An open tag

Aside

So, I’ve been tagged by Blogs-Of-A-Bookaholic and because today, it is thundering and the sky is gloomy, and because I love being asked questions, I am full of answers.

Here are the questions she asked:

1.) Which book do you think should be adapted into a film that hasn’t been already?

Hard one to answer because many of the books I have read are already films, that’s usually how I find out about them. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, if it isn’t already a film.

2.) Which classic are you too scared to read/keep putting off? (E.g. War and Peace.)

I do not fear books. Give me a classic, I’ll clear up my schedule. I might not particularly like the book but I’ll see it through.

3.) Sam or Dean Winchester? (Show Supernatural)

I don’t watch the show but I like the name Dean better. Sam is too common.

4.) Do you think the paperback will become extinct and be fully replaced with the Kindle?

I thought so at first but then I read a quote by Stephen Fry :“Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.”

5.) Have you ever had an experience with the paranormal? E.g Ghosts, aliens etc.

No, just the usual sounds in the middle of the night that turn out to be the dishwasher or dark figures that are really just shadows.

6.) Your least favourite genre to read?

Full-packed action. I can’t follow to many movements and usually skim over battle scenes.

7.) Who’s biography would you consider reading?

My own, from the future. I would get to read about everything I will do, any mistakes I should avoid and I could get things done a lot quicker and do more in life because no time would be wasted if I know the shortcuts.  

 8.) The best birthday present you’ve ever had?

I’ve suddenly gone blank and can not recall a single past birthday present. I don’t make a big deal about birthdays. I don’t even remember what I got for my last birthday. Oh, money. I got money.

9.) Your opinion on Shades of Grey? (Whether you have read it or not.)

I definitely haven’t read it but I think that it should be totally banned because it gives people distorted ideas about human relationships and I believe in the sanctity of marriage as the only place for sex.

10.) Your favourite place to read?

It’s the book not the place. Somewhere quiet but not eerily so, warm, dry and comfortable. My bed is just fine but so is the sofa.

11.) Which books from present day do you think has the potential to become a classic 50/100 years down the line?

Harry Potter. All of these vampire, werewolf and demon series are great teenage reads but they’ll never last. Harry Potter has longevity. It has the magic and the magical creatures but it does it right.

The people I’m tagging:

The Chronicles Of Radiya

and ten more volunteers. Just volunteer in the comment box.

And that is how you take the easy option and compensate for your inability to make Blog Buddies.

My Questions:

1) What is the first book you have a memory of as a child?

2) What is the last book you’ve read?

3) What is the worst book you’ve read?

4) Vampires. Yes or no?

5) What are your favourite T.V programmes?

6) What two book characters from different books do you think would make the perfect couple?

7) How do you mark your page?

8) Hop on a plane right this minute. Where to?

9) Have you abandoned any book series? Why? Name them.

10) Do you have any book quirks/habits?

11) What hopes do you have for the future?

The Rules:
1. You must post the rules.
2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post.
3. Create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
4. Tag eleven people with a link to your post.
5. Let them know they’ve been tagged.

So, tag away.

The anticlimactic end

After five weeks of GCSE exams, I would expect to feel more excited than I do at the moment. After 5 years of education in the same school, I would expect to feel something greater than what I do now. However, my own feelings are non co-operative and I even sense a hint of boredom approaching. Is it a case of delayed reactions or is finishing a key stage of your education not so important? After all, if all goes according to plan, I have plenty more years to go.

Perhaps, it is a completely opposite case of advanced reactions. I celebrated the end before it came? What with counting down to the finale with each completed exam, my final exam may have been just another step and although it was the final one, it did not get any more recognition than the first because my mind had got so used to taking steps. Had the exams been compacted into a single week, I think I would have felt more emotional at the end, relieved and excited, but because they were spread over weeks, all the feeling diffused in between. Maybe A-levels will feel like more of an accomplishment…

I can’t believe I am already going to do A-levels. It feels like only this morning I was practising for my weekly spelling tests, but in reality, it has been a long time since I’ve done one of those. It has been a long time since I’ve been in a playground. Teenagers do not go to the playground at break time. It has been a long time since I’ve lined up in a straight line, crossed my arms and placed a finger on my lips. Teenagers are not so docile. It has been a long time since I’ve used a pencil to write, carried a lunchbox, worn plimsolls, frozen when the whistle blew for the end of break or sat on the carpet. Those were the good ol’ days… Years go by so quickly and things change so fast. I can already feel the wrinkles hiding under my teenage skin, bidding their diminishing time.

I was talking to an elderly lady on the bus this morning and she was telling me about the importance of buying the right pair of shoes to maintain a good, healthy back. I found myself wondering if she felt like only that morning she had been practising for her weekly spelling tests. Trust me to get all reflective and go into deep thinking over something as trivial as finishing exams…

Exams are over! School is out! I am using exclamation marks to compensate for my lack of enthusiasm!

This will be one of the longest summer holidays I have ever had and to ward off feelings of boredom or unnecessary over thinking, I will read all the books that I had no time for during the school year. So, recommendations please!

She did it Agatha! She’s the killer!

So, I previously wrote about my classics drive: my mission to read better books and acquire a richer reading repertoire. Since then, I have read a Dickens, Austen and Brontë, in the form of Great Expectations, Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. I have branched out into classical horror in the form of Dracula and surely made my way into the once unexplored genre of crime.

My first Agatha Christie book was lent to me by a friend; ‘Death on the Nile’; and I was surprised to have enjoyed it as much as I did. Despite the large number of characters involved, their gradual introduction allowed my mind to keep them all and I quickly sorted through them at every minor event to try to work out who the killer was. I almost got it right… but that’s the unique thing about Agatha’s books, you’re not supposed to get it right.

It is always the person you least expect it to be, the person that you tick off, you think they have no motive or a flawless alibi…then you’re proven wrong. That’s why, whilst reading another of her books, I decided to choose the most unlikely character as being the murderer…. again, I was wrong. It was the one that everyone expected it to be.

To me figuring out the mystery before everyone else does (especially Poirot), is the aim of my reading, the earlier I crack it, the better. I can not express the glee that I felt when I finally bested her and guessed correctly whilst reading ‘And Then There Were None’. I knew it all along…but I’m not going to spoil it for anyone. That would defy the point of reading. I was going to read ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ but I was ‘accidentally’ told who the killer was and now, I am pretty sure that I will remember it for as long as I live, so I will never get the pleasure of reading that book.

The language of Agatha’s book are straight-forward and easy to follow, mainly dialogue and nothing special. It’s a good thing that the appeal is with the plot because the characters are not explored in great depth, words do not stir emotions and regardless of how many people die, you will never feel sympathy. The plot is precise and the twists and turns are gripping but whilst your mind is exercised, your heart is barely moved. When a character dies, I don’t feel even the shadow of a twinge, I just get annoyed that I didn’t see it coming.

So, I have read a few Agatha Christie books, and although I was thoroughly entertained by them and highly recommend them, it is time for me to move on. So many books, so little time and on I go to ‘the Woman in White’.

A message to the speed reader

Oh you who prides himself in flipping all the pages, from cover to cover, as quickly as your hands can move, your satisfaction does not compare to he who reads the book!

On my way to becoming a more accomplished reader and keeping to my resolution of reading more classics, I was leisurely reading and enjoying the literary wonders of Jane Eyre, when my impatient mother commented on the speed of my reading. My pace was not slow, she simply wanted me to return her Kindle and no speed would have been fast enough.

She, as are many others, is a speed reader and can go through many books in a week, although she isn’t the most boastful and competitive I know. Others will race each other to complete a book in the least amount of time and compare and criticise those who read at human speed, holding them in contempt and fancying themselves superior. However, how much of it do they actually read? Do they understand, process, ponder and savour the actual words or do they just move along the letters in a mechanical fashion?

I am not a slow reader but sometimes, after a particularly powerful line or paragraph, I like to move back a moment and think, imagine myself in the character’s position, guess what will hapen next and even read over it because I appreciated the words so much. How could you do that if you just skim through it?

So, here’s a message to the speed reader and precisely what I told my mother:

“If you swallow it, you will not taste it.”

What is your opinion on speed reading? Is it something you do yourself?

A Short History in Books

Reading has always been a hobby of mine and since a very young age I have loved to read. Throughout my life I have grown and changed, as we all do, and besides me my books have grown thicker, the text shrunk smaller and the content evolved.

Enid Blyton was my most memorable childhood literary love affair. I must have been around eight years old when I fell in love with her books and began dreaming of going to boarding school where I would sneakily have midnight feasts without matron finding out, play tricks on the French teacher and have a generally jolly good time. The adventures I read about were old-fashioned and my mother had enjoyed them in her own childhood, in a completely different language, but that didn’t stop me from being enthralled by them.

Even now I still find them timeless and am unable to emotionally or physically part with the books as battered and worn out as they are. What child wouldn’t want to travel to an island in a small rowing boat, with a group of merry friends, a dog and a picnic to solve a great mystery and triumph over the grown ups? I was terribly disappointed when my younger sisters did not share my love, one reading only a single series (Malory Towers) before dismissing the author and another ignoring the books entirely. Whether they are still in fashion or not, my children will read Enid Blyton, even if I have to tie them down. That’s how passionate I am.

Once I had completed them all and reached pre-adolescence I regretfully had to leave Blyton behind and enter the then popular phase of broken families, divorced parents, abandoned kids…. Jacqueline Wilson. Her books were much more gloomy and depressing than the magical adventures of Enid Blyton’s fantasy characters but yet they were an addictive and necessary introduction to the real world, where not everything is happy families. Instead of boarding school, I wanted to live in a care home and my parents’ marriage was too harmonious.

Then, along with the dreaded teenage years, in which I am still currently stuck in, comes the dreadful vampire phase. Dark and predictable with typically black covers, the misunderstood human girl always falls in love with the unnaturally handsome vampire. Once you read one, you’ve read them all but that doesn’t stop you from doing just that. It must be a social trend rather than an actual interest in the mythical beings because no one ever reads Dracula. Maybe they would if it took place in a highschool and was a major motion picture?

In between phases there are also periods of inactivity as I abandon my books and momentarily lose interest, starving myself until I can bear it no longer ripping open a new chapter in my literary life as I devour all words in sight.

As of a few days ago, I have entered a new, more mature, slightly more sophisticated and definitely more intellectual era; the classics. I have realized that I have not read nearly enough classics as I should and have decided to rectify that immediately, starting with Pride and Prejudice, a book which I have previously attempted and discarded and which not even the movie could animate me. However, upon reading it a second time, with an open mindset, I find myself to be captivated by the romance and chivalry ,although I am a bit critical of the writing style. Jane Austen seems incapable of allowing her character’s actions or dialogue to speak for themselves and feels the need to describe their personalities in order of appearance be it good humour or an unpleasant disposition. She also seems to forget that as the Bennet family consists of five daughters, addressing them as a single Miss Bennet can create confusion for the reader.

Not even a quarter way through and I have unleashed my literary genius, commenting and criticizing as if I knew better than one of the best writers in British history. In my opinion, reading classics increases your intellect or in the very least increases your appearance of intellect. So in the interest of seeming more intellectual, I have resolved to read more classics, despite most people having a negative connotation with the very word, immediately translating classic to boring before getting past the acknowledgements page.

Dickens, Bronte… any suggestions?

I wonder…The adoration of Jenna Fox

I’ve just read a book and I wonder… I love books that make you wonder; thought-provoking books that stir feelings inside you; feelings of gratitude, empathy, desire and wonderment. Different scenarios play in your head, parts of the book merging with your own life, putting you into the protagonist role. What if things were different? What if I hadn’t been so lucky? What if I were in her shoes?

Jenna Fox is a seventeen year old girl who wakes up with no recollection of her life only to be told by her parents that she has been in a year-long comma after surviving a car accident. Obviously her lack of memory is a problem but as she watches her whole life back on video, cherished memories that she can’t remember, she spots things that don’t make sense. She feels different and things don’t add up. As well as her memory, she is missing two inches and a scar. Secrets begin to unfold, the dots are connected and she soon finds out the unfortunate truth. She survived the accident but her body is not her own.

Following the accident Jenna was in a critical condition and her parent’s just couldn’t bear to let her go. They couldn’t let nature run its course. Modern science took over. They created new legs for her, new arms, a new face. She looks like herself but the only thing that remains is ten percent of her brain. Imagine finding that out… you are only ten percent of your original self. Your heart is not beating. It is just pretending. You are not breathing. You are just pretending. What does that make you? Incomplete? A miracle? A freak? Lucky? Not to worry though, your mum has saved an ovary and uploaded the school curriculum into your brain. Thanks mum, it’s okay now.

Jenna is understandably shaken by what has happened to her, finding difficulty in coming to terms with who or what she is and struggling with her feelings towards her parents. Their love for her was so strong that they would do anything to save their little girl but was it really their choice to make? The ethical implications of their actions are also explored as she learns about the Federal Science Ethics Board  “the yea and nay of all research and a lot of medical procedures”. They control what can and can not be done in regards to medical technology, aiming to preserve our humanity by placing the limits and making the rules, rules that Jenna’s parents have broken. Biodigital enhancement is only allowed up to forty-nine percent. Jenna is over the limit. Illegal.

It’s hard to put yourself into that position and even attempt to envision what you would do in her place because it seems so unlikely to ever happen. You feel confident in your humanity. There is no doubt that those hands are yours. Are they? It is a fictional book but don’t forget how much science is advancing. Everyday it becomes an even greater possibility. Look around you. Look at the medical advances. Have a wonder.

 

 

What if things were different?

What if you hadn’t been so lucky?

What if you were in her shoes?