Archive of ‘books’ category

32 Before 32 ~ Freudian Slips: All the Psychology You Need to Know by Joel Levy

I love my local library, and I’m a regular visitor, but I rely heavily on the reservation service, because the truth is that the library is tiny. I don’t spend an awful lot of time browsing the shelves there, because the selection isn’t great. So when I end up in a bigger library, I scour the shelves for something new and different. That’s how I came across this book, the cover jumped out at me and I picked it up to see what it was all about.

Freudian Slips Joel Levy

 

I’ve always been interested in psychology, I’ve mentioned already that given half the chance, I’d like to go back to university and study for a degree in the subject (that’s part of the Euromillions plan). So this was a really interesting read, because it took various different psychological terms, techniques and names, and explained them in brief. I was particularly interested in the Milgram Experiment, in which the willingness of participants to obey authority figures was tested, and Synaesthesia, the condition in which people experience two senses as the same thing. The idea of hearing a colour is just amazing, and I definitely want to read some more about it!

The subtitle of the book is All the Psychology You Need to Know, and there’s certainly a lot of information in there, but for me it’s more of a starting point; I want to learn more about these techniques and theories, so I now have a list of things to find out about!

 

Six down, four to go on number two of 32 Before 32 – read ten non-fiction books.

March 2014 Books

As ever, I feel as though I need to apologise for my ropey Photoshop skills as far as the above collage is concerned. I wish I could make things a bit more uniform month-on-month, but that kind of thing eludes me at the moment. Considering my dad is a Photoshop expert, I shouldn’t have these problems!

I managed another six books in March, meaning that technically, I’m still on track for my goal of 75. Six books a month is fine, I just need to work in two seven-book months, and I’ll hit 75 exactly. I know that all this sounds terribly clinical and statistical, which may seem to some as though it takes away from the fun of reading. But it doesn’t for me; it just adds to it!

Petite Mort by Beatrice Hitchman

Petite Mort tells the story of a young woman who comes to Paris to make her name as an actress, but ends up as a seamstress, and becomes embroiled in the life of a husband and wife who are major players at the Pathé studio. I really enjoyed it; I liked the exploration of early Parisian cinema, and the characters, and I enjoyed the non-linear structure of the narrative. I liked that it took a turn that I wasn’t actually expecting (despite the fact that the cover image certainly hints at it). But ultimately, I was rather underwhelmed by the ‘twist’ that the blurb on the back promised me, and urged me not to reveal. Given that it was talked up so much, I was expecting more, and frankly, I think I had worked it out before I got there. It’s a shame that I felt let down by the ending, because I enjoyed the story of obsessive love that led up to the reveal.

Hotel Zenith by Oscar Coop-Phane

I wrote a review of Hotel Zenith when I finished it, and a couple of weeks on, this book has really stayed with me. It’s a very short book, one that can easily be read in one sitting, and I probably enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting. It is narrated by Nanou, a prostitute in Paris, and I really appreciated the grubby, seedy way that Paris was shown through Nanou’s eyes. Given that Oscar Coop-Phane wrote it at the age of 20, it left me feeling both inadequate and inspired when it comes to my own literary ambitions.

Itch by Simon Mayo

I fully intended to write a full review of this book, then my plan was to tweet Mr Mayo with the link, and hope that he would reply to me. But then I didn’t get round to it, and he tweeted me anyway on an unrelated subject, and all was well with the world. Well, my world. Anyway, I really liked Itch. I think it’s a great book in the style of other school-based children’s/young adult books, without taking too much inspiration from them. It’s about a teenage boy called Itchingham Lofte who considers himself an element hunter. When he comes across a rock that seems to be a brand new element, he finds himself pursued by nefarious criminals. It’s a really fun book, and I’m not just saying that because I love the author. I particularly like the way that the girls in the story are written, and as I’m currently reading the sequel, I’m planning a review where I’ll talk in more detail about Itch’s sister and cousin.

 The Good, the Bad and the Multiplex by Mark Kermode

Another one that I have written a review for, because it’s one of the ten non-fiction books I want to read for my 32 Before 32 challenge. As I mentioned in that review, it’s the third Mark Kermode book I’ve read this year, and I’m currently on my fourth. I never do things by halves. I enjoyed this one, but I was very aware that part of my enjoyment comes from being a big fan of the man himself, and I’m not sure if I would necessarily recommend it to someone who was unfamiliar with or annoyed by his style. That being said, it’s always good to read a book by someone who is as passionate and knowledgeable about a subject as Kermode is when it comes to cinema.

  The Prodigal Daughter by Jeffrey Archer

I need to write a proper post about The Prodigal Daughter, because it’s a 1982 book, and therefore is a part of 32 Before 32. I never would have considered reading any Jeffrey Archer before, though not for any particular reason. I don’t think an author’s chequered private life or political affiliations is a reason not to read a book, so I had no problem with picking this up when I found out it was published in 1982. I will save my thoughts for a proper review to come soon, but suffice to say, it’s a book about the American political system, so I enjoyed it rather a lot.

 Freudian Slips by Joel Levy

I spotted this one at the library on Saturday morning, and picked it up for two reasons; I liked the cover, and the blurb mentioned a psychological study in which people were asked to count the number of passes made in a game of basketball, and completely missed the man in a gorilla suit who wandered onto the court halfway through. I need to write a proper post, as this is a non-fiction title, but I only finished it on Monday, so I’m a bit behind. I really enjoyed it; it gave a very brief explanations of various psychological terms and conditions, and there’s a part of me that wishes I’d studied a psychology degree, so this was a good taster of something I’d like to read more about.

Eighteen books down, 57 to go in my aim to read 75 books by the end of 2014. Follow me on Goodreads to keep up with my progress.

Library List 002

When I wrote last week’s post about what’s on my reservation list at the library, I intended it to be a series, but I didn’t mean for the second post to come so quickly after the first. Then I spent some time yesterday reserving a whole load of books, so I thought I’d do another post!

  

Hatchet Job by Mark Kermode
As I mentioned in my review of The Good, The Bad and the Multiplex the other day, there’s one more Mark Kermode book that I want to read, and this is it. I really enjoy his style of writing, and the fact that he is very knowledgeable about films, so I’m looking forward to getting this one. It’ll be the last one of his books for me to read (until I have watched The Exorcist), so I’ll have to start lobbying him to write another one. I’m first on the list to get this book.

Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood
To be honest, I thought this one was already on my library list, so when I realised it wasn’t, I added it straightaway. This is exactly my kind of historical fiction; the real life stories Hemingway’s four wives. The book spans many years, from the 1920s through to the 1960s, and I’m really excited to read it. I’m number eight on the list though, so I have a bit of a wait!

Longbourn by Jo Baker
I have heard such good things about Longbourn, and it’s so far up my street I can’t believe I haven’t read it already. It tells the story of the servants at Longbourn, the Bennet house in Pride and Prejudice. I love anything like this; partly because it’s set around one of my favourite books of all time, but also because I love anything that looks at a classic story from a different viewpoint. I know that Janet at Words That Can Only Be Your Own is a big fan, so I am looking forward to getting this one. I still can’t believe I haven’t tried to read it with more urgency before now, but I’m number one on the list, so I shouldn’t be waiting for too long.

  

If Not Now, When? by Primo Levi
One of my 32 Before 32 challenges is to read ten books from 1982, the year I was born. We’re almost into April and I’ve managed one so far, so I need to pull my finger out. I spent some time yesterday going through some options, and ended up adding quite a lot of them to my library list. It’s probably foolish, because they’ll all come in at once, and I won’t have time to read them, but that’s what I’ve been doing for years, and I don’t see myself changing! If Not Now, When is a book set behind enemy lines in World War II and seems to be well reviewed. I’m not sure how I’ll get on with it, but I’m willing to give it a go. I’m number one on the list for this book too.

The Gunslinger by Stephen King
This is another 1982 book, and another one that I’m none too sure about. I have never really had any desire to read any Stephen King, aside from 11-22-63 that I read a few years ago and adored. I have always shied away from his novels because I’m not really a horror fan, and whilst I know that not all of his books are horror, it’s still enough to put me off. Anyway, The Gunslinger is the first book in The Dark Tower trilogy, and I know that is a hugely popular series, so I’m hoping it’s enough to make me love it. We’ll see! I’m number one on the list.

The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson
I’m always on the lookout for more Scandinavian fiction that I might fall in love with in the same way I fell for the Millennium series. The True Deceiver is another book from 1982, and is written by the lady who created the Moomins. I’m not sure what to expect from this, but as ever, I’m willing to take a look and see what I think. It doesn’t usually take me long to work out if I’m going to enjoy a book or not, and if I do enjoy it, it won’t take me long to get through it! I’m first on the list.

  

Lace by Shirley Conran
Lace seems as though it is one of those trashy women’s novels; I’ve added it to the list because it was published in 1982. I have no problem with a trashy novel, as long as it’s entertaining. It tells the story of four females friends who come together when a young woman asks them which one is her mother. “Which one of you bitches is my mother?” appears to be a direct quote, which makes the book sound amazing. I’m first on the list for this book.

The Names by Don DeLillo
I was supposed to read a Don DeLillo novel (White Noise) when I was university, but sadly it was one of those books that I never got around to reading. What I did read and learn about seemed fascinating, so when I saw that Don DeLillo published a novel in 1982, I thought it was a good idea to try and read it. The Names is set in Greece, and because it’s a literary book, it’s tough to know exactly what it’s about. I’m number one on the list, so it shouldn’t be too long before I find out.

My Old Sweetheart by Susanna Moore
The final 1982 book that I added to the list (if I manage to read all of these, I’ll have completed my goal!), My Old Sweetheart is  in Hawaii. This makes it instantly interesting to me, as I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in Hawaii before. It seems to be a sort of coming of age novel, and I’m always on board with that kind of story. I’ll let you know what I think when I’ve read it; I’m first on the list.

32 Before 32 ~ The Good, The Bad and the Multiplex by Mark Kermode

If I had known that a new obsession would surface this year, I am not sure that I would have made reading ten non-fiction titles a goal. I’m up to five now, and three of them have been written by Mark Kermode. And I still have one of his books to read. I have no problem with having little obsessions, but when they are on display for all to see, it gets a bit embarrassing.

Anyway, so I recently finished The Good, The Bad and the Multiplex, and for the most part, I enjoyed it. There’s no denying that Mark Kermode is a good writer, and he clearly knows his stuff. He’s well versed in the history of cinema, and he’s also knowledgeable about the technical side of things. This is one of the things that I love about him as a critic, I don’t always agree with what he has to say (though I feel the brainwashing is almost complete), but I respect his opinions because I know they come from a place of intelligence and awareness. And that’s not always true of people who review films.

Kermode’s key argument of the book seems to be that blockbuster films are going to make money no matter what; if they have a big name attached, and they spend enough money, people are going to go and see them, that’s a given. You just have to look at films such as Cleopatra, Pearl Harbor and Waterworld (yep, apparently Waterworld finally broke even) to be convinced. The reason John Carter failed was because Taylor Kitsch isn’t a big household name (I’m assuming this would be Kermode’s argument – this book was written before the ill-fated Andrew Stanton film came out), not because it was rubbish. Anyway, so given that blockbusters are going to make money regardless of how good they are, why not make them good? Inception proves that a big summer blockbuster can be intelligent and fun, and make money. Do you see how brainwashed I am?

There are also a good chapter on why Kermode thinks that a film critic’s views on a film will never affect a its performance at the box office – Sex and the City 2 is a good example here. It’s quite the declaration to make, given that he makes his living telling people why he thinks a film is good or bad, believing that it doesn’t matter, because they’ll see it regardless of what he says.

If you know anything about Mark Kermode, you’ll know that he doesn’t like 3D, and he doesn’t believe that it’s the future of cinema (are people still saying that it is?). I’m no fan of the 3D movie either, and that was a view I held independently, before the brainwashing began. But the chapter on stereoscopy in The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex seemed a bit dry to me, and nothing I hadn’t heard before. Maybe being a fan of the author is a problem in this respect; if you’ve listened to him at length, you’ve heard his arguments and anecdotes before.

But all in all, I liked this book. I’m always impressed with the depth of his knowledge, and listening to him so regularly on the radio means that I feel as though I can hear him talking when I read his books. He does tend to go off on tangents quite regularly; sometimes he’ll start on one subject, and a page or two will pass before he returns to it, having managed to invoke three other subjects in the meantime. But I’m generally a fan of his writing, and I’m looking forward to reading his most recent book, Hatchet Job. I’ve just reserved it at the library!

Five down, five to go on number two of 32 Before 32 – read ten non-fiction books.

Library List 001

As I have mentioned many times before, I love the library. I’ve always been a big fan, ever since I was little, and as an adult, I use it very regularly. I make very good use of the reservation service; the library in my village isn’t very big at all, and as such they hardly ever have the books I want to read. So I reserve a lot of books, and try to wait patiently while they make their way to me.

In my on-going quest to make my blog even more bookish, I thought I’d make a regular feature of sharing what’s on my reservation list. At the very least it might provide a book recommendation for you!

  

The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
I read the first book of this Young Adult series last year, having watched and loved the film (in a totally non-ironic way), and I was eager to read the next in the series. The fact that this book has been on the list since December without moving up suggests that both the library copies have been lost, and I’ll probably never get it.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
I have heard nothing but good things about all the books of Patrick Ness, and this one in particular, so I thought it was about time I tried him out. Luckily enough, having been waiting for this one since the start of January, it’s finally arrived so I’ll be going to pick it up tomorrow morning.

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
I recently watched the television adaptation of Case Histories, and enjoyed it so much that I thought I’d read the books. I really like the character of Jackson Brodie (and not just because he’s played by Jason Isaacs), so I hope a lot of his characterisation comes directly from the books. I’m number one on the list, so I shouldn’t have too long to wait for this.

  

A Death in the Family by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Someone I like tweeted about about this book, saying how wonderful it was. If someone whose opinion I value likes a book, that’s enough for it to go onto my To Read list. This seems to be a memoir written in the form of a novel by a Norwegian writer. I’m looking forward to reading it. I’m number one on the list for this one too.

Itch Rocks by Simon Mayo
I finished the first Itch book last night, and I really enjoyed it, so I’m glad that I had the foresight to reserve the second book, Itch Rocks, a couple of weeks ago. It has already arrived, so I’ll be starting on this as soon as I go and pick it up.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Somehow I’ve still never read any Atwood, despite having borrowed A Handmaid’s Tale from the library some months ago (I had to take it back before I had a chance to read it). I was looking through the long list of the Bailey Prize the other day, and Madd Adam is on it. I want to read that, but it’s part of a trilogy, so I decided to reserve Oryx and Crake, the first in the trilogy. This one has already arrived too.

  

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
I heard Hannah Kent talking about Burial Rites on the radio ages ago, and I really fancied reading it. I added it to my Goodreads list, but for some reason didn’t get around to reserving it at the library. Then I read the Bailey Prize long list and saw it on there, which reminded me to reserve it. Set in Iceland, it tells the story of a young woman who is found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. It sounds bleak and stark, and utterly wonderful. I’m number ten on the list, and I can’t wait to read it.

Wool by Hugh Howey
Eagle eyed followers may recall that I have already had this one from the library, but I didn’t get around to reading it and had to return it! So I promptly re-reserved it, and it’s arrived already! Another book that I hear fabulous things about, it’s the first in a science fiction trilogy and I’m going to make sure I read it this time!

Shiverton Hall by Emerald Fennell
I actually added this book while I was writing this post, because I was catching up with Call the Midwife, and I wanted to check the name of the actress playing the new midwife Patsy. Turns out Emerald Fennell is also an author, and she has written Shiverton Hall, a child’s ghost story. I’m not always a fan of a ghost story, but I’m willing to give this one a go. Probably because, as a children’s story, it might not be too scary. I’m number one on the list.

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