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  • Being single, my options are limited but ...

    Me? I read (who was thinking smutty thoughts)

    I get through about 3 books a month. One of my jobs is a theatre manager and I sometimes have hours to kill whilst am-dram would-be thesps are lording it about on stage and "musicians" are "playing" "tunes". I sit in the office and read. I am one of those people that can't get to sleep until I've had at least 20 minutes of a good book.

    Because I get through so many (mainly from charity shops) it's a struggle sometimes to find something really good. I'm fed up with book reviews in the paper: who read "Wild Swans" by Jung whats-it? It's the size of a video recorder and it took me three months to get a quarter of the way through before I forgot the beginning and lobbed it in a convenient PDSA collection bag. The review called it "an awesome read" or something of that ilk. Same applied to The Famished Road by Ben Okri.

    I think, rather than the reviewer being wrong, my brain is far too shallow for such immense works of literature.

    So, given there was a discussion about the joys of the Pot Noodle here, would anyone like to suggest two or three books that they have absolutely loved and why? Books that you've read maybe twice and would keep. Give me some inspiration when scouring the shelves.

    I shall start off:-

    "The Beach" by Alex Garland. I totally missed all the hype about this book when it first came out and the film passed me by as well (I don't know where my head was at that time). I finally found it at a boot sale for 10p and have since re-bought it as a decent copy. Brilliant writing and goes to show that, no matter how much we may dream about it, there is no such thing as the perfect society. I couldn't put it down but forced myself to since I really wanted it to last. Brilliantly descriptive.

    "Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser. A factual book. If anyone has kids who love a "Happy Meal", they really should read this book. Totally fascinating and gruesome. If you ever wondered how fast food took over the US, this book explains it all. In the worst detail (especially about the beef slaughter and production line). There's stuff about fast food that you wouldn't imagine including how they manufacture the taste of a burger patty in a factory in New Jersey. The taste is then injected into the meat. Lovely. A wonderfully written book that charts the rise and effect that the big fast food chains have had on society, farming and the environment. It put me off fast food and it's more than a little guilty for the current failings of the McDonald's empire.

    Also recommend Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men". You can read it in a day or two and it still hits a nerve every time.

    Hope others will add. I'm just about to finish "A Painted House" by John Grisham (excellent - not the usual court room stuff) and need ideas.

  • #2
    Jeannie, your other job as a theatre manager - will PM you to tell you what I do!

    Regarding books. I like all sorts and every sort. I am at this moment sitting amongst I would guess, just under a thousand in my office.

    The ones that instantly spring to mind as giving me pleasure/insight/escapism, whatever... are;

    The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

    The Tin Drum - Gunter Grass

    The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera

    Life is Elsewhere - Milan Kundera

    The Lost language of Cranes - David Leavitt

    Of Human Bondage - Somerset Maugham (read and re read)

    Most Somerset Maugham!!!!

    Most Piers Paul Read

    For laughs, read any Tom Sharpe

    These are just the ones floating round my head at this moment in time, the ones that I've read and re read. As soon as I post this I'll remember others.

    At the moment I'm reading [/I]The Naked Civil Servant[I]. Quentin Crisp is one of my favourite people. I've a read a few books by him and on him. I think he had enormous insight into the human psyche and delivered all his thoughts with humour and style.

    Plays, I read a lot of plays, Joe Orton's complete works is well thumbed, as is another of my favourite person's works (I don't care a bit that he's now unfashionable, I like what I like) - Harold Pinter. David Mamet, and Dennis Potter scripts are always being thumbed through.

    Biographies and diaries. Joe Orton, Dennis Potter, The Kenneth Williams diaries (quite sad actually) Stephen Fry, Peter Cook (one of the most intelligent, funny, wittiest men that ever lived).

    Then it comes down to interests - I have a whole section on the military! Strange when you think my complaints are with the RAF!

    They're just the ones that immediately came into my head as damn good reads!

    A lot depends on your taste and interests I guess and the mood you're in when you want to get lost in a book.

    Happy reading. Be interested to know others thoughts and when and where they read. I read a lot on the tube when I lived in London, yes I read in bed too, but have to sleep in the guest bedroom to do it as boyfie can't get to sleep with the light on.

    ....Just thought of abook that really made my heart sing; A Kentish lad by Frank Muir, I was so upset when I finished that book!!

    My mind is buzzing with them all now, I just got up to have a look around and nearly fell over one of my dogs!



    • #3

      The Grapes of Wrath - definitely. Just wish the ending was, I don't know, a little more wrapped up? It was an odd finish but I guess there wasn't going to be any happy ending to that one. Not saying that I like a "happy ever after" type of thing but the actual ending to that one, the fact that I can remember the words and it's such a vivid picture, means that a re-reading is difficult. Still an excellent choice though.

      As for your others - haven't even heard of them but will have a nose!

      I used to read a lot waiting at the train station when I commuted to London. Trains never used to run to time so I'd sometimes spend about 45 minutes just stood reading. Got a shock one day when, with no warning at all, I just fainted flat out! I can remember being immersed in Red Dragon at the time and then, bang, on the floor. So embarassing. Mind you, kindly people about helped me recover myself and, despite all that, still managed to catch the train!

      There's a warning there not to stand too long on a platform in hot weather.


      • #4
        I've got loads of different books and tend to read myself to sleep. My other favourite reading time is in the garden on a sunny day.

        At the moment I'm reading a book by Val McDermid "The Wire in the Blood", I just finished one of hers called "The Last Temptation".

        The book before that was written by Martin McGartland "50 Dead Men Walking" - he grew up in Belfast and worked for the British Special Branch as a secret agent and also for the IRA. I learnt more about the troubles in Northern Ireland by that book than anything else I have read, heard or watched.

        I quite like Martina Cole/ John Grisham/ Stephen King books for an easy read.

        Favourite books that I always return to are:

        The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

        The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

        The Prophet - Khallil Gibran

        Jonathon Livingston Seagull - Richard Bach

        Illusions - Richard Bach


        • #5

          The 50 Dead Men Walking has already caught my eye. I find I get baffled by the news stuff on Northern Ireland and am never entirely sure what's going on there. Would be good to read something that actually presents a story rather than factual news items I tend to find confusing.

          Agree with you on the Stephen King front. Especially the Shawshank Redemption which was incredible, and The Long Walk which I think they're now making into a film. I don't go for his horror stuff all that much but, when he writes about the way humans work in the real world, his descriptive narrative is second to none.


          • #6
            It was rather sad wasn't it, sad and so desperate. Inately sad.

            I loved that name 'Rose of Sharon' - surely it must be from an old perfume??? After reading that I got really interested in Steinbeck and the Okies. Steinbeck never let anyone into his office - not even his wife, it was sacrosanct, and I can understand that! I think the shed he ended up writing in is still there for people to visit.

            Some of the original Okie dwellings are now a living museum.

            There are a few websites that are really informative on this, with recordings of people who went through what Steinbeck described.

            I tried other Steinbeck novels because I enjoyed that one so much. Cannery Row I gave up on, and another - Tortilla Flat I've remembered is half read. I bought East of Eden too and Of Mice and Men, that's waiting to be read.

            I'm crazy with books, sometimes I love a passage or a phrase so much I'll go over it again to squeeze the last bit of pleasure from it (I realise I may be making people vomit here!!!)

            I'm often asked for quotes from theatrical books but I can't bear to rip them away from the context they were originally written in.

            It's said that Oscar Wilde and Quentin Crisp talked in quotes - and I believe that to be semi true, their quips could be used as 'calling cards'.

            Blimey - the one place you don't want to faint is on a platform at a railway station!!!



            • #7
              Mmmm...bed time hobbies....

              well if I am completly honest...

              I watch the cartoon network!

              yeah..I am a kid, I love watching boomarang with grape ape and inch high private eye, at midnight it is thunderbirds followed by danger mouse!

              If I get to watch that then I know I am not going to sleep well! (1am)

              If I am at work I read (sleep overs)

              when we had the major problems with NFH we would put the TV on any channel just so we could hear it and it would help us get some sleep over their racket.

              white noise does wonders....and after they had gone we found we still needed the tv on to get to sleep

              we had been conditioned!!

              having it on timer by the way and never loud enough for the neigbours to hear.


              • #8
                Badger - George Orwell! Of course! Coming up for Air. One of my favourites, plus Keep the Aspidistra Flying

                1984 I read on the daily tube journey (in 1983) and the power of it was such that absolutely everything was blocked out around me whilst reading it. As soon as I read; "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen". I thought; here we go - in for a treat here!'

                Read the final few pages in bed one night - and... went out and bought everything George Orwell had written the following weekend. Still haven't read Animal Farm though, I keep putting it off for some reason.

                [/I]Gormenghast[i] I'd never heard of until the TV series - and that has put me off for life I think! I watched about half an hour of it. The book will be on another sphere, I realise that, so might give it another go.

                Tom Sharpe has given me many hours pleasure! I don't think he translates to tv and film very well - but the BBC TV series Portehouse Blue was excellent - we have that on DVD and in my opinion it was David Jason's finest hour.

                Holly - I got half way through The Hobbit and never got any further, I might try that again.

                On that genre (hateful word!) - a book I've read so many times, is [I]The magicians Nephew[I] by CS Lewis. Really takes you out of yourself and, as they say; 'If you like that you'll like this'! It's an older childrens book really - but who cares?!

                I'm about to be timed out and was going to type in a bit about 'The Tin Drum', the book I mentioned earlier - if you read that and don't get anything out of it - I'll give you your money back!

                April - you never said what books they were!!

                Beth - a new strand on cartoons methinks! I'm a South Park fanatic - also King of the Hill - soooooo clever.

                I'm off before i can't post this...


                • #9
                  I found Ben Okri's The Famished Road to be a joy of a book which awakened my delight in literature. Sorry you didn't get on with it Jeannie. I find I either seize onto a book and read it avidly or I don't finish it too, unless have nothing else to do.

                  Another Ben whose books I enjoy is B. Elton. Although I found Gridlocked to be a bit ranting.


                  • #10

                    Animal Farm: I re-read that a couple of months ago. Rather ashamedly I did it as a GCSE book and never gave it back to the school. Like you say, clever use of pigs and it really does sum up society as a whole where there is truly no such thing as true equality, no matter how much we'd like it to be. Some people are never happy unless they have total control. I think most of us can see Snowball in a lot of our NFH!

                    Homer, your comments on The Famished Road were interesting and I really must give the book another shot. Didn't it win the Booker or Whitbread prize? Ben Okri is coming here in the next week as part of the town's festival of literature so I feel inclined to pop along to hear what he has to say.


                    • #11
                      Whats this!!!!!!

                      Bedtime reading material!!!

                      You are SO asking for trouble with this one

                      Wheres my copy of 'Pot Noodle' monthly.....................................

                      PS love the new PN advert....' New POSH noodle..Not for the likes of YOU!!"

                      "Take off and nuke the site from orbit- it's the only way to be sure!"

                      apologies if you are an "Aliens" fan

                      Posh Noodle - NOT for the likes of YOU!!


                      • #12
                        Hey HF,

                        We are NOT SUPPOSED to be talking about Pot Noodles now. Beth had a big posting to let us all get it out of our systems and we blamed you - of course! Well, eventually.

                        But, trouble is where are you when we need to blame you ? Baby HF hogs the compo and you are nowhere to be seen.

                        However, one book I really enjoyed reading is Naomi Klein's - No Logo.

                        It's about all the hype in the industry for labels - being seen with the right trainers with the tick or swoosh and the fact that copanies are actually playing with our minds to buy their products. Very enlightening.

                        P.S. Love the new PN Ad too !!!!


                        • #13
                          I've just remembered another favourite that I go back to every so often. It's great to read when you're feeling like you're not getting anywhere in life. A fantastic test of sheer human endurance.

                          It is called "Touching the Void" by Joe Simpson. It's a climbing book, but even people who I've lent it to who don't climb have really enjoyed it.

                          I've also still got one of my favourite childhood books, "The Happy Prince and other short stories" by Oscar Wilde. A lovely book with really nice stories to grow up with.


                          • #14
                            Ahh, The Happy Prince! Have you ever seen the animated film of that? I saw it years ago when I was a child and I cried my eyes out when the poor little swallow died. I never knew it was by Oscar Wilde until about 3 years ago when I went through as Oscar Wilde phase after reading the Picture of Dorien Gray and got hooked on his stuff. I found the Prince in the complete shorter fiction book and got all excited! The Devoted Friend is worth reading every so often - stops you taking your friends for granted.


                            • #15
                              Lewis Grassic Gibbon's "Sunset Song" -part of the trilogy "A Scots Quair" . The first of the three and by far the most compelling reading. Must have read about 10 times.

                              Also Spike Milligans war memoirs...Hitler, my part in his downfall; Rommel? ..Gunner Who?;...Mussolini , his part in my downfall.

                              Funny ,yet somewhat poignant


                              and of course any Pot noodle related material!!! oo er missus!!
                              "Take off and nuke the site from orbit- it's the only way to be sure!"

                              apologies if you are an "Aliens" fan

                              Posh Noodle - NOT for the likes of YOU!!