I have an Amazon voucher – book recs please!

Hello Bookworms!

Just a quick request – I signed to some online pension management thing (my life is trés exciting) and I’ve apparently qualified for a £10 Amazon voucher! Yay!

This voucher is yet to materialise in my inbox but when if it does I’ll need something to spend it on…hmmm…

That’s where you lovely lot come in. Obviously I’ll be buying books with it…but which ones? There’s too many to choose from!!!

So, if you’ve read anything amazing recently that you really recommend, could you let me know in the comments? I don’t care what genre it is, if you think it’s good, let me know!

Thank you lovelies!

Lucinda xxx

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Read Harder 2018 Mid Year Progress

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The Read Harder 2018 challenge from Book Riot is a fantastic way of expanding your reading tastes. It’s a list of twenty-four categories and the idea is to find a book that fits within each, then read it at some point during the year. Sounds simple? It isn’t! 

I love this challenge and this will be the third year that I’ve attempted it. The first year I tried it I started in about September and last year I left it all to the last minute so I’m quite used to panicking about both Christmas and the huge reading list that I still have to get through. So this year I promised myself that I would PACE MYSELF and do what you’re meant to do by reading two books a month. 

Let’s check out the 2018 challenge categories and my progress:

1. A book published posthumously

☑ Identified: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

– Status: Unread

2. A book of true crime

 Unidentified

– Status: Unread

3. A classic of genre fiction (i.e. mystery, sci fi/fantasy, romance) 

☑ Identified: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

☑ Status: Read 

4. A comic written and illustrated by the same person

☑ Identified: Tetris by Box Brown

☑ Status: Read

5. A book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa)

– Unidentified

– Status: Unread

6. A book about nature

Identified: Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Peckham

☑ Status: Read

7. A western

☑ Identified: The Waste Lands (Dark Tower 3) by Stephen King 

– Status: Started (8%)

8. A comic written or illustrated by a person of color

– Unidentified

– Status: Unread

9. A book of colonial or postcolonial literature

☑ Identified: Brick Lane by Monica Ali

– Status: Unread

10. A romance novel by or about a person of color

☑ Identified: Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

☑ Status: Read

11. A children’s classic published before 1980

– Unidentified

– Status: Unread

12. A celebrity memoir

☑ Identified: My Life and Other Business by Dolly Parton

– Status: Started: (66%)

13. An Oprah Book Club selection

– Unidentified

– Status: Unread

14. A book of social science

☑ Identified: A Good Time to be a Girl by Helen Morissey

☑ Status: Read

15. A one-sitting book

Identified: Women by Chloe Caldwell

☑ Status: Read

16. The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series

Identified: Everless by Sara Holland

☑ Status: Read

17. A sci fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author

☑ Identified: The Power by Naomi Alderman

– Status: Started (50%)

18. A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image

☑ Identified: Giant Days by Allison + Treman + Cogar

– Status: Unread

19. A book of genre fiction in translation

☑ Identified: 1Q84 Book Three by Haruki Murakami

– Status: Unread

20. A book with a cover you hate

☑ Identified: The Woman in the Window by A.J.Flynn

☑ Status: Read

21. A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ authoras

☑ Identified: The Night Listener by Armistead Maupin

☑ Status: Read

22. An essay anthology

– Unidentified

– Status: Unread

23. A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60

☑ Identified: The Lido by Libby Page

☑ Status: Read

24. An assigned book you hated (or never finished)

– Unidentified

– Status: Unread

Ok, so that’s seventeen books identified and ten books read with three further books started. Not bad! Not quite on target but not too far off. For me, this is a minor miracle.

So, can anyone recommend any books for these outstanding categories?

2. A book of true crime

5. A book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa)

8. A comic written or illustrated by a person of color

11. A children’s classic published before 1980

13. An Oprah Book Club selection

22. An essay anthology

24. An assigned book you hated (or never finished)

HEEEEELLLLLLP MEEEEEEEE!


One Hundred Stories that Shaped the World?

The BBC has recently polled a number of experts to vote for the most influential stories of all time and have compiled the responses into a Top 100. I thought it would be fun to look through the list a) to see if I agree and b) to see how many I’ve read (highlighted in bold).

After an initial look, there’s quite a few novels that I’ve never heard of (The Epic of Gilgamesh? Water Margin?) but I feel like some of you clever lot will be far more au fait with the titles. I liked how many of the stories seem to be foreign and how varied the list was – I guess you can interpret the word “influential” in numerous different ways. One thing I did notice was the lack of religious texts. Surely the Bible, Qur’an etc. have been more influential than any other books? I’m not sure why some of the stories from the central texts haven’t been included. 

The BBC have said that this isn’t a definitive list but a starting point, aiming to spark conversation. This made me think about why some stories are still popular hundreds of years after they were written. How do they remain relevant? Is it because they have an overriding lesson to teach us? Is that what makes us select certain tales to pass along through the generations – does a story need to teach us something important to inspire people to pass the knowledge on? Or is there something innate in the act of storytelling that culturally binds us? Read the list and tell me what you think!

1. The Odyssey (Homer, 8th Century BC)

2. Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852)

3. Frankenstein (Mary Shelley, 1818)

4. Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell, 1949)

5. Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe, 1958)

6. One Thousand and One Nights (various authors, 8th-18th Centuries)

7. Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes, 1605-1615)

8. Hamlet (William Shakespeare, 1603)

9. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel García Márquez, 1967)

10. The Iliad (Homer, 8th Century BC)

11. Beloved (Toni Morrison, 1987)

12. The Divine Comedy (Dante Alighieri, 1308-1320)

13. Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare, 1597)

14. The Epic of Gilgamesh (author unknown, circa 22nd-10th Centuries BC)

15. Harry Potter Series (JK Rowling, 1997-2007)

16. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood, 1985)

17. Ulysses (James Joyce, 1922)

18. Animal Farm (George Orwell, 1945)

19. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë, 1847)

20. Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert, 1856)

21. Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Luo Guanzhong, 1321-1323)

22. Journey to the West (Wu Cheng’en, circa 1592)

23. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevksy, 1866)

24. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen, 1813)

25. Water Margin (attributed to Shi Nai’an, 1589)

26. War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy, 1865-1867)

27. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee, 1960)

28. Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys, 1966)

29. Aesop’s Fables (Aesop, circa 620 to 560 BC)

30. Candide (Voltaire, 1759)

31. Medea (Euripides, 431 BC)

32. The Mahabharata (attributed to Vyasa, 4th Century BC)

33. King Lear (William Shakespeare, 1608)

34. The Tale of Genji (Murasaki Shikibu, before 1021)

35. The Sorrows of Young Werther (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1774)

36. The Trial (Franz Kafka, 1925)

37. Remembrance of Things Past (Marcel Proust, 1913-1927)

38. Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë, 1847)

39. Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison, 1952)

40. Moby-Dick (Herman Melville, 1851)

41. Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston, 1937)

42. To the Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf, 1927)

43. The True Story of Ah Q (Lu Xun, 1921-1922)

44. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll, 1865)

45. Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy, 1873-1877)

46. Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad, 1899)

47. Monkey Grip (Helen Garner, 1977)

48. Mrs Dalloway (Virginia Woolf, 1925)

49. Oedipus the King (Sophocles, 429 BC)

50. The Metamorphosis (Franz Kafka, 1915)

51. The Oresteia (Aeschylus, 5th Century BC)

52. Cinderella (unknown author and date)

53. Howl (Allen Ginsberg, 1956)

54. Les Misérables (Victor Hugo, 1862)

55. Middlemarch (George Eliot, 1871-1872)

56. Pedro Páramo (Juan Rulfo, 1955)

57. The Butterfly Lovers (folk story, various versions)

58. The Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer, 1387)

59. The Panchatantra (attributed to Vishnu Sharma, circa 300 BC)

60. The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas (Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, 1881)

61. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Muriel Spark, 1961)

62. The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists (Robert Tressell, 1914)

63. Song of Lawino (Okot p’Bitek, 1966)

64. The Golden Notebook (Doris Lessing, 1962)

65. Midnight’s Children (Salman Rushdie, 1981)

66. Nervous Conditions (Tsitsi Dangarembga, 1988)

67. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1943)

68. The Master and Margarita (Mikhail Bulgakov, 1967)

69. The Ramayana (attributed to Valmiki, 11th Century BC)

70. Antigone (Sophocles, c 441 BC)

71. Dracula (Bram Stoker, 1897)

72. The Left Hand of Darkness (Ursula K Le Guin, 1969)

73. A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens, 1843)

74. América (Raúl Otero Reiche, 1980)

75. Before the Law (Franz Kafka, 1915)

76. Children of Gebelawi (Naguib Mahfouz, 1967)

77. Il Canzoniere (Petrarch, 1374)

78. Kebra Nagast (various authors, 1322)

79. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott, 1868-1869)

80. Metamorphoses (Ovid, 8 AD)

81. Omeros (Derek Walcott, 1990)

82. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 1962)

83. Orlando (Virginia Woolf, 1928)

84. Rainbow Serpent (Aboriginal Australian story cycle, date unknown)

85. Revolutionary Road (Richard Yates, 1961)

86. Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe, 1719)

87. Song of Myself (Walt Whitman, 1855)

88. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain, 1884)

89. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain, 1876)

90. The Aleph (Jorge Luis Borges, 1945)

91. The Eloquent Peasant (ancient Egyptian folk story, circa 2000 BC)

92. The Emperor’s New Clothes (Hans Christian Andersen, 1837)

93. The Jungle (Upton Sinclair, 1906)

94. The Khamriyyat (Abu Nuwas, late 8th-early 9th Century)

95. The Radetzky March (Joseph Roth, 1932)

96. The Raven (Edgar Allan Poe, 1845)

97. The Satanic Verses (Salman Rushdie, 1988)

98. The Secret History (Donna Tartt, 1992)

99. The Snowy Day (Ezra Jack Keats, 1962)

100. Toba Tek Singh (Saadat Hasan Manto, 1955)


Do you agree that these are the most influential books of all time? How many books from this list have you read? Why do you think they’re still influential today? Have you been personally influenced by any of them?  Let me know in the comments!

In The News: Describe Yourself Like A Make Author Would

It all kicked off (again) on Twitter recently when, during a debate about the #ownvoices hashtag, an unnamed male author claimed that he could write an authentic female protagonist. According to YA author Gwen Katz, this is an actual quote from his actual novel:

 “I sauntered over, certain he noticed me. I’m hard to miss, I’d like to think – a little tall (but not too tall), a nice set of curves if I do say so myself, pants so impossibly tight that if I had a credit card in my back pocket you could read the expiration date…”

THOUGHT NO WOMAN EVER.

This sparked a new Twitter challenge by Whitney Reynolds (host of the I Haven’t Seen That podcast) to describe yourself like a male author would – and the responses are as hilarious as they are depressing. Everything from:

“her undersized bosom did not suggest the surprise that on the other side of her was a sizeable ass. He began to think of her body as a mullet. She was business in the front and a party in the back.” 

 to

“Something about porcelain skin because Asian, something about petite and submissive because Asian, something about silky raven Asian hair, something about exotic and something about almond shaped eyes because Asian.”

Now obviously, not all male writers describe their female protagonists in such a way and unfortunately, I’ve read a fair few novels where female authors have described female characters using such sexist terms (most recently The Confession by Jo Spain – read my review here) but I’m sure we’re all familiar with this kind of crap (if not, read pretty much anything by Stephen King, especially his earlier work). 

So the question is, how sick are you of female characters being described by the attractiveness of their anatomy? Are you offended by lazy cultural stereotypes? 

And most importantly…

How would a sexist author describe YOU?

For the record, here’s my version:

It was her large baby blue eyes and long blonde hair that first caught his attention. He casually swept his gaze across her petite frame, disappointed that she wasn’t showing more cleavage. His interest lessened further as he took in her wide hips and unusually chunky calves. Yes, she should definitely be showing off more of her breasts to detract from those tree trunks, he thought as he pretended to skim her CV. He assumed she had qualifications but there was only one skill she really needed – apart from the ability to make a good cup of tea, of course – and it definitely wouldn’t be on her resumé.

Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime Tag

Hello lovelies!

I’ve seen this tag doing the rounds and it seemed like a fun and easy one to join in with, so thanks to the amazing orangutan librarian for tagging me!

How to Play:

1. Include a link back to Amazon’s official 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime
2. Tag Perfectly Tolerable, the creator of this meme
3. Tag the person who nominated you
4. Copy the list of books and indicate which titles you have read.
5. Tally up your total.
6. Comment on the post you were tagged in and share your total count.
7. Tag five new people and comment on one of their posts to let them know.

Ok, so I’m sorry about the formatting but I’ve highlighted in bold the books that I’ve read…

1984 George Orwell

A Brief History of Time Stephen Hawking

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius Dave Eggers

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Ishmael Beah

The Bad Beginning Lemony Snicket

A Wrinkle in Time Madeleine L’Engle

Selected Stories, 1968-1994 Alice Munro

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll

All the President’s Men Bob Woodward

Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir Frank McCourt

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Judy Blume

Bel Canto Ann Patchett

Beloved Toni Morrison

Born to Run Christopher McDougall

Breath, Eyes, Memory Edwidge Danticat

Catch-22 Joseph Heller

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl

Charlotte’s Web E. B White

Cutting for Stone Abraham Verghese

Daring Greatly Brené Brown

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Jeff Kinney

Dune Frank Herbert

Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Hunter S. Thompson

Gone Girl Gillian Flynn

Goodnight Moon Margaret Wise Brow

Great Expectations Charles Dickens

Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond Ph.D.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone J.K. Rowling

In Cold Blood Truman Capote

Interpreter of Maladies Jhumpa Lahiri

Invisible Man Ralph Ellison

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth Chris Ware

Kitchen Confidential Anthony Bourdain

Life After Life Kate Atkinson

Little House on the Prairie Laura Ingalls Wilder

Lolita Vladimir Nabokov

Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Love Medicine Louise Erdrich

Man’s Search for Meaning Viktor E. Frankl

Me Talk Pretty One Day David Sedaris

Middlesex Jeffrey Eugenides

Midnight’s Children Salman Rushdie

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game Michael Lewis

Of Human Bondage W. Somerset Maugham

On the Road Jack Kerouac

Out of Africa Isak Dinesen

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood Marjane Satrapi

Portnoy’s Complaint Philip Roth

Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

Silent Spring Rachel Carson

Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut

Team of Rivals Doris Kearns Goodwin

The Age of Innocence Edith Wharton

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay Michael Chabon

The Autobiography of Malcolm X Malcolm X

The Book Thief Markus Zusak

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Junot Díaz

The Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger

The Color of Water James McBride

The Corrections Jonathan Franzen

The Devil in the White City Erik Larson

The Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank

The Fault in Our Stars John Green

The Giver Lois Lowry

The Golden Compass Philip Pullman

The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood

The House at Pooh Corner A. Milne

The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Skloot

The Liars’ Club Mary Karr

The Lightning Thief Rick Riordan

The Little Prince Houghton Mifflin

The Long Goodbye Raymond Chandler

The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 Lawrence Wright

The Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat Oliver Sacks

The Omnivore’s Dilemma Michael Pollan

The Phantom Tollbooth Norton Juster

The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver

The Power Broker Robert A. Caro

The Right Stuff Tom Wolfe

The Road Cormac McCarthy

The Secret History Donna Tartt

The Shining Stephen King

The Stranger Albert Camus

The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway

The Things They Carried Tim O’Brien

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle

The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Haruki Murakami

The World According to Garp John Irving

The Year of Magical Thinking Joan Didion

Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe

To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand

Valley of the Dolls Jacqueline Susann

Where the Sidewalk Ends Shel Silverstein

Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak

I’ve read 28 books, which is ok considering quite a few of these are kids books (I’m not going to go and find a copy of the Very Hungry Caterpillar) and some hold no interest for me at all (I read 100 Years of Solitude and that was enough to put me off Gabriel Garcia Marquez for life). I also have a pathological fear of “classics” so I tend to do badly on these lists anyway, although I am currently enjoying Les Miserables, so perhaps my tastes are changing in my old age.

I think most of you have done this tag already, but if you haven’t then please feel free to give it a go!

So, are there any surprises on here (I know, I still haven’t read the Handmaid’s Tale). Are any of these books on your TBR? Do you have any recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

Lucinda x

Ummm, thanks?

So it seems I’ve reached that magic number of 1337 likes on my blog. What a super weird thing to congratulate me on.

So, ummm, yay me?

I’m slightly suspicious that WordPress has realised they haven’t sent any kind of encouragement to me for quite a while, so now I’ve got a “well done for trying!” badge. Is this the equivalent of a digital wooden spoon award?

Has anyone else had a congratulatory message for a totally random number? Or is it just me?

Les Mis Read Along

I’ve been meaning to read Les Miserables for such a long time, but never managed to get past the first few chapters. So, when I saw the #LesMisReadalong being publicised on the lovely novels and nonfiction blog I couldn’t wait to sign up!

The read along is being hosted by Nick and his blog has a wealth of information about Les Miserables, including historical background, advice on the different versions available and a downloadable reading schedule.

I’ve shamelessly cut and pasted the rules of the read along from Nicks blog to explain how to join in:

How to Participate

1 Get an unabridged copy of Les Misérables. See below for suggested translations/editions.

2 If you have your own blog, write a welcome post explaining why you are joining the read-along and what you hope to gain from it. Include your past experience with Les Mis in any of its forms. Leave a link to your post in the linkup section at the end of this post. If you don’t have a blog, you can leave your information in the comments section below.

3 Download the Les Miserables Chapter a Day Reading Schedule 2018.

4 Commit to reading a chapter a day. If you get behind or race ahead, no worries. Life happens. My blog posts will stay on track with the reading schedule, and I would ask that you please respect the reading experience of those who may not know the full story. In other words, no spoilers!

5 Please feel free to post the official Les Misérables Chapter-a-Day Read-along graphic on your website or blog to spread the word.

6 Subscribe to One Catholic Life so you don’t miss any read-along posts throughout the year. You can get updates via email by using the form in the right-hand sidebar or you can subscribe via RSS and read them in your favorite blog reader.

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up now!