I’m on holiday next week, so I’ll be taking a break from blogging for a bit. Meaning, this will be my last book review for a while. It better be a good one I guess. I’d never heard of this book until Amazon suggested it to me. I know that I should use Amazon as little as possible but I’ve discovered so many novels thanks to its algorithm. This one was perfect for so many reasons but mostly because I was struggling to find shorter reads for my September reading challenge. I’ve got so many letters to cross off but the majority of the books I’d lined up were all over 300. That wouldn’t do. The Reader comes in at under 200, which means I already loved it before I’d even opened it.
I started August by reviewing an ARC, so it only seemed right to finish it with one. This was another book that I got access to thanks to The Book Network. It sounded like fun and I love a story set in Scotland. I also thought it would be the perfect size to finish before the end of August. I find it really annoying to get most of the way through a book but not finish it in time. It starts the month off badly if you ask me and I need September to go perfectly. I’ve got a lot of letters to cross off and a book club pick that isn’t one of them. Meaning I’m looking at 10 books at least in the next 27 days. It would be easy for a different reader but my focus has been so up and down lately. Who knows how I’ll do.
My last Tuesday blog ended with me saying that I needed to stop watching random animated movies and start watching real films again. Of course, when I said real films what I meant was grown-up films. It’s not that I think animated films aren’t real. So, I guess it could be considered something of a failure that I’m back this week with another animated feature but I think this one’s okay. After all, the latest Pixar release is a far cry from the random stuff that keeps popping up on Netflix these days. I’ve always been a big Pixar fan, so I knew that I had to check this one out as soon as possible.
I’m really happy with how all of my reading at the moment. I don’t know whether it’s just that I’m coming out of a very recent slump or that I’m just reading better books. Whatever it is, I’m very pleased with how it’s all going. I’m not necessarily as fast as I normally am but I’m definitely inspired by the novels I’m finishing. The latest one was a book club pick but also a book that I’ve wanted to read for ages. Longer than I actually realised. When I was about halfway through the paperback version, I realised that I had bought a Kindle copy of this book in 2016. So, I’ve been meaning to read this for 5 years and had forgotten all about it. My Kindle is full of books like that. Ones that I buy when they cost 99p but forget about moments later. At least I can finally cross one off the my list of unread ebooks.
Considering the obsession with the royal family in last week’s newspapers, it seems appropriate that I’m reviewing this novella. I don’t know what the absolute fascination with the Queen and her offspring is. I’m don’t consider myself ardently anti-royal because I can see some of the benefits of their existence. However, I wouldn’t be sorry if we got rid of them altogether. It’s an outdated institution and they do waste a lot of taxpayers money each year. I know The Crown is trying to make the seem like ordinary human beings but you just need to look at the reaction to Harry and Meghan taking a step back from public life. Given the media response, I can see why they’d want to. The Queen and her family just seem so far removed from the rest of the world. It seems like such an odd dynamic. I realise that they’re meant to be part of our great traditions but do they have to be quite so archaic about it? But I’m digressing. The fact is, there is such a fascination about their lives that people have always used them as a basis for their stories. After all, nobody can really imagine what life as a royal is really like. There will always be a market for books like The Uncommon reader and there will always be writers willing to imagine life behind the scenes at Buckingham Palace.
I have to admit, I haven’t watched a ton of Billy Wilder films. I’ve watched a lot of the big ones but not enough. I have loved Some Like It Hot since I was a teenager. My sister had a copy of it on VHS and I used to steal it from her room all the time. Without asking obviously and I wouldn’t give it back if I could help it. I sort of hoped that the longer it was in my possession for the easier it would be for me to just claim it as my own. Of course, at that point, I didn’t know anything about the Austrian born director or his Moldovan co-writer Iz Diamond. I just knew that it was a funny film. I’ve since learnt a thing or two about the pair, so I was very excited when Jonathan Coe’s new book was announced. Not only was it an insight into the real-life figures but it was a blending of fact and fiction. I love books that mess with real-life events. I bought it a week or so ago and I started it as soon as I possibly could. I knew that I was going to like it but would it become my new favourite Coe novel?
It’s always going to be big new when a famous person turns their hand to writing a novel. There is always the question of how good it is going to be. Plus, you have to wonder if they’ve been handed a publishing deal that should have gone to someone else. I mean, Katie Price has published loads of books but did she deserve it? Yes, she gave a ghostwriter a job but those books are just empty of quality. Or at least the ones I’ve read. The publishing industry is unfair and it’s already incredibly difficult for new writers to get their start. So, the new that Richard Osman got a 7 figure deal, £1.1 million, does raise questions. Was his book going to be worth reading or was it just an obvious cash grab? It’s from how well it’s done, that the money won’t be an issue but what about the content? I had to find out.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been rewatching the whole of the Game of Thrones TV adaptation. Until season 7 and 8, it was a great reminder of how good a show it was. It’s weird to think now, that it was once one of the greatest shows ever created. It also got me wishing that George RR Martin was ready to release the next instalment in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. I can’t even remember how long ago it was that I read A Dance With Dragons. When the new book eventually comes out, I’m not going to be able to remember a damn thing that happened. Not that I’m complaining. I’d rather he take his time and do it right. If the last two seasons of the show taught us anything, it’s that it isn’t a series you can rush. I’ve often thought about going back and rereading the fifth book but it always seemed like a silly thing to do. My TBR is too big and The Winds of Winter won’t be out for ages anyway. This week I decided to get my George RR Martin fix elsewhere. I’ve tried and failed to read some of his non-ASOIAF books in the past but I just couldn’t get on board with them. So, this time I went for a related book. It’s not actually part of the same world but it’s in the right area.
As far as I’m aware, Mr Rogers was never a thing in the UK. I’ve heard of him but only thanks to references in American TV and movies. This lack of awareness would normally have caused me to miss a film like A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. It is based solely on the proposition that Fred Rogers is one of the greatest things to ever happen to children. I’m sure he probably is but films like this tend to rely on a certain nostalgic sentimentality that I just don’t have. It wouldn’t hit on all of the levels that the filmmakers intended. But, thanks to Tom Hanks being Tom Hanks, it was an Oscar-nominated film that I had to try and watch before the ceremony.
As I said in my Friday Favourites, it would have been amazing having J.R.R. Tolkien as your father. Having a man with such a vivid imagination and a talent for creating new worlds telling you bedtime stories? Amazing. Then there’s his Christmas tradition. My father did the usual parent thing of pretending to send out letters off to the North Pole. This was done in a myriad of different ways: burning them, I’m sure there were fireworks one year, posting, and faxing. It was great at the time. But the one thing my dad never did was write back to us pretending to be Santa himself. Though he did dress up as him one year at the school fair. Being the killjoy that I am, I wasn’t having any of it so it’s probably for the best that he didn’t try and copy Tolkien’s yearly tradition.