Bout of Books

I’ve decided to take part in Bout of Books this week. I’ve really not been reading much lately and maybe this will focus my mind a bit.

Here’s how the people behind it describe it:
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

This will be the first time I’ve taken part in Bout of Books but I’ve got a feeling I may have signed up and then not taken part once before.

My first thought was to set a goal of 1 book a day – i.e. 7 books over the readathon.  But I’m not sure that’s a realistic goal.  So instead I’ll declare that my realistic goal is to read 4 books and to finish the audiobook I’ve been listening to – Humans by Matt Haig – which I’ve not listened to a second of in over a week.  I’ll be bearing my unrealistic goal in mind though!

Most importantly I’m currently 3 books behind in my goodreads challenge. I’d like to end the readathon back on track.

Books and The City Spring Blogger Evening

Tuesday found me on a train back to London, this time to attend the Books and The City Spring Blogger Evening (Books and The City is part of Simon and Schuster).

I had a great time. I saw several of the friends I made at the creative writing masterclass and enjoyed catching up with them.  I also got to talk to a few people I hadn’t met before. Ideally I would have liked to talk to a few more of the people I only know from twitter but it wasn’t to be and it didn’t matter because we do have twitter.

I got several compliments on my blog which was great – apparently people loved my recent entry about the train to London and it made them laugh. I feel more confident now.

There were snacks and drinks and fizz. And there were five authors there who all read parts of their latest books. We got given a chapter sampler at the end which had the first chapter(s) of each of current books and I got it signed after. I also picked up entirely too many books and had the chance to talk to each of the authors some only whilst they were signing for me, some in more depth.

Jane Costello read from her soon to be released book The Love Shack.  I’m really looking forward to reading it, the bits she read were pretty funny and it sounded great. Hearing her talk about it made me think of my sister Sophie because The Love Shack is about a couple who move in with his mum to allow them to save up to buy a house. And Sophie and her partner James recently moved in with my parents for a few months for similar reasons. I doubt my own mum is as difficult as the mum in the book sounds though. Jane Costello written several other books and I’m not sure if I’ve read her before or not but I picked up several of her back list at the event.

Iona Grey read from Letters to The Lost which is coming out in April. I read it a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it.  Hearing her read it made me want to read it again. I saw on Twitter earlier that one of my friends also has a review copy and started it today. I’m a little jealous, I must be honest that she’s getting to discover it for the first time.  Iona made a point of telling me how glad she was to meet me and how much she loved my review. She was extremely lovely and said some great things about my writing which was pretty “wow!” and a great boost.

I’ve had a copy of The Two of Us by Andy Jones on my shelf for ages (it’s already out in ebook and will be out in paperback in May) but have been putting off reading it after hearing it has a subplot about the MC’s friend who has a terminal illness (One of my friends is terminally ill and I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to read it).  I liked the extract he read. And watching Andy and Claire Hey his editor dance around trying to avoid revealing a major twist in the book whilst discussing it really intrigued me, sending it flying up near the top of my TBR pile.

Watching Heidi Swain present about her book The Cherry Tree Cafe which is being released as an ebook in July was a great moment because we met at the creative writing masterclass, got to be friends and have kept in touch since. Watching her progress with her writing since that day has been inspirational.  It features crafts and cake and sounds like my sort of read. Must admit I’ve been on to Amazon and clicked “pre order” on that today – and I basically never preorder books.

Last up was Milly Johnson reading from Afternoon Tea at The Sunflower Cafe. I love Milly Johnson books and she’s a brilliant speaker. Afternoon Tea at The Sunflower Cafe sounds sure to be another hit full of feel good and happily ever after and having heard an extract I do not want to wait until June to read it!  I picked up several of her backlist and thought it meant I’d now got all of hers but having looked when I got home I’ve ended up with a duplicate or two and I still need at least one. Trying to resist ordering that right this minute.

July Book A Day Prompts 1 – 5

Here in one post are my (hopefully short) answers to the first five of the July book a day prompts.  I will do some every few days throughout August (from both this list and the August list)

bookadayJULY1) A book that made you laugh outloud

I will try to come up with something different for this one to what I said when I answered it on the June prompt list. Belching Out The Devil – Global Adventures with Coca-Cola by Mark Thomas.  I’ve never finished this book.  I read the first chapter and was having hysterics it was so funny.  And then I had to put it to one side because I was worried I was disturbing people with my laughter as it was loud and late at night and never picked it up again.  I must.

2) Favourite SF/Fantasy Novel for World UFO day.

Well, I love Harry Potter but I’ve never really thought of those books as fantasy and I don’t call myself a fantasy fan.  I love sci fi though although I don’t read it that often.  I think I’ll go with 2001: A Space Odyssey and it’s sequels by Arthur C. Clarke because they were my introduction to his books and I liked them a lot.  Although now I’ve written that I’m thinking “didn’t I prefer Rendevous with Rama?”

3) Favourite Novel in Translation

It’s obviously got to be something by Haruki Murakami because I’ve now read something like six of his books.  I’m torn between Norwegian Wood because that was a brilliant example of a book about mental health conditions and the first of his I read, Kafka on the Shore because it was fantastic as a whole and I especially loved the character of Nakata who has learning disabilities but is so much more than that (a rare presentation of a character) and just describes himself as “Nakata isn’t very bright.” and The Wind Up Bird Chronicles because it wowed me.  But then all of the Murakami books I’ve read have wowed me.  As I’m writing this I’m thinking it’s gotta be Kafka on the Shore.

4)  All Time Favourite American Book for 4th July Independence Day

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.  It was a long read and the idea of it felt overwhelming before I got started but I soon got over that and got really into it.  I also really liked the film but it was so, so different to the book and I’m very pleased I didn’t watch that first because I think I wouldn’t have made it through the book if I had.  Especially once all the changes between the film and the book became apparent.

5) Most Delicious Novel About Food

Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris.  That was such a magical book.  Long time since I read it and sadly I’m pretty sure I swapped my copy on Read It Swap It because as I’m thinking about it now I’m longing to read it again.

Would Save If My House Burned Down

This is the last of the month of prompts.  I’m pleased with that mostly because I’m proud of the fact that I managed to get through them all.  I’m not always great at making my way though an entire list of blog prompts when I plan to.  I’m tempted by the July prompts though some of them seem slightly ridiculous if you ask me.

I do have to say that this is the one prompt that has given me the rage out of all of the June book a day prompts.

If my house burned down it wouldn’t be books that I’d be saving.  I’d be saving myself and as a part of that I’d obviously save one of my wheelchairs simply due to the fact that I wouldn’t be able get out of the house if I didn’t.

I have other things in my house I’d like to save.  But only if I was sure it was safe to do so.

Bobby, my teddy bear I’ve had from the day I was born would be the first one that came to mind.  My photos would be another.  Probably my external hard drive because a lot of my photos are on there and I don’t have print outs of them (but I don’t think I can reach where it is on the floor by my computer under the desk).  Random stuff that I’m sentimental about which I won’t mention because it doesn’t make sense unless you’re me.

But not books.  All books, even the ones I’m sentimental about because of who gave them to me and where and when I get them, are just books when it comes down to it. And totally replaceable.  I am not.

(the point I’d originally been going to make about this prompt was that actually being that everything on my Kindle could be redownloaded from my amazon account I wouldn’t lose all my books and could save the 200+ I’ve got on Kindle without trying.  But then I got too ragey about the very idea of this prompt and decided it wasn’t relevant to the point I wanted to make)

The One I Have Reread Most Often

One more prompt after today.  And that’s the one I’ve known the answer to for ages.  Plus today’s prompt is easy for me to answer too.  So nearly done.  Although that said I may take a look at the July book a day prompts and do something with them.

I’m not sure what the book I’ve reread most often is, overall.  Crossings by Danielle Steel comes to mind along with a couple of other books I’ve mentioned in earlier prompts.

Over the last few years I haven’t been doing much in the way of rereading books.  I’d like to do more but the problem still remains that there are lots of books I haven’t read and lots of books I’d like to read and somehow I never quite get round to rereading all the ones I’d like to.

But in the last three of four years (I can’t remember when I first read it but I don’t think it was much more than four years ago, if that) I’ve read Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers 3 times.  It’s probably my favourite of her Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries (although I might like one of Jill Paton Walsh’s continuation books – The Attenbury Emeralds – a little bit more.  It feels wrong to say that).

As much as I’ve enjoyed it each time I must say that I found this time (about a month ago) I didn’t enjoy it as much as I have done on previous occasions.  I’m not sure why that is. And I doubt that’ll stop me reading it again at some point in the future.

Bought in my fave independent book shop

I will be back with another blog entry later today because I have a review to post but first, quickly, here is today’s book prompt.

I don’t live near an independent book shop.  Hell there isn’t even a proper book shop here in this town.  So it’s a tricky one to answer.

But I do love a visit to Foyles when I go to London.  And yes that’s a chain but it’s a pretty small one being they only have seven branches (six in London and one in Bristol) and I think I heard a rumour a while ago that one is closing.  So it does still count as an indie bookshop.

When I went to London a few weeks ago we did a lot of hanging around the Southbank Centre.  And as a part of that we ended up in the Royal Festival Hall branch of Foyles.  I bought myself a copy of Fingersmith by Sarah Walters (although I’ve yet to read it).  So that’s the book I’ll use for this prompt.

Want to be one of the characters

Surprisingly I’m up already (if you follow my twitter feed you’ll know why this is surprising but I’ll blog about those reasons at some point soon) but I suspect I’ll be taking a l-o-n-g nap this afternoon so I’ll write my blog now.

I can’t think of a book I want to be one of the characters of.  If I was asked what I’d like to be a character in and it could be anything it would probably be a TV show, specifically NCIS.

What I’d like more than to be a character in a book is to read more books with people like me in.  Disabled people.  Specificially physically and visibly disabled characters.

I’ve read 60+ books this year.  After I finished my 50th book I started writing a blog post of all the books I’d read this year that had a disabled character.  I got pissed off and stopped writing it because I could mention several (more than I would have been able to some years ago for sure) but they were all invisible disabilities and pretty much all of them were mental health conditions.  Including mental health conditions in books is a good thing.  Including invisible disabilities is a good thing.  But disability is more than depression or autism or dementia.  And I still couldn’t read a book about a person like me.

I’ve recently read a book (Amy and Matthew by Cammie McGovern) that had a main character with CP.  She was nonverbal and used a AAC device and a walker but really needed to use a wheelchair but didn’t (this was a minor plot point that should have been a much bigger one) and the whole way her disability was handled wasn’t great BUT she was there and she was visible and it’s a start even if not a great one.

But the issue of disabled characters is completely separate to this prompt and probably one I should blog about seperately and in more detail at some point in the future.

Dragging myself somewhat back onto the topic of wanting to be one of the characters in a book I should say that I’ve been reading 1Q84 by Murakami this week.  I don’t want to be one of the characters in the book because it’s good but very weird (as his books usually are).  But I would love to go to Japan and get a feel for the place because I think it would make me enjoy his books more than I already do.  And he is an author who to me seems to do disability pretty well (still somewhat lacking in the visible/physical disabilities though) particularly in his other book Kafka on the Shore.

Should have sold more copies

As I wrote on one of the earlier prompts I can’t help thinking this “Should have sold more copies” prompt is a bit samey with two of the prompts that have already been done. See here.

I don’t keep track of the number of copies that a book sells.  I might have a good idea of how popular something is because of reading stuff online, particularly on twitter, blogs and goodreads (facebook, less so) but numbers no I don’t.  No idea either of what sort of numbers sold would be considered below average, normal, good, outstanding etc.  I might google that because now I think of it I’m intrigued.  But at the same time I probably won’t because I doubt I’d find a straight answer.

So I can’t really list a book that should have sold more copies most because I don’t know how many copies it sold etc etc.

But let’s go with Don’t Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back by Harilyn Rousso.  I read that maybe six weeks ago and I’ve been meaning to blog about it in combination with a couple of other disability memoirs but I’ve not read the last one yet so I’ve not got round to writing that blog.  Maybe I’ll write it when I have, maybe I won’t.

Visual description: The cover of Don't Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back by Harilyn Rousso.  It features a head and shoulders self portrait of Harilyn Rousso with a blue background.
Visual description: The cover of Don’t Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back by Harilyn Rousso. It features a head and shoulders self portrait of Harilyn Rousso with a blue background.

Harilyn Rousso is an American woman with CP (I think she’s in her sixties?) and this is her memoir.

I liked it a lot and felt like I could relate to a lot of what she wrote about.  We had similar experiences in some ways and very different ones in others.  Part of that will be because Harilyn has a greater level of mobility than I do but the rest will just relate to simply being different people.

The book is a series of short essays I think is the best term on various aspects of disability and Harilyn’s life.  I found them all interesting and unlike other essay type books I didn’t find them rushed or feeling like a topic wasn’t covered in as much depth as I’d have like.  This might be because all of the essays are by the same person.

Some of the work she has done and projects she’s been involved with sound brilliant and I wished I could have been involved in something similar.  It was interesting to see the disability movement grow thoughout the situations she discussed.  She also did some work with young disabled teens and this is something I’ve always thought I could have benefited from and most of all that I’d like to do now.

I’d really recommend this book to any disabled person because it brings a real feeling of reading about someone like me and I liked that.  But it’s also a good book for parents or carers of disabled people to read or really anyone at all.  As long as they approach it with an open mind.

Never finished it

There are many books I’ve started reading and never finished.  I’m a big believer in the idea that life is too short to read bad books.  Plus, I’m lazy and easily distracted which means books get put to one side and picked up again and put to one side and forgotten many times.  Sometimes I do eventually pick them up again and keep going from where I was and others I restart from the beginning and even more others I just… don’t bother with any more.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy is one I’ve gotten a fair way through twice but abandoned it without finishing.  Once a year or two ago and then I tried it again back in January this year and didn’t finish it then either.

I’m undecided about that because I liked it when I was reading it – enjoyed is probably too far because it’s heavy going in terms of subject (and if not for the fact I was reading a kindle copy in terms of actual weight too I imagine).  But at the same time, back when I was reading it earlier this year I put it aside to read a book I was very excited about and had a review copy of.  And in that book one of the characters uses the ending of Anna Karenina for an example of something she’s talking about.  Now I know the ending I’m not sure I’ll bother to read it.

Emma by Jane Austen is another.  Perhaps because I’ve seen a couple of versions of it (people wanting to go see them with an Emma gets you invited).  But I’ve read the book at least twice and both times not gotten to the ending.  I like Jane Austen a lot though so I’m very tempted to try it again.


Hooked me in to reading

I think for this prompt I’ve got to go with Enid Blyton.

I couldn’t for the life of me tell you which was the first of hers I read but she was definitely my first ever “favourite author.”

I want to say that the first books of hers I read, I read for my brownies book lover badge.  There were two of them that I was given to read by one of the assistants at my Brownie pack for my badge, I think we called her Mo.  I can’t remember what they were called but I really enjoyed them and I seem to recall wrecking the spine on one because I read it so much.  One had a red spine and the other had a yellow spine (yes, I’ve always had a head that remembers really random details).  I’m wondering if they were two of the Island of… books but I don;t know.

Then I got to thinking and I started wondering whether her Famous Five books were actually what I read first.  And I just got confused. But Enid Blyton books were probably the ones that really hooked me into reading.  And it was her Malory Towers ones that finished the job.