January Reading pt 1

My goal this year is to read 100 books, but also regularly write small reviews of them. Here’s the first instalment, with Alan Garner, Seanan McGuire and Matt Wesolowski.

Categorised as Books

Margate Activity Books

I’ve made a children’s activity book about various locations in Margate, with open-ended drawing and writing activities that encourage observation, exploration and creativity, with very clear layouts and instructions. Suitable for age 7+.

March Reading I

In the Bonesetter’s Waiting Room, The Making of Home and Woman on the Edge of Time. Indian medicine, social history, the brutality of psychiatric hospitals and ecofeminist utopias.

Categorised as Books

Tim and the Hidden People

Tim and the Hidden People is a series of children’s school reading books from the late 70s/early 80s that a lot of schools had. They have a strange, bleak folk-horror atmosphere, and the illustrations in the first three collections are a little uncanny valley. Tim is always walking along lonely canal paths with strict instructions to not look over his shoulder and tie the silver string around a particular tree or else.

The Shame Pile

My living room has a very handy built-in bookshelf (although the amount of different compartments meant it took a long time when I moved in to paint over the old nicotine-stained paint). The majority of my books live on the bigger bookshelves in my bedroom, but the living room houses the Shame Pile.

Categorised as Books

Ichi-go ichi-e

This was my April 2014 piece for Storyboard , a writing site with monthly prompts run by a friend. I couldn’t think of a story idea, so I wrote a kind of essay instead.The theme that month was “Ichi-go ichi-e”: a never again moment. I couldn’t think of a story, so I decided to talk a little about ways other writers have handled the theme. I suppose you could call this a casual essay. I’m afraid it won’t be closely argued or meticulously footnoted, and it is quite loosely put together, but maybe it will give people some good recommendations of things to read

Ivan Bilibin

I thought while stuck at home I’d do regular posts showing things I like which other people may not have heard of. Ivan Bilibin was a Russian artist most famous for his lavishly illustrated books of fairy tales taking inspiration from Japanese wood prints, Russian icon painting and Ye Olde Slavonic script.

Diana Wynne Jones zine- digital edition

A few years back I made a zine with articles about writer Diana Wynne Jones (probably best known for writing Howl’s Moving Castle), and an interview I conducted with her before she sadly died. The paper edition is still available here, but for the foreseeable future I can only send physical copies to the UK. So I’ve made a digital edition for people to read.

2019 in Books

Every year I take part in the Good Reads challenge. My target this year was 52 books. I completed it with one for luck- 53 books this year. As I read each book I took a photo for instagram and gave a brief opinion- I’ve copied and pasted them all here. I’ve separated them into categories, but left them in the order read within the categories.

Categorised as Books

Caecilius est in Horto

If you study Latin in the UK, there’s a very good chance you will use the Cambridge Latin books from the 1970s. Although they’re forty years old, they’re still in print (and also on the Apple Store), and have a special place in people’s hearts. 

Magic Stories From Around the World (1986)

Here is another scan of a vintage book I have had since I was a child. This is a collection of myths and legends from around the world. It was originally Czech and translated to English, and has a large selection of central European stories less known in the UK, along with stories from places like the high Arctic and Polynesia. There are also lovely illustrations by three prominent Czech illustrators.

The Ghost Stories of M.R. James

Around this time of year on the Solstice there are two things I like to do as a personal tradition- go for a walk to Botany Bay around sunset and read the ghost stories of M.R. James. Includes full text of Whistle My Lad, and links to read the stories and watch the 1970s films for free.

Alternative London 1969/70

I found this book in a charity shop. It’s a practical guide to alternative living in London from 1969/70 covering a wide range of topics from rent laws, to sexuality, drugs and communes to join. This is the first edition, there were yearly updates throughout the 70s.

Cadbury’s Novelty Cookbook

I got this late 70s/early 80s book from a charity shop a while ago. A lot of families in the UK had it when I was a kid I think. I got it out because I promised to make my friend a really ludicrous birthday cake from inside. The recipes are fine, various flavoured sponge cakes with buttercream icing (albeit with gratuitous Cadbury’s product placement in every recipe). It’s the choice of cake themes in the book that’s a bit odd …

Diana Wynne Jones conference notes

A couple of weeks ago I went to an academic conference in Bristol focused on the works of Diana Wynne Jones. She is probably best known for writing the book that the Studio Ghibli film Howl’s Moving Castle was based on, but she has around thirty other books aimed at a variety of ages. Even the ones aimed at children have a surprising amount of psychological and literary depth, and a willingness to explore very dark issues not usually found in books for that age group, giving her work a huge appeal to adults and academics.

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