A passage to India – E M Forster 

I started reading this as a library book and enjoyed it so much I bought the beautiful Hodder and Staughton edition pictured above.

This is a story about colonial India and how the British and Indian cultures clash and come together during that time.

It’s very much a book of its time and it portrayal of Indians is at times racist, however it’s also very scathing of the British treatment of India and their attitudes so it makes an interesting read. 

The language is poetic and the story ambles a little, it takes a long time to get to the point of the story. However once you realise that it takes about two thirds of the story to get to the main scenes it’s a very book to give you the colour and feel of the time and place it’s set in.

There’s no great plot, no twists or turns or unexpected happenings. It’s quite straightforward and very honest. A good read. 

Aspects of the novel – E M Forster 

This book is actually a series of lectures which were given by Forster at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1927. The lectures are broken down as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. The story
  3. People
  4. People continued
  5. The plot
  6. Fantasy
  7. Prophecy
  8. Pattern and rhythm
  9. Conclusion

The style is very approachable and chatty. I was worried that this would be quite a full, dry book but it’s actually quite an engaging read in parts.

The book starts well and in people he introduces the famous ’round’ and ‘flat’ characters and some interesting concepts.He ‘s also not above tearing some quite famous authors world to pieces which adds to the interest.

However around fantasy and prophecy it seems to lose it’s its way a bit and become loose and woolly and it never really recovers from there which is a shame.

Nevertheless it’s a good read for any aspiring authors or book critics, or anyone with a love  for E M Forster’s works.

January reading

I have a list of five books lined up for January currently:

Work book club -a group of us in my work place recently set up a bookclub and Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman was chosen out of a hat (M&S extra strong mint tin). I have read this once before but as a child and I don’t remember the story, although I do remember being engrossed by it at the time so I am looking forward to revisiting this one.

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I am joining in with the Mumsnet book club this year for the first time ever, reading the books at least, I always seem to have problems logging in to talk on their forums. This is their fiction book for January, I have no idea what its about, I didn’t even read the blurb, I just decided to go in with an open mind.

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This is the Mumsnet non fiction book for January. I’m not really a non fiction reader but I figured there was no harm in giving this one a go. I have heard of it and its sounds less out there than the Kondo does an item give you joy stuff thats out there, personally my ironing board does not give me joy, but I’m not sure that’s good grounds to get rid of it! I’ll see if this is any more useful, although in fairness I am a fairly neat organised person anyway, but its always good to pick up a few extra tips and tricks.

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I’ve found a few websites with prompts for this year, and I’ve combined several to create a list of 12, some challenging, some easier for me to follow this year. January’s is to read a book you like the cover of, and as I have been collecting the Penguin F scott Fitzgerald books recently, and this one is on its way to me courtesy of my annual Waterstones voucher off my Mil (one of my favorite Chrsitmas presents as always) I am going with This side of paradise. I am hoping to do a collection review on this set soon, I only have one more to buy, but I need to finish some of the others first. If you haven’t seen this Penguin collection it’s worth looking them up, the covers are simply beautiful, some of the nicest books I have in my collection.

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Finally I am going to try to throw in a wild card/own choice book each month, and January’s is going to be Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome. I recently had a bundle of Christmas books turn up from the Book People and this was in here. I know Christmas will be properly over and done with by the time I get chance to read this but I am looking forward to it. This is one of my favorite childhood authors so I am pretty sure I will at least enjoy this book out of my January reading, and its probably going to be the light relief thats needed!

I’m planning on using this set up to read five books a month this year, which is 60 books guaranteed, although I tend to read more like 100-150 a year, but I might not review everything I read, some will be old, well read favourites.

Is anyone else planning their book club reading this year, or following along with Mumsnet or a book prompt?

More Christmas books

I’ve been reading more Christmas books over the holiday, starting with the rest of the collection from last time:

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This one begins with one of my favorite chapters out of Little Women, and then goes on with some short stories from this author, one of my childhood favorites, that I hadn’t read before. These are all simple stories, well told, with sweet morals and full of old fashioned charm. They might not appeal so much to everyone nowadays but they brought back a childhood Christmas nostalgia for me and I found it a very enjoyable read.

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This is the ‘real’ story of the night before Christmas apparently, and whilst these books are aimed at children, this one is less sweetly old fashioned and innocent than some of the others. It’s a familiar story, poor b0y meets rich girl, falls in love, then throw in a prostitute, the devil and a fabulous pair of shoes, and have a happy Christmas eve! Despite not being what I expected I possibly found this the most enjoyable of the books, but I would vet it first if you plan on giving it to younger children.

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Whilst I have seen the ballet (Moscow City Ballet years ago) I’d never actually read the story of the nutcracker before. This was an enjoyable read although a bit preoccupied by peoples looks and I could never quite tell if all the people in the book were in fact toys. I enjoyed it but its probably my least favorite out of the set, I think I preferred the ballet version.

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This is a charming story, all about the ‘real’ Santa Claus. Its a nice easy read, suitable for younger ones and ready to make us all believe in Santa again. I found it slightly slow starting, but a quick read once it got going.

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I definitely enjoyed some of the stories more than others in this collection, not that any of them dragged, but some flew by, especially the title story. This one seemed aimed at slightly older children, and has more involved stories that were less sweet and simple, but very interesting and varied. A good read although not my favorite.

So there you go some of my Christmas reading, there was more and not all of it was children’s books I promise! I did really enjoy the chance to read some old favorites and make some new ones though. This set is very aesthetically pleasing to read and has a good, quite random, selection of Christmas stories. Definitely worth the purchase and ones I will probably re read each Christms time.

 

A Christmas Carol (Penguin Christmas Classics)

Penguin Christmas Classics
Penguin Christmas Classics

With how close it is to Christmas I’ve been reading some Christmas literature recently, some of it new to me, and some of it very familiar.

When I saw the Penguin Christmas Classics collection I fell in love with their beautiful covers and illustrations and indulged in a pre-Christmas splurge.

These books look and feel beautiful. They work together as a collection, but still shine as individual books. Whilst I know the adage says not to judge a book by its cover, there is still something so enjoyable about reading a book this pretty.

Penguin says of the collection:

‘Beautifully designed hardcovers—with foil-stamped jackets, decorative endpapers, and nameplates for personalization—in a small trim size that makes them perfect stocking stuffers, Penguin Christmas Classics embody the spirit of giving that is at the heart of our most time-honored stories about the holiday.’

My first read from the collection was A Christmas Carol, which will probably be a familiar Christmas story to most people even if just the muppets version.

From the first sentence: ‘Marley was dead to begin with.’ which is a well-known, yet still intriguing start, this book held all the familiar comfort of Christmas for me.

The descriptions on a Victorian Christmas are rich and detailed, transporting you into the scene and leaving you a little bit sorry that Christmas doesn’t seem to be quite so grand or joyous any more.

The moral of the story is obvious without being laboured, the storytelling keeps a deeply emotional, typically Victorian story light and easy to read. It’s a good introduction to Dickens and a must for anyone who loves Christmas or needs to get in the Christmas spirit.

The beauty of the book makes it the perfect gift, even if it is just a gift to yourself!