9 Things I’ve Been Meaning To Tell You

So many reviews I’ve been intending to write! So many, in fact, that I suspect I might end up doing a mini-roundabout. But here is, instead, something of a miscellany of various bookish things that have been going on here and elsewhere.

1.) The 1938 Club – I don’t think I ever officially announced this, but the upshot of the discussion after the 1924 Club was that we’re going to do something similar every six months, picking years from different decades. Ali’s suggestion of 1938 sounded perfect to me – a time of much change, but on the cusp of much more – so Karen and I will be hosting the 1938 Club together next April. More news more nearer the time, but consider yourself forewarned!

2.) Proust – I now have three books about reading Proust, and have loved one of them, so I decided I should actually read some of him. Since making that decision, I’ve been keeping an eye out for a nice edition of the beginning of Remembrance of Things Past, and found it in Oxfam:


3.) Alice – it’s the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland being published, and I wrote a fun quiz for OxfordWords which will help you find out which character you are. Go and enjoy

4.) Word of the Year – speaking of work, it’s been super busy recently as we do our annual Word of the Year announcement and campaign. That was one of the reasons I haven’t blogged much lately, and it was also really fun and stretching (as I wrote and ‘directed’, sort of, a sketch to accompany the campaign). In case you haven’t seen what the WOTY was, all is revealed over at OxfordWords.

5.) I bet she does – here’s another beauty I picked up in a charity shop:

Don't Open the Door

6.) A Little Life – I still have zero intention of reading this contentious book, but love reading about it. Thomas’s wonderful review highlights all the reasons why I’m sure I’d hate it, and this snipey exchange between reviewer and editor (highlighted by Teresa)

7.) Tea AND BooksNovel Tea Tins got in touch ages ago mentioning their beautiful book-shaped tea tins filled with fancy teas, and I’ve been trying to remember to mention them ever since. Pop over and take a look!

8.) Every English Novel Ever – enjoy this description of Every English Novel Ever, via Karen at Cornflower. It’s hilarious, and I super want to read that novel.

9.) Retirement? – ages ago I was asked if I could recommend books to read in retirement. Nothing to make you feel young like it being assumed that you’re near retirement when in your 20s (as I was then!) Well, I told Age UK Mobility a couple of books I’d recommend, and they never emailed back… but turns out they DID accept them, and they’re amongst various others here.

24 thoughts on “9 Things I’ve Been Meaning To Tell You

  • November 27, 2015 at 12:28 am

    So glad you went with 1938. I will definitely be joining you. I think changing the decade each time is an inspired idea.

    • November 29, 2015 at 12:16 am

      I’m already so excited about it! Going to have to start delving among the shelves and drawing up lists…

  • November 27, 2015 at 4:57 am

    I was too busy/too disorganized to join in the 1924 club so will be delighted to join in the 1938 club – an equally alluring year!

    • November 29, 2015 at 12:17 am

      Hurrah! I did feel bad about how little notice we gave people last time – so hopefully even MORE people will be able to join in this time.

  • November 27, 2015 at 9:07 am

    a la recherche du temps perdu is available in 6 one hour pieces on the iPlayer (in English). Just thought I’d mention. (I’ve sometimes thought that I would ask for it on my desert island if ever sent there)

    • November 29, 2015 at 12:18 am

      In French, is it?! ;) But thanks, I may have a listen, though think this is the sort of writing that would wash over me if I weren’t reading it.

      (Btw, fun story behind the English version of the title: it’s the original Shakespeare – I think – which was translated into French, and borrowed for Proust’s title. So it’s all come full circle.)

  • November 27, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    1. Yay! Looking forward to this very much!

    2. What lovely looking little Prousts! Look forward to finding out how you get on.

    3. I am the White Rabbit!

    4. I daren’t comment….

    5. Oooh, like the look of this one.

    6. Doesn’t sound like one for me either, but thanks for those links – fascinating!

    7. The tea tins are amazing.

    8. Brilliant!

    9. I should have expected to see Miss Hargreaves in there! And when I’m retired I shall refuse to read any differently than I already do!

    Lovely cornucopia Simon – thank you!

    • November 29, 2015 at 12:19 am

      Aw, and thanks for your thorough response!

    • November 29, 2015 at 12:19 am

      Hurrah, thanks Darlene!

  • November 27, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    I still can’t quite believe that the editor that letter. If I squint, I can sort of see his point about disrespecting the book’s fans, but I think he’s reading things into the original criticism that aren’t there. Never mind that he fails to engage with the more damning criticism that Mendelsohn made. And, as I said on Twitter, he’s equally disrespectful of the book’s critics, by implying that it’s too challenging and dark for the like of us. And I’m surprised that he doesn’t realize that, in the age of Amazon, never mind libraries, it’s pretty easy to get a book without paying the full cover price.

    I’m *this close* to writing a post about all this, but I have guests this weekend.

    • November 29, 2015 at 12:20 am

      Oh, you should! It’s such a rich circus. I hope someone writes a novel about the whole thing – so long as that person isn’t HY, of course…

  • November 27, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    Oh Lord, I’d not seen that exchange of letters with Mendelsohn. I hold no brief for Daniel Mendelsohn, God knows, but I thought his response to the editor was spot-on. And here I’ve been feeling so bad for that editor! The author shit-talked him in half the interviews she gave about the damn book, and I kept thinking, he was right, you should have listened. But if he is being a poop about people who didn’t like his rotten book, I suppose I can withdraw my sympathy.

    • November 29, 2015 at 12:21 am

      I’ve no idea who Daniel Mendelsohn is, to be honest, but I did like this response a lot. I saw her savaging him in various interviews too, and so it seems odd that he’d write this when he’s basically said “It needed more editing” already!

  • November 28, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Yay 1938, good choice.

    And will you be doing a Proust-a-month because I’ve been meaning to read it for aaaages and would totally join in …

    • November 29, 2015 at 12:22 am

      I am SO terrible at doing gradual readalongs, I’m afraid… I either read it or forget about it, it seems; I can’t do the pacing out over a long period! But you should totally start one up – I’m sure lots of others would be keen.

  • November 28, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    You’ve found my favourite edition of Proust! I wish I had the full set…but I read that edition from my library the first time I read Proust, and they were perfect for slipping in a pocket and reading on my commute — I read almost all of Proust while I was in transit. Nice memories of this edition!

    And I will look forward to 1938…

    • November 29, 2015 at 12:22 am

      And today I came across the whole set! But it was £125…

  • November 28, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    Looking forward to the 1938 book club and already eyeing a few books! I also have Proustian ambitions but think I will tackle Trollope first, during 2016.

    • November 29, 2015 at 12:23 am

      I am determined first to put all the correct dates for books into LIbraryThing, which will take FOREVER, but will help with sorting through it so much more.

  • November 28, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    1938 looks promising. I have a Margaret Kennedy Day in mind for her birthday in April, but if we clash I have a book of hers – The Midas Touch – that was published that year.

    • November 29, 2015 at 12:25 am

      Oh, well that would be perfect! I’ve not even heard of that one.

  • December 6, 2015 at 12:46 am

    I don’t disagree with most of the criticisms of “A Little Life,” but I could not put it down for two days and cried at least three times while reading it. Sometimes, not often, a story can carry you even if the writing quality ebbs and flows and the plot is a bit fanciful. I can’t remember the last time a novel made me so emotional. Its flaws mostly sunk in after I had finished it and released myself from the pull of the narrative, but I don’t regret finishing it. It is, after all, just a novel. It’s fiction! Some readers refuse to suspend disbelief for fiction after a certain point. That’s fine. When I read the reviews of people who seem to approach fiction with the critical eye of a prosecutor examining a witness statement for factual errors and inconsistencies, I am amazed they are ever able to have fun while reading novels.

  • December 6, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    I decided to give up on A Little Life at about 200 pages in. I’m all for realistic story telling, but this just went to an extreme I couldn’t enjoy or even read despite the lack of enjoyment.

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