Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Reading Challenge Book Choices

After much deliberation, cogitation and inward digestion (as my history teacher used to say) I have come up with my list of 8 books and movies for the Reading Challenge over at Twobibliomaniacs

They are

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Pavilion of Women by Pearl Buck

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

Theatre by  W Somerset Maugham ( film is called Being Julia)

The End Of The Affair by Graham Greene 

The Other Boelyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

And last but not least Empire Of The Sun by J G Ballard 


It was really hard to choose as there are so many book to movie adaptations and I wanted them all to be ones where I had neither read the book or seen the movie.

I am really looking forward to this challenge and I hope I can encourage some of you to take part too.

Happy Hump Day Everyone

Monday, 16 May 2011

My First Reading Challenge

I have just signed up for my first reading challenge and I can't wait to get started!

It is called the "Books to Movies Challenge" and is being hosted by the lovely people over at Two Bibliomaniacs

There are 4 levels you can participate in and the challenge is running from 1st June to 31st December. Have a look and see if you fancy having a go.Its all for fun and you never know, you might just enjoy it.
However, if you are not a fan of book to movie adaptations, have a look at A Novel Challenge to find something that takes your fancy.

 AllI need to do now is choose how many and what books to read. Choices choices!

Hope you have a great week


Thursday, 12 May 2011

Ebook apathy

Today I have decided to write about my distinct lack of enthusiasm for ebooks.
Over the past few weeks, there have been numerous articles in newspapers and on the internet telling us that digital downloads of books have increased substantially. According to The Guardian, ebook sales increased by 20% last year and this is due in part to the growing popularity of Amazon’s Kindle.

 Don't get me wrong-I am most certainly not a Luddite. After all, if I were I wouldn't be blogging. I am a huge fan of digital music and love being able to download individual songs instead of having to buy whole albums. I adore my Android Phone and some of the amazing apps that it has (such as my favourite, Google Sky Map which you can use to identify constellations and planets in the night sky.)

However, when it comes to books, I just can't seem to embrace new technology. I am well aware of the advantages of having an ebook reader-they are lightweight, you can store as many as 3500 books on them and you can adjust the text size (fantastic for people who have sight problems.)
They are also a great way of satisfying society's need for instant gratification as new ebooks can be downloaded within seconds and are often cheaper than a paper copy.

But for me, reading isn't about convenience and cost. It is my favourite pastime and some might say it verges on being an obsession. I can’t describe how much I enjoy spending time browsing in book shops and libraries, excited at the prospect of finding a book to read that I have never come across before. I have been known to spend several hours at a time in such establishments, (much to the annoyance of my hubby who sadly does not share my passion for reading.)

There is something magical about shelves and shelves of books whether in a bookshop, a library or in someone’s home-I am drawn to them like a moth to a flame.
I love the smell and feel of books, new or old and this is something that cannot be replicated by an ebook reader, however advanced they are.

 I will be totally honest and say that I have never used an ebook reader or even seen one close up and you may, quite justifiably say that I can't possibly dismiss what I don't know. 
I am sure there are many people out there who would argue very strongly in favour of ebooks and I would certainly love to hear your thoughts and opinions equally as much as the ones from those amongst you who are like myself, undecided and apathetic.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Books with impact

Every now and again I read a book that has a profound effect on me. Today I am going to review two such books.

I was at a particularly restless time in my life a few years ago when I read  Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth

I was searching for my life's purpose and thought this could be fulfilled by getting the right job. I spent many hours researching new career paths and tried several options but nothing seemed to feel right and I became more disillusioned.
I had also begun to have a growing dissatisfaction with our society and its obsession with having everything and having it now regardless of the consequences both for ourselves and for our planet.

I was not innocent of this by a long way. In my 20's and early 30's,  I believed that to be happy I needed to have a nice car, a big house and expensive clothes. I constantly lived my life in the future " When we have more money we can..."  or "When the children are older we can....."
Then I discovered "A New Earth" and began to look at life in a very different way.

Since then, I have read it many times and my copy is looking a bit dog-eared now. It is covered in sticky tabs and pencil notes marking my favourite quotes such as this one from p 47
Unease, restlessness, boredom, anxiety, dissatisfaction, are the result of unfulfilled wanting. Wanting is structural, so no amount of content can provide lasting fulfillment as long as that mental structure remains in place.

 A New Earth isn't the easiest book to read but is well worth the effort. Give it a go- you've got nothing to lose!

The second book is Timeless Simplicity by John Lane.

I have just finished reading this and was hooked  from the first paragraph of the introduction.
This is a book about simplicity-not destitution, not parsimoniousness, not self-denial-but the restoration of wealth in the midst of an affluence in which we are starving of the spirit. It is a book about the advantages of living a less cluttered, stressful life than that which many of us now live, in the over-crowded and manic-paced consuming nations.

If any of you are feeling that you need to find a slower pace of life, I recommend that you read this as a good starting point. It is only just over 100 pages long and is a gentle but absorbing read. The book is organised into 6 chapters and covers subjects such as how to reduce expenditure, adopting a positive attitude and following your bliss.

It has taken me many  years of struggling and a recent severe bout of depression for me to finally start to make positive changes to my life. I have given up my job and begun to take pleasure in performing simple activities such as cooking and knitting. These combined with my love of reading and desire to write and I finally feel that I am living the life I should be.
What could you be doing?

If you have read any  books that have had a similar impact on your life I would be very interested to hear about them.

Have a lovely weekend everyone and happy reading

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Review The Piano Teacher : Janice Y K Lee

Once again, I find myself apologising for the tardiness of my latest post. All these Bank Holidays for Easter and the Royal Nuptials have completely thrown out my blogging schedule. They have however given me lots more reading time which is always a good thing and so I have a bit of review catching up to do.

It is my intention to blog much more frequently from now on as I am no longer working and will have more spare time. I just hope that I can produce enough interesting content to entice my followers to read it!

 A couple of weeks ago, I promised a review of The Piano Teacher by Janice Y K Lee and so here it is.

The book is set during two time periods- 1940's and 1950's Hong Kong. It begins in the 1950's and introduces us to Claire Pendleton, a young newlywed who has moved to Hong Kong with her much older husband, Martin. To help pass the time, Claire takes a position as a piano teacher to Locket, daughter of the wealthy Chinese family the Chens. Through them she meets Englishman Will Truesdale, and they begin an affair.

The story continues by moving back in time to Hong Kong, 1941 where we are properly introduced to Will and where we find out about his love for Trudy, a beautiful Eurasian woman and the consequences of this passion.

The Piano Teacher had been on my TBR pile for some time. It was recommended as being in a similar vein to the excellent Shanghai Girls by Lisa See and so I had high hopes that I would find it an excellent read.

However, to begin with, I was a little disappointed as I found the story to be too slow paced. Also when moving between the two time periods, the writing tense changed and at first this irritated me as I found it affected the flow of my reading.

Stubbornly, I persevered and am glad that I did. Looking at WWII from an Eastern perspective introduced me to facts about the war that I was unaware of. Lee's descriptions of life in a prisoner of war camp were detailed enough to give me a sense of the horrendous conditions and suffering of the prisoners without being overly graphic.
Her characters, particularly Will and Trudy, were complex and interesting and helped me to finish the book as I wanted to know what happened to them.
Other than the (in my view unnecessary) tense changes, I found I enjoyed Lee's style of writing and would be tempted to read any of her future novels.

I was a little disappointed with the ending as I seem to be with many of the books that I have read just lately, but overall I enjoyed it. In my own mind I rate a book as being either one that I loved and would definitely read again (10/10) down to one that I hated and didn't bother to finish (0/10) and  would give The Piano Teacher 7/10.