52 books in 52 weeks – Challenge Complete!

Earlier this year when I realised I was spending more time than ever with my head in a book, I set myself the challenge of reading 52 books in 52 weeks in 2015.

Challenge complete!

Among the new titles, the following fiction stood out for me; Nick Hornby’s Funny Girl, Vesna Goldsworthy’s Gorsky and As Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust by my absolute favourite, Alan Bradley (not the one who got hit by a tram in Corrie!)

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However,  I found the year’s non-fiction to be even better; the collected lyrics and notes of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, So This Is Permanence, is a thing of heart-breaking beauty to be treasured forever. Gut by Giulia Enders has already been passed around several members of family and friends – a brilliantly interesting, funny and accessible explanation of the behaviour of our bowels!

so this is permancenc

And I have to mention the Welsh singer and a man personally adored by me, Tom Jones, who has written the most excellent and hilarious autobiography Over The Top and Back. A brick of a book which took me almost a month to read though not just due to its doorstep size but also due to re-reading such unrivalled anecdotes (not all about Elvis either!) and collapsing in fits of laughter. Do not read if bad language offends you – this is a man who loves the C word!

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But overall I tried to vary style, length, age and the classic with the contemporary. I loved every minute. Here’s what I got through, starting with my most recommended titles: Continue reading

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The Strange Library

THE STRANGE LIBRARY

BY HARUKI MURAKAMI

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I bought this book the day after I got made redundant from my library job. For twelve years I thought I had worked in a strange library – but thankfully not as dark and sinister as Murkami’s one!

‘The Strange Library’ is a fully illustrated and beautifully designed book. I loved the nostalgic old school library ticket on the front cover and the tagline on the back cover which simply read; “All I did was go to the library to borrow a book.” I’m a real library lover and can be a bit of a geek about it so although I have only ever managed to dip in and out of Murakami, I sensed I might like this! The illustrations inside enhanced this psychedelic tale providing a unique visual enjoyment alongside the text. I found the drawings, some of which are marbled papers and old pages from books found in The London Library, to be simultaneously odd and fun.

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But what’s it about? Well that is a good question! A small boy goes to the public library to borrow a book, once there he is taken to an underground reading room by a cruel old man. There he is locked in a cell by a “Sheep-man” and is instructed to memorise two large books to secure his freedom otherwise his brains will get eaten and Continue reading

A roaring summer to remember

Blog - bill bryson

ONE SUMMER:  AMERICA 1927  BY BILL BRYSON

If all teachers made history as enjoyable as bestselling author Bill Bryson does here, we’d all be A+ students in the subject. In his latest fascinating book, Bryson takes us back to the hugely eventful summer of 1927 in the US. It is a thoroughly enjoyable and gripping read. So many characters and stories from just a few hot months of one year impacted on almost everything to come and ushered in the modern world we now live in.

MAY saw unprecedented nationwide interest in a sensational murder trial dubbed “the crime of the century” and the Mississippi River flooded during great storms leaving an area almost the size of Scotland underwater. Terribly, a closer count was made of livestock deaths than those of the poor (and often black) humans that perished. It was America’s most epic disaster yet, in a month when the stock market boomed and prohibition was failing badly.

Young, handsome aviator Charles Lindbergh captured the hearts of the nation and beyond when he took 33 hours to fly across the Atlantic to Paris. Safely landed, he received a heroes welcome as he would everywhere he went for years to come. Hospitals, parks and children were named after him as was a song called “Lucky Lindy” which went on to spawn the Lindy-Hop dance craze.

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In JUNE arguably the first celebrity shot to fame – baseball player Babe Ruth. Rising from a difficult background to become the charismatic undisputed star of Major League baseball. 1927 was “a year that no one who knew baseball would ever forget'” writes Bryson.

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In other news radio was the wonder of the age, New York overtook London as the world’s largest city and prohibition continued to be farcical and inept. “It made criminals of honest people and actually led to an increase in the amount of drinking in the country,” notes our author. The government even poisoned liquor – some reports claiming this act killed as many as 11,000 people in 1927 alone – all dying in agony just for having a drink!

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