16 Oct 2015

Reading & Seeing (& Listening) 26

I'm not sure why but I've ended up reading a lot of rather grim books of late but if you've got any light-hearted/upbeat books to recommend do let me know, I am definitely going to need them after The Road.

Northern Lights
I had nothing to read on the morning of moriarty's death, having finished the last bad man the day before, and I knew that I was going to need one hell of a good book to distract me from sad thoughts during my commute that morning. I instinctively reached for Northern Lights, subconsciously because of all the daemons, but mostly because I love it and I needed something exciting yet familiar. I've lost count how many times I've read it but there'll be many more reads of this in future I'm sure.

After Dark
I picked up this and The Collector whilst Mitch and I were in Brighton (there's a great second hand book stall in the covered market). At the risk of causing outrage, I don't quite get what all the fuss is about with Murakami. I feel I can say that now that I've read a couple of his books. I can't get to grip with (or care about) his characters. After Dark follows a bunch of interconnected characters through the hours small hours of one night. It started out as vaguely intriguing and pretty creepy and then...absolutely nothing happens. I'm probably missing all the metaphors and the deep and profound imagery. Or something. But that's just it, I'm missing it. And while I'm at it, I didn't like the weird third person narrative voice in this either, particularly the way it described everything as if it was reading it from the camera directions on a film script, it just felt kind of lazy.

The Collector was disturbing, and if I'm honest, I had hoped for a less bleak ending. It's about a socially challenged individual, who, having come into a lot of money, decides to abduct Miranda, a very pretty art student that he's been stalking for some time. As I said, it's a bit unsettling but I found it interesting how the two behave towards each other given the circumstances. Miranda isn't the most likeable of characters and it's her narrative that shows her in not so great a light. The duel narrative is a very clever tool. Still grim though.

How to be both
Blook club's pick, although, fortuitously, I was already half way through it when this was decided! Half the book is told from the perspective of a 15th century painter, the other half concerns the thoughts and feelings of a modern day 16 year old girl whose mother has recently died. I don't want to say too much as I'll ruin it but I really liked this - the style of writing, the clever connectedness, the fact that it made me think about the assumptions people make (me as a reader but also in wider society).

God's Own Country
At the centre of this tale is Sam, a socially awkward (seeing a pattern?) farmers son who befriends the teenage daughter of the new family that's moved to the farm next to his. There's a lot of comparisons to be drawn between this and The Collector to be honest but this one wasn't as well conceived. In its defence, it kept me interested and I sped through, mostly because I wanted to make sure the ending wasn't too devastating. (spoiler: it's not, thank god).

The Road
I've not seen the film but plenty of people who had, warned me against reading it. For those not in the know, the story follows a father and son as the travel south along 'the road' amid a backdrop of a ruined world (most probably because of nuclear war). There's little food, sunlight or warmth and as for the other v.few people they encounter it's so grim I cannot repeat what I read. With all the SF I read, particularly when it comes to dystopian futures, I am always fascinated by people and how they 'cope' with disaster. Some truly horrendous scenarios are suggested in this book but despite that there are moments of light - the father-son relationship for a start and the ending is, relatively speaking, not as soul crushing as I'd thought it'd be. The future world is so vividly painted and it often made me think 'what would I do in this situation' as well as wondering whether to buy more canned goods (you know, just in case). Yes it's gruelling but I'm glad I've read it.

The Martian
So matt Damon is the poor old sod that his astronaut buddies leave on Mars because they think he's dead, only he's not! He's figuring out how to stay alive in a tres hostile environment - creating water, digging up radioactive stuff, tinkering with satellites and growing potatoes in his own poo. I read this last year (I think) and, as predicted, this made a waaay better film than a book. For starters all that complicated chat about maths and chemistry is condensed into a delightful montage (complete with uplifting music) also the characters have some life to them (largely thanks to an awesome cast - Sean Bean, Kirstin Wiig, Donald Glover! YES!) and Matt Damon is likeable as Mark Watney (I found him quite irritating in the book), you're certainly rooting for him from the start.  Sure, it's no Interstellar or Gravity (it doesn't really have the weight, pace or suspense) but the special effects are great and, even though I knew everything that was going to happen, it had me gripped. Thanks Ridley Scott you did this tale a favour.

Meanwhile in the Future
I'm a bit behind the times with podcasts, truth be told I was baffled as to when people had the time to listen to them what with watching TV, reading books, writing blogs, making time for hobbies, maintaining friendships and having a job. But I found it, I found the time to listen (just before bed) and Meanwhile in the Future has fast become one of my favourites. Each week someone suggests an idea for a future (one where you have to apply to travel by plane for example, or where women no longer give birth and babies develop in external wombs, or one where the earth has two moons - you get the idea) and then experts discuss what that future would actually be like. It's super interesting and they're normally only about 15 minutes long. Definitely worth a listen if SF is your bag or if you like to over think things :)


  1. I really want to see the Martian soon! I looooove Northern Lights too, it is so good! I need to reread it now, it's been a couple of years! x

    Jasmin Charlotte

  2. Ugh, The Road. I didn't even see the movie because the book was soooo harsh. Don't know if you are into stuff like Hunger Games but I recently read Queen of the Tearling and liked it. Shovel Ready was also pretty good and a really fast read.

  3. How To Be Both has been on my to-read pile for ages, really need to make a start. I didn't dare read The Road, everything I hear about it is so bleak.


Ta v.much :)

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