Friday 16 January 2009

Book Reviews

One thing I'd like to do with this blog is to write the occasional book review. I wrote one on Amazon two years ago for the book that got me into astronomy: "BANG!", by zookeeperChris, Sir Patrick Moore, and Dr Brian May. I stand by what I said about it then, though I don't recommend typing out an Amazon review whilst having a chat with the family. It doesn't make for a mature writing style.

As a child I read and wrote constantly. These days, when I do, I ask myself, "Why don't you do this more often?" I love books. I planned, when teacher training, to have a "library" of great and also entertaining science books available in my classroom - and found out during my course that not only were children not expected to read, we were discouraged from encouraging them to do so. What a shame. Books shouldn't be work. They give you a rest and make you grow. As the protagonist Kitty puts it in Anne Fine's "Goggle-Eyes": "Living your life is a long and doggy business. And stories and books help. Some help you with the living itself. Some help you just take a break. The best do both at the same time."

To the following photo, add several cups of tea, something unhealthy like chocolate or Pringles, and a few foot-high piles of books randomly scattered around, and you have purr-fection! (Oh, and never get your cats to pose when they're in whizzing loony mode. They stayed there for about two seconds eating their cat treats, then started a fight. They do curl up with me when I'm reading, but never when I have a camera to hand.)

I'll mostly write about books I love, so let's have our fun now. To start with, Stephen Pile's "The Book of Heroic Failures" lists the worst ever review written as being for a performance titled "A Good Time". Next day, the following review appeared in the newspaper: "No".

My grandmother trumped that. She often annotated her books - which helped me choose a poem ("Afterwards", by Thomas Hardy) to read at her funeral. On the flyleaf of Thomas Pynchon's "Vineland" she wrote: "Unreadable Free Book". (I tried to read it . . .)

Nigel Rees's collection of "Eavesdroppings" contains something similar. The person who sent in the eavesdropping explained that they were in the audience of a "well meant but rather pretentious" play. After the lukewarm applause, one woman in the row in front of him turned to her companion and said, "Well, Emily, all I can say is, I hope the dogs haven't been sick in the car."

Izzy, stop licking the computer screen. The mouse icon is not edible.


Georgia said...

You have Pringles in the UK? ;-)

Your cats are adorable!! And I completely agree with your idea of "purr-fection!" Reviewing books is a great any good sci-fi?

Alice said...

Hi Georgia! Some sci-fi I love, some I can't be doing with . . . some of the best books in the world are sci-fi, I think.

Anonymous said...

Alice, 1 word or acronym, GRRM!!!!

Alice said...

ROFL Fluffy! :D :D :D