Jane loves books

Hello all

On Friday night I was lucky enough to go to the World Book Night launch in Trafalgar Square. Last year I applied to be a giver, meaning that I had to tell the organisers which of the 25 books I wanted to give away, and why. I chose Toast, by Nigel Slater, which I read just after Christmas. I have another post planned to tell you all about who I gave it to, which I will post soon! World Book Night was on Saturday, and all givers were invited to apply for tickets to the launch night on Friday. I was lucky enough to get tickets, and I went with Rob.

The first photograph there is one of Rob’s, taken of me in front of the stage. I’m standing a bit ridiculously, I don’t know why! I like the other one though, because I like my hair in it! I thought I’d share some of the photographs I took, there were lots of authors there, as well as a few more famous faces.

Graham Norton was the compère, and he was very good! I love his Friday night show, and so it was very exciting to see him on the stage!

The first two photos are of DBC Pierre, who wrote a book that I read for university called Vernon God Little, and Rupert Everett. DBC Pierre read from Bleak House, and Rupert read from Travels With My Aunt by Graham Greene.

These two photos are both of Sarah Waters, who read from her own book, Fingersmith. I have read some of Fingersmith, but I haven’t finished it. My friend Vicky lent it to me (along with another of Sarah Waters’ novels, The Night Watch), but there were a few pages loose in her copy, and a couple were missing. So I started it knowing that I was going to have to try and get my hands on a copy that had the missing pages, but didn’t actually finish it. I must try though, because it’s very good!

Alan Bennett! I got to see him reading from his book, A Life Like Other People’s, and he was just so good. It was worth how cold I got just to hear him read. As Graham Norton said, many people are referred to as national treasures these days, but Alan Bennett truly is one!

Lemn Sissay read Tennyson’s poem Ulysses and Boris Johnson, who came on to quite a few boos, decided to read about a hangover from Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. It was a very funny passage, and he also tried to win the crowd round by referring to London as the greatest city on earth. I’m not sure that it worked!

Mark Haddon read from Stuart: A Life Backwards, by Alexander Masters, about a homeless man. It was very good, and I now want to read it! The lady there is Monica Ali, who wrote Brick Lane, so thanks to those who helped me out and reminded me who she was! I can’t remember what she read from though! (Samantha has reminded me that Monica Ali read from To the Lighthouse.)

Margaret Atwood and Edna O’Brien also read; Atwood read from her novel The Blind Assassin which I really want to read, and O’Brien read a short story from her forthcoming collection.

Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With a Pearl Earring, read from Beloved by Toni Morrison, another book I read at university, and Suggs read a John Betjeman poem. I’ve tried to remember what it is, but all I can remember is that it mentions a London cemetery in it. I’ve researched, but I can’t find it, so again, if you know what it is, please remind me! (Again, I’ve been reliably informed that it was To the Lighthouse – thanks Samantha!)

Other than Alan Bennett, David Nicholls was my favourite person to listen to! He read from his novel, One Day, which is one of the 25 books on the list, and he read so well! The part he read was a letter, and he just read it perfectly. I really want to read it, and now that I know of its existence, I keep seeing it everywhere! It’s also being made into a film, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, so I have to make sure I read it before the film comes out!

Philip Pullman read from Northern Lights, his book that is one of the 25 titles. I’ve read the His Dark Materials trilogy a number of times, so it was quite exciting to hear the author reading from it. Also very exciting was seeing Hayley Atwell and Stanley Tucci – Stanley Tucci more so, because I love him! I’ve like him in almost everything I see him in, which is one of many reasons why I don’t want to see The Lovely Bones! They read Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love, the song by Cole Porter, which was unusual as they were the only people to read something that wasn’t a poem or a book. They totally sold it though! And then when I got home, Stanley Tucci was on The Graham Norton Show, which was extra exciting!

Finally, we saw Nick Cave, and John Le Carré. Le Carré read from his novel The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, which I have heard lots of good things about, and which is also on the list of 25. Nick Cave read from Lolita.

This is a screenshot from The Culture Show from Saturday night; a special programme to launch World Book Night. I was watching it, and I saw myself! Literally nobody else would have known it was me, and I know it’s a bit sad to get excited about it, but I did, so I thought I would share it with you! That’s me, circled! Rob had gone to the toilet, and I was waiting for him, pacing up and down. I spotted myself straight away!

Being in Trafalgar Square in the early evening was great; the sun went down (and with it any warmth it had been providing), and the light was lovely. The words “World Book Night 2011” were beamed onto Nelson’s Column, and I couldn’t stop taking photographs of it as it got darker and darker!

I had such a good time, despite being freezing cold! Like I said, at some point I will post details of how I distributed my 48 books. I hope you’ve enjoyed this diversion from usual proceedings on my blog. Let me know if you’ve been involved in World Book Night, or if you were one of the one million people who received a book. I got a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera on Friday night, so that has been added to my ever-growing pile of books to read!

Until next time

Jane loves blogging

Hello all

Firstly, an apology. In the last week, I’ve deprived you of a ‘things’ round-up and a Tuesday Treat! I’m suffering ever so slightly from writer’s block at the moment, which is weird, considering that I wouldn’t have to reach too far into any kind of creativity to provide you with a list of things I want to buy, nor for a few pictures of a man I find especially attractive. But something has been stopping me from posting!

So it’s Wednesday, and therefore time for my weekly post. Last week’s was a bit of a non-event, it wasn’t the most interesting post I ever wrote (beginning of writers block). This week’s probably won’t be all that more interesting, but I want to do one so that I can get back into the groove of writing. This week, I’m not using a prompt, I’m just posting on something I wanted to write about. The BBC is currently having a books season – there are lots of programmes on and they are covering World Book Night (which I am involved in, more on that at a later date!). Every night for this week and the next, there is a programme called My Life in Books running on BBC2, with Anne Robinson talking to famous people about favourite books throughout their life. One of the categories that she asks about is favourite childhood book. I therefore decided to write about one of my favourites.

My favourite childhood book

I read a lot as a child, as lots of us did. I learnt to read before I went to school, and don’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read. There were obviously lots of books that I read and loved, or had read to me, and it’s hard to pick a favourite.

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As a young child, my favourites were a series featuring Alfie, by Shirley Hughes. I still love them now, the illustrations, also by Hughes, are so lovely, and the stories are simple but fun.

However, if I was to pick a book (or a series of books) that are my actual favourites, I’d have to pick Malory Towers by Enid Blyton. My sister had a 3-in-1 book (with a red cover) of the last three stories in the series, and I used to borrow that and read them. Then I remember finding the first three stories in another volume (with a pink cover) in a shop when I was on holiday, and I used my holiday money to buy it. I still have the red book, even though it technically belongs to my sister, but I don’t know where the pink one went. Luckily I have the first three books separately, so I have the entire series.

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For anyone who doesn’t know, Malory Towers is the story of Darrell Rivers, a girl who attends Malory Towers, a boarding school in Cornwall. The series follows Darrell through her time at the school, along with such friends as Sally, Alicia, Irene, Mary Lou and Gwen. Darrell and her friends begin the first book as, not surprisingly in a book called First Term at Malory Towers, first years at the boarding school; young, naïve and impressionable. Throughout the years that follow, they go through various ups and downs, make new friends, say goodbye to old ones, and play various pranks on their teachers. By the time the girls reach Last Term at Malory Towers, they are confident young women, and Darrell is set to study at the University of St. Andrews.

There are many reasons why I love this series so much. One is that, quite simply Enid Blyton wrote what children wanted to read. I read Malory Towers in the 1980s, some 40 years after they were first written, but they still captured my imagination. Enid Blyton books were an important part of many children’s childhoods, and even now, my nieces know and love Noddy, so the tradition continues.

Another reason for my love of Malory Towers is, very simply, the school setting. I can’t remember ever hating school. In fact, I can’t really remember ever not loving school. It’s not the coolest thing in the world to admit, but it’s true. I was never a rebel, I was almost always good, and I loved (and still do love) to learn. There wasn’t really much not to like about school. I can’t say that I would honestly have wanted to go to boarding school, but I didn’t need to, I could read Malory Towers. Besides, I can’t imagine that boarding school would have lived up to my expectations; if it wasn’t Cornwall in the late 1940s, it wasn’t for me.

The final reason to explain my love for this series is the central character of Darrell. Darrell is the best heroine, because she’s flawed. Her biggest flaw is her temper – she lets fly more than once during the series, she even pushes Sally Hope across the room at one point. Luckily Sally forgives her and they become best friends. Another time, she slaps Gwen (though most people would agree that ‘Dear Gwendoline Mary’ deserves everything she gets, and more). But Darrell knows that her hot temper gets her into trouble, and she realises that she has to learn to bring it under control. She is the most likeable character in the Malory Towers series, because she recognises her flaws and tries her hardest to be a better person. She ends the series as Head Girl of the Sixth Form, and, as I previously mentioned, takes a place at university to continue her studies.

Writing about my love for this series has made me realise that I want to read them all again! If I ever have a daughter, I’m going to insist that she reads Malory Towers; in the meantime I might give it a few years and then introduce my nieces to the books.

Until next time!


Jane loves blogging

Hello all

It’s time for my weekly post again. I have been looking through the prompts from the Daily Post at WordPress, and I have to say, I’m less than inspired. So, I headed over to National Blog Posting Month (also known as NaBloPoMo), to see what prompts they have, and I like them a lot better! So I’m going with one of those this week.

What are the next five books you want to read?

I’m currently reading a book that I got for Christmas, The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry. It’s the second volume of his autobiography, and I’m enjoying it immensely. I’ve almost finished, but I do have a pile of books that I mean to read next, so here are five of them.

1. The Hobbit


I’m fairly sure that I’ve read The Hobbit before. Either that, or it was read to us in Year 6, by one of my favourite teachers ever. Regardless, I want to read it again, and I have actually already started reading it. I bought it from a charity shop in Colchester last year, and want to get through it before the film comes out. This obviously shouldn’t be too hard, as they haven’t even started principal photography yet (not long until they do, though!), but it’s my next book, all the same.

2. Wait for Me!


I got this book for Christmas, along with the Stephen Fry one. I have been really interested in the exploits of the Mitfords for some time, and this is the autobiography of the youngest daughter, Deborah, who went on to become the Duchess of Devonshire. I’ve read quite a lot about the family now, but there’s nothing like hearing it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

3. Mrs McGinty’s Dead


I’m slowly trying to get through all of the Poirot stoires, and I bought this one in a charity shop last week, for 30p – what a bargain! I don’t know much about it, save that it also features Ariadne Oliver, along with Hercule Poirot. I love Christie’s books, so I am looking forward to getting to this one.

4. Love


I read Beloved, also by Toni Morrison, when I was at university, and liked it, so when I saw Love in the charity shop, it shouted “Buy me!” So I did. Morrison can take a bit of getting used to, as she writes in a non-linear style, and Beloved, certainly, used African American dialect that was sometimes hard to get your tongue around. But she is one of America’s most important writers, so I’m also looking forward to reading Love.

5. My Life


Yet another charity shop buy, and another autobiography. I have long been fascinated with all facets of the American presidency, and few have as fascinating a story as Bill Clinton. Add this to the fact that I have the teeny tiniest of crushes on the man, and the only surprise is that it’s taken me so long to read this book.

Until next time!