Faulkner House Books – New Orleans

In January I went on a truly unforgettable holiday to New Orleans and very quickly fell in love with the place. It has an incredible atmosphere, ranging from laid-back to festival-ready. The people are friendly and I enjoyed listening to the accent, which is so different to my own British English. Of course, you can’t talk about New Orleans without mentioning the music – mellow jazz in the supermarkets, kids playing self-made drums (basically just buckets) on the street and talented musicians playing in local bars every night of the week. Just thinking about it makes me want to go back!

But one of the things I loved the most, was the amount of amazing bookshops! I visited six in total, and hope to get reviews of most of them up on the blog one of these days.

Today I’ll start with Faulkner House Books, which was the bookshop I was most excited about.

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Lagom (The Swedish Art of Balanced Living) – Linnea Dunne

Since the popularity of The Little Book of Hygge, I’ve seen a number of similar gorgeous books about the Scandinavian lifestyle. I’ll admit, at first I thought they were a coffee table decoration – to look at and skim through, but not exactly life-changing. And it’s true, that while this little book about Lagom is perfect for the coffee table, it has helped me to improve certain aspects of my life.

It really struck a chord with me when I bought it last autumn. I was going through a busy period at work and was really struggling to keep my life balanced and healthy.

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The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolf

Over the past few years, I’ve been trying to make my way through the wide range of feminist non-fiction out there. I’ve hardly made a dent in the ever-growing list, but I can finally tick off The Beauty Myth.

I found it quite slow going, a problem I often have with non-fiction – it makes your brain work harder than fiction! But I kept at it and it was definitely worth the slog.

Published about two decades ago, it’s not surprising that the book often comes across as dated, but shockingly it is at times still very relevant. However, I found myself very torn while reading.

I didn’t like the sometimes forcible way Wolf tries to get her point across, being especially unfair to men at times. It’s not helpful to write statements such as, Continue reading

The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham

I so enjoyed John Wyndham’s classic tale set in a post-apocalyptic Britain. It’s such a ridiculous premise – the world goes blind overnight and gets taken over by giant flesh-eating plants – but somehow Wyndham makes it work.

We meet the narrator, Bill Mason, in a hospital bed in London, where he is recovering from an eye operation. He soon realises something is terribly wrong, and it’s a familiar scene, as he goes through the steps of confusion, denial and then dawning realisation that the world will never be the same again.

I have a fascination for this type of story. It’s not so much the monsters or strange supernatural events, but rather the exploration of how people cope with it. Continue reading

84 Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff

I heard about 84 Charing Cross Road through Slightly Foxed a few years ago, and it’s been patiently waiting on my shelf ever since. The moment to read it finally arrived after I finished the harrowing Between Shades of Gray and was in desperate need of something cheerful to warm my heart. I couldn’t have chosen a better book to make me smile!

This is a lovely little book about a struggling American writer in New York and her correspondence with an antiquarian bookshop in London. The first half is a copy of the letters, starting with Helene inquiring after certain out-of-print books that she couldn’t get hold of. What follows is twenty year’s worth of letters, mostly between the reserved (and very British) bookseller Frank and the more chatty Helene. Continue reading

The Power – Naomi Alderman

Over February and March, I’ve been participating in the #readforwomen hashtag on Instagram, set up by sarasreadingdiary to celebrate the 100th anniversary of some women getting the right to vote in the UK. This means reading only women writers for two months, which hasn’t been a struggle as I read a lot by women anyway. However, I have been more mindful than usual, trying to find books that might fit into the theme of feminism.

I kicked off with The Power, the book on everyone’s lips at the moment. And what a powerful start to the challenge! The novel explores a grim world where gender roles have been reversed Continue reading

Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

I grew up watching the 1968 film Oliver! but for some reason only bought a copy of the book last year. The magic of the film has stayed with me throughout my life. When I was little I loved the fact that it was both frightening and funny, and I still can’t get enough of the wonderful songs!

Perhaps because of the music and singing, I was always under the impression that Oliver Twist was a children’s book. However it’s much grittier and at times downright gruesome. There’s also less laugh-out-loud humour, which is replaced by sharp and dark satire. In fact, the book is simply dripping with sarcasm, showing Dickens’ total disgust of the workhouse and justice systems of the time. Continue reading