Sunday, 11 March 2012

Happy Weekend - Part 2!

Hello again!

Hope you've all had a wonderful sunny weekend - it was 15 degrees here in Yorkshire today, and so lovely. How much of a difference does the sun make?? My Stepdad is currently watching Rugby (a game I don't really understand, but I think England are winning...?)

Here are a couple more pictures from @FatMumSlim's PhotoADay Challenge! Her blog is here and her challenge is to take a photo every day of March, under the category she provides. 

Picture Ten - Loud

This inconspicuous little Diet Coke bottle doesn't look loud, but it is when you're trying to open it without anyone noticing! I constantly get nagged about drinking too much of the stuff *sigh* which I know I do, but as I've pointed out to several people, there are worse vices to have, and at least I'm not harming anyone else! It keeps trying to give me away however, as opening this without anyone hearing is a skill I've had to learn haha!

Picture Eleven - Someone you talked to today

Because I'm sad and skint, the only people I've talked to today are my Mum, Stepdad, dog and several random people in Hebden Bridge. Therefore, I thought I'd post a snapshot of modern day 'talking.' I've spoken to several friends on Facebook this morning, and is an invaluable way of keeping in touch with people I don't see very often. I do think it's sad, and try to see people in real life as often as possible, but think Faceyb is very much a crucial part of modern life. 

Now to carry on where I left off yesterday with the books. This is where it gets more difficult, as I loved books more as I grew up, and reading very much became an escape from the mundaneness of real life. I can feasibly read a book in a day (if I do nothing else, obviously), and at the moment, my 3 hours/day on a train are proving so useful that I've run out of things to read (any book suggestions will be greatly received!!). Therefore, I don't really know what to choose that I read when I was a teenager. So I'll start with the most logical.

Harry Potter
As I mentioned in a previous post, I love Harry Potter, and got into it at the relatively early age of 9. I was lucky enough not to have to wait very long for the first three, as I started reading not long before the Prisoner of Azkaban came out. After that however, as I'm sure you all know, there were gaps of years between the books. I'm glad this was the case, because it only increased my anticipation for them; from Goblet of Fire onwards, I pre-ordered the books on Amazon, and waited eagerly by the front door for the postman on the day of release, often scaring the poor bloke. I would then retire to my bedroom and devour the whole book in one sitting, before dissecting it with the internet (none of my friends finished it quickly enough), then I'd wait anxiously for my friend Martha to finish reading it, so I could talk about it with somebody (it took all my willpower not to spoil it for her; fortunately for me, in the later years, the media usually ruined it, so I could talk about some bits without ruining it all). 

I don't know what it is about J. K. Rowling that makes the books so brilliant. She is, of course, an incredibly clever writer, tying up loose plot ends from early books in the final few, and including twists and turns that nobody expected (Dumbledore's gay??!), but a lot of writers do that, and they haven't achieved the level of success that she has. She also has amazing characters and a brilliant plot; people you can relate to, whilst remaining enough of a fantasy that you can detach from modern life, and submerge yourself in the world of Hogwarts. Again, lots of other writers have equally brilliant characters, that just don't seem to catch imaginations in the same way that Jo does. Perhaps it's a combination of the two, but whatever it is, Jo does it incredibly well, and she deserves every ounce of success that she gets. 

Opinion of HP is divided in my group of friends; half of us love it, probably to the point of obsession, and we would spend hours discussing what we thought would happen in the final book. (May I take this opportunity to brag that I predicted exactly what happened with Snape, and have the screenshot to prove it haha). My friend Martha and I, especially, would spend many walks to school having the same debates, often joined by Seth, and we could talk about it for hours. 
My friend Mel is another fanatic, and we've spent many an hour on the phone to one another raving about it, and I've been to see every film (from OoTP) on the opening night with her, and we're planning on going to Harry Potter Land in Orlando as soon as I get a job that actually pays me (I'm so excited, but aware of how much of a geek I'm sounding right now!). 

One of the great things about Harry Potter is the fact that the films are almost as amazing as the books. It obviously helps that JK Rowling has had a massive influence in the scripts and the casting (I LOVE the fact that it's all-British), and I love all of them (apart from the casting of David Thewlis as Remus Lupin. That's just wrong. Oh, and Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. I wish so much that Richard Harris hadn't died, as he was the PERFECT Dumbledore. Gambon is not.) The most perfect characters are Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid, Alan Rickman as Snape, Maggie Smith as McGonagall and Rupert Grint as Ron. Everyone else is magnificent as well (Daniel Radcliffe grew on me), and the films are the perfect addition to the books.

I'm devastated now though, that there will be no more hype/anticipation about Potter in the future. It was a huge part of my childhood, and it almost horrifies me that children nowadays can read all seven books in a row, with no gap in between. The anticipation leads to greater enjoyment of the books I think, as you build up in your mind what's going to happen/what you want to happen, then devour the book to find out whether you were right. If I were Prime Minister, I would enact a law which meant that children were given a Harry Potter book on their 11th birthday, and they weren't allowed to read the next one until their next birthday. That way, they'd grow up with the characters as we did, and the anticipation would be the same. Unfortunately, I don't think that's going to happen, but as long as people read the books that's fine by me. The amount of people I've met who have seen the films but haven't read the books devastates me, and I think this should be banned. The films are brilliant, but it's not the same. If people don't want to read them, they should at least have to listen to Stephen Fry's audiobooks. 

I'm delighted to learn however, that J. K. Rowling IS writing again. It's not Potter (I think I'm grateful for that), but it's a book aimed at adults. I'm ridiculously excited (the first thing I did when I wrote it was to text Mel), and can't wait for more information. She is an incredible writer, and I owe her a large amount of my childhood. (And adulthood)

It was at this point in my life as well where, much to the disappointment of my Mum, I started to get into *shockhorror* ...ChickLit. Now I don't see a problem with this; it's not as if I was reading absolute dross, I was reading books by authors such as Sophie Kinsella and Belinda Jones, but to my Mum it was as if I'd started to read the Daily Mail!! They remain some of my favourite books to this day however, so I'm going to include them in my list.

Belinda Jones
My friend Ellie and I share a love of Belinda Jones; it's easy reading without being complete dross, and you get to travel in your head to loads of exotic locations. Our favourite book is 'I Love Capri' - a romance novel which doesn't quite end in romance (although if you read 'The Love Academy,' one of her later books, you get a surprise happy ending, something which I was very excited about).

Sophie Kinsella
My love affair with Sophie Kinsella started, not with Shopaholic as many of you would assume, but with a book called 'Can You Keep a Secret?' It's about a girl who spills all her secrets to a random guy on a plane when they experience extreme turbulence, only to find out that he's her boss! Brilliant story. And of course, the Shopaholic series is fantastic as well, even if it does make me cringe every time I read them! I'm not too keen on her most recent books however, but hopefully this will change.

Contrary to the beliefs of my Mum, this wasn't all I read as a teenager. Phillip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' remain some of my favourite books, and I started reading them in my early teens. I also read 'The Hobbit' when I was about 11 and loved it! I still can't get into Lord of the Rings however, and I'm not sure why. I think there's far too much description, though I can't get into the films either. I also read 'Sophie's World' in my teens. I think it was initially helped by the fact that she had the same name as me, but I soon got into the book, and it fascinated me. I love Jostein Gaarder's other works as well, including 'The Solitaire Mystery' and  'The Christmas Mystery.'


One of my favourite books of all time will remain 'The Diary of a Young Girl: Anne Frank.' I've always been fascinated by history - even as a child I'd read books on the Civil War and the Egyptians, and I used to love the 'Horrible Histories' - and this was a snapshot for me into real life history. It brought an event I'd heard so much about to life, and completely enthralled me.

I'm sure there were many more books that I loved, but they've all merged into one unfortunately (apart from the extra-special ones that I'm saving for the end), so if anyone else can remember what they read as a kid or a teenager, please comment, because if there's one thing I love more than anything it's nostalgia).

Books as an adult
As an adult, I'm fairly difficult to please. A book has to either really grip me, or be really easy reading. I've only just got back into reading for pleasure after University, and so something has to be incredible, or just fun for me to get into it. Below is a snapshot of a few select pickings of my bookshelf. Another thing my Mum hates about me, is the fact that I absolutely cannot throw books away. I love to re-discover a book, and often have a bit of a random plot playing at the back of my mind that will bug me until I re-read the book again. I therefore am allowed to keep a few in the house, but the rest I have to keep in boxes in my garage. I can't wait until I get my own house; I'm going to have a room dedicated just to books. I'm so excited. For now, here are a few of my favourites:

For those that can't see, from top to bottom, left to right they are:
* Andy Kirkpatrick - Cold Wars - I've gotten really into reading mountaineering and climbing books at the moment. I'll never be fit or brave enough to do any of that stuff, but I can do it in my head :)
* Take That - because I'm a saddo and it was cheap
* Jodi Picoult - Change of Heart - all her books are getting a bit samey now, but I love a few of them, mainly because my friends started off with 'The Pact' and thought it was incredible, so I'll always have a soft-spot
* Stephen Fry - Moab is My Washpot - he is my hero.
* Stephen Fry - The Fry Chronicles - see above
* Jodi Picoult - Handle With Care - one of my favourites
* Eat, Pray, Love - I want to go everywhere she's been, I love her
* The Long Walk - about a people escaping from Russian prison camps - combines my love of history, travel and a good book
* PS, I Love You - a classic from high school, and still a fave
* Marley and Me - makes me cry every time, mainly because I have a labrador so can empathise
* I Don't Know How She Does It - just a chick-lit, but one that I love for reasons I'm not sure of
* I Love Capri - see the Belinda Jones section above
* Sophie's World - again see above
* Jodi Picoult - Nineteen Minutes - again, one of her best
* The Piano Teacher - a brilliant novel, a bit hard to get into but worth it
* My Best Friend's Girl - Dorothy Koomson is another of my favourite authors, and this is her best book by far
* One Day - was raved about last year and rightly so. Not my favourite book ever, but still brilliant
* Tiny Sunbirds Far Away - I only read this a few weeks ago, but it's about the political situation in Nigeria, without being really hard to read. Love it.
* What About Me? - another chick-lit, but from a mother/daughter perspective
* Jodi Picoult - My Sister's Keeper - her best ever book I think

Of course there are so many more that I'd love to include, but if I did so, this post would never end. The thing I love most about books is that you can disappear into someone's life for a short-space of time, and you don't have to think about anything else. You can travel to places you'd love to go and do the things you'd love to do in the comfort of your bedroom (until you can afford to do them for real of course!)

There are of course, a few special books that hold special places in my heart. And so I thought I'd reserve a section to talk about them. I can't really explain why they're so special, or why I love them so much, but I do. And so here they are:

Michelle Magorian
I love every single one of her books that has ever been written. All of them. They're mostly about childhood in the early twentieth century, and I have read them over, and over and over again.

The Childrens' Classics
I can't pick a favourite from any of these (although the What Katy Did series will always be up there), but I read them over and over, from childhood onwards, and still love them to this day.



The Large Family
Jill Murphy's 'The Large Family' books are some of my favourite of all time, as is 'Peace at Last.' We had pictures of this on our bathroom and bedroom walls, and is one of my all-time favourites.


I've just remembered one of my favourite memories to do with reading; when I was three, I was in hospital because some stupid person pushed me off a fence with a space hopper and I cracked my head open. I wasn't seriously injured, but had to stay in overnight because it was a head injury. The only thing I remember from my short-stay in hospital, is throwing up sat on my Mum's knee in a wheelchair, screaming because I didn't want to be X-Rayed, and crying because I hadn't gotten chance to read all the Thomas the Tank Engine books before they sent me home!

When my brother and I were little, we used to listen to story-tapes before we went to sleep (that's right children of the 21st Century, no computer games, iPads or phones!), and our favourites were Rosie and Jim, Spot the Dog and Fantastic Mr. Fox; I always used to make my brother get up to turn the tape over (that's right, it wasn't automatic then!) as he was on the bottom bunk. Love it.

There are also loads of books that I've remembered along the way that I've wanted to put on here, but couldn't find a space for them, so here are even more of my favourites:

* Ning Nang Nong - poem by Spike Milligan
* Lord of the Flies
* The Borrowers
* Winnie the Pooh
* Owl Babies
* The Owl that was afraid of the Dark
* Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret?
* The Babysitter's Club
* Animal Farm
* 1984
* Animal Ark (literally just remembered this, I used to LOVE it!!)
* Spot the Dog
* Kipper
* We're Going On a Bear Hunt (can't believe I left this out earlier, it's INCREDIBLE!)
* Winnie the Witch
* Mog
* Narnia
* The Velveteen Rabbit
* Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (I read this when I was quite little, and everybody should read it!)
* Room - Emma Donoghue
* Carrie's War - (the first and only book that had ever given me a nightmare!)

I'm sure there are others, and I'm sure I'll kick myself as soon as I post this, but this is all I can think of for now. Please, please leave comments about your own favourite books, memories to do with books or reading, as I'd love to hear them :)

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