Sunday, 19 December 2010

World Book Night challenge 1/25

Alan Bennett - A Life Like Other People's

This wasn't the first book from the 25 that I intended to read, but when I got to work yesterday I realised that I had forgotten the book that I was actually half way through. No problems as I work in a library but it was serendipitous to find this one on the returns trolley just as my break started.

I've long admired Bennett for his plays and screen plays, and I found his Uncommon Reader a pleasant little story but I'd not read any of his longer or autobiographical works before nor, if I'm honest, had I any inclination to.

This was a real treat. It isn't a happy book by any means but there is such humour amongst the poignancy that it isn't depressing. Bennett comes from a family of genteel eccentrics and his love for them is what shines through this piece of writing. Mental health is not an easy topic to write about either as a witness or sufferer but I found the balance to be struck perfectly in this volume. Bennett neither glamourises it, nor demonises it and appears to be totally honest in writing his reactions to it.

As ever an eloquent review of this book is not forthcoming all I want to do is run around and tell everyone how wonderful it is. Oh and read more of Bennett's autobiography, which won't help my challenge at all as there two volumes of over 600 pages each!

It is a great pick for World Book Night as it is an autobiography by one of our National Treasures TM it isn't overly long and even if you can't relate to the exact issues in Bennett's history his style of writing draws you in regardless.

I hope the next 24 are as good, but this one is going to be hard to beat.

Friday, 10 December 2010

World Book Day

Ever since I started working in the book trade, far too many years ago to count, I have been a fan of World Book Day. I thought it was odd that we in the UK celebrated it on the 1st Thursday in March when the rest of the world did so on April 23rd but never mind - free books for children that's all that mattered.

This year the scheme has changed slightly and grown ups can get involved, and get free books too.

25 titles have been chosen by various people and then during the first week of March 40 000 copies of each book will be given away free. More details can be found on the official website but the 25 books are:

  • A Fine Balance by Rohintan Mistry
  • A Life Like Other People's - Alan Bennett
  • Operation Mincemeat - Ben Macintyre
  • All Quiet on the Western Front - Eric Maria Remarque
  • Beloved - Toni Morrison
  • Case Histories - Kate Atkinson
  • Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
  • Dissolution - C J Sansom
  • Fingersmith - Sarah Waters
  • Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Killing Floor - Lee Child
  • Life of Pi - Yann Martel
  • Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Northern Lights - Philip Pullman
  • One Day - David Nicholls
  • Rachel's Holiday - Marian Keyes
  • New Selected Poems - Seamus Heaney
  • Stuart: A Life Backwards - Alexander Masters
  • The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood
  • Curios Incident of the Dog in the Night Time - Mark Haddon
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid
  • The Spy Who Came in from the Cold - John le Carre
  • The World's Wife - Carol Ann Duffy
  • Toast - Nigel Slater
Now I've read quite a few of these already but I've set myself the challenge to read or re-read all of these books before March 5th 2011 and to blog about them. AS I work in the library I can read all f these books for free already so that won't hinder progress, but I feel I will have to start with the poetry as those two titles will probably be my biggest challenge

I'm not usually very good when I 'have' to read a book but as this is a task I have set myself I will probably be OK.

I also have to decide which book I am going to apply for to give where did I put my copy of the Northern Lights?