January 16, 2015 § 3 Comments
Last year I set myself the ‘mission’ to read twelve specifically selected books, in an attempt to make a dent in my ever-growing list of ‘must read’ pieces of literature. While 2014 was a success in that the twelve (actually, 13) books were read, I didn’t manage to make any headway on that list. Perhaps 2015 will be different …
JANUARY. Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky by Patrick Hamilton.
Un-ashamedly someone who judges a book by it’s cover, the black-and-white image drew me in. Add in that it’s set in my home-for-now, London, Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky was bound to make the list.
FEBRUARY. Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked by James Lasdun.
The true story of a man stalked by an ex-pupil. Real-life drama played out in the written word. What more does a novel need?
MARCH. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
Fulfilling the dual role of easy-to-read young adult fiction and last years book to screen adaptation for teenagers (only surpassed by the latest Hunger Games instalment), I was sucked in way before watching the film version.
APRIL. Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell.
With a love of all things Spanish and having being pleasantly surprised by ‘Down and Out in Paris’ last year, Mr. Orwell makes the list yet again in 2015.
MAY. Still Alice by Lisa Genova.
A late entry to this year’s list (apparently May was the forgotten month when I came to put this together), Still Alice gets the spot due to the captivating narrative portrayed by the official movie trailer that is being played on repeat on my laptop.
JUNE. The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe.
In an attempt to expand my literary horizons, I’ve included – yet again – a collection of short stories, this time by what is touted by Google as “the first modern detective story.”
JULY. Long Way Round by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman.
Adding another spot of non-fiction, the charming Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge, anyone?) tells the tale of his journey of his motor-cycling adventures round the world. Passing up on the chance to read this (in my head) in a terrible Scottish accent? I don’t think so.
AUGUST. An Armenian Sketchbook by Vasily Grossman.
When you open a book in a bookstore with the sole intention of only browsing the first paragraph and look up realising you’ve read the first five pages, you know it’s a ‘must read’.
SEPTEMBER. On the Road by Jack Kerouac.
A little bit of a cliched ‘classic’, read by American university students in an effort to appear effortlessly cool. Shamelessly joining the bandwagon to join the cool kids.
OCTOBER. Elizabeth I by Margaret George.
The time of the Tudor-Stuarts holding court in England is my favourite in history. A book on one of the most inspiration women, Queen Elizabeth I, of that era? No need to say more.
NOVEMBER. A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif.
Pretty yellow cover. Great reviews. Simple as that.
DECEMBER. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.
Ending the year with Capote’s ‘In Cold Blood’, combining (at least according to Amazon reviews) journalistic skill and evocative narrative. Cold-blooded killers. I’m in.
January 27, 2014 § Leave a comment
I have this list of books that I want to read. I’m constantly adding to it (I really shouldn’t be allowed to go into bookstores) and so it never gets any smaller. This year, I’ve set myself the ‘challenge’ to read twelve of the books on this list and I’m going to have to beg, borrow and buy (I think I can avoid stealing) my way through.
JANUARY. Persuasion by Jane Austen.
This year starts with a mild case of cheating, as I’ve already begun my latest foray into Austen’s world. Slowly, but surely I am making my way through these classics.
FEBRUARY. A Passage to India by E. M. Forster.
The shortest month of the year is (for me) jam-packed with travel plans, so delving into a novel about a journey seems fitting.
MARCH. Londoners: The Days and Nights of London, N0w – as Told by Those Who Love it, Hate it, Live it, Left it and Long for it by Craig Taylor.
Four years of living in the Capital probably (almost, maybe) qualifies me as a Londoner. Reading Taylor’s collection of stories is my homage to my ‘home for now’ – it’s also been on my list the longest.
APRIL. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
Normally, I’m one of those annoyingly self-righteous people who claim you should always read the book before seeing the movie. Occasionally, though I break the rules, because if a movie is good enough to drive you to read the book, then the literary version is bound to be even more so.
MAY. Down and Out in Paris by George Orwell.
Even though I immensely disliked 1984 and was left baffled by Animal Farm, there is something about Orwell that makes me want to keep reading more.
JUNE. The Last Man in Russia by Oliver Bullough.
To be honest, I’m struggling to remember why this book made the list (and reading the reviews is not helping at all), but at some point this summer I WILL be going to Russia, so when in St. Petersburg…
JULY. Love Letters of the Great War edited by Mandy Kirkby.
2014 marks the hundredth anniversary of the start of World Word One (July 28). As a commemoration, July will be devoted to reading something from this time. Kirkby’s book is one of the latest additions to my list, but had me gripped after the first letter.
AUGUST. The Big Fight by Sugar Ray Leonard.
A well-rounded literary year needs to have a bit of non-fiction thrown in. Not a fan of boxing (though my love for The Power of One my contradict that), this captured me. If it’s on the list, there must be something there!
SEPTEMBER. Richard III by David Baldwin.
I’m a sucker for anything about the War of the Roses and Tudor/Stewart history, so the chance to delve into the personality of one of this period’s most intriguing (and possibly misunderstood) figures was a no-brainer (it’s also been endorsed by one of my favourite authors, Philippa Gregory).
OCTOBER. Jack Holmes and His Friend by Edmund White.
Rather sensible in reality, I cannot help but fall in love with a well-written, touching love story, regardless of whom the object of affection is.
NOVEMBER. Which Lie Did I Tell by William Goldman.
A screenwriter’s insight into the world of Hollywood, written by the man who created the Dread Pirate Robert, Buttercup, Wesley and the line Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die (aka The Princess Bridge).
DECEMBER. Black Vodka by Deborah Levy and Summer Lies by Bernhard Schlink
Okay, so the year will end the way it begins: with cheating. But since both books are actually collections of short stories, it’s not really cheating, right?
Suggestions for additional reads are wholeheartedly welcomed.
December 22, 2013 § 3 Comments
A couple of weeks ago I came to a realisation: I have been living in London for over four years and much of the time I haven’t really made the most of it (travelling aside).
The odd concert here and there. A fair few West End shows. An almost ritual-like attendance at Wimbledon.
But to have lived in one of the worlds most dynamic cities, where there is an over-abundance of things to do and see, I’ve not had the experiences that I can, and should, have. I’ve decided that is about to change.
In life, you are only young and free from responsibilities (in theory) for a short amount of time. And in that time you’ve got to enjoy every second of it. The ability to be that little bit selfish is a luxury that goes out the window with a house, career and the 2 ½ kids. I’m not ready for those things quite yet (though the career would be handy).
And so (get ready for the clichés) – it is time to live life to the full and make the most out of it. To treat every day as if it were the last. To be money poor, but life rich.
First up was heading to Vauxhall Village’s outdoor screening of Miracle on 34th Street. Watching a cheesy Christmas classic, wrapped up in a blanket, with a cup of mulled cider on a Tuesday evening, as the trains sped over-head (we were under the Vauxhall Arches), was the perfect way to head into the festive season.
It might have been that little bit more perfect had I had company, but doing something on my lonesome is not new, and was never going to stop me, nor should it stop you. Why hold yourself back from doing something you love, just because no one else wants to be your ‘plus one’? Head out on your own and realise that, really, it’s not that scary to go solo.
Next up: heading to the 40th Floor of the Heron Tower to dine at Duck & Waffle. At 2AM. Whose with me?