Friday, 13 February 2015

Reading This Weekend #2

With an assignment for University due next week I definitely need to spend the majority of my weekend working on that, which marks the entrance of the wonders that are short story collections. They're perfect to pick up during breaks, I think they tend to work best when they're read through fairly slowly, and they often offer just enough without giving too much. And I like that.

The Boat by Nam Le
This was a collection I picked up on a bit of a whim, I'm currently a couple of stories in and it's been a little bit of a mixed bag so far but I'm not disappointed. I mean, it's published by Canongate, one of my favourite publishing houses so I think the likelihood of my being disappointed was always quite slim. Le has captured an essence of humanity within many very different characters and they're so intriguing; the human condition at its clearest. I adored the first story, the second wasn't quite as immediately engaging but it has stayed with me and I suppose that's the feeling the collection has given me so far. The themes are pretty heavy, but they're beautifully written and don't immediately give everything of themselves. The stories keep popping into my head throughout the day and I find myself still considering why events unfolded the way they did, and why people made those particular decisions.

Corpus Christi by Bret Anthony Johnson
This arrived on my doorstep yesterday and I'm looking forward to it so much that I might pick it up on my lunch break this afternoon. A collection of stories from Corpus Christi, a town often hit by hurricanes in Texas. I don't really know much else about what to expect, which is quite exciting. I get the impression that they're going to be incredibly atmospheric and really explore how events can impact on life. Some snippets of reviews I've read hint that it's a bit of an emotional ride, but I'm ready to have my heart broken in the name of a good story if that's what it comes to. It also smells really good. Ahh that new book smell. Perfect.

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What are you going to be reading this weekend?

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Book of the Month | January 2015

Ideas only ever seem to pop into my head at night time when I'm in that strange inbetween time of being awake and falling asleep. It's as if I like to taunt myself because I'm presented with a dilemma every time; to reach for a notebook and scribble some words down fully waking myself up in the process OR to let myself fall asleep and inevitably forget forever whatever it was that seemed like a really bloody good idea at 2am. Sometimes I lie awake at night pondering the ideas that got away, I mean, there could have been a best selling novel in there somewhere. Doubtful, but possible!

It's 2am as I'm writing this (which may explain why I'm perhaps not making much sense) and I've been flicking through my bedside notebook. The last page has 4 almost illegible words because I guess scribbling down ideas in the dark when you're really tired means a distinct lack of good penmanship. Anyway, those words were 'book of the month'. Not all ideas scribbled in that notebook make much sense in the cold light of day, but I really I like the idea of making a note of the book that has made the biggest impact on me each month. I'm hopeful that I'll end up with a collection of 12 books that will sum up 2015 for me. 

Morning Breaks in the Elevator by Lemn Sissay
There's something very intimate about poetry. A collection of carefully constructed lines, made up of specific words deliberately chosen and arranged in a particular way to make you really feel something, be it an emotion or an atmosphere or an idea. It is often so deeply personal to the poet that it's almost like reading their diary or looking directly into their soul. It's why I think poetry is also a distinctly personal experience because it depends on a connection. You may appreciate the work of one poet, but another may hit you straight in the heart and speak to you in a way you've never felt before.

This collection is one that speaks to me and I don't think I have the words to ever fully convey why, or to explain why I think you should experience it too in a way that will ever do it justice. All I will say is that Lemn is a pretty inspiring guy. If you have 15 minutes to spare I highly recommend his TED Talk in which he talks about us being time machines and being in a constant state of migration. If you're feeling a little lost, I hope you'll find it as comforting as I did.

I hope you're having truly a wonderful day.