As we’ve already discussed, I’m a petty and stubborn person. I stayed up way too late on the 31st August to make sure that I finished this damn book before the month was over. After all, I had already included it in my August Reading Wrap-Up and I didn’t want to miss my book count of 10. Thankfully, I did manage it and I didn’t end up being too late a night. The question is, was the book worth it? I wasn’t exactly expecting a great deal from this book because I really hadn’t thought much of Vox. When I wrote my review of Christina Dalcher’s previous novel, I discussed the rise of feminist dystopia and how bored I was with it. I guess, on the plus side, Dalcher has taken a broader approach. Women don’t exactly have it easy in this one but at least it wasn’t another literary world specifically created to torture women into submission.
As you know, I’ve been trying to get my way through all of the NetGalley books I’ve had waiting on my shelf for months. I always feel really guilty when I go on a requesting binge and then buy a load of new books to read. Plus, I have my ratio to think about. I requested Campusland because it sounded fun. It’s almost impossible to not think about Animal House in this situation. Which is both a good and a bad thing I guess. When you’ve already been lucky enough to watch the best college-based comedy we’re ever likely to see, it means nothing else will compare. But it also means you’re willing to try and find the next one. So, when I saw Campusland on NetGalley I couldn’t resist giving it a go. I should have known better. I really should have known better. It’s what I go through with psychological thrillers every time. I expect something new and different but just end up angry and full of regret. Shame I’ve got nobody but myself to blame.
When I looked back on my blog to find out what today’s TBT film was I audibly groaned. I’ve never wanted to see this film again. Especially now I’ve seen the amazing stage production. That was genuinely an emotional triumph and a beautiful adaptation of a (frankly) stupid story. Stupid because, for me, the story of an animal’s journey through World War 1 is never going to compare to that of a human’s in terms of emotional resonance. 2018 was the centenary of the end of World War 1 and Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old was a film experience I’ll never forget. During the run-up to the actual centenary I got annoyed by the knowledge that an animal charity had designed their own purple poppy badge in memory of the animals who died in warfare. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love animals and think remembering their sacrifice is a good thing. BUT I don’t think it’s right to focus on them over the human sacrifice and you know there are people out there who will have only worn a purple poppy. As another example, I was recently witness to someone compare having to have their dog put down to having a child on life-support. As a former dog owner who went through the experience of having to do that, I know how much it hurts but you can’t compare the situations at all. Animals are great but, surely, we can all agree it’s not the same, right?
What were your least favourite books in 2018?
You may have noticed that I didn’t post a Sunday Rundown yesterday. That was mostly because, after a bad night’s sleep, I fell asleep before writing it. But it was also a tactical choice. After all, it’s New Years Eve so it’s time I started doing my rundown of the year. And what a year it’s been. I’ve already posted my Top 10 Books, Top 10 Films, and Top 10 TBT Films lists. But, let’s not forget that 2018 wasn’t a completely positive year. The political situation of the UK is pretty shitty moving into the new year so it seems only fair I add my least favourite books to the pile. Thankfully, after my top 10, most of the books were fairly middling so I could only scrabble together 5. I guess reading-wise, 2018 wasn’t so bad after all.
Happy Christmas to anybody reading this on or around the 25th! I hope you’ve had a wonderful time however you decided to spend it. The rest of my family have turned in for the night so I’m taking the time to post my review of the final Netflix Christmas film of 2018. It’s the one I was least excited about, which is why I left it til the last-minute. Of course, I can hardly say that I was looking forward to any of them (with the possible exception of The Christmas Chronicles) but, after seeing the trailer, my expectations for The Holiday Calendar were the lowest of the low. I mean the entire preview gave away the entire story. Not that I couldn’t have guessed from the poster anyway. But, needing to get a sense of completion, I knew I had to watch it eventually. At least I didn’t really have to pay attention to the plot. It’s not like there were going to be any shocks with the narrative. And, after a busy day at work, something this mindless is kind of the only thing I’m in the mood for.
Dear Hard Times,
You can’t like every book. It’s a fact of life I’m afraid. The fact that I really hate you shouldn’t be a bad thing. To use an old cliche, it’s not you, it’s me. Except that it’s totally not me. It’s you. Although, it probably has something to do with my old English teacher too. It’s unfortunate for you that I was forced to study you at the age of 17 with the only teacher I have ever disliked. So, maybe, it’s him? It certainly makes a difference. If you’re taught a book badly then how can you ever like that book? It was all pretty unfortunate that in my final year of school I was moved into a different set and taken away from my favourite teachers. I didn’t like his style and he didn’t like mine. It was never going to end well.
Although, to be honest, it was always going to be difficult for us to get along. I don’t have a great track record with Charles Dickens. I’ve never understood his reputation as one of Britain’s greatest writers. I get that he has some value in terms of his social and economic commentary. But, really, it’s all a bit much. For years I’ve heard people rave about the hilarity behind his names. Really? Yeah, okay, there’s some word play there but meh. Loads of people have written funny names and not gone down in history. He’s so long and cumbersome. We all know that he was paid by the word because he’s so fucking obvious about it. So much unnecessary description. He puts Ann Radcliffe to shame.
I made it through Great Expectations without wanting to kill myself but I had a great teacher. I really like A Christmas Carol but that could have something to do with The Muppet Christmas Carol. You, Hard Times, were too much. Considering you’re the shortest of Dickens’ novels that is really saying something. You’re stuffed to breaking point with characters and plot lines. I could barely remember what was going on at the time let alone years later.
You’re also super preachy and negative. I realise that’s the point but sometimes you don’t want to be around such pessimistic people. You’re like those vegans who decide that, as well as changing their lives for the cause, they have to try to force their opinions on everyone they meet. Religious people who can’t accept that not everyone is willing to accept some sort of higher power into their lives. I don’t have room for people like that.
I respect your message, Hard Times. You were intended to show people the awful conditions some industrial workers faced. The problem is, you’re far too cynical. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. You aren’t the best novel Dickens has ever written and you definitely aren’t his most loved. You are so focused on the task at hand that you simplify everything and take things too far. Eventually, things become so pessimistic and sullen that you can’t see anything beyond it.
You’ve haunted me for 13 years. I’ve honestly never recovered from reading you. I’ve read books I didn’t like before but my short relationship with you was dreadful. It was toxic. I had such a ‘hard time’ reading you and had such a terrible time studying you. We’re incompatible. Different people. You can’t like everyone and you can’t like every book. You’ll sit languishing on my shelf. You can talk shit about me to your friends and I’ll talk shit about you to mine. I don’t need you in my life. I’m all about the fun.
People must be amuthed,