What else I read in November 2016

In a previous post I wrote about three books I read in November.  I also mentioned some library books I had borrowed.  These were War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, which I spotted as I took a detour through the children’s section on my way to the grown ups’ one.  It had been put on display for Remembrance.  Michael Morpurgo writes brilliantly.  I decided that as it was already well into November it was unlikely that I was depriving a young person of this book.  In any case I returned it quickly.  It is told from the view point of a horse (as is Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty), but to my mind War Horse is better.  It is set in Britain and Europe during World War II.  That is as much as I am going to write about the plot.  Perhaps you have read it or seen the film.  (I am not a regular movie-goer.)  I recommend this book.  It moved me to tears.

The next book I read in the section for local interest books.  It was a self-published book produced around 20 years ago.  At first I struggled with the font and the lack of editing in the early chapters.  However the author had put a story together with a lot of interesting background information about places I have visited.  Most of the history was told as dialogue by various characters without distinctive voices.  Of the two main characters only the story of one reached a conclusion.  What the other would decide to do was left as a question mark.  The book is illustrated with line drawings.  It is set during the Wars of the Roses.  At least the author has a few books to her name, which is more than I have!  Her other books are humorous farming tales, which do not appeal to me.

The third library book was where my heart used to beat by Sebastian Faulks.  I wondered at the beginning, whether this was a book I really wanted to read.  However I continued and found that it was a fascinating book, dealing with some interesting ideas about treatments for mental illnesses.  I read another book by Sebastian Faulks several years ago – Human Traces, which explores similar issues in another work of fiction.


What I read in June 2016

I have been reading fiction and non-fiction in June.

During Mental Health Awareness Week I retweeted a tweet from Lion Hudson and was surprised a couple of weeks later to learn that I had won a book.  The book I received at the beginning of June was Stress: How to de-stress without doing less by Dr Kate Middleton.  At least here in the UK The author’s name is memorable as it was also the maiden name of a young lady, who married into the royal family!

I reviewed Stress soon after I read it over on Sue’s considered trifles.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

I also read six works of fiction.  (Two before Stress and four after.)

Being Miss by Fran Hill is a light-hearted look at a day in the life of a teacher in a private school in England.  The link is to a kindle edition, but I read a paperback copy.

The Silver Chair is from the Narnia series by CS Lewis.  For some reason I have not found the story of this book as memorable as some of the others.  In the few days before writers met at Scargill House in Yorkshire, there had been a family event on the theme of The Silver Chair.  On my return home I reread it.  This time I enjoyed it more than I had previously.  Eustace (a character from my favourite of the Narnia series – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) features in this story along with a girl from the dreadful school he attended.

The Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier is an earthy historical novel set in North America in the time of Queen Victoria’s reign.  I have read several of Tracy Chevalier’s earlier books and am going to look out for a couple I have missed.  She writes extremely well; her books are always well-researched and approach her subject matter from an unusual angle.

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells is not by the originator of the characters, Bertie Wooster and his man-servant, Jeeves, but by Sebastian Faulks.  This book is a tribute to P.G.Wodehouse.  It maintains the same light-hearted style and the scheming of the characters is likely to keep readers turning the pages.  The layout of the paperback copy I borrowed from the library has more white space between the lines than the Penguin books by P.G. Wodehouse on my bookshelf. One of the reasons for writing the book was to introduce new (younger) readers to the original.  This would seem to be an effective way of doing so. It is a very funny book.

Chosen? by Mel Menzies is the second of the Evie Adams books.  I was a little disappointed by the layout of this book, but once I became lost in the story I stopped noticing the minor irritations.  I reviewed the first of these books, Time to Shine, last year. This latest book looks at family relationships and has some unexpected twists in the plot. I enjoyed it.

Losing Face by Annie Try tells a story using emails with Word documents attached to them.  The authors of these are two teenage girls.  Although one of the girls has suffered severe injuries in a road traffic accident, she attempts to reassure her friend (and the reader) that nothing she is about to read will be too gruesome. It is a well-written book about peer-pressure, friendship and many issues of relevance to young people.  The unusual format keeps the sections short and makes it easy to keep turning the pages.  I found that it worked extremely well.  It is an emotional read, but well worth the effort.


Just a trifle

This post is what I have written for this month’s meeting of the writing group I joined last year.  The prompt “Just a trifle” was really about how a detail can bring a piece of narrative to life.  Considering the names of my blogs, I could not resist writing about them.

One of the piano pieces I learned to play while I was still at junior school was called “Un petit rien”.  The editorial notes above the music explained that the phrase meant “A trifle”.  Once I began to learn French I realised that it actually meant “A little nothing”.

My Grandad asked a riddle.

“What is smaller than nothing?”

We were puzzled.

“The dot on the middle,” he told us.

We were still puzzled.

He fetched paper and a pencil.  First he drew the shape of a nought (or zero as we are learning to say.)  Next he put a dot in the middle.  “That’s smaller than nothing!”

Smaller than nothing

Smaller than nothing

So a trifle is something insignificant – or is it?

When I began my first blog in July 2012 I needed a name for it.  As it was going to be about sayings and perhaps proverbs, I thought a name along those lines would be appropriate.  Registering for a free WordPress blog, I needed a name, which had not already been used.

I tried “catintheadage” – it had gone.  So had “consideredtrifles”.  That was an abandoned blog about food.  Later in the day I tried “suesconsideredtrifles”.  It was mine!

After about eight months, having caught the blogging bug, I was debating whether or not to start a new blog.  I decided that if I could have Sue’s Trifles, I’d definitely do so.  I could and I did.  Sue’s Trifles now has 500 posts.  These range from craft posts to responses to blogging challenges, points of view and more besides.  A blogger wrote a memorable comment on a post I published about mental health.  She thanked me for tackling a not-at-all trifling subject.

Out of my 500 posts only three have been specifically about mental health, but one of those has the most votes as a 5 star post.  It is in my top five most-viewed posts.

My most popular post for a long time was the first craft one I wrote. It was about a pin cushion I made at the craft group using Cathedral window patchwork.  That has now been overtaken by a knitting one about enlarging the neck of a child’s sweater.  Two posts linked with other sites have also been viewed more than most.  One about overcoming shyness was featured on a site for bloggers over-40 and the other was the reflections post after this year’s A to Z challenge.

One of my favourite trifles is this, written in response to the prompt: Three people walked into a bar.

Three men walked into a bar.  They didn’t do it on purpose.

It was a dark and stormy night.  The electricity had gone off, so there were no street lights.  They had been in a bar earlier and were a bit the worse for wear.

They decided to take a short cut down a side street.  They were walking three abreast with their arms linked for mutual support.  They didn’t see the alley gate – a red and white striped bar across the road.

Three men walked into a bar.  Ouch!