What I’m Reading

Book #114 on the BBC Big Read list is ‘Les Miserables’, by Victor Hugo.

I’ve seen the musical. Love it; know the songs.

I’ve had the pleasure of dining at the michelin-star restaurant named for the little urchin, Le Gavroche, in Mayfair, London.

However, I had no idea what the book would be like, and was expecting something depressing, gruelling and somewhat hard-going.

Let me tell you how pleasantly surprised I have been thus far, and how much I am struggling to put this book down at night. “Just one more chapter” (and bless him, they are nice and short), I tell myself….and another 15 minutes passes by.

Hugo writes a compelling narrative and intriguing, fascinating characters. The way he intertwines their lives is fantastic – and unpredictable – and his ability to capture the moment is phenomenal.

The descriptions of people living in dire poverty make me shiver and try to steel myself against biting winds; I’m drawn into their lives and imagine myself alongside them, suffering with frozen feet and surviving with barely nothing to eat.

Loving it so far, and I’m probably three-quarters of the way through. I can’t wait to get to bed tonight and read some more!


What We’re Reading

I finished “The Picture of Dorian Gray” last week…awesome, awesome book. After initially finding it difficult to concentrate on the lengthy paragraphs and dated social commentaries (I blame reading late at night when I SHOULD have been asleep), I thoroughly enjoyed Wilde’s only published novel. It was clever, intriguing and ultimately compelling, and an interesting insight into a hedonistic, materialistic, opium-filled 1890s(ish) London.

Over the weekend, I read “A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend”, by Emily Horner.

I had no idea what the story was about, but figured that if it made the latest Whitcoulls Top 100 list, it had to be a good read. To begin with, I wondered why I was wasting my time with this book. It started out so slowly and I found myself getting bored and easily distracted; I felt like I was forcing myself to turn each page. But the more I read (because I had to give it a chance, and because I hate starting a book and not finishing it, regardless of whether or not I’m enjoying it), the more compelling the story became, until I reached that point where I just couldn’t put it down.

And I cried. Four times. And only once due to the many, many horrific spelling mistakes.

This week, I’m back onto the BBC Big Read list, with “Ulysses”, by James Joyce.

It’s a big book, with teeny-tiny writing, and I feel daunted just looking at it, but the blurb on the back has me hopeful for an enjoyable read: “Scandalously frank, wittily erudite, mercurially eloquent, resourcefully comic and generously humane, Ulysses offers the reader a life-changing experience.”

Wow. Now I have skyscraper-high expectations. Four pages in, though, and I’m struggling. Might be the late-at-night reading again, but so far, I’m not gripped.

I’m loving reading these three to Tiny at the moment:

They’re all so much fun to read, but I especially enjoy “Piggity-Wiggity Jiggity Jig goes to Dad’s Cafe”. Any children’s story that can include belligerent, grave repercussions, resplendent, aplomb and auspicious gets a big thumbs up from me!

A bookish one

I finished reading ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ the day before we went on holiday. It’s a Very Big Book, and being so close to the end, I didn’t want to lug such a tome all the way to Rarotonga, only to finish it while waiting at the airport. I spent the few days before we left devouring page after page, determined to get to the end. And when I did, I felt such a sense of satisfaction – the kind that can only come from having read and enjoyed a well-written, intriguing, enticing novel – mixed with a tinge of sadness that this tale was finished. A recommended read – don’t let the size of the book put you off!

While we were away, I digressed from The List, in favour of two small books that were easily slipped into our pack:

(I didn't drop them in the ocean...it was pouring with rain when our bags were loaded onto the plane in Christchurch)

‘Little Vampire Women’ (by Lynn Messina “and” Lousia May Alcott) was a waste of time, in my opinion. It was a failed attempt at satire; she was trying to jump on the current vampire bandwagon in a taking-the-piss kinda way, but messing with this classic so terribly just didn’t do it for me.

I’d never read anything by Truman Capote before, and with ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ being one of my favourite films (BIG Audrey Hepburn fan here), I was a little dubious about reading this one. I need not have been: I loved it! Capote has a brilliant writing style; he’s evocative but accessible, not over-the-top like Dickens (who I also love), and he writes wittily and perceptively. There was so much more depth to the story than was portrayed in the film, despite it being a mere 103 pages long. This Penguin volume also contained three short stories, which were all just a handful of pages each, but compelling page-turners too. I’ll definitely seek out more of Capote’s work in the near future.

As an aside, the lovely Dee over at Books and Bits and Pieces put me onto this great website: Goodreads. If you’re a booklover, I guarantee you’ll be hooked!