Tag Archives: book

Review: Looking For Alaska

 

I don’t know how he does it? Maybe John Green has a secret line into my heart so he knows exactly when and where to tug?
Without giving away huge spoilers, this is essentially a book about growing up, friendship, choices/not-choices. About dealing or not dealing with death.

The story starts with Miles Halter choosing to leave highschool to attend a boarding school instead. Not having many real friends at his old school, he quickly finds the sort of friends, that honestly, I’ve only read about in books. The book itself doesn’t even cover a whole school year, yet is well paced. I feel I could draw you a map of Culver Creek school, if I could draw well, I can smell the woods they hide out in.

I don’t know what else to say, exept Green manages to smash my heart into a million pieces (again ~ first time was with the Fault in Our Stars) and pick them up and put them back together and all without me hating him. He writes beautifully, and I do find myself wondering just how much is autobiographical and how much is pure imagingation.

If you’ve not read it, I’d highly recommend it – 5/5.

Review: Oblivion

Oblivion
Oblivion by Arnaldur Indriðason

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I only noticed that it’d not read this book when tidying up my wish list, hastily ordered because I couldn’t believe I’d missed another instalment of the ever pensive Erlendur. It didn’t take long to realise that this was a prequel, the book cover features an eerie looking blue lagoon, not the fun n frolic-y one we’re used to seeing in tourist photos, and as the first crime unfolds it becomes apparent it was set before the blue lagoon existed as a private entity.
The story (or stories as there is never just one thread in these books) are centred around activity related to the air force base at Keflavik, a murder and a missing persons cold case. This gives you some insight into Elendur’s fascination with missing persons whichs is a constant thread woven throughout the later series even if you’ve never read any of the other books that reveal the whole back story. So you can read this as a standalone book and not feel like you’re missing out. The other story is investigated mostly by Erlendur’s mentor, Marion Briem – which again fills out some back story missing from the later set books. I’m hoping that this continues – as I feel that this would be a really interesting addition to the series. I dont want to say much about the story as I feel that this would spoil the plot too much, but as usual the plot is a slow boiling stew with the tension mounting more than I expected towards the final few chapters and I really didn’t want to stop reading but had to go to work!

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Review: The Painter of Modern Life

The Painter of Modern Life
The Painter of Modern Life by Charles Baudelaire

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I struggled to decide whether this should be 3 or 4 stars, but given that I didn’t enjoy reading a vast chunk I’ve knocked it down to 3. It was an interesting style of writing, and what drew me in particular to this book (aside from Baudelaire being recommended to me on several occasions at uni), was that it was part of a series ‘dedicated to those writings that changed the way people thought about the world’ or something… To be honest, I probably could do with re-reading the beginning, or reading it solidly over a few days rather than sporadically over a few months, as I really can’t remember much from the first part. some of it clearly struck a chord with me, as I’ve underlined and highlighted several passages, but the swathes of praise for Delacroix sort of fell on deaf ears, as I’m not that familiar with his work (and to be fair, nothing in the passages made me think ‘oh I should go look him up’). The final passage on photography and how it should not be considered art, and should remain low-brow was fairly amusing to me, not least because it was referred to as mechanical; as are certain types of printmaking, but he lauds that earlier in the book.
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Bout of Books Day 3-4

So my week of reading is not going quite as planned, I’ve been really busy as well as trying to fight off a stinking cold that is threatening to ruin my long standing plans to run a 10K this weekend. But I managed to find time to do the day 3 challenge for Bout of Books “5 Favourites” and with that I present 5 of my favourite book covers. I would say that a good cover design is definitely something that will make a book stand out – particularly when in a physical store (especially if the cover is embossed and made of a nice feeling paper), although buying online can be a visual game as well I guess.

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Don DeLillo – is one of the newer, sexy Penguin Modern Classics covers that come in silver and white. I have loads of these actually, but this is a favourite because of the stereotypical images of Americana on the front. Top right is Tom Perrotta’s the Abstinence Teacher, not entirely sure what it was about this, perhaps the white border that complements the white trim of the shorts so well?

Road to nowhere – this was a Goodreads giveaway win, I’ve taken so many photos myself of this nature, roads with vanishing points, empty expanses. Also the cover is made with this really unusual matt paper, it feels very nice to hold, I think I liked the cover more than the story. The final two I bought together, they were on display at Daunt books in London, which many other lovely designed books. the Camus one is almost booklet ish, being around 30 pages in total, the Baudelaire cover attacked me because of the letterpress style type face, and the cover is slightly embossed, I have no idea whether it was traditionally printed by letterpress or whether it’s printed modernly to look vintage in style, either way I love it, unfortunately though the cover does not have any sort of protective film and therefore porous which means it’s already getting grubby from being in bag to and from work!

Day 4 of the readathon I didn’t get too much done again, I have my Critical Reading class on Thursday nights, so I spent my day checking out some poetry for a mini assignment. I went with Maya Angelou’s Women Work as we had to say what made the poem poetic, thinking about structure and language. I don’t really know much poetry thanks to school not managing to make it engaging (sorry, War Poetry was not interesting to this girl at 14), so it’s only in the last year (after going to a poetry reading) that I’ve had an interest. I feel like a complete novice as I don’t really know what a lot of the terms mean and keep having to look things up, but at least I’m learning something.

What I think about when I think about running

I’ve recently signed up to do a 10k race and aside from the usual I want to be fitter / healthier / run more, I tend to find that I struggle to stick to challenges or more often simply forget about them, without a defined goal. So signing up to a public race with people I work with was just the challenge I needed to get me out there and back into regular running. Or Jogging, I don’t really run that fast so for the pendants out there, when I say running I mean jogging at a pace of around 8 minutes per km. I prefer to track my running in kilometres rather than miles as it just sounds more impressive in my head to say I ran 10km than I ran 6.3 miles, the rest of my life is strictly in imperial measurements only though, not to worry.

The Manchester 10k in five weeks’ time will be my second ever race, and for an infrequent runner like me it kind of sounds like a lot. In fact double the distance of my only other race (which was the furthest I’ve run in one sitting, ever) a 5k Race for Life which I did almost 4 years ago, so I suppose personally it is quite the challenge, not least to my ability to stick at something for longer than 10 minutes. Prior to starting my training plan a few weeks weeks ago, the furthest I would usually run would be 1.5 – 2km runs around the local park, with the dog in toe. This was all I did to prepare for the 5k race and I managed to hold my own, considering it was in the delightfully hilly Heaton Park, this time I am assured the race course is mostly flat but I know I still need to prepare and train a lot more than I’ve ever done previously.

What I’ve discovered about myself over the last few years is my tendency to over-think and this creates my biggest barrier with running. Initially with the short runs, I found it a great to clear my head of all the days stresses for the 10-15 minutes I was out there, but trying to run for much longer than that I began focusing on how hard I was breathing, how my shoe was rubbing my toe or some other imaginary ailment that means ‘You’re bored so it’s time to head home now’. I had a true mental block. So it was with great anticipation that I started reading What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

book, cover, japanese author,

Haruki Murakami – What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

I found the book in my local charity shop by chance, when looking for something to read on the long train journey to Scotland. I’d read some of Murakami’s short stories before and found the style very calming, almost therapeutic to read. The book’s premise is around how he started running to keep fit after giving up his Jazz bar to focus on being a writer full time. How this in turn has lead to many marathons & triathlons and is written over the course of just over a year.I found the similarities of how he approaches both disciplines interesting and had a couple of light bulb moments that helped me understand where I was going wrong myself.

It’s not just about physical preparation, but the mental preparation too

Realising that I needed to get my head straight, get in the zone as it were and prepare mentally for the task ahead was the main lesson. This was to take in two factors, thinking and music.
Instead of trying to empty my head on my first training run, I had a whole inventory of subjects to think about, from this blog post to shopping lists to dreaming of holiday destinations.
Factor two was the music, Murakami mentions the music he listens to while running quite a few times. For me getting the right play-list was essential to getting in the right head space. I’ve split the play-list into 3 parts, 1st part is something upbeat to get me in the mood for running, the middle part is a more chilled, rhythmical section for when I’m at a good pace, when my lungs give up fighting against exercising and go with the flow. The final section is my much needed boost of joy, on nearing the end. I’ve put my 20 minute run play-list on Soundcloud so you can have a listen, I managed to put that one up before my iphone was plugged into iTunes where it took it upon itself to wipe six out of the eight play-lists I’d created, annoyingly.

Being four weeks into my training plan (this was a plan devised by the Bupa Great Run website), I’m committed to three runs a week, the longest being on a weekend. More recently it’s thrown in interval training midweek and this weekend’s run was 40 minutes, I even ran in the rain which used to be a sure fire excuse in the past not to go outside!

I’m sure I’ll update more with my progress in the coming weeks…

Good News

ok so this posting every day is harder than it looks. Today I got some good news: I’ll be selling some of my print books (more booklet than book) at the 6th Manchester Artists’ Book Fair, later this month on the Hot Bed Press stand. A photo of my book is also being used in the leaflet type thing. I’ll know more next week but I’m getting excited now, I have about 13 copies of the book printed, that then need to be folded and fastened and I intend to have an edition of 30 – so need to get printing some more and fast.

Here’s a sneak preview of what they will look like…