A BOOK THAT YOU SHOULD NEVER READ

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You might think this a strange title, considering that I loved this book.

But I only tell you not to read it because I worry.

I worry that you will cry as much as I did. I worry that you will laugh as much as I did. I worry that you will lose two days of your life as I did, hiding in bed in bed for hours until you reach the very end. And I worry that you will love it as much as I did and pass on its precious secrets to someone who will turn it into an oh-so-predictably-not-as-good-as-the-book film.

I became friends with Fisher as soon as Andy introduced me to him. I thought that London provided the perfect backdrop to this story. I loved that I didn’t particularly fall for Ivy. I understood the need for Switzerland. I liked that the plot line was nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, it’s so ordinary that you may have shared many of the same experiences as the couple. But that’s what makes this read such a success: you are drawn into the honesty of the characters and simplistic charm of Jones’ writing.

But who is Andy Jones you ask?

Well, he’s soon to be one of your favourite authors. The writer of one of your favourite stories. A man you fell in love with. A human who broke your heart. But you’ll have to read his words to find out why because I refuse to divulge anything here. The Two of Us, much like life, will take you by surprise. And that’s exactly the way it should be.

David Nichols and Graeme Simson are my two favourite authors. Andy Jones has now been added to this list.

I look forward to his second creation later this year. Will keep you posted.

GIVEAWAY!

The lovely people at Puffin have sent me two fantastic books to give away to my readers: ‘Hold Me Closer’ (a signed copy- shush!) written by David Levithan and ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ written by both Levithan and John Green.

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‘Hold Me Closer’ is a story told by Tiny Cooper written in the form of a musical. Different, I know. But it works. “Filled with humour, pain, and ‘big, lively, belty’ musical numbers, readers will finally learn the full story of Tiny Cooper from his birth and childhood to his quest for love and his infamous eighteen ex-boyfriends.”

The book is a follow on from ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’, which is about “Two guys with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, and culminating in epic turns-of-heart and the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high-school stage.”

If you love John Green, like most of us do, you are guaranteed to enjoy both of these books. And I promise you won’t weep as much as that time you read ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ in public.

‘Maybe there’s something you’re afraid to say, or someone you’re afraid to love, or somewhere you’re afraid to go. It’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna hurt because it matters.’ – John Green

To enter, all you have to do is tweet me telling me something that you have accomplished that you are proud of (this giveaway is in conjunction with Pride, after all). If you’re not a fan of Twitter? Simply comment below. You can tell me something that you have achieved yourself or, if you would like to nominate a friend, then tell me what they’ve done to make you feel proud today. I’m starting to feel a bit like Heather Small, so I’ll stop now.

Once everyone has submitted their celebration, I will then choose a winner at complete random and have these two little golden nuggets sent out to you STAT. You have until 31st July.

Best of luck!

THE SHOCK OF THE FALL

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I first heard of The Shock of the Fall at university. I only got round to reading it last week. And by Jove, it’s good.

A decent way into the book, I was convinced that it wasn’t for me. However, when a handsome chap on the tube asked what I thought of it, I felt like I had to smile and say, “Amazing, yeah”, mainly because of his eyes. But also because everyone had raved about it so much. But yeah, mainly because of his eyes.

So as I continued to wade through conversation after conversation about how great it was, inside I felt confused about why I hadn’t clicked with Matt – the ultimate untrustworthy narrator – and why I was decidedly unbothered about where his journey would take him.

Until about three chapters from the end, where everything clicked for me. I can’t say why it did, but I urge you to read it and find out.

It might not sit comfortably with you at first (because, why should it? it’s a story about mental illness and we’re still not over that taboo just yet) but hold out until it does and it will be worth it. Even for this quote alone:

“‘Really Matt. You’re your own worst enemy.’

That’s a strange thing to say to someone with a serious mental disease. Of course I’m my own worst enemy. That’s the whole problem.”

It’s very difficult for someone who has never suffered from mental illness to really get it. But think of it like this: as humans, we are used to fending off attackers and fighting to survive; it’s in our nature. But what happens when you are fighting with yourself? Not like cancer, where we can zap the bad stuff out and people can see what’s up. But when what you are fighting is inside your head where nobody except you can see it or hear it? I won’t insult those who do suffer by saying that I get it. Because I don’t. But what I will say is that it scares me and I would like to do all I can to at least try to understand it.

Set in Bristol, The Shock of the Fall is a story of guilt, loss and, most importantly, mental illness. Not only does Filer do what Haddon does in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and create a voice for a voice in a head, but he sheds light on the reality of the struggles of someone suffering on a daily basis – from the very real effects of NHS cuts to mistaking a helping hand for something else entirely – a refreshing perspective and far cry from straight jackets and asylums.

Matt’s journey takes us from the point of trauma and ends somewhere between acceptance, freedom and succumbing.

By the final few pages I was sobbing and smiling. And I don’t cry.

Let me know what you think of it. I think it’s great.

THE BOOK

large (22)After running a competition where I was giving away five beautiful, limited edition novels, I had twelve replies. Yes, TWELVE.

Now, with the likes of Google Analytics, I’m well aware how many people viewed the post and can tell you that the number of entries I received was considerably lower than the number of hits it got.

I didn’t run the competition to gain followers, drive traffic or benefit myself. In fact, the books were free, I’ve made no profit from doing it and I actually have to fork out money for postage. And I’m happy to. The whole reason I chose to run the competition was to aid World Book Night in their quest to promote reading to those who have forgotten about the written word.

I clearly failed. But why am I so bothered?

I’m bothered because, had I been giving away a mascara, a bronzer or even a framed photo of Jonathan Ross, I guarantee I’d have been inundated. But a book? With pages? Giving life to a beautiful story?

Silence.

We all say that it’s not easy to find the time to read, but really, if you find the time to browse YouTube videos or scroll through pictures of cats online, then you do in fact have time. Plus, everyone needs a poo at some point or other, so instead of counting floor tiles, turn some pages and use your imagination.

This post sounds aggressive, probably because it is. But it’s only because I care.

Perhaps I care because I’m currently surrounded by books on a daily basis? Perhaps it’s because I studied Literature at university? I think the main reason is because I appreciate how much work goes into producing a novel. Particularly a good one. Which is why I have been dedicating twenty minutes each evening to reading. No excuses.

I’m genuinely begging you to chuck a book in your bag before you set off for work in the morning. Then, on your lunch break, on that same old lengthy commute, or just when you’re really, really bored, get it out and begin your reading journey.

I went through a phase of not reading for a while, it happens to everyone. And when I started back up again, it felt weird at first. And dare I say it, a bit boring. But once your author has introduced you to your characters for the next 573 pages and has transported you to their chosen destination, you’ll find yourself no longer on the dreary Northern Line, but wherever they’ve decided to take you that morning. And that’s much more appealing than avoiding eye contact with strangers or playing Candy Crush for an hour.

Of course, there are some books out there that are a bit shit. Others just might not be your cup of tea. But saying you don’t like books before you’ve read all the books in the world is like saying you don’t like music without exploring all avenues: you just haven’t figured out what your taste buds are craving yet. So, much like I used to tell my old English students, do a taste test or a “fifty page run” and then decide whether to stick with it or sack it off- no one is forcing you to read a certain type of book. It’s the reason we have thousands of imprints; different folks, different strokes and all that.

Aside from all of this moaning from little old me, I was really happy to receive some competition entries. And I loved them.

The winners of my beautiful book are:

Heidi Dyson

Imani Backes

Cha Cha

Marielo

Catherine Dunne

and…

Fleur McCorkindale

Thank you so much to all of you who entered, I (and the books) really appreciate it. Don’t forget to pass them on when you’re done.

Happy Reading!

WORLD BOOK NIGHT COMPETITION

WBN_covers_with_logoI have applied to be a World Book Night giver every year since its birth back in 2011.

2015 was my year, it seems.

The aim of the event – which runs on the 23rd April – is to encourage people to read more. We have so many distractions these days that it’s very easy to forget that reading is actually just as fun (if not more so) than catching up on Made In Chelsea or checking your ex’s Instagram.

I have always loved books myself. Feeding my habit with anything I could lay my hands on and begging my dad to read me my favourites before bed as a child, it’s safe to say I was a book worm. However, much like many of you, a busy schedule means that I find it very easy to neglect one of my favourite past times.

But every time I actually bother to embark upon the next chapter of whatever I’m reading, I remind myself how great it is to visit famous faces, far off lands and fantastical story lines from the comfort of my own duvet. The sad fact is though, some non-readers just don’t know what they’re missing out on. So many of us weren’t encouraged to read as youngsters, stunting a life-long enjoyment of the sport and many, I believe, just simply haven’t found the sorts of books they enjoy yet. But that’s why World Book Night is here: to remind us that there are billions of stories still waiting to be read, to launch us out of our comforts zones into completely different times and places and to encourage us to indulge in one of the more simple pleasures in life. It’s something I feel very strongly about and I am lucky to be a part of the cause.

Out of 20 novels, I chose Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen to hand out. What I do with these 18 copies is entirely up to me. And I’ve decided that I’d like to give some to you. Although I plan to donate a few to shelters and a number to schools, I’ve reserved five copies for my readers as a thank you for coming back to read my posts time and time again.

All you have to do to be in with a chance of nabbing one of these limited edition novels is:

  1. Choose your favourite quote from any book and tell me why you love it so. (Please include the title of the book- I might want to add it to my list!)
  2. Don’t forget to include your name and email address so I can get hold of you if you’re a winner!
  3. I will choose my five favourites and get a copy sent out to you on the 23rd April.

And that’s it.

All I ask, is that when you’re done with your copy, you pass it on to someone else to enjoy- don’t just let it get dusty on your book shelf for years to come. That’s pointless. The aim is to spread a love of reading as a far as we can, so let’s see how far these books can reach.

Here’s my favourite quote for some inspiration:

 

“He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

 

18 copies are currently on their way to me right now… does one belong to you?

You have ten days to enter and find out. Wherever you are in the world.

Good luck!

The Library

Okay, so I’m in the depths of revision/essay/third year hell and thought I’d take another trip to the library today in order to relieve this stress and get lots of work done. However, as my concentration dwindled this afternoon, I began to notice things about the London library.

London libraries invite everyone inside, making for some sort of mad hatter’s tea part or something. Without wanting to sound too elitist, it seems as though all the people of London who have no one to talk to, come to the library, a place to study IN SILENCE, to talk to people. It really is beyond me. There’s always some nutter asking the librarian lots of utterly pointless questions, gaining everyone’s attention as they peer from behind their desk lamps, pretending to be absorbed in whatever it is they’re reading. There’s always a group of cackling GCSE or A Level students in hysterics over dropping a pen or flirting with eachother over Chaucer. There is always a fittie reading some romantic novel making him seem even more attractive due to his intelligence… actually that I am not complaining about. Distractions are welcome in this case.

A distraction that is not welcome, is the ruffling of newspapers. It really irritates me when people come to the library to read the newspaper. I will never understand this. Why would one choose to sit on a hard wooden chair in partial darkness and in a cold room (because libraries, for some reason, are always cold) to read the morning paper? Go and BUY a newspaper for 30p and enjoy it in your own living room. Or coffee shop. Or anywhere but here. You are taking up valuable study space.

However, despite all these issues with my local library, I still don’t know which library I prefer: the university library or the London Library. I mean, the London library has easy access to ameneties such as Starbucks and Pret but at least university libraries have wifi access! Maybe it’s just Fulham that is stuck in the dark ages but all they provide are four computers for the public. Four. That’s incredibly helpful isn’t it. On the other hand though, university libraries are tedious because everyone who goes there to study is there to be looked at. They’re all like ‘ooohh i’m studying. I’m going to do better than you because I’ve been here for five hours already and you’ve only just arrived.’ No you won’t. I do English and you do Maths. They’re completely unrelated. Pillock.

Not only that, people actually dress up for the library. I’ve been informed it isn’t just Exeter that upholds this rule of compulsory eyeliner and a fit pair of leggings whilst studying, it happens at Nottingham and Durham too. And probably everywhere else for that matter. The thing that annoys me the most? I uphold this tradition and I don’t even know why!!

My concern centered around study space only goes to show how boring my life is. So much for 2011 being eventful eh!