Sunday, 20 January 2013

An Abundance of Katherines

So, as you will see from the picture, this is a brief foray into the world of e-books. Not one of my 'great-unreads' as it happens, but 'set' as our family bookclub read. It soon came close to arousing the same guilt in me, as one by one, the rest of the family announced that they had completed it.

It's a teenagers' book, and I have to say very enjoyable. It made me laugh out loud a lot. A brief plot summary. Colin, a failed protegy, clever in everything but relationships, has just been dumped by his girlfriend - the nineteenth to be called Katherine - hence the title. He and his friend Hassan, set off on a roadtrip to help him get over it and to enable Hassan to escape the demands of his parents to get off his backside, stop watching daytime TV and actually do something with his life.

They stop in Tenessee, to see the final resting place of (improbably)  Archduke Franz Ferdinand. They become friends with the tour guide, a young woman and find themselves a job and somewhere to stay, and so the real journey begins.

Colin - an asperger's kind of guy, decides that he needs to develop a mathematical theorem to help him solve the Katherine conundrum.   It all rolls along at a happy pace, the characters are quirky and funny. Even if you have no interest in maths and bell curves,  I think you might enjoy the ride.

An Abundance of Katherine's - John Green

You might also enjoy:
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time 

 Books bought 0: Books read 3

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Into The Wild

This is the true story of Chris McCandless, a young American who, on graduating from college, gave away all his money to Oxfam, disposed of most of his belongings and set off into the wild parts of America to make a new life for himself. His actions raised many strong and differing opinions. Some thought he was an idiot, ill-prepared and fool-hardy as he set off for his final, ill-fated adventure into Alaska. Others saw him as some kind of hero, looking for a simpler, more noble way of life.

Jon Krakauer, the journalist who has written this account, takes a more considered view. He certainly doesn't gloss over the negative sides to Chris' personality, nor does he ignore the pain and worry he caused to his poor family, who had no idea where he was, or how to get hold of him. He paints a more complex picture, of a young man with deeply held moral views. I found he reminded me of what it's like to be young, headstrong, opinionated and judgemental.

Since moving to Yorkshire 10 years ago, I learnt the joy of walking alone. After more than a decade of living cheek by jowl to folk in London, I can really empathise with Chris' desire for solitude. There's nothing quite like being stood atop a landscape with not a soul around, just you and the sounds of nature. Undoubtedly he was also incredibly courageous and it would seem, simply terribly unlucky in his timing of his journey into Alaska. If anything, I think he managed remarkably well to survive as long as he did with so little equipment. So yes, I will keep walking and sometimes alone, but I will aways take a map, a gps and a mobile with me.

If you want to see the landscapes he travelled through, his story was made into a film, which from what I can remember, stayed pretty close the book. I would recommend both. Into the Wild Film trailer 

Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer   Into the Wild
 Related reads: 
The Call of The Wild 

Books bought 0 : Books read 2

Monday, 14 January 2013

Walking Home

Simon Armitage relates a tale of finding a signed copy of one of his books in a bargain-bin in a charity shop. On opening it, he finds the words, To Mum and Dad...

This is exactly the sort of self-deprecating writing you will find in Walking Home. Yes, he's walking 14 miles a day and more in mud, wind and lashing rain (it's summer in Yorkshire after all!) but he's not gonna make out he's some kind of hero.

Infact, I'm quite in awe of his ability to walk all day and then give a poetry reading in an assortment of venues, some more suited to the occasion than others, with a willing/not-so-willing audience in tow.

From the warmth of my bedroom, I really enjoyed this tale of walking the Pennine Way - in the reverse direction to normal. It made me laugh out loud in places and of course, the man's a poet, so the writing is often beautiful.

Armitage is responsible for a longer than expected walk of my own. One Sunday we set out to find one of his newly revealed Stanza Stones. These are a series of six poems carved in stones along a 67-mile route from his home in Marsden. We were searching for Dew, couldn't find it, so decided to find Puddle near Ilkley instead. Which we did, eventually...


 (Follow the link here to see more) Stanza Stones

It rains a lot you see in the Pennines. And Armitage encounters plenty of it on his walk. His book hasn't inspired me to walk the Pennine Way, but it has made me go and hunt out some more of his poems.
Walking home. Simon Armitage 
Walking Home

Books bought 0 : Books read 1

Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Challenge!

Brought to book:
Definition: To punish or be made to account for something you have done wrong.

I have been brought to book. My crime isn't a serious one - infact, I'm sure it's one many of you have committed too. The crime, dear reader, is that of buying books and then not reading them!

I have been guilty of buying books; many books, with all good intentions of reading them. They sit on my shelves, glowering at me, despising me for abandoning them there and moving onto the next "must read".

It really has to stop. So, I have set myself a challenge. No more book buying until I have read the un-reads.

Here are the rules: 
  1. No book buying. Absolutely no one-click sneak buys on Amazon. No, not even if it's 0.01p! 
  2. Borrowing from the library doesn't count.
  3. Nor do e-loans from said library.
  4. Incidental gifts of books don't count (they just get added to the un-reads)
  5. The Rights of the Reader apply.  [The Rights of the Reader]
 In the process I hope to share some great reads with you. (After all, I chose these books in the first place.) Alert you to some strange, fascinating books, books worthy of being read.  By doing so, I hope to keep a record of a year's reading and keep a tag on those dearly wanted new books for when the challenge is over.

So, here goes. Wish me luck and if you have a moment do let me know of your own un-reads. You never know, they may make it onto my wish list...

Books bought 0 : Books read 0