Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Food Glorious Food

This week's Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and the Bookish is a celebration of food in books.

Harry Potter :: From the feasts in the great hall to all the delicious candy featured in Harry Potter, it is hard to choose a favourite food from these books. I did always wish to try butter beer though.

The 100-Foot Journey by Richard C Morais:: A beautiful descriptive exploration of food, from India to France.

Chocolat by Joanne Harris :: My favourite book featuring delectable food because chocolate is my number one. Come to think of it, all of Joanne Harris' books feature richly descriptive foods that will make you increasingly hungry.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen :: Like Chocolat, the food in Garden Spells holds its own type of magic.

Longbourne by Jo Baker :: Told from the servants perspective, Longbourne takes us inside the working quarters of Pride and Prejudice and while this is more about the workings of the kitchen's than a particular type of food, I can't recommend this book enough.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Thoughts on Lolita And Expectations v Reality

I finally got around to reading Nabokov's Lolita. It's take roughly ten years since I first discovered it but really it wasn't for wont of trying. At 19 I had picked it up many times at the library and always ended up shelving it again. It seemed, creepy, and so I always ended up putting it away again. At this stage I knew it was about a grown man who was infatuated with young girls but I hadn't really heard it lauded universally as one of the greatest books ever written.

Well I finally got around to reading it this year and while I enjoyed it, it really was a difficult book for me to make my mind up about. Maybe it was about knowing too much before I went into it. There was no surprise at the character of Humbert Humbert. I knew that I was supposed to fall for his charming ways. I already knew his secret and that he was supposed to charm me into rooting for his unconventional love story.

It's just that it didn't happen that way. I enjoyed the book. I was enamoured with Nabokov's writing. But I didn't really like Humbert Humbert. I didn't find him charming at all and that was kind of the crux of this book. I was supposed to be grappling with liking a character who was doing something legally and morally wrong! It's just that having known all about the book and what I was supposed to be thinking, I ended up feeling the opposite.

I wonder what I would have thought of it ten years ago without the weight of expectation on my shoulder reading it. Ten years ago Lolita was just a book I wanted to read for no other reason than I had heard the name. I enjoyed Lolita. I love Nabokov's writing. Hell, I even had a favourite sentence three pages in (he describes Humbert Humert's father's lineage as a 'salad of racial genes'). I'm just not sure it lived up to the expectation of being the best thing I ever read, which is an unfair pressure.

It can be hard to quieten the noise of others sometimes. I watched a video recently of someone who had just read Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and they had mused on something similar. They just thought it was going to be, more. More what, they weren't sure. I guess that's how I felt about Lolita.

After watching Better Than Food's book review of Lolita, it turns out I'm not the only one. His video says it much more eloquently than me.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Boyfriends

Today's Top Ten Tuesday with the Broke and the Bookish is all about Book Boyfriends. Initially I was going to do the best bookish boyfriends, I've put together a list of my favourite books whose boyfriend characters embody the love is complicated theme. Caution: You may not want to date some of them.

The Course of Love by Alain De Botton :: If you have never read or heard of English philosopher Alain De Botton and are interested in philosophy check out the School of Life series narrated by AdB on Youtube. The Course of Love follows the love story of a couple from the day they meet. Interspersed with reflections and nuggets of philosophy that explain why we make weird decisions in relationships, this is a great read that will get you thinking about the complexities of falling in love.

The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller :: Sometimes the most fleeting of love stories can have the most profound effect on us. A married woman has a brief affair with a photographer and can't forget him. Beautifully written and compelling.

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P by Adelle Waldman :: Nathaniel P might be a bit of a twat (read: he is), but this is a highly entertaining read. Nate's star is on the rise, he's a literary up-and-comer, has an ivy-league education and his pick of women but just can't seem to figure out what it is he wants, until he gets the girl and no longer wants her. You'll probably enjoy reading about Nate the shallow man-child if you also liked About a Boy or High Fidelity, as it's a little in the same vein.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell :: I love how Landline is like a love story in reverse. Georgie and Neal's marriage is crumbling under the pressures of work and kids. When Neal takes their children to Omaha for Christmas and Georgie stays in LA for work, Georgie is forced to re-evaluate her marriage and re-discovers why she fell in love with her husband all over again. Cute.

Sidenote: If you're looking for actual Bookish boyfriends to crush on I would recommend Emma (because Mr Knightly = yes), The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelley or the Outlander series.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Dear Reader by Mary O'Connell

Well this was a fun, cute little read that got a little weird towards the ending. Dear Reader by Mary O'Connell centres around 17-year-old catholic school girl Flannery Fields. Flannery is enamoured with her English teacher Miss Sweeney and their current reading material Wuthering Heights. When Miss Sweeney is a no-show at class one day Flannery makes it her mission to find her missing English teacher.

When the police are called into School, Flannery does all she can to help. She just can't quite part with Miss Sweeney's copy of Wuthering Heights which has transformed into Miss Sweeney's real-time diary. As Flannery sets off for New York City in search of her beloved teacher Flannery meets Heath Cliff, an English university student who helps her on her mission.

The book is told between Flannery's perspective and Miss Sweeney's diary and has the Wuthering Heights-esque use of convoluted language throughout. I did enjoy the flicking back and forward between Miss Sweeney's diary and Flannery's adventure. I remember being surprised that my teachers had a life outside of school. Flannery discovering her teacher's past as a student in New York is very reminiscent of that. It did feel like some of the heavier points of Miss Sweeney's past were glossed over. She is struggling with the death of an ex-boyfriend and taking anti-depressants -  serious issues which I didn't feel were given enough focus, even though they are integral to the ending of the story.

What I did enjoy about Dear Reader was Flannery's chapters were interspersed with thoughts of Miss Sweeney's critiques on her writing, which was very amusing. The ending was where it all fell apart for me though. Without giving too much away the ending felt like it belonged in another book. Flannery set off on her mission to find her teacher but the final chapter didn't seem to fit with her character arc at all which was unexpected and disappointing. Overall, Dear Reader is a cute and easy to read story, but one that didn't quite hit the mark.

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