Books

the joys of a book buying ban

Since the 1st of December, I’ve been on a book buying ban. I know – what heinous heresy is this?! A bookworm refraining from buying books?

I have my reasons – I felt greedy, gorging myself on newly butchered trees. My bookworm soul was beginning to bear an unflattering resemblance to Jabba the Hutt. And yet I wasn’t reading the books. I had the excuses – I’m a queen at excuses – but the time had come when I couldn’t continue. There were no more excuses left.

My soul was burning with guilt.

It was a time for a change.

I’m on books 7 and 8 out of 45 books which I’ve owned but never read. (And … I own more than 45 unread books. I think. I haven’t counted because quite frankly, I feel ashamed. Why ’45’? Because it’s a start and ’50’ was rather daunting.)

Here’s a bit of a status update: I’ve read some books which I’ve bought recently, and books which I bought years and years ago.

And let me tell you, I am finding gems.

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis left me crying on my bedroom floor – and really confused because I knew that there was analogy somewhere. Pro Tip: Don’t read books late at night, when you’re reading fast because you want to know what happens next and thennnnn you’ve accidentally missed the meaning of the whole book because of a really important paragraph. Or three.

The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley wrapped me up with a warm blanket of nostalgia – Robin Hood was my childhood hero. Honest to goodness … books and movies about him truly shaped who I was and how I viewed the world.

(And it still does.)

And I loved it … and then THEY ALL GET SENT OUT TO A CRUSADE AND BASICALLY I’M GOING TO ASSUME THEY ALL DIED OF PLAGUE.

(I don’t care if it was the Third Crusade, Suzannah. I can just picture them in my mind. And they’re all dead. As doornails. And dodos. And diplodocuseseses. [diplodocusi?])

And other books … I’ve finally cracked open that Christian fantasy that I bought many moons ago. It’s fabulous. FAB-U-LOUS. How did I not know that this existed???!!! HOW DID I NOT PICK IT UP BEFORE???? I’m on page 95 so my opinions could change but I think this is going to be glorious.

GLORIOUS.

Why?

  1. It’s a sort of Helen of Troy retelling
  2. IT HAS A CASSANDRA TYPE CHARACTER
  3. It’s dramatic
  4. SO. DRAMATIC
  5. It is feeding my soul
  6. It’s putting a gleam in my eye

“Nay. Nay, m’lord!” She rushed to his side. “Never will you be anything less than the magnificent man and warrior you’ve always been.”

These kind of quotes just … ugh!!! Reading them gives a spring to my step and a chuckle in my cheek. (Let’s just pretend that’s a thing.) I’m so very glad that it stayed on my shelves all through the years.

Also, I’m reading a Western about a centaur.

This book buying ban has been the best thing for my bookworm-ness and my bank account. And for brilliant alliteration.

Ah-hem.

read the rules and follow my book ban right here.

Books, Recountings

why i love ‘frederica’ by georgette heyer (and you totally should too)

No one quite does it like Georgette Heyer. When I pick up one of her books and dive in, that’s it – I’ll disappear for a wee while, completely buried. Perhaps I’ll come up for air, but more often than not, it’s to grab another one of her works.

And here’s one of her books that’s a favourite of mine. (Most of them are favourites. Picking an absolute favourite is nigh on impossible. I do have least favourites *quelle horreur!!!* but that’s for another time.)

THE PLOT DOESN’T STOP FOR A MOMENT AND IS SPARKLING AND WITTY AND HYSTERICAL

So we have this rich bloke – a Marquis – in his ivory palace who gets everything he wants and is terribly bored with it. (I’m sure EVERYONE relates to this. *cough*) His relatives want him to introduce their daughters into society with lavish balls – at his expense, of course – but he’s all ‘lemme think about … ha! ha! No’ (but in FAR more distinguished and witty tones).

“Wretch! I shan’t allow you to take a rise out of me! I want to talk to you about Jane!”
“Who the devil is—Oh, yes, I know! One of your girls!”
“My eldest daughter, and, let me remind you, your niece, Alverstoke!”
“Unjust, Louisa, I needed no reminder!”
“I am bringing the dear child out this season,”[…]
“You’ll have to do something about her freckles—if she’s the one I think she is,” he interrupted. “Have you tried citron-water?”
“I didn’t invite you to come here to discuss Jane’s appearance!” she snapped.
“Well, why did you invite me?”
“To ask you to hold a ball in her honour—at Alverstoke House!” she disclosed, rushing her fence.
“To do what?” 

Enter Frederica Merriville who wants just a tiny favour from him. He is Not Bored By This. And offers to help her and her family (she has a Beautiful Sister and Frederica is determined that such Beauty is Not To Be Wasted) enter into society. And then suddenly – in almost a blink of his languid eye – the Merriville family is plunging him into one scrape after the other, and he’s got people banging on his door about a dog disturbing some Picturesque Milking Cows in central London, there’s the Merriville brother who is Convinced that the Marquis is VERY MUCH INTERESTED in the latest technology (he’s not), and a Fateful Hot Air Balloon ride.

And then, indignity upon indignity, his esteemed personage has to look after someone. On a sickbed.

Oh how will he cope?!

HOW WILL HE SURVIVE????

THE HEROINE IS PRETTY DOPE

There are several different types of Heyer Heroines, and Frederica falls amongst the ranks of Pheobe Marlowe (Sylvester) and Venetia (Venetia). She’s sensible, but she’s plucky and she has a sense of humour. She’s not as staid as some heroines, nor as silly as others.

I approve.

THE MARQUIS OF ALVERSTOKE IS ALMOST AS COOL AS THE COOLEST DUDE TO EVER DUDE

My all-time FAVOURITE of Heyer’s characters is one that barely appears in his book. (BUT WHAT AN IMPRESSION HE LEAVES!!) Imagine my joy and surprise when I realised that there was another character almost as wonderful as he!

“Perhaps,” murmured his lordship, “I yielded to a compassionate impulse.”
“A what?” gasped his best friend. 
“Oh, did you think I never did so?” said his lordship, the satirical glint in his eyes extremely pronounced. “You wrong me! I do, sometimes—not frequently, of course, but every now and then!” 

My brain sort of fuzzed over when I Saw The Truth in a reread.

‘HE IS LIKE HIM!!!!!!!’ I thought calmly. “THIS IS AMAZING!!”

FREDERICA’S YOUNGEST BROTHERS ARE THE BEST THING EVER

I have a soft spot for siblings in novels. Particularly when they are so SINCERE and OBLIVIOUS to everything else.

And her youngest brother, Felix – he’s da actual bomb (not in a Lord Legerwood way but in his own irrepressible ‘let me join this Hot Balloon adventure whatdoyoumeanIcan’tgoupwiththem??!’ way.) He *somehow* gets Alverstoke to do things that Alverstoke really doesn’t have the slightest inclination of doing. Like, going around a foundry. Alverstoke has never even thought of it. He’d probably rather recite the dictionary backwards whilst dining with ALL of his beloved relatives than- No. He’d probably hate both of them equally.

In a lazy kind of way.

ALSO, THE DOG

There’s this scene – hySTERICALLY FUNNY OF COURSE – where some of the Merrivilles are attempting to get out of a scrape by their actions of their dog.

All the outraged tradesmen are like: this dog is a coMMEN MUTT AND PROBABLY TERRIBLE AND SHOULD BE DESTROYED becauSE IT ALARMED OUR COWS AND PUT THEM OFF PRODUCING MILK!!

And the Marquis and his DOPE secretary are like: mmmMM THIS DOG? This dog that is a priCLESS BREED?? This dog from a FOREIGN COUNTRY?? o.0 YOU WANT TO DESTROY THIS DOG?

“I didn’t smuggle the dog into the country; I merely caused him to be smuggled out of Baluchistan.” 

ALSO, THE OTHER CHARACTERS. ALL OF THEM

The whole cast. Are. The. Best. Even the two characters that are just MY GOSH UGH THIS IS FUNNY BUT I WOULDN’T WANT TO STAY IN THE SAME ROOM WITH YOU.

Even if it was an internet chatroom. ARE THOSE STILL GOING BY THE WAY???

This novel is a sheer, rippling delight from page one. It’s charming. It’s nigh on perfect. I love it. Read it. You just might love it too.

goodreads // open library

Books

7 reasons why reading books is a terrible decision

I know what you’re thinking: oh my gosh! Is she doing a numbered list!?!! Yes. I am. I’ve done it before – and I have no regrets. And also JOKES ON YOU. I didn’t number the reasons so HA! You’ll never know if reason one is actually number seven.

Bad Decisions Will Be Your New Aesthetic

(Not ‘anaesthetic’. This is a different thing. I’ve never made this mistake. *cough*)

And by ‘aesthetic’ I mean you will have huge rings under your eyes. Because you’ve been staying up reading until one, two, or three o’clock in the morning. ‘Just one more chapter …’ will be your death knell.

You hate it, but you know you love it too.

You Will Have A Vast Vocabulary But Can’t Pronounce Any Of It

I can’t pronounce anything. There!I said it! Who knew that ‘dexterous’ rhymes with ‘mysterious’? No one. No one knew. Because no one pronounces it like that. Apart from you.

You’ll crack out a new word that you are pre-t-ty sure will BLOW EVERYONE’S MINDS BECAUSE IT IS SO APT TO THE SITUATION and crickets chirp. Because no one has a clue about which word you’re using.

You Will Have No Space

Charity shops and Amazon and bookshops and just … you’re doomed, okay? Accept it. There’s no way out.

Fact: you will run out of bookshelves.

Fact: you will have to stack books on the floor.

Fact: you don’t regret a thing.

You Will be Frustrated (You Can’t Resurrect Dead Authors. Neither Can You Make Live Authors Write Faster)

Lots of my favourite authors are dead. Georgette Heyer, I’m looking at you.Also, the ones who are alive write. So. Slowly.

The frustration is real and terrible, my friends.

Your Bank Account Will Hate You

Kindle is evil and Waterstones is worse. That is all I have to say about that.

Packing Will Be A Nightmare

Packing for a trip. Fun, huh? Some people agonise about which outfits they want to take. Should I take this dress or should I stick with t-shirt and jeans and maybe another pair of jeans and another t-shirt? You … might do the same. But choosing which books to take is far, far worse. ‘What ifs’ haunt me and suddenly I’ve blinked and there’s seventy books in a pile and what if I need a Complete History of Medicine? Huh? WHAT IF I NEED IT???

The tragedy is … you’ll probably end up reading a book on your kindle.

Your books are well-travelled though. That’s a plus.

Movies Will Never Be The Same

If you’ve read a ton of books, you’ll have become an expert. You know exactly what is going to follow what, when the dramatic moment when all hope is lost and ahhhh they’ve taken the Hobbits to Isengard!!! and – best of all – when everything will pick up and either a) the characters will die, b) the bad guy will get what’s coming to him and c) when the heroine realises that perhaps the hero wasn’t so bad after all.

Or something like that. 

(I have no idea if the taking of the Hobbits to Isengard was the beginning of Act Three or not. I haven’t read Lord of The Rings. *GASP* I know! Can you even trust me???!!)

My point is: if you’ve read loads of book, you’ll have cracked the story code. And only the Very Badly Made or Very Brilliant Movies will surprise you.

* * *

Anything to add? What about the unrealistic expectations books give you – dead bodies, handsome heroes just everywhere basically, world portals though pieces of furniture etc etc etc … ?

Books

basically, i’m doomed

It feels like there’s never enough hours in the day to read everything I want to. I know. It’s a trial and a burden. I don’t know how I bear it.

Also, this isn’t technically a ‘TBR’ list. This is a ‘I’m trying to read all these books at once WITH VERY GREAT SUCCESS’ list.

Unholy Spirits by Gary North

This was recommended to me and so far I have read the dedication and the part of the introduction. I have a free afternoon coming up on Saturday. I intend to devour this book then.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes and Joe Layden

Honest to goodness, though I adore the Princess Bride, Cary Elwes name drops so. many. times. He’ll say someone’s name and then give you their wikipedia entry. Also: a history of Haddon Hill. Or Hall. I can’t remember. I had to put my kindle down and stare blankly out into the ether after that one.

I thought I left that all behind when I stopped reading G. A. Henty.

Superfreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Sephen J. Dubner

It’s fascinating. It’s wonderful. I’m learning about Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance. Also: it’s taking me forever to finish because I keep forgetting that I’m reading this book.

What Love Is This? by Dave Hunt

I started reading this book, oh, years ago. I’ve restarted it. I read a chapter each morning. I think I’ve been in the middle of it for eons. EONS!!! It’s got to the stage where I’m ticking off chapters, just to feel like I’m making progress.

It’s a good book – I’m enjoying it, it’s making me think (… no jokes, please and thank you) and does raise big questions but at this moment … I’m convinced that it’s like the NeverEnding Story. As in: it never ends.

this may *look* like a grin but it’s probably actually a grimace

The Candy Machine: How Cocaine Took Over the World by Tom Feiling

I am half-way. I have been half-way through this books for a long time. A longggg time. That is all I wish to say about it. At one point, I picked it up and thought: huh, this is really concentrating on cocaine … I wonder if it’ll discuss other drugs?

It is literally entitled ‘How Cocaine Took Over the World’.

A Wind From The Wilderness by Suzannah Rowntree

This is probably me being a coward. I read the first chapter, which was ace. HOWEVER, I then started the next one and realised that I was probably going to be emotionally scarred by the book.

I grow too attached to the characters, you see. It always happens. I don’t like it when a) bad things happen to them or b) they make bad decisions.

And guess what? No matter how many times you glare and cringe at the characters … they don’t respond. They don’t change their minds or get out of harm’s way. Ugh. I know. Who’d have thought?!!

happy reading!

Books, Life

books. packing. travel. decisions

Next week, I return to Eastern Europe for five months. I want to pack as simply as possible. And by that I mean ‘pack as many books as I can possibly jam into my bags’.

Here’s a handy little guide for you so that you too can fill your bags with as many books as possible …

i’ve done this before #noragrats
*** DISCLAMIER ***
I know, I know – just take a kindle, you can take hundreds of books that way. Sure. Do that. I have done and will do … but I also take physical books with me.  BECAUSE I HAVE TO OKAY???

HOW MUCH SPACE DO I HAVE?

  • a carry on case
  • a laptop bag

CRITERIA:

THE BOOK MUST NOT BE A STOOPID CHOICE

Weight and space are limited in your bag, so you need to take books that will be useful, that you can reread or that will take absolute yonks to consume.

For this reason, I’m taking two books on teaching and grammar and a book with creative writing exercises.

THE BOOK MUST NOT BE TOO HEAVY

… or it can be. (Rules are made to be broken, or so the saying goes.) I’m taking a 500+ page hardback about Calvinism with me. I’ve been wanting to read it for years and now is the time.

But – if you can – try and avoid hardbacks. If the book is thick – having it in paperback could be the way to go. I’m doing this too – taking The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore with me (600+ pages. Also I’ve just sniffed them and is there anything better than the smell of books?)

i just REALLY love books, okay?

THE BOOK MUST NOT BE PRICELESS

though i’ve just learned that i’m missing one so OOPS

Travelling with your books is dangerous – for the books, at least. Though you try your very best to keep them in a pristine condition … it’s quite impossible sometimes.

So choose a book you’re not happy to be battered, but you’ll at least be okay with it turning up a little worse for wear.

I’m bringing a paperback set of the Pit Dragon Chronicles by Jane Yolen. I paid a dollar a piece for them so if they get a little worn, I shan’t be too concerned.

THE BOOK MUST BE A HEYER

Because OBVIOUSLY.

I nearly considered leaving her behind as I have many on my kindle HOWEVER … this moment of profound foolishness has since passed and I’m taking Frederica with me. (Cotillion may slip in or replace it, I’m not sure.)


I may not actually finish all these books – I will be teaching, after all, and life will be moderately busy. But having my books about me is the same as being surrounded by friends. And I adore my friends.

Also, I’ll be taking my Bible, a book I borrowed from someone, and a few notebooks.

… I don’t have a problem. I just have priorities. And who needs clothes anyway?