There probably won’t be many people out there who still remember the days when I tried to write a Top 10 list every week. Yep, in the not too distant past, I struggled to come up with a coherent list of 10 things related to a specific book or film related top 10. I did it every Wednesday cause, you know, I fucking love to make things rhyme and it always stressed me out. I could never think of a topic and I could never pick 10 things. I think I threw about 6 fake dinner parties for fictional characters in the space of 4 months and the guests were pretty much the same every time. I don’t know what I was thinking. But, I’m obviously a glutton for punishment as I’ve been thinking about starting a new weekly series on a Friday. I’m already struggling because my journey home tonight took me over 3 fucking hours so I’m too tired and pissed off to be writing anything. But, I’m still really angry about this film so this has to happen somehow. I guess it can’t be that bad… and it’s not as if it’s got anything to do with dinner parties. Yet, anyway. So, without further stalling for time, I present the top 5 things I think made The Crimes of Grindelwald a bad film. These don’t include the changes to the canon that I mentioned in my post on Wednesday. Nor do they mention, though it took all of my strength not to, Jude Law’s annoying and laughable Irish moments. I get that he was paying homage to Michael Gambon but who seriously heard him speak his lines and said “yep, that’s exactly how he should say that”? It’s so distracting!
Today I finally got to see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and I’m so happy. I’ve been excited about it for ages and I’m so glad I managed to see it so quickly. I think it was quick anyway. How long has it been out now? Probably ages. Still, I’m on a bit of a dinosaur high and kind of forgot about tonight’s post. I don’t know what’s up with my lately but I’m sure getting forgetful in my old age. So, being my I haven’t finished my current read in time to write a review so I’ve been madly looking for inspiration all night. Stumbling across the Jurassic Park book tag on YouTube feels like fate right now. I’m not a massive fan of doing this (especially when I’m doing them off my own back and not because someone wants me to) but sometimes needs must. And it’s not as if it’s going to hurt anyone or anything other than my pride.
Yesterday I uploaded a top 10 list containing my favourite books out of the ones I’ve read this year. There were plenty of super obvious and unoriginal choices on the list but it’s hard to deny how great they are. Whilst I was writing it I couldn’t help but feel that my book choices have improved somewhat this year. I may not have made great strides in terms of the number of books I’ve read this year because, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t feel that reading should be a competition. However, I haven’t read as many books that I’ve disliked this year. Normally I would have fallen into the trap of buying super cheap thrillers that are always half price following their super hyped release. I’m talking books like Girl on the Train and similar psychological crime thrillers. The kind of novel that always follows the same path as the previous psychological crime thriller but with a heroine with a slightly different emotional crutch. This year I made the bold move to stop myself being taken in by the hype marketing that surrounds certain books. I just can’t do it to myself any more. I’ve done quite well on the whole so, when I was reviewing the books I’ve read in the last 12 months, I was shocked to find so many books that I’d enjoyed reading. There were a few glaring errors though and I thought it only right to highlight these to prevent anyone else making the mistakes I did.
- One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus : This is the book that I’m most annoyed at myself about this year. I have a long and complicated history with YA fiction anyway but this has the added dread of being a crime thriller. On paper it sounded perfect. It was being billed as something of a mix between The Breakfast Club and Murder on the Orient Express and I bloody love both of those things. However, this book is everything that I’ve come to hate about bad YA fiction. I’m sure there is some Young Adult literature out there that isn’t determined to dumb itself down for its audience but this book was so simplistic. It was painfully obvious from the first page who was responsible for the murder that the rest of the novel was just dragging out the inevitable. Then you have all the staple YA cliches and stereotypical characters. There was nothing original, exciting or worthwhile about this book. The writing was uninspiring and fairly insipid. The characters lacked development and the dialogue was so bad. This, more than any other YA fiction I’ve read, felt like a grown adult trying to remember what being a teenager was like but failing miserably. I, honestly, don’t think I could find one positive to say about this novel. I really don’t think I’ve ever hated a book as passionately as I hate this one. It wasn’t worth my previous time.
- Losing It by Emma Rathbone : This was the first book I finished this year and was one that had been part of my Most Anticipated Fiction of 2016 list. I had super high hopes for it being a triumphant work of feminist insight. Instead, it made me all ranty and horrible. The novel was supposed to open up a dialogue about our society’s obsession with sex but, instead, it just made virginity seem even more depressing and humiliating. This is a book intended to be read by young people. YOUNG PEOPLE. You know, those hormonal and already confused and anxious bunch who have enough trouble working out their attitude towards the opposite sex. They don’t need Emma fucking Rathbone coming along and writing a book telling them to have sex asap. I didn’t just hate Losing It because of it’s content, of course. Emma Rathbone is, without a doubt, one of the worst writers I’ve ever read. She has no idea how to utlitise the English language in an appealing and entertaining way. There were moments in this novel that were just awful. I highlight a few in my review which were super bad. This was so close to being my most hated read this year. Luckily for Rathbone, One of us is lying came in to steal the crown from under her nose.
- The Plague by Albert Camus : Now, strictly speaking I didn’t hate this book but, as this list so far consists of two YA novels, I felt the need to bulk out this post. The Plague was one of two books this year that I started but didn’t finish. I don’t know why but I just couldn’t get into this story. I’m going to blame the translation that I used for it being inaccessible but I just found this book to be very stiff. It’s a fantastic story and Camus is, obviously, a great writer. I just couldn’t get through it. Maybe it was bad timing? I don’t know. It’s not necessarily fair to include it considering how much I hated the previous two books but, again, I needed the numbers.
- Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling : The other book that I failed to read this year? Yep, it was the second in the Harry Potter series. When it comes to this series I’ve always said that Prisoner of Azkaban is my number one book and film. I love it so much and think the series really took off from the third instalment. As I’ve grown older I’ve come to really struggle with the first 2 books. They are both so childish and badly written that I have never been able to fully reread them. I managed to push on through with The Philosopher’s Stone this year but genuinely couldn’t get through its successor. Chamber of Secrets is, by far, my least favourite book in the whole series. So little happens in it and there is so much preamble before we get back to Hogwarts. It is so slow and, again, it was during JK’s first experiences of writing. It’s so immature and simplistic. There was nothing pushing me on to finish because I kept remembering what I had to get through before anything interesting happens. I think, if I ever try to reread the entire series, I could happily skip past this one completely and not feel I was missing out.
It’s nearly the end of 2017 and, as is customary at this time, I am looking back over my literary year. I can’t say that I’ve read a great deal this year but, having never set a reading goal for myself, I consider every book finished to be a victory in itself. 2017 has been a year of great reading slumps and hard slogs through difficult books. If we’re talking stats, I finished 26 book at this point but, fingers crossed, I’ll get another one out of the way before midnight on December 31st. I managed to read 4 of the 17 books on my Most Anticipated Books of 2017 list. I own less than I did from my 2016 list at this point but, more importantly, I actually one more of them. I guess that’s a step in the right direction. Anyway, as I was looking back over the past 12 months, I was faced with an Instagram prompt that demanded I pick my top 5 books of the year. It wasn’t as tough as I expected. I’ve read a lot of good books this year but only a handful of great ones. Almost exactly 10 as it turns out. What a happy, happy coincidence.
- Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders : I have to admit that the order of these books is subject to change at any time. I’ve changed my mind even in the few hours between posting a photo of my top 5 to Instagram and starting this post. However, one thing that is never going to change is my number 1. Lincoln in the Bardo is a reading experience unlike any other that I’ve ever had. It’s well written, original and absolutely captivating. There is real emotion at its very core but, thanks to the large cast of characters, has enough light-hearted moments to keep it moving. I loved this book from start to finish and I am really glad that I didn’t listen to my gut and ignore it. Although, if I’m being honest, this book was made for me because of the audiobook. I really do think it’s the definitive way to approach this tale. You get more of a sense of the characters and it really comes to life. I know some people who weren’t happy about the outcome of the Man Booker 2017 but I will always think this was a worthy winner.
- First Love by Gwendoline Riley : When I reviewed this book on my blog way back in the first half of the year, I admitted that it had faults. There are some things about the narrative and its scope that just didn’t work for me. However, Gwendoline Riley’s writing is absolutely beautiful. I was stunned from the first word. It’s a tough read about characters that you’ll never really like but the language is something you can’t miss. I nearly read this book cover to cover on a train ride to London. There hasn’t been another book all year that has been so easy to get through.
- Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman : Another book that I “read” as an audiobook but there is something about hearing Neil Gaiman speaking these tales that make them click. These retellings of the classic Norse myths don’t necessarily flow as easily as a Neil Gaiman original but he manages to bring his own sense of charm to the well-known stories. These are a fabulous thing to dip in and out of. He really captures the spirit of the original tales whilst adding a cheeky modern interpretation to some aspects. It’s got things that lovers of both Gaiman and his subject matter will enjoy.
- Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead : Part of me feels unoriginal by putting this in my top 5 considering it’s one of the books of 2017. However, I can’t deny that this is a powerful and incredible read. I don’t think its a flawless read, as I pointed out in my review here on the blog, but Colson Whitehead is a great writer. His unique take on this important aspect of American history is as captivating as it is tragic. I still think he could have taken it a bit further but his ability to create characters that you believe in and care about is astounding. Out of all of my top 5, this is probably the one I’d be least likely to reread but I’m very glad I finally read it.
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie : This is only as far down the list because it was a rereading and it didn’t seem fair placing it higher. I’m a huge Christie fan and this novel really is one of the best pieces of crime fiction ever written. She crafted such an intricate and surprising narrative within these pages that means it is still entertaining when you know who the killer is. She creates memorable and interesting characters. This is a must read for fans and newbies alike.
- The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet : One of the books from my Most Anticipated List that actually made the cut. I’m so happy! Despite the fact that this novel took me so fucking long to finish I absolutely adored it. This is the book that almost changed my top 5 after my Instagram post. However, this is such a niche and difficult book that I felt it had to sit just outside the greatest of the year. It’s an incredibly original and well-crafted book that expertly mixed historical fact with fiction. It’s funnier than a book on semiotics really has any right to be. It’s also a dense and fairly intense read. Before I read it, I kinda wanted it to be Roland Barthes meets The Da Vinci Code. Upon reading it, I found it too closely resembled the former at times and often felt like I was sitting back in my second year Literary Criticism seminar. Still, if you have the inclination and are interested in French philosophers and critics, then I’d say give it a go.
- The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker : Another book on the list has made it into the top 10. Hooray! I did really like this book but, as I mentioned in my review, I had some issues with it. It was Kayla Rae Whitaker’s debut novel and, at times, it felt really obvious. It was an interesting study of two women’s friendship and their passion for the art. The characterisation was incredible and I really like Whitaker’s gritty style of writing. However, there was far too much going on and I just lost it at times. The narrative was crammed to the rafters and it became difficult to engage. I also found the lengthy descriptions of animated sequences, though integral to the plot, rather awkward. The visual nature of the one medium mixing with the descriptive nature of the other didn’t sit well with me. However, this book was exciting enough that I’ll pick up her next book.
- New Cemetery by Simon Armitage : The only book of poetry that made it onto the list. I have a difficult and complex relationship with Simon Armitage. Part of me finds him really irritating for a reason I can neither explain nor really understand. The other part appreciates the way he can weave words together. This small collection really was beautiful. If it hadn’t been for the heft price tag, it probably would have been higher on the list. What can I say? I’m trying to be frugal over here.
- Autumn by Ali Smith : Don’t really want to say too much about this because I plan on posting my proper review on Wednesday. I only finished this read a couple of days ago but I really enjoyed it. Ali Smith is a wonderfully readable writer, which sounds way worse than it should. She elevates her simple narrative with stunning language and interesting narrative structure. It’s a really deceptive book. It’s high literature posing as lower literature (again that choice of words has all sorts of resonances that I didn’t intend). Unlike the person I saw on Instagram complaining about it, I don’t think it deserved to win the Man Booker but Ali Smith deserves to be recognised for the fucking great talent that she is. My blog isn’t exactly the best place to start but it’s something.
- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad : Once again, this is a position not for the book itself but for the audiobook. Not that I have anything against Heart of Darkness. I love it, which is why I was so eager to “read” the story again. It’s a fantastic tale of obsession and the human spirit that deserves its place in literary history. It still wouldn’t have made it into my top 10, however, if it hadn’t been for the Kenneth Branagh Audible exclusive performance. I love Kenny B and his interpretation of this text was amazing. I mean aside from his dodgy female voice at the end.
Christmas is only 5 days away and I’ve only got 3 days at work until I have a whopping 2 days holiday. Woo! Yep, I’m on the late shift on Christmas Eve and then back in work at 6am on 27th December. I never get a Christmas break as I’m always called upon to do this gem of a shift. It sucks but my manager’s aren’t willing to change their ways. Still, I am desperately trying to get in the festive spirit by watching Christmas movies, wearing Christmas jumpers, and endlessly listening to festive jingles. It works some of the time but, as anyone who works in any kind of retail/hospitality job this time of year knows, it’s hard to not let the season of good will break your spirit. No matter how many times I play my favourite Christmas song on repeat. Speaking of, what is your favourite Christmas song? I read an article recently that made the bold claim that the best was officially All I want for Christmas is you by Mariah Carey. I really doubt the validity of their statement because I, for one, wasn’t asked my opinion. I fucking hate that song and, whilst I’m at it, I hate Fairytale of New York too. It’s not cool to like it because it promotes alcoholism and includes swearing. It’s a shit song that doesn’t promote the festive spirit. My number one? Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses or anything featuring the Muppets. I’ve got simple tastes. As you’ll see in yet another Christmassy book tag.
1. “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch”: Name a villainous character you couldn’t help but love.
What’s that It Crowd quote? “All women love a bastard”, right?! Well, in certain circumstances that’s true. Villains are just more interesting than most good guys. I mean look at Harry Potter. I’m far more interested in the likes of Bellatrix and Lucius Malfoy than I am in Harry himself. Harry’s a whiny, egotistical classic chosen one. I can’t stand him most of the time. I guess when it comes to the ultimate bad guy you can’t help but love I’d have to go with my traditional answer: Humbert Humert from Lolita. I’m not saying I actually love him but there’s something about Nabokov’s narrative that means you end up kind of sympathising with a disgusting paedophile.
2. “All I Want for Christmas is You”: Which book do you most hope to see under your Christmas tree?
There’s always loads of books I want but I don’t often get them because I’m useless at giving hints. I guess the ultimate goal is the second and third illustrated editions of Harry Potter and the Visual Editions’s version of Don Quixote. All very gorgeous and all over my personal book price limit.
3. “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”: Name a character that overcomes major obstacles and learns to believe in themselves.
I feel like my answer to this isn’t going to be that original but, when you think of character development, isn’t it Neville Longbottom than first comes to mind? Look at how far he comes from the scared loner with no friends other than his toad to a strong young man who is leading the DA in a Death Eater filled Hogwarts. He’s a great guy. A much more deserving hero than fucking Harry.
4. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”: a) Which character do you think would be on the top of the naughty list? b) Which character do you think would be at the top of the nice list?
Naughty List: Is saying every literary villain ever a cop out? What a silly question. Anyone who is vaguely bad should be on the naughty list but how to you quantify naughtiness. Who would be the top? Some kind of serial killer like American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman? Or Sauron from Lord of the Rings? Nah, how about Ramsay Bolton from A Song of Ice and Fire? He organised the Red Wedding… there’s no way Santa can even try to forgive that.
Nice List: Again, every hero or nice person in any novel ever. But, purely in the name of playing the game, I’m gonna say Winnie the Pooh. Why? It just popped into my head but that guy always tries to do the right thing. He’s niceness personified.
5. “Frosty the Snowman”: Which book just melts your heart.
I’m not much for the melty-heart kind of books these days. I prefer my novels to be hard hitting and dark. So much so that I’m drawing a major blank on this answer. It probably says a lot about me. I’m a fucking ice queen. I guess, if I were pushed, I’d probably say the Sophie books by Dick King Smith. I was obsessed with those books as a child and they’re so adorable.
6. “Feliz Navidad”: Choose a book that takes place in a country other than your own.
Anything by Haruki Murakami. Let’s say Norwegian Wood. I know that I don’t have enough diversity in my reading material but I’m trying to be better. It’s just that my TBR is kind of full of books written by white men and women. It’s always a question of trying to clear that or be more adventurous. I’m just drowning in books.
7. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”: Which holiday themed book do you use to spread the Christmas joy?
I think A Christmas Carol is a great read and, probably, a book that people won’t be as familiar with as they think. Dickens’ original tale is a lot darker than many adaptations allow. The scene with Ignorance and Want is actually quite disturbing. But, it can’t be denied that the Christmas message runs through and, let’s be honest, it provided the basis for the greatest Christmas film ever made.
8. “Sleigh Ride”: Which fictional character would you choose to spend the holidays with (doesn’t have to be a love interest!)
I know it says one character but I’m just going to say the Weasley family. Imagine spending Christmas at the Burrow? It would be so cosy and full of love. Molly rushing around preparing food. Fred and George pulling pranks on everyone else. Arthur enchanting some muggle fairy lights. It’d be brilliant. If we’re talking romantic Christmas then I’ll have to leave the bookish world and say Chief Hopper from Stranger Things. My passion for that man is so strong. I’d spend Christmas with him in his cabin finding fun ways to keep warm!
9. “Baby it’s Cold Outside”: Which book that you didn’t like would you sacrifice to a fire to warm yourself up in the cold?
Which book would I burn? Now normally I’m against damaging any book, no matter how terrible, but there is one book I’ve read this year that leaps to mind. One of Us is Lying is the most offensively bland and unoriginal book that I’ve ever read. It deserves to be destroyed in a horrible way just for being so fucking blatant. Urgh, I’ve never hated a book this much and I did a whole course on novels of sensibility. Those books are super sexist.
10. “Do you hear what I hear”: Which book do you think everyone should read?
Oh loads. The one I’m always pushing on people is The Monk by Matthew Lewis because it’s fucking crazy. I love it. However, my books of 2017 have to include First Love by Gwendoline Riley and Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. I’d recommend reading First Love and listening to the audiobook of Saunder’s Man Booker winning novel. I adored them both in very different ways.
Ah how foolish I was all those weeks ago when I promised an additional weekly post full of useful stuff. Turns out Jeff Goldblum was right and life, er, finds a way. I feel guilty with every passing Wednesday that I don’t post something bookish so I’ve decided to rectify this by posting a random tag I found on the internet. I thought the Guilty Reader Tag seemed appropriate. I’m a guilty blogger and a guilty reader, after all. As well as not posting often enough recently, I really haven’t been reading enough. I blame the fact that I’ve been ill but that was only really for a week. I’m just stressed and tired about work. So I can’t concentrate on the text. Plus, the chapters seem to be a lot longer at the moment. I don’t know what’s happened. Next week my intention is to have a review of The Underground Railroad up. I wanted to do it this week but I fell asleep mid-chapter last night. I should definitely have it done soon so will have a proper post up. If not, you can just expect easy/shitty tag posts from now on. Sorry.
1. Have You Ever Regifted A Book That You’ve Been Given?
I don’t think I’ve ever regifted anything ever. I have, however, bought a book for myself then given it to someone else as a supplementary present. I don’t know if this counts.
2. Have you ever said you’ve read a book when you haven’t?
Obviously. We’ve all been guilty of this when we’re younger. When I was at uni I pretended to read all the shit on my reading list. I also definitely lied about reading George Orwell books when I was a teenager. I had a super judgemental friend that I was really competitive with. What can I say? I was young and I’ve since rectified this fact by reading George Orwell.
3. Have you ever borrowed a book and not returned it?
Again who hasn’t done this at least once? I’m the kind of person who hates not getting books returned but am also the type of person who forgets to return them. It’s why I don’t really borrow books from people. Although, I think I’ve only kept one book that someone lent me. It was the same friend who I mentioned above and it was an Alice Walker book that I never actually read. Then we all just forgot I had it. I assumed I gave it to a charity shop eventually.
4. Have you ever read a series out of order?
I haven’t really done this for smaller series knowingly. Why would you? It’s madness. Although, with bigger series it can be accidental or unavoidable. I don’t know if comic books count because I definitely have there. Also, Discworld. I mean Terry Pratchett’s series is so fucking huge and I’m not even sure it has an “order” as such. I just tend to pick and chose which books I read when.
5. Have you ever spoiled a book for someone?
I probably have. I mean I try not to but I blurt things out without thinking all the time. It’s not malice; just stupidity.
6. Have you ever doggy eared a book?
Not on purpose but it’s inevitable that when you read and carry around a book it will get messy. I take a book to work so it’s in my bag and will obviously get a bit battered. I don’t mind so much though because it gives a book character. I love the look and feel of a used book. It’s why I collect so many vintage editions.
7. Have you ever told someone you don’t own a book when you do?
I don’t think so. I have very little shame anyway and I’ve read a lot of shit during my time at university. Heck, I even admitted to a fellow literature student that I was reading a book from the Richard and Judy book club many years ago. She was judging me but I didn’t care.
8. Have you ever told someone you haven’t read a book when you have?
Isn’t this the same question as before? Even if it isn’t it’s the same answer. Shame: I have none.
9. Have you ever skipped a chapter or a section of a book?
Obviously. If I know I’m not into a book or I’m desperate to finish I will skim read or judge whether certain paragraphs/speeches/chapters are strictly necessary to my enjoyment. I’ve skipped introductions and prologues at times. I skip the epilogue to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows every single time.
10. Have you ever bad mouthed a book you actually liked?
This is a crazy question. I mean who seriously does this? I don’t want to keep banging on about this but I have no shame. If I like a book then I’d say. No matter how shit it is. Reading is subjective and shouldn’t be an area of judgement. Life’s too short and I have books piling up around me.
So, anyone who has been around for a while will have noticed that last month I neglected to publish a ‘TOP 10 WEN-SDAY’ in September. My excuse? Well, to be perfectly honest, I’ve grown tired of the whole thing. It was never really my favourite post to do and I was regularly having to madly finish it at around midnight. I just never had any good ideas and, most of the time, was just writing it for the sake of it. I’ve never wanted this blog to be about posting shit for the sake of it. Though it might not always read like it, I want to post stuff that I’m happy with. I write this blog because I enjoy writing and for the experience. It’s not really about engagement or anything. So, for the time being at least, I’m scrapping the whole Top 10 thing. Instead I’m going to be posting more regularly on a Wednesday (or whatever day I can). I won’t promise it’ll be every week but I’m gonna try. The hope is that these new posts will be helpful in their own way. Most probably more literary in theme or a bit more personal. At least until the end of the year. Then, if I need to overhaul everything in 2018 then so be it. So, as a starting point, I’m reposting something that I recently updated to Instagram that I rather enjoyed doing. It’s 5 (ish) weird facts about me. Let’s do this.
- Whenever I walk past a cat in the street I maintain eye contact for as long as possible… I don’t trust those little buggers. It’s always best to see what they’re up to at all times.
- I don’t give a shit about any of your dreams but, if you give me the chance, I will describe, in great detail, the one I had that ended with Donald Sutherland shouting at me. I was dating his son and spilt wine on his carpet. It was a whole thing…
- I’ve spent a good 10 years worrying about the opening line to Shakira’s song The One. “So I found a reason to shave my legs each single morning”? I mean how hairy is she? How quickly does it grow back? I know she sang She-Wolf but are we absolutely sure that Shakira isn’t a werewolf?
- You know the poem that tells you how many days are in each month? I have to recite that on a regular basis in order to remember. I working in a kitchen so am putting dates on things every day. The end of the month is always a stressful time… and don’t even get me started on February.
- It still really worries me that, if the multiverse theory is true, there exists at least one parallel universe in which Bradley Cooper is a double Oscar winning actor. Bradley fucking Cooper!? Think about that for a second if you dare.
- I love the TV show Thunderbirds and, when I was younger, I had a bit of a crush on Alan Tracy, the youngest member of International Rescue. He was a good looking puppet.
- In 2007 I stumbled across a YouTube video a young girl had made in honour of her dead rabbit. It consisted of a slideshow of photos of the rabbit set to Avril Lavigne’s When You’re Gone. It was one of the most heartfelt and sincere things I’ve ever watched but also the silliest. I have never been able to get that video out of my mind and, for the rest of my life, I will always associate that song with rabbits.
Today marks the beginning of Banned Books Week; a time where the literary world encourages people to pick up a book that has, at one time or another, been deemed unsuitable for society. There are endless great books that have gone unpublished thanks to various concerns regarding their morality. Most often is is books that are seen to contain dangerous amounts of sexual content, violence, or anti-religious sentiments that keep parents up at night. I’ve always thought the act of banning books is a really stupid one, not least because the majority of criticism is missing the overall point of the novels themselves. Of course, the major issue with saying outright that a book is “dangerous”is that it only increases the reputation of that book. How many people, upon hearing that their parents don’t want them reading something will instantly want to go and read it? A quick way to get people talking about and reading your book is to get it banned. How many people picked up a copy of the god awful Da Vinci Code because of the controversy that surrounded Dan Brown’s novel? His first 3 novels were hardly making headlines and each had fewer than 10,000 copies in their first printings. I’m not saying it was the only thing that made Dan Brown a success but all of the criticism and debate that came from it must have had an effect. So, banning a book doesn’t always get the right result. Especially when those books end up being classic works of literature. It’s weird to think that a lot of my favourite books were once unpublished because people didn’t want society to read them. So, in the hopes of inspiring people to pick up a banned book in honour of this week, I’m presenting my favourite banned books (and a few extras).
1. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence
Thanks to it’s questionable content regarding the love affair between an adult man and a young girl in his care, Lolita was banned in several countries after it’s initial release. The book was banned in the UK from 1955 to 1959 on moral grounds. Despite all of the controversy surrounding the book, Nabokov’s novel is not actually as erotic as it has been argued. Certainly not enough to see British customs officials seiing books that were entering the country.
4. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
5. 1984 by George Orwell
6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
8. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Today I was rejected for another job that I really wanted. To be fair, I highly suspected I hadn’t got it even after they spent 4 days longer than they said to contact me. It still sucks though because I thought it would have been a really good fit. I’m getting so used to getting psyched up for interviews and then coming out feeling like shit. I’m sick of job hunting. When I got a promotion at work a year or so ago I nailed the interview. Since then, every interview I’ve had has ended in rejection. So I’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion the job I’m most qualified for is the one I know, wholeheartedly, I don’t want to do. Whilst the job that I’m desperate to get is the one that nobody thinks I should be doing. Great. So, I’ve got some thinking to do, which is convenient because a recent Instagram challenge prompt asked me to reveal my dream fictional job. It’s an interesting question. Yes, it won’t help me in my job search but when my current job is so fucking boring I need to pass the time somehow. This prompt happened to fall today which is the first Wednesday of the month. Perfect timing for a hastily put together Top 10 Wen-sday.
Ten: 00-Agent (James Bond)
I know that James Bond is an awful mess of sexism and nonsense these days but I always loved the films as a kid. I think I’ve always been fascinated by spies and secret agents when I was growing up. My favourite episode of Thunderbirds was the one with the secret agents and I was obsessed with Bond’s gadgets. I realise that I wouldn’t be as suave or sophisticated as 007 and I certainly wouldn’t be ordering Martinis when I walked into a bar. However, I’d be pretty happy to drive around in fancy gars with exploding pens in my pocket.
Nine: Paper Salesman (The Office)
I realise that the act of selling paper itself isn’t that dream worthy a job but it would be if you were doing it at either Wernham Hogg or Dunder Mifflin. I’d love to do this job for a short time just to get the chance to work with the characters on both shows. We’d all love to mess around with Tim/Jim and hang out with Dawn/Pam at reception. And, despite their flaws, I’ve have worse bosses than either David Brent or Michael Scott. This could be a breath of fresh air.
Eight: Man in Black (Men in Black)
This job may have more to do with the accompanying Will Smith song than a real desire to do it but I think that’s reason enough. This just feels like a cool job. Wake up, save the world from Alien scum, erase people’s minds, and go home. What a way to spend your day. This would be a job where you would wake up desperate to go to work and look insanely good whilst doing it.
Seven: A Detective (Sherlock Holmes, Poriot, Miss Marple etc)
In real life, I’d probably be shit detective. I’ve watched enough crime dramas and failed to work out who the killer is to know this. I’m probably either too trusting or not trusting enough of people. This wouldn’t work too well. I’d either suspect nobody or everyone. So, in my dream world, I’m a great detective. It’s perfect. You solve crimes and get to be kind of a dick to everyone. Plus, you always get some sort of great accessory that makes you stand out. Hat, moustache, knitting… I wonder what mind would be.
Six: Member of Starfleet (Star Trek)
I don’t even care what job I’d have to do for this to happen. I’d be a red shirt and run the constant risk of sudden death if I had to. Who wouldn’t love the chance to be on the Starship Enterprise? Especially if it was The Next Generation era. Working under Captain Jean-Luc and discussing great things with Data? Sounds like a great day at the office. Then there’s the whole holodeck thing… and we all know, what happens on the holodeck stays on the holodeck.
Five: Auror (Harry Potter)
I reckon a lot of people who thought about this kind of list would say that a teacher at Hogwarts would be the best job in the series. However, I would hate it. I’ve already discussed my feelings about the way the school is run so I don’t think I could get on board with it. There would be far too much stress and so much work to do. Then you have to deal with kids. Not just any kids, mind, but magical kids. No, I’d much rather be the next Alastor Moody and go around kicking the arses of bad witches and wizards. Doling out justice with my wand in hand… I can picture that.
Four: Ghostbuster (Ghostbusters)
I’d happily be a part of either the original team or the new, girl-only team. I think the original film is clearly better but there was something about the new one that I loved. Whatever happens, I’d love to get the chance to test out a proton pack and capturing some spirits. I could even get on board with the unflattering jumpsuits.
Three: A Member of International Rescue (Thunderbirds)
I absolutely bloody love Thunderbirds so would love the chance to join the team. I’ve always wanted to be Virgil if I’m honest. Yes, he doesn’t get the glory in the way that Scott does but he’s probably the most important guy on nearly every mission. He carries the bloody supplies to each site and controls every piece of equipment that is needed. The guys a bloody hero but Scott acts like the big I am all the time. Ridiculous. Still, I’d rock the hat and I’d love to have a portrait that has light-up eyes.
Two: Pokemon Trainer (Pokemon)
This may not really count as a job but, in the game at least, you got money for winning matches. I’d love to wander around and catch Pokemon for a living. It’d be difficult but I think I’d get a pretty good team together. Then it’d be on my way to the Gyms to get my hands on the coveted badges. I’m already a proven Pokemon Master using my Gameboy so why not make it official?
One: Jedi (Star Wars)
Okay, I’m not entirely sure that a Jedi even counts a job either but I can’t deny that it’s something I’d love to do. Yes, the whole celibacy thing would be tough but I’d love to learn how to use the force. To travel around the galaxy and stop uprisings and shit. I think I’d be a pretty good General and could proved fairly useful in the Clone Wars. I think I could cope with the pretentious and moral act that I’d have to put on…as long as I could get my hands on a lightsaber. That’s the real draw.