Dear John

I read one chapter of this book on Tuesday before work, and I was finished by ten o’clock Tuesday night. It seems like an understatement to say that I loved it.

I have never read anything by Nicholas Sparks before, but I think this has sparked the start of a lifelong love affair. I’m hunting down some more of his this afternoon when I hit the shops…

I think this is the first time that I’ve felt like I was actually falling in love with the hero while reading a book- and I am in no way exaggerating! He is quite literally the image of male perfection in my opinion… Yum!

Now I wouldn’t want to spoil the story (because you all WILL be reading it at some point, or else!) but be warned that you will be sobbing and screaming “Please live happily ever after” for most of the book (and if you don’t it’s because you’re dead inside).

I think it’s pretty obvious from my recent activity that I have yet to start reading any of my set books… apparently my motivation for useful reading is non-existent… but I’m going to keep trying to convince myself to read them (especially because the panic that comes with being about to start up again has reared its ugly head…). I wonder which one I should start with… suggestions?

Eat, Pray, Love

Well hello my pretties. I’m feeling in a particularly good mood after work today so I thought I’d write about a book I finished this week.

Eat, Pray, Love is a sort of memoir-y book by Elizabeth Gilbert chronicling her post-divorce quest for self discovery. I found it really easy to read as the book is divided into three parts (which are, shockingly, called “Eat”, “Pray” and “Love”), and then each of those parts is divided into 36 chapters. Reading this book gave me the sensation of crossing things off a to-do list.

After reading the first three chapters I felt completely inspired to learn a language. It was a completely random feeling that seemed to just spring out of the blue… after 3 more I felt completely inspired to go to Argentina (don’t ask me why, Argentina features nowhere in this book). I think reading somebody’s life story made me realise that I could one day just go out and do those things I dreamt about as a kid. If you’re a bit of a dreamer, I would definitely recommend this book to you.

The part that I struggled most with was probably the “Pray” section, I think this is partly because I am not a religious person, I would never describe myself as having faith in anything. So I think that I just found it difficult to empathise with her in that part. I did find it interesting though, as the only religion I know a lot about is Christianity, and that’s more just because I grew up around it.

If you’re not the kind of person who reads a lot, I would recommend you at least see the film. Julia Roberts really brings Elizabeth to life. And it really is a beautiful story.

A230 Reading List

Now that I’m officially registered to start A230 (Reading and studying literature) in October I think it’s time to take a gander at my reading list. The books we’ve been asked to buy are:

1. Othello by William Shakespeare

2. The Duchess of Malfi by J. Webster

3. Candide by Voltaire

4. The Lonely Londoners by S. Sevlon

5. The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald

6. Dubliners by James Joyce

7. The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

9. Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel

10. Oroonoko by Aphra Behn

I now have all of these books on my “to read” shelf thanks to Amazon and Play.com (I refuse to pay full price for books that I need to annotate). My intention is to read all of these books before my course starts, so my self-imposed deadline is October 1st. I’ll keep you updated on my progress… I’m not entirely sure if I’ll make it through the lot, but I want to make a substantial start. I just remember moments last year when I was panicking about finishing my set book in time (I believe that was the accursed Hard Times).

Anyhow, wish me luck, I’m off to go and make a start!

Rebecca

I started reading Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier, when I was in a doctor’s waiting room. I was so gripped by the first few pages that my doctor had to yell my name four times… and considering that all the characters had done was eat some bread and butter that says a lot about her writing style.

I became acquainted with the story of Rebecca many moons ago, when I saw the movie (starring the timeless Laurence Olivier). I think there’s something much more intriguing about black and white movies; they just seem much more able to convey mystery and suspense than most of the modern-day horror flicks you see.

Ok, I got sidetracked, this is not about the film. It has been a long time since I’ve read something as feverishly as I read this book, I couldn’t put it down! There was just something so unique about the voice of the narrator- I’ve never read anything by Daphne Du Maurier before, but now I almost feel as if I know her. That’s how familiar her voice has become. It’s a strange sensation, I don’t think this has happened to me since I was 10 and experiencing Harry Potter for the first time.

I know its customary when reviewing a book to describe the story, but I don’t think I can do that here, for two reasons. Firstly, I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. Secondly, I would hate to spoil this gem for anybody. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone, the quality of the writing is awesome, and there are hundreds of passages that are described so magnificently that the characters and settings seem to simply materialize before your eyes.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will read more of Du Maurier’s work- all of them if I can track them down. She has certainly acquired a fan in me!

Art Journals

When I was school I used to love art. I loved art so much that I went on to study it at A level. Unfortunately that was where the fun stopped. There is nothing worse than spending weeks creating something and then have it judged mercilessly… and this made me stop loving art for quite a while, I just didn’t want to have to face that kind of judgement again. Ever.

It was around March this year when I discovered art journaling. What is art journaling I hear you ask? It’s doing whatever you want, it is utter freedom within a book, it’s somewhere you can experiment and play around and try new techniques. There is a surprisingly vast amount of art journal websites, and I had hours of fun perusing a few.

It didn’t take long for me to start an art journal of my own. I have now finished one and started on my second, now I wouldn’t call them “art”, I wouldn’t even call them “good”, but they were so much fun! Maybe if I feel brave enough I might share a couple of pages with you one day…

Rhett Butler’s People

Rhett Butler’s People (by Donald McCaig) is based on the one and only Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I turned the first page with extreme scepticism as Gone With the Wind is my all time favourite book, and I thought that surely any spin-off would be catastrophic. I was wrong. It was great, truly great.

Every detail, including the voice of the author, was in keeping with the original. The wonderful characters created by Mitchell were amplified and enriched by an influx of fresh cast members, and a new perspective. For once we knew what Rhett Butler was thinking, and it was absolutely worth the wait.

I really don’t think I can find the words to describe just how much I loved this book… I read it in hospital when I was at my grouchiest, and it really made me feel better. What was even better… I could finally find out what happened “tomorrow at Tara”.

Frankly, this is one book that you will give a damn about, I know I did.