The ‘To Read’ List (Updated 8th May 2017)

toreadpile

EDIT: Updated 8th May 2017 – Ah – been a while since I’ve updated this, hasn’t it? Apologies for that. In the time since the last post I have since completed Good Bones and Profiles of the Future, and may post some brief thoughts on them shortly. I have also added Pompeii and Switch Bitch to the list.

…As for the subject of this post; yes, it is the dreaded ‘To Read’ pile that, for those like me who enjoy a good book, seems to grow ever bigger due to the heavy demands and committments of our everyday lives. It became a bit of a problem for me last year, as I was constantly buying books from second-hand bookshops/charity shops, thinking ‘I’ll get to all these someday’, only to find I had so many building up in my room, still unread. It was at that point I literally sorted them into a ‘To Read’ pile, and began, you know, actually reading the blasted things, further vowing to not buy anymore until I had finished them. I’ll admit I make the occassional exception – if there is a new Margaret Atwood coming out I will either buy it or ask for it as a gift, for example – but I’ve generally managed to keep to this pretty well. So, in order to keep an actual list for myself, here are all of the books that have amassed in the pile, with links to their Goodreads pages (I will give my account on there some attention as I work through all of these as well!). Click to read on…

Continue reading

The ‘To Read’ List (Updated 22nd Feb 2017)

toreadpile

EDIT: Updated 22nd February 2017 – Links to reviews of Saint Odd and Of Mice and Men added.

…As for the subject of this post; yes, it is the dreaded ‘To Read’ pile that, for those like me who enjoy a good book, seems to grow ever bigger due to the heavy demands and committments of our everyday lives. It became a bit of a problem for me last year, as I was constantly buying books from second-hand bookshops/charity shops, thinking ‘I’ll get to all these someday’, only to find I had so many building up in my room, still unread. It was at that point I literally sorted them into a ‘To Read’ pile, and began, you know, actually reading the blasted things, further vowing to not buy anymore until I had finished them. I’ll admit I make the occassional exception – if there is a new Margaret Atwood coming out I will either buy it or ask for it as a gift, for example – but I’ve generally managed to keep to this pretty well. So, in order to keep an actual list for myself, here are all of the books that have amassed in the pile, with links to their Goodreads pages (I will give my account on there some attention as I work through all of these as well!). Click to read on…

Continue reading

Quick Book Reviews: Of Mice and Men

ofmiceandmen

So chalk this one up as one of those famous books that I somehow hadn’t got around to reading, and thought that I probably ought to, hence why I picked it up upon seeing a copy in a charity shop sometime back. I read this short novella in one sitting, completely gripped all the way through, and then left in emotional turmoil after THAT brutal, unforgiving ending. I already had a rough idea of what happens, but that didn’t mean the ending lost any of its power. Steinbeck was able to write it in such a way that the impact of what you most likely saw coming is still very much felt.

Telling the story of George and his mentally disabled, but well-meaning friend Lennie, Of Mice and Men tells of their life on the road as drifters during the Great Depression , searching for work across California. They are able to keep going because of their hopes of one day owning a farm of their own and having lots of rabbits (the latter part particularly appealing to Lennie), and live the fabled ‘American Dream’. If there is a message running through the book, it is that such hopes are foolish to have in the harsh reality of the world, and the implication that the American Dream is nothing more than an unachievable myth. Of course, George and Lennie’s wishes sadly do not come to fruition – there is an overhanging sense of dread throughout the story, especially as we’ve been told that there were previous ‘incidents’ in places where they previously worked, caused by Lennie, where they were forced to run away and move on. It is asked at several points why George continues to stay with his challenging companion, why he doesn’t just leave him behind and never look back – but George feels unable to because he knows that Lennie would not be able to take care of himself – he is a burden that he must carry or otherwise feel an unbearable guilt if he does not. Despite George’s best efforts, Lennie does get himself into trouble again, leading to tragedy, and there is a constant feeling of him being able to see it coming, perhaps why he is so resigned to his friend’s fate by the end of the story. We as a reader feel it as well, as well as the pain of their desire to have land to call their own. It still resonates very strongly reading it in the present day as well – the obligation to always be working for someone else, to never have full control of our own livelihood, is an all-too-relatable feeling for many.

Loneliness is also a key theme that weighs heavily on a lot of the characters; one of the reasons George most likely stays with Lennie is simply because he has no one else, the reverse also being true. Old Man Candy is forced to hand over the life of his aging dog, leaving him numb and desperately wanting to be a part of George and Lennie’s little scheme, which tragically does not come to pass. The wife of the abusive and blockheaded Curley (her name is not even revealed, emphasising how stuck she is in this submissive role), is clearly unhappy in her marriage, and tries to flirt with everyone else at the farm, who all make a point of staying away from her so to not invoke Curley’s jealous wrath, leaving her even more isolated. And of course, her attempts to befriend Lennie lead to tragedy. Crooks, the lone negro worker, of course feels strongly isolated from everyone else as well. He is also extremely bitter and cynical, pointing out he has seen hundreds of men come through just like George and Lennie with dreams of their own land, “An’ never a God damn one of ’em ever gets it”. – but at the same time he does ask if he’d be able to come and lend a hand if needed, as he gradually softens and his desire for companionship exposed through speaking with the innocent, hopeful Lennie. In a line that has become one of the most famous in the book, Crooks muses that “A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody. Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. I tell ya a  guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick”.

Steinbeck was able to effortlessly write each of these characters who all have a hidden depth – and hopelessly loneliness to them, which is why there is such an emotional resonance to what seems like a deceptively simple plot and course of events. Learning that a lot of it was based on his actual experience travelling as a ‘bindlestiff’ – and that Lennie was in fact based on a real person – makes it all the more raw and personal, and with an impressive amount of layers for such a short novella.

A true classic, and one I would not hesitate to give 5/5.

Like this poem? Read more in my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335

eBook-: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

The ‘To Read’ List (Updated 31st Jan 2017)

toreadpile

EDIT: Updated 31st January 2017 – The Collected Works of Edgar Allen Poe added, link to review of How to Look for a Lost Dog.

…As for the subject of this post; yes, it is the dreaded ‘To Read’ pile that, for those like me who enjoy a good book, seems to grow ever bigger due to the heavy demands and committments of our everyday lives. It became a bit of a problem for me last year, as I was constantly buying books from second-hand bookshops/charity shops, thinking ‘I’ll get to all these someday’, only to find I had so many building up in my room, still unread. It was at that point I literally sorted them into a ‘To Read’ pile, and began, you know, actually reading the blasted things, further vowing to not buy anymore until I had finished them. I’ll admit I make the occassional exception – if there is a new Margaret Atwood coming out I will either buy it or ask for it as a gift, for example – but I’ve generally managed to keep to this pretty well. So, in order to keep an actual list for myself, here are all of the books that have amassed in the pile, with links to their Goodreads pages (I will give my account on there some attention as I work through all of these as well!). Click to read on…

Continue reading

Quick Book Review: How to Look for a Lost Dog

how-to-look-for-a-lost-dog
How to Look for a Lost Dog by Ann M. Martin

11-year-old Rose is autistic and struggles to understand her classmates. But when her father gives her a stray dog, which she names Rain, the dog becomes her best friend, her anchor in a confusing world. So when Rain goes missing during a storm, Rose refuses to stop looking for her…

So I actually acquired this book through my work – I’m a support worker for people with autism, and this was one of the books offered in a recent book sale the company held. I was intrigued by this one after reading the blurb above, and also partly because I had previously read and enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Timealso told from the perspective of an autistic child. (which I also saw the fantastic stage show of last year) Comparisons are therefore perhaps going to be inevitable – particularly because both stories revolve around dogs! (thankfully the one in ‘Lost Dog’ is not brutally murdered like the poor creature in ‘Night Time!’), and both protagonists also have an obsession with prime numbers, but ‘Lost Dog’ stands as a perfectly good book on its own right. Martin writes the character of Rose very well, in that she is both a sympathetic character but at the same time you can understand the frustrations of the adult characters around her in dealing with her, particularly her father. It never quite has the emotional resonance of ‘Incident’, perhaps because it’s story is a fair bit smaller in scale, but still managed to tug at my heart-strings. You feel Rose’s pain when her dog goes missing, and -without giving anything away- the decision she has to make towards the end of the book is truly a heartbreaking one, from the perspective of the reader anyway – to Rose it is simply the logical thing to do, as it is following ‘the rules’. As with ‘Incident’, the book shows just what a confusing and scary place the world can be when this status quo is disrupted, and should be required reading for anybody to hope to understand autism. (like Christopher in ‘Incident’, Rose even follows ‘the rules’ of how a book should be written, making sure to mention these, but only because this has been the advice given to her by her teacher!)

Both an emotional and amusing read, I’d highly recommend this book to essentially anyone, but especially if they enjoyed ‘Incident’. Also, if you didn’t know (no) what a homonym is, I can promise you that you (ewe) will most definitely will by the time you’ve finished this book!

A 4/5 from me.

Check out my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, available NOW for download as an eBook on Amazon. Check it out here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

The ‘To Read’ List (Updated 6th Jan 2017)

toreadpile

EDIT: Updated 6th January 2016 – Links to recent book reviews added, How to Look for a Lost Dog added to list.

…As for the subject of this post; yes, it is the dreaded ‘To Read’ pile that, for those like me who enjoy a good book, seems to grow ever bigger due to the heavy demands and committments of our everyday lives. It became a bit of a problem for me last year, as I was constantly buying books from second-hand bookshops/charity shops, thinking ‘I’ll get to all these someday’, only to find I had so many building up in my room, still unread. It was at that point I literally sorted them into a ‘To Read’ pile, and began, you know, actually reading the blasted things, further vowing to not buy anymore until I had finished them. I’ll admit I make the occassional exception – if there is a new Margaret Atwood coming out I will either buy it or ask for it as a gift, for example – but I’ve generally managed to keep to this pretty well. So, in order to keep an actual list for myself, here are all of the books that have amassed in the pile, with links to their Goodreads pages (I will give my account on there some attention as I work through all of these as well!). Click to read on…

Continue reading