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Category Archives: Life

Review: How To Stop Time

A: Read Matt Haig’s latest novel! Its beauty, depth and humanity will make you forget the end of your lunch break, miss your Tube stop, take you beyond sleep. It’s as though the reading of this time-bending novel can stop time itself with the power of Tom Hazard’s story. 

It kept me cool during the recent heatwave.

Tom may look like an ordinary forty-odd year old but he has actually loved centuries. Through the terror of witch-hunts, to the stench of London with Shakespeare; the ephemeral jazz age with Fitzgerald to the excitement on the South Seas with Captain Cook, Tom lives through it all, until we meet him attempting to teach history to reluctant pupils in Hackney. 

Forever, Emily Dickinson said, is composed of nows. But how do you inhabit the now you are in ? How do you stop the ghosts of all the other ones from getting in? How, in short, do you live?

Tom has a rare condition which delays his aging; he is ‘an albatross’. Although not immortal, his aging process is so slow, he has to watch everyone he loves age around him. The skill of this novel is how Haig gets us to feel the emotional connection with Tom; his hope as he searches for his lost loves, how he tries to lose himself in the pleasures of the age, how he always feels disconnected from his surroundings.

…love food and music and champagne and rare sunny afternoons in October. You can love the sight of waterfalls and the smell of old books, but the love of people is off limits…’

Ultimately, this is a novel of hope, of joy in the present, of the power of love to sustain and give meaning to life. It is an easier read than these weighty themes might suggest; a unique love story with historical colour and humour .

That’s the thing with time, isn’t it? It’s not all the same. Some days -some years – some decades – are empty. There is nothing to them. It’s just flat water. And then you come across a year, or even a day, or an afternoon. And it is everything. It’s the whole thing.

As in his other novels, Matt Haig has successfully explored a complex idea with a light touch, injected both humour and pathos, to produce a joyful, moving and entertaining novel.     A delight to read! I shall be recommending it enthusiastically.
Thanks to Canongate for the prepublication proof.

 
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Posted by on 24/06/2017 in Life, review

 

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Reading Week: Day Two

Mainly Twitter. And scrolling news bars.

I’m afraid that with the dramatic events in the UK’s general election last night, any hope of serious reading has gone out of the window now.

I have, however, discovered the point of Twitter. Using it for rolling news, instant reaction to an event, scrolling while watching live tv, this is a perfect medium to keep yourself informed, up to date and entertained. I now love it!

However, the uncertain outcome of the election is driving me back to the novel. Off to take my chosen prizewinning, dystopian, feminist sci-fi novel out for coffee before the school run. At least I’ll find a coherent narrative here, regardless of the news outlets.

 
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Posted by on 09/06/2017 in Life, Uncategorized

 

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Reading Week: Day One

I have inadvertently found myself with a week off work; not through illness, just badly timed annual leave. I am still needed for the delights of the school run and the nightly unplugging of the children followed by pyjama-wrestling, so have to make do with a ‘limited hours only staycation’.

I shall read.

Stuff the housework. Stuff cultural destinations (unless they have comfy chairs and nice tea). Stuff the weather. I shall being to tackle the pile of proofs and my TBR bookcase.

Here goes…

I returned from a HarperCollins event with a box of books, to add to the already amassed pile from work.

(Apologies for the poor quality photos; impressionistic only!)

 
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Posted by on 08/06/2017 in Life, Reading space

 

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Dusting the Blog-webs


With a slightly laboured title, I am returning to blogging. 
And about time too!

Some things have changed since I last blogged: we’ve moved from the North-East down to the Big Smoke of London, I work part time, my children are almost as tall as me.

One thing has remained constant: books! Anyone who knows me – or who has even noticed the title of this blog! – knows that I love books. 

I love books as objects, inspiration, escapes, portals, entertainment, guilty-pleasure, wallpaper, decoration. And working a few days a week as a Bookseller is a perfect way to keep my love-affair alive.

And so, as a way of keeping my critical faculties going, rewiewing what I’ve been reading, and sharing book-ish musings with whoever might be reading this, I shall be dusting down this blog, blowing away the cobwebs, and setting my book-ish thoughts free!

Want to join me?!

 

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New Year: New Challenge

No more themes.
No more book buying!
Yes, in an attempt to halt the flow of books cascading through our house, I have vowed not to buy any more books for the whole of 2014. I intend to ‘watch less, read more’.

I'm trying to avoid too much of this...

I’m trying to avoid too much of this…

The ‘no book buying rules’ in full:
1) I shall not buy books for myself for the whole year;
2) I can (if necessary) buy books for others or my children (they cannot have birthdays or Christmas without new books!);
3) I can swap books;
4) There is no limit to the number of books I give away;
5) I can exchange books at Barter Books in Alnwick, as long as I do not pay for them with cash;
6) I cannot download titles I have to pay for;
7) I could download free classics if I don’t already have a paper copy (up for debate);
8) I can receive books as gifts;
9) I can order or reserve books from my local library;
10) There is no limit to the number of books I borrow from my local library.

By the way, as you’ll probably have gathered from the monthly photos of my home library, there is no concern that I will run out of reading material. My bookcases are overflowing, there are books in every room of the house; my Kindle(s) are packed with over 900 books and our local library is excellent.

I anticipate the first few weeks, even months to be difficult. Even the past few days have been tricky. I have been challenged when shopping or late-night browsing. I have disabled my Amazon account and have not gone into my local charity shops in the hope of keeping away from temptation.

However, I hope our finances are improved, my addiction is lessened, and some of those toppling towers of books are out of the house over the coming months.
I am also hoping that by ‘going public’ with my addiction, I will be supported in my resolution.

Do you ‘suffer’ with book-buying-compulsions? Do you seek the thrill of a new (second hand) book? Do you listen to/watch book-related programmes with pen in hand to jot down titles to then order online? Do you love the anticipation of a fresh book joining others on your shelves?
Do you feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of unread paper on your shelves? Do you just not know how to start reducing the number you buy? Do you not know where to start reading?
Do all your efforts at reducing the number you have end up in a half-hearted ‘prune’ of a few tens but with the discovery of more great reads you’d forgotten you had?
Do you have unintentional duplicate copies of novels you’ve not even read?
Welcome to Book-Addicts Anonymous!

The only difficulty now is just what to read?!

 
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Posted by on 05/01/2014 in Book-ish things, Life, Reading space

 

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