Boy how I have missed it! For three long years even the thought of reading for fun was greeted with ‘what? Are you kidding?’ by both me and the people I spent most of my time with. But now I can. Except I haven’t been because work and life and every other distraction. Until now.
I have had four glorious days off work for no reason other than the fact I’ve been working a lot of overtime and it’s been peak season at the railway. So I treated myself on these golden days and downloaded some new titles and had the time of my life doing nothing but lying on the sofa devouring titles. And I’m going to share them with you now.
I’m just going to leave this here.
Following on from my recent post about reading for fun, I completed the first book on the list some time ago but am only now getting around to writing about it. So is life! It was Kim Edward’s The Memory Keeper’s Daughter that was first on the pile and it was not my usual cup of tea.
Over the Easter break I disappeared to the North for some well-deserved relaxing time with the Bearded One. While I was there I did the obligatory uni work, but also took the chance to catch up on my reading for fun. One of the books that has been on my Nook for some time is sci-fi classic Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (what a name!). It was awesome! I had no idea what to expect from it and was completely lost from start to finish. On returning home, I thought I would check out the recent movie. Big mistake.
I have returned to the world of work. It is far from my dream job, but it puts some pennies in the purse and takes me a step closer to paying for my masters in September. Another plus side is I have a half hour commute each way. Now, I know some might see this as a disadvantage but to me it is totally free time that I can spend in my favourite way.
Reading for fun!
Now I have done very little reading for fun through the course of my degree. True, I have read one or two plays every week for three years, and any number of journal articles and academic books on top of that, but nothing purely for enjoyment. Now things are going to change. I have one shelf and several large piles of books waiting to be read. So these are the books I have chosen to be read first:
Though by no means a new book, Malorie Blackman’s Nought and Crosses is a great read and one which, having reread, I felt a desire to write about. So I shall.
Noughts and Crosses is a young adult book set in a world very similar yet vastly different to our own. The story follows Sephy, a young Cross girl of the ruling class, and Callum, a ‘colourless’ member of the Nought underclass. It is our world twisted and turned on its head, where black people rule the world and the whites are their recently freed slaves.
In a recent issue of Writers’ Forum (my most favourite magazine in all the world) there was mention of a new online book show all about…well, books. It’s broadcast as live and also is on YouTube so I thought I would pop on over and have a look. I’m a little late to the party – it was filmed in February – but I’m really glad I had a look. It’s only half an hour long and really was very enjoyable.
Hanif Kureishi, novelist and creative writing teacher, while speaking recently at the Independent Bath Literature Festival was quoted as saying that creative writing courses are “a waste of time” and that most of his students cannot tell a story. Well… I must try and keep my head during this post. Forgive me in advance if I don’t.
First of all, creative writing is a skill that must be honed. I didn’t believe this until I began to study it, at which point I realised both my prose and poetry were clunky, awkward and sometimes a complete bore. I needed the feedback and direction my lecturers gave me to make my writing the best it could be. It still isn’t, but this is a process that never truly ends.
When I was a child I was an avid reader. I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I had the added bonus of a brother who also read – not as much as me, but thankfully completely different books. So when, after Christmas, I had finished all of my Famous Five adventures, I would turn to his Secret Seven. Bu we both fought tooth and nail for the Roald Dahl’s and Goosebumps. We had our own books, and then there was a little slice of ambiguity that we both loved.
These days, with the likes of Harry Potter and Malory Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series, is there such a thing as gendered fiction? Boys and girls are reading the same books with no second thoughts. Equality and gender expectations have changed from ten years ago. Yet books such as The Dangerous Book for Boys and it’s female equivalent still sell like hot cakes.
I don’t think it’s a bad thing. As mentioned, I love books. I will read almost anything you put in front of me. At twenty-six I will still happily browse the teenage section for a good, shorter read. And I’m not the only one – the success of The Hunger Games trilogy has proved that. Maybe we don’t even have the age barriers there once were.
I think it’s a great thing that children (and adults) are free to read whatever they choose now. There will always be the ‘girlie’ books and the ‘boy’ books for the very young. I can’t see an eight year-old boy picking up an Animal Ark book voluntarily, nor will many girls choose Captain Underpants as their first choice. That’s not a bad thing either. Sometimes you need to fit the stereotype now and again. As long as they have the freedom to choose, and as long as there are those transcendental series such as Narnia and Harry Potter to bring them together, I say let them read what they like.
I love fairy tales. I loved them as a child, I loved them growing up and I love them even more as an adult and a student of literature. What I have also grown to love is a twist on the traditional fairy tale, which is exactly what David Meredith’s The Reflections of Snow White is.
The book actually begins with Queen Snow White mourning the death of Prince Charming one year after his passing. We are years beyond the happily ever after and the Queen is far from the young princess we recognise in the original fairy tale. She has lived a long and happy life with her husband but is struggling to deal with her loss of him, despite her daughter’s upcoming nuptials.