My reading for January and February
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.
I was supposed to be in Austria right now running school workshops, but obviously that’s not happening. Like many other people right now I’m unemployed as my whole industry has stopped existing overnight. Seeing as I’ll be spending a lot of time at home in the foreseeable future, today seemed like a good time to have a big cleanup of the living room.
So here’s my room. I moved to this small unfurnished flat in October, and until the New Year I didn’t have a bed or enough shelves, so everything was in boxes all over the place, and it didn’t look great. The other room has both the living room stuff and my desk, which isn’t ideal. Photos of that will have to wait because it’s currently covered in a load of paperwork and art stuff.
I have a zine of articles about children’s writer Diana Wynne Jones (of Howl’s Moving Castle et al) I wrote this zine in 2011, also managing to interview her before she sadly died (you can also read the interview online here). The original edition was 1/6 of an A3 sheet, made on a Risograph machine. This was great when I still had access to an A3 Riso machine, but after I didn’t it was very expensive and difficult to reprint, so it went out of print. Recently I did a new edition, with all-new illustrations, in a much more convenient standard A6 size
When I was in Japan I went to the Studio Ghibli Museum just outside of Tokyo. Sadly pictures were not allowed inside, but I wrote about it in my zine of the trip. I highly recommend the museum, it’s magical. The bookshop was also stocked with Miyazaki’s own favourite books, as well as books related to the studio’s films. I didn’t buy anything, as they were all in Japanese, and it would take me forever to read anything, but I noted down a lot of less well-known books I saw in the shop to compile a reading list (helpfully the copyright tends to list the author’s names in roman text rather than try to make it fit katakana). Unfortunately I wasn’t able to write down the Japanese author’s names in most cases as reading unknown names written in kanji is very tricky. However Miyazaki made a list of classic children’s books (including a lot of the usual suspects like The Secret Garden) elsewhere which also includes some Japanese recommendations.
I haven’t found as many good charity shop items lately as over the summer, but there’s been the odd few things. I got this vase for £2, which I’ve planted an aloe vera in, for my own plant version of Sideshow Bob.
So it’s October now. The last few weeks I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Kent and Sussex. Job-hunting is boring and tedious, and has pushed back moving house. All my things are packed up in boxes, ready to go, but the going isn’t happening yet. I’ve also had tonisilitis for the last week, which is finally clearing up. I’ve got too many of my own projects I need to finish. So not the most fun of times, but hopefully it won’t drag on forever.
Here’s some interesting odds and ends:
The next issue of Being Editors will be about C.S.Lewis and Phillip Pullman. As a sneak preview, and to give contributors an idea of what my own religious (or more to the point, non-religious) background is, here is the article I wrote which leads in to another about why That Hideous Strength is a guilty pleasure- if you’d like to contribute, find out more here
That Hideous Strength has always been a weird guilty pleasure. I’m not a Christian, never have been, and didn’t grow up in a religious environment. People enjoy the Narnia books because they’re good children’s books and written with charm and wit, and they don’t Jesus you too hard (except for the last one). That Hideous Strength is nothing like that, the plot is weirdly cobbled together, and it’s full of railing against every single one of C.S.Lewis’ personal bugbears as a sexist old Christian university don of the 1950s, and he doesn’t bother to hide it. The relentless sexism, homophobia and evangelising makes me want to throw the book against the wall as the godless hell-bound pinko lefty I am, but it’s just so gleefully bizarre that I actually quite enjoy it and have re-read it countless times.
15 fun and effective ways to brush up on your foreign language skills.