Book Banning?

There is an interesting debate going on in the UK at the moment about GCSE English set texts – nice article here – where the education secretary has removed some classic American texts that have been in the set books lists for years and replacing them with English authors. There was a massive backlash at the start of this week as a couple of the books – John Steinbecks Of Mice and Men and Harper Lees To Kill A Mockingbird, are the ones that are going, with accusations that it’s because of Michael Goves personal hatred of Steinbeck (he read English at Oxford). At first, I was totally outraged, how can the government ban books, not right, rah rah, but having looked at some of the new books, I am kind of coming round to the idea. I LOVE John Steinbeck, East of Eden is my favourite book of all time and I dragged my husband to the John Steinbeck museum on our honeymoon (and saw Cannery Row – awesome!) and I do understand that these books deal with important themes; racism, unemployment, recession, poverty – all of which are still important today. And, obviously, are incredibly well written. But at the same time, I like that teenagers will be reading some real English classics – Frankenstein, Great Expectations, Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm are all on the new list. And the themes of these books are important too – identity, culture, politics. So I am feeling quite positive about the change. Continue reading

Currently reading 25th May

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I have just finished 12 Years a Slave, which I really enjoyed, even if it was quite upsetting in parts. The other book I have on the go at the moment is Anna Karenina which I feel like I have been reading for years! I have been picking it up and putting it down for the last 6 months. I really like it but I am finding that I can only read a couple of chapters at a time then I have to break off and digest it for a while. I think this is because every minute detail of every conversation is described, and there are so many characters! Hopefully I will finish it this week as I have a big pile of new books to read. On my kindle I have just started The Awakening by Kate Chopin (which I chose as I saw a lovely quote from the book on Etsy and I have never heard of her before) and after finishing 11-22-63 on audible I am now listening to Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (who is fab – she has never written a bad book!)

New books

Yesterday I went to Waterstones and picked up some of the new Penguin classic editions. They are just gorgeous – stunning artwork plus the covers feel slightly waxy and lovely. I restrained myself and only got 3, but I will probably end up getting all of them! The three I chose are books that I don’t have and haven’t read before, so as well as having some lovely looking new books I also have three new editions to the ‘to be read’ pile (which I must admit is now getting a little out of hand!)

trio books

Book move

Recently I moved all my books from one room to another. This has made me realise that I have a lot of books. 4 boxes worth to be exact. They take up 2 bookshelves plus several piles and also others dotted around my house in various places. The good thing about the book move is that I have found loads of books that I had forgotten about that I am now planning to re-read. I am especially looking forward to Cloud Atlas (as the film is coming out soon), The Passage (ahead of reading The Twelve) and one of my favourite books ever, In Cold Blood, which I try to read every year, as I constantly notice different things in it. So I guess all the lugging around of boxes was worth it. Now I just have to decide whether to bother putting them in alphabetical order.

Book club book

My girls and I have a bi-monthly book club we have been doing for about 3 years. We started with the best intentions, and some of the books have been really enjoyable (Jeff Longs The Descent has been my favourite). However, what began with quite ernest discussions about racism in To Kill A Mockingbird in 2009 has now become a cursory exchange (- Have you read the book? – Yeah, it wasn’t bad. -Cool, you want some wine?) We now affectionately call it book/wine club (the boys just call it wine club) and we are definitely more concerned with what we will be eating (and will there be cake?) than pulling apart the narrative, and what is the theme and what was the author feeling when they wrote this? Continue reading