28 February 2010


'Great Tales from English History' by Robert Lacey
February 22 - 27, 453 pages

I really enjoy reading about history, particularly European history and I decided it was time to get a big overview of English history. This book was perfect. It was very accessible, but also very comprehensive. It was always great to read about an event that I had vaguely heard of, and learn the full story.

I am trying to recall a favourite 'tale' but it is difficult. There are 154 stories, starting from 7150 BC to 1953 AD. The tales are diverse, from the Domesday Book, to the Triangular Trade, to JMW Turner. It really is a history of all things English.

I am always fascinated by British monarchy and after reading this I feel I have a much better understanding and knowledge of the English Kinds and Queens through history.

Well that was not very well written. And ended quite abruptly.  

21 February 2010


'A Tale of Two Cities' by Charles Dickens
 February 15 - 20, 382 pages

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ..." Oh how I wish I had the space here to write out that quote in full. Best opening line ever. I love Dickens, and I'm sure that most people who know me can vouch for that. He's great. I love that he always says something, and he really says it well; every part of speech reinforces the message. Plus, he's very funny - "'If those eyes of yours were bed-winches,' returned Miss Pross, 'and I was an English four-poster, they wouldn't lose a splinter of me.'" This novel was exciting, jam-packed with action from the French Revolution. I was interested in the ideas of life and death, and being "Recalled to Life" sometimes, as with Sydney Carton, at death (hey! I can now open with the first line and finish with the last!) - "'It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I ever have done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I ever have known.'" 

I really enjoyed exploring London and Paris during this exciting time in history. This really is the quintessential commentary of the French Revolution. "The leprosy of unreality disfigured every human creature in attendance upon Monseigneur."

I struggle to think of many feelings better than that of having a Dickens in your hand and a comfortable place to sit.

14 February 2010


'The Little Stranger' by Sarah Waters
February 8 - 11, 499 pages

I can't remember the last time I read a ghost story. I struggle to believe in anything paranormal and so am not much of a fan of this genre. However, when protagonist Dr Faraday continues to supple rational explanations for the strange happenings at Hundreds Hall even I want to shake him: there's obviously a ghost!

This was a nice book, quick to read with wonderful descriptions of the old house - 'the essential loveliness of the room stood out, like the handsome bones behind a ravaged face.' The novel really was about Hundreds, an ode to a beautiful old building and, as a lover of architecture, it was a pleasure to read.

'On the Road' by Jack Kerouac
February 11 - 14, 291 pages

This book was lots of fun. I felt like I really experienced mid-century America. 'All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road.'

'On the Road' was wild. It made me want to leave home and just see something. Be somewhere different and exciting. It's written exactly how he lived it: fast-paced, impulsive and pure. 

Some quotes from 'On the Road' which I scribbled on my bookmark:

'... I had reached the point of ecstasy that I always wanted to reach, which was the complete step across chronological time into timeless shadows, and wonderment in the bleakness of the mortal realm ...'

'the thing that bound us all together in this world was invisible' 

'But no matter, the road is life.'

And my favourite: 'Until you learn to realize the importance of the Banana King you will know absolutely nothing about the human-interest things of the world.'

07 February 2010


'Atonement' by Ian McEwan
February 1 - 7, 351 pages

I was away on camp Monday to Friday this week and between surfing and teaching year sevens how to camp I didn't have much time to read. When I did have a few minutes I found it hard to concentrate so when it got to Friday and I had only read twenty pages I was a little worried. It was going to be hard work getting through this in two days. But it wasn't. This book was pretty amazing. It kind of grips you and pulls you in. There's just so much depth; it can't help but affect you. I like the way the book never stands still, and yet you are not left behind. McEwan also shows appreciation for the magic of words - "Wasn't writing a kind of soaring, an achievable form of flight, of fancy, of the imagination?"

Good stuff. It was very interesting and I liked the way it was put together, the structure, the four parts of the book. I also liked how World War Two was portrayed; as something to survive and escape, rather than a means of defeating and injuring the other side.