Monday, 31 August 2009

Is it a bird?

The Girl Who Could Fly - Victoria Forester.

My plans to indulge in the Booker Longlist went awry this weekend when I failed to be at home when the delivery man tried to bring me my parcel. (I was a bit cross about this as it also has Mr Bookworm's anniversary present in it - oh well better late than never!)

Instead I lost myself in a book that really surprised me. The Girl Who Could Fly was included in a big box of random books and I knew nothing about it, and the first few chapters really led me astray. I thought I was going to be reading just the sort of book that cram my shelves - an old fashioned American adversity tale.

Piper McCloud is different from all of the other children around and to protect her from teasing she has been homeschooled by her loving but strict parents. I assumed that this was going to be a tale of overcoming adversity and making good in the community after Piper saves the day in some dramatic way - and this isn't a criticism I love tales like this!

However Piper is special because she can fly. Unaided. Lots of people are interested in this and once Piper lets her talent be seen in public many people try to exploit her. Piper decides that for her safety, and that of her parents she will go away to school and learn how to use her special powers safely.

And this is where the book takes a sharp right angle from expectation and becomes a gripping thriller with great sci-fi undertones.

I love being surprised by books, especially ones as well written and compelling as this one. It would have been a good book had it followed the lines I'd assigned it, it became a great book with the twist.

The copy I read was an American hardback and I think that the cover helped misguide me some what. the book will be out in the UK in January 2010 and the cover is going to be very different:

I'm not sure that I'd have necessarily chosen it from a pile with this cover and I don't think the story would have surprised me quite as much as it did.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Who Knew?

Who Knew?
OK so I am as surprised as the next person - working in a library and being surrounded by books all day has actually cut my reading!

There is a reason for this. I am spending a lot of my days reading training manuals and library policies so that in theory I know what I am doing. This means that by the time I get home my brain is fried and it is all I can do to concentrate on daft comedy reruns or gentle nature programmes.

This week I have felt the fog start to lift and I've started to think about what to read next. I'm thinking about looking at the Booker Longlist and tackling a couple from there, before that I think a nice soothing children's book is called for...

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Right and wrong?

Evil? - Timothy Carter

This book was delivered earlier this week, and to be honest I had forgotten that I'd ordered it. To celebrate my new job I went on a little bit of a book buying spree. The books have been trickling in slowly and I guess I must have read a review somewhere to highlight this one. Once it arrived it instantly went to the top of my to read pile.

Stuart is growing up in a small community in Canada, as a whole the town is pretty religious but open minded and when Stu found the courage to announce his sexuality he was accepted fully. However there are now less benign leaders in the community and while homosexuality is tolerated other 'sins' become crimes and hatred, violence and persecution follow.

Stuart meets some true friends in the course of his journey and whilst never preaching this book has a lot to say about many things, especially tolerance and taking things at face value.

This book is not perfect, I've read the last two chapters a couple of times now and I am still a little hazy on exactly what happened, but as whole I think that this book is an important addition to the young adult market and I hope that it finds a UK publisher very very soon. It is one of those rare books that could easily be used in schools to make many valid points whilst at the same time be interesting to young adults.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

To read or not to read.

The Rights of the Reader - Daniel Pennac

I've just had three months not working. That has meant three months in which I could read all day without feeling guilty - well after doing the house work and job hunting of course. I had lots of plans back in May. I was going to catch up on my 'to read' pile, I was going to read all of those neglected classics and I was going to read some of those serious novels that I've been avoiding.

Instead I've haunted the library at least twice weekly, I've read all manner of teen novels, re-visited old favourites and indulged in an orgy of chick-lit. My to read pile hasn't diminished at all and the closest I've been to a classic was my umpteenth reread of Little Women. I should be rejoining the working world next week and now the guilt has set in that I haven't read all that I should have done.

In one of my frequent library visits I found Pennac's book and all of a sudden any guilt has vanished.

The Rights of the Reader
is not like many books about books and reading. Pennac's point is that as soon as you start studying books, or even thinking about them in too much detail, then the pleasure vanishes. His point is that reading is fun, not a chore or a guilty pleasure and that everyone has the right to read (or not to read).
This book was a timely find for me, reading is one of my greatest pleasures and so I should read what I want, not what I think I should be reading. It doesn't matter if I am reading this year's Booker Shortlist or the Very Hungry Caterpillar so long as I am enjoying the book.

I am going to make myself a large copy of Pennac's ten 'rights' and keep them close to hand and then I am going to reread Anne of Green Gables - without feeling guilty.

The Rights of the Reader.

1. The right not to read
2. The right to skip
3. The right not to finish a book
4. The right to read it again
5. The right to read anything
6. The right to mistake a book for real life
7. The right to read anywhere
8. The right to dip in
9. The right to read out loud
10. The right to be quiet