I made it! Despite the attempts of last night's storm to ensure otherwise. I have suffered a day without power, using it as the perfect excuse to forgo PhD work in exchange for a little more reading of my Book Club's current choice - Man Booker nominee, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. Fortunately the electricity has returned in time to allow business as usual at The Book Habit. For anyone else in the East/South East of England, I hope that you have returned to full power. But if you are reading this by candlelight, I can only extend my every sympathy to you, and offer up this Monday Musing as inadequate consolation.
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
I hope that this post finds you all enjoying a fantastic Wednesday. I am still buzzing from a wonderfully literary weekend with my very good friend, and fellow bibliophile, Katie. Needless to say that much of her visit was occupied with a 50th rewatching of the BBC's Jane Eyre adaptation. Because nothing says 'obsessive' quite like the ability to quote an entire serialisation from memory.
'11 Lessons That Jane Eyre Can Teach Every 21st Century Woman About How To Live Well' - Huffington Post
Given the introduction to this post, there could be no more appropriate article to celebrate. No book has impacted by life quite like Charlotte Bronte's masterpiece. Its lessons translate almost entirely to the present day with, in an era of even greater gender awareness, arguably increased resonance. As this article argues, the 21st century woman has much to learn from Jane Eyre. So too does the 21st century man. Read this book and you will learn what it is to conduct yourself with courage in adversity. You will learn that the key to a fulfilled life lies in self-respect and staying true to the principles upon which you've built your identity. And you will learn that Jane Eyre paints a picture of the fundamentals that lie at the heart of truly loving someone. These lessons are timeless and universal. And while I would argue that Jane Eyre's impact defies summation in 11 points, this article reminds us of the tremendous power that literature can wield in our outlook and choices.
'Man Booker International Prize Assembles Grand Names For Advisory "E-Council"' - The Guardian
We followed last week's announcement that Eleanor Catton had won the 2013 Man Booker Prize for her epic literary work, The Luminaries. This year's Man Booker announcement was, however, overshadowed by the controversial decision to open the prize up to authors outside of the Commonwealth. In order to tackle the vastly increased number of novels eligible for future shortlists, Man Booker has decided to assemble an advisory committee to lighten the load. This committee, consisting of 80 former Man Booker Prize winners and judges, will offer advice to future judges. The problem remains, however, that many critics are convinced that the diversity of literature represented through the Man Booker will be swept away, dominated instead by the now-eligible American novel.
'Cool Bookish Places: Bookworm Gardens' - Book Riot
Because how could you possibly not want to visit this place? Anyone in Wisconsin, this is for you.
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We are revisiting the joys of Harry Potter today. I can hear the sighs issuing from your lips as you read. I am in the midst of planning an EPIC Harry Potter-themed event with my amazing friend (and fellow blogger) Anjali, involving a trip to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour and an extensive film marathon. To tide me over until November, I am therefore indulging in another Book Fetish visit to the wizarding world.
'Mandrake Doll' - OldCityArtMaker
Quite possibly one of the creepiest things I have ever seen. But that's what makes it great. And handy in the event of Basilisk petrification.
'Harry Potter Logo Shot Glass Set' - PuppyBaoCreations
Because nothing says party quite like a Harry Potter drinking set.
'Harry Potter TOMS' - AdrienneThompsonArt
I love TOMS. So much so that I am typically sporting a TOMS tan line throughout the summer. And given that I live in the relatively sunless UK, this tells you how little time I spend out of my favourite shoe brand. It comes as no surprise, then, that these Harry Potter TOMS are pretty much the best shoes I have ever seen. At least in part because my own artistic skill leaves SO much to be desired.
Monday, 21 October 2013
Here we are, in the last full week of October. Despite the month's attempts to move at a pace so slow that it defies explanation, the inevitable march of time continues. Fortunately, I have enjoyed a fantastic weekend of reuniting with one of my greatest friends - the only person able to appreciate my incommunicably intense love for Jane Eyre. Now it's back to business but, with just a few weeks until my return to the US, I think I can handle November. For all those of you feeling the drag, take some time to pick up a book and lose yourself for a while. It always works for me!
Friday, 18 October 2013
Another Just For Fun Friday and another illustrious birthday for us to celebrate. Wednesday 16th October marked the birthday of my favourite playwright and one of the greatest British literary talents, Oscar Wilde. I have spent a huge amount of time deliberating about how best to pay homage to this man. How does one even begin to celebrate a talent that almost surpasses human understanding? I have already highlighted the merits of Wilde's wisdom in a previous Just For Fun Friday post. Today, we celebrate Oscar Wilde in classic British fashion: with a Monty Python sketch, of course.
Happy birthday, Mr. Wilde!
Happy birthday, Mr. Wilde!
Wednesday, 16 October 2013
Another week has flown by and this post is coming to you from back in my cosy corner of Hertfordshire. After a wonderful week away from civilisation and in the Cambrian mountains, I have returned home. The beauty of my PhD programme, I am fast learning, is that it allows me to indulge my nomadic tendencies. A rucksack, a laptop, and I'm good to go.
Here's hoping your week is equally filled with adventures!
'Eleanor Catton Becomes Youngest Booker Prize Winner' - The Guardian
After some intense speculation, the Man Booker committee yesterday announced that this year's award would go to its youngest ever winner - 28 year-old Eleanor Catton. Her 832 page epic, The Luminaries, is a murder mystery set in 19th century New Zealand and at the time of the gold rush. The book is also notable for the complexity of its organisation, with a system deriving from Catton's interest in astrology. So it might be a good idea to brush up on your knowledge of the zodiac before giving this one a go!
'Neil Gaiman: Why Our Future Depends On Libraries, Reading And Daydreaming' - The Guardian
Last week, I paid homage to Neil Gaiman in the form of a Book Fetish feature. This article - a lecture given by Gaiman on behalf of the Reading Agency - only proves how completely he deserves recognition for his devotion to the world of literature.
"Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You're being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you're going to be slightly changed."
In this lecture, Gaiman details the importance of teaching children the benefit of reading. He argues that the capacity to imagine and dream is integral to impassioned and engaged citizenship. This lecture is, quite simply, one of the most eloquent and rational explorations of the topic that I have had the joy of reading.
"We have an obligation to make things beautiful. Not to leave the world uglier than we found it, not to empty the oceans, not to leave our problems for the next generation. We have an obligation to clean up after ourselves, and not leave our children with a world we've shortsightedly messed up, shortchanged, and crippled."
'Finding Libraries In Unexpected Places' - Book Riot
After reading Neil Gaiman's utterly convincing consideration of the importance of libraries as a means of inspiring new generations of bibliophiles, Book Riot's article serves as a wonderful follow-up. I won't lie, I really want a donkey library. Or perhaps I have simply discovered a new career option for myself.
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This week, we return to the delightful world of book-themed jewellery. Weird, wonderful, and for the bold bibliophiles.
'Customisable Hogwarts Letter Necklace' - SixAstray
Not only is this a fantastic celebration of Harry Potter, the letter and envelope can be customised with your name. For those of us still waiting to receive our Hogwarts letters (an administrative oversight, I'm sure), this might provide an effective consolation.
'Jane Austen Bracelet: How Ardently I Admire And Love You' - EmeryDrive
Was there really any chance that I would get through this post without some allusion to Pride and Prejudice? Of course not. This quote is one of my favourites from the book, taken from Darcy's first (and ill-fated) proposal. And the bracelet is pretty cute too!
'Alice In Wonderland Bottle Charm Necklace' - YellerCrakka
Just about the sweetest thing I've ever seen.
Monday, 14 October 2013
Hello to you, my fellow bibliophiles!
Another week and we're already facing the latter half of October. Without the benefits of a real Halloween celebration or a Thanksgiving interlude, the UK is already on Christmas countdown. Since I am now ticking off the days until my next trip back to the US, I am not sharing the silent anger of the rest of the population at this Yuletide encroachment. Breaking the habit of a lifetime, I have yet to shake my head at the sound of a premature Christmas carol or tut at the sight of a box of mince pies. My restraint is shocking. But check back again in a couple of weeks, and you may be hearing something very different.
Friday, 11 October 2013
Wednesday marked the birthday of one of my personal heroes, John Lennon. A man of significant complexity, his creative output was largely the product of a turbulent upbringing and some extremely rebellious teenage years. What he did create had a seismic impact upon global culture. Had his life not been cut short on 8 December 1980, John Lennon would this week have turned 73.
In memory of the man who helped give us The Beatles and a new respect for the bed-bound protest, here is one of my favourite of his poems.
The Wumberlog (or The Magic Dog)
By John Lennon
Whilst all the tow was sleepy
Crept a little boy from bed
To fained the wondrous peoble
Wot lived when they were dead.
He packed a little voucher
For his dinner 'neath a tree.
'Perhumps a tiny dwarf or two
Would share abite with me?
'Perchamp I'll see the Wumberlog,
The highly feathered crow,
The larfing leaping Harristweed
And good old Uncle Joe.'
He packed he very trunkase,
Clean sockers for a week,
His book and denzil for his notes,
Then out the windy creep.
He met him friendly magic dog,
All black and curlew too,
Wot flew him fast in second class
To do wot he must do.
'I'll leave you now sir,' said the dog,
'But just before I go
I must advise you,' said his friend
'This boat to careflee row.'
'I thank you kindly friendly pal,
I will,' and so he did,
And floated down towards the land
Where all the secrets hid.
What larfs aplenty did he larf,
It seeming so absurd;
Whilst losing all his oars,
On his head he found a bird.
'Hello,' the bird said, larfing too,
'I hope you don't mind me,
I've come to guide you here on in,
In case you're lost at sea.'
Well fancy that, the boy thought,
I never knew till now
That birds could speak so plainly.
He wondered - wonder how?
'What kind of bird are you sir?'
He said with due respect,
'I hope I'm not too nosey
But I didn't not expect.'
'I am a wumberlog you see,'
The bird replied - all coy,
'The highly feathered species lad,
You ought to jump for joy.'
'I would I would, if only, but
You see - well - yes, oh dear,
The thing is dear old Wumberlog
I'm petrified with fear!'
'Now don't be silly,' said the bird,
'I friendly - always - and
I'm not like Thorpy Grumphlap,
I'll show you when we land.'
And soon the land came interview,
A 'tastic sight for sure,
An island with an eye to see
To guide you into shore.
'Hard to starboard,' said a tree,
'Yer focsle mainsle blast
Shivver timbers wayard wind
At last yer've come at last.'
'You weren't expecting me, I hope'
The boy said, puzzled now.
'Of course we are,' a thing said,
Looking slightly like a cow.
'We've got the kettle going lad,'
A cheerful apple say,
'I'll bring a bag of friends along
Wot you can have for tay.'
A teawell ate, with dog and tree
Is not a common sight,
Especially when the dog himself
Had started off the flight.
'How did you get here curlew friend?'
The boy said all a maze.
'The same way you did, in a boat,'
The dog yelled through the haze.
'Where are all the peoble, please,
Wot live when they are dead?
I'd like to see them if I may
Before I'm back in bed.'
'You'll see them son,' a carrot said,
'Don't hurry us; you know
You've got to eat a plate of me
Before we let you go!'
Then off to see the peoble whom
The lad had come to see
And in the distance there he saw
A group of tweilve or three.
A little further on at last
There were a lot or more,
All digging in the ground and that,
All digging in the floor.
'What are you digging all the time?'
He asked them like a brother.
Before they answered he could see
They really dug each other,
In fact they took it turns apiece
To lay down in the ground
And shove the soil upon the heads
Of all their friends around.
Well, what a sight! I ask you now.
He had to larf out loud.
Before he knew what happened
He'd gathered quite a crowed.
Without a word, and spades on high,
They all dug deep and low,
And placed the boy into a hole
Next to his Uncle Joe.
'I told you not to come out here,'
His uncle said, all sad.
'I had to Uncle,' said the boy.
'You're all the friend I had.'
With just their heads above the ground
They bade a fond goodbye,
With all the people shouting out
'Here's mud into your eye!'
(And there certainly was.)
Taken in 2010 at The Beatles Story, Liverpool
Wednesday, 9 October 2013
Hello my lovelies!
I am now fully embedded in the Welsh countryside, enjoying the fruits of a beautiful autumn. Leaving civilisation behind for a week is the perfect antidote to a stress-inducing PhD transition. Fortunately, it also affords me some headspace to put together this week's edition of The Weekly Reader - for all of your literary needs.
'Want To Read Other's Thoughts? Try Reading Literary Fiction' - NPR
This is a really excellent, and short, NPR piece about the empathy-inducing merits of literary fiction. Studies suggest that reading literary fiction (as opposed to popular fiction, or not reading at all) increases our ability to perceive the thoughts and emotions of others. I have referred on many occasions to my belief in the capacity of literature to give some degree of emotional education to readers. It is a lesson in how to see the world through another's eyes. Now science confirms it! Hooray!
'Nobel Prize For Literature: Alice Munro Belatedly Emerges As Second Favourite' - The Guardian
The winner of this year's Nobel Prize for Literature is due to be announced tomorrow (Thursday). I highlight this article in anticipation of that fact and with high hopes for the success of Haruki Murakami, one of my favourite contemporary authors. With a prize of £780,000, it is the unrivalled recognition garnered by winning the Nobel Prize that is of true value to its recipients. Murakami has been a favourite for the past 10 years. Here's hoping that 2013 brings him success!
'Mark Forsyth's Top 10 Lost Words' - The Guardian
If you have paid attention to my previous posts (and it is completely understandable if you haven't), you will know that I have a deep and abiding love for lost words. Needless to say, this article served as a highlight for me. Recapturing the beauty of forgotten words such as 'wamblecropt', 'sprunt', and 'snollygoster', these would give even Roald Dahl a run for his money.
'Classics That Prove Your Grandma Could Kick Bella Swan's Ass' - Book Riot
Because this is a sentiment that we should all share.
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This week's theme comes courtesy of an author whose labours I am currently enjoying - Neil Gaiman. Also somewhat pertinent for the month of Halloween.
'Framed Photograph Of A Neil Gaiman Quote Used As Street Art' - AKThomps
Neil Gaiman is the source of tremendous wisdom. Those who frequent my Monday Musing posts will already be aware of this fact. The quote featured here is just further confirmation of his talent for thought-provoking insight.
'Neil Gaiman Quote Mug' - MereGeekery
Another fantastic quote and, more importantly, a brilliant facility for tea drinking. Two of my favourite things combined.
'Neil Gaiman Art Doll' - MeridianAriel
I don't know why this exists. But it terrifies me to my very core.
Monday, 7 October 2013
Happy Monday, friends!
I hope that this post finds you all emerging from a spectacular weekend. Mine was dominated by a desperate attempt to accept my new status as a PhD candidate. Fortunately, I am once again in the zone and ready for an academic relaunch. Tomorrow I journey into the more glorious parts of the Welsh countryside - ready to see my grandparents, Sam the dog, and many sheep. What better way to start a PhD programme? At least I still have the distraction provided by The Book Habit and another fantastic Monday Musing.
Wednesday, 2 October 2013
Happy Wednesday, my literary lovelies! I hope that this first October edition of The Weekly Reader finds you all in an autumnal mood. Things have definitely taken a seasonal turn in my part of the world - the leaves are slowly on their way out, the jumpers are on the move from wardrobe to floor, and I am in the throes of my first cold since January. Not too high a price to pay for a return to hot chocolates and misty walks, I think.
'David Gilmour, Canadian Professor And Author, Isn't Interested In Teaching Books By Women' - Huffington Post
"I say I don't love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall." And with those words, David Gilmour incurred the wrath of bibliophiles the world over. If you read my article on The Riveter, you will already know that, for me, the issue of female representation in the literary world is a central issue. There is a worrying trend of gender discrimination that continues to dominate the field - from writing, to publishing, to literary criticism, women are being sidelined. Cast in that light, Gilmour's words represent an extremely problematic insight into the degree to which discrimination is permitted to permeate. Until his words rub against reality, there is still a battle to be fought.
'Bridget Jones's Diary Fans Aghast As Helen Fielding Kills Off Mr. Darcy' - The Guardian
By far the worst news of the week. My reaction requires no explanation. I sense that this shall be a lengthy mourning period.
'David Bowie's Must-Read Books Revealed' - The Guardian
Now, we all know that David Bowie is an authority on practically every important aspect of the life experience. So we bibliophiles may rest easy, knowing that we now have some Bowie-guidance on must-read novels. An impressive list that only confirms what I knew in my heart to be true - David Bowie is a hero.
'William Faulkner In His Own Words' - Book Riot
This article is a compilation of clips that feature William Faulkner talking about his work. Both As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury are soon to be unleashed as film adaptations. Before seeing either, I would certainly recommend taking a look at these videos and learning a little about the man behind the literature.
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Well friends, it is officially October. And with Halloween approaching, I feel that it is only appropriate I help you prepare. So this week we celebrate the joys of literary-themed costuming!
'Wizard Knit Beard' - FoamyWader
Not only does this hold potential for any adequate Dumbledore or Gandalf costume, it is also brilliantly practical as a solution for those cold winter months. You're welcome.
'Jane Austen Regency Dress' - RegencyRegalia
Because we all know that an Elizabeth Bennet costume is the only way. Particularly if you find yourself a willing companion and turn this into the best of couple costuming.
'Jacob Marley Costume' - Ebay
I choose this not because it is a particularly spectacular costume. But because the child modelling it is THE MOST TERRIFYING THING EVER. Take inspiration and you are sure to spread fear wherever you go this Halloween.