Tuesday, 31 December 2019

End of a decade

What a decade!

In shamelessly using a popular music CD series I am cunningly going to talk about the past decade in books. This is of course in no way a distraction so I don't have to decide which were the best books of the past year you understand!

On looking back through my reading journals I have discovered that I have been keeping a pretty thorough record of my reading since 2009, however as this is an end of decade summing up I will only take the books I've read since January 2010. It is my blog after all and no matter the arguments put forward by Mr Norfolkbookworm as to when the decade actually runs I am going with Jan 1st 2010-December 31st 2019.

In that time I have recorded I've read 3103 books 😲 Or 310 books a year 😲😲

When you take into account that I don't think I've included all of the picture books I've read to my nephew in this list, or the day I spent at the Booktrust helping select books for the packs given to pre-school aged children this is staggering, even for me.
It also covers the 3 years I spent studying for an MA and the time since my brain haemorrhage which severely cut back on what I was able to read.

I do include all of my re-reads/comfort reads in my lists so this isn't actually 3103 unique books but regardless this is a vast number that has left me feeling a bit flabbergasted...

I will spend some more time looking at the lists and definitely produce my 'best of 2019' list in the next day or so, but I will also look through the entire list and try and pick my highlights of the decade too.

I think that my reading highlight of this year has been sharing books as a family, especially with Kentishbookboy. In early 2010, before he was even born, I took my sister on a book buying trip to start his library and now it has paid off as we get to share books properly now.

For this year his favourite book we've shared was Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (mine and his mum's was The Umbrella Mouse and Mr Norfolkbookworm can't decide between these two!)

As a book memory from the decade it has to be one that Kentishbookboy and I share and that is the wonderful Thud by Nick Butterworth as we've had years of fun acting that out between us.

Wishing all of my readers a very Happy (and book filled) New Year and here's to another decade of good books!

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Review Six: book group at a distance

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling

These books have been a huge part of my adult life, I started book selling just after the second book in the series came out, but at that time there wasn't a lot of fuss around the books, I don't recall anyone coming in to the shop asking for them particularly. In a bid to become a specialist Children's Bookseller I was reading as much as possible that was coming out and both Mr Norfolkbookworm and I really enjoyed the first two and I know that I was recommending them long before they were the huge hit they later became.

I was involved in the launch parties for all of the remaining books of the initial series, and I know that I missed my sister's hen night because I was working on the midnight launch of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It has to be said that she was never a fan of the books but I do wonder if this has anything to do with her antipathy...

However this year Kentishbookboy expressed an interest in trying at least the first book in the series and so my poor sister had to grit her teeth and give the book a go.  I'd reread the whole series as a reward for finishing my MA a few years back and Mr Norfolkbookworm also decided that it was a good time for a reread...

As before Kentishbookboy's thoughts are in purple and mine are in brown.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter has never event heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry's eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He has to make new friends, as well as learning about his past.

Harry Potter lives with his aunt, uncle and cousin and believes that his parents died in a car crash (that was their fault) and has left him with a distinctive scar - which his family insist remains hidden.  Strange things have often happened around Harry but until his eleventh birthday he had no idea just how magical these things really were.
Once Harry gets to Hogwarts he has to learn about his history whilst making his own way in a new world.

Harry Potter lived a tough life living with his Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon and their son, Dudley. From having to sleep in a cupboard under the stairs, to trying to stay out of the way, life was just too hard. Learning about his past brings lots of danger to him and his friends during their adventures that they must overcome together whilst at Hogwarts.

Harry's main dilemma in this book is learning who he is, who is friends are and what is right and wrong. He also has to learn that even magic can't always give him what he wants the most.

Courage, loyalty and friendship are great themes for the book. It symbolises to always have trust in your friends, no matter what.

As this is the first part of a series the morals and themes that feature in this book are all laying the foundation stones for future adventures (which I can see as I have had the pleasure of reading the books before) but learning who to trust, and who your friends are is an important part of this book, as is learning when to follow rules and when to trust your instincts.

This book is a really good adventure story and is really interesting book to read. I think J.K. Rowling is a talented author and turns ideas in to an action packed story! I would highly recommend it and give it five stars.

I agree with the Kentishbookboy, this is a great story and if as an adult I can see where her influences come from it doesn't spoil the story at all - it is a real page turner. I think that I'd give it four stars now but I know that on my first read I thought it was a great new voice/addition to the Kidlt area. I also enjoy a lot of the wordplay and puns.

I know that Mr Norfolkbookworm really enjoyed his reread of the book, and like he said the writing might not have been the greatest but the plot and story are and they are what count.  I think that the biggest surprise is knowing that Kentishbookboy's mum is also intrigued enough to want to know what happens to the characters in book two...

We're hoping to fit in one more non-festive shared book before we pick a Christmas book to enjoy.