13 Apr 2009

A Day Late & A Dollar Short

I think you should know that I am always, reliably, late. Hence list day being today instead of yesterday. But easter monday is practically a sunday in anycase. Still in Wales - albeit with sunburn now. yes, really, sunburn. Instead of looking like an undead creature, I am now still undead looking with patches of red.

Onto the lists. Was going to do a *comedy* list of places SB + I are NOT going on Honeymoon. Except I might actually cry. With some of the ideas we are coming up with, it would appear that we have not met each other before, instead of dating for 7 years. In 7 years, I don't think I've ever mentioned hiking as a hobby. Yet, top of SB's list for the honeymoon is - you guessed it - a hiking trip. How romantic. (please I am sure there are a whole load of you out there going *well, a hiking honeymoon would be romantic, is she crazy* - but if so, I would advise you to reconsider your knowledge about the author of this blog) Just realised that the above sentence assumes there are multiple readers of this blog - who are not people that actually know me.

Anyway, it appears we're going to Innsbruck for two weeks. I can live out my Heidi/Chalet girls ambitions/wear a dirndl (whatever that is)/buy SB lederhosen and SB can go trekking and swimming and ogle girls in dirndls. Plus, its cheap as it's out of ski season.

Anyway, onto actual list. List of favourite books. this could go on for awhile. When I worked in a bookshop I frequently got told off for hiding behind the restocking cart and reading......

1) The Handmaids Tale - Margaret Atwood. Offred and her tale of oppression is, in my opinion, one of the most unique and original novels ever written. If you are even remotely interested in feminism and the repression of women you should read this book. It is fantastically gripping - and I don't even like utopian literature - and completely mind expanding. The film is pretty good too - with the now sadly deceased Natasha Richardson in it. READ THIS BOOK

2) The Secret History - Donna Tartt. An amazing novel, even more amazing given it's a debut novel. Set in an elite private college in upstate New England, the story revolves around the antics of some snobbish, intellectual Classics scholars - and how a single action blows apart their carefully hidden lives. Horrifying and amusing by turns, this book will keep you gripped until the end. However, bear in mind, this is not an average thriller but a challenging read that will keep you going until the last page. Definitely one for long winter evenings with a big mug of hot chocolate.

3) American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis. Not for thos with weak stomachs. The premise of the book revolves around Patrick Bateman, our charismatic, handsome narrator. Set on Wall Street in 80's New York, Bateman goes on a nihilist, violent killing spree across his chums, colleagues and unfortunate others that get in his path. Or does he? Through out the book he hammers home the point that Yuppie culture is shallow, selfish and pointless. And yet we are treated to the inner workings of Patrick's mind - does he really commit horrendous acts of violence - or are they just the sick fantasies of his twisted mind. This book really proves that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover - and that you can never really know someone. The book is also incredibly funny - and watch out for Patrick's endless pages of monologues about the band Genesis. Also a great film starring Patrick Bale.

*** It is worth noting that Donna Tartt was at college with, and allegedly dated Bret Easton Ellis. Apparently he is the inspiration for one of the characters in The Secret History but I'll let you decide which one.

4) Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier. "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again". A wonderful gothic romance set in a beautiful but creepy mansion in Cornwall. Narrated by the nameless second wife of Maxim De Winter, it revolves around the mysterious death of Maxim's first wife - the legendary Rebecca and the repercussions this has across his second marriage. Ultimately tragic and completely compelling, this book is a great read for a holiday - and certainly the main characters are completely unforgettable - as anyone who has seen the fantastic Laurence Olivier film will testify.

5) The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold. A dreamy read, narrated by Susie Salmon (who is brutally raped + killed at the start of the book), from heaven as she watches over her family, friends, killer and the detective working on her case. A beautiful, wonderful book that really made me think about my concepts of heaven and life after death - and equally how a family and a community survive and carry on after a violent death. I won't say anymore, but if you chose one book from my list to read, this should be it. You can read this one anywhere.

6) The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini. This book has had a lot of publicity recently - as has his second novel Thousand Splendid Suns. As quite rightly. Both novels tell of life under the Taliban in 70's + 80's Afghanistan, from a male point of view (Kite Runner) and female point of view (Suns) and are essentially coming of age novels. They are both eye opening in terms of the subject matter, particularly as our views of the Taliban/Afghanistan are so coloured by the media. Easy to get into, and gripping and emotional to the last page, again these are books you can read anywhere. The movie of the Kite Runner is also fantastic - but take some tissues!

7) Atonement - Ian McEwan. A fantastic enthralling, romantic, tragic novel told from multiple points of view. which most of you are probably familliar with from the recent film starring Keira Knightley (eurghhhhh but lovely dress) and the ever foxy James McAvoy (yum). A tragic chain of events is set in place when 13 year old Briony Tallis witnessed an event and completely miscontrues it. Set during in the 1940's and then the early 1990's, this novel brings to life the difficulties of living during WW2 and the social niceties of the upper class.

8) Fairy Tale - Alice Thomas Ellis. Quirky and unusual, Fairy Tale is simultaneously bizarre and humourous -and a great introduction to Ellis' unique writing style. Seventeen year old Eloise - and her lover Simon, have moved to a remote cottage in the Welsh countryside. Strange events start to happen to Eloise and 4 men in suits appear at the cottage - but who are they and what do they want? In the second half of the novel Eloise returns from a walk with a baby in ancient wicker cradle - but where has the baby come from, what does it have to do with the men in suits - and what will happen to Eloise? Fantastically atmospheric and entertaining, this is a gem of a novel I discovered long forgetten on a library shelf - and loved it so much I bought my own copy. I've never met anyone else who's read it, but you can buy a copy on Amazon.

9) Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell. A fantastic belle-epoque epic. I don't think there is anything I can say about this that hasn't already been said. From the opening page with Scarlett complaining that she has nothing to wear (!), to the very end "Tomorrow is another day" after Rhett has left and Scarlett is flung across the staircase. I can't read this book without picturing the gorgeous Vivien Leigh. A vintage heroine for modern times and a surprisingly easy to read epic - I first read this when I was 14.

10) Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture - Douglas Coupland. I couldn't really not have this. It's where I got the inspiration for my blog name from. I first selected this book in the library as it has a bright pink jacket. So it stands out a mile. The anthem of the jilted generation - the over educated and under employed, the main characters in this book have turned away from the usual McJobs and opted for a life in the Californian desert. Within the confines of drugs, heavy drinking and a liberal sprinkling of irony, Andy, Dag and Claire reveal their lives to each other and the reader. Cleverly annotated with footnotes and margin illustrations, the writing is erudite, fresh (occassionally glib) with lots of lethargic grungey rage peeping through the cracks.

And the writing on this blog is crap compared to all the books mentioned above. I have successfully terrified myself into never writing a book. In fact I need to go and have a lie down. Well actually, eat my Easter Monday roast beef. But never mind. Thank you and goodnight.

Stupidgirl has left the building

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