Weird Wednesday: A Little Different

Weird Wednesday: A Little Different

I know weekends are supposed to be my free-for-all and in a way they are, with Something Sundays and whatnot. But I thought, well, Weird Wednesday, I can interpret that how I wish, can’t I? I won’t always have something to say about life or school, and there aren’t always events coming up that I can pressgang you into.

So, I thought I’d talk about books.

Now, my 150 Book challenge is going well, and I would have typed it all up now, only the list is at home and now, I can’t remember 130 books, thanks. I’m trying to finish the 150 before the end of June so that I can begin another 150 for the second half of the year, although I’ll have to get on with it, since we’re on the 22nd already!

You may not have seen the BBC programme, “My Life in Books.” But I’m going to mimic that today and talk about, well, books I’ve read and why I liked them.

The first book I remember reading, apart from Starting School with which I learned to read, was the Hobbit. I read lots of books before then. My parents read lots of books to me before then. The fact remains that the first book I remember reading – that I have a clear memory of actually reading, rather than just what happened – was the Hobbit. I loved it. I begged my parents to let me read the Lord of the Rings, and they said I had to wait till I turned eight.

Guess what the first thing I did after my eighth birthday was?

I remember reading Harry Potter as well. I was at a kids’ club and my friend was reading it. As was my habit, and still is, if someone else is reading a book I will insist on reading it too. Usually by taking it off them and not giving it back until I’d finished it. I was intrigued by the first page. Wasn’t it about a Wizard called Harry Potter? That’s what I’d been told. Who were these Dursleys? I carried on reading, just to find out what was going on. When I got home from the club I borrowed my sister’s copy (Natalie was in the middle of hers) and had soon finished it, to my friend’s annoyance.

I think the most difficult book I’ve ever read was Les Miserables. I struggled through Sense and Sensibility, but at least that was short. Ish. Les Mis is 1300 pages and about 700 of them are unnecessary… I found myself skipping over things about the war that were there to give historical contexts … I mean, at one point we had about 100 pages of history on the sewers of Paris. I really didn’t care. It was a good storyline, and some bits were better than the musical, but in terms of making sense and not being completely ridiculously long? The musical gets my vote.

My ‘guilty pleasures’ when it comes to books are children’s books, the things I used to read when I was about ten. I still read them, and I’ll be the first in the library for the next one when it comes back. I’ve constantly got about four books on hold – the library are continuously sending me letters to say my books have arrived – and usually at least two of them are children’s books.

Actually, at the moment I’m being pretty highbrow, and I’m reading “Lord of the Flies.” Mind you, I just finished Cat O’ Nine Tails by Julia Golding, a book in a series that I began … yes, when I was ten. Still … I have an excuse for that. I didn’t actually realise there was more than one, and only discovered that a few weeks ago. I’m trying to catch up. This happens to me a lot.

I don’t know what my next book to read will be, as I’ve got a stack of library books on my desk. But what about you? What’s the next book you plan to read? What’s the first book you remember reading, and why was it important to you?

10 thoughts on “Weird Wednesday: A Little Different

  1. I think the most difficult book I ever read was Moby Dick. That thing was one part Captain Ahab chasing the whale, and the other part a dense philosophical/historical lecture on all sorts of whaling practices. if I recall correctly, there was a whole chapter given over to describing the painting on a wall of a tavern in Nantucket. oy.

    1. Books like that get on my nerves. I can’t help thinking, “Look, you had the plot. Quit with the description, all right? This could have been my favourite book of all time, but you just ruined it.”

  2. Hehe, I’ve read a lot of difficult books, but so far my true nemesis’ (nemeses?) have been Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens. Too longwinded, too overdescriptive, too blocky and the plots just don’t interest me in the slightest. I’ll stop before I start ranting. In short, I hate most “old classic” books xD

    Harry Potter was one of my first real endeavors in the “big book” world. I remember sitting down, aged six, and reading The Philosopher’s Stone out loud and doing lots of silly voices. Got onto The Hobbit the next year, and the Lord of the Rings at about age ten, because I got so easily distracted. I started reading very young, so I’ve forgotten most of them.

    But I share your weakness for childrens’ books. Sometimes you just need some light relief, and you have to admit they do have good stories sometimes. I remember reading The Rangers Apprentice series to my brother to get him into reading, and it was so much fun doing all the silly actions to get him interested that I started to enjoy the books too.

    But I’m a sentimental softy, so ignore me ;)

    1. Yeah, I know what you mean about the classics. I like Thomas Hardy, but Jane Austen? *sighs* I read Sense and Sensibility and it was such a waste of my life. Three days I spent reading it, and the ending was rubbish.
      I was always very derogatory about the Harry Potter books, because I’d read the Lord of the Rings already. When about a year later I read the Harry Potter books, I loved them. What does that say about me? Always trying to be highbrow when I’m totally not…
      I think it is nemeses. Like ellipses for plural ellipsis. And crises for plural crisis.

  3. HE he I think because I grew up on Cape Cod, Moby Dick wasn’t too hard for me to read… Could aslo be an age factor. Anyway. YOu can never go wrong with Children’s book and I’m really excited to get to read them to my kids soon… Fiona did sort of make it 5 chapters into Peter Pan… but the chapters aren’t quite short enough for a 5 year old attention span. Worse for the 3 year old… But I”m babling.

    What’s the first book I ever read, myself… I’m really not sure, but I”m quite positive that I read Dragonsong by Anne Mccaffery on my own. At what age I’m not sure. My aunt belonged to a Science Fiction Book club and she got me hooked on that Genre. She recently cleared out her shelves and I now own all of her Pern books, one by Anne McCaffery and Tod too. I lived Pern in my teenage years…

    The hardest book I’ve ever read was Catch-22. I tried reading it at 15/16 and never finished. I’d like to try again. The hardest book I’ve read, and finished, has to be Dune, and someof the other books in the series. My Dad has a bunch and I went through them during summers at his house. They were the only books where I actually had to stop, let it all sink in, before picking it back up.

    On my current to read list is Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows. I’m on chapter four (but only because I haven’t taken it home yet). One bummer about being a parent. I can’t just dissapear into a book untl supper time because I actually have to make supper! *grin*

    :} Elorithryn

    1. That’s a very good point about dinner there, Elo. And I love how many long comments I’ve had from this post!
      My dad has all the Dune books. I expect he wants me to read them at some point, since most books we read we agree upon. He’s forever nicking any books I leave lying around the house – in the past, it’s been a case of, “Dad, you’ve got until Friday to read that book and then it’s going back to the library.” Friday morning: “Dad, give me the book back. I don’t care if you haven’t finished it.”
      I think the thing about children’s books is that they always a lot more imaginative than adult books, you know? Because they are forever trying to be clever or to make a point or whatever, and kids’ books just tell a story for the sake of telling a story, and that’s why I like them.

  4. That’s a lovely post, Ms Miriam. And so evocative.

    My earliest memories were Enid Blyton, the greatest chldren’s writer of all time. Tales of Toyland, the Magic Faraway Tree, Adventures of the Wishing Chair and the Book of Brownies all vie for my earliest memories along with The Mystery of the Secret Room.

    Black Beauty, Robinson Crusoe and Oliver Twist were early classics, along with Little Women and Heidi.

    I also had tons (literally hundreds) of comics. Started off with Beano and Dandy and then all my sisters comics lke Bunty (my fave!) and then discovered American comics.

    Sadly when I was seven I had exhausted the school “library” (only a few shelves (it was a small village school) and complained to the Head, who was not pleased at my description of her library. I forget the phrase used but she stomped off and came back with The Hobbit, thrusting it at me with some comment to the effect of “Let’s see you read that in one day you little brat.”

    Of course there is nothing worse than being told to read something. So I didn’t.

    Tragically whenever I’ve tried since, with The Hobbit or The Rings I’ve never gotten past the first page. A mental image of this apology for a teacher emerges and blocks me.

    @ Michael: Call me Ishmael. That’s all I remember of that classic. it was a long time ago.
    @ Cathryn: I cannot get excited about Harry Potter. Hermione is their only redeeeming factor for me.
    @ Spook: Jane Eyre is a beautiful exposition of the cruelty of Victorian childhood and you should at least read until Jane grows up and becomes a boring adult. The death of Helen Burns nenever fails to have me in tears.
    Pride & Prejudice surely is not so bad? Dickens I can understahd you not being excited by, but even so as social history these books are essential reading.
    @ Miriam: children’s books are always the best. The hardest thing to write and the best ever thing to read. I love Enid Blyton, of course, and Angela Brazil and Elinor BD, etc, etc.
    All of Victor Hugo’s works are great stories wrapped up in exposition so long it should be crime. 100 pages on the Paris sewers sounds about right.

    BTW emailed you yesterday. Are you ignoring me or didn’t it get through?

    1. My email was broken yesterday. I’ve emailed you back now :)
      I never really got on very well with Enid Blyton. I did like the Faraway Tree – my Reception teacher used to read it to us when I was, what, five? I love the idea of a slide inside a tree, with cushions! (I am thinking of the right book, aren’t I?) But the others I found pretty boring. I did my best with the Famous Five and whatnot, just couldn’t get into them.
      I pretty much exhausted my primary school library, and it was reasonably big too. With the public library, however, whenever I think I’ve read everything interesting I see another book with a good title!
      I loved the Hobbit so, so much. I got completely obsessed with both that and LotR for about three years, and was always talking about it! I guess that was because there’s so much of a world there, you can really imagine it actually existing. You know that Tolkien wrote the books to accommodate a full-blown language he’d invented? He was a philologist, though, so I guess that’s understandable.
      We obviously have quite different tastes in books (though I loved Heidi, and Pollyanna, and Anne of Green Gables … did you read the latter two of those?), so I’m interested to know if you like CS Lewis. I love the Cosmic Trilogy! And how about Stephen Lawhead? Some of his books are better than others, but the Song of Albion Trilogy and ‘Empyrion’ are my favourites :)

  5. I really enjoyed Les Mis, although yeah, it was a bit annoying when Hugo would go off on a two hundred page tangent about a historical event or a character who only showed up in one tiny scene. But that scene with the poker still makes me cringe years later.

    I started out reading the Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew books as a kid. When I was in fourth grade, I watched the musical “The King and I” with my mother, and it made an allusion to the book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Of course I was curious and learned a lot of things about human cruelty that I really didn’t need to know at that age…

    The hardest books for me to get through now are books by Jane Austen and Mark Twain. It’s not that the books themselves are difficult, but rather that I either end up hating the characters or just can’t identify with them enough to make me want to keep reading.

    1. I think the thing that saved Les Mis for me was because I knew the story already, so could follow it. I mean, the only thing that got me through the first 100 pages was the thought that … hey, if I get through this, Valjean might appear! And he did. Eventually.

      I’m a real one for just avoiding reading classics. I try, I really do. I can deal with Thomas Hardy. And I’ve read the Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orkzy. Oh, and things like Dracula and the Picture of Dorian Gray. I can deal with those. But others, the sight of their tiny print and boring female characters …. well, I just run away and read children’s books instead.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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