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We love books. Tell us about your favourite books and authors, and why they are so good. And while you're at it - having dined out for years on the time I threw Dan Brown out of a train window - tell us who to avoid.

(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 13:40)
Pages: Latest, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, ... 1

This question is now closed.

Not a recommendation of any book or author but from 1999 – 2001 I worked for Amazon.
Each week we would have a meeting to review transcripts of customer complaints so we could identify ways to make the site and the customer service better.

This is a rough recollection of one complaint:

Customer: “I ordered a set of books on opera for my elderly father”

Call centre op’: “may I take your order number please”

Customer: “It’s a disgrace”

Call centre op’: “I would like to help you, but first I need your order number”

Customer: “It’s filth I tell you. Absolute filth”

Call centre op’: “What is madam?”

Customer: “the smut you’ve sent my father. He has a heart condition you know”

Call centre op’: “I am sorry but you need to tell me more so I can help you”

Customer: “I ordered books on opera you stupid man and your company has sent him pornography. Absolutely disgusting. I am going to contact the press. It’s a disgrace. Why do you sell such degrading filth? He has a heart condition you know”

The call centre op’ realising there has been a miss pick in the warehouse and now thoroughly hacked off with the tirade he is getting from the customer replied: “Imagine how the bloke who got the books on opera felt”
(, Fri 6 Jan 2012, 7:39, 2 replies)
We read Of Mice and Men at school
A great book, somewhat tempered by the fact that come chapter 3 or thereabouts, someone had scrawled 'I don't want to spoil all the fun but Lennie gets shot on page 113'.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 20:10, 5 replies)
I have a book at home.
Its spine is straight and steadfast, and its words are gilt. Many times the voices of its characters have sung to me from the smudgy half-sunlight of a hungover morning, telling me of diabetic princesses, rich and gravy-laden chieftains and the fact that I am about to miss the 07:28 to London Bridge.

It squeezes its Falstaffian calfskinned bulk into a gap on my bookshelf that is always curiously warm, even when the Daily Mail is mentioned within earshot. It likes milk of magnesia, essential oil of sandalwood and the string quartets of David Blunkett, but spurns the company of Wisden, silicone-based lubricant and ferrets. When I dine alone, the two calligraphed globes on its cover spin in the cosmic winds to the rhythm of Daft Punk; when in company, the dust of its pages blows as a monsoon over the neighbours so that their ears can no longer even tell them who wants to be a millionaire.

This book has saved my life: when stationed in El Alamein I took a stray bullet to the crotch from a passing regiment of the Afrika Korps, but at that very moment the book was pouring out the wealth of its knowledge to massage and soothe my blistered testicles, and the bullet melted upon contact and dripped onto the sand, setting in the form of a tiny Paschal Lamb. The enemy snatched me up and roasted me for my name and number, but the book told them nothing, for its pages are Plasticine.

When I am hungry, my book holds the recipe for the finest turnip martini known to man. When the wind howls and I tear at my Wallace and Gromit nightshirt from lack of sleep, the book breaks forth into throat-song and lulls my aching limbs to rest. That famous night when I was almost burgled, I awoke to find the finest red trace along the book’s pages, and an undigested sock.

I have not yet read the book. We are waiting until I have made it an honest book, with a ring on its binder.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:37, 8 replies)
You can't do 'Sex' with a Kindle...

I apologise for adding yet another ‘list’ post to what will no doubt become a week of such, but I just don’t think I could live with myself if I didn’t share with you the books that have changed my life.

‘SEX’ by Madonna. Does anybody remember this? It was once dubbed: ‘the raunchiest coffee table book in history’? Controversial perhaps, but I must confess that mine has never made it as far as my coffee table...Instead, I keep it in my hallway by my front door – largely due to the fact that it’s metallic cover and excessive size make it spot-on for slinging at fucking bible-tappers and double-glazing salesmen should they interrupt me watching 'Bargain Hunt'.

'Mansfield Park' by Jane Austen. Now, the fabled love twists of 'Fanny' and her friends might not be everybody’s cup of tea...but I found, that at 480 Pages, the paperback version was the exact perfect size to wedge under the wonky kitchen table leg that had been pissing me off for fucking ages. Sweet.

'Nineteen Eighty-Four' by George Orwell. An indulgence possibly, but I went all out and spent an extra few quid on the hardback edition. Words can’t explain the feeling of fulfilment I got after I propped it against a copy of ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J. D. Salinger and made the pair into a ramp for my remote control car. That combination of mega-literary heavyweights allowed my jeep to launch with exact precision the required 60 degrees so it could land in the dog’s bed from 4 feet away!

'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley. This Dystopian fantasy classic soon became an invaluable mainstay on my bedside table as its’ strangely thin pages allow me to easily roll it up and twat spiders and suchlike, especially moths, when they fuck about by my lamp at night. Little cuntwads.

'In Search of Lost Time' by Marcel Proust. At 1.5 million words, it might seem like a bit of an epic for some, but I think it was well worth the purchase. This influential and sometimes controversial triumph consists of seven, glorious French volumes that are wank-tasticly massive, and they make a cock-hot footstool if you lob a cushion on top and bundle the lot together with sticky tape.

'The Lost Symbol' by Dan Brown. I’ve highlighted this one in particular but I can pretty much count all of Mr Brown’s tomes in for this one. For every time I perch on the chod bin to pinch off a loaf that turns out to be particularly girthy and troublesome, I know I can always consult my collection of Dan Brown novels. People do tend to slag off his works, but I find there’s nothing better to wipe my dirtbox with after a particularly runny, rancid and blood-coming-out-of–the-eyes inducing uberturd.

Better than Andrex I reckon. Thoroughly absorbing.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 19:57, 4 replies)
Dan Brown
Hear me out on this before you judge me.

I was never overly into books in my teens - they were just a pain in the arse.

I then started to read Tony Hawks - Round Ireland with a Fridge and loved it. Very Funny book.

So I trawled the internet and bought his other titles and then looked for similar books too and prety much exhausted the genre.

I needed something new and that vacuum was filled by the hype over the Da Vinci Code. It was a page turner in the best sense of the word. I'd never read a 'novel' before but this was really good. Naturally, I bought Angels and Demons and equally enjoyed that too.

My Father in Law then suggested reading some Grisham. Now I love them books too.

I'm moving up the litery ladder every few months and enjoying reading more than ever.

However, had it not been for Dan Brown and his Da Vinci code, I would propbably be rading the glossy mags that come with Sunday newspapers.

And Ironically, thanks to the Da Vinci Code spurring me on to better books and increasing my tally - I can honestly say that the Da Vinci code really isn't as good as I first thought.

It a bit like watching a tv program when you were a kid that you thought was really good, but when you watch now realise its crap...
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 15:30, 10 replies)
I am currently learning to speed read,
I have just read war and peace in 20 seconds which is not bad for 3 words....
(, Fri 6 Jan 2012, 15:40, 2 replies)
My favourite book is
"The Pedant's Revolt' by Which Tyler
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 22:19, 16 replies)
Miracle technology
For most of you, an ebook reader like an ipad or kindle is a fancy new piece of technology, an advance and, for some even, an abomination. For me, it's been the best invention ever.
I'm partially sighted. I always loved reading when I was a child but because my eye issues are degenerative, reading was a thing of the past for me a few years ago. Now, with kindle on ipad, I can read again and you've no idea what it's like to gain back a much-missed hobby if you've never experienced a loss like that.
I can invert the colours (white font on black pages), enlarge text, dim or brighten the page according to my needs. It's a fecking miracle for someone like me. So next time you, or someone you know, bangs on about how such machines are killing 'real' books or whatever, spare a thought for someone like me who's had their life changed by them.

As for books, I love most styles. Favourite author if I had to choose though probably has to be Paul Auster, especially The New York Trilogy, Moon Palace and Mr Vertigo. His collection of real life stories (think the title is Stories of American Life but it escapes me right now) are also a fab read if you only have time for snipppets.
..
(, Sat 7 Jan 2012, 9:12, 14 replies)
Don't hate me but....... I'm not a massive Roald Dahl fan
Being a child of the 80s who didn’t like Roald Dahl was like being a total freak, but I stand by my opinions now. I think his adult writing is absolutely brilliant, particularly the short stories, but his children’s books are full of made-up words, mad loopy tangents, and are unforgivably, gratingly moralistic, often about the most ludicrously petty things (don’t watch television EVER or your brain will explode, blah blah blah). So, I didn’t like them anywhere near as much as I said I did to fit in, but I read every single one, and found them all at least vaguely entertaining.

There was one aspect of one of his books however that I found really disturbing, even as a seven-year-old, and as an adult I find it positively revolting - the treatment of the Oompa Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Think about it. They are:

* Trafficked into the country
* Kept prisoner inside a dangerous factory
* Forced to work in return for beans
* Coerced into acting as guinea pigs for dangerous experiments

For anyone who’s forgotten the details, Willy Wonka travels to Loompaland and observes the natives living in difficult conditions. He cuts a deal with them knowing that they have very little bargaining power, smuggles them into the country and sets them to work in his factory, where they are paid only in cocoa beans and never allowed to leave. This isn’t a wholesome idea to sell to kids. This is trafficking and slavery.

I wonder if the Oompa Loompas have been allowed to keep their passports. I wonder if they have a union, or if they have insurance for the disturbingly large number of industrial accidents that seem to happen in that factory. Are they informed of the risks and adequately compensated when testing Wonka’s dangerous products? Wonka is clearly quite patronising and racist towards his staff. He talks about them as if they’re all the same, and treats them like a pack of obedient dogs - with affection, sure, but little to no respect.

What’s really disturbing is the smug, self-satisfied prose in which this arrangement is introduced. It’s presented as if it’s actually a great opportunity for these savages to work for a few beans, and of course they‘re all ever so grateful to the benevolent Mr Wonka. Nobody at any point in the book questions the moral ramifications of treating human beings like this. It is essentially no more or less than a romanticised depiction of slavery.

And for this reason, I will not be reading this book to my future children without a full and frank discussion about this issue, underpinned by a potted history of the slave trade. Sorry, future Little Fluffles.
(, Sat 7 Jan 2012, 0:23, 9 replies)
Last week I read Great Expectations
It wasn't as good as I'd hoped.
(, Fri 6 Jan 2012, 15:34, 5 replies)
"Middlemarch" changed my life.
I changed from being someone who hadn't read Middlemarch to someone who had.

I want the old me back.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:15, 6 replies)
Four Minute Warning by M J Tolley
The book follows a 14 year old boy who suddenly suffers a massive brain haemorrhage and collapses, going from a healthy teenage boy without a care in the world to almost dying on the kitchen floor in just four minutes.

The story follows his initial fight for survival; slowly regaining his memory and awareness of his surroundings, relearning how to communicate and overcoming the paralysis to be able to walk and use his hands again (so that he can play his computer games again mainly!), while dealing with the trials and tribulations of teenage life too.

Think "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" meets "Secret Diary of Adrian Mole" and you get the sort of gist of it.

I guess it's the book I am most familiar with, and has had the most impact on my life. Mainly because I wrote it, and that boy was me.

I've written articles and things for stroke magazines and newspapers, but I was always forced to heavily edit what I wanted to say into a few column inches. I wanted to write my story in full and while I never planned to write a whole novel, one day I wrote a sample chapter (the bit where I describe the four minutes), then showing it to some friends and my sister who encouraged me to keep writing. It ended up taking three years but was released in 2010 and has had a fair bit of positive feedback. It's sold dozens of copies so far and has got me on BBC radio, in newspapers and guest speaker appearances which hopefully helps raise the profile of young stroke survivors.

I know it'll never be a best seller of course but I'm still looking for a proper publisher who might give it a go. In the meantime it's available via Lulu at the moment in paperback, PDF and on the iBookstore if anyone's interested. I'm donating 20% of my royalties Different Strokes and The Stroke Association so it's going to help other stroke survivors.

www.lulu.com/product/paperback/four-minute-warning/14020890 (link to paperback version)

itunes.apple.com/us/book/four-minute-warning/id443928547?mt=11

Sorry for the spam, but it'd be rude not to mention it in this week's QOTW...

PS: If anyone here is thinking about writing a book, just get on and write it - even if it only gets self published. The feeling you get when you see your words in print is awesome!
(, Fri 6 Jan 2012, 11:44, 3 replies)
Harry Potter
I know there is an absolute hatred of the Harry Potter books amongst your good selves, but at least hear me out.

I know they are not brilliant works of fiction, or works of anything most of you with give any credit to, but they have such a special place in my heart.
My Brother and his wife live in Edinburgh, and as such, they heard about the books very early on. They sent mini-me the first one in 1998 when he was 7 and I was just moving on my own with him from Liverpool to Bristol to go to university.
Even at that age he was a voracious reader, and he bleated on about the book day in day out, ‘Mum, MUM, MUM, MUM you HAVE to read this’ until one day on the train going back home to see my mum, I reluctantly agreed.
I will never forget his little face as he sat, all blue eyed and blonde curly haired desperately awaiting my approval on a story that he had thrown himself into wholeheartedly and was so excited about. I have to admit I was hooked.
I loved it, I loved the idea! But I especially loved that he loved it too.

From that point on, every new book that came out turned into a fight…Who ever bought it first, and yes, he did on one occasion go to the midnight opening of Waterstones (even with my sneering) to buy it first, got to read it. We would wrangle and flap and bribe each other as to who would get to read it one evening or the other, one chapter at a time. Desperately trying to remember which bit each of us were up to as to not give anything away for the other, but SO wanting to talk about where we were up to.

They grew up together, their lives were intertwined, the experiences, loss, love, friendships, maturing, responsibility and all that it contained touched mini-me and me as we lived what happening from the page. We talked about it for hours, giggling at the humour, upset at the disasters, and ever excited at what would happen next. Although their ages were slightly different, there was a feeling of growing up together that he wasn’t aware of, but I was.

The last book came out 10 years after our adventure started, and as I read the closing chapter, laying on the sofa, on my own, I struggled to finish it, I’m not ashamed to say, I cried, like a baby. This part of our lives together had come to a close, life had flown by quicker than I ever could have imagined it could.

At the end of it all?

After all those years of torment, angst, struggles, heartache, fun, crazy emotions, loss of parents, and everything that a boy could cope with, he had grown into a man. He had cemented his future, one who could stand on his own two feet and was confident to face the world as an adult. He was an independent man, not a boy anymore, someone who had made his mark in the world and someone who his mother, would be very, very, proud of.
(, Sat 7 Jan 2012, 23:54, 14 replies)
"If you only ever read one book in your life...
...I highly recommend you keep your mouth shut."
- The League Against Tedium
(, Fri 6 Jan 2012, 23:49, Reply)
What's with all this reading nonsense?
These are the only five books a true B3tan will ever need:

1) The Complete Shaolin Kung Fu Compendium
2) The Supermodel Directory
3) The Kama Sutra (to be used in conjunction with 2, above)
4) Some kind of Street Drugs Encyclopedia (make sure it is totally massive)
5) Haynes Honda Accord 1994-1997 Automotive Repair Manual

Learn them by heart, chuck your specs away, and get livin...
(, Fri 6 Jan 2012, 12:03, 2 replies)
Appropriate
I suppose.
Photobucket
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 23:54, Reply)
Working at Waterstone's
often provided a laugh.

"Do you sell paint?" (yes, tartan)

"Do you sell tyres?" (no, but we have alloys if you're looking)

"Hi, I'm here to pick up my book."
"No problem sir, reservations are held at the desk upstairs."
"How do I get upstairs?"
"...up the stairs."
(note: there was a giant staircase behind him in the centre of the shop)

On Harry Potter 5 launch day, we're all wearing Potter fancy dress or t-shirts proclaiming our Potter credentials with a giant W on the back. Guy marches through the shop, past all the balloons and two giant displays full of the new book, down to the counter at the end, where I am standing. "Do you work here?"
"..yes, how can I help?"
"Do you have the new Harry Potter book?"
I stifle the urge to maim, and direct him back to the front of the shop.

But you do get lovely moments. Old lady comes up to the counter. "Hello, I'm looking for a book."
"Well, you're in the right place. Which book exactly?"
"Erm... I'm afraid I can't remember its name... it's something about a dog."
I think for a second.
"Could it be... The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time?"
"Yes, that's it! Thank you so much! Oh, you're very clever, so helpful too. Thank you!"
I beam with a warm, smug smile, and go to eat a croissant on my break.

Easily my favourite job ever. I discovered so much while working there; Christopher Brookmyre, Bill Bryson, Carl Hiaasen, Dave Barry, George MacDonald Fraser, Chuck Palahniuk, Tom Clancy, Terry Pratchett, Robert Rankin, Neil Gaiman and Anthony Beevor among others. Lost my (part-time) job when Borders opened a store in the same town and our takings went down by 30%.

But I will always treasure it for the immense fun we had as a staff, the buzz I got during the Christmas rush, the education I received in literature, the 33% discount, and the time someone complained that we couldn't find the book of which he didn't know the title, the author, the subject or the genre. I couldn't keep a straight face and he walked out screaming something about the idiots you get working in shops these days...
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 22:39, 7 replies)
The Bible
It's a collection of fairy tales and embellishments but basically comes down to one woman's lie which got out of hand.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 21:21, 1 reply)
I fucking love books.
Not just reading them, but the smell and the texture of paperbacks. I've often bought a book just because I like the cover and I get quite anxious if I haven't got another book ready when I've finished the current one. I'm not particulary well read or literary but I just love books.

I got two new bookcases for Christmas this year. Yay!

Kindles can fuck right off.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 14:11, 18 replies)
Asterix
I have no idea if anyone has mentioned Asterix yet, and I can't be bothered to search through the QOTW. Asterix definitely belongs here, for several reasons. Brilliant, painstaking graphic detail and imagination. Most of all, the sheer humour. So many jokes that a child won't get; I think every time I've read one of the books I've found something funny I missed earlier. Love all the classical allusions. I couldn't conceive of having children without giving them Asterix to read.
(, Tue 10 Jan 2012, 13:38, 32 replies)
I'm not the biggest fan of Richard Dawkins...
Not that I don't respect his work, it's just that he's so damned aggressive towards belief he comes across as just as much of a raving zealot as those he rages against.

So it was with great delight that I saw his works in WH Smith arranged tastefully in the New Age section. Right next to the Angel Healing cards and Psychic Sally's books.

Just the sort of thing that would probably make him foam at the mouth with rage. :D
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 13:11, 101 replies)
Last Chance to See - Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine.
I lent a copy of that book to a class mate in my first year at Uni way back and got it back 3 years later after everyone in that year group had read it.

It was properly battered, its cover half off, ear marked throughout, pages yellowing and some of it held together with sellotape.

Just the fact that 15 to 20 or so people read it and passed it on saying, "it is Sutit's book, he wont mind you borrowing it but make sure he gets it back" or similar makes this book my favorite. Countless times I almost bought a replacement thinking it had been lost or nabbed.

So that has to be my favorite book on my shelf and not because it is a bloody good read, (even though it is).
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 1:17, 1 reply)
Mt wife is a published author
and I love all of her books. I'm not just typing this because she's looking over my shoulder.


Love you sweetie XXXX
(, Fri 6 Jan 2012, 18:14, Reply)

i loved Richard Scarry books when I was a kid. Awesome illustrations, and characters like Lowly Worm, Huckle Cat and Rudolf von Flugel.
(, Fri 6 Jan 2012, 14:25, 9 replies)
Jane Eyre.
Its fucking shit, the worst piece of drivel I have ever been forced to read. I would have rather nailed my testicles to the school desk rather than read this guff in GCSE English.
The book is basically about some soppy bint that becomes a teacher in a posh blokes house.
This drippy tart falls in love with posh bloke and wants to marry him but at the wedding someone points out that he is already married and his missis is locked up in the attic.
Now this is where you would think alarm bells would start ringing and the plod would be involved, but he doesn’t he just says “Shes Mad”. And everyone seems fine about this.
Hold on, she’s Mad? She is locked in an attic, I bet she is fucking furious.
If she is indeed insane why does no one question whether she has been attended to by a mental health specialist? Has she been diagnosed with any mental health issue and should the treatment really be hiding her in the attic and occasionally throwing scraps of food at her and changing her turd bucket ? Who is the mad one here, poor bitch in the attic or this posh bloke. I wouldn't be surprised if he is probably the great great great grandfather of Josef Fritzl .
Anyway the soppy bitch Jane runs away from the wedding. Lucky escape if you ask me, before she would know it she would be tied up in the cellar and Mr posh would be playing snooker with her eyeballs.
Unfortunately there were no chapters where the posh bloke dismembers corpses, I think someone died of constipation, but there is a bit where Jane describes flicking herself off. Its not that good, but my English teacher (the one that got arrested in some toilets lezzing it up with another woman) did get quite excited about this.
And she occasionally looks at the moon, which is odd because she isn’t a werewolf or related to Patrick Moore.
She then goes and pokes a Saint before going back to find that Mr Posh house has caught fire and he is now a cripple (he has a bad hand and iffy eyesight) and she marrys the nutter.
Its shite, proper shite, a long rambling boring book that I have summed up better than the original novel. I have no idea why this book is a “Classic”
(, Fri 6 Jan 2012, 11:02, 4 replies)
The Very Hungy Caterpillar by Eric Carle.
"In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf". The humble origins of the "little" egg and "tiny" caterpillar and his quest for nourishment can be seen as a metaphor for sexual growth, where desire cannot be sated until, having sampled a smörgåsbord on the Saturday comprising "one piece of chocolate cake, one ice cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake and one slice of watermelon", he can take no more and becomes a "big, fat caterpillar". The Freudian depictions of the food - and of the caterpillar himself - reinforce the metaphor: size (and shape) is everything. Previous suggestions (Catface, 2010) that the story is a literal reading of eating-overeating-transformation can be dismissed as both reductionist and essentialist. The transformation, when it does occur, deals briefly with the liminal state as a necessary transition into full awareness and power - a phallocentric triumph.

I have read this book to my child an estimated 485 times. That's about 484 times where I've had to pretend to sound enthusiastic about a bug. Don't even start me on "We're going on a motherfucking bear hunt".
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 17:52, 6 replies)
Edmund: A Butler's Tale - By Gertrude Perkins
A huge rollercoaster of a novel crammed with sizzling gypsies.
(, Thu 5 Jan 2012, 16:52, 7 replies)
It's an old book I found in a library
when I was up in New England. There was this quaint old university with a stone library building, nicely gothic looking. I went in and poked around, and found this ancient book all by itself in a case. No one else was around, so I opened the case and helped myself.

I was immediately fascinated- the author was an Arab, but the book was in English. (Well, parts of it were.) It had a lot of ancient history in it, as well as some very interesting descriptions of ancient marvels. I was so taken by this book that I decided to take it home. As no one else was around, I couldn't check it out, but decided that I would just borrow it for a couple of days.

That night I sat up reading late, and read chunks of it aloud to myself as I sounded out the syllables. Imagine my amazement when a strange doorway appeared in the room, one which led to a different place- a place where all the angles were wrong, where there were buildings made of cyclopean blocks with elaborate carvings on them of barrel-shaped creatures with star-shaped heads.

I have been there many times since, and have no intention of ever returning this book. It holds deep dark secrets, things that have been unknown for centuries.

͟ ̧̛͟ ͡ Y̵̷'҉AĮ̀'̧͘N̷G͜͝'̕͘͝ŃǴA̸̛H̴̵
̶̨ ̀ ͝ ̷ ̢Y̕O̵̡G̢-̀S̛O̡͢T̶̢͟H́́̀Ơ̧T̀H
͏ ̀ ̴͢͝ ̷H͟'̸̢͟E̴͠E̡͟͡-̸͏L̡'͢͝G͜͠É̵B
҉ ̧ ́ ͞҉ ̡́F̸'̛͟A͞Í͢ ̢̢̀T̨̡Ḩ̴̨R̢͠O̴͟D͢O͟G
̵ ̡̡ ͠Ų̷͞A҉͠ĄÁ̡H͡ ̛

Iä! Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!
(, Wed 11 Jan 2012, 19:26, 8 replies)
Fairy Tales
Four Years Old
Scene: Sister Aloysius's reception class; a small parquet floored room in a provincial convent school.

I am standing next to Sr Aloysius, she holds a dog-eared copy of 'Janet and John: Out to Play' on her lap.
"Look, Mother.
Look at my horse.
It can go up and down.
Up and down I go."

Thinks: This is dull but perhaps we'll listen to 'The Sound of Music' soundtrack and perhaps Christopher Smythe will let me use his crayons.

Six Years Old
Scene: A small village library. Late summer sun streams in through the high windows and pools in large warm rectangle. Dust motes hover and play in the shaft of light and a gentle haze of B.O. and three day old socks lift from the red corded carpet.

I am sat cross-legged at the edge of the sunlit square. In my hands is a large orange hardcover book, the cloth binding is slightly grubby and the pages are thick with ragged edges. Behind me on the low wooden bookshelves stand the last two weeks of adventure; one golden yellow, the other forest green. As I turn the page of 'The Orange Fairy Book' by Andrew Lang I begin reading 'The Story of the King who would see Paradise'.

Over the next few years I make my way through the bazaars of Baghdad, fly past minarets of the Ottoman empire, fight off pirates with scimitars in the South China Seas, take tea with wolves and princesses, and disappear every day from my bedroom in a small semi in a rural village.

Perrault, the Grimms, the Arabian Nights; all of them had a place at some time on my own bookshelves.

Teens
Scene: The back seat of a number 609 bus. It's late afternoon, dark, cold and it's raining persistantly.

Steam rises from my dark green gabardine raincoat and brings out the odor of long since smoked Embassy No.1s that's holding together the seat covers along with bus tickets and cast off Bazooka Joes. My school bag holds a mix of English Literature set texts and contraband books; 'Flowers in the Attic', 'The Amityville Horror', 'Lucky', and 'Full Circle'.

University years (and there were a lot of them) saw loads more set texts mixed with The Big Pink Stiff One and other such modern classics. I could give lists of all the worthy books I waded through; all the Russian literature, the great English classics, the Americans, the French, Spanish, blah, blah, blah. So what? None of them gave me as much pleasure as those fairy tales read as a child.

And now? I spend my days immersed in literature but for pleasure I read any old junk including Lee Child, Chick Lit, JK Rowling; but then I like to listen to James Blunt and Will Young.
(, Sun 8 Jan 2012, 21:03, 3 replies)
Sod all these high brow books, sci-fi nonsense and kindle/paper back debates
The Tiger that came to tea.
Now that's a fucking book and a half.
And if you don't like it then you're quite clearly a cunt.
(, Sat 7 Jan 2012, 10:37, 2 replies)

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