January 31, 2010

Playing With The Grown-Ups - Sophie Dahl

I chose to read Playing With The Grown-Ups after finishing To The Lighthouse as a bit of light(er) relief from long, intricate prose.

The book has been described by some as a modern "I Capture The Castle" - one of my favourite books but this comparison meant it had big shoes to live up to for me. The novel is the coming of age story of Kitty Larson, eldest daughter of Marina - a woman portrayed as a loving and creative mother on one hand but also a lost, searching soul on the other. Kitty's life starts off with her mother and beloved grandparents in rural England, Marina goes on to have two more children (twins, Sam and Violet) and the family spend their lives moving between England and New York as Marina's painting career and whims carry them along. Interspersed with the story of growing up are scenes set in current time where an adult and newly pregnant Kitty is living in New York with her husband when she is called by her younger sister in London to say that something has happened to their mother.

Overall I did enjoy this book and Dahl's writing had depth and yet was easy to read. I did like the first half of the book more so than the second where I thought a lot of things went unexplored and I would have liked more resolution from the ending as well. This is not usually a big thing for me in my reading but for some reason (maybe my connection with the character of Kitty??) I was left wanting just a little bit more of the story fed to me. Loved Dahl's writing though and would definitely go back for more of her work.

January 30, 2010

To The Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf

To The Lighthouse is the second Virginia Woolf book I have read as part of The Woolf in Winter Read Along (the discussion for this particular book being hosted by Emily) and it has created a little bit of a dilemma for me as I now don't know whether this one or Mrs Dalloway is my favourite! A nice dilemma to be in really!

I am actually a little blown away by how much I have enjoyed Woolf's writing - I can't get enough of it! A part of me is disappointed in myself that I have never tried to read any of her work before this, but another part of me thinks I have come across her books at just the right time in my reading life.

To The Lighthouse has been described as one of Woolf's most autobiographical novels - a homage to her deceased parents. In the introduction (which I read after reading the novel) to the edition of the book that I read Woolf is quoted as saying that;

I wrote the book very quickly; and when it was written, I ceased to be obsessed by my mother. I no longer hear her voice, I do not see her. I suppose that I did for myself what psychoanalysts do for their patients. I expressed some very long felt and deeply felt emotion. And in expressing it I explained it and then laid it to rest.

As a counsellor and mental health professional I found this very interesting and the writer of the introduction goes on to talk about the writing of the book as being a narrative kind of therapy for Woolf - which is exactly the type of therapy I use with my clients who are seeing me for issues relating to grief and loss. The creation of your own story, or narrative, is a way for people to recognise and validate the losses in their lives from their own perspective.

In To The Lighthouse Woolf has created the characters of Mrs and Mr Ramsey to correspond with her parents and through the novel we see how their partnership as husband and wife has developed and how they relate to each other and their children in the context of their summer house in Scotland and surrounded by various friends and acquaintances. The novel starts with Mrs and Mr Ramsey talking with their youngest child, James, about a possible trip out to the Island's lighthouse the next day;

'Yes, of course, if it's fine tomorrow,' said Mrs Ramsey. 'But you'll have to be up with the lark,' she added.

To her son these words conveyed an extraordinary joy, as if it were settled the expedition were bound to take place, and the wonder to which he had looked forward, for years and years it seemed, was, after a night's darkness and a day's sail, within touch.

I love this opening scene - I remember as a child looking forward to something so much and being told by my parents "we'll see" in response to whether it would happen or not - and to a child "we'll see" always seems to mean "yes"! Of course Mr Ramsey puts a darkness over the scene by declaring that it won't be fine tomorrow so don't get your hopes up -and in this simple scene we clearly see the personalities of each parent and how they are perceived by their child.

The most interesting parts of the novel for me were those that focused on relationships and connections between people and objects. The relationships between Mrs and Mr Ramsey and their children in explored in many different ways and across time - we see the relationships not necessarily change but be expressed from different perspectives.

The novel is told in three section and I found the middle section - Time Passes - extremely sad and mournful (as I am sure it is meant to be). Each section is clearly distinct from the other and yet they blend together wonderfully to create the whole story.

I know there is so much more I could be writing about and reflecting on but I feel as a new reader to Woolf I still have much to learn - not only about her writing but also about her life as I feel that will inform and accompany my reading of her work beautifully. So, with that said - does anyone have any good recommendations for further reading about Woolf herself?

Looking forward to our next Woolf read...

January 27, 2010

Library Loot - & One Purchase...

I collected two books from the library this week to add to my ever growing pile:

Playing with the Grown-Ups - Sophie Dahl; this is a book I have wanted to read for the longest time and after a glowing review from Claire I quickly requested it at my library. Such a gorgeous looking book though - I might be tempted to buy this one...
The Hours - Michael Cunningham - this is a book I had never really thought of reading before but thanks to the Woolf In Winter Read Along I am now into all things Woolf. A great review over at Another Cookie Crumbles has also tweaked my interest in this one.

I also made a book purchase over the weekend - The Legacy, the first novel from Australian author Kirsten Tranter caught my eye - both for it's gorgeous cover and the interesting description:

What has happened to Ingrid?
Beautiful Ingrid inherits a fortune and leaves Australia, and her friends, and Ralph who loves her, to marry Gil Grey and set up home amid the New York art world. There she becomes the stepmother to Gil′s teenage artist daughter Fleur, a former child prodigy, and studies ancient curse scrolls at Columbia University.
But at 9am on September 11, 2001, she has an appointment downtown. And is never seen again.
Or is she?
Searching for clues about Ingrid′s life a year later, her friend Julia uncovers only further layers of mystery and deception.
Both an unputdownable mystery and a compelling meditation on the nature of art, truth, friendship and love, THE LEGACY announces the arrival of a major new talent.

January 25, 2010

Love and Summer - William Trevor

Love and Summer was probably as close as I will come to reading, and enjoying, poetry. The book flowed so beautifully for me it felt like a novel written in lyrics - a gentle love song.

The book is set in a small Irish country town sometime after the war period (the exact time of the book's setting is never clearly defined and it was something that bothered me for a little while until I realised it didn't really matter and I let go of my obsession!).

The simple and yet directive title indicates the heart of the novel - it is a love story taking place in the summer months as a local farmers wife, Ellie, meets a young budding photographer at the funeral of a local woman;

While such recollections were shared, and the life that had ended further lauded, a young man in a pale tweed suit that stood out a bit on a warm morning surreptitiously photographed the scene.

Dark-haired and thin, in his early twenties, the young man was a stranger in Rathmoye. A suggestions of stylishness - in his general demeanour, in his jaunty green-and-blue striped tie - was repudiated by the comfortable bagginess of his suit. His features had a misleading element of seriousness in their natural cast, contributing further to this impression of contradiction. His name was Florian Kilderry.

Florian is the process of selling his families run down house and estate after the recent death of his father, his mother having died some years before. As he goes through the process of packing up and in some cases discarding the elements of his home we learn about his childhood - the deep love of his parents and his upbringing as their only child. Florian is intending to leave Ireland for good once the house is sold.

Ellie is an orphan who was raised by nuns until she was chosen to go the home of kindly widower Dillahan and eventually marries him after becoming a companion to him in his grief;

Younger by several years than her burly husband, she had something of the demeanour of a child. Yet while childhood still influenced this expression of her nature it was a modest beauty that otherwise, and more noticeably, distinguished her now. It was there in the greyish blue of eyes that had once been anxious, in the composed smile that had once been faltering and uncertain. Soft fair hair, once difficult was now drawn back, the style that suited it best. But in the farmhouse, and the yard and the dairy, in the crab-apple orchard and the fields, though touched by the grace that time had brought, Ellie Dillahan remained as diffident a presence as she'd been when first she came here as a general maid.

The relationship and connection between Ellie and Florian builds gently as they go about their daily tasks - Ellie taking care of her husband and house and Florian preparing to sell his home and move abroad. The community and the people who live in it are cleverly and yet subtlety intertwined with the two young people with sub stories being explored with great skill.

The building of the love story is wonderful - I was on the edge of my seat waiting for it to develop and yet at the same time I wanted it to take time - longer than summer had to offer.

They left their bicycles where they were. Yes, she had time, Ellie said as they walked away from them, time enough. It wasn't like being in Rathmoye, on the streets, among people, being frightened. There was a calmness and, as if she were alone, she belonged in its quiet. He held the barbed wire apart while she scrambled through it, and helped her again where a tree had fallen across the avenue. When he gave her his hand to take it was the first time they had touched, and still the calm was there.

Just beautiful.

January 22, 2010

Free To A Good Home - Catherine Deveny

Free To A Good Home is a book I picked up while on a trip to Sydney late last year. I had heard of the author before and was aware she wrote a regular column for a major Melbourne newspaper but seeing as though that's in a completely different state to me I had never actually read any of her work before. This book is a collection of some of those newspaper columns focusing on a broad range of issues from TV, feminism, marriage, religion, politics, racism and many more. I also loved the comment/recommendation about the book on the front cover from another Australian journalist, Marieke Hardy; "Provocative, borderline insane, and above all a very, very fine writer". But I was really sold on the book when I opened to a random page and read the start of one of Deveny's columns:

I'm against gay marriage. I'm against straight marriage. I'm against marriage full-stop. Why are we hanging on to this relic of an anachronistic system (which still reeks of misogyny and bigotry), established so men could own women to ensure their estates and titles were passed on to their kids - sorry, their sons?

Even if I don't necessarily agree with all of Deveny's opinions (although I have to say I connected with her on most of them!) I love her raw, honest writing style - this is a women who is not afraid to say what she thinks - and I admire that. She's also very, very funny - laugh out loud kind of funny and it usually takes quite a lot for a book to make me do that.

This book is probably more suited to Australian readers - a lot of what Deveny writes about concentrates specifically on anglo-saxon Australian culture and customs - very funny for those of us living here but maybe not so much for others.

I loved this one - didn't want it to end - I might have to buy a subscription to that Melbourne newspaper...

January 18, 2010

I Love Macarons - and other pretty things...

I am being fairly strong in my resolution not to buy any new books at the moment but this book - I Love Macarons (which was on sale I must say!) did hook me in. After our trip to the gorgeous Laduree in Paris I am now a macaron advocate - I'm not so sure that I will be able to re-create anything as yummy and beautiful as what we sampled at Laduree but I will give it a go! The reviews for the book on Amazon seem to indicate that the look of the book may be more impressive than the cooking instructions but we will see...

I also picked up a copy of the December issue of British Vogue (yes, we are a bit behind with our international magazines here in Australia!). The cover was just too gorgeous to leave on the shelf I thought and I love reading magazines from the UK - I like to pretend that I am living there!

January 17, 2010

When I Haven't Been Reading...

I have been obsessed by the TV show Damages starring Glenn Close and gorgeous Australian actress, Rose Byrne.

My partner and I have just finished watching series 1 on DVD and the next day we went straight out to buy series 2 - we're hooked!

The show is set in New York and follows the high flying law firm of Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) and her up and coming young lawyer, Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne). As in my reading I am not normally drawn to legal thriller/mystery type shows. I work in the medical legal field and these types of shows make me feel like I haven't left work. I'm not sure if this one is a little different because it is set in the USA and the legal system there is quite different in many ways to Australia - or maybe this show is just so good I could see past everything else that normally keeps me away!

It's also been a good hobby to enjoy with my partner so onto to series 2! Has anyone else been watching this show - or any other good ones they would recommend?

January 15, 2010

Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf

Mrs Dalloway is my very first Virginia Woolf read and I read it as part of The Woolf in Winter (or Summer as the case is for me!) Read Along. You can see other comments and posts about this book being collected by Sarah here.

This being my first venture into Woolf territory I must admit I wasn't really sure what to expect. Although I know a lot about Woolf's life I am ashamed to say that I didn't really know all that much about her actual writing. I am now VERY glad I have rectified that as based on what I have read in Mrs Dalloway I think Woolf will turn out to be one of my favourite authors.

The "stream of consciousness" writing style that Woolf adopts in this book took me by surprise - I felt captured by the characters thoughts and feelings and I found myself rushing along in my reading - I felt I was reading too fast to really appreciate the writing itself but I certainly didn't feel as though I was missing the essence of the story. I think this is the type of book that will need to be read again and again, each time concentrating on a different aspect.

I loved the setting of London in the 1920's - descriptions of the city streets detailing a world possibly about to slip from existence;

Gliding down Piccadilly, the car turned down St James's Street. Tall men, men of robust physique, well-dressed men with their tail-coats and their white slips and their hair raked back who, for reasons difficult to discriminate, were standing in the bow window of White's with their hands behind the tails of their coats, looking out, perceived instinctively that greatness was passing, and the pale light of the immortal presence fell upon them as it had fallen upon Clarissa Dalloway.

Clarissa, Mrs Dalloway, is preparing for a formal party that she will host at her home that evening and in the course of the day we see her reflect on her youth and her past and prepare for her current and future life. In contrast to Clarissa there is the character of Septimus Warren Smith - a returned soldier suffering the effects of post traumatic stress (or shell shock as it was described as then). The way Woolf overlaps these two seemingly very different characters and their worlds is very clever and effecting.

My edition of the book contained a quite lengthy introduction which I went back and read after I had read the book - I was glad that I saved it until the end as it would have given away so much about the story but it has also helped my reflections on my reading in giving me more insight into Woolf's personal life at the time she was writing Mrs Dalloway and the process she went through in completing the book.

I think I am possibly a little overwhelmed by the power of Woolf's writing to say much more about Mrs Dalloway itself at the moment except that it will be a book I go back to - and I can't wait to read more Woolf!

January 13, 2010


I just read about this one today and am longing for it already!

January 12, 2010

To Or Not Tattoo...

I have always been interested in and intrigued by tattoos. I have friends and some family members who have decorated themselves and although I have always had thoughts of getting one myself I have never actually taken the plunge (I think my deep seated fear of pain is playing a big part in this decision!).
Coming across this article yesterday made me think of tattoos again. I had never actually thought of combining my love of books and literature into body art before but I think it is a beautiful idea.
Does anyone have a tattoo that is linked to a favourite book or author? If you were going to get a literary tattoo what would you choose?
I would have to go with something Jane Austen related I feel - and a quote or sentiment from my favourite Austen, Persuasion, would be ideal. I love the words from Captain Wentworth telling Anne, "You pierce my soul" or even a line from Anne herself when she makes sure that Frederick is sure of her feelings this time when she tells him, "I am quite determined".
A nice idea but I think the fear of pain will win out in the end!

January 11, 2010


A big thank you to JoAnn for passing on the Honest Scrap Award/Exercise - it made me do some thinking!

For this award you are meant to list 10 honest things about yourself (the items that I have listed are all bookish in nature) and then pass it on to 10 other bloggers to do the same. Instead of passing on to specific bloggers I am going to ask anyone who is interested to play along - I really enjoy reading these kinds of posts!

My 10 honest things are:

1. I prefer to read books by female authors – not sure if this is the Feminist in me coming out but I do seek out books by female authors and generally prefer reading them.

2. I turn the corners down on the pages of a lot of the books I read – a bad habit I know!

3. I have tried and tried to read “The Hobbit” but I just can’t stand it!

4. I once had to read a Mills and Boon book for a University English course on romantic literature – I found it quite fun!

5. I used to detest reading Jane Austen – now I can’t imagine my life without her.

6. When I was in primary school I used to go to the local library with one of my friends and we would read the “naughty” bits from the Judy Blume books before we really understood why they were naughty!

7. I write little messages in books I give to people as presents.

8. I believe that the “Twilight” book promotes an unhealthy self image for adolescent girls and young women.

9. I can’t read when travelling on any type of transport without feeling sick – very annoying!

10. I know there are way too many good books and I will never have enough time to get to them all…

January 10, 2010

Library Loot

In line with my new "Don't Buy So Many Books" policy I have picked up a few books at my local library in the past week:

The Winter Ghosts - Kate Mosse - I have had a bit of like/dislike relationship with this authors work but my friend Tamara had some good things to say about this - and it does look gorgeous.

The Infinities - John Banville - This was a book I discovered in a "Best Of 2009" list last week and it sounds as if there are a few people out there who have enjoyed this one.

The Year of the Flood - Margaret Atwood - After loving Oryx and Crake I definitely want to read this one but I think I need to leave a bit of a gap between the two.

Has anyone read any of these? Good or not so good?

January 09, 2010

A Last Book Splurge...

Unlike the Northern Hemisphere we are experiencing summer in all its glory this weekend. I'm not complaining - this is the first fully sunny weekend we have had since before Christmas and it does mean I finally get to wear my new swimmers seen below (trust me, this photo from the catalogue is much better to view than me actually in the swimmers but I still love them!).

But until our air conditioning is installed it does make being at home during the day light hours a little uncomfortable so my partner and I hit the bookshop for some browsing today and I came home with a little bundle. As I have mentioned before my partner and I have made a decision to cut back on our book spending this year - not cut out altogether but definitely reduce our spending. We have some rough guidelines for this plan - basically unless a new book is released from our favourite authors or we can't find a book that we really want to read at our local library we can consider buying a copy - first seeking out where we can find a copy of the book the cheapest. We are trying to stop that impulse book spending habit that we have developed so well! We are also planning to go through our bookshelves - sell or give away those that we no longer want to keep and arrange the others in some kind of logical order - more about that in the future...
So today's purchases from top to bottom are:

The Art of Travel - Alain De Botton - Since reading A Week At The Airport I have wanted to read more of De Botton's work - particularly his writing and reflections on travel so this was the perfect choice.

Consolation - Anna Gavalda - Apart from this being an absolutely stunning book to look at I did enjoy the author's last book Hunting and Gathering.

Seasons - Donna Hay - The latest cook book by an Australian chef whose books I adore - they look gorgeous and I can actually cook the recipes in them!

January 08, 2010

Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood

Although I am a HUGE Margaret Atwood fan and would list her as one of my favourite authors I have not read Oryx and Crake until now because I just did not think it would be a book that I would enjoy - at all. I was very, very wrong. I picked this up from my library one day after work this week and as I was a little early for my pilates class I started reading it in the car while I waited. I almost missed my pilates class - I just did not want to put this book down (that is one of my only gripes with pilates - I can't read while doing it!).

Since finishing the book this morning I have been browsing Atwood's site for the book and reading some of her interviews and thoughts about the novel and her process of writing it - I always find these insights from authors interesting. I was particularly interested to hear Atwood describe Oryx and Crake as speculative fiction - not science fiction. I like this distinction because it make sense to me now why I enjoyed this book so much but I really do not enjoy science fiction. I am ashamed to say that I had never really thought about the difference before. I was trying to explain to my partner (a huge science fiction and fantasy genre lover) why I liked this book so much and all I could really come up with was that it had a strong humanist element contained within it - even though it was a different (although scarily possible) view of our world I could still locate myself or people I care about within this story and I connected with the characters and their experiences - even though I have of course never been in a situation like this in my own life. I had empathy for and connection with the story - two key elements for me in my reading.

I liked the way that Atwood showed us the present and then worked backwards with flashbacks of the history of the characters leading up to that point in time - I thought it was brilliantly done with great suspense and timing.

I am now eager to read The Year of the Flood - have people read either of this books? Did they enjoy one more than the other?

January 06, 2010

Lovely Blogging!

I want to say a big "Thank You" to My Shelf Runneth Over for awarding me the Lovely Blog Award!

I was very excited to receive this award because although I don't see myself as a creative person by any stretch I do see my Blog as a place where I can explore my creativity in some small way and it is the blogging community who has helped me to achieve this so thank you to everyone who drops by my little piece of creative space.

As with most blogging awards this one comes with some rules:

1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link

2) Pass the award to 15 (well...) other blogs that you’ve newly discovered

3) Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

I would like to pass this award onto the following blogs that I find Lovely, Luscious and Lyrical...

1. A Bookish Way of Life - Always informative and chatty I love dropping by Nadia's blog.

2. An Embarrassment of Frivolities - This is a newly discovered blog for me but I love the title and the content is just as fun and pretty.

3. Bloomsbury Bell - Another fairly recent blog discovery for me - I just love not only the book reviews but the photos and description of an English life that I covet!

4. Bookgirl's Nightstand - Iliana's blog is not new to me (in fact it was one of the first book blogs I ever came across) but her blog definitely fits into the always lovely category for me.

5. Farmlane Books - I find Jackie's blog lovely for her honest feedback and thoughts on the books she reads.

6. In Spring It Is The Dawn - A lovely blog for many reasons but particularly for its focus on Japan (one of my favourite countries) and its literature.

7. Kiss A Cloud - Claire's blog is definitely one of my favourite places to visit - always lovely in thought and presentation.

8. Nonsuch Book - Frances's blog is another relatively new find for me - I love the lovely mixing of posts, thoughts and photos.

9. The B Files - I love Verity's blog for it's mixture of reading and cooking - very inspirational for a bad cook like myself!

10. Thyme For Tea - Tamara's blog is always delightful - positive, informative and glowing - definitely lovely!

11. What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate - I discovered Sarah's blog through the recent Persephone Secret Santa gift giving and I am so glad I did - a gorgeous blog that has already had an impact on my reading.

January 05, 2010

A View of the Best Books of 2009

One local program about books that I try to tap into regularly is the ABC's Radio National, The Book Show. The host, Ramona Koval, has listed her best books from 2009:

The Infinities - John Banville

Truth - Peter Temple

Brooklyn - Colm Toibin (the only book from this list that I have read)

The Pattern in the Carpet - Margaret Drabble (I do love Margaret Drabble's books but I am not sure I want to read about jigsaws??)

This is How - MJ Hyland (I really enjoyed a previous book by this author, Carry Me Down, but I'm not sure if the subject matter of this book is something that I want to delve into)

How Fiction Works - James Wood (This one does sound interesting and given that I do want to do more fiction writing this year and not just reading maybe it would be a good read?)

The Anthologist - Nicholson Baker

Tom is Dead - Marie Darrieussecq

The Rest is Noise - Alex Ross

The Children's Book - A.S. Byatt (I did try to read this last year but I don't think I was in a head space to enjoy it at all - I would like to try and give it another go this year)

Ransom - David Malouf

Has anyone read any of the books on this list? Would you recommend any of them?

January 04, 2010

A Week At The Airport: A Heathrow Diary - Alain De Botton

I had heard about A Week At The Airport when we were travelling last September. Philosopher and writer, De Botton has been approached by the owners of Heathrow Airport to spend a week in the airport's new Terminal 5 as its very first "Writer in Residence". I admit that the whole concept sounds like a huge marketing ploy but I was also a little jealous - I would love to get paid to live in and write about an airport!

I have not read any of De Botton's previous and more extensive works so this 107 page book has really only given me a tiny taste of his work and his style. I can't say that A Week At The Airport was everything I was expecting it to be but it was a delightful, reflective and thought provoking read that has just made me want to jump on another plane as soon as possible!

De Botton starts off by declaring himself a lover of travel and the humble airport;

While punctuality lies at the heart of what we typically understand by a good trip, I have often longed for my plane to be delayed - so that I might be forced to spend a bit more time at the airport.

This quote immediately connected me with De Botton - I have also often made this wish!

The book seems to meander along with little structure or focus - and I don't say this in a negative way. De Botton has obviously chosen to write about those specific moments and people that have captured his attention during his week in the airport and yet each of his reflections could easily applied to broader situations - I connected with a lot of what he wrote about from my own experiences of being in airports. I especially liked the section about the emotionality involved in our experiences of meeting our loved ones at airports;

We may spend the better part of our professional lives projecting strength and toughness, but we are all in the end creatures of appalling fragility and vulnerability. Out of the millions of people we live among, most of whom we habitually ignore and are ignored by in turn, there are always a few who hold hostage our capacity for happiness, whom we could recognise by their smell alone and whom we would rather die than be without.

I had thought that this book would contain more in depth information about the structure and world of Heathrow Airport itself but I was not disappointed by what I received instead.

Has anyone read other works by De Botton? Would they recommend them?

January 03, 2010

How Much Do I Love The Book Depository??

The answer to that question would be - A LOT!
Buying books in Australia can be quite expensive - I try hard to support some of the smaller, independently owned bookshops but it is often a struggle to find the book I am looking for (in my town at least) and if they do have it in stock it is ridiculously expensive and if it is not in stock it takes weeks to come in - and it is still ridiculously expensive!
So my partner and I have been doing a lot of our book buying through The Book Depository lately and on the weekend I made a last flurry of purchasing before we restrict our book buying as part of our 2010 budgetary measures! The books I am now looking out for in our mail box are:
In Praise of Slow - Carl Honre - This is a book I have been meaning to read for a while now and it will hopefully encourage and support one of my reading goals for this coming year which is to read my books more slowly and deliberately.

How To Be A Domestic Goddess - Nigella Lawson - Another book I have been coveting for the longest time (but it costs over $60 in Australian bookshops so it has stayed on the shelves!). It is also supporting one of my reading /lifestyle goals for this year.

The White Garden - Stephanie Barron - I first saw this book over at Frances's blog and it sounds really interesting - and it fits in well as an accompaniment to the Woolf Read Along I am participating in at the moment.

Me and Miss M - Jemma Forte - I read about this in a local magazine and it just sounded like a nice light, fun read - for times when I need one of those.

January 02, 2010

Bright Star

My partner and I went with some friends last night to see Bright Star the movie about poet John Keats and the love of his life Fanny Brawne.

I am not generally a fan of poetry - I would love to be able to read a poem and understand and appreciate it but I am afraid my reading material needs to be much more literal for me to take it on board. Add to that some very bad memories of studying poetry at university and it's no wonder I really did not know all that much about John Keats - the man or his poetry.

Bright Star has changed all that for me and I may just have found a medium for me to appreciate poetry through.

This movie is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever watched - the scenery, costumes, lighting and camera work are all divine but the thing that really made the movie for me was Australian actress Abbie Cornish in the role as Fanny. I thought Cornish played this role to perfection and was simply stunning as Fanny.

The movie follows the relationship of Keats and Brawne from the beginning and it paces the story really well - staying true to the time in which they lived and clearly showing the impediments that were in the way of them continuing their relationship and marrying.

Such a beautiful story - can't wait to see this one again.

January 01, 2010

2010 - Another Wonderful Year of Books!

Happy New Year Everyone! Despite us being in the middle of summer in Australia the sun has not shone since Christmas Day in my part of the world - still warm and muggy - just continual rain and no light!! This would normally drive me crazy but I am actually feeling quite calm and content - a new year is starting and there are plenty of books to devour.
I am not really a resolution kind of person - I don't do so well with "shoulds" - if I feel like I have to do something then odds on it won't get done! So instead I have thought of some reading plans to guide me through 2010:
1. To Read & Re-read Charles Dickens - 2009 saw me renew (or begin) an interest in the work and life of Charles Dickens and I have decided that I would like to spend a portion of my reading year in 2010 re-reading his books in some cases and discovering them for the first time in others.

2. Finally read A Suitable Boy - I have been meaning to read this book for the past two years now and for some reason it has always been pushed to the end of the reading pile - not this year though! I have already started the book once before and was falling in love with it so I know I will jump into is easily - I just need to devote the time to it that it deserves. Which leads me to my next reading plan...

3. Read Slowly - Taking a leaf out of the slow movement as a whole slow reading is about taking time with reading - to really absorb the book that is in front of you at the time. I use reading not only as a form of entertainment and learning but also as a way to disconnect from my busy world and to relax - I'm not sure how I have actually been doing this when I have a million books (ok, that might be a slight exaggeration!) beside my bed - all with book marks in them at the one time! For 2010 I would like to take my time with my reading - only read one book at a time and really enjoy and appreciate that book - instead of thinking about what I will be reading next.

4. To Read (and Use) More Cookbooks - I am no cook - anyone who has ever had to eat one of my creations can tell you that! But I would like to learn some simple recipes and despite my poor kitchen skills I do love cook books!

5. Only Join in Challenges/Read Alongs that I Truly Want To - This might sound obvious but I think in the past I have jumped into challenges way too quickly - I love being a part of the book blogging community and I thought to not join in a challenge was rude! For 2010 I will think about the challenge before jumping in. So far the only challenge I have thought about joining is the Art History Reading Challenge and I am also a part of the Woolf in Winter Read Along and this is how I started 2010...