Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

This book has been on my to-read list since I first heard about it. I was drawn in by curiosity about the people who create the shows we watch and that having an entire evening of TV being dedicated to shows lead by one show-runner is a major deal. The Shonda-land shows are filled with tough, powerful, outspoken women and yet Rhimes impresses on readers that a few years ago this was not reflected in her own life. In the Year of Yes, Rhimes speaks openly about how a simple comment from her sister made her take on a project of saying yes to many things, first and foremost being the things that scared her.
As a writer she calls her process as one similar to that of her childhood adventures playing in the store cupboard of her mother's kitchen, sitting in the dark and coming up with characters and stories, finding strength there. She talks about how she wrote the strong characters of her TV shows, particularly Cristina Yang, as a form of wish fulfilment. Rhimes classifies herself as an introvert and although that doesn't change she works on finding a way to engage with the people and challenges around her.

Rhimes starts the year by saying yes to a speech at her alma mater, Dartmouth, and describes her absolute physical terror at doing this. She details it, describes the aftermath and survives. She also throws in a ference to EBAs, a restaurant in Hanover NH,  which thrilled me as I celebrated a birthday there many, many years ago. Over the course of the book we see Rhimes' life, which is already packed with impressive things and people, grow more open and her confidence increase. I found the conversational tone of the book  very engaging but what surprised me was how unashamedly goofy it was at times. There was a great deal of comedy but it served to show how to brave the challenging stuff.  Standing in front of a crowd, all staring at you and expecting pearls of wisdom? Rhimes was worried about soiling herself and tripping over. Over the course of the year, Rhimes faces things head on and sees the benefit of doing this. This is probably a book that I will go back and read again as it was a very entertaining. 

4/5 Stars

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Surf Mama by Wilma Johnson

Starting off honestly, I want to learn how to surf. I am not 100% sure why or where this idea has come from. However, it is here and it is not going away. This, as a landlocked city dweller, poses something of a problem for me. As a result I have started reading books and watching films that are about surfing. If you have any recommendations please do add them in the comments!
 The most recent member of this category is Wilma Johnson's book detailing her journey to surfing and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Johnson was an artist living in Ireland doing the 'earth mother' thing with three children and being made a, what she terms, surf widow when her surfer husband would disappear off to chase the good waves. When, after ten years, they make the move to the south of France and the marriage dissolves she finds her way to make good on her earlier determination to learn to surf herself. What follows is a lovely telling of her adventures. The book was funny and told a charming story with a conversational, relaxed tone. The anecdotes of making choices as a mother, an artist and a surfer; the finding of a community in a new place and the strong sense of self that the author portrayed made it an amusing and inspiring book.

4.5/5 Stars

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Fresh Start

I have been using my social media accounts attached to this blog more than I have been updating here and when I looked back at the content had very little connection to my interests now. So I have cleared the posts out, with the exception of my old book challenge, and shall start afresh!

So with that in mind....a brief introduction:

Reading is my comfort and my joy and I will usually have 2-6 books on the go at any one time. My reading habits hop around somewhat in terms of subject matter, at the moment my current obsessions are American History and magical realism fiction. Last year I tried to cut down my book buying habit and ended up with a bit of a library habit! This year, all ten days of it, I've been reading with a focus on mindfulness and growing out of your comfort zone. 

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Book A Day Challenge Day #25 - Under the Tree

23. Under the tree....Brave New World.

By the time this post is up the present will have been unwrapped so I feel no hesitation by posting about it here. I read this book some years ago and it has popped up on my partner's wish list so it is great joy that I will be gifting it!

And that is it! I have blogged for the full month of December which is a record for me! I have really enjoyed putting the contect together and I am going to keep going with more in the new year. 
A Merry Christmas to those of you who have been reading!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Book A Day Challenge Day #24 - For Father Christmas

24. For Father Christmas.....The Night Before Christmas

I think this is the edition of the book I had as a child but I'll have to check. This short poem is such a classic describing a brief encounter with St Nicolas himself. The full text can be found here.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Book A Day Challenge Day #23 - The best present

23. The best present - The Poem That Changed America: Howl

I've posted about Allen Ginsburg's Howl before but this book was a present from a friend who knew I loved it. It discusses the poem, offers the context of the society to which it was released and the obscenity trial which followed.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Book A Day Challenge Day #22 - Favourite festive scene

22. Favourite festive scene.....The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E. T. A. Hoffman

This book just made to-read list! Ballet was a huge part of my life as a child and I remember the first time I saw The Nutcracker at the Birmingham Royal Ballet. There is something about the opulence of the show that just captures Christmas not just as it is can be; with lovely decorations, time with friends and family, getting dressed up but how it can exist in your mind. All the luxurious foods are there in dreamy colours and exotic flavours and the feeling of it being a party is overwhelming.

 I've seen so many different versions but the one I return to is Matthew Bourne's as it is so colourful and sweet. It adds clarity to the plot and a great deal of contrast between the Christmas party by making it very stark to make the brightness of the fantasy world all the brighter.


I really want to read this book now to see how it was transformed from the page to such an iconic ballet.