Wednesday, 27 October 2010

I'm so dizzy...

...and no I'm not blonde!

I've not been well over the past 10 days or so and I've not simply lost my reading mojo, I've actually been finding reading nearly impossible. As anyone who knows me will understand this is not a happy place to find me in.

I've found the solution though - short stories. I've never been against the format as such but being a fast reader I've always preferred a longer story with lots of plot and character development.

However having balance problems and then side effects from the medicine I've needed to try something different, and it was the short story to the rescue.

I've been dipping into some of the Sherlock Holmes stories (who me - inspired to do so by the BBC series Sherlock? No! Never!) and really enjoying them. For short stories they have a lot of plot and character and it would seem that perhaps I also only have an aversion to modern crime as I am loving the problem solving that Conan Doyle creates.

When my mind has felt too woolly I've been trying other short stories and books of essays. Unusually for when I am ill the comfort reading of my 1930s school stories has failed and Elinor Brent Dyer's short stories left me cold, as did the chapters of PJ O'Rourke, Matt Frei and Justin Webb that I tried. I am quite enjoying some of Annie Proulx's short stories but they are hit and miss and it is definitely only *some* of them I am enjoying. And as a side not how did they get a full length movie out of Brokeback Mountain.

Anyway the next case for Holmes and Watson beckons so I shall leave you with a gratuitous shot from Sherlock and thank the BBC for encouraging me to try something different*

* And just as an aside to Mr Norfolkbookworm - just cos Sherlock owes a lot to Dr Who and inspired me to try something new this doesn't mean I will become a convert to that series!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Christmas must be coming...

...the shops are full of s'lebrity autobiographies!

I've just walked through the city centre and while I wasn't actually shopping I couldn't help but look at the bookshop window displays. Even without looking at a calendar I could tell we were in the run up to the PGP* - the posters and windows were full of celebrity (auto)biographies.

All of them looking the same.

Last year the look was sitting down head on arms, this year it is standing up laughing.

I like biographies and autobiographies, perhaps I am just a nosy person but I love reading about other people. Sometimes I wish I lead the same sort of exciting lives as others do, but most of the time I am pleased that I don't.

I'll read a biography at any time of the year if I am interested in a person and I really don't understand how the autumn has become synonymous with (auto)biography. You only have to look in the charity shops (or work the refund desk in a bookshop) in January to know that these books are often unwanted gifts given by desperate family members. I've come to see them as the book equivalent of the bunch of flowers from the petrol station!

The other problem is that as the autumn is considered biography season the ones I want to read are also published at this time of year, but as the subjects aren't as 'sexy' or 'bankable' the books get lost, don't do very well and then publishers don't take risks on these more eclectic biographies and each year there are more celebrity memoirs and less interesting ones.

The biography that I am reading at the moment is Storyteller, The Life of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock.
It is a hefty tome and one I am dipping in and out of rather than racing through. I'd always known that Dahl wasn't your typical children's author and that he had a dark side but this book is wonderfully balanced, all sides of Dahl are written about. I think my favourite part so far has been where Sturrock compared Dahl's real life to the account he gives in his two volumes of 'autobiography'. I love Boy and Going Solo and deep down I always knew that were more likely to be a heavily fictionalised account of Dahl's life but the genius of this biography is that I can still love these two books whilst also knowing the truth. Storyteller whilst being honest isn't a hatchet job and it is still okay to love Roald Dahl's books.

There are a few more biographies I want to read being published this autumn but all I know is that they aren't of celebrities and they won't all look identical.

*PGP - Primary Gifting Period. I've loved this term for Christmas ever since I heard Bill Bailey use it.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Manuals and Ancient Literature

I have to confess that I haven't been reading a lot of fiction recently. I recently dusted off my camera and have been forcing Mr Bookworm to drive me around Norfolk and Suffolk so that I can get my hand (and my eye) back in.

We've been quite lucky with the the weather during my weekends off and I've had great fun taking loads and loads (and loads) of pictures and then spending my days off editing them.

I will sort myself out with a proper Flicker stream soon as I have taken some pictures that I am quite proud of and would like to share with more people.

However I am trying to get to grips with some new photo editing software so I am working my way through a lot of manuals. I think that I must work better being shown how to do things as I keep looking at the books and managing the very basic editing 'bits' but the stuff I want to do is beyond me at the moment. I'm hoping to persuade my dad to teach me more in a couple of weeks (not that he knows this unless he's reading this post!).

Mr Bookworm and I are also off to Cambridge to see Agamemnon in a couple of weeks, as the play is going to be in ancient Greek I am trying to get a head by reading the play in English before this. However people keep mentioning other classical works I might like and I have been side tracked into the Lysistrata (one of the Banned Books for our evening on Tuesday) and Ovid (abhorred by the first Bishop of Norwich as I discovered during a fascinating talk by a colleague)
Focus is what I need and not just that which is found through my camera!