Top 5 Classics I Want to Read

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There are some classics that are forced upon us, and some that we think “hey, that actually sounds quite good!” This list is the latter: classics I actually want to read!

These books are in no particular order.

1.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

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Controversial and compelling, In Cold Blood reconstructs the murder in 1959 of a Kansas farmer, his wife and both their children. Truman Capote’s comprehensive study of the killings and subsequent investigation explores the circumstances surrounding this terrible crime and the effect it had on those involved. – from Goodreads.com

If it’s one thing I love it’s a good crime story, even better if it’s true crime! I’ve not read any other of Truman Capote’s books but this book has shot to the top of my TBR pile and has been recommended to me so many times already.

2.

Psycho by Robert Bloch

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Norman Bates loves his Mother. She has been dead for the past twenty years, or so people think. Norman knows better though. He has lived with Mother ever since leaving the hospital in the old house up on the hill above the Bates motel. One night Norman spies on a beautiful woman that checks into the hotel as she undresses. Norman can’t help but spy on her. Mother is there though. She is there to protect Norman from his filthy thoughts. She is there to protect him with her butcher knife. – from Goodreads.com

As a Bates Motel fan, I think it would be a crime (boom boom!) to not read the original novel. I’ve been really getting into a horror/thriller mood recently, having read Carrie by Stephen King, and I think Psycho is going to be another great addition to my genre experiment!

3.

Tender is the Night by F Scott Fizgerald

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Between the First World War and the Wall Street Crash the French Riviera was the stylish place for wealthy Americans to visit. Among the most fashionable are psychoanalyst Dick Diver and his wife Nicole, who hold court at their villa. Into their circle comes Rosemary Hoyt, a film star, who is instantly attracted to them, but understands little of the dark secrets and hidden corruption that hold them together. As Dick draws closer to Rosemary, he fractures the delicate structure of his marriage and sets both Nicole and himself on to a dangerous path where only the strongest can survive. – from Goodreads.com

The Great Gatsby is one of my favourite classics, and arguably Scott Fizgerald’s most famous work. This novel is probably his second best known, and so I’d love to see how it compares to the masterpiece that is The Great Gatsby!

4.

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

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For years now the Ramsays have spent every summer in their holiday home in Scotland, and they expect these summers will go on forever; but as the First World War looms, the integrity of family and society will be fatally challenged. To the Lighthouse is at once a vivid impressionist depiction of a family holiday, and a meditation on a marriage, on parenthood and childhood, on grief, tyranny and bitterness. – from Goodreads.com

A few months ago I went to visit Virginia Woolf’s property, Monk’s House, in Rodmell, Lewes. It was so eye-opening and inspiring to be in the same room as where Virginia lived, and not too far away from the spot where she died either. To the Lighthouse is one of her books that appeals to me the most, and I can’t wait to get reading!

5.

The Town and The City by Jack Kerouac

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Kerouac’s debut novel is a great coming of age story which can be read as the essential prelude to his later classics. Inspired by grief over his father’s death and gripped by determination to write the Great American Novel, he draws largely on his own New England childhood. – from Goodreads.com

Another writer whose work I’ve read before! I read On the Road by Kerouac last year and loved it, and so I really want to read his autobiographical novel, The Town and The City.

These are the top five classics I really want to read. Are these on your list too? Or do you have some you’d like to recommend to me? Let me know in the comments!

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My Literary Trip to Oxford

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In a blog post earlier in the year, I made a list of bookish places to visit in England, the first of which was Oxford, one of the most literary places in the world. It is home to the famous literary group, the Inklings, who amongst it members were C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Roger Lancelyn Green, to name a few.

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(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

I, by rights, would consider C.S. Lewis one of my favourite authors, as his Chronicles of Narnia are some of my best loved go-to comfort reads. For the past twenty years, I have read and re-read those tales that provided (along with Tolkien and many others) the cornerstones of children’s fantasy. I like many others travelled with the Pevensies and poured my heart into the destruction of the White Witch. For Narnia, and for Aslan!

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(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

But how much did I know about the man behind the magic? Who was C.S. Lewis? So this was reason number one why I decided to visit Oxford, where Lewis spent a large chunk of his life. The Kilns, where Lewis used to live, gives tours by appointment and is situated in Risinghurst, just outside of the city center. Not only can you find Lewis’s home there, but also his parish, which is only a ten-minute walk away. The church is also his resting place, as people flock from all over the world to pay their respects to the author who transported them through the wardrobe. His brother, Warren Lewis, affectionately known as Warnie, who died ten years later, is also buried with his brother, who liked to be known as Jack.

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(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

Taking a tour of the Kilns was like being reacquainted with an old friend. I knew bits of trivia about Lewis’s life, but our guide shed light on just what an imaginative, gracious and fun-loving person he really was. One story stood out to me in particular. After his cat, Tom, had lost his teeth, Lewis’s wife, Joy, wanted to have the cat put down. Lewis would hear nothing of the sort, and every third day went to the market to get fish for Tom to eat, which he ground small enough so the cat didn’t have to chew, and declared it would be Tom’s pension. As he passed Tom in the garden, he usually doffed his hat, citing to a baffled friend, “Tom’s a pensioner, don’t you know. We treat pensioners with respect.”

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(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

Oxford history doesn’t just hold references to Lewis’s life and works, it also plays host to a large chunk of filming locations, particularly for the first Harry Potter film, directed by Christopher Columbus. I visited the Divinity School in the Bodleian Library, where the scenes for the Hogwarts Infirmary were filmed, and also Christ Church, where the Golden Trio meet again after the events of Philosopher’s Stone. Finally, I also visited New College, where a particular scene from The Goblet of Fire was filmed. Visiting New College was like stepping into Hogwarts itself. It’s safe to say this trip was filled with magic!

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(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

I was only in Oxford for four days but I absolutely loved every minute of it! I wouldn’t hesitate to go back again and I would definitely recommend it, especially if you’re a big literary geek like me!

Has my blog post convinced you to visit Oxford? Or are there other places on your list? Let me know in the comments!

Big Books: Over 500 Pages

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As I said in my Quick Reads post: I like big books and I cannot lie. I don’t always like to read books with lots of pages, as sometimes they can be quite intimidating, but occasionally I can’t resist and sit down for the long haul. Here are some of the bigger books that I’ve absolutely loved and want to share with you.

Please note that the number of pages is subject to the edition.

1.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

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Number of Pages: 593

Cult horror director Stanislas Cordova hasn’t been seen in public since 1977. To his fans he is an enigma. To journalist Scott McGrath he is the enemy. To Ashley he was a father. On a damp October night the body of young, beautiful Ashley Cordova is found in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Her suicide appears to be the latest tragedy to hit a severely cursed dynasty. For McGrath, another death connected to the legendary director seems more than a coincidence. Driven by revenge, curiosity and a need for the truth, he finds himself pulled into a hypnotic, disorientating world, where almost everyone seems afraid. The last time McGrath got close to exposing Cordova, he lost his marriage and his career. This time he could lose his grip on reality. – from Goodreads.com

One of my favourite reads from last year, Pessl’s Night Film is not only told in prose but also articles and web pages, which makes it stand out from the rest in its field.

2.

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

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Number of Pages: 802 

Sweeping from a harsh land of cold to a summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, A Game of Thrones tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. – from Goodreads.com

I don’t think there’s a person on the planet that hasn’t heard of Game of Thrones, and whilst you wait for season seven to start, why not go back to where it all began with the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

3.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

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Number of Pages: 608

One beautiful March morning, a student goes to school with guns instead of books, and starts shooting. Ten people are killed, and the local town is left reeling. In the search for justice and explanations which follows, the daughter of the judge sitting on the case is the state’s best witness – but she can’t remember what happened in front of her own eyes. Or can she? – from Goodreads.com

This was the first ever Picoult book I read and I absolutely adored it. The way the book was crafted and woven together was magical to watch and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.

4.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

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Number of Pages: 1,463

Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them to the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose. – from Goodreads.com

Perhaps for the most dedicated fans of Les Miserables The Musical or the 2012 film, the original works that inspired both is nearly a beastly 1500 pages. I have read it and I loved it!

5.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

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Number of Pages: 512

This version of the Bennet family and Mr. Darcy is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray. – from Goodreads.com

Retellings are very common, but finding one as sublime as Sittenfeld’s Eligible is slim. This is another book I read last year and absolutely loved! Now it’s the top of my recommendation list.

So these are my top five books that are definitely worth your time, despite how big they seem. In a lot of these cases, the pages are just a number so you’ll end up flying through them. Do you have any big books you think I’ll love? Let me know in the comments!

Great Reads: Classics

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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

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Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that Esther’s insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic. – from Goodreads.com

Not only one of my favourite classics, but also one of my favourite books of all time. I really, really recommend this book to anyone looking for a master class in writing, and also the representation of mental health in literature.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author’s generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald’s–and his country’s–most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed and the promise of new beginnings. – from Goodreads.com

I never studied The Great Gatsby but I wish I did. Scott Fitzgerald’s well known novel is ripe with metaphor, imagery and symbolism which makes the whole reading process that much more enjoyable.

And The Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks by William S Burroughs and Jack Kerouac

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This is a hardboiled crime novel, and a true story. In 1944, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, then still unknown writers, were both arrested following a murder: one of their friends had stabbed another and then come to them for advice – neither had told the police. Later they wrote this fictionalised account of that summer – of a group of friends in wartime New York, moving through each other’s apartments, drinking, necking, talking and taking drugs and haphazardly drifting towards a bloody crime. – from Goodreads.com

This was the book that inspired one of my all-time favourite films Kill Your Darlings, which fictionalised the murder of David Kammerer. This book, and the film, provides so much more context to the Beat Generation and the writers who created some of their most prolific work in this era.

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

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In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she’d never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele — Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles — as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary. – from Goodreads.com

Kaysen’s memoir is similar to that of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, which is probably the reason why I love it so much. Kaysen spent two years in a psychiatric hospital and goes into a lot of detail about her life there which makes the piece incredibly fascinating.

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

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The shocking thing about the five Lisbon sisters was how nearly normal they seemed when their mother let them out for the one and only date of their lives. Twenty years on, their enigmatic personalities are embalmed in the memories of the boys who worshipped them and who now recall their shared adolescence: the brassiere draped over a crucifix belonging to the promiscuous Lux; the sisters’ breathtaking appearance on the night of the dance; and the sultry, sleepy street across which they watched a family disintegrate and fragile lives disappear. – from Goodreads.com

The tale of the Lisbon sisters is a tragic one, but fascinating to read none the less. I love how the story is told through the romanticised eyes of the boys that lusted after them. It’s such a unique device that really makes the book stand out.

So these are my recommendations for classic books, if you’re looking to expand your library more. Have you got any favourites you would like to recommend to me? Or have I missed out a few on your list? Let me know in the comments!

Bookish Places to Visit in England

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I love travelling as it is, but what I love more than that is travelling to places of literary interest. London is a great place to begin, it being the capital and all, especially as there are so many blue plaques to find. But there are many more places outside of London that you can visit. Here are a few I hope to get to in the near future.

Oxford

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Oxford is probably one of the most literary places in England! The origins of CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and even Lewis Carroll who attended Christ Church College. You might be aware of the famous Inklings who, together with Lewis and Tolkien, met often at the Eagle and Child pub to share their work. To top it off, even a few scenes of Harry Potter were filmed around the city.

Yorkshire

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Yorkshire is world-famous in particular for the Bronte family. Charlotte, Emily and Anne were three sisters who wrote some of the most prolific and well-loved classics, and they lived with the rest of their family in Haworth, a small town not too far from Leeds where their father was the priest there. Another noteworthy literary site is the burial place of Sylvia Plath in Heptonstall, which also resides not too far from Leeds.

Edinburgh

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I didn’t realise that Edinburgh was as literary as it is, but in fact, it is very literary! Arthur Conan Doyle was born and raised here, in 11 Picardy Place, where there is a Sherlock Holmes memorial statue and the Conan Doyle Pub to celebrate the writer’s life. JK Rowling also wrote the majority of the first few Harry Potter books in and around Edinburgh. The Elephant House Cafe boasts that it housed the writer as she was drafting the famous Potter books.

Dublin

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Dublin is home to many, many literary greats! Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker and James Joyce to name a few! It’s picturesque and hygge aesthetic is enough to set any blogger’s and book lover’s hearts alight! Joyce even based a short story anthology around the city he loved so dearly, titled Dubliners. If you’re looking for a bit more information on Dublin Writers History, there’s even a Writer’s Museum to get you clued up.

Devon

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In particular for fans of Agatha Christie, whose holiday home Greenway is now owned and maintained by the National Trust and well worth a visit if you’re a hardcore fan. Devon was also home to Sylvia Plath’s husband Ted Hughes, and was also the setting and inspiration for the popular Sherlock Holmes novel The Hound of the Baskervilles.

These five places are on top of my literary bucket list, and hopefully after this post, they’ll be on yours too. Is there anywhere you’d like to go and visit? Literary or otherwise? Let me know in the comments!

Underrated BookTube Channels

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There seems to be a big divide between those who are “Youtubers” and those who have YouTube channels, the former having subscribers coming out of their ears and the latter being uncovered diamonds. Success is not a bad thing AT ALL, but there are a lot of hidden gems that you’ll thank me for signposting your way.

All of these channels have under 100,000 subscribers.

WhittyNovels

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Whitney is a no nonsense kinda gal (with hysterical snapchat updates that are usually daily!), and speaks openly on gender studies, diverse books and has no problems calling out authors on problematic content! (See her review on Goodreads of November 9 by Colleen Hoover). She’s hilarious, inspiring and is incredibly creative. Check out her journal flip-throughs if you need convincing.

HaileyInBookland

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Hailey recently changed her YouTube channel name from HailsHeartsNYC to HaileyInBookland to reflect her deep love of Alice in Wonderland. In fact, you should subscribe purely for her Alice memorabilia haul. It’s awesome! Hailey posts regular videos such as hauls, reviews and unboxings. It’s a crime she hasn’t got more subscribers!

TashaPolis

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I’ve decided that Tasha is Queen of the Fangirls. Not only does she read a lot, but she also is a great lover of Once Upon a Time, one of my favourite TV shows. She uploads unboxings, reviews, hauls, tags, vlogs of book-ish events and so much more. You need to check her out because she is GOALS!

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Raeleen has a fantastic mix between YA books, graphic novels and adult books. One of my favourite reads Night Film by Marisha Pessl was down to her recommendation! She’s un-apologetically honest about disliking some books, particularly those that are over hyped. Raeleen paves her own way in the BookTube community and that’s something that should be celebrated!

LucyTheReader

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Lucy is not only the Queen of Contemporary, she’s also the Queen of Classics too! Her recommendations and reviews on all books, but particularly her classics, makes it inspiring to read books which we might find difficult. Lucy is such a pioneer of the UKYA book scene and her passion and love for books deserves to be recognised!

So these lovely ladies are the top five that I would pick for you to subscribe to. They really are a fantastic bunch with lots of differing opinions on books and all bring something unique to the BookTube table. Are any of these channels your favourites? Or do you have a favourite channel you think I’ve missed out? Let me know in the comments!

Most Anticipated TV Series in 2017

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Since the arrival of subscription TV like Netflix and Amazon Prime, the popularity of TV has shot through the roof. There is quite literally something for everyone out there, and I can happily say my TV tastes have broadened since I subscribed. So here are the top five TV shows I’m looking forward to watching in 2017.

These TV shows are in no particular order.

Beyond

Launching 2nd January 2017 on Freeform

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Beyond is about Holden, a young man who wakes up from a coma after 12 years and discovers new abilities that propel him into the middle of a dangerous conspiracy. – from IMDb

The main character is played by Burkely Duffield, who I know well from House of Anubis fame, and so when I saw his cheeky little face pop up on the trailer for Freeform’s new TV show, I knew I had to watch it. It looks right up my street!

Nicki

Launching Unknown on Freeform

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Nicki Minaj revealed on Instagram that the show is called “Nicki” and that Whoopi Golberg will have an appearance on the autobiographical comedy. – from IMDb

After this TV comedy was announced, I haven’t heard much about it since. There is no current release date, only that it’s in production with Freeform and is listed under their Upcoming Programming. It’s certainly something I’m interested in watching, as Nicki Minaj is an influential artist not only in pop culture but in the main stream media too.

Emerald City

Launching 6th January 2017 on NBC and Channel 5 (UK)

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A modern reimagining of the stories that led to ‘The Wizard of Oz’. – from IMDb

If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I LOVE retellings, whether it be classic literature, biographies, fairy tales, fables, anything and everything! So when I heard about Emerald City, ages and ages ago, I was waiting with baited breath for it to be released. Now, the wait is over! And to top it all off, it’s being released in the UK via Channel 5!

Big Little Lies

Launching 19th February 2017 on HBO

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While Madeline and Celeste take new in town single mom Jane under their wing, none of them realises how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all. Big little lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. – from IMDb

I first heard about this because I love to keep an eye on Shailene Woodley’s releases and what she’s up to, and so when I heard about this TV series AND the all star cast she was working with, I knew I had to watch it!

Thirteen Reasons Why

Launching January – April 2017 (?) on Netflix (?)

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Thirteen Reasons Why, based on the best-selling series by Jay Asher, follows teenager Clay Jensen in his quest to uncover the story behind his classmate and crush Hannah’s decision to end her own life. – from IMDb

Ever since I read the book back in 2014 there have been rumours that this novel was going to be made into something. I’ve heard rumours of a movie with Selena Gomez attached and, most consistently, a TV show, with and without Selena Gomez attached. Us fans of the book have waited and waited for a release date, a trailer, anything to wet our appetites and it’s only been in the last month that we’ve heard further rumours that this TV show will finally be released as a Netflix Original between January and April. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but I’m still holding out hope!

So that concludes the top five TV shows I’m looking forward to this year. Are you looking forward to them to? Or have I just led you to another labyrinth of binge watching for the New Year? (Sorry!) Let me know down in the comments!