Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – by Gail Honeyman

19 04 2018

The main reason I bought this book is that it appeared EVERYWHERE. Every time I was in a shop I saw it, or at least that’s what it felt like! I read the back and thought it sounded like it was worth giving a go.

Eleanor is a woman of routine. She wears the same clothes, eats the same food, drinks the same vodka. You would be justified for thinking she’s a bit autistic, she certainly struggles with interaction with people, but before long you see that there’s clearly something dramatic in her past which has affected her greatly, but it’s only revealed little by little as you go.

Very funny in places, heartbreaking in others, very engaging overall!

The only thing I will say, I don’t want to put spoilers so I’ll try to keep this vague, but if you find you struggle with triggers regarding suicide attempts, it’d be best to maybe give this a miss.

There was a line, just a throwaway comment that I found fascinating!
“Eyelids are really just flesh curtains. Your eyes are always ‘on’, always looking; when you close them you’re watching the thin, veined skin of your inner eyelid rather than staring out at the world.”

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How not to be wrong, the hidden maths of everyday life – by Jordan Ellenberg

30 03 2018

Over 2 months on a book isn’t going to help at all with my 30 books in a year, but I promise it was a good book!

It’s full of interesting thoughts on lotteries, perspective, statistics, music, correlation, voting systems, sports, all sorts! Complicated in places, but he always starts a section at a level we can all understand, and at some points I just had to just read the words to get to the point I understood the next bit, but it’s all written in a way that makes it fairly easy to read!

That all said, it was lovely to delve back into the world of maths, stretching my brain, seeing what I could remember, and enjoying some of the common sense that is shared.

As with any book of this sort it is of course full of gems, so here are some I particularly enjoyed:

  • “Dividing one number by another is mere computation; figuring out what you should divide by what is mathematics.”
  • “Improbable things happen a lot.”
  • “The natural logarithm is the one you always use if you’re a mathematician or if you have e fingers.”
  • “Mathematics as currently practised is a delicate interplay between monastic contemplation and blowing stuff up with dynamite.”
  • “In real life, mathematicians are a pretty ordinary bunch, no madder than the average.”
  • “I’ve found that in moments of emotional extremity there is nothing like a math[sic] problem to quiet the complaints the rest of the psyche serves up.”
  • “I encourage you to write directly in the book, if it’s not borrowed from the library or displayed on a screen.”
  • “An inelegant axiom is like a stain in the corner of the floor; it doesn’t get in your way, per se, but it’s maddening, and one spends an inordinate amount of time scrubbing and scouring and trying to make the surface nice and clean.”
  • “Genius is a thing that happens, not a kind of person.”
  • “[The stereotype is that mathematicians are] determined to compute everything to as many decimal places as possible. It isn’t so. We want to compute everything to as many decimal places as necessary.”
  • “Mathematics, the extension of common sense by other means.”





The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year – by Sue Townsend

21 01 2018

The title is incredibly appealing… Shortly after Christmas I watched a documentary on Sue Townsend and remembered this had been on my shelf waiting to be read for ages 🙂

Eva Beaver (yup, that’s her married name) has just sent her twins Brian Jr and Brianne (yup, their Dad/her husband is called Brian) off to Uni and as soon as they’re gone, before her husband gets back, she goes to bed. It’s the first time she’s not had to be responsible for looking after her children and she’s going to make the most of it!

Of course, there are a few initial problems to resolve – bathroom, food, etc, and some marriage issues! Her mum and mother in law along with a handyman who she befriends all help with delivering food and keeping an eye on her, but gradually word spreads about the woman who doesn’t leave her bed, and people start wanting to know why. Is it spiritual? Does she have powers? Is she protesting something? People start coming to her for advice and camping out on the street. It feels a bit like that scene in Forrest Gump when he runs for no reason but people can’t cope with the idea there’s not *some* reason for it!

There’s some really weird stuff that goes on with various relationships and thought processes, but it wouldn’t be Sue Townsend if that wasn’t the case!





Some kind of wonderful – by Giovanna Fletcher

7 01 2018

My friend bought me this for Christmas, so it was a good book to start the year with.

Lizzy has been dating Ian for 10 years she was 18 and is desperately waiting for a proposal, so when that comes crashing down, she has to rediscover how to function on her own and see how much she’s changed in that time.

There’s no point trying to claim this is sophisticated literature, but it’s a comfortable, easy read (evidenced by the fact I read nearly 400 words in 6 days!), and it’s fairly warm and fuzzy. Definitely enjoyed it 🙂





A Christmas Carol – by Charles Dickens

31 12 2017

Finished just in time for the end of the year!

I never thought I’d manage to read a Dickens, but gave this a go for a few reasons

  1. It’s only 129 pages long.
  2. I know the basic story from films so it can’t be too tricky.
  3. It’s Christmas!

Even with that it took a long longer than I expected, but I’d like to partly put that down to the busy-ness of December and having a couple of magazines to get through as well.

My main knowledge of the story comes from The Muppet Christmas Carol, which means that no matter how hard I tried, every time Bob Crachit appeared, all I saw in my mind was Kermit the Frog, and Scrooge was most certainly Michael Caine!

Oh, and a chick flick [loosely] based on the plot if that’s more your cup of tea is Ghost of Girlfriends Past.

Much as I really had to concentrate to get through it at times, it really was heartwarming and worth the effort.

Favourite line: “It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.”





How to Stop Time – by Matt Haig

2 12 2017

I tried so hard to wait for paperback but I’ve given in and got the hardback! …and now they’ve brought forward the paperback release date to less than 2 weeks time, but oh well!

So, how to explain this. Tom is 439 years old, but he only looks like he’s in his 40s. He ages about 1 year for every 15 actual years. While this sounds like a bonus it brings it’s troubles. His mother was accused of being a witch (which in those days was a huge deal), and he has to move every 8 years or so because people start to get suspicious as to why he doesn’t seem to age. Many moons ago he had a daughter and while her mother has clearly passed on, she had the same condition and so his focus is on finding her. In the present day he takes a job in a London school to be closer to his roots.

Of course the book jumps around in time quite a bit, from his youth through to the present day, which I think is what slowed me down a bit. Sometimes I only read a page or two at a time, and it takes most of that time to work out where on earth you were last time you picked up the book!

Matt Haig is just a brilliant writer, it took me a while to get into the book, but even when you’re not quite there with the plot yet, he just has some absolute gems of quotes that pop up and keep you going ’til you’re hooked! Some favourites below:

  • “Possibility is everything that has ever happened. The purpose of science is to find out where the limits of possibility end.”
  • “I never tired of the way birds moved when they weren’t in flight It was a series of tableaux rather than continuous movement. Staccato. Stuck moments.”
  • “I am good with pain. Small price to pay for being alive.”
  • “The very reason such music exists is because it is a language that couldn’t be communicated in any other way.”
  • “Don’t hoard [sorrows] like they are precious. There is always plenty of them to go around.”
  • “The main lesson of history is: humans don’t learn from history.”
  • “I have only been alive for four hundred and thirty-nine years, which is of course nowhere near long enough to understand the minimal facial expressions of the average teenage boy.”
  • “There is a crowd. Only this is a twenty-first century crowd, so everyone’s macabre fascination is tempered with at least the semblance of concern.”
  • “Yes, there had been a void inside me, but voids were underrated. Voids were empty of love but also pain.”
  • “Many of us have every material thing we need, so the job of marketing is now to tie the economy to our emotions, to make us feel like we need more by making us want things we never needed before. We are made to feel poor on thirty thousand pounds a year. To feel poorly travelled if we have been to only ten other countries. To feel old if we have a wrinkle.”
  • “It is not bad when you know someone, just when you first meet them.”
  • “She had [a panic attack] on the plane, coming back from Australia, but I hardly even noticed, except she became quite still.”
  • “You have to keep walking forwards. But you don’t always need to look ahead Sometimes you can just look around and be happy right where you are.”
  • And a poem he threw in partway through:

    Skyscrapers

    I
    Like
    The way
    That when you
    Tilt
    Poems
    On their side
    They
    Look like
    Miniature
    Cities
    From
    A long way
    Away.
    Skyscrapers
    Made out
    Of words.





Anne of Windy Willows – by L M Montgomery

28 10 2017

Book four chronologically in Anne’s life, though this one was actually written 20 years after most of the others. A newly engaged Anne moves to Summerside to become principal of a high school and lodges with two widows in a house called “Windy Willows”. A lot of the book is written as her letters to Gilbert, maybe a half and half split with that and general narrative. She spends three years there while Gilbert is at medical school, and doesn’t get off to the easiest start.

The majority of Summerside either seem to be the Pringle family or have some Pringle blood of them of some sort, and they seem to gang up against Anne initially. But Anne being Anne, she finds her way! From there we meet lots of different people over the three years, very few characters get featured the whole way through other than the little girl, little Elizabeth, who lives next door with her Grandmother and “the woman”, who feed and clothe her well enough, but don’t show anything by way of affection, so in time Anne befriends her and that relationship blossoms beautifully! Elizabeth goes by many different names, depending on how she is feeling: Betty, Beth, Elsie, Bess, Elisa and Lisbeth. “But not Lizzie; I can never feel like Lizzie.”

Anne seems to be not a matchmaker as such, but definitely gets involved in pushing a couple of couples forward in their relationship who have for various reasons not got engaged or married yet. Somehow it’s written so that you feel it’s entirely justified and gives each couple a happy ending!

My only real frustration with this book was a couple of times when we meet someone who is meant to be annoying and talking non stop without Anne or anyone getting a word in edge-ways. But the way it’s written you end up reading pages and pages of this irrelevant annoying waffle and actually don’t care! It makes the point well, but did make me want to skip pages at times.

This book was publish 3 years before World War 2, so it was sad to read the following: “It’s impossible to think of Canada ever being at war again. I am so thankful that phase of history is over.”

Of course, these books always provide some wonderful one liners, maybe not as many as in the other books, but still!

  • “I’ve always liked washing dishes. It’s fun to make dirty things clean and shining again.”
  • “[Babies] are what I heard somebody at Redmond call ‘terrific bundles of potentialities’. […] But I think I’m glad Judas’s mother didn’t know he was to be Judas, I hope she never did know.”
  • “If we were all beauties, who would do the work?”
  • “But there’s one consolation: you’ll be spared an awful lot of trouble if you die young.”