Hello?

Well hello! Yes, it has been some time since the last blog post, and the more observant of you will have noticed that I am no longer with Squarespace. I have transferred all the blog post across from there, to the WordPress Platform, but I know full well there are lots of broken links and odd bits of code floating around. I am going to slowly work through and fix it all, but it will take some time.

So where have I been? Well, working, pottering, reading, taking photos and getting cross at the amount of money my blog was costing, and the unreliability of Squarespace is where I have been.

I am hoping now that blogging will recommence a couple of times per week. I have a nice stack of books to review, and lots of photography news to report on too. You remember the course I was doing? It transpired it wasn’t right for me at all, and so I don’t attend anymore, which is a shame.  It has, however, released some time for me to do more of my own photography, and it has gone through my mind to start a separate photography blog. What do you think?

So, what have you all been reading of late? Update me with your summer reads!

 

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A Mind Worth Having?

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A place to develop your mind…

It’s been a funny start to 2017, that is to say odd rather than hilarious. Last week I met my pals, C and S for luncheon at a local eatery. C had bought her very photogenic son, T, who was as good as gold and after a suitable amount of cute baby noise generation, and batting off dotty old ladies* who wanted to play with T, we settled down for a natter.

I have, dear readers, recently been accused of being weird because I don’t have an in depth knowledge of the goings on in the Kardashian family and would rather read a book instead. I announced this to C and S with some sadness. We then pooled our collective knowledge. All we knew was that Kim was robbed recently, and that there were several of them, all having names beginning with K. We ran rather dry on facts after that. I did consider Googling, but frankly couldn’t be bothered and didn’t think it would much enhance our lunch.

I know the Kardashians are very popular, and not having watched the programme, I could be accused of not being in a position to comment. However, I do feel calling someone odd for reading rather than watching reality TV is a little bit rude. It made me wonder dear readers whether you have ever been insulted because you like a good book. I am sure the Kardashians are excellent entertainment, but better than a Pratchett, Austen, Ishiguro Wodhouse or Christie**? For some yes, but not for me.

The whole “odd” accusation had me feeling very down, until I heard Sam Harris on one of his podcasts say that in order to have a mind worth having, then you need to understand science, the arts and the humanities. I paraphrased there, but I did like the idea of “a mind worth having”. So, what would you read to help you develop a mind worth having? For me it would be a mixture of fiction and non-fiction:

  • PG Wodhouse – for the laughs
  • Agatha Christie – for the social observations
  • Terry Pratchett – for wry observations on life, the universe and everything
  • Richard Dawkins – for the rigorous biological science
  • AC Grayling – for the philosophy and to make me think
  • Christopher Hitchens – for the awe of his thought processes and writing
  • Kazuo Ishiguro – for the beauty and sheer range of his writing
  • Peter Ackroyd – for scandalous history
  • The Encyclopædia Britannica – for the joy of opening it randomly and learning something obscure yet interesting (if you have never done this, then I urge you to. You will be enthralled and unbeatable in a pub quiz).
  • Sam Harris – for the marvellous way he can deconstruct a problem and then construct an argument from the facts in front of him***.

What would be on your list dear readers?

*By the way, if you want to scare old ladies, look after someone else’s child while they order food at a counter. When aforementioned dotty old lady comes to coo over the baby and asks how old they are, answer with “I don’t know, he isn’t my baby”. The look of horror as they automatically assume you have kidnapped the child is brilliant. I should say that it is best to clarify that he belongs to your friend who is less than ten feet away otherwise you may have some explaining to do to the local constabulary. 

** Insert your favourite author here

*** I really hope he isn’t a fan of the Kardashians…

The Great Blogging Editorial Crisis of 2017

We are a mere 13 days into 2017, and already I am having a blogging editorial crisis. My complete lack of blogging last year due to important things has resulted in an enormous backlog of book reviews to be written and posted. Regular bloggers will exclaim, “Worry ye not! This means you have spare reviews for when you don’t have time to write one, keep them in the box for later.”

Backed up book reviews...
Backed up book reviews…

Well, that’s all well and good, but many of these books are festive reads… Publishing festive reads in January just looks tardy and has that feel of left over Christmas pudding that sits in the fridge until someone cracks and feeds it to the birds. I suppose I could publish them in July to show just what a rebel I am, but quite honestly, Harrods will have beaten me to it by opening their Christmas shop in June. Perhaps I’ll just hold them for next Christmas, and regale you with my more recent reads instead. 

I have read a couple of really good tomes in the last couple of weeks. My current read is proving to be less of a page turner than I hoped, but I shall press on as it is a book club read. It may get better you never know, but so far I have tidied my office, done some washing and swept the leaves in the garden to avoid reading it. It has to go back to the library soon, so this weekend I have vowed to finish it. It also possible that I may have had a sneaky visit to Mr B’s, and possibly purchased one or two literary items that I am desperate to read, so I can use that as a bribe to finishing the current book. I can’t start the new ones until I have finished this one. It’s like bribing a child to eat their greens in order to have dessert isn’t it? Honestly, the maturity of my mind is a worry. 

What are you reading at the moment?

 

Roll on 2017…

Santa decoration spotted in Sainsburys, who are clearly in the Christmas spirit, having decapitated Santa. 
Santa decoration spotted in Sainsburys, who are clearly in the Christmas spirit, having decapitated Santa. 

Well, I am still here. I hope you are all still there too. What on earth has 2016 been about? Between the political shockwaves, war, terrorism and the celebrity deaths, it got to the point where I didn’t want to look at the news any longer. 2016 is not a year which will not go down in history as one of the best will it?

Thankfully The Delightful Mr F had the excellent idea of purchasing some additional bookcases which has made 2016 a good bookish year. His view on these matters is that we never have too many books, just too few bookcases. He’s a good egg isn’t he? Due to my complete blogging failure in 2016, I will need to catch up on some reviews of the new purchases in 2017. There are some crackers in there, and I need to update my Agatha Christie Challenge page as I have ticked off another 12 volumes this year. 

In case you hadn’t realised, in which case you had better get to the shops smartish, it is Christmas Day tomorrow.  The Delightful Mr F and I are planning a quiet day with some books. Karate books for Mr F and probably a good murder mystery for me. So, Merry Christmas from me and The Delightful Mr F, I hope your Christmas is just as you would like it, and here’s to a better 2017*.

* We have tin hats on standby, just in case…

Folio Society September Releases

It’s the first of September*. That can mean only one thing. Well, actually it means lots of things**, but the one I am mostly concerned about is that The Folio Society release their new collection.  My literary love for The Folio Society is eclipsed  only by my adoration of Mr B’s Emporium, so I was somewhat taken aback when a week or so back I got a letter saying that they were doing away with membership. Up until today you had to buy four books a year to maintain membership and have access to the books. There was something very nice about being a “member”, with the associated magazine and catalogues coming through the post. It harked back to a slower pace of life where buying one really good item and enjoying it wasn’t considered odd compared to buying heaps of cheap tat***. A chat with a literary chum, also a member, saw it differently in that now there was no barrier to the books, which is also true. I still can’t help thinking that this is just the result of the ongoing onslaught on the bricks and mortar bookshops****. 

Anyway, back to the lovely books. This year’s releases are, as usual, really quite eclectic and here are the ones which caught my eye. First off we have A Brief History of Time by Professor Stephen Hawking, the book that all A-Level Physics students attempt (me included) in the hope that it will make some sort of sense so they can impress at university interview. I did finish it. I didn’t understand it. I am quite tempted to have another bash to see if 20 years has made any difference to my ability to understand mind bending theoretical physics. Probably not, but it will look nice on the bookshelf. 

Now this does look interesting doesn’t it? A book of African folktales. I have read very little set in Africa, and this would be a good start in filing in that literary gap. 

You can’t go wrong with a bit of Classic Crime, and Edmund Crispin is one of the best, and funniest. The Folio Society released The Moving Toyshop a couple of years back, so perhaps they are going to release more. I do hope so. For those who haven’t read an Edmund Crispin before, then why not? It is Christie meets Wodehouse with more Wodehouse than Christie. It’s marvellous stuff after a long week at work. 

Finally, we have another Pratchett. I have already dropped not so subtle hints to The Delightful Mr F that this might be quite a nice birthday present. It transpires he already knew… Pratchett books were made for Folio editions. The text provides so many illustration opportunities, it can only ever be a delight. 

Which ones take your fancy?

 

*How can that be? How can it basically be autumn already? It was surely only last week we were putting away the tinsel and fairy lights.

** For instance did you know that on 1st September 1159 Pope Adrian IV, the only English Pope, died? Or that in 1981 garages started selling petrol in litres? No, I didn’t either. 

*** I think I am starting to rant, so will call it quits here.

**** Back on my soap box again…

Helen In Lack of Blog Post Shocker

Yes, I have been a very bad blogger indeed. I have failed repeatedly to schedule any blog posts whatsoever in the last month or so. To make matters worse, I am, at this very moment, committing that terrible blogging sin of typing this post straight into Squarespace. No drafting, no editing, no checking for grammatical or typing errors. This is blogging on the edge. It’s risky, but hey, you never know, I may produce blogging gold. Or maybe not. 

The lack of reviews does not mean that there has been a lack of reading. Far from it. I have had my nose in a book almost constantly for the last few weeks, and very satisfying it has been too. I have also been slightly preoccupied with an actual social life. Yes, one which doesn’t involve an internet connection and a like button. One with actual Human Beings, in cafes and other social gathering places. There was book club, then dinner with old work chums, and I have joined a new local Photography Group, which I am enjoying immensely. They are all very nice people who helped me justify the purchase of a new camera. Once I work out what all the buttons do I will post some photos. 

It is Sunday morning and The Delightful Mr F and I are sat in the upper library at Fennell Towers. Yes, we now have so many books we have two libraries in our house. No other furniture, just book cases. When the sofa finally wears out, we might just replace that with book cases and sit on the floor. Who knows. As The Delightful Mr F once commented, we don’t have too many books, we simply have a lack of bookcases. He’s a keeper isn’t he?

I digress. I am now about to embark on a list of potential blog posts to write for you delectation and delight. Reviews, musings and that terrible dilemma which crops up a couple of times per year… which books to take on holiday…

Standby for a downpour of literary appreciation. Or perhaps a light shower… ooh look, my new camera battery is charged…. better make that some light literary drizzle. 

 

Here Be Helens

Hoot the library owl is very, very cross
Hoot the library owl is very, very cross

Well, 2016, what on earth have you done to me? It is now July, halfway through, you pesky leap year you, and I have barely blogged since the Christmas decorations were packed away. I’ll tell you what you have done 2016. You have warped time, in some Stephen Hawking, timey-wimey, Dr Whovian, time-turner kind of way.  Your messing with the space-time continuum has meant that import things have piled upon important things leaving little time for reading, let alone time for blogging about reading. Well, enough is enough and I shall no longer tolerate such a cavalier approach to our fourth dimension. For the rest of the year, I plan to read at every opportunity. Tucked in my bag is my “on the go book” for reading in queues, on trains and at lunch times. I also have a list. Yes, a list 2016! A list of books I intend to read before you come to an end. You know how good I am with lists. Give me a list, and I’ll get to the bottom of it, ticking off every item with a ruthless efficiency. You may want to speak with your pal 2017, I intend to tackle 2017 in full literary sail. If you come between me and my reading again I shall be very cross indeed.  Consider my library one of those places on old maps which say “Here Be Dragons”, in this case though, “Here be Helens”. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.