My Life in Books

Hello all

Today is World Book Day (also St David’s Day, and both my sister-in-law and my step-great-niece’s birthday), and to celebrate I thought I would bring you My Life in Books. I’m taking inspiration from the television show, hosted by Anne Robinson, which is running at the moment on BBC2. It invites celebrities to talk about themselves, and the role books have played in their lives.

I have always been a big reader, I learnt to read before I started school, thanks to having lots of older siblings who were, of course, reading at school themselves, and a mum who was willing to sit down and teach me to read.

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I wouldn’t like to say for sure that the Puddle Lane books were the first that I read, but there is video evidence of me reading them! Ladybird books were big in our house, and Puddle Lane were particular favourites of mine.

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Moving on slightly, and as I got a bit older I absolutely loved the Malory Towers books. My sister had an omnibus of the last three books in the series, which I borrowed and read to death. I then managed to get my hands on the first three in the series, and they are all still on my bookshelf, as beloved as ever. I’m not sure what it is about these books that appealed to me so much more than any other Enid Blyton books; maybe it’s the school setting (much more appealing to me than the adventures of the Famous Five), or maybe it’s just the character of Darrell Rivers, who is so wonderful. I’ve blogged (at length) about Malory Towers before; I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving these books, and I don’t think the urge to read them again and again will ever leave me!

Mansfield Park

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Mansfield Park isn’t the best novel Jane Austen wrote, and nor is it my favourite. But it is the first one I read, and because of that, it holds a special place in my heart! I read it for my English Literature A-Level, and at the time I just loved it. I loved Fanny, I loved the story, and I loved the humour. I don’t know why it had never occurred to me to read Jane Austen before, but it honestly hadn’t. I knew about her, of course, but I had never even thought about picking up one of her novels. Now, I have read them all (except Northanger Abbey), and I know that, whilst Fanny is an enjoyable character, she’s nothing compared to Elizabeth Bennett or Emma Woodhouse. But Mansfield Park, and my English teacher at the time, are responsible for opening the gateway to my love for all things Austen.

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It would be remiss of me to write a blog post called My Life in Books and fail to mention Harry Potter. I’m sure, when it comes to conversations about great literature, the Harry Potter novels probably still have their sniffy detractors, but I don’t care. I started reading the books in about 2001 (yes, I know I was way behind everyone else), when my friends Jen and Vicky kept going on about them. When it came to the final three books being released, my friends and I were there, queuing at midnight with all the other losers, to get them as they came out, and there was a definite sense of loss with the publication of the final book (my favourite of the series). I can’t imagine a time when I didn’t know about and love the books, and, as pathetic as this sounds, I am truly grateful to J.K. Rowling for them.

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I was trying to think of some of the books that I studied when I was at university, and for some reason most of them have eluded me. This one, however, seems to have been a constant. I actually first studied it for my English Literature A-Level, and then again twice at university. I seem to have a strange relationship with The Great Gatsby; I appreciate its brilliance, and I am drawn to the era that he writes about, but I can’t seem to match this appreciation with an actual enjoyment. It may be because I’ve only ever really studied The Great Gatsby, as opposed to reading it for fun. I have a novella of his, Mayday, from the library to read, and I have actually started it, but I got waylaid with another book (see below), so haven’t got very far with it. One day I will go back and read Gatsby for fun, and see if that changes my opinion on it.

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As a bonus, this is the book I am reading now. I am not suggesting, however much I am enjoying it, that it is going to pass into my all time favourite book list. I am just including it because I am halfway through it. I am very much enjoying it though! It’s ever so good, and draws you in from the minute you start reading it. I have wanted to read it for ages, but I can’t afford to buy new books at the moment, and I had it reserved at the library, but I was number 56 or something, and it was getting to the point where I was just desperate for it (especially as the film is out this month and I want to read it before I see it). Anyway, I had been sufficiently enthusiastic enough about it for my friend Jen to buy the books, and she has now lent it to me. I thoroughly recommend it, even though I am only halfway through!

On My Life in Books, the celebrity is invited to pick their favourite book at the end. I can’t do this. There are too many books out there, and I can’t pick just one, as I enjoy so many. Obviously (obvious if you know me) I would be inclined to pick Pride and Prejudice, but I am not going to, because I don’t have to.

What about you? What books would feature in your list?

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Progress Report ~ February

Hello all

So we are now into March (eek), and so it’s time for me to round up how I’m getting on with my plethora of lists for 2012.

See 52 New Films

I saw another six new films in February, and I really enjoyed all of them! One of them (Julie and Julia) starred Stanley Tucci, which is always good, and one of them is on the BFI list (more on that later). I saw The Muppets at the cinema. I also watched two of the Swedish Millennium films; The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire. I read both of the books in February too, and was desperate to see the Swedish films, and luckily my friend Jen was able to lend them to me. My total for 2012 is now 18, so I’m way ahead in terms of a weekly target.

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Read 75 Books

According to Goodreads, I am on track with target of 75 books; I am at 14%. I feel as though I am not getting very far, because so many of the books that I have read have been so thick, but as Goodreads is assuring me that I am on track, I’ll carry on as I am! And I managed to finish three in three days, which was quite good going. I had wanted to read The Sense of an Ending since it won the Booker Prize, and I waited for so long to get to the top of the list at the library! It was good, but it was one of those books that is worthy of a major literary prize, rather than a book that you settle down to read in order to be entertained. I also got a bit obsessed with the Millennium trilogy (as you can see from the films I watched!); I read most of the first book in one sitting, and then did the same with the second. I now have to get the third one from the library to read, but part of me doesn’t want to, because I don’t want them to be over! I know that I am arriving a little late to this party, but the books really are as good as everyone says they are!

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Project 366

My photography project is still going well, I haven’t missed a day yet! This is my favourite photograph from February.

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30 Before 30

It’s been a bit of a slow start to the year in terms of my 30 Before 30 List, which is a shame, but I am hoping to achieve much more in the summer and when I have more money. I did manage to get a couple of things done, but they don’t allow me to tick anything off!

Bake 10 unique cakes

I only managed to make one cake in February! It was my Honey and Spice Loaf Cake, which came out a bit burnt but tasted OK! It means that I am a little behind in terms of my goal – I had planned to bake one a month, which would take me to October and then I’d be finished in time for my birthday, but I am now into month three and have only made one. This just means two in one month at some point, or one in November, so all is not lost. I am hoping to make my next one this week some time.

Have watched at least 15 new films from the BFI Top 100 British Films list

I didn’t include it in last month’s Progress Report, for some reason, but I did actually make a start on this January, when I watched The Ladykillers. And then in February, I watched Genevieve, which I can’t believe I have never actually watched all the way through, because it’s been a firm family favourite for many years, and my mum loved it. But I have watched it now, and I’m very pleased with myself, as I only have another 13 to watch, and we have at least ten of them on DVD in the house!

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Until next time

janey9_thumb22

Project 366 – Week 9

Hello all

Apologies again for the lateness of this post, and also that it has been a week since I last blogged. Project 366 and the ABC Photo Challenge I am taking part in on Twitter are still running concurrently, but this week I have omitted a couple of the ABC photos from my Project 366 roundup. This is mainly because of the quality of the camera on my mobile phone, and also because sometimes the photos that I take lack inspiration to the point where I just have to take a photo of something beginning with the letter to make sure it gets done! I’m still very much enjoying the challenge, and I’m sad that it’s going to be coming to an end soon, but I wanted to separate it out a little bit from this Project. So there are some non-alphabetical photographs in this week’s roundup!

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~ Day 51 ~

This is one such example of a non-alphabetical photograph! Monday was H, and I took a photograph of my handwriting, but I had also been snapping things around the house, looking for inspiration for later letters in the alphabet. This is a moon that hangs from the ceiling in our living room, and every niece and nephew that has seen it has loved it, because it swings and rotates!

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~ Day 52 ~

Sadly not a great quality photograph, but it was the only photograph I took on Tuesday, so I had to use it. As you may have guessed, I was the letter of the day, and I was going to take a look through the dictionary for inspiration, and then I realised that I could just take a photograph of an I page in the dictionary!

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~ Day 53 ~

This one was taken in my brother’s car on the way home from a Chinese buffet! I went out for lunch with him, my sister-in-law, my dad and my baby niece, and she managed to get in quite a mess with a yummy chocolate eclair! I would have taken a photograph of her, but I didn’t have my camera and my phone would not suffice in the low light. J was the letter of the day, and I knew that I would probably end up taking a photograph of myself, but I wasn’t exactly looking my best, so I resorted to this. I quite like it though!

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~ Day 54 ~

Keys, because K was the letter for Thursday! I tried to arrange them so all of my keyrings were in shot, but it just wasn’t possible, so I got my favourite one in!

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~ Day 55 ~

Friday was a lovely sunny day, and we have the first of our daffodils popping up in the garden, so I decided that they would make the perfect subject for a Friday photograph!

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~ Day 56 ~

I have been promising my niece that she could come for a sleepover for ages, and Saturday was finally the day! I think she had a good time, we went to Burnham and played in the park, then walked along the Quay, and then we went home where she painted a mug and bowl set that my sister gave her. Having watched Grease and done some colouring in, we went to bed and watched Tangled and ate sweets. Aside from the fact that she takes up nearly all the room in the bed, it was a perfect afternoon and evening, and I had as good a time as she did!

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~ Day 57 ~

On Sunday, Anna and I decided to start on our Decopatch that we saw at a craft fair that we went to last weekend. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to quite work out properly; Anna wasn’t very confident that it was going to even before we started, but I thought it couldn’t be that hard! As it is, it isn’t that hard, but it just didn’t seem to work as well as it should have done. I think I’ll stick to knitting!

Until next time

janey9_thumb22

Project 366 – Week 8

Hello all

Sorry for being a bit late with this week’s Project 366 round-up! As I mentioned last week, I have been doing an ABC Photo Challenge on Twitter, so all of my daily photos are going to overlap with those this week! I know it’s probably cheating a little bit, but I am not overly worried! They are still photos and they are still taken daily!

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~ Day 44 ~

A is for Aces! As with my usual Project 366, I had a bit of trouble with inspiration for this one, I just couldn’t think of anything. But there is a deck of cards right next to me when I use the computer, and I decided that there was nothing better than using the aces from it for A!

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~ Day 45 ~

Another phone photograph, so the quality isn’t great. I took this at my brother’s house; my sister-in-law loves buddhas and has various ornaments in their house. I enlisted the help of my nieces to help me find something beginning with B, and I got one of them, Lyla, to use her camera to look for things beginning with B. I think it will make a fun game at some point to do a scavenger hunt with them, taking photographs of 26 different things beginning with each letter of the alphabet.

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~ Day 46 ~

Inspiration failed me totally on Wednesday, I just couldn’t think of anything to take a photograph of, so I thought the clock would do just fine. It was at 5.15, as you can see, and I was just settling down to watch Pointless!

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~ Day 47 ~

I called this one ‘Dusk’; the sky was so pretty that I wanted to take a photograph of it, and then when I realised that it was a word beginning with D, I decided to use it for my challenge photograph.

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~ Day 48 ~

Elephant, taken with my phone again. It’s an ornament that my mum got from Christmas quite a few years ago, from my sister, and I really like it. In the background, you can see some Beatles thimbles (John and Paul – George and Ringo are hidden by the elephant), and a Beatles plate that my mum got back in the sixties.

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~ Day 49 ~

Fabric! I went to a craft fair on Saturday with Anna and her aunt, and when I saw this, I just had to take a photograph. So much lovely fabric!

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~ Day 50 ~

This collection of games is in Anna’s cupboard, though two of them (Winning Lines and Celebrity Taboo) are actually mine. Pass the Popcorn is a brilliant game that Anna bought in America, and it’s loads of fun if you love films.

Again, despite being late, I am only going up to Sunday; today’s and yesterday’s photographs will be included next week. I am going to try not to use all of my alphabet photos for next week’s Project 366, but it just depends on what other photographs I take!

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