So, I was on Twitter at 1 a.m. a few days ago (good anecdotes always start this way), and I became peeved about the lack of importance that people place on friendships in fiction. The trigger was my copy of Literary Listography, which I am really enjoying completing; however, even though it has some fairly wacky lists (“Words I Love and Hate the Sound Of”, “Writers I Would Have at my Algonquin Table”), it has no list of favourite friendships. Favourite romantic relationships, fictional heroes, memorable deaths… all represented, but not friendships. It’s not just here that I’ve noticed it, either. When I watch or read reviews, they often discuss a book’s romantic relationships in depth, even when they are secondary or tertiary plots, but I hardly ever see people celebrating well-developed and touching friendships in books. This is such a shame. Most of the fictional relationships (and in-real-life relationships) that have touched me most deeply are friendships. Continue reading
I added a lot of books to my TBR this week, in one way or another, so I’ll only include physical purchases. There is a story regarding the acquisition of these books. My workplace is in a small, unremarkable town, to which I commute a couple of times a week. Once I arrive at the train station, I have about a ten-minute walk to get to work (up the high street, over the hill). The only thing that has ever interested me on the high street is a tiny, jovial-looking new to you bookshop with a sign all the colours of the rainbow, which always tempts me to go inside.
Unfortunately, I work long shifts, which means that when I am walking past the inviting sign, it is inevitably either 0630 in the morning or 2030 at night; not the kind of time when you can just barge willy-nilly into someone’s bookshop and impulse-buy novels. I do like my job, but that ten-minute walk feels really long at 0630, especially in winter. Every day I walk past the closed bookshop, and its enticing window displays represent to me the cosiness and warmth of my flat, filled with many books. I inevitably wish that I was at home, in bed, with tea and a book and possibly toast, instead of trudging up a hill in the sleet and wind; or, failing that, inside the shop which I have long imagined to represent the very best of second-hand book retail. (Once I get to work, my morning melancholy has generally dissipated, but it’s pretty hard to shake off initially).
I have worked at my current workplace for over two years, and never been into that friendly-looking shop. However, yesterday, I had to go into work in the middle of a day off, and I found myself walking past at just the right time of day. I popped in, and it was everything I could have hoped. The shop attendant was incredibly knowledgeable and deeply eccentric, the floor-to-ceiling shelves were stuffed with every category of book I’ve ever heard of (also some which I’m sure the proprietor had made up), and there were seemingly random stacks of books in the middle of the shop, constituting everything from WW1 histories to a book of Sherlock quotations to the most recent Hairy Dieters book. Of course, I spent nearly an hour in there before I eventually managed to pick, but here is the sum of my purchases.
A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie
I love a good Agatha Christie. This is not the edition I picked up, as I couldn’t find a picture of that one online (disappointing, as it has the best/creepiest mask I’ve ever seen on the cover). I think I might have read this one before in an omnibus, but I can’t remember much about it except that it has several Excellent Spinsters in it, and Christie draws those characters so very well.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Recently, I seem to have been hearing about this everywhere. I know very little about it, except that it’s partly set in a boarding school (a long-term weakness of mine, which I blame largely on Malory Towers), and that it’s filed as “Science Fiction>Dystopia” on Goodreads.
The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
Okay, so I’ve never actually read any Atwood. I know this is basically a criminal offence for a book blogger, but there you have it. She’s definitely on my list of authors I most want to read, but I’m saving The Handmaid’s Tale for when I can devote lots and lots of hours to reading it. This looks a bit less intimidating.
On a slightly different topic, I recently stumbled across a website called readitswapit.co.uk, which allows people to list books they’ve read and are willing to swap. If you find a book you want to read in the database, you offer to swap with the person who listed the book you’re interested in. They have a look at the books you’ve listed, decide if they want to read any of them, and if they do, you agree to swap. Then, and only then, do you get given the other person’s postal address. The only thing you have to pay is the cost of the postage. It’s ideal for me, as a person who is a) trying to accumulate fewer books, and b) spend less money on books. I just thought I would let you guys know, and Friday Finds seemed liked a good place to do it, since it’s all about stacking up TBRs. This website only operates in the UK, but there are similar projects in the US and elsewhere.
Author: Elizabeth Gaskell
As I have previously stated in many a post, I love a five-point plan. The idea of setting reading goals at the start of the year has never occurred to me before, but, as a dyed-to-the-core list-maker, it naturally appeals. I’d also like to do more with this blog, and the new year is a good excuse to think about what that might look like. Continue reading