My Pratchett Journey- So Far… A Love Story

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I’m absolutely giddy for today’s post! Because today, on the day of love, I’m going to tell you the story of how I fell head over heels with Pratchett books. Believe it or not, I wasn’t always the giant orange monkey you see now. In fact, once upon a time when I was a wee uni student, two of my closest friends (hi if you’re reading!) were astounded to find that I was a barely familiar with the Discworld. Sure, I’d heard of Pratchett (who hasn’t?)- I even had vague but pleasant memories of The Wee Free Men from when I was younger- yet I’d never launched fully immersed myself in the wackiness of Pratchett’s universe. That, of course, was a mistake 😉

“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it”

mort nice editionBecause I knew, the second I started reading Mort that I was reading something special. And, incidentally, so did the rest of my train carriage, where I sat for four hours, smothering laughter through my hand. I instantly fell in love with the humour. I mean, even years on, I still find myself randomly cracking up over the Great A’Tuin- a giant turtle hurtling through space with four elephants resting on its back which support the Discworld… Seriously, I just finished that sentence and I’m laughing again!  Really the jokes and wit *never* gets old.

“Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”

“Apes had it worked out. No ape would philosophize, “The mountain is, and is not.” They would think, “The banana is. I will eat the banana. There is no banana. I want another banana.”

“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods. They have not forgotten this”

hogfatherSoon I’d leapt into the rest of the series- in fact the Death series ran away with me- I couldn’t stop with that one. I absolutely loved the quirks and eccentricities of the entire world- not least of the characters! I still chuckle over the fact that Death enjoys a good curry- that is so quintessentially English and I love it!! (chicken tikka masala is the national dish after all). Plus, oh my goodness, the stories are so unconventional! If you’re looking for a different Christmas story, you won’t get anything better than the Hogfather.

“Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know, that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to invent boredom”

witches abroadAnd actually that leads me onto the pure genius of the ideas. Not only is Hogfather a lovingly satirical take on the way we all act around Christmas, but it also gets right into the heart of the love of stories. Actually, this is a running theme with Pratchett- and is especially noticeable in the witch’s plots, such as the play with fairy tales in Witches Abroad and the *double double toil and trouble* Shakespearean mischief of Lords and Ladies. It’s this complexity and depth which makes the series *so awesome*.

“HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.”

going postalAs you know, I absolutely *love* satire, and this is such witty and intelligent fare. And on such varied topics as well! Sometimes it’s simply about some good fantasy tropes like dragons in Guards, Guards. Sometimes it’s on a much larger scale, like questions around war, in Jingo. And sometimes books like Going Postal are just about that weird British obsession with the post office dammit- incidentally this is one of my favourites and the only one I’ve reviewed.

“What kind of man would put a known criminal in charge of a major branch of government? Apart from, say, the average voter.” 

guards-guardsAnd yet there’s more to it than all that. Over the years, I’ve fallen in love time and again with so many bonkers, wacky and fun characters from the series! If they were simply flat archetypes for satirical fodder, they wouldn’t be half as endearing as they are. But no! They are so much deeper than that. Death, the anthropomorphic personification of death, doesn’t just exist as a vehicle for the plot- NO!– he actually comes to learn about and sympathise with humanity. Vimes, the slightly world weary copper, who manages to upstage everyone with his unbending sense of right and wrong. Granny “I can’t be having with that kind of thing” Weatherwax, who takes common sense to a whole new level. Vetinari is the kind of despotic politician I can admire (thank you Sir P for giving me the opportunity to utter such odd sentences). Then there’s other favourites like the Death of Rats, Susan and Moist. And lastly, but certainly not least…

“Ook.”

unseen academicalsThe Librarian- who inspired me to create this blog! For those of you who don’t know, the Librarian is one of my favourite Discworld characters. My monkey owes its existence to the great big monkey in the sky… or something (*ahem* that sounded more poetic in my head…) Say hello to my little friend!

“If you try to to take my bananas from me, I will reclaim them from your cold dead hands.”

shepherd's crownAnd so we’re coming to the end of my journey so far… And the fact that I can say “so far” is something else that I’m happy about. Because, as I mentioned a couple of weeks back, I’m not done yet- and that only makes me more excited!! I have heard so many wonderful things about books I haven’t got to- not least the Shepherd’s Crown– and I’ve got to say I can’t wait!

So have you read Pratchett? Are you inspired to pick any up now? Let me know in the comments!

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Iconic Movies I Probably Should Have Seen By Now…

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This is a bit of an impromptu post, inspired by the lovely Lucinda and awesome Chauncey, who were absolutely shocked the other day when I admitted I hadn’t seen… well…

spoilers

(although of course you could just scroll down and see the offending film on the list)

So I decided, what better to do than to make this whole thing worse by sharing a bunch of films I haven’t seen. Using tons of lists from IMDB I came up with some iconic films I probably should’ve seen by now- let’s get to the public shaming, shall we?

Jurassic Park– yup this is the one that sparked the controversy- I do plan to see it- I swear! (… at some point) I dunno why I haven’t- I originally surmised it was cos none of my family were into dinosaurs, however I asked them, and most of them said they’d seen it… so I’m feeling a bit betrayed now 😉

Edward Scissorhands– Johnny Depp walks on screen with those scissor hands… and I dunno I just freak and run out the room every. damn. time. I can’t take it. My sister is the same. I guess we’re just scissorhands-people-phobic. (And yes, I know the point of the film is to get over it, but I can’t even look at the thumbnail below)

Schindler’s List– I’ve actually tried to watch this a bunch of times, but just… can’t. I get five minutes into the opening and *nope*. I can’t take holocaust films. Can’t even watch the trailer. (The soundtrack’s amazing though)

E.T.- this is a weird one cos I’ve seen the ending a gazillion times- but never the beginning- I used to turn on the TV (usually round Christmas) and there’d be the closing scenes. I feel that kinda killed the urge to sit down and watch the whole thing. And now I really feel like I’ve missed the boat. Or the ship- cos doesn’t he go off in a spaceship? Told you I’d seen the ending 😉 (I’m going to joke hell for that one 😉 )

Citizen Kane– isn’t this one of those movies everyone’s supposed to see, but loads of people haven’t? *Cue loads of angry movie buffs*. Regardless, I do actually want to watch it.

Terminator 1 & 2– I shamelessly reference this all the time though.

Saving Private Ryan– started and not finished- several times. I’m not interested guys. (This list is starting to be all the Spielberg films I’ve not seen- yet the real question should be why has he made so many movies?! I can’t keep up!)

Blade Runner– I really, really want to see this… but after I read the book it was based on- sorry!

Silence of the Lambs– FUCK NO. I don’t do scary. Still this came up on so many lists that I had to include it.

Alien– NO! Can these lists stop trying to make me watch horror- please?!

Rocky– hmm kinda surprised my family didn’t make me watch this one- in fact I know my mum and brothers love this- again, I’m feeling kinda left out… :/ (also I love the music)

Top Gun– huh kinda surprised I haven’t seen this one- it looks like something I’d like. (Annnd now I’m doing air guitar to Highway to the Dangerzone- seriously, why have I not seen this?)

Well there you go, I guess it’s a good thing I’m a book blogger and not a film critic 😉 I can’t be the only one though- what films are you most ashamed of not having seen? Let me know in the comments!

Series I need to finish…

Well, we’re into the second month of the year (already?!)- it’s time to get serious about reading- which means dredging up all the unfinished series sitting guiltily on our TBRs, dusting them off and promising that *this’ll be the year* (or you know, not). For all my dramatics, I actually am decent at finishing series (partly cos I like to binge them all in a row if I can) but there are still a number which I would actually like to read. So in no particular order, I thought I’d share them with you:

mistborn series

Mistborn– what the hell is wrong with me? I loved the first book- I have the second, third and a ton of other Sanderson books on my kindle… and yet I’ve never got round to reading any of these. I’d make the excuse that “it’s the length” or something… but given I’ve read other tomes since the first one that’d be a bald faced lie…

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Terry Goodkind– ermm yeah, I went on a splurge of buying the kindle versions when these were reduced ages ago too. I’ve still only read 2- even though I liked them- and have looaads more to go. It’s a bit intimidating if I’m honest.

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Howl’s Moving Castle– I’ve read quite a lot of Diana Wynne Jones over the years, but for some reason, even though I loved the first one, I never picked up the rest of this series up. Which is kinda silly, cos I know I’ll have fun with these.

Daughter of the Lioness

Daughter of the Lioness– ditto with Tamora Pierce- I think she’s great and would happily read all her books. The thing with Pierce is I’m usually a completionist with her series and so I don’t really know why I left this one hanging- especially when there’s only one other book to read.

shepherd's crown

Discworld– to be fair, I have actually read a lot of these (Pratchett’s my most read author after all)- but there are still some I haven’t read yet- I blame Pratchett for being so prolific! (not that I’m complaining- if anything I’d like to ask Death to bring him back to write MORE)

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Pellinor– okay- not my fault! I actually completed this series when I was about 15- she just added to the prequel Bone Queen recently! Although I did want to pick it up immediately… I still haven’t.

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Abhorsen– as above- Nix kindly added Goldenhand to his *absolutely amazing* series and I was so excited about it… but being a lazy bones haven’t got to to it yet.

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Sandman– they had a lot of these in one of the libraries I go to- I was thoroughly enjoying whizzing through them… but haven’t been back in a while and kinda unintentionally stopped with the series.

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Falling Kingdoms– well I’m actually just mentioning it cos it’s fresh in my mind and the conclusion is coming out this month (eek!) I’m finally caught up and ready for whatever Rhodes throws my way! (as long as my baby Magnus is alright in the end!)

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Lara Jean– okay, here’s where the guilt gets intense- because I *need* to read this. Alas I will Always and Forever be behind (ba dum tss). I could make the excuse I wasn’t in the right mood, but it’s not like I haven’t read any contemporaries in the year since it’s been out… so there’s no excuse really.

And there you have it- all my guilty secrets laid bare for the world 😉 What series do you have on your tbr that you still need to complete? Let me know in the comments!

Books With The (Somewhat) Dreaded Book Travelling Syndrome

Book Travelling Syndrome Definition: the art of getting so lost in your own story that plot, character and everything else is forgotten in favour of random adventures

Yes, I made the term up, and no, it’s not taking off. I feel like the response to this post could be very Mean Girls…

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Whatever- it’s totally a thing. And I know it’s a thing, cos it’s something I’ve struggled with as a writer. So I’ve decided to compile a list breaking it down, into the good, the bad, and, well you get the idea- enjoy:

The Good

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The Hobbit– Yup, even my beloved Hobbit has it, that’s why I got it into my head that this was a good idea in the first place (as I explained here). I won’t say I have no regrets about this cos it’s not always a great storytelling strategy. At least, most of the time, as we’ll come to see…

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Neverending Story– again, this book tricked me your honour, cos sure it has “neverending” in the title, which would imply boredom, but this is *far* from boring. In fact, it’s one of the most entertaining books I’ve ever read. I owe it so much as a story- but also *shakes fist* curse you for filling my head with so many bad structuring mechanisms.

The Bad

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Eragon– really not the worst book on this list- but it does meander about a lot pointlessly.

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Phantastes– it’s alright, but it has plenty of pointless meandering about and is quite forgettable.

And the Ugly…

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Eye of the World– I’m sorry to disappoint fans of this book, but oh-my-gawd I was so bored with this! I think this was like a sledgehammer over the head that book travelling *doesn’t always work*- so I guess some thanks is in order, in a way.

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Wise Man’s Fear– one of the most disappointing sequels I have ever read. And one of the worst things about it was all the unnecessary different places (inevitably where Kvothe would pick up another skill, then be on his merry, ambling way).

Hope you enjoyed that very random post- my cold-smothered brain thought was a good idea… What books do you think suffer from book travelling syndrome? Let me know in the comments!

Bookish Wanderlust for January Blues

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Well, I don’t know about you this month, but I’m definitely experiencing the January blues. It’s still pretty grim out, my reading slump is only just beginning to shift and I’ve got another cold (wtf is wrong with my immune system lately?!). Which is why I think it’s the perfect time to start thinking about a quick getaway… and by getaway, for us shall-we-say financially strapped bookworms, I mean rushing to the bookstore and reading about some lovely and impossible farflung places. And to make this even more fun, I’ve picked books with some real world locations you can actually visit. So hold on tight and here we g-o-o-o….

daughter of smoke and bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone– as you might be able to tell from my review the other day, this book has some *wonderful* descriptions of real world places, starting with Prague. What I didn’t mention, however, is that this book has *tons more* locations and the story spins across planets. Yup- that’s right, this book can take you out of this world! (and you won’t have to wait for Virgin’s space programme to get going 😉 )

bear and the nightingale

Bear and the Nightingale– *one day* I will go to Russia (I just want the opportunity to sing “St Petersburg is gloomy, St Petersburg is bleak…”- who’s with me?!) but if you’re like me and can’t exactly do that right now- NEVER FEAR- this book can transport you in both time and place. And the second one, Girl in the Tower, involves far more excursions. This is a trip perfect for the historically minded (fairy tale obsessed) traveller 😉 Speaking of fairy tales…

a song for summer

A Song for Summer– In my opinion, Eva Ibbotson was *the queen* at making history fairytale-esque and transporting the reader to faraway lands. One rather neglected book I’d recommend is A Song for Summer which takes you to the Austrian countryside, at the brink of WW2. It’s a wonderfully romantic story and if you fancy feeling like you’re somewhere else, this is perfect.

shadow of the wind

Shadow of the Wind– ahh Barcelona- one of the most beautiful cities in the world- that’s the glorious setting of Zafon’s remarkable series and boy does he bring it to life! With evocative description, a mysterious story and an eerie sense of the supernatural lurking, this book is what I recommend for anyone feeling restless for some sun, yet doesn’t mind a few chills along the way. But of course, if sun is all you’re looking for…

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Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants– as the title suggests there’s some different locations in this and some girl friendship and a little bit of magic 😉 I’d recommend this for anyone looking to just rock up on a beach for a book and whose down for a summer fling 😉 Still, if it’s romance you crave, there’s something even better on offer…

return of the native

Return of the Native– one of Hardy’s more romantic works and often his most popular novel. What makes this even more perfect for this list is Hardy’s remarkable ability to characterise the landscape of his Wessex (dubbed after the Medieval term for the area of Southwest England). This is, in my opinion, one of the finest examples of that. What’s even better is if you visit Hardy’s Wessex you can tread a lot of the same paths as the characters and even see where Hardy’s mad wife lived (in an attic, as per her request, she was a bit bonkers- read some of her diary if you don’t believe me 😉 ) Here you can stay with one foot in the real world and another just on the brink of imagination. If you want to go *full on magic*, well then look no further than…

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Harry Potter– not only is the wizarding world *amazing* but there’s also some wonderful real life places you can go. I’m not gonna pretend I get the whole “let’s go to King’s Cross and pose by a random wall” thing (sorry, I’ve been there loads to catch a train and don’t find it particularly glamorous) BUT I used to live in Edinburgh and let me tell you, there was clear inspiration for JK up there- everything from Teviot (the student union) to Greyfriars Bobby Cemetery ( ❤ ) with some very famous residents… Side note, if you ever do find yourself up there, do go to the Elephant House cos it’s beautiful and niche (though a little pricey) not for the HP graffitied toilet- please.

 

inkheart-trilogy

Inkheart series– okay when it comes to trying to make this real world setting, this one is pushing it. HOWEVER I think this is such a fun book to put on the list, because it’s a book about stories coming to life and as the series progresses it becomes about entering stories. How awesome is that? If you fancy a trip somewhere completely unique then book your ticket today 😉

six of crows

Six of Crows– again, this is stretching the rules a bit, because this isn’t a real world destination. BUT it is based on Amsterdam and that certainly comes across in the books. I loved the way Bardugo brought the location to life in her books, incorporated elements of the trading and canals and generally made it feel true to the real world, but with a twist. It also involves a heist in Scandinavia- which is probably more dramatic than a lot of book travellers are expecting. More for the adventurous tourist I’d say 😉 Speaking of more daredevil types…

city of masks

City of Masks– VENICE, HISTORY, ADVENTURE- need I say more? I think this is a pretty underrated series to be honest and the first is one of my favourite books set in Venice. Well, an alternative Venice 500 years before our time, where silver is more valuable than gold- interesting right? Not exactly for history buffs, but you’ll get more than you bargained for out of this- it’s quite the journey.

Now we’ve come to the end of the road 😉 Do you fancy a trip to any of these bookish worlds? And do you have any bookish locations to recommend me? Let me know in the comments!

AWESOME Authors I Discovered in 2017 *and* Am Looking Forward to Reading More From

Technically this was a Top Ten Tuesday topic… buuut it’s not this week’s, so this is a fail 😉 Ah well, pish posh, who cares about rules when it comes to sharing great books? I certainly don’t. And I really wanted to do this topic, because there’s nothing I like more than talking about AWESOMENESS (aside from griping about suckfests… moving on…). Besides, it was this or talk about *nothing* for Nothing Day (yes that’s a thing to, happy Nothing Day everybody!)

Anyhoo enough rambling- gonna try to not repeat myself too much from my best of 2017 post, although it can’t be entirely avoided 😉 Here’s some amazing authors I discovered in 2017:

solzhenitsyn

Solzhenitsyn– I’m beginning to sound a lot like a broken record when it comes to the Gulag, but that’s not the only book I read by Solzhenitsyn last year. I started off my journey into the Siberian wastes with One Day in the Life of Ivan Densovitch and that motivated me to continue reading. Speaking of Siberia…

ruta sepetys

Ruta Sepetys– WOW what a writer. Of the two books I read by her last year, I preferred Salt to the Sea to Between Shades of Grey, but either way her stories pulled me in and were impossible to forget. There’s no question that I want to read more by this author.

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Agatha Christie– two things happened on my blog last year relating to Christie: 1) I announced that I had zero intention of reading her work and… 2) I actually read her work. I have since seen the error of my ways and plan to read more soon 😉

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S. K. Tremayne– gosh Tremayne reminded me reignited my zest for thrillers… I have to read MORE!

alan partridge

“Alan Partridge”– I read two books by “Alan Partridge” last year- I don’t think I’ve ever laughed at a book so much. It’s easy for me to say, considering that there are hilarious (yet totally mundane) asides on getting a car into gear in these books, that Steve Coogan could literally put out *anything* for this character and I’ll read it.

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Robin Hobb– it took me long enough but I finally read Assassin’s Apprentice last year! And as some of you may know, I was so blown away it that I ended up going a little crazy, reading both the Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies in one go… Yeah, it’s no wonder I got a bit Hobbed out by the end of my massive binge. Still, though my appetite may have been dampened temporarily, I want to *jump right back up on that horse* and continue reading in 2018!

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Mark Lawrence– I read a very respectable 4 books by Lawrence last year and they were all fantastic fantasies- now I want MORE… Lucky for me Grey Sister is out this year 😉

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Ed McDonald– Blackwing was certainly one of the best debuts I’ve ever read- WOWEE- you can make a safe bet that I want to read the next one!

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Katherine Arden– what list about 2017 would be complete without Arden? You all know by now how much I loved Bear and the Nightingale (if not, hi nice to meet you, I’m the Orangutan Librarian and I loved this book). So naturally I’ll be reading and reviewing Girl in the Tower soon- watch this space.

snow child

Eowyn Ivey– gorgeously atmospheric and beautifully written- I adored how this was a fairytale retelling woven together with a historical setting. I will definitely have an eye out for her other books!

Phew- managed to only repeat 3 from my top ten! Have you read any of these? What’s the best author you discovered in 2017? Let me know in the comments!

Drafts, Drafts and More Drafts

It’s been a slow week for me online…So I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things I haven’t done on my blog and I thought it might be fun to do a chill post, where I discuss some of the ideas I’ve had over the years and posts I’ve written that I’ve never shared. Some of these I may be persuaded to share one day (probably not though because polishing them up into half readable pieces would be more work than starting from scratch). Anyhoo, here are some of the ideas that have been left on my computer going stale for eons and eons:

(oh and *disclaimer*, as always, not for the easily offended)

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_CoverMy Thoughts on Harry Potter– this was inspired by some comments on my Monstrous Confessions piece, where I talked about having some criticisms (I also have plenty of praise, before peeps get their panties in a twist 😉 ). The reason I haven’t shared this yet is simply because I was waiting for a time when I could/wanted to reread the whole series-it’d be quite good to give a sense of before and after- only trouble is I’m a mood reader and the desire to reread HP hasn’t quite struck me of late. Oh well. One day…

strike outStrike Out Tag– now I usually have a never say never attitude when it comes to tags HOWEVER as grateful as I was to be tagged for this one, I honestly felt these questions were a tad personal. And frankly it also got a little dark. To give you a snippet of what I mean, it had questions like “have you ever gone fishing” next to “have you watched someone die”- yikes! Still, it’s been taunting me in my drafts for ages, gonna have to delete it.

monkey typewriterDrafts, Drafts and More Drafts– the original post by this name- I know, how meta is this post getting? Originally I used this opportunity to gripe about something blogging related. Unfortunately it got a little confused and I can’t really follow the train of thought, so I abandoned that idea in favour of this! Speaking of the blogging related…

smaug burningHow I Blog– such a pleasant title, such a crap would-be post. There was a part 1 and 2 as well and it was ready to go. BUT I was super cranky when I wrote it and it was basically a response to trolls (as I pointed out in my Me In Book Characters Tag I’m somewhat hot-headed), so when I took a breather and cooled down, I lost all desire to share (really it was a lousy post, you all had a lucky escape 😉 )

shudders.gifTriggered by Trigger Warnings– this will remain in draft form- partly cos I’ve more or less used that title for Gaiman’s book, mostly because the current document stands at 10000 words and counting. Somehow I don’t think this post is ever coming- it’s wayyy too long and complicated. One of the things that inspired me to write it was reading all the uninformed pieces online- yet while what I’ve written benefits from actual *citations* (*geeky shudders*) I do think that another inexpert view probably won’t be productive. I’m also frankly a little bored of the topic by now. Oh well, it was a good learning curve for me anyway.

Gulag Archipelago, 3 volumesA Post on the Gulag Archipelago– again, lack of qualification comes into it, but also HOW ON EARTH DO YOU SUMMARISE A BOOK LIKE THIS- ARGHHH?! (Genuinely asking cos I don’t have a clue) Also it was painful enough reading this let alone analysing (not cos it’s bad, it’s excellent, but it’s reallllly not a fun read). The thought of going through all my notes doesn’t exactly fill me with glee. That said I will try to put *something* together for it- even if it’s just an “I read it, you probably should” post.

communist manifestoSnarking on the Communist Manifesto– yes, you read that title correctly. This was something I actually just did for fun- yet reading it back got a chuckle, so I thought about sharing it- but no, this is so weirdly niche, even for me. (Plus it’s ridiculously long, cos it’s more or less line by line)

 

delete cybermenAre the Markets Really Free– WTF was I actually thinking with this one?!?!? What on earth!! Seriously I *am not* an economist. DELETE.

 

 

funny-facepalm-gifThe White Heteronormativity of Classics– bahahahahaha not touching that one with a bargepole. What made me write it was an exceptionally daft comment (someone criticising Austen for being white and heteronormative *face palm*) yet it could basically be summarised in two words: *context matters*. Dear dear dear, moving on…

Bettleheim and Child Psychology Theories– not a terrible idea for a post, but to be honest, I think people would be better served just reading his work. Not saying it’s all spot on- only it gives an idea of why children’s literature evolved in a certain direction in the 20th Century (he talks a lot about what children can cope with in terms of violence etc)

form50027So one thing I’ve learnt from doing this exercise is I’m somewhat temperamental… although let’s be honest, all the banana throwing was kind of a clue. I guess I should invite more trolls to come on here and write the daftest, most-insulting comments and they can be safe in the knowledge that I’ll probably write a response to it that I’ll never publish. Come at me bro! 😉

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Anyhoo- what do you think of these post ideas? Any of them catch your eye? And do you have any post ideas that’ll never see the light of day on your blog? Let me know in the comments!