“O let my books be then the eloquence and dumb presagers of my speaking breast.”

Sonnet 23

William Shakespeare

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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As a special ‘welcome to 2013’ present, here’s the next instalment of my 30 Day Book Challenge… Maybe you could pick up one of the books to aid the tiredness or pounding headache from last night’s parties and celebrations?! 😉

DAY 15: Favourite book dealing with foreign culture – ‘The House of the Spirits’ by imagesIsabel Allende, which I’ve blogged about before, is a great book and Allende writes in incredible detail and desciption about Chile, esepcially during the revolution, but I also think ‘Wild Swans’ by Jung Chang is an amazing book – I knew virtually nothing about China’s history before, but this book is engaging, informative and gripping – and a brilliant novel for getting to grips with the effect of China’s history on real people, not just the bare political facts.

DAY 16: Favourite book turned movie – I know it isn’t strictly a movie, more of a tv serial, but I’m currently watching the entirity of the BBC adimagesaptation of ‘Bleak House’ by Charles Dickens. I watched some of it when it first came out, but I think I was only about 12ish, and now I actually understand it – even though Dickens is often confusing, with all the different characters and their criss-crossed relationships, in this adaptation it’s easy to understand everythin, and they actually make the comic characters quite funny, or at least, I think so. I’ve never actually read the book (oh, the shame!) but if you’re immediately put off by the mention of Dickens, in this book, a character spontaneously combusts! You don’t get much cooler than that 😉

But if rom-coms are more your type of fun, the old, 1995 BBC adaptation of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle is also brilliant – both adapted for the screen by Andrew Davies coincidentally.

DAY 17: Book turned movie and completely desecrated – Well this is easy. ‘P.S. I Love You’ is a brilliant ‘rainy day’ book; imagesenjoyable, bit sad, uplifting, basically chick-lit to be honest, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t well-written. I cannot believe what they did to the movie. The book is touching, romantic, but not soppy and funny, like all of Cecelia Ahern‘s novels, yet the film is literally about two hours of Hilary Swank crying. And that is it.

DAY 18: A book you can’t find on shelves anymore that you love – Hmmm… I think I’m bending the rules a bit here, but when I wanted to read ‘Letters to Alice on first reading Jane Austen’ by Fay Wheldon, I couldn’t find at any of the bookshops, only second hand on amazon. imagesUsually I only buy present-books on Amazon, because with books for myself I have to feel and smell them. Yep, call me weird, but that’s just part of being an English-nerd 🙂 So buying it online (and not a particularly nice edition to be honest, as you can see) was a bit of a disappointment. If you can get this online, it’s a great read; especially the section on the ‘city of authors’

DAY 19: A book that changed your mind about a particular subject (non-fiction) – Hard to put one down for this; I’m afraid I don’t read lots of non-fiction books, unless they’re about Shakespeare or English, and I like to think I’m reasonably open-minded about those two topics. It isn’t a non-fiction book, but ‘The Odd Women’ by George Gissing, which I’ve written in more detail about before massively changed my mind about the idea of feminism and of the suffragette movement – it made it more real somehow.

DAY 20: A book you would recommend to an ignorant/racist/closed minded person – Well, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee is the most obvious one I suppose, butimages a good book for anyone is ‘The Pig that Wants to be Eaten and 99 other thought experiments’ by Julian Baggini. It’s got very brief quick chapters with one page fictional situations which have moral/ethical dilemmas hidden in them and then two or three pages more explaining the theories behind these and the questions behind them, and how these relate to our lives. They’re great because they’re so short, but even if you don’t read the explainy-bit, the situations are still really interesting and thought-provoking. Worth getting to put on a coffee table, to prep for conversation starters or even to put in the bathroom!

DAY 21: A guilty pleasure book- Anything at all by Cecelia Ahern or Sophie Kinsella. Ok, so I know these books aren’t the most intellectually stimulating, but wimagesho cares?! Sometimes it’s just nice to relax and unwind with a easy, funny novel. My favourite of Kinsella’s is ‘Twenties Girl’. Unfortunately, Kinsella’s heroines are always a bit irritating, imagesquite helpless and inept, but oh well, everything turns out ok in the end 🙂 Ahern’s books pose a few more moral questions; my personal favourite is probably ‘The Book of Tomorrow’. They aren’t so much typical rom-coms, but hide more interesting ethical dilemmas underneath, although admittedly, lots of it is a bit frivolous.

So there we are! Another seven days done, and just one week more to do 🙂 Thanks for reading – I’ll try and post more during the week and if you have any suggestions for what I should be reading or watching, feel free to comment. This Thursday, I’m going to see ‘The Dark Earth and the Light Sky’ at The Almeida, which is about the poet, Edward Thomas and his friendRobert Frost, so I’ll try and upload a review and some photos from that afterwards. I’m reading ‘Brighton Rock’ at the moment, so if I finish that, I’ll post about that too. See you then and Happy New Year!

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