I spent a good chunk of time trying to find one of my favourite reads from my childhood last week and, after finding it, I went on to find other books that unlocked memories. I was born in 1995, not a time of great diversity in publishing if we’re looking at this list and as for Diary of a Chav <puffs out cheeks> I should mention a lot of these books I read because they were there and I could find them in charity shops or the public library. Trying to read a series of books (in order) proved impossible and I liked authors I knew had other books to read. I found comfort in familiarity. I might try getting a hold of some of these books and re-reading them. Possibly setting myself up for disappointment.
Dustbin Baby – Jacqueline Wilson
The Granny Project – Anne Fine
The Famous Five – Enid Blyton
Diary of a Chav – Grace Dent
Just Henry – Michelle Magorian
Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman
Lucky Star – Cathy Cassidy
Ally’s World – Karen McCombie
The Babysitter’s Club – Ann. M. Martin
Blitzed – Robert Swindells
The Shell House – Linda Newbury
Pink Knickers Aren’t Cool – Jean Ure
There’s a Pharaoh in our Bath – Jeremy Strong
Matilda – Roald Daul
Lady Daisy – Dick King Smith
Trust me, I’m A Troublemaker – Pete Johnson
What do you think, have you read any of these books?
The story of Henry Applebee is primarily narrated by the man himself, although characters Ariel and Travis do take parts in being protagonists. The timeline of the story switches between past and present. I was unsure of this book at first, until I got the gist of which path the story was going to take. Not that it is predictable. There is a huge build up, you have to wait for it though. I liked the setting of the train station in the present and loved being in Blackpool for the past. This is a story of lost love and once you discover how Henry met this woman and lost her because of his insecurities (and mobile phones hadn’t been invented) it did make my eyes mist over.
Unfortunately, the story lost its way in its conclusion. I felt like the author was trying to repeat what happened to Henry with Ariel and Travis, who all meet on the train. I didn’t feel invested in the other characters as much. The ending is not automatically a happy one, which is realistic.
My final thoughts are I loved (ha) the love story in Finding Henry Applebee. The other parts not so much. It is set partly during World War 2, so if you like reading historical fiction books, I’m sure you will like this. I’m probably going to read this book again and love it.
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I found myself nervous writing reviews for collections of poetry. I must give that context, in terms of my depression and where my confidence is. I found myself reading other people’s reviews and they were like works of art. They could be describing the book in a couple of sentences, saying what they think and making it sound compulsory to read that poetry collection. I mean, I can get in a real funk with my need for perfectionism. It makes me procrastinate and urgh, give up sometimes. Because how on earth do you reach perfectionism? I forget I pretty much write reviews for myself to begin with, to get my thoughts down, to discuss and ask questions. Most of the inspiration felt in reading poetry collections usually prompts my own poetry. I find it easier to be afraid people will tell me I’m wrong about my opinion in a review, than in my writing because I’ll tell them to piss off. Poetry can take up any form and it’s subjective. Not everyone will like what you write. It’s the same with why I gave up writing fiction. If I stray from poem form, I feel uncertain. I think I’m not a fiction writer. When you can learn to be. It isn’t easy. But I can learn about those things I struggle with, like structuring chapters, the story arc and all those other bits with fancy names. Then maybe I can finish that story, which has been 13 years in the making.
This only comes from myself, by the way. I don’t have terrible memories of people criticising my reviews, or my stories. I can remember people not being keen to read my writing. Obviously, I remember teachers at school trying to teach me about putting paragraphs into my writing and how capital letters were important. But I was privileged that I got a lot of what they taught me, I loved reading fact books and encyclopaedia’s, enjoyed spelling tests and treated times tables as if they were Brussel Sprouts and I have always had ideas. My imagination has always been active. In secondary school writing became my outlet for being socially inept, so thankfully I did have my primary school education. Writing is instinctive.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – I thought this book was longer than it is. It’s actually a reasonable length. I’ve always struggled with Charles Dickens. I know his books are supposed to be humorous? I have never been able to recognise that, trying to get past some of the language and obviously society was different then. I did read Oliver Twist and I liked that one. I will give this a go. I’m sure I have already read some of it.
Howard’s End by E. M. Forster– I read a few pages and I had to put it back down. I find with some classics the way women are spoken of and to is too much. I like to chill with a book sometimes, not only for education and getting angry. I did read A Passage to India by this author, it was recommended by my English teacher at the time and that one I did enjoy. I will have to re-read that.
The Waves by Virginia Woolf – I love the way this woman writes, but. But this didn’t grab me. I put it down and haven’t gotten around to picking it up again yet. I read some of her books and I think I was too young to fully appreciate them. Like Orlando, didn’t get it. I read a lot of classics around the age of 11/12 and while I enjoyed them, I don’t think I fully appreciated when, why etc. they were written and about the writer. I think I just absorbed them. I love the cover of this book, only cost 80 pence in the 70’s. If only books cost that now. I mean, postage costs a couple of quid.
Far from the Madding Crowd – I read Jude the Obscure when I was 16? Love the name Jude. That’s all it took for me to read it, the name Jude. And that was me done with Thomas Hardy. Done. Too much. Bit like poking a bruise, curiosity made me buy this one, I bought Jude the Obscure too, and perhaps I will read it. Will I re-read Jude the Obscure though? I’m not sure.