Tuesday, 30 December 2014

What could be better than Christmas reading?

Not a lot in my opinion. I've been reading a couple of books. Les Mis doesn't seem to have a last page, but I press on all the same. At present there is a revolution in progress and I cannot see it ending well. I have a favourite character, a small street boy, but I'm worried he may end up dead too. I am bracing myself for the end.

I did manage to finish the Cuckoo's Calling, and you can find out what I thought about it here.

Also I did some reading of Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World. I wanted to read this because I enjoyed a biography of Jane Austen and I really like Dickens. It has a more somber feel to it than The Real Jane Austen, but I am interested by what I am reading.

Christmas wouldn't have been complete without some stitching and this is what I managed to get done:

Sunday, 28 December 2014

What's on the Shelf?

Racing Through the Dark - The Fall and Rise of David Millar

A Life's Ambition - Alexandre Dumas

The Journal of Madame Giovanni - Alexandre Dumas

The Prince of Thieves - Alexandre Dumas

Le Tour - Geoffrey Wheatcroft

On Looking - Alexandra Horowitz

Time Warped - Claudia Hammond

The Neapolitan Lovers - Alexandre Dumas

How to find Fulfilling Work - Roman Krznaric

Intuition Pumps and Other Thinking Tools - Daniel C. Dennett

Mastermind - Maria Konnikova

How Children Succeed - Paul Tough

Thinking - edited by John Brockman

Manage Your Day-to Day - edited by Jocelyn K. Glei

Give and Take - Adam Grant

Les Miserables - Victor Hugo 

The Examined Life - Stephen Grosz

Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World - Simon Callow

Saturday, 27 December 2014

It felt a lot like...


Our family tradition is to have Christmas Dinner on Christmas Eve and, if we are feeling adventurous, by candlelight. This year was an adventurous year, although it proved difficult to read the cracker jokes by the light of three candles. Some of us had to wait for the lights to come back on before they could read theirs.

I was thinking about how we all got to be there. My thoughts were a combo of family tree research and remembering all the good things God has done for us (if you can't think about that at Christmas, when can you?). What really made me marvel was how God plans everything out from before time. So in our family, I'm fairly sure that when an illegitimate child was born in 1865 his single mum had no idea that his decendants would have a happy family meal nearly 200 years later. But God knew and had planned it all. 

Which is why Christmas is so brilliant because it is God putting into action part of His plan (a very big part) that He had in mind before the creation of the world. And it was a plan for our good. 

Friday, 26 December 2014

Sofa Spotlight - The Cuckoo's Calling, Robert Galbraith

It's true I've finished it! My second book this month - it would seem that I am on a roll. And this book was genius, one of the best books I've read.

Strike is a private detective who is hired to investigate the "suicide" of a model. There is some doubt about whether it was actually a suicide or not, and that is what Strike is called in to investigate. Crime fiction is not a genre I know much about but I did enjoy this. I couldn't work it out, although I did have a suspicion which turned out to be correct, and I loved that I was on the edge of my seat right until the very end.

Not only is the drama good, and the writing of it is beautiful, but there are some brilliant characters. The relationship between Strike and his temp secretary Robin gives the novel the edge. There is nothing stereotypical about it and there is a lot that is comedic. In some ways the non-romantic nature of their relationship is what makes it refreshing but I think that it does a lot to lighten the tone of the book.

This is one that is definitely well worth a read. I can't wait to read the second one!

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas...

...from the Arm of the Sofa!

I hope it was all you wanted it to be :)

Don't forget to check out my good friend EG's blog http://whimsyandfrip.wordpress.com
It's full of good laughs!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Why Read John Stott?

John Stott died a couple of years ago and he has written more books than you can shake a stick at, but why would you want to read any of them? Here a couple of reasons why I think you should:

1. He has something to say to everyone, no matter what they think of Jesus.

It's true, whether you are a Christian or not, mature in your faith or just working out who Jesus is, there will be a book that he has written that will help you. Basic Christianity is one that I would recommend for everyone.

2. Writers who speak the truth are sometimes hard to find.

There is a lot of people writing books, but how can you know if they are telling the truth when it comes to God? Stott is honest about what he believes, and how he came to believe it. When he isn't sure about something he says so, and he isn't arrogant about his opinions. He is very straightforward and I find it refreshing.

3. It is nice to read something where the writer cares for his reader.

Enough said. Stott wasn't out to make money he was out to save souls.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Bats in the Belfry?

Once again the weather is foul, but I have been able to avoid and spend sometime reading. And stitching of course. Nothing has been finished, but I have started a new book. It is a biography of Charles Dickens, and it is apt that as I write The Mystery of Edwin Drood is on TV. It is one of the few novels by Dickens that I haven't read because I have always been put off by the fact that it was never finished. Having seen the BBC's version I have changed my mind and one day I intend to read it.

With book in one hand and stitching in the other I have managed to finish stitching a bat. Which has already been mistaken for a reindeer. It's fine I shall console myself by tring to finish Les Mis, only 350 pages to go, how hard can it be to get it done by Christmas? 

EG is reading hard to finish our book challenge. I think that out of the two of us she is the only one that stands a chance of accomplishing our goal. I am looking forward to the challenges that we will have next year. They are going to be good, some are more energitic than others. 

I've started to think about life after Les Mis. One of the things that I want to do is watch the film, but I also want to start reading some of the works of Rudyard Kipling. So watch this space.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

What's on the Shelf

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith

Racing Through the Dark - The Fall and Rise of David Millar

A Life's Ambition - Alexandre Dumas

The Journal of Madame Giovanni - Alexandre Dumas

The Prince of Thieves - Alexandre Dumas

Le Tour - Geoffrey Wheatcroft

On Looking - Alexandra Horowitz

Time Warped - Claudia Hammond

The Neapolitan Lovers - Alexandre Dumas

How to find Fulfilling Work - Roman Krznaric

Intuition Pumps and Other Thinking Tools - Daniel C. Dennett

Mastermind - Maria Konnikova

How Children Succeed - Paul Tough

Thinking - edited by John Brockman

Manage Your Day-to Day - edited by Jocelyn K. Glei

Give and Take - Adam Grant

Les Miserables - Victor Hugo 

The Examined Life - Stephen Grosz

Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World - Simon Callow

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Sofa Shelf - What the Dickens!

I have a new book on the shelf:

Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World - Simon Callow

Given how much I liked The Real Jane Austen I thought that the next book I read should be about one of my favourite authors of all time, Charles Dickens. There isn't much of his that I haven't read and, apart from a walking tour of London based on Dickens, I don't know too much about him. So I have hopes that this book will help to continue my education. And what better time to read it than at Christmas, maybe I should re-read A Christmas Carol next!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Bugs and Stuff

I had a very happy weekend curled up with some books and a little bit of stitching too. The weather was perfect for it. I love to read when it is pouring with rain or blowing a gale, or even if it is just cold out there.

Remarkably for me I stuck to just two books, Les Mis and The Cuckoo's Calling. Both are hard to put down, and I think I must be three quarters of the way through both of them. I am now 901 pages into Les Mis and my goal of finishing it before Christmas is becoming more realistic. With less than 100 pages of The Cuckoo's Calling left to go, I still cannot fathom out who the murderer is. It's one that I hope to finish this week - I can bear the suspense no more!

Tomorrow is an exciting day because I will start a new book. I wanted to start it at the weekend but it didn't happen for me. The above explains why. It looks good and I have high hopes for it. You will have to come back soon to find out what it is.

Having finished stitching the badger I moved on to stitch the weird bug below. I got the face a bit wrong, so she has more of an evil expression than the contented face that the pattern showed!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

What's on the Shelf

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith

Racing Through the Dark - The Fall and Rise of David Millar

A Life's Ambition - Alexandre Dumas

The Journal of Madame Giovanni - Alexandre Dumas

The Prince of Thieves - Alexandre Dumas

Le Tour - Geoffrey Wheatcroft

On Looking - Alexandra Horowitz

Time Warped - Claudia Hammond

The Neapolitan Lovers - Alexandre Dumas

How to find Fulfilling Work - Roman Krznaric

Intuition Pumps and Other Thinking Tools - Daniel C. Dennett

Mastermind - Maria Konnikova

How Children Succeed - Paul Tough

Thinking - edited by John Brockman

Manage Your Day-to Day - edited by Jocelyn K. Glei

Give and Take - Adam Grant

Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
The Examined Life - Stephen Grosz

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Star Amnesty

EG and I have lost the star stickers that we need for our chart. Awkward. We also both have at least two stars waiting to go onto the chart. We have both done a little search, but the truth is that the most likely location of the stars is behind the Christmas Tree. Which involves a lot of reaching and possible encounters with spiders.

I can do the reaching but I don't do spiders.

By the end of today I want to have made a decent attempt at getting at least one more star. It's far too cold to go outside so I am wrapping myself in blankets and settling in with The Cuckoo's Calling. The problem is this makes me want to watch either a Poirot or Miss Marple, but I suppose those are nice things to get distracted by.

No doubt I will do some stitching as well, so looks like it is shaping up for a productive yet chilled day. So long as I don't have to take one any spiders!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014


This weekend was much better for reading. I managed to finish a book! Shocking, I know! If you missed the post on Sunday the book that I finished was The Real Jane Austen. I recommend checking it out. To be fair this weekend was the perfect weekend for reading. The weather has taken a turn in the direction of very cold, and the rain and hail has been lashing against the windows. In such weather there is nothing better to do than to curl up in a blanket and read.

Or, stitch. That was my other accomplishment of the weekend. I finished stitching the badger, and it now looks like a badger and not a squirrel or a house. With badger complete I started to stitch something else. Keep your eyes peeled for that!

So with more vile weather forecast, this weekend could prove to be productive on the reading and stitching front. That is, if vast amounts of snow don't trap me away from home. That would be awful. What I am looking forward to the most this weekend is starting a new book. EG knows what it is and is of the opinion that it is good that we will mostly be apart while I read it. Bit rude, but she is probably right. 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Sofa Spotlight - The Real Jane Austen, Paula Byrne

Hooray! I have finished this book! Although I feel hooray is the wrong word for this achievement, as it has been one of those books that I didn't want to end. I feel a bit empty now that it is no longer in my life.

It is hooray though, because it is the first time in over a month that I have finished a book. I will celebrate by adding a star to the chart, just as soon as I find the stars. 

Anyway, this was a book about the life of Jane Austen, but it is a different take on the biography. From reading this book I have learnt not only about Jane Austen's life, but also about the time in which she lived and the events and culture that influenced her writing. It has been an education, but a fun one.

What resonated the most with me from this book was Austen's relationship with her sister Cassandra. When reading this book you get the impression that they had a strong relationship and were the most important people in each other's worlds. That is something that I can relate to and if there had been nothing else good about this book, that fact alone would have kept me reading. But it wasn't the only good thing, as this is a book crammed with gems.

At the end Byrne talks about how some of Austen's life is shrouded in mystery, for instance we are not entirely sure what she looked like. In all I loved this book (EG is glad I have finished it as presumably I will stop raving about it) and it has given me an urge to read all the Jane Austen novels all at once. 

Saturday, 6 December 2014

What if your name was Sherlock?

I'm reading a book called Mastermind: how to think like Sherlock Holmes. Which got me thinking, if you had the brain of Sherlock Holmes what would you do with it? If you had that brain would you use it for solving crime, like Sherlock himself, or would you put it to a different use?

In the original Sherlock Holmes novels, Sherlock has a brother, Mycroft, who has chosen a different career path. If it was me, I think that I would be more inclined to do something other than detective work. I find Mycroft's role in the government more appealing. Or maybe I could use it to write detective novels. There really is no end to the possibilities that have gone through my mind! 

What about you? How would you use Sherlock's mighty brain? Or do you have a favourite line from the original Conan Doyle stories?

I once spent a summer reading my way through all the Sherlock Holmes stories. It was a good way to spend a summer and reading them all in succession helped to give me a feel for the characters of Holmes and Watson. I think that I was not only shocked by the stupidity of Watson, which I already knew about, but the arrogance of Holmes that was almost absurd. Well worth the read.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Book that Lasts Forever

Les Mis is in no way a short book. I am 775 pages in of 1232 and fast losing the certainty I had of finishing it by Christmas. Having said that, it is a good book and one that I am enjoying. I know nothing of the story but the title and what people have told me about it makes me despair of a happy ending.

As well as reading Les Mis I have also been stitching my badger. Unfortunately my badger has now not only been mistaken for a squirrel but now also a house. I am very nearly finished so hopefully it looks a bit more like a badger.

EG is still feeling confident of a victory in our competition. On Saturday she managed to get two stars in one day. I can't remember the last time I got a star. I was also impeded in my reading by having to put up the Chritmas Tree, and by that I mean that I wasn't able to sit on the sofa for a while as EG decorated. It was still a productive evening as EG went on to wrap all the presents that I have bought. In my mind there is nothing worse than wrapping presents. Sadly though I still have to wrap the one's for EG. She did get to choose the wrapping paper though, it is pretty crazy! See below for a sample.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Book of the Month November '14

Or not. Because you have probably noticed that I didn't manage to finish a single book in November. Not one! I am shocked.

So please accept my apologies for this shambles of a month. I can promise you that December will see some completed books. Les Miserables can't last forever (although at times it feels like it could do) and I am close to finishing a few others. Over the next couple of weeks there should be posts about The Real Jane Austen and The Cuckoo's Calling. So keep watch for those.

Because I am so appalled at my lack of reading, I am going to eat a consolatory piece of fudge. I suggest that you do so too. (Chocolate and other sweet items such as mince pies and peanut butter are also acceptable.) Sorry folks.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

When you start a book and then forget that it exists...

This has sort of happened to me. I noticed that this had happened last night when I accidentally kicked my huge pile of books over. It was a bit of a loud crash, the intrusive sort. What made the whole thing even more unfortunate is that it happened while EG was trying to tell me a story. EG already doesn't like the stack of books - she thinks that it is ridiculous - and was so disgusted by the collapse that she walked out of the room.

While I was picking up the books I noticed one that I hadn't seen for a while. It was Intuition Pumps and Other Thinking Tools. I can remember starting it, and maybe I was liking it, but I honestly have no idea. What worries me is that I might just have to start it again. In my mind there is nothing worse than that.

In other news EG and I may have underestimated how many stars we would need for the chart. It looks like we are going to run out soon, may have to get some more in. EG is now on 54, only 12 more for her to read to reach her target. We have extended our deadline to the end of the year - mainly for my benefit so that I can catch up a bit. EG is adamant that I won't catch up, and as I have only read 29 she may have a point.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

For all my American friends out there, Happy Thanksgiving!! For one day only will I overlook the events of 1776. In terms of what I have been reading this week nothing could be less American! I've been dipping in and out of The Real Jane Austen.

This is a book that you have to read if you want to get a feel for the world in which Jane Austen lived. I am hoping that I will finish it either this weekend or sometime next week, so I don't want to steal my own thunder, but I can't help telling you a little bit more about it! I think EG is despairing about how obsessed that I have become about it.

I think the reason that I like it so much is that it has a wider scope than just Jane Austen's life. Bryne puts her life into the context of the time that she was living and I find it interesting to see what events may have influenced her novels. The thing that blew my mind the most was the house that may have actually inspired Pemberley, and it isn't Chatsworth. Check out the link below to see the suggestion that Bryne makes. You will have to read it to find out why she thinks it is a candidate. 

Last weekend we also went to see the Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1. I have to say that I enjoyed it, and for those of you wondering I think that it was fairly faithful to the book. My favourite part was when there was a scene that made a lot of people jump. EG was sat on one side of me and she jumped, as did the people we didn't know on the other side of me. I was not shocked by what had happened, but ended up jumping anyway because everyone jumping made me jump! What a sheep I am!

In the film Katniss sings a song that I have become a little bit obsessed with, and I have discovered that I only have to sing the first line for it to get stuck in EG's head. Oh how it annoys her. Anyway if you haven't seen or read any of the Hunger Games trilogy make it a priority to do so at once. Eating is optional, reading the Hunger Games is not.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

All Work and no Play?

This week I picked up How to Find Fulfilling Work for the first time in a long time. I am very close to finishing it so I will do a proper post on it hopefully sometime next week. But thinking about work got me thinking about some of the silly things that I have done whilst at work.

By far the silliest was when I managed to get myself stuck in the loft. I was trying to be helpful and save time for my colleague, but it ended up causing more problems than it solved. Getting up there wasn't a problem, nor was finding the stuff that she needed. It wasn't until I was trying to get down that I realised that I had a problem.

For some reason I hadn't noticed that I was semi afraid of heights, and that the gap between the loft and the ladder was more than I was comfortable with. After a great deal of procrastination I summoned up the courage to get myself out and was very glad that I didn't need to take my colleague up on her offer to catch me!

Other silly things that I have done include stapling reports to my sleeve and sending large quantities of envelopes to the wrong address. Thankfully both of these mishaps were fixable.

I have heard some embarrassing work related stories that are considerably more funny than the above. If you have one to share and want to give us all a giggle, comment below and tell all.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

It's all about the French Literature

If you've seen the latest What's on the Shelf you may have noticed that a few books on the shelf were originally written in French. By sheer coincidence a couple of them are set at around the same time. So Les Miserables has a character that is a veteran of Waterloo. (I know this because I have just put that book down and in the part I was reading he was shouting about his experiences at Waterloo.) But then I'm reading The Neapolitan Lovers which features Admiral Nelson as a character.

In true Dumas style The Neapolitan Lovers is shaping up to be comedic, and unbelievable yet convincing all at the same time. It defiantly has something to do with the way Dumas tells. There is a classic scene about a counsel for war with a King who would rather be hunting and a Queen who wants to get her own way. My favourite character at this point would have to be the brave huntsman who stands underneath the window and sounds his hunting horn, much to the aggravation of the King.

I do worry that come Christmas I will have a very mixed up idea of French history. Well the military side of it anyway.

Monday, 17 November 2014

How a cat took a shine to my feet while I was reading

This weekend I went to EG's home, partly to watch the Christmas lights being switched on, but also to enjoy her mum's amazing cooking. (There is no understatement there, it was brill). Given how much EG raves about how she loves to sit in her  house and read, I thought it would be rude not to experience for myself this wonderful reading location. And she was right. It was perfect. Apart from the couple of times Merlin tried to pounce on my feet. I successfully removed my feet from the over ambitious cat.

As far as Christmas lights went they were pretty good, although Santa was a bit over zealous ringing his bell. And the lantern parade looked as though every child in the world had got their parents to make two lanterns. At points I didn't think it would end, but it was a fun afternoon all the same.

When I've not been reading I have been stitching. Below is the badger that I am working on, although earlier last week it was mistaken for a squirrel. I can't think why! It has to be said that it is not my favourite stitching project. When I started I thought it would be quick because it was only small. How wrong I was! This is my third week of working on it!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Why Short Chapters can be a Blessing and a Curse

What I like about Les Mis is the short chapters, but what I also hate about Les Mis is the short chapters. Let me explain. A short chapter is good when you want to read only a small amount, but bad if that means that you think to yourself, "it's ok I'll just read one more chapter - they're only short". Because when you fall into that trap you end up staying up far too late, and also I seem to forget that I am reading other books. 

Last weekend, my copy of Les Mis had a tour of York. It didn't see much of York (or the three different Cafe Neros that we visited) because York was just too interesting. It did however witness the three of us having problems getting to our travel lodge because the one road to it had been closed. This is us being escorted by a highway maintenance vehicle, because that was the only way we could get there: 

It took us two hours to do a journey that should have taken ten minutes! And EG and I were worried that we would arrive at the travel lodge too early and be bored due to lack of entertainment. If only we had known. 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Family Trees and all that

I didn't read much/anything on Saturday. Which sort of shocked me to the core, as my plan had been to read as much as possible. But I got very distracted, both by war and ice cream.

Saturday morning saw me investigating my great uncle who died in France in 1918. I've always known that there was a great uncle who died somewhere in France, but I didn't know anything about him. Turns out he was Lance Corporal Herbert Frederick Lawrence and he was killed in action May 1918 aged just 21. This sent me on a bit of a research maze and I found out that his battalion had only recently arrived in France after spending some time in Italy.

Later in the afternoon we have a letter through the door informing us that the house we live in was a house that lost someone in the first world war. Seems to be the day for WW1 one research so I have a sneaky look at a census to see if I can figure out who lived here back then. Found out that seven people were living in our house in 1901. There are three of us living here now and we feel cramped, also we have an extension that they wouldn't have had!

After all that research (including boring EG to death with most of it) ice cream was required by all. Beautiful. Spent the rest of the evening drawing up my family tree, because if ever there was a day for family history it was Saturday.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Book of the Month - October '14

This month has only been marginally better than September as I managed to finish three books this month:

Possession - A. S. Byatt
The Cross of Christ - John Stott
A Book of Narrative Verse - compiled by V. H. Collins

Neither A Book of Narrative Verse or Possession did much to change my life, however The Cross of Christ did. Thus is makes to book of the month for October '14. You can find out why I liked it so much here, but the best thing that you can do is to read it for yourself.

What I will say about it is that, although the book is a doorstop, it is rammed full of good stuff that it is well worth working through. The good thing about this book is that it is so well written that you can forget that you are reading a book that is full of serious material. But it does mean that thinking about how Christ's life and death affects you is unavoidable.

Friday, 31 October 2014

The Sofa Shelf

There is a new book on the shelf this week:

Having only read one page I can say very little about it yet. All the same it has joined the other books on the shelf and at some point will get my attention. Of late my attention has been taken by the heavy smell of menthol as EG has fully become the bug ridden snuffle monster! Hopefully this weekend will see her return to health, and me finishing some of the books that I have started - there is hope!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Rise of the Bug Ridden Snuffle Monster

Or how Jane Austen cured my cold.

I enjoyed my extra hour in bed this weekend by waking up at three in the morning with a sore throat. It has been a case of me sounding worse than I feel, but it has meant that I have had all the annoying stuff that comes with having a cold. Bleugh. So Les Miserables was the only suitable thing to read because I did feel miserable (granted probably not as miserable as the characters in this book who have so far spent most of their lives in proverty). EG kindly named me the bug ridden snuffle monster.

So having snuffled my way through work on Monday, I settled down for fifteen minutes of reading Les Miserables only to be interrupted by EG who decided that we should watch Air Crash Investigators, and I have to confess that because of where I am up to in Les Miserables this was the most interesting option of the two. Also one of the pilots had a cold, and at that moment I could empathise.

Having watched half of the programme, I went to spend the rest of the evening watching Bones. Which is brilliant, although my friend and I always make the mistake of sitting down to eat just as they find the body and thus we eat less because we feel so sick. Due to the increasing amount of snuffling that I was producing we didn't watch as much as normal, but it did make me feel better. Bones always makes me feel better, but in this case it could have been the half bar of chocolate that I managed to consume.

Last night the snuffle monster began to retreat, and I enjoyed reading a bit of The Real Jane Austen. So at the moment of writing I think it must be Jane Austen that helped cure my cold. Although it has to be said that the title of bug ridden snuffle monster has now been transferred to EG.

Looking back at the weekend I am disappointed that the snuffle monster stole some reading time, but I did still manage to finish A Book of Narrative Verse, so not all was lost.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

What's on the Shelf?

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith

Racing Through the Dark - The Fall and Rise of David Millar

A Life's Ambition - Alexandre Dumas

The Journal of Madame Giovanni - Alexandre Dumas

The Prince of Thieves - Alexandre Dumas

Le Tour - Geoffrey Wheatcroft

On Looking - Alexandra Horowitz

Time Warped - Claudia Hammond

The Neapolitan Lovers - Alexandre Dumas

How to find Fulfilling Work - Roman Krznaric

Intuition Pumps and Other Thinking Tools - Daniel C. Dennett

Mastermind - Maria Konnikova

How Children Succeed - Paul Tough

Thinking - edited by John Brockman

Manage Your Day-to Day - edited by Jocelyn K. Glei

Give and Take - Adam Grant

Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

The Real Jane Austen - Paula Byrne

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Sofa Spotlight - A Book of Narrative Verse, compiled by V. H. Collins

At last! I have been reading this book since March and it has been a drag. Just to give you an idea of my pain, have a glance at the list below that I have had to wade through (I've stared the ones that I liked):

The Nonne Preestes Tale - Geoffrey Chaucer
The Pardoners Tale - Geoffrey Chaucer

I don't know who wrote these:
King John and the Abbot of Canterbury
Sir Patrick Spens
Thomas the Rhymer
Edom o'Gordon
Young John
Jock o' the Side
Edward, Edward
Mary Ambree
The Battle of Otterburn

The Cave of Despair - Edmund Spenser
Sin and Death - John Milton
Cymon and Iphigenia - John Dryden
The Hermit - Thomas Parnell
The Rape of the Lock - Alexander Pope
*John Gilpin - William Cowper
Peter Grimes - George Crabbe
Tom o'Shanter - Robert Burns
*Michael - William Wordsworth
Flodden - Sir Walter Scott
*The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Prisoner of Chillon - Lord Byron
The Eve of St Agnes - John Keats
The Keeping of the Bridge - Lord Macaulay
Maud - Lord Tennyson
*Morte d'Arthur - Lord Tennyson
The Italian in England - Robert Browning
'Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came' - Robert Browning
The Glove - Robert Browning
*Sohrab and Rustum - Matthew Arnold
The White Ship - Dante Gabriel Rossetti
*Atlanta's Race - William Morris
St. Dorothy - Algernon Charles Swinburne
The Ballad of 'Beau Brocade' - Austen Dobson
The Sacrilege - Thomas Hardy
Ticonderoga - Robert Louis Stevenson
A Ballad of John Nicolson
Tomlinson - Rudyard Kipling
The Battle of Stamford Bridge - Laurence Binyon
Lepanto - Gilbert Keith Chesterton
John Masefield - The Rider at the Gate
*The Highwayman - Alfred Noyes

I suppose that poetry lovers out there would see heaven in that list. As you can see I didn't like much of what I read, although I liked Wordsworth, so maybe not all is lost. What surprise me about Atlanta's Race is that it reminded me of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Wonderbook & Tanglewood Tales and that may have been why I enjoyed it.

 My favourite was The Highwayman although that probably has more to do with hearing my Dad recite it when I was a child. I think that for me it might be that I need to hear the poetry out loud in order to appreciate it. However, I am not quite ready to put this theory to the test just yet. A break is required, lasting some time.

What do you think of the above list? Have you read any of them, what did you think of what you read? I am more than willing to have my mind changed, but I'm not sure it will happen.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Reading on the Shelf

Not much has been happening this week, but here are my highlights:

I started a new book - it's called The Real Jane Austen by Paula Bryne. You can find the two posts that I spent raving about it here, and here. I'm hoping to get to read some more this weekend, but at the minute I'm caught up in the France/Paris of Les Miserables so who knows what will happen. 

This week also saw me edge ever closer to finishing A Book of Narrative Verse. Now only twenty pages from the end, which equates to five and a half poems, I am determined that this weekend will see me reach the finish line. There are few books which I have been glad to see the back of, but this will definitely be one of them.

In case there is worry that another large book has been added to the shelf and may cause its imminent collapse, I managed to get one finished. The Cross of Christ by John Stott made an appearance in the Sofa Spotlight this week, you can check out my thoughts here.

I also discovered that I need a new bookcase, or alternatively start selling some of my books. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Sofa Spotlight - The Cross of Christ, John Stott

Well this doorstop has been checked off the list. I had a real sense of achievement when I finished this one. (Evident in that I have felt the need to tell most people all about it when I see them). This is a thirteen chapter book (well fourteen if you count the conclusion, which is not in any way brief - definitely classes as a comprehensive conclusion), but I wouldn't recommend reading one a day.

In part because I think it would take all day to read a chapter and then re-read parts because you either didn't understand what Stott said or because it was so profound that it almost made you cry. So in the interests of day to day living you might want to think of a new plan. If I was to read it again/when I read it again I would maybe go for a chapter a week, in order to get plenty of thinking time.

So what is it about? It is about understanding why the cross is central to Christianity. Something that Stott thought was important. In the early chapters he talks about how you cannot avoid the centrality of the cross when dealing with Christianity, and this was in Jesus' mind too. Stott gives a very detailed description of what happened on the cross, dealing with who was responsible and what Jesus' attitude and reaction to the cross was. This was the bit that almost made me cry.

The middle chapters are where it gets tricky and serious concentration is needed. In essence they look at why the cross was the only solution to the problem of sin, and how it works. On the whole I understood it, but it was mind bending and took some time to get my head around. The key thing to remember in these chapters, and what Stott keeps repeating, is that sin is serious - certainly more serious than I realise.

At the end three or four chapters were given to application, starting with what it means to have a right view of ourselves - we are not worthy of what God has done for us, but nor are we worthless. He works through applications for loving our enemies, and how the cross sheds light on why we suffer. Bringing it all to a close he describes how the cross has something to say to every part of our lives. The cross is central.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

What's on the Shelf?

A Book of Narrative Verse - compiled by V. H. Collins

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith

Racing Through the Dark - The Fall and Rise of David Millar

A Life's Ambition - Alexandre Dumas

The Journal of Madame Giovanni - Alexandre Dumas

The Prince of Thieves - Alexandre Dumas

Le Tour - Geoffrey Wheatcroft

On Looking - Alexandra Horowitz

Time Warped - Claudia Hammond

The Neapolitan Lovers - Alexandre Dumas

How to find Fulfilling Work - Roman Krznaric

Intuition Pumps and Other Think Tools - Daniel C. Dennett

Mastermind - Maria Konnikova

How Children Succeed - Paul Tough

Thinking - edited by John Brockman

Manage Your Day-to Day - edited by Jocelyn K. Glei

Give and Take - Adam Grant

Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

The Cross of Christ - John Stott

The Real Jane Austen - Paula Byrne

Saturday, 18 October 2014

How Time got a little bit Warped

Last week I spent about an hour and a half in A&E. Somehow though it felt much longer. Let's face it, watching the waiting room TV with the sound off is only interesting for a little while. On the other hand I could spend the same amount of time reading a book, or watching a film (with the sound on), and it would only feel like a couple of minutes had passed. I know that waiting rooms are boring and that reading books are interesting and so that affects how I perceive time, but why?

Thus I started reading this book:

Time Warped - Claudia Hammond

I'm nearly 100 pages and it is sort of blowing my mind. If you have wondered about what I said above then this book may answer your ponderings. There are only six chapters and each one has an interesting title, but the chapter that I am really looking forward to reading is Chapter Four - Why Does Time Speed As You Get Older? Because that is true - Christmas comes round quicker each year - what I want to know is if there is a way to slow it down, just so I can have longer to do Christmas shopping!

This week I am looking forward to having time to read on...

Friday, 17 October 2014

Best Austen Novel?

Just in case you missed it yesterday, I have started a new book, The Real Jane Austen by Paula Bryne. Check out yesterday's ravings here. But today I was thinking, what is my favourite Austen novel? I would say that I am torn between Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, but then can you get better than Pride and Prejudice?

So while I ponder this, probably for some time, I wondered what you would say was your favourite Jane Austen novel. Comment below, and tell me why too!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Sofa Shelf - Regency comes to the Shelf

This week I have added a new book to the shelf:

The Real Jane Austen - Paula Byrne 

I'm worried that there might be fake Jane Austens in the world. But apparently that isn't what this book is about - I was a little bit disappointed at no fake Jane Austens but having read some of it I don't mind too much. Biographies are not my normal reading material but I thought it was about time that I learnt something about Jane Austen.

So far I am a prologue and two chapters in. The prologue worried me, I thought it might turn out to be a boring book. Byrne introduces her biography as one that will portray Jane Austen differently to how biographies have portrayed her in the past. Hence the title.

The first two chapters have eased my mind about it being dull. They are far from it! The first chapter (The Family Profile) is about the sort of household that she grew up in. The chapter title sort of gave that away. I had no idea that she had a brother who was adopted by a wealthy family. It will be my lack of knowledge about Austen that will make me excited to read this book, and from what I've read so far, Byrne's style will not slow me down.

I know I haven't read much, so now might not be the time to be deciding on a favourite chapter, but chapter two (The East Indian Shawl) has been my favourite so far. It isn't directly about Austen, but about her Aunt, who went to India to look for a husband, and her cousin Eliza. Eliza provides a connection between Austen and the French revolution and the whole chapter shows what was influencing Austen's writing.

Good stuff so far.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Reading on the Shelf

Reading over the past couple of days has been made up of Les Mis. So much so that it has started to creep into my dreams. I think the problem is that I've been reading it in bits and pieces at every possible (and sometimes impossible) opportunity, The other night I was sure that I spotted Jean Valjean carrying Cosette, and creeping across the edge of my dream.

My plan is to have a break from Les Mis and who knows, the next post might be about another (yes another) book that I want to start soon.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

A chance to steal the lead...

This week I have discovered that EG is not making much reading progress. What happened was that she had to read a book for the book club that she goes to and she disliked it so much that it has put her off reading for a while.

She is trying to get back into, and this morning there was evidence that she was reading for pleasure again. However, the time that she has lost may help me to close the gap between us. My problem is that the books I am reading could double for doorstops. But I did get one star on the chart when I finished Possession last week.

We will just have to see what happens...

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Reading on the Shelf - A Fractured Affair

This past week I've not managed to read much. I have managed to read a bit from these:

A Book of Narrative Verse - edited by V. H. Collins

The end is finally in sight - who knows I might even finish it this week!

On Looking - Alexandra Horowitz

I talked about this book in a post last week.

Give and Take - Adam Grant

This week I've learnt about one of the people behind The Simpsons and why he was successful. A lot to be learned there.

Possession - A. S. Byatt

One that I finished, find out what I thought about it here. Since finishing it I found a new use for the book that involved the death of a spider.

Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Or Les Miserableness as spell check just tried to change it to. Have to say that this has been a good surprise, I'm not half way through yet but I like the story of Jean Valjean. I knew nothing about the story before reading this book, well apart from falling asleep during the film, so I'm enjoying the unknown.

Also this week I learnt how to do french knots. I feel very pleased with myself, but it was a stressful experience. Not, as I thought at first. from the learning of how to do the stitch, but from the intensity of the shopping channel we had put on for background noise.

Speaking of stress this week saw me have a potential stress fracture on a bone in my foot. To be fair it probably happened last week but it wasn't until yesterday that I thought it might be a good idea to get it looked at. It might not be broken, but I may have a fracture, either way it means no cycling for a while, which is sad. Also getting up and down stairs is tricky.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Sofa Spotlight - Possession, A. S. Byatt

What's it about?

First of all I think that I should say that this book was the winner of the Booker Prize. I've also heard mixed reviews of it in the past. Some people love it (those who decided that it should win the Booker Prize probably did) and some people hate it. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground.

So I feel quite pleased that I finished this book a week earlier than I thought I would, and that I didn't get stuck in it. When I started it I was worried that I would be reading it forever and that I would hate it. But I don't. Nor do I love it. I'm somewhere in the middle.

What is it about? It is about some letters that were written by two Victorian poets that were discovered by accident by two academics. The nature of the letters could mean that all that has been written about the poets will need to be looked at again and possibly rewritten. What the book does is to follow the romance of the Victorian poets as it provides a mirror for the growing relationship between the two academics.

In some ways this book is clever, and the story line gave me enough to want to get to the end and unravel the mystery. And I did enjoy the ending, it resolved both stories and had a good bit of drama to round it all off. It involves a church graveyard in the middle of the night - can you get a more spooky setting?

What was good?

This isn't a light read, but it is worth working through. When I started it I wasn't sure that I was going to like any of the characters, and by the end I still didn't have a favourite, but I was warming up to them. Looking back there was probably one minor character (who is actually a real person so not a character at all) that I liked more than any of the others. She was a cousin (I think) of one of the Victorian poets (Christabel Lamotte) who lived in Brittany and helped her farther welcome Lamotte into their home when she was hiding from Randolph Henry Ash (the other Victorian poet in all this). I liked her (her name is Sabine) because she came close to unraveling the mystery of Lamotte and Ash and it was her that made me want to know what was going on.

What was bad?

One of the worries that I had when I started this book was that it was a novel about poetry. And we all know how I feel about poetry! Most of the time my fears were unfounded, but what I did find hard about this book was that there were chapters that were made up of poetry. Sadly these chapters were lost on me, but I do not doubt that they add something to the novel. Some parts of the book were made up of the letters and journals of the two poets, which I found heavy going to get through. The only journals that I enjoyed reading were those of Sabine, and Ash's wife.

Who is it for?

I suppose the obvious answer is people who enjoy the work of Ash and/or Lamotte. But if you enjoy novels that have two story lines running through it simultaneously this could be one for you.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Walking through a Book

A book that I've been enjoying this week is On Looking by Alexandra Horowitz. The idea behind the book is that when we walk around our towns and cities, they have become so familiar to us that we stop looking at them properly. Horowitz in her book decides to take a walk with a few different people, all who look for different things when they walk and probably notice more than the rest of us.

So I've been trying to take more notice of what is around me when I am out and about. The problem is that I make this resolution when I am reading the book, but by the time I go out I have forgotten all about it. Thus I haven't noticed anything extra just yet, but I am working on it and will keep you posted.

The chapter that I have enjoyed the most so far was one about noticing the signs of animal life. I'm guessing there is just as much animal life in UK cities as there is in American citites. I am on the lookout for signs of animal neighbours, but hopefully not rats. Next door have a cat, but that is all I have seen so far.

A rabbit would be nice.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Book of the Month - September '14

It isn't a good month when I only finish two books! So out of the two books that I managed to finish, book of the month goes to Basic Christianity by John Stott. A few years ago it celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, which given how readable and relevant it is, isn't that surprising.

What Stott aims to do in this book is to explain the beliefs that form the foundations of Christianity. If you are a new Christian this would be a good one to help you get your head around who Jesus is, and how Christianity is built on Him.

You can find out more about what I think about this book here. What I would say is that this book is worth taking the time to read. You will need to sit down with paper and pen, and maybe read some bits twice, but the extra time you give to it will be well worth it.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Why I keep Dreaming that I'm in the Tour de France!

In case you missed it I went to see the Tour de France this summer:

EG loved it!

So what better book to read than Le Tour by Geoffrey Wheatcroft. This book was first published in 2003 but it was updated for the 2013 Tour - so a good choice I thought. The only drawback is that I keep dreaming about the Tour de France, sometimes I'm meant to be in it but am late, other times I'm just watching. Fine, but stressful if you're late because you are being chased by an Egyptian statute that came to life when you broke into an Egyptian tomb.

Anyway in Le Tour I have reached 1935. Only a few more years to go until I see some names that I recognise. You may have seen that this isn't the only cycling book that I'm reading. What I am hoping this book will do is to help me understand how cycling became the sport that it was when David Millar turned pro. Between us EG and I have collected a number of books about Lance Armstrong and the doping scandal surrounding him. I don't want to start on reading them until I have finished this book and have a better idea of how the sport developed.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

When a Hardback Really is a Hardback

Another book that I have been reading is The Prince of Thieves by Alexander Dumas (it seems to be Dumas week!) At only 126 pages I thought this would be a quick read, but several months on I am only just over half way through. This is because the publishers went for a column layout for each page. Oh and really small text. So I reckon if this was a normal book with normal layout it would be twice the size. Thus I feel justified in having taken so long with it.

When I first got the book the first two things that I noticed were the interesting picture on the front cover and the thickness of the cover. It is the thickness of a board book that you would buy for a baby.

So as anyone would do with a book I flipped it over to read the blurb. But there was no blurb. Instead an ad for lifebuoy soap, which I've just found out still exists.

Anyway I shall continue to work my way through this odd book. The storyline of the book is also interesting and definitely not what I was expecting, but that is a story for another post.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Who is Madame Giovanni?

I've been trying to read The Journal of Madame Giovanni by Alexandre Dumas. It is a travel journal of a French lady who goes with her husband to New Zealand and from there to various other places. Travel writing is not my cup of tea on a normal day, but I love Dumas so much that I was willing to give it a try.

A brilliant front cover!
As I have read on I cannot help but wonder who Madame Giovanni is. The account that Dumas gives has rings true of being not just fiction but reality. So I am wondering if Madame Giovanni was a real person, maybe with a different name.

Having pondered this for some time, it occurred to me that there might be a note or something in the book that would tell me if Madame Giovanni is real. And lo there was. A little note in the front of the book tells me that it is a record of her adventures and that she has changed her name to avoid being recognised.

So now I can continue reading, no longer plagued by thoughts of who Madame Giovanni might be.

If only I had thought to check the front of the book sooner...

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

What League?

For a while now I have been reading A Life's Ambition by Alexandre Dumas. This has been fun, and very easy to read, even if I am worried that my copy is about to fall to pieces! It hasn't fallen apart yet and I hold out hope. The main character M. Gustave, an aspiring actor, travels around a lot - often not by choice. I have no problem with the travelling, but I do have a problem with his travelling in leagues.

Until recently (this last week) I did not know how long a league was. It's very difficult to sympathise with a character who has to walk eight leagues or so if you don't how far that is. However, thanks to my cunning idea of reading Les Mis I have discovered that a league is just over three miles.

Hooray! With this knowledge I can read on with peace of mind. For those of you out there that have also been wondering how far a league is, I bet you are relieved to have finally found out. That is if you didn't do the sensible thing in the first place and google it, rather than waiting for the slight possibility that another book might explain it for you. Or you might not care how long a league is - in which case you can carry on with life uninterrupted by this news.

Monday, 22 September 2014

More Mountains to Climb

Announcing a preview of a challenge to come in 2015!

For my birthday this year EG bought me a book called 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs or something like that. Well next year we are thinking that we may try and do some of those climbs (probably not all of them though - that would be excessive).

I am defiantly more excited about this than EG. Training has begun on the hill outside our house. Improvement is going to be needed before we tackle the challenge. 

Oh forgot to say, we intend to eat coffee and cake with each climb - probably after the climb in order to avoid seeing the cake again.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

What you get when you mix books with cycling

A book about cycling that is what you get. In case anyone has forgotten, EG and I went to see the Tour de France this summer:

Apart from the excitement of seeing Mark Cavendish (he is in the pic to the left) and of course Froome we got excited about seeing some weird stuff too:

A car in the shape of a clock. Why? Who thought that that was a good idea?

I've been reliving my Tour de France memories as I have been watching the Vuelta a Espana. I've also been reading David Miller's autobiography Racing Through the Dark. He wasn't racing in the Tour de France, but the Vuelta was his final Grand Tour before he retires. At the end of the final stage's time trial he was very emotional, understandably. I'm enjoying reading his autobiography, and although I am glad that he came back to the world of cycling after his drugs ban, I am sad that he is now going to retire.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

It would be a Crime...

I've been reading The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (about half way through it) and as my first experience of crime fiction it has been a good introduction. However, it will be a tough act to follow. Galbraith aka J K Rowling is planning the Cormoran Strike detective novels to be a seven book series. The second one The Silkworm, is already out. Thankfully I have it lined up for when I finish the first one, thanks to a loan from a friend.

I've never read the Harry Potter novels, and they don't appeal to me enough for me to ever read them. So I have no idea how the writing style in the Cormoran Stike novels compares to that in the Harry Potter books. I suppose if you want to know that you will have to read them both for yourself.

One of the reasons I've never read crime fiction is because I was worried that they would not measure up to what I thought of as a good read. Well, I got that one wrong. But I have taken reading this one slow because I do have that small fear in the back of my mind that I will be disappointed.

The second half won't take me as long to read because there will come a point when I just want to know who did it. Have you read it? What did you think? Don't spoil the ending though.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The doorstop problem

Well it's a problem for EG. I don't see it as a problem. I have all the books that I'm reading stacked up by the side of the sofa, they reach the top and I can use the stack as a shelf. An actual sofa shelf. Brilliant. EG says that if I have to read multiple books at once I could at least avoid reading books the size of doorstops. She could have a point - she is way ahead with the reading challenge.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Sofa Shelf

I have one new book on the shelf this week - trying to pace myself!

The Cross of Christ - John Stott

I've started it and got about three chapters in. The chapters that I have read have been about the centrality of the cross to Christianity, why Christ died and who was responsible for His death. It is a bit of a doorstop, but so far more readable than I first thought that it would be. Anyway should be a quicker read than Les Mis!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

What's on the Shelf?

A Book of Narrative Verse - compiled by V. H. Collins

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith

Racing Through the Dark - The Fall and Rise of David Millar

A Life's Ambition - Alexandre Dumas

The Journal of Madame Giovanni - Alexandre Dumas

The Prince of Thieves - Alexandre Dumas

Le Tour - Geoffrey Wheatcroft

On Looking - Alexandra Horowitz

Time Warped - Claudia Hammond

The Neapolitan Lovers - Alexandre Dumas

How to find Fulfilling Work - Roman Krznaric

Intuition Pumps and Other Think Tools - Daniel C. Dennett

Mastermind - Maria Konnikova

How Children Succeed - Paul Tough

Thinking - edited by John Brockman

Manage Your Day-to Day - edited by Jocelyn K. Glei

Give and Take - Adam Grant

Possession - A. S. Byatt

Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Why I don't like poetry but enjoyed the Rime of the Ancient Mariner

If you have been following my progress through A Book of Narrative Verse you will know that I have been finding it hard work. You will also know that I am not a fan of poetry.

Why? I have no idea. It may be because I am unwilling, or too lazy to work out and fully appreciate what the poem means. I persist with it because I don't want to miss out on something beautiful.

This morning that persistence paid off. I read the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. My Dad likes this poem and when I was growing up he would quote lines from it. When he quoted them it sounded like those words reverberated through time. I think at some point he studied the poem.

I also know a little bit about Coleridge. I think he used to turn up at Wordsworth's house to indulge his opium habit. Something his wife didn't appreciate, hence why he didn't do it at home.

Anyway when I came to read it this morning I found that I could understand it and that I enjoyed it. In my mind I was all at sea with the Ancient Mariner and the Albatross! Maybe I need to know something about the poem and the poet before I try reading poetry.

Friday, 12 September 2014

An extension...

EG and I were supposed to bring our book challenge to an end at the end of September. However, neither of us are going to achieve our targets. So, our new plan is to give ourselves until the end of the year. EG has read 37 of 64 and is probably more likely to reach her target than I am! I have only read 27 of 66. In the new year we will try some new challenges. Will let you know what they are soon...

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The Top Ten

I got nominated on Facebook to do this:

“Pick 10 books that have impacted your life. Don't take more than a few minutes and do not think too hard. They do not have to be the 'right' books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way. Tag 10 friends and include me so I can see your list." 

So I thought that I would put what I wrote on here as well as on facebook:

1. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy - because when I read it I had no idea about Russian literature and I loved it, although I failed to read it in under two weeks as I had planned.

2. In Cold Blood - Truman Capote - because in a weird way it is compelling and has stuck with me ever since I first read it in 2009. 

3. North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell - because both the book and the film make me homesick.

4. The Screwtape Letters - C. S. Lewis - because I think it is pure genius. Well done Mr Lewis. 

5. Thinking for a Change - John C. Maxwell - because it was given to me when I was 15 and I still remember much of it. It is probably responsible for my lists, sorry Em! 

6. The Black Tulip - Alexandre Dumas - because what happens in this book is ridiculous and could never happen in real life but Dumas makes me believe that it is real.

7. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins - because I thought that I would hate this book and I ended up not being able to put it down.

8. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens - because my mum made me read it when I was twelve and it opened up a new world of reading for me. I'm sorry now that I was so reluctant to try it.

9. Year of Wonders - Geraldine Brooks - because it was different to what I normally read and I enjoyed it more than I thought. 

10. Beau Geste - P. C. Wren - because this is the book that I read after A Tale of Two Cities and it was easier to read! 

Comment below and let me know what would be on your list, even if it is just your number one.