Life According to Literature 2010

I have seen this on a few blogs or in emails and it seemed a fun way to reflect on the year. A year where I did not write enough blog posts, but at least read lots of books.

Answer the following questions using titles of books you have read during 2010:

Describe yourself: Mostly Harmless (Douglas Adams)

How do you feel: Dying for Chocolate (Dianne Mott Davis)

Describe where you currently live: A Patchwork Planet (Anne Tyler)

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Douglas Adams) , or, if I have to pick an actual place When we were Romans (Matthew Kneale)

Your favorite form of transportation: Prince on a White Horse (Tanith Lee) ha ha, yes I know, that is not likely. So perhaps I had better go with: The Cloister Walk (Kathleen Norris)

Your best friend is: The Slayer of Shadows (Elana Bregin)

You and your friends are: Unseen Academicals (Terry Pratchett), or, Comeback : Poems in Conversation (Peter Esterhuysen and Paul Mason)

What’s the weather like: The Summer of Toffie and Grummer (Edyth Bulbring) -theoretically, but more accurately – Living with Contradiction (Esther de Waal)

You fear: Housekeeping (Marilynne Robinson)

What is the best advice you have to give: This Year you Write your Novel (William Mosley)

Thought for the day: Interesting Times (Terry Pratchett)

How I would like to die: One Magic Moment (Jenny Robson)

My soul’s present condition: Darkness Visible (William Styron)


These are a few of my favourite things (to read)

8 September is International Literacy Day. As a reader and a writer I am deeply grateful for the ability to read.  I am even more grateful for my love of reading; people who can read but choose not to are hard for me to understand. 

I will be celebrating literacy day by going home and spending the evening with a good book; while sitting in a lounge surrounded by book shelves, filled and overflowing with books.  I wanted to share something about the books and author’s that I love, but lists of favourite books or best books worry me. How can I pick just one, or five or ten? And what about all the books I haven’t read? 

So I decided to share a list of some of the books which I have read repeatedly. I took more than twice as the cut-off, and only noted books read as an adult. So this does not include the many wonderful children’s books which I read and reread when I was very young.  I should add that this is a fairly random list. I am sure I have left off several books, and if I wrote this next week it might look slightly different. But it does give some idea of the books and authors I love, and might suggest a book that you want to read next. 

My little list 

Douglas Adams – The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy (and sequels) 

Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale 

Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice 

Charlotte Bronte – Jane Eyre 

Angela Carter – The Magic Toyshop 

Barry Hughart – Bridge of Birds 

Esther Friesner – Yesterday We Saw Mermaids 

Rosemary Kirstein – The Steerswoman series 

Ursula K LeGuin – The Earthsea series 

Alison Lurie – The Portrait of Lorin Jones 

Ellis Peters – Brother Cadfael books 

Marge Piercy – He, She and It (also published as Body of Glass

Terry Pratchett – I can happily reread any of his books, and frequently do 

J K Rowling – Harry Potter books 

J R R Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings 

And now I am going home. I think I can hear a book calling me. Happy Literacy Day to all you happy readers. 

World Book Day

23 April is World Book Day. I wanted to post something book related on that day. For various reasons I was not near a computer, but I did get to spend some time reading. Always a good thing, whatever day it is.

I thought I would add to the book celebrations by listing some of my favourite books as a child. This is a fairly random list, and I know I have left off a lot. I suspect the moment I hit the publish button I will think of another one I really should have included.

So this is really just a snapshot of some of the books which got me hooked, turning me into an avid reader.

Rebecca’s World by Terry Nation (science fiction for children, written for the author’s daughter, and one of my favourite books. And yes, this is the same Terry Nation who was a scriptwriter for Dr Who)

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue FishDr Seuss – for the love of words, the rhythm and rhyme, and the wonderful bizarreness of some of the words and images. I loved all of his books, but this was my favourite.

Enid Blyton –  How could I just pick one?  I worked my way through all the Secret Seven, Famous Five, Adventure series and others. I wasn’t that keen on the boarding school books (by Blyton or any other author) but loved the Magic Faraway Tree and the fairy tales and stories of talking toys.

Hilda Bosman’s Omnibus – a great tome of a book, with beautiful illustrations. It contained nursery rhymes, fairy tales, poems and extracts from classic children’s books. Many happy hours were spent with this book. And the extracts sent me searching for the rest of the story.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe C S Lewis – I read and enjoyed the whole Narnia series, but this was always my favourite.

Bears in the NightStan and Jan Berenstain. Naughty bears sneak out of bed, one at a time. Each page showed the progress of all the bears, eg Out  of bed. Out the window. Down the tree. This was a book to be read and recited, especially at the end when the bears get a fright and race back to bed. My sister and I used to see who could recited the route back to bed the fastest.

Winnie-the-Pooh by A A Milne – what more needs to be said about the bear of little brain and his friends. I loved (and still love) Pooh but my favourites were the insecure Piglet and melancholic Eeyore. Characters I can still relate to.

The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame The gentle adventures of Mole, Ratty, Mr Badger and the outrageous Mr Toad were a delight.

HeidiJohanna Spyri – a classic account of an orphan going to live with her grandfather on the Swiss Alps. I can’t think how many times I read this book and the sequels.

The Lion in the GatewayMary Renault – historical fiction for children. A simplified tale of the war between ancient Greece and Persia, and the sacrifice of Leonides and his Spartan soldiers, this inspired a love of history, of myth and legend.

So here you have a few of my favourite things. Which books would be on your list?

Crystal Warren is Reading …

Social networking seems to be taking up a lot of time and energy for a lot of people. Between Facebook, MySpace, mixit, twitter, live journal, blogs and all the other sites out there it is suprising anyone finds time to talk to real people anymore.

This is not a complaint. I have a lot of fun on Facebook and the few other forums I visit. But I do worry that the time spent online is cutting into time which should perhaps be spent reading or writing.

Yet there is the positive side of social networking for writers. There are wonderful virtual communities developing at places like BookSA, there are an amazing amount of blogs and online journals devoted to books and writing. And some writers and publishers are incredibly good at using social networking tools to market their books.

I know that I have benefitted by references to books on facebook. Recently someone raved about a book I had considered buying. The excitement of a real reader means a lot more than professional praise or publisher’s blurbs.

So now and then I have used my status update on facebook to mention what I am reading. It usually generates a lot of comments. Imagine if we all did that? Regular references to reading, to good books all over the cyberworld.  This would provide us avid readers with new books to try, and remind the rest of the community that reading is a good thing.

At the moment I am reading And Another Thing by Eoin Colfer (a sequel to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series). As I usually have a few books on the go at any time, I am also reading On Writing by Stephen King (part memoir and part writing guide), Living with Contradiction by Esther de Waal (an introduction to Benedictine spirituality) and Answering Back : living poets reply to the poetry of the past edited by Carol Ann Duffy.

So what are you reading?