“Let us read, and let us dance;
these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”

Sunday, 29 May 2011


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(Apologies if you follow me on Twitter - I imgaine that you are already aware of the following!)

LeedsBookClub now has it's own Facebook page. If you prefer to glance over t'blog there, please feel free to swing by and give us a 'like'

Saturday, 28 May 2011

E-Books, Free books and audiobooks. Oh My!

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(Last week, a friend of mine confessed that she had no idea where to find a good selection for her eReader. I've done a little digging and these are my favourites)

So, you betrayed your principles, the printed page and all that is good in the world and acquired an eReader.*

You've tinkered with the settings, brightness and contrast.

You've oohed and aahed at the 'amazing' screensavers and marvelled at the glare free screen.

You've downloaded the free copy of Winnie the Pooh from the linked book store (where available).

Now it's time to build up some sort of collection.

So, I love buying books...

There are a number of sites/marketplaces/stores where e-Books -  in a variety of different formats - are fairly accessible, even to the most technically challenged reader. Possibly the best known are Amazon and Apple, but most book stores and their related web sites now have ebook sections.

For some incredibly inconvenient reason, there are dozens of different formats, so bear in mind that you need to research which will work for you.
How annoying.
I hate when these 'format wars' come into play. Sure, part of the battle is to find a suitable working format, but for the most part, I'm pretty sure this overwhelmingly  impacts the consumer negatively. Like if you had a kindle and then got an iPad, you can't (couldn't?) swop your books over? Grrr.

From a quick search online, and after chatting with my mates, there are two primary complaints to be heard over and over again - eBooks cost too much, and the choice is limited.
With regards to the latter, I think that time will be the only solution. The longer eBooks are a viable option, the more books will be released in varying formats. And here in the UK, the emphasis is till very much on printed books. As the eBook market grows, more stores will offer a greater range.
However, the former is a little more tricky. See, me, I like books. I actually prefer reading a page over a screen. And I value having a *physical* copy on my shelves. So, I wouldn't want to pay full price for a virtual book - I just wouldn't feel like it's good value for money. I'm aware that's probably a little ridiculous - same author, same work etc. Besides, I'm always terrified everything will get wiped in some unimaginably horrible home IT catastrophe.
I expect that eBooks will follow the same path as music. Virtual albums originally cost the same as a CD version, and are now often considerably cheaper. Course it took years for that to start...

...but I prefer when I get them for free

So it's good to know that there are some fantastic book shop alternatives, offering public domain books, audio books and more FOR FREE - my favourite price for any book! (Course this is just to get you started. A definitive list would take forever and a day!)

Your Local Libraries - That's right folks, chances are, your library is providing or preparing to provide ebooks and you never even knew it! Recently, there have been new deals worked out between libraries and publishing houses so if you haven't thought to check before - now might be the perfect time!

Project Gutenberg - I can't possibly promote this site enough. I think I tell every person I can about it!
Created in 1971 to digitise and archive cultural works, in order to encourage access to eBooks; there are now over 10 different affiliated sites (i.e. Project Gutenberg Australia). All the books submitted to PG are in the 'Public Domain' or out of copy write, so there are just tons of classics! I love the ideology and concepts that drive PG. Mostly, I love being able to access over 34 000  books (in multiple formats). So regardless of your eReader, you should be able to find something you can use!

LibriVox - Since 2005, this site provides a free online audio library, with a collection of over 4200 audio books as of the beginning of this year. Run by volunteers; any one with an interest can contribute by recording excerpts/chapters/books for the site. The site is predominantly orientated towards English language content, though slowly other languages are starting to become available.
In all honesty, the quality of the audio books varies - some are as polished as professional audio books, while others are ...not, with gaps, or mumbled parts.
There is an easy work around for that. Download an audio book, and if you think that you could read it better - do so!!

Google Books - Either the best or worst thing to happen to literature, depending on whom you ask. Google books provides full scans of books, in some cases regardless of whether the author approves. Have to admit, it's still pretty useful, if a bit murky. 

Open Content Alliance - Created in part as a response to the Google Books, this site differs in that it digitises books AFTER receiving permission from the copyright holder. Member of the Open Book Alliance.**

And there are some sites that specialise on particular geographical regions.

Runivers - a not for profit website focused on providing library like access to Russian culture and history. (Slightly controversial this - the site has been criticised for using borrowed content. You've been warned. I imagine that if Russian history, literature and culture is your thing, you'll have been right put off by this addendum...)

Europeana - This is the hub for digitised culture throughout Europe - books, music, art - this site has a little bit of everything. Institutions across the continent have all contributed, and the idea is to bring together European Culture to be accessed by all.

Project Runeberg -Patterned after PG, this specialises in Nordic History.

Anyhoo, these are just a few of the dozens of sites out there, but free from dodgy malware (a worry whenever you look at downloading anything). Feel free to share your favourites in the comments!

*Not phrased thus through jealousy. Honest. My lack of eReader status has left me with no bitterness.

**Collection of book related sites, unified by opposition to the Google Book Settlement. They are working together to avoid a monopoly in the digital marketplace.

Covering Up with Annabel Astor

I made this: BookElf at 10:33 am 0 comments Links to this post
One of the stranger bits of news this week revealed that not only does SamCam do a mean potato salad, but her mum has a fetish for covering her books in cream and pink paper.

In an article in the FT this Saturday, Lady “Call me Annabel” Astor admits that the practice drives her husband mad. I can imagine; it would drive me potty. Surely the pleasure of buying and collecting books is to have them there, looking at you, tempting you with their ridiculous, florid, beautiful designs.

Covering books puts one in mind of school days, when everything was coated in layers of brown paper. In my last year of primary school we got a laminator. If you’ve never played with a laminator don’t, it instantly becomes an addiction. Pretty soon we were bringing all our books from home in to be covered in sticky, rubbish, bubble filled plastic.

Covering a book in paper and giving it to a child is more or less an open invitation to practice your hand styles, or at least it was when I was at school. Many is a time I practised my signature, plus of course the usual “JMH hearts **/**/**/**”. Looking back I really hope IDST didn’t work, as there are a few things I would love to get out of…

But why would an adult women cover her books? I can sort of understand covering them in plastic to protect them like we do at work, but I’m guessing that, being rich, quite a few will be first editions, and even the addition of magic tape ruins the value of these.

Book covers have in recent years become a bigger reason to buy the book than the story itself. Given the opportunity I will spend hours wandering in a bliss filled state round Waterstones touching and looking at the covers. I recently purchased “We, The Drowned” by Carsten Jensen purely because the cover was so beautiful, an almost willow-pattern ship on a swirl of intricate waves, with blue tinted pages. Instantly in love. David Mitchell’s books are brilliant, but whoever designs his covers should get a Gold Star for marketing value. Our book club became hooked on Karen Maitland, not because we all loved her books that much, in fact we all hated the ending of “Company of Liars”, but the covers were so pretty…

Book covers also instantly puts whatever you’re reading into genre. My chick-lit pastel pink early naughties phase may be over, but the drawings of shoes and handbags and bottle of wine very much aren’t. There is a whole lot of money to be made out of women who like books with swirly fonts and shots of vintage-style gardens on the front, as publishing houses are finding out. The re-release of Wuthering Heights in a ‘Twilight’ style format may have caused hilarity amongst the more discerning book snob, but it got a whole load of teenagers reading the classic and, much as I hate that book, that’s no bad thing.

No, I think Lady Astor is hiding something here. I remember an analysis of some politician, possibly Cameron’s, bookcase Many Moons ago in the Guardian, it was all Tomes, biographies and doorstopper crime novels. Uncover that cream paper and what would we find? Is Annabel, like me, a secret Emma Blair addict? Does she have the complete Danielle Steele wrapped in pale pink? Or is she *gasp* a James Patterson fan?

If she does have a collection of trash then she should own that. Maybe if more ‘successful’ people in the public eye came out and said, you know what, I love my battered falling apart copies of ‘The Man Who Made Husband’s Jealous’, we’d have a nation that talks about reading, and is proud of their books, and doesn’t feel the need hide them away in cream paper, sneaking them out of their bags on the tube because they’re on Richard and Judy’s Reading List and they're ashamed of liking something that isn’t Madame Bovary, or some ridiculous Art House writer you can’t read without wanting to put your head in a vice and squeeze it all out afterwards.

This is a dangerous precedent to what could be a worrying trend. I have visions of day-before-Christmas style wrappings of books after this up and down BigSocBritain, in a misguided effort to Keep Up With The Astors. Please. Don’t. Read your books and be proud of them. One of the best things about going round people’s houses is exploring their books cases, what does it say about you if your too fussed about your colour scheme to be able to find out what you want to read next?

Friday, 27 May 2011

Dewey, The Small Town Library Cat that Harnessed The Secret Of Man's Red Flower, Amongst Other Things

I made this: BookElf at 2:14 pm 0 comments Links to this post
Being who I am and doing what I do for a living I was slightly surprised not to receive a copy of ‘Dewey, The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched The World’ for Christmas in 2009. It’s a book about a cat! That lives in a library! That touches lives! Come ON family, get with the programme!
Fortunately, every single other library practitioner in the world did, including three of the women I work with, so I got to read this massive bestseller eventually last week.
What can I say? This is the true life story of Dewey Readmore Books (awwww), found as a kitten on the coldest night of the year (of course) in the book bin of Spencer Public Library in Iowa and subsequently adopted by the staff and patrons there.
Written by Dewey’s ‘Mom’, library director Vicki Myron, this isn’t so much the story of the cat as the story of the town. Spencer is a typical small town, serving the farming community of Iowa. Being a bit of a Midwest nut (if you haven’t already, read A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley, in fact read anything by Jane Smiley as she is phenomenal) I found the history of the town and the community fascinating and uplifting, if a little ‘big society’ for my commune-lovin’ tastes.
The book starts in the late 80s, when times were incredibly hard for Spencer, and shows how the community pulls together to shape the town into a place they can be proud of, and sees off Evil Big Business on more than one occasion to maintain the ‘Mom and Pop’ ethos of the Iowa spirit. The book also describes Myron’s often tragically sad history of illness and coping with an alcoholic husband, and the, to me, alien world of growing up in a small farm in the 50s. I loved these aspects of the book, flew through them and instantly wanted to read more about the American Midwest and its people.
Unfortunately however, this book was mostly about a cat.
Now its not that I don’t like cats. I do. I have several friends with cats I love to visit, cat-sitting is always fun. I’m allergic to their fleas, which isn’t a great thing to be allergic to as any bites do result in scarring but other than that, me and cats get along fine.
Not being able to massively relate to the outpourings of love for this one animal that, at the end of the day , is a cat behaving like cats behave, did make me feel a little bit like a heartless cow. Seriously the way the woman describes how amazing Dewey is, how he ‘touched’ so many BY BEHAVING LIKE A CAT, how handsome and clever and distinguished and wonderful and superlative and another superlative and you know what, just for fun another fucking superlative with knobs on she might as well have been using the cat as a masturbatory aid for a great percentage of the book. Every single chapter, no matter what it was describing, ended with a schmaltzy reference to some remarkable feet that Dewey performed.
Dewey lives in the library and behaves like a cat, but because people respond to cute fluffy things, and Dewey, being a cat, responded back, somehow he became a celebrity and the town was saved. The library increased in standing in the community (because clearly the library that was providing a great service before could never have done it without A CAT). People travelled from all over the world to see Dewey, a cat, and give him cat toys. Dewey resurrected the relationship between Myron and her daughter. If Dewey had actually stood for Governor in Iowa, he probably would have won, and saved the world accordingly, if this book is anything to go by.
This annoyed me so much because apart from what it was about this was a great book! Parts were really well written, accessible and informative, why spoil it with stock lines like “Dewey was one more reason to love this hardy little town on the Iowa plains”. Some propaganda lines were so shamelessly inserted as to ruin whole chapters. Why include lines like “the heartland isn’t just a place in the middle of the country; it’s also the place in the middle of your chest”, which made me burst out laughing, in the middle of an important chapter on Spencer’s development?
Because this book is designed for a specific purpose; to make you cry, and thereby make the publishers money. Did I cry at the ending? Of course I did, a tiny bit, the same way I cry at anything with a soppy ending. But they were brief, ‘awww what a lov-er-ly story’ tears, brought on by a combination of schmaltz and a hormonal reaction to wuffy kittens. Not the endless, endless sobs I cried at the end of The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, nor the fearful bitter hold-back-the-flood at Never Let Me Go. If I hadn’t enjoyed mocking this book so much I probably wouldn’t have finished it, and this makes me the worst kind of book snob and for that I am ashamed.
Millions of people have read and loved this book. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a place. But it’s a book about a cat, when it should have been a book about a town, and that is a real, real shame.

Monday, 23 May 2011


I made this: BookElf at 9:51 am 0 comments Links to this post

The Viking Invasion continues in full swing with the first book in the slightly contrived named 'Department Q' series by Jussi Adler-Olsen (great name, no?) that has already been a massive success in Denmark and Germany being translated to English and released this month. It's already at something like 28 in the WHSmith chart (I walk past the shop twice a day, its literally how I know what "people" are reading) which surprised me because I thought this sort of thing would be a climber.

Having slight Lund withdrawal (series two in SIX MONTHS people!) I pounced on anything set in Denmark and involving some sort of crime, unfortunately this detective Carl Morck (can't quite figure how to put the line through the 'o' there! Sorry Danes!) doesn't wear The Jumper, or have the same knack of staring into the middle distance whilst simultaneously ripping the heart (and floorboards) out of the local bent politicians.

Morck is your typical washed out cop. The survivor of a shoot out that left one cop dead and his partner paralysed, Morck's attitude problem, and Copenhagen PD's general lack of funds result in his being sidelined to head a new department, the eponymous 'Q' of the series title. It's basically a cold-case department. Unfortunately, Morck ain't no Peter Boyd, and there isn't a Dr Grace Foley to keep him on the straight and narrow, just a heavily overused "assistant" Assad.

The first case investigated is that of missing politician Merete Lynggard, who vanished from a cruise ship seven years ago. Presumed drowned, in fact she has been kept prisoner by an unrelenting psycho all this time. We know this because of flashbacks to Merete in her cell, deprived of light and freedom, trying to stop herself going insane.

So what did I think? Well....I loved Morck. If Wallander is Scandinavia's Morse, Morck is it's Rebus. Every single cliche of middle-aged-detective is covered. Dysfunctional relationship with step-child. Drink problem. Slightly womanising attitude. Morck is also tolerant and kind and clearly brilliant, but still couldn't help feeling that I'd seen it before. The 'mystery' was well executed, but would have been a billion times better if there wasn't the Saw style flashbacks to the woman in the cell, as the juxtaposition with the style of writing used for the present day investigation and the flashbacks was too disparate. You either wanted to read one or the other, and I do admit to skipping, then reading back at the end.

Like watching The Killing, I wanted to know more about the Danish political system, as there are definite anti-government attitudes displayed throughout the book.

However, a great addition to the Viking invasion, I'd definitely read the rest of the series. Fans of Crime Dramas, especially Koontz and Rankin (thankfully not as disgustingly bloody as Patterson) will enjoy. I can see this being many a crime-fan's beach read this year, and they will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Book Club the Third - the meet up!

I made this: Unknown at 10:57 pm 0 comments
Date: 17th April 2011
Time: 5pm - 7pm

Agreed on: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Discussed: Touching the Void by Joe Simpson


Back in business, the Travelling Suitcase Library  was once again offering fabulous books at fabulous prices - by which I mean free! 

The Book Club
The Cons

 I've decided to start with the cons this month - you know me and the Topsy turviness  - primarily as there were only a few. Also, this book is a survival story - no one wants to end on a negative!
  • A book of two distinct sections, the latter looks at the aftermath of the accident - the path down the mountain, the processes of the two men, the mental journey each made culminating in their experiences since the climb. The former, some 70 odd pages, covered the three day climb before it all went horribly wrong. And every item of equipment, handhold, step and rationale behind each is covered. In detail.
  • While this no doubt fascinated some, the detail and jargon alienated others. One book clubber read up to this point and gave the book up in disgust. He couldn't face any more, even though he actually thought that he probably would have enjoyed it. Another reader found the book to be totally inaccessible to anyone without an interest in climbing.
  • A third clubber thought that the fundamental problem was that the author didn't recognise his audience. He might not have known that his story would attract such interest and did not set out to write for the layperson. 
  • When a reader who had really enjoyed the book suggested that the author was perhaps a better climber than writer, our deeply cynical crew were heard to mutter 'he's not that much better a climber...he did fall off...'.No one disagreed that he might not be the most natural author.
  • The most common complaint was the lack of a glossary. Every single page would have benefited. Instead, the first section read like a long monotone. 
  • Oh, and one of us took the opportunity to bemoan the English language for only having one word for snow...though he cheered up quite a bit when he reflected on how many words his mother tongue had for rain...
  • As the conversation progressed, a few confessed that while they had enjoyed the book overall, they read the first section mentally chanting 'fall...fall...oh for Pete's sake just fall already...'. Which makes them bad people. Obviously.
The Pros
Bear in mind, these complaints are directed at the first section of the book. With such a rocky opening - naturally - we for the most part really enjoyed the rest of the book!
  • From the moment that Joe Simpson fell, the book changed dramatically. While all the climbing details were included, there was a far more human voice narrating throughout.
  • The fundamental struggle for survival was all the more poignant for how simply and stoically it was described.
  • The interactions between the two climber became far more nuanced as the balance dependency balance shifted so drastically.  
  • Of particular delight were the passages describing the Voice that motivated our intrepid climber to keep going after he had been left for dead. 
  • The book was also unexpectedly humorous  in places, to the delight of all!
  • Also worthy of note was the respect for both climbers grew throughout the book, especially in relation to the description of the rope being cut. This obviously had the potential to be described in bitter, or blame placing language. Instead, it is explained logically - each step in the thought processed analysed, so by the end, the reader is aware that for those two men at that time, there was no other option available. 
  • The mist of despair and using recitation of Shakespeare to stay sane were also beautifully depicted, perhaps all the more so as the technical stuff was sooooo technical.
  • At least three clubbers were convinced that he was going to lose his leg, and nearly cheered aloud when the conclusion proved otherwise!
  • The photographs - far more than the opening chapters - instantly set the scene, and broke up the book into friendly bite sized portions. 
  • We all of us universally agreed that not one among us would EVER find ourselves in the same situation! Huge physical exertion? What!
  • Our librarian members were also impressed by its popularity at their respective centres. Repeat loans clearly meet some sort of secret approval criteria!
  • Now I made some note about this maybe being a GCSE book, or suggested as a GCSE book. Apologies, I just can't figure out what I was writing...so we'll have to sacrifice that one to the gods of book clubs.
  • Recommend reading on a bright sunny day. Reading this book in the rain was miserable!

The Verdict
We would recommend it, but not too everyone. And only after disowning the first few dozen pages.

  • This is one of the only books that the person who chose this book has ever completed!
  • We were wonderfully catered too by generous book club members who brought us deliciously marvellous cake! A lemon sponge with lemon curd (mmmmmm) on the one hand, and chocolate brownies on the other! 

Next Month's Book
Nope, not that David Mitchell. Next meeting is going to be on Sunday, 15th May 2011! Looking forward to seeing you there!

Suggestions for Next Book Club!

Soundtrack (as provided by BOOKELF!)
  • Doctor Horrible Sing Along Blog

* * * * * 
Arcadia LBC

21 - Nov - Hard Times - Charles Dickens
20 - Oct - The New York Trilogy - Paul Auster GUEST - @CultureLEEDS
19 - Sep - The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins GUEST - @CultureLEEDS
18 - Aug - The Princess Bride - William Goldman
17 - Jul - A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini GUEST
16 - Jun - Cry the Beloved Country - Alan Paton
15 - May - 1984 - George Orwell GUEST - @CultureLEEDS
14 - Apr - BloodChild and Other Stories - Octavia Butler
13 - Mar - The Year of the Hare - Arto Paasilinna
12 - Feb - Heat Wave - Richard Castle
11 - Jan - The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint - Brady Udall
10 - Nov - Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes

* * * * *
Book Club - Table of Contents

* * * * *

Monday, 9 May 2011

Blogalong The Foutainhead Part VIII

I made this: BookElf at 1:07 pm 0 comments Links to this post
So. It is over. It is finished. I never have to read that book again, if I so choose.

Any yet....and yet...

I don't think a fiction book has made me fundamental question myself more than The Fountainhead. From enjoying it as a tract against classicism in favour of modernism, to the brilliantly succinct ripping apart of the actually liberal elite to whom I hope to God I don't belong (though clearly I do, which makes me feel a little bit sick, to be honest. How awful are we?), there were parts of this book that bored me stiff, but the parts that made me jump up and down, and immediately want to have Long and Involved Conversations were so many, I can't not give it 5 stars.

So. What have I come out of this book thinking? I'm going to attempt to break this all down into points. If this makes no sense, bear with.

a) Collectivism, egotism, and me.

I still think that it would be better for everyone if we all worked and lived as one. However. The idea of 'enshrining mediocrity', of a man whose only genius is gathering others together in order to collectively tell the masses what they think today-that’s a very scary concept. In a world of social networking, which I have become heavily influenced by, how many so called 'Voices' are actually Ellsworth's puppets? How many columnists and bloggers and Orwell Prizer's am I reading, and being influenced by, which ultimately mean I have no free thought of my own, no way of achieving greatness because I am taking everything I believe in from a handful of sources, who don't come with bibliographies attached. If we are all just clicking onto links onto links onto links, how do we know we aren't just self-perpetuating a myth we are connected, when we are just Ellsworth's Utopia, a thoughtless pulsing mass? This thought kept me awake all weekend, and I have come to the following conclusion; as long as one is self-aware that Twitter/Blogosphere/Facebook/Whatever is a tool to be used for research in the same way as any good database, as long as we do not sacrifice thought to Google, and as long as I never ever believe anything that anyone says about me, and have no idols, no pedestals to put the Ciffers and the bloggers and the tweeters that I have previously aimed to be one of, I should be OK. I won't end up a Lois Cook.

The major change this has brought; having a Guardian by-line by the time I'm thirty is no longer an ambition, because I don't want to be a 'Voice' of the people, I don't want to be mediocrity enshrined.

b) Altruism

I've already talked about how much the thought of turning into Catherine scares me. I'm now thinking something along these lines; its OK to be selfish, as long as you are honest about it. However. In order to prevent the Worship of the Catherine's (and it happens, I've seen it, and it's horrible), being a Good Person should be mandatory. If everyone used 'From Each According to His Ability to Each According To His Need' as a starting point for the rest of their life, there would be no room for selfishness. And even if some people do naturally feel good after a hard days graft, is there anything really wrong with that? So long as you don't end up with an army of followers because you are behaving in a way that is natural to you and should be normal in any case, then I don't really see the harm. There is far too much of a 'I Will Work Harder' attitude to altruism rather than one of 'this is what I do, because what else would I do?', in my opinion.

However, this is an incredibly privileged viewpoint that completely disregards human frailty and socio-economic circumstance and that brings me to another point.

c) Privilige

This book isn't rich v poor. It does however make sweeping statements about the rich v poor argument. Roark will live in squalor rather than see his ideas warped by classicism, however he cannot see how a family on low income would maybe not be able to do this.
Gail Wynard comes from 'nothing' and ends up full of power and stuff. This somehow means he has 'won'. However, he was in the privileged position of being clever, and not having a family to support. Again, he cannot appreciate why someone who was not as clever as he was wouldn't do as well.
Dominique Francon. Just don't even get me started. It must be nice to be that attractive and rich and clever and manipulative and spiteful and still manage to make that little sense.
This book made me realise I'm not actually that great a feminist, though that never came as such a huge surprise!

d) The Book Isn't Real

I have had to apologise so many times over the last three weeks for letting a fiction book take over my life (despite what I do for a living/what I spend the majority of my time doing, I have still failed in finding enough outlets for my bibliophilia). I am sorry for being really really boring, for having one crises after another, for clogging up timelines, and for generally being a right pain in the arse. I know a hell of a lot of people hate Rand. I don't. I don't like hating. You have to turn over your garden occasionally, and when you do weeds appear. But isn't it better to know the weeds are there so you can get rid of them? Reading this book was more self exploratory for me than acid (not that I take acid, you understand). I have had such an amazing time doing it and thank you to everyone who has been reading the blog updates, and listened to me winge, and to @Lingmops and @CharlotteGore for lending me the book in the first place. Sorry, the spine is a little creased. And I'm going to leave it a good six months before I attempt Atlas Shrugged, if it's all the same to you.

Happy Reading!
BookElf xxx


Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 08 
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 07
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 06
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 05
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 04
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 03
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 02
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 01

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Blogalong The Fountainhead Part VII

I made this: BookElf at 5:08 pm 1 comments Links to this post
Part 3-Gail Wynard

Meh, really. Just. Meh.

Mostly Dominique and husband no. 2 Gail Wynard talking in very long sentences that I couldn't really follow due to not caring about them about how much they worship sky scrapers. I'm sure there was some massively important point I was missing but after the drama and excitement of Part 2, meh.

The chapter with les artistes was hilarious though. Having gone through a Creative Writing degree I have very much been in that room on several occasions.

Rand's prose is better than her dialogue. Never mind. On to Part 4- Howard Roark....



Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 08 
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 07
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 06
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 05
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 04
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 03
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 02
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 01

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Blogalong The Fountainhead Part VI

I made this: BookElf at 2:45 pm 1 comments Links to this post
So this weekend I had a bit of a crisis.

Having always considered myself a fairly decent sort, who tries to do her up most to live a fairly decent life, I am suddenly struck with horror and guilt that I might be a Catherine.

Catherine and Ellsworth (hate Ellsworth, hate him) have this long heart to heart (also known as Ellsworth Being a Manipulative Shit) towards the the end of Part 2 of the book, during which Catherine confesses to feeling superior to everyone she works with in social work, hating people who can do stuff for themselves because they don't need her, and needing to be needed. She has tried so hard to help people, and has discovered that this is actually because it makes her feel better about herself, not because she is a 'good' person. Ellsworth calls her a selfish egotist and basically tells her to strap on a pair (which I've been saying from the beginning but never mind).

Now, altruism and me have always had an interesting relationship. Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing stuff for other people, there is nothing more boring than a leper washer. Also, it isn't really 'doing stuff for other people' when you end up with a cracking CV you flash around at every opportunity, is it?

However, I very much aspire to be a Decent Sort, and for me that includes Doing Shit For Free (ie voluntahing), and what have you. Hence the TSL (actually, that's bollocks, the TSL was started because I was bored and boys like girls who like boys, right (ha! bit of a backfire there!) and it's only since starting it that I've had to say its because I'm a Decent Sort as opposed to a very Regular Sort with a slightly boring hobby in order not to come across as Odd. Thus is the world we live in).

So how can I possibly do anything ever if everything is ultimately selfish? And then as soon as you say 'I am self-defining as selfish. I am OK with this' you have the world at your back going 'but you're not, you do so much good, oh I want to blow your goodness'. Its like the whole 'fat girl' thing but worse. Heads up-I am self-defining. I don't need your permission to be something. OK? Good.

Anyways. See. This is what I'm talking about! Crisis! Turns me into a right cow-bag!

I had a horrible horrible waking-up-at-eight-on-a-weekend-damn-it cannot stop thinking about what it all means-er of a time, before deciding to try and not to think about it anymore, because I was going round in hideous circles and boring the the tits off everyone on Twitter. (sorry, twitter).

As many have pointed out, this is Not The Real World. Rand's New York is superficial and stylised, and she uses extremes that would never work in real life in order to make broad sweeping judgements. A lot of people hate her for this. I don't. I think its brilliant. How uncomfortable was I made by this device? How much did it make me think? How big an emotional response has her writing made me have? You can't knock someone for that; writing fictional prose in a way to evoke both a decent plot, an emotionally challenging theme and complete characters that embody everything and nothing at the same time is hard. I am loving the book in the same way I love watching a really powerful film that makes me sit up that little bit straighter. Sometimes you just want to think, really think. And Rand is letting me do that.

Of course she's also making me question my very existence to the point where I was seriously contemplating quitting my job, and the TSL, and twitter and blogging and working in pubs again just to make sure I wasn't being like Catherine. I'm not. But if I hadn't had people to listen to me rant off for a bit I very nearly could.

Scary times.

Anyway. Dominique has for some weird reason married Peter Keating, who is cracking up massively (honest to God i understand AV* more than I understand Dominique). Roark is once again broken after Ellsworth treacherously got him a job, only to persuade the guy to sue him (bastard, bastard) and along with his Collection of Emos appears to have hit rock bottom. What could possibly happen next? We begin Part 3 with a new enemy, the newspaper oligarch Gail Wynard. I know this enemy, and so feel a little bit more like my feet are on solid ground. Knowing Rand though, they won't be for much longer...

*Yes. I think. Errrr


Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 08 
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 07
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 06
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 05
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 04
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 03
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 02
Blog-Along-The-Fountainhead - Part 01

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Poddy goes Fourth - The sunniest author in the world - Fannie Flagg

I made this: Unknown at 7:11 pm 0 comments Links to this post
* * *PODCAST* * *

Usual language and spoiler warnings apply. Though we do much better on the language front to be honest with you.

In this weeks exciting adventure, we delve into the delightful world of Fannie Flagg, covering the following books:

Fried Green Tomatoes
Welcome to the World, Baby Girl
Standing in the Rainbow
Can't wait to go to Heaven
I still dream of you

Podcast goes fourth - The sunniest author in the World - Fannie Flagg
Poddy goes fourth


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