Friday, 14 December 2012

Something for the weekend '5 books.. No 7'

This weeks '5 Books that changed my life' is brought to you by Sarah our Sales Manager. You will find our booksellers life changing books at the front of the shop.

Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
The best reference book ever published, and one that was consulted daily during my childhood to settle arguments about the origin of sayings, weird facts and death-bed quotes. The first book I relished coming back to again and again, it set me up for a lifetime of nerdy obsessions. I’d still rather get lost in this book than look something up on Wikipedia any day.

The Daughter of Time -
Josephine Tey

Once I’d finished reading all of the children’s books at my local library, the librarian suggested crime novels as a way to move into the fiction section for adults. I’m not convinced this was a good idea as I spent a lot of time enjoying gruesome tales of murder and evil-doing, and became rather obsessed with reading everything Agatha Christie ever wrote before ticking the titles off on a dagger-shaped bookmark. Discovering Josephine Tey made me realise crime novels could be more than just clever plots. A centuries old historical mystery, investigated while Inspector Grant is stuck in a hospital bed and has only a painting of Richard III to inspire him, was just the beginning of my love of historical and clever crime novels.

Gender Trouble - Judith Butler
Butler’s difficult but rewarding book completely blew my mind when I read it at university. At the time I was devouring feminist texts and finding a new language to talk about gender, but Butler’s analysis questions the very categories of man and woman. Revolutionary and inspiring.

Another Country - James Baldwin
I began this novel while sitting in my university library, and I still remember the feeling of breathless excitement I experienced at the incredible descriptions of New York. As Rufus says, "the weight of this city was murderous". Baldwin’s writing drags you through a bohemian world of musicians and writers, each of them attempting to create art and a liveable life out of an American dream that is racist, sexist and homophobic. Dangerous, thrilling and a brilliant exploration of different lives in a big city.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? - Jeanette Winterson

Absolutely the best book I’ve read this year. I am delighted to discover that books can still fill me with a sense of excitement and change the way I think about the world, even at the ripe old age of 34. As a teenager I loved Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, and this memoir revisits many of that novel’s themes. Ultimately it is a love letter to the power of words and reading, and anyone who suspects a book has saved their life should read it.


Friday, 7 December 2012

Something for the weekend '5 books..' No 6

Hello, this week we continue to bring you '5 books that changed my life'. The promotion is now up & running at the front of the shop - you can't miss it. What would you choose? Feel free to let us know via the comments section.

This week's 5 were picked by Gwendolyn who works in the General department & here they are:

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Set in the 1920's, Rebecca is the story of a rivalry between a young second wife and her dead predecessor, who still seems to control the stately home on England's coast. It is the ultimate Gothic novel full of English aristocrats, huge eerie houses and dark family secrets. For years it was my favourite book, and the first I read in the original English language. I obsessed about Rebecca, the strong, beautiful first wife, wrote stories about her and tried to emulate her in clothes and appearance. I still plan to live in a haunted country house one day.

Moominvalley in November
by Tove Jansson
Tove Jansson's Moomin stories - half fairy tale, half parody - are all set in the same idyllic valley in Finland. Hearing and reading them from early childhood, I feel like I grew up in Moominvalley. This book is the only one that does not feature the Moomin family itself, but the supporting cast who, for one month, live in their house without them. This book's lesson, if you insist on finding one, is about self-acceptance and individuality, but also that no matter how independent we are, we all need other people in our lives. I prefer to enjoy the story as it is, and regard the unique characters as old acquaintances and alter egos. I was Homsa. Who will you be?

by Thomas Mann
This was the first grown-up work of world literature I ever read, when I was fifteen. Mann wrote it at the ripe old age of twenty five and promptly received the Nobel prize for it. Semi-autobiographical, it tells the story of a rich merchant's family throughout the 19th century, the mother of all family sagas. In spite of its bulk, prestige and Mann's trademark incredibly long sentences, I found the book engaging, entertaining and even funny. It gave me an appetite for classic works of fiction and was possibly the book that turned me into a true reader.

Moab is my Washpot by Stephen Fry
This is the first part of Fry’s autobiography, in which he tells the story of his childhood and youth. Extremely funny and terribly wise, he explains the English public school system and answered a lot of teen-me's questions about growing up and being gay, and helped me to make sense of parts of the world, and some of the people around me that had confused me. In a north German village, no one else could have answered my questions. Out of gratitude I've read every single one of his books since.

River Cottage Veg Everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall This really finally turned me into a vegetarian. Lovely but simple recipes eliminated my only worry: boredom. I lacked imagination when it came to vegetables but Fearnley-W. has more that enough of it. With his ideas, I actually started getting some of my own, and it is easy to vary some of the dishes. We are best friends now, the vegetables and I.