Sunday, June 29, 2008

Top 100 Books Meme

I found this meme on My Bit About Me by Rachel and I thought it might be fun to do. Please consider yourself "tagged" if you want to do it too!

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed.

A) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
B) Italicize those you intend to read.
C) Underline the books you LOVE
D) Colour pink if you've seen the movie (you can also bold if you've read the book as well).
E) Colour green if you began reading it but couldn't finish it. If you need to colour pink and green - good luck!

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling I enjoyed some of the early ones but got bogged down later. I quite liked the one film I saw, except that it made me want a broomstick. I wonder if they'll bring out jet-powered ones some day.
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible All of it. Sorry but it's true. I have an excuse but you probably won't want to hear it. Come to think of it, it's not a very good excuse.
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy - I may have read this at school but I'm not sure.
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare I read a lot of these for my degree but I haven't read the whole lot!
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger - I think I may have read this a long time ago but I can't remember.
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald Read for a course.
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen Can't remember if I finished it or not.
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen I know I've read Northanger Abbey, which I loved. I'm pretty sure I read one other but I don't know if it was this one or not
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis - a bit of double counting here, I notice.
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden I say I'm going to read these three but whether I ever will is anyone's guess.
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins (but I heard it on the radio)
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell - I hadn't even heard of this one.
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro I think that "Never Let Me Go" should be in the list, too.
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton I couldn't get enough of these when I was a kid.
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery in French and in English
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks - but I have read "The Crow Road" and loved it.
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I've read around 35 of them, allowing for faulty memory in both directions. This is a lot fewer than most of the other blogs I checked out as I followed this meme back to its source. I notice I mainly liked anything sci fi, anything for kids, and anything crappy but popular (e.g. The Da Vinci Code). Hey ho, we can't all be the brightest spark in the toolbox.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Where do all the good posts go?

I'm walking into town, enjoying the fresh air and the greenery. It's streets all the way but with pretty houses and gardens, and hedges between the pavement and the road. There are two houses joined across the road by an archway. As I walk, I turn over in my mind what to put on this blog next. Ideas swarm into my head and I write two or three killer posts before I get into town.

I have a look round the shops and wander back. I get home. I sit at the pc. My mind is completely empty. Most people have to practice Zen Buddhism for years to get a mind as empty as mine now is.

Where do all the good posts go?

Friday, June 27, 2008

The LOL Meter

I have shamelessly stolen this from Dennis Cass' blog. He proposes a new widget:
LOL Meter
Yes, you LOL'd. But how much did you LOL? And was it is a sad, rueful LOL? Or the innocent, joyous LOL-ing of a young girl? And, while we're at it, are we even LOL-ing for the same reason? Attach a microphone to your computer and it captures, records and sorts all your LOLs. Social network feature allows you to compare and share with friends. You'll never ROTF the same way again.

This is obviously a brilliant and funny idea. I wondered if we could maybe avoid having to embrace the new technology with all its attendant hiccups (do hiccups attend?) by simply inventing a few more LOLs. At the moment we have hehe, LOL, ROTFL and ROTFLMAO. Which additional ones do you think we need? If we all agree on some maybe we can start a new meme out there in blogland and even right across the interwebs as my son tells me it's called.

My suggestions
SS: Snorting Snigger
SCOK: Spews Coffee Onto Keyboard
HHWG: Hits Head While Groaning

I'm sure you have some much better ones.

Oh, and do go and visit Dennis Cass, he's very funny and so is his YouTube video.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I won!

You remember I said that Book Roast was giving out prizes? Well, I entered one of their daily competitions and I've won a copy of the book Head Case by Dennis Cass. I'm so excited: I didn't think I'd be chosen.

The task each day is to read an excerpt from the chosen book and answer three questions. The questions (and my answers) for Head Case were:

1) Describe Dennis' feet in an inspirational haiku.

Dew on rose blossom
Shines, reflecting clear light on
Spider-hairy toes.

2) Continue the internal monologue, beginning with the line, "I'm astounded by how much you suck." Limit, 100 words.

"But hang on, who is this 'I' that is talking to this 'me'? If I'm thinking, who am I thinking to? And if I'm thinking then I must exist. Cogito ergo sum. Who said that? It was Descartes. Hey guys, I've just discovered that I'm Descartes."

3) Are Dennis' wits automatic or manual?


Anyway, I just wanted to share that with you because I'm excited and can hardly wait to read the book.

(By the way, sorry for clicking "enter" before the post was finished.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Visit to the art gallery

I'm sorry I'm not posting much at the moment but I seem to have real life keep happening.

On Monday we went to the National Gallery as planned and it was very swish. We were offered canapés from transparent acrylic frames that looked like mini bookcases, and the soft drink on offer was a mint/peach smoothie. Very odd. My husband had the sparkling wine. There was a live clarinettist there too, playing some very unstructured jazzy music. Not to my taste but it was definitely posh. I don't know if any of you have seen the National Gallery but it's a huge building with high ceilings and enormous rooms. You can see a slide show of it here.

I loved seeing the pictures. It's so different from seeing a reproduction. I remember when I first took my kids to the art gallery and we were all taken with the sheer size of some of the paintings. If you reduce a 6 foot by 8 foot painting to an A4 reproduction, you're bound to lose some of the sense of it.

Later, we walked over the river to Waterloo Station. The South Bank is such fun: there was an interactive display of light columns and we queued for our turn to wander round it. We're so lucky to live near London.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

My kittens

I promised pictures and here they are. I can't take the kittens home yet, though. They need at least a couple more weeks with their Mum.

This is Bonnie.

This is Frankie Marmaduke asleep with Georgie. (Georgie isn't one of ours.)

This is Frankie Marmaduke awake.

I like the name Bonnie but my family wants to rename the cats. I'm not much good at naming and I'm struggling to come up with something. I've had Mittens suggested, and Garlic. My husband's suggestions weren't helpful. Maybe we should have a "Name the Cat" competition.

Friday, June 20, 2008


A friend from Eastbourne is popping in tonight and I'm visiting my friend in Catford tomorrow to see my kittens. Yes, the lovely lady with the cats really does live in Catford. I shall try to remember to take my camera so we can all share the love with some kitten photos.

Then I shall no doubt spend some time with my other half on Sunday. Doesn't real life get in the way of the internet at times?

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Legalize Books

I found this cartoon on Toothpaste for Dinner and couldn't resist it.

Robin's Challenge

Robin has bravely recorded her voice on her blog so that we can all hear how she sounds. Very nice, is the answer. Anyway, she's challenged us to give snippets of our voices too, so I've recorded a short "Hello from England" video.

Boy, did that test the limits of my techie ability! I could record a sound snippet using my headphone mike but but I couldn't save it and the quality was poor. Then I used my webcam but had trouble finding where I'd put the files on my hard drive. Then I couldn't log on to YouTube because I'd forgotten my login. Well, fairyhedgehog was taken and I forgot I'd added my age at the end. Not that I should need YouTube, but Blogger can't seem to process the video. Sometimes this techie stuff is just far too complicated.

Anyway, I think I'm blathering because I didn't like how it came out: I managed fine the first time but the recording was poor and when I re-recorded it didn't come out the same. Oh well, here it is anyway.

Anyone else up for letting us hear your voice? Sylvia? Jessi? Anyone?

The limits of creativity

In the last few weeks I've made an elaborate birthday card for my son, a window cling for the window by the front door (see above), started knitting a winter hat and bought the materials to make a silver dolly bag to go with a some shoes I bought to wear to two weddings. I've now ordered a crochet bolero pattern so I can make a top to go over my dress for the weddings.

I haven't written a word of my story. Of any story.

Do you think that creativity has to come out somehow and if it's coming out in one direction it doesn't come out in another? I seem to be all art and crafts at the moment and nothing about writing.

Book Roast

I couldn't resist the offer of the chance to win some amazing prizes:
gifts from Dubai, gift certificates from Amazon, a nicely salted copy of "Lottery," miscellaneous items from the back of our kitchen cabinets (we spare no expense!)

All you have to do to get entered into a prize draw is to announce the opening of the new blog Book Roast on your blog. Each week Book Roast is going to feature books from five different authors and genres. There will be the chance to win a copy of each book by answering three questions about it.

It sounds like it might be fun for anyone who likes books or competions or both. Heck, it's got Blogless Troll on the panel, it has to be good.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Private viewing

My husband has got free tickets for us to go to a private viewing at the National Gallery. It's Italian paintings of the same era as the Impressionists. I think! He wasn't entirely clear about it.

I'm guessing it's the exhibition called Radical Light, showcasing the work of "Italy's Divisionist Painters, 1891 - 1910".

I'd never heard of these paintings before and I'm looking forward to going and seeing them. I shall probably take the time to go and look at some of my favourite paintings if I can. I love the National Gallery.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Favourite poem

I realised that I haven't included much poetry in this blog. Mostly because I'm not particularly into poetry but there are some that stand out for me.

I was reminded recently of one of my favourites. It's variously quoted and I'll give you the version I know best which maybe isn't the most accurate.
O Westron Wind when wilt thou blow?
The small rain down can rain.
Christ! That my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again.


I love the sudden switch from the beautiful evocation of boredom and grey rainy days to the sudden longing for the lover. I prefer short poems on the whole.

Monday, June 16, 2008

"Death and Life"

– Charles Carroll Bombaugh, Gleanings for the Curious from the Harvest-Fields of Literature, 1890

While I was Stumbling around online, I found this unusual poem on a blog called Futility Closet. There are a lot of interesting oddities on the blog, not all to do with words.

I rather like this poem. I think it has something to do with the sense I had of solving a puzzle the first time I read it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Which book are you?

You're The Mists of Avalon!

by Marion Zimmer Bradley

You're obsessed with Camelot in all its forms, from Arthurian legend
to the Kennedy administration. Your favorite movie from childhood was "The Sword in the Stone". But more than tales of wizardry and Cuban missiles, you've focused on women. You know that they truly hold all the power. You always wished you could meet Jackie Kennedy.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

I came across this thanks to Writer at Work. It's quite good fun, especially if you take it several times with different answers to see what results you get. The questions branch out, so what you get as your second question depends on the answer to your first one. The picture above of The Mists of Avalon was my second attempt as I didn't like the Prufrock I got the first time.

If I were to choose a book that really reflects my life, it would have to be one where the protagonist always does the next thing that seems like a good idea at the time and looking back it seems as if there was some sort of plan to it. I prefer science fiction though.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Extreme editing

I had an idea for extreme editing where you could remove all the definite and indefinite articles from a piece, together with all the pronouns. Perhaps you could also remove adverbs, I don't know. It would be a quick and easy way to reduce, say, 500 words down to 300. I tried it and it didn't work.

Later on, I came across the draft post where I had outlined the idea and all I saw was the title. This prompted a much more interesting idea. I'm sure you've heard of extreme ironing. Well, how about making editing more exciting by using a similar formula? You could have editing underwater, up Mount Everest and at the North Pole.

If you like the idea, then don't let me hold you back. I don't even need the credit for it. I'll just sit back and watch.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


I love getting bookmarks for presents but I always warn people to give me disposable bookmarks as they tend to get lost. I also use anything to hand as a bookmark because I don't like to dogear my books. So I use train tickets, receipts and advertising flyers as bookmarks, until they disappear.

I'm not sure what happens to them but perhaps they they get left in the books I was reading. I've just found a wonderful article Found in Books from Abebooks, detailing some of the more unusual objects they have found being used as bookmarks. These included dollar bills, a hand-painted handkerchief and a list of scheduled operations at a hospital. The article is well worth a look.

I suppose the moral is: don't use anything as a bookmark that you wouldn't want other people to see.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Sending my inner editor on holiday.

There's just been a writing exercise over at Evil Editor and I enjoyed submitting a distorted fairy tale. This is in contrast to my "novel", if that's what it is, which has stalled.

Writing short pieces is good fun and maybe that's what I need to prime the pump. I think a little bit of me is worried I'll take my novel in the wrong direction, whereas the pressure is off on a 250 word exercise. I think my inner editor must be due for a holiday.

It's fun sharing what I've written too. With a novel, sharing too much too soon seems to be counterproductive as folks want to tell me where to take it next. With a short piece it just doesn't matter.

If you're lucky (or possibly if you're unlucky) I may post my piece on here. I'm not sure if it will make sense to anyone who hasn't found Evil Editor though.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

How did you find me?

I have the feeling that some people who land on this blog might be disappointed. If you had typed the following search terms into Google, would you expect to land here?
desert island cabin record playing search

bad spelling example

put your cup down

or the very odd
squirt with a machina

But saddest of all must be the person who was searching simply for

I don't think they found any in here.

In case anyone is interested, I'm using statcounter to see how many visitors I get and it includes information on what links people clicked to find me. It seems that a lot of you found this blog through other blogs but a few people found their way here via a search engine.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Naughty words worry librarians

If you've read my earlier posts about strong language, you'll know that I'm not in favour of censorship. I've just come across a particularly silly example, through the Effing Librarian blog. It pointed me to the article This Post is Rated X in The Library Journal, where I read that one library is not allowing users to review books in case they use bad language.

I am almost speechless at the stupidity of this. I think that the likelihood of someone taking the trouble to get into the catalogue and review a book purely for the sake of using offensive words has got to be slim. My own local library allows user reviews: the main problem is that hardly anyone bothers with this, not that the reviews are offensive.

I tried to find the name for a "fear of strong language" but the best I could come up with was maledictophobia. I'm not sure it's the right word but it's more specific than "bloody stupid", which was my initial reaction.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

My book has run out

I've just finished Whit by Iain Banks for the second time. I really enjoyed the book, which is about the power struggles within a religious cult. The narrator, Isis, is naive about the outside world and when she is forced to make a journey to Babylondon to find her cousin and bring her back into the fold she gradually uncovers more and more secrets about the sect in which she grew up.

I found the book compelling. I love the way that Iain Banks can get into a character's head and his depiction of the way Isis thinks rings true.

My problem is that I've reached the end of the book so what do I do now? I can't bear to be without a book in my hand but I'm not ready yet to read something else So, I've started a knitting project and played garden darts with my husband and son.

When it comes to bedtime I'm going to have to give in and take the Ian Rankin book that's next on my list up to bed with me. I can't go to bed without a book.

What do you do when your book runs out?
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