My review of March and April’s books has been unfortunately delayed due to a gallavanting around the southern counties, which I must apologise for. As a consolation, I was carrying a copy of Philip Pullman’s The Tin Princess on my travels to keep up my comfortable lead on the 50 books challenge. You see, by reading one book per week and thus four books per month, I would succeed. Given it is May now and I’m on my 22nd book, I’m pretty pleased with how this is progressing!
In March I looked back at my list and realised that the vast majority of it was taken up by male authors. I then decided, henceforth, to read more books by female authors. This resolution drew me towards a collection of wonderful writers I hadn’t read before: famous, not so famous, exciting fiction, history and autobiography. All in all, a most enjoyable two months’ worth of reading.
The excitement was almost too much. The sun dawned bright and… sunny; today, finally, at last, was the day I was to bless twenty-four neighbours with twenty-four copies of one of my most favourite books as part of World Book Night. From the word go the experience of being an official ‘giver’ had been one of personal fulfillment and righteous pride. For once, I was actually making a difference!
That was, of course, how I felt until the slightly uneasy feeling of last night emerged fully-grown into some kind of twenty-four-copies-of-Good-Omens-shaped nightmare. What was I actually going to do with these books? Who would I give them to? Oh, crap… and then, it sunk in. Not only had I no idea where I would offload my precious charges, but I had entirely forgotten the fact that I would be approaching total strangers to do so.
Yesterday at work a bright orange slip of paper caught my eye from between the pages of an innocent looking children’s book. It was on the trolley with all the recent returns, and the label adorning it proclaimed it was ‘banned’. Of course, I had to query this – why would a children’s book be banned, and if so, why would it be so conspicuously displayed (if at all)? To my great delight, one of the permanent staff at that library had begun a special and intriguing display – books of all kinds which have been banned at some time somewhere in the world.
The display had its own information booklet explaining why these books had been banned – some of the reasons are obvious and well-known, however others are rather surprising and just fascinating. It is common knowledge that modern American Fundamentalists hate the Harry Potter books with a passion, and that Nabokov’s Lolita caused uproar on its release – but I bet you didn’t know that the list contains such harmless titles as The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, or Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland?
I spent some time supplying the small display with other titles from the booklet, and thought I’d share my favourite discoveries with you.
I hate to begin a post with a negative comment, but here it is: my attempt at the ’50 book challenge’ last year ended in tears. Tears as in the liquid kind, dear reader; after all, could you imagine a devotee such as me, defacing a book? Moving on swiftly… before I admit to the hundreds of condemned flyleaves torn out, date sheet still attached, or the inside covers stamped and scribbled upon for the purpose of book sale, or that one occasion I lost my temper with a so-called Christian book* which had ‘homosexuality’ marked as the opposite to ‘marriage’ in a neat little chart… I love and respect all books. Honestly.
However, after bravely beginning the year with Hans Christian Andersen (and realising I’d bitten off more than I could chew), I came to realise that not every book I may lay eyes upon will readily see me through until its last page. It is not with pride that I abandon a badly-chosen book, either for the nature or the SHEER AMOUNT of its content. Therefore in this year’s attempt I promise to avoid such books which threaten the average Bible girthwise.
I began writing this as an instruction notecard for an online roleplay game set in the world of Harry Potter. It was intended as a guide for players who want to learn how to sound more authentically British in the things they say. However, it struck me that a list like this may be interesting and/or useful to a much wider audience; especially if they are of a stateside alliegance (If I’m wrong in this, bugger off).
This is written especially with American, European or other wordly players in mind! Here are some suggestions for improving the way your character speaks 🙂
You should have worked out by now where your character is from within the British Isles, or Ireland. Where you are from makes a big difference to how your character will speak, beyond the accent. You might find it interesting to explore local slang information on the internet – the less understandable, the better!
That said there are a few general things you will want to include in your character’s vocabulary.
I’ve just finished a book which really touched me. Although I love reading and adore books of all kinds, it is quite rare that one should embed itself so deep into my consciousness and leave me with the same deep satisfaction and calm. This one has done that.
If you’ve noticed the tags I’ve attributed to this post you may have already guessed the title of the book I’m about to praise up to the heavens. However I’m not going to go on the usual ‘Terry Pratchett is my hero’ spiel as I feel that is getting a little old now… and plus, you’ve probably seen it before*. The same with the melodramatic and overlong introductions which seem to dominate all descriptions of both the things I love and the wonderful new discoveries I make as I go along. Ooops.
Isn’t it wonderful, to have a personal blog?
Today I thought I’d share another of my favourite parts of The Lord of the Rings in an audio recording.
The two excerpts I’ve chosen are from the first of the three volumes, The Fellowship of the Ring, and concern the great council held at the elven fortress of Rivendell on the 25th October in the 3018th year of the Third Age of Middle-earth; more commonly known as the Council of Elrond. Though there were many other topics discussed at this meeting of elves, dwarves and men, by far the most pertinent of these was the fate of the One Ring, which had been brought to Rivendell by the hobbit Frodo Baggins.
In the first of the excerpts, Boromir of Gondor tells the council of the prophetic dream which had led him on the long journey into the north to attend the council of which he knew not the purpose.
The second excerpt comes a little later on, when the ranger Strider reveals himself to be Aragorn, the heir of Isildur. The steward’s son Boromir is dubious of his claim. The ranger’s old friend Bilbo Baggins then steps forward in annoyance to recite a poem which is one of Tolkien’s most beloved and well-known pieces of verse.
Well, this month has been an incredibly interesting one; though I’ve delved into some tried and tested favourites by Mineko Iwasaki and Terry Pratchett, I’ve discovered some absolute comic gems in Ian Sansom and Jasper Fforde. You could say that comedy is this month’s theme, almost! I’ve certainly been enjoying myself.
Things have been getting a little exciting lately at Camp Terry-and-Rob. Not only are we waiting for Snuff, the next installment of the Discworld series released later this year, and the eagerly anticipated collaboration between Sir Terry and sci-fi author Stephen Baxter named Long Earth. With last week’s announcement that the rumoured Good Omens television adaptation is finally to go ahead with Terry Jones of Monty Python fame in the driving seat, you would think that we had ‘enough to be going on with’.
That is, of course, before we saw this video.
The following is a recording of myself reading from one of my favourite parts of The Lord of the Rings.
The Departure of Boromir is, in my opinion, the saddest part of the whole trilogy. Those who haven’t read the books will perhaps not be entirely familiar with this beautiful and melancholic passage, which can be found in the first chapter of The Two Towers.
Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli come across Boromir, lying among the woods upon Amon Hen. The son of the steward has fallen to the hands of the cruel Uruk-hai in a valiant effort to protect his charges, the hobbits Merry and Pippin; the great horn he carried split in two. In their grief, the three place the fallen Boromir into a boat with his shield and horn and the swords of his enemies at his feet. Then follows Tolkien’s most elegaic poetry; the song of the three winds, which Aragorn and Legolas sing as they send their companion out on his final journey.