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A Scary Statistic…

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So, WordPress just reminded me that it’s 5 years ago today that I uploaded my first post to the Ramblings!! And that’s pretty scary because I find it hard to believe I’ve been babbling on about books here for that long – it seems only yesterday…. 🙂

I confess I’ve enjoyed every moment of that five years of blogging: as well as taking pleasure in sharing my thoughts about books in general, actually sitting down and reviewing them has not only deepened my enjoyment and engagement with them, but has also helped fix them more in my mind (and given me a good reference tool for what I’ve read!)

But I think one of the most delightful parts of blogging has been meeting, either virtually or in real life, with other bookish types. Some of these have been from the Virago LibraryThing group and others who have blogs, or just follow what happens on them. It’s a real joy to share bookish love and so I wanted to thanks everyone who’s ever taken the time to read my witterings or leave a comment – these latter are always appreciated as I love to interact with anyone who loves books as much as I do!

Onward and upward – here’s to more reading and sharing our bookish love!

Fun and books in London!

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When Liz (who I also know through LibraryThing) pointed out that although we’d known each other for ages we hadn’t actually met and wasn’t it about time that we did – well, what better excuse did we need to arrange a lovely meet-up in London? Fortunately, some other friends from the LibraryThing Virago group were able to come along too, so in the end there was Liz, Ali, Claire, Luci and I (plus a flying visit from Middle Child who was in London to see a show and was able to catch up with us for a while – which was lovely!)

The day started with a couple of detours: after a hideous wait to top up my Oyster Card at the mainline station (thanks Network Rail for having no ticket offices any more and inadequate machines), I popped through Covent Garden to pay a flying visit to the kikki.k stationery shop – which was very, very beautiful and resulted in a small amount of spending:

kikki-k

Well, I *did* have a 25% off voucher!

Then another flying visit, as I met up briefly with Simon from Stuck-in-a-Book to take a quick look at a very lovely Dufy exhibition in a private gallery – and on the way back to Charing Cross Road to meet the ladies, I may well have stumbled into Waterstones Piccadilly, and this may have happened:

jacobI feel no guilt about this one, as my original copy of “Jacob’s Room” from 35 years ago had such brown, crumbly pages when I took it out the other day that it would have fallen to bits had I attempted to actually read it. And I *do* want to re-read it, so there you are!

We lunched at Gaby’s, a rather wonderful deli at the bottom of Charing Cross Road, and then headed for the bookshops, but only after Liz and Luci had managed to increase my book stash a little:

from-liz

These two were from Liz – “Belinda”, because I’d expressed a keeness to read it and she had finished it; and the Laxness because she thinks it’s a little odd and that somehow I am an expert on odd European books! We shall see! 🙂

from-luci

Lovely Luci always comes to gatherings laden with books to give away or donate. It’s hard to restrain yourself in the face of such generosity, but I was very pleased to have a Nemirovsky I didn’t have, and also a novel by Mavis Gallant, about whom I’ve heard very good things.

The rest of the day was spent happily mooching in bookshops – Any Amount of Books, Henry Pordes (who have dramatically cut down their stock of paperbacks, alas), Bloomsbury Oxfam, LRB Bookshop and then finally onto the Persephone shop as the light was fading – and here we are!

dav

Needless to say, we didn’t get out of the shop without some serious spending – and I would guess it’s a toss-up between Liz and Ali as to who was the winner in the book-buying stakes! Apart from Jacob’s Room I only actually *bought* these:

bought-booksThe Persephone is “The Sack of Bath” by Adam Fergusson; the Duras and the book about Angela Carter were from Any Amount of Books; and the Sitwell from the Bloomsbury Oxfam.

After repairing to a nearby pub for a sit down, a drink and the use of the facilities, it was time to head home. It was a lovely day and a real pleasure to spend it with some wonderful friends – let’s hope it won’t be too long before we can have another bookish day-trip to the capital! 🙂

The Bookish Time Travel Tag!

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As I rule, I don’t often get tagged for memes and the like, but englishlitgeek mentioned me in connection with a rather nice bookish time travel tag and I really couldn’t resist. The tag is created by The Library Lizard and you can see their site here. Apparently all you have to do is answer the questions as best you can and suggest some other bloggers who might be interested in taking part – with no pressure and no obligation of course! So here goes with the questions!

1. What is your favourite historical setting for a book?

rare_russian_books

The most obvious setting that springs to mind for me is Russia – a country I have a great fondness for in the form of its culture, literature and art. Reading books set in either Tsarist or Soviet or modern Russia is one of my favourite things, and you can guarantee that I won’t go for long without reading a Russian! I still don’t quite know where the fascination comes from – maybe I have distant relations there…. J

2. What writer/s would you like to travel back in time to meet?

Virginia Woolf

Well, how long is a piece of string? Some of my favourites will be obvious to readers of the Ramblings, and spending time with Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Mikhail Bulgakov, Mervyn Peake, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Colette and Georges Perec, to name but a few, would be such a wonderful experience. I’m the kind of reader who, when they really like an author’s books, feels they have a kind of personal relationship with that author so actually meeting them in real life would be kind of wonderful!

3.What book/s would you travel back in time and give to your younger self?

lifeperec

That’s a hard one, but I would probably pick out Georges Perec’s “Life: A User’s Manual”. I read this fairly recently and it engendered a huge obsession with Perec’s work. It’s a book I wish I’d discovered earlier in my life so I would definitely like to send it back to myself!

4.What book/s would you travel forward in time and give to your older self?

I don’t think there are *any* books I would rather have read now than when I was younger; and I certainly revisit the ones which had the most impact on me at the time. That’s the joy of reading – you can go back to your favourites…

5.What is your favourite futuristic setting from a book?

viriconium

Another tricky one… I’m very fond of M. John Harrison’s “Viriconium”; I read his novels and stories of the place back in the day and I’m intending a re-visit when I have the right reading moment. The sprawling, undefined and ever-changing city is endlessly fascinating and vividly created, and I can’t recommend these books strongly enough. Ballard’s futuristic settings are of course wonderful and I do need to get back to reading his short stories again.

6.What is your favourite book that is set in a different time period (can be historical or futuristic)?

mervynpeake_gormenghast

I’m not going to be able to pick just one – impossible to pick favourites! – but I would like to mention Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast books. As I’ve said before, I read these back in the late 1970s and was transfixed. The setting is nebulous, but obviously somewhere else and sometime else, the writing is glorious, the characters fantastic and larger than life, and it’s a series of books like no other. In fact, I suspect that a re-read might be due some time soon….

7.Spoiler Time: Do you ever skip ahead to the end of a book just to see what happens?

Very rarely… I’d rather read the book through and watch what happens, because even if you read the end of a book, you don’t necessarily find out the complete solution. Fortunately, I’m a fairly fast reader so even if the book is very suspenseful and I’m desperate to get to the end, I can usually hold out until the last pages!

8.If you had a Time Turner, where would you go and what would you do?

break of day

Ooooh, so many temptations! I’d be very keen to visit the Cote D’Azur before it became what it is today – Colette’s “Break of Day’, possibly my favourite of her books, features the south of France before it became the commercialised millionaires’ playground it is today, and I would absolutely love to see that. Popping into post-revolutionary Russia to visit Mayakovsky and Bulgakov is tempting – as is visiting every single author I’ve ever liked, actually! I’ve always fancied early 20th century Britain, and in fact living through the 20th century from the very start must have been a fascinating experience. Choices, choices!

9.Favourite book (if you have one) that includes time travel or takes place in multiple time periods?

half a life

Again, I don’t like to pick favourites; but I read Connie Willis’ “To say nothing of the Dog” pre-blog and liked it very much. Another work I like that straddles time periods is the short story “May I Please Speak to Nina” by Kirill Bulychev which I reviewed here and absolutely loved.

10. What book/series do you wish you could go back and read again for the first time?

if-on-a-winters-night-a-traveller

Well, the Gormenghast books and The Lord of the Rings are obvious choices – both are series I’ve read many times over the years and both have had a big effect on me. And I would like to encounter Italo Calvino’s “If on a winter night a traveler” for the first time again – it was one of those life-changing reads and I still love it to bits.

Phew! An interesting tag, which really made me think about some of the books I’ve read! As for other bloggers who might like to take the tag up, I’ll mention a few below who could well be interested – though as I said, no pressure and I don’t like to drop people into things they don’t want to do. But thanks to englishlitgeek for mentioning this tag to me – it’s been fun! 🙂

Annabel’s House of Books

Adventures in Reading, Writing and Working from Home

Beyond Eden Rock

HeavenAli

JacquiWine’s Journal

Scratching the book itch

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I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the worst things you can do as a bibliophile is read book blogs – especially if you’re a reader who’s as fickle and impressionable as I am! Unfortunately, book blogs are one of my favourite things, and I *love* a good recommendation or discovering a book/author I haven’t come across before. It’s not good for the TBR or the bank balance (or indeed the space in the house!) and it’s something I’ve been trying to address lately.

The trouble is, I think, the ready availability of (often cheaply priced) books. The minute I read a review that enthuses me, it’s tempting to just order a copy to have ready for when I want to read it. This way, I’ve ended up with shelves of wonderful (unread) books and I’m constantly being distracted from them by the next shiny recommendation. So I’ve hit upon a couple of ways to try to counteract the mad urge to buy.

First, there is the library. If a book is there, I’ll reserve it – chances are it will be available just as quickly as one I’d order online, and more often than not I’ll decide I don’t need to read it at the moment, add it to the wish list and then take it back.

basketIf it’s not in the library I go to phase 2. I add it to the shopping basket of a selected online retailer and then leave it there – usually all day, while I’m working or doing something else. Most often, when I go back to it, I’ve decided I can wait so I add it to the aforementioned wish list and don’t buy it.

Both approaches are working fairly well (!) and help to deal with that book itch I get when I read about an intriguing volume.

However, I don’t know if this book urge is exclusive to me, as when I was packing my shopping bag to take a library book back the other day, OH asked me if I’d read it. I replied that I hadn’t, but I’d got it out to see if I’d like – I thought I would but I didn’t have an urgent need to read it right now. He queried if I got “urgent needs” to read a book as if it was unusual. Well I do – and I hope I’m not alone in that!

But in the meantime, I’ll use the above methods to scratch the book itch and hopefully keep the TBR down! 🙂

Two years…..

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WordPress reminded me yesterday that it’s two years since I starting rambling here – wow! It doesn’t seem possible that it’s that long since I decided to share a few thoughts about books, but they say that time flies as you grow older!

I(mage courtesy openculture.com)

(Image courtesy openculture.com)

I’ve really enjoyed my experiences here – chuntering on about books, sharing thoughts on authors and pictures of fabulous finds is great fun! But I think what I’ve enjoyed most (and shall continue to enjoy) is the contact with other bloggers, commenters and book-lovers. I adore hearing what other people have to say about books and writers (so please do comment!) and I’ve discovered many lovely new volumes thanks to people I’ve run across online!

So here’s to the next two years!

An (almost) Liebster award!!

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Yasmine Rose’s Book Blog is one I discovered fairly recently and have been following since. Yasmine is a keen reader and feminist, so we have quite a lot in common as book lovers! She was nominated for a Liebster award recently and mentioned in her post that she would have nominated me but my name has already been put forward a couple of times. However, I’m always happy to ramble on about books, so I’m having a little go at her questions anyway!

the-valley-of-adventure

What was your favourite book as a child/teen?

It’s hard to pick out just one – I used to devour many, many Enid Blytons when I was young  (and was pleased to find they still stand up to re-reading now!) so she was  probably my first favourite author. I particularly adored the “Adventure” series.

Who is/are your favourite author/s?

How long have you got? I’d have to list several – Italo Calvino, Paul Morley, Dostoevsky, Bulgakov, Simone de Beauvoir, Colette, Virginia Woolf – and more recent Georges Perec. So many books, so little time…

virginia-woolf-1

Which book, or books, has had the most influence or impact on you?

Again, it’s hard to pick out just one when you’re as old as I am and have read as much as I have! The book “Literary Women”, which I read in the early 1980s was very influential as it pointed me at some most amazing women writers. “Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf gave me a major obsession with the Bloomsberries and a life-long love of Woolf’s prose. Calvino’s “If on a winter’s night a traveller” is still high on the list of desert island books, and made me unafraid of reading so-called difficult books.

Italo Calvino_1969_foto de Carla Cerati

What is your favourite literary era/time period?

Definitely the 20th century – up to about 1980. Although I like to read the 19th century too, but I don’t get on well with modern books as a rule.

How would you describe yourself as a reader?

Omnivorous and greedy!

What is the worst book you have ever read?

Wow! I’ve read a few! Possibly any of Robert Service’s biographies of Russian revolutionaries – they’re so biased and full of errors and misinterpretations I can’t bear them.

Why did you start blogging about books?

I guess because I had started reading lots of book blogs and got so much out of them, and so much enjoyment, that I just wanted to start giving something back and sharing my own thoughts and feelings about my favourite books.

What is the most rewarding or challenging aspect of blogging?

The most challenging is finding time to do a review and also getting my thoughts into some kind of coherent form! Rewarding, when you hit a nerve and find other people who love the same books as you do.

Can you pinpoint the exact moment where you discovered your love of/interest in books?

Not really – I’ve just always read and always loved books, for as long as I can remember. All my pocket-money, when I had it, would go on Enid Blytons, and I had a few old battered classics (“LIttle Women” and the like) that I would read over and over again.

How often do you read, and for how long?

As often as I can and for as long as I can! Even if it’s only five minutes over breakfast, I’ll fit in a few pages, but I’d rather have a good hour or so when it’s possible.

vlcsnap-2013-02-11-18h17m11s129

Do you watch TV/movie adaptations of books, if so what is your favourite adaptation and why?

Not often – I’m a bit picky about them, especially if they mess with the conceptions of the characters and settings I have in my head. However, I *loved* to bits the Bortko 2005 Russian version of “The Master and Margarita” – I thought it was spot-on and I could watch it over and over again.

Nice questions, Yasmine – thanks!

Happy Christmas from Kaggsysbookishramblings!

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Books at Christmas – what more could you want? Have a wonderful festive day!

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