favourite story when I was about three and my parents hated it. It was one of those stories that was all repetition: the farmer has grown an enormous turnip, but it’s so big that he can’t pull it up out of the ground. So, the farmer’s wife joins him, and they both pull, but they can’t budge it, so the farmer’s son joins them, and they pull, but they can’t move it, so the farmer’s daughter joins them….and so on down the line until I think a mouse helps them, maybe? Lots of farmyard animals get involved, anyway, until the damned turnip is uprooted. The cover, perhaps, gives away the most exciting moment in the story!

I would ask for this story all the time.I had that obsessive desire for it that little children seem to have for things – no other story would do.  Despite the fact that I had a wide variety of Ladybird fairy tale books, this is the one I would hone in on, and as my parents were determined to foster a love of stories and books in me, they would give in and read it to me. However, my fervor for the story of the enormous root vegetable got so annoying for my poor parents that my father, no doubt in a moment of inspiration, asked me if I would like to learn to read the book myself, so I wouldn’t have to wait for him or my mother to read it to me.

Now, I’m not claiming that I was a child prodigy or anything, but because of that I was reading a lot earlier than other kids in my class, to the point that when I was five and joined infant school, they had to give me reading books for pupils several years older than me. That started me on a path that ended up in an English Literature degree. I read really widely as a child, and pretty much burned my way through the children’s section of our local library, which thinking about it now, was pretty limited. That’s why I read so many old fashioned books, I think – all the Travers Mary Poppins books, all the Oz books, the Swallows and Amazons series. I read the Just William books, the Biggles books, and the What Katy Did books because that was what the library had. There weren’t any young adult books then, as such.

My father got me an adult readers ticket from a clearly disapproving librarian, who tried to warn him that adult books might contain adult content. I still remember how my father’s eyes rolled at the warning, and how he told me, very simply, that if something in a book upset me, I should just shut the book and read something else.

That, I feel, is advice for life. If you don’t like something, fine, not a problem. Close the book, hit the back button, turn off the tv. You don’t have to clutch your pearls and start a crusade against it. The people that froth at the mouth about Harry Potter books, for example – you don’t like them? Fine! Don’t read them. Problem solved. Don’t try and get them banned from schools and libraries just because these made up stories seem to conflict with the made up stories that you think are important!

So, that’s how I met P G Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, George Orwell and so many other amazing writers. My love affair with Terry Pratchett started because of the adult library ticket. One of the funniest writers I’ve ever had the pleasure to read, Joe Keenan, was found in that library. I read historical non fiction and developed an interest in life centuries ago because those books were in the adult section.

I got an adult ticket because I’d mainlined the children’s section at a young age; I was an advanced reader because I had started young, before school started. I had started reading early because I was in love with a particular story that drove my parents crazy. Their desire to never read that damned turnip book again was what prompted them to try and get me reading much earlier than you would usually expect a child to read.

So all my love of the written word, including my higher education, my day job and my new career as an author, comes back to a fairy tale about an enormous turnip. Thank goodness they bought me that one, and not a different one. Who knows what would have happened?

Journal prompt: are you fussy about your book and music organisation?

bookshelves.jpg

I like to listen to music, but these days all my music has been imported into iTunes, so my actual CDs are in a few dusty cases under the desk in the office room. I tend to buy my music digitally these days, so all organisation is done by the computer. Not that I listen very much nowadays, come to think about it; I can’t listen to music with lyrics when I write as I get distracted, so I either don’t bother, or listen to classical music on Spotify. I listen to podcasts when I’m doing the washing up or cleaning the house, as I find that more interesting than just music.

My books though – they are organised to within an inch of their lives. Firstly, they’re organised by genre. Detective fiction in the front of the living room, science fiction and fantasy in the back, next to the bookshelves with classics in the canon of English Literature on one side and historical non-fiction and biographies on the other. On the bookshelves next to the bathroom are my non fiction reference books, with a few collections of cartoons in the bathroom itself for some light toilet reading. Upstairs in the office room are my bookshelves with professional books for my day job, my collection of children’s books and a bookshelf of romantic fiction. Inside each bookshelf, the genre is organised alphabetically by author, and then by publication date if the author has more than one book in my collection.

Obsessive? Perhaps. But I can always find any book I’m looking for in my house!

 

Journal prompts: what random objects so you use to bookmark your books?

bookmark.jpg

This is an odd question for me, although not for one of my very best friends. For the sake of protecting the flagrantly guilty, we’ll call her Beth. Beth is a rapacious reader. Her flat is lined with bookcases, often stacked precariously on top of each other. Books are packed onto them three-deep, covering every subject you can possibly imagine. I myself have bought her romance novels, books about surviving in the wild, an atlas of world history and a collection of maps designed by a teenage computer genius.

You can tell which books Beth is currently reading by the weird objects she uses to mark her pages. The silver paper that wraps chocolate biscuits, receipts, postcards, newspaper clippings and even, on occasion, an actual bookmark purchased for the purpose. You can track where she was when she was reading by what she’s used to mark her page. The one thing that she doesn’t do, thank goodness, is fold the corner of the page down.

Me?  I don’t use bookmarks.

Sometimes it’s because I’ll read the book entirely in one sitting so I don’t need one. Other times, I remember the page number. I don’t know why I don’t use bookmarks, I have plenty of them. Everybody knows that I like reading, so I usually get a few novelty bookmarks every year as part of Christmas and birthday gifts. At the moment they all sit crammed onto a bookshelf, unused and unloved. I just find it more natural to remember a page number.

Now that I read on my iPad a lot, I have no need of a physical bookmark as the Marvin app I use automatically keeps my place. Perhaps the next time I go to visit Beth, I’ll take my collection of book marks with me to give to her!

 

Journal Prompt: The books in your to-read list

 

reading list

In an attempt to make paying for this website worth it, I’m really trying to post more often! So, I’ve downloaded a list of journal prompts for June, and I’m going to use them here, instead.

So, books in my to-read list. Thanks to my bullet journal, I have one of these now! They’re mostly to be published, but that still counts!

Melanie Rawn, Glass Thorn Series Book 4, Playing To The Gods

I have a long standing grudge against Ms Rawn; having devoured her first two fantasy series as a teenager, I dived into her next series with unbridled enthusiasm, gobbling up the first two books. I went to university, eagerly anticipating the release of the final book in the trilogy…and that was nineteen years ago.

I know that there have been many extenuating circumstances explaining why she never wrote the third book, but it irritates me that she’s gone on to write a few stand alones and a new series and never gone back to write The Captal’s Tower. Or even tell us the ending, if she can’t or won’t write the book. What’s more irritating is that the Glass Thorn series is really, really good and I can’t wait for the fourth book.

Damn it.

Due in August 2017. Allegedly.

Ben Aaronovitch, Rivers of London Series Book 6The Hanging Tree

Another fantasy series, this time by a British author set in London where PC Peter Grant, newly minted member of the London Metropolitan Police Service has just discovered that magic is real, and that the Met has a division to deal with ghosts, magic, river spirits and all sorts of weird crap that the normal police officers pretend not to notice. He is taken under the wing of Britain’s last surviving wizard and moves into The Folly, the last bastion of formal magic in the UK. Funny magical realism? A blend of science and fantasy, with a dog called Toby? Yes please! I can’t wait for this one to be released in October of this year. All the others have been fantastic.

Paul Cornell, Shadow Police Book 1, London Falling

This is out at the  moment, and seems to be a more serious version of the books above. Paul Cornell has written for Doctor Who and I like the sound of the blurb, so I’ll give it a go when I’ve got time this summer.

J K Rowling, Harry Potter Series, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child 

Not a new book, sadly, but the published script of the new play that I will never get tickets for! It doesn’t matter! I’ll take it! Available from July 31st 2016.

Libbie Hawker, Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Book For Faster, Better Writing

This was recommended on Facebook. I’m always trying to be a better writer, so it can’t hurt to read it and see what she recommends. You never know, I might just learn something!

George R R Martin, A Song of Ice And Fire Series Book 7, The Winds of Winter

Ah, the Great Glacier himself. I have been reading A Song Of Ice and Fire for twenty years now, and the series still hasn’t finished! The time it takes him to finish a book is a bone of contention for many fans, but I’m prepared to wait if it means we get a great book! Sample chapters have been released for this book, so it must mean that we’re close to getting a release date! The TV show has been great, but I’m a book reader first and foremost, so seeing characters do things that I know they didn’t do in the book (marry, die, change their name, come back from the dead, murder their children, etc) is a bit strange.

I’m just hoping that George gets to finish his series, unlike poor Robert Jordan. Thankfully, I bailed on The Wheel of Time series around book six. I wanted to have them all ready to read one after the other rather than hang around for the next one. Binge reading, if you will. I haven’t bothered to finish the series. Perhaps I’ll start it again now that the series has been finished.