There’s a lot of people out there who are doubtful about sci-fi. Isn’t it all weirdly phallic spaceships flying about and aliens shooting at each other using an assortment of weapons that look like someone took the contents of a kitchen drawer and went bananas with a can of spray paint and some furniture polish, they wonder? And, yes, there is that. But kitchen utensils notwithstanding, I’ve always been an unabashed lover of the genre. So it was a source of endless delight to me to discover that one of my favourite early 20th-century writers had written a short story set in a dystopian world run by something known only as the Machine.
It’s Top Ten Tuesday time again. Because today’s prompt was delightfully open to interpretation, I decided to think long and hard about how I could be creative with it.
But after about two minutes of strained cogitation I decided that was too difficult, so I just combed through my Goodreads list until I found ten books with colours in the title. So here they are. Forgive me if my choices come a little… out of the blue. I hope I won’t come out of this too red-faced. Then again, I’ve always been a bit of a black sheep.
(WARNING: there will be a lot more of this. I make no apologies. I’m just showing you my true colours.)
Ladies and gentlemen, pray mind the spoilers!
Oh my poor, poor Classics Club list. I made it in 2014 and infused it with all the optimism of my more youthful days. I was convinced I would read 100 classics (including such hefty tomes as War and Peace and Ulysses – ah the vanity of youth) in four years. Five years on and I’ve made it about 10% of the way through that list. So I’m guessing I’ll be done with it sometime around my sixtieth birthday. Hooray for me!
This book was #61 on that list, and since I somehow associated the month of March with E.M. Forster books about Italy (I read Where Angels Fear to Tread and A Room With a View in some long-ago March and since then the association has been fixed in my brain), I thought I’d read another classic that features Italy heavily. Well, last March I managed to make it about five chapters into The Portrait of a Lady before giving up. This year I was determined to make it all the way through.
Be prepared for sexy, sexy vampire fun. Oh, and spoilers.
If you know anything about vampires in folklore and fiction, you will probably know the following:
- The vampire myth developed somewhere in Eastern Europe. It was all about fears of the dead coming back to life and visiting their family members to make life difficult for them, and also, because we’re dealing with Folk Legends, may have at least partly been invented by women eager to cover up the fact that they’d been fooling around with other men after their husbands had shuffled off this mortal coil. Folk legends can be so quaint and innocent and lovely like that.
- Surprisingly, the vampires of ancient folk legend rarely actually sucked blood. Which basically means that they more or less just… sucked.
- Vampires did not, under any circumstances, sparkle.
Well, I’ve done it again. Disappeared for a long stretch after making several rallying attempts at something like regular posting. Although I think I should be commended for the fact that it’s only been two months and not two years. Go me!
So, yes. Thank you all for continuing to read and like the posts on this blog, and I promise I will get better at replying to them (full disclosure: I probably won’t get better at it).
I hope you’ve all been keeping safe and healthy, and that the situation in your part of the world is improving from day to day, as it certainly seems to be here in Croatia. In fact, so much time has passed since I last posted that almost all the restrictions have been lifted here. Life appears (for better or worse) to be getting back to normal. So, somewhat illogically, I am now finally finding time to write a new post for this blog.
So it’s been a while since I’ve done a Top Ten Tuesday list, but this week the topic is definitely one that tends to occupy the minds of us bookish types – how can you recognise a book lover? Well, here’s my humble attempt at a field guide to your garden-variety bookworm (helluo librorum vulgaris).
Top Ten Signs You’re a Book Lover
1. You regularly have dreams about characters from books that are more vivid than the dreams you have about your friends and family.
So March has drawn to a close, and for some of us that means we’ve been social distancing for the better part of a month. I hope you’re all safe and well, and that you’re finding new ways to entertain and amuse yourselves. For me, this weekend marks my second full week at home.
Since my last post, in addition to the coronavirus situation, Zagreb was struck by a pretty serious earthquake. This was last Sunday, and I’m happy to report that my friends and family are safe and well, and that nobody sustained any major damage to their homes. Needless to say, it’s been a pretty strange experience and people are still recovering from the shock and the damage, all while continuing to follow the guidelines on social distancing. Everyone is lending a hand and looking out for friends and neighbours, which is just amazing to see. This isn’t the first time Zagreb’s been struck by an earthquake this size, so I know that we’ll rebuild and recover.
So unless you’ve been living under a rock in the middle of the Amazon, or have just emerged from a two-month spirit retreat in the middle of the desert and are currently dealing with an onslaught of information and some serious sunburn, you’ll already know all there is to know about the new coronavirus. And you’ll know that a significant portion of the world is currently under strict measures that include quarantines, curfews, and social distancing.
There’s lots of great (and less great) resources out there for dealing with this tough time, and I’m certainly no expert. So I’m not going to give suggestions as to the best way to deal with self-isolation and social distancing, especially because things here in Croatia are (thankfully, for the moment) not at a critical point. I’m basically just looking to share how I’ve been dealing with the new restrictions that have been placed on us, if nothing else because writing about it gives me a chance to reflect on how well I’ve actually been handling being at home for whole days at a time.
“I do declare, these spoilers are simply shocking!”
The essence of this review is basically that I loved Hester and I’m not even sure if there’s really anything more to add.
That’s partly because I can’t quite put my finger on why I liked this book in the first place. One of my least-favourite topics in the world plays a large role in this book: banking and finance. For me, this is about as interesting a topic as a book about the finer points of Watching Paint Dry.
But something about Hester grabbed me right from the very beginning. Set in a small town where the Vernon family own a prosperous and seemingly stable town bank, it begins with a crisis that could see the bank collapse and the family lose all their wealth and status in one fell swoop, because the head of the family is a bad businessman. But along comes his cousin Catherine Vernon and despite suffering from a rather terminal case of Being Female, nevertheless manages to save the bank using her own money. She goes on to raise the bank back up and rule the entire Vernon clan with an iron fist.
So here’s a sobering thought: in the year 2018, I read a grand total of 15 books.
Yes, you read that right. 15 books. It’s a number so astonishingly low you would be forgiven for thinking that I in fact died in February of the previous year, and have spent the remaining time haunting the library and bewailing the fact that when I try to pick up a book now it just passes right through me, which incidentally is the feeling I get whenever I try to muster the enthusiasm to finally read Ulysses.