Are you ashamed of skipping parts of books? | Robert McCrum | Books |

Are you ashamed of skipping parts of books? | Robert McCrum | Books |


It’s a topic that is worthy of our attention. Does it count as finished if I have left large chunks unread? Unlike “The 20 page rule” (give it 20 pages, then give it 20 more) skipping pages can turn a book that you’d rather not finish, into a book that’s quickly completed. I’m sure I’m not alone in my confusion about being “allowed” to skip parts of books. While I’ve never been one to follow the “rules” of reading, being an avid margin scribbler and end of book reader this one has me in a muddle.

Do you skip? Is it “allowed”?

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True MemoirLet's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jenny Lawson should never have written this book. Now all I want is MORE! I'm a regular reader of Jenny's blog, The Bloggess and in Let's Pretend This Never Happened she fills in some of the blanks. This book is inspiring, hilarious and positively sinful. Just read it, I don't know what you're waiting for!

View all my reviews

Loathe List


It’s Thursday, must be time to tell you all the stuff I hate this week.

1. Swagger or Swag.  Oh you think you have swag? In my country a swag is a roll out bed and all your belongings bundled up into one neat pack, used specifically by bushmen or camping types. I don’t think you have a swag. I appreciate it when old words get reused, I like the fluidity of language so it’s not the words that I’m against here it’s the constant use. I’m so sick of hearing about such and such having swag and swagger. All I’m going to think is that such and such is a giant douche. Oh wait I thought that already!

2. Book hype. I think I hate this one because it’s the one that sucks me in so easily. I really hate myself around book hype. I get all consumer driven and desperate. “My life won’t be complete until I’ve read ‘Important Book’! I must have it now!” And before I know it I’ve spent $30 on The Night Circus and I’m never going to finish it because, in the end, I was swept up by the idea of the book more than it’s merits.

3. Over the top Photoshop. “Um excuse me, Beyonce? Are you really Beyonce? You look nothing like your pictures.” May I direct you here and here for evidence? Is it any wonder that women are killing themselves (figuratively, hyperbolically and literally) to fit an image that is completely unattainable? Don’t even get me started on the whole feminist rant that I have for this.

4. Reality TV. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it until everyone bloody well agrees with me. Reality TV is ruining our brains. I don’t want to watch another TV show about housewives or weird people who are products of their environments! I hate watching shows about parents exploiting their children and vice versa. I want to sit down and watch TV that has a plot thank you very much! I know I can just switch of and I do, but TV content is becoming so focussed on “reality” that I’m running out of things to watch. And I love TV. I grew up with TV! I’m a TV nerd. Perhaps not so much anymore.

Thursday gripe done! Begone and spread the word!

Late Saturday Lit (my favourite books).

Hey you guys.

Yesterday my friend KK was around and asked to borrow some books. I have no problem lending books so long as the reader has no problem with the state of my books. I’m not sure if I have mentioned it before but I love marginalia, and if I can’t find an appropriate book mark I’ll fold down the corner. It’s how I roll, don’t judge me! Stop it! I can feel your judgement.

Anyway I happily loaned out to KK three books that I thought she would like based on her recent reads and I hope she does enjoy them.

Inspired by recommending novels to friends I thought I’d put together this list of my favourite books. I believe in reading for pleasure so this isn’t a must read list, it’s just some that I love. In no particular order:

  • Four to Score by Janet Evanovich. Not the first in the series, which is just as good and a great place to start. This one is my favourite in the whole series though, and I think she’s up to number 17!
  • Emma by Jane Austen. Emma is a snob, she thinks she knows everything that there is to know but she’s actually quite clueless. I like this novel because Emma has faults, something that the more popular Austen characters “lack”. I know none of them are perfect, it’s just that some are more perfect than others and Emma, who is socially high ranking, is probably the furthest from perfect of the lot of them!
  • Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood. Another mystery novel, this time with a “plus-size” heroine. Corinna Chapman may just be the best heroine I’ve come across. I want to be her best friend please.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Scout, Jem and Atticus Finch. Need I say more.
  • The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman. Subtle anti-semitism at a summer resort for “gentiles” in 1960s America. I bought this book when I was 18, too young to fully understand this book, so it sat on my shelf gathering dust until one day I picked it up and couldn’t put it down until I was done.

This is in no way a definitive list, just 5 that I truly loved reading. Nor do I solely love female authors as this list would suggest. I also love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, especially Tiffany Aching. Bill Bryson is my favourite travel author. Iain Pears writes marvellous European art mysteries.

Perhaps next week I’ll fill you in on the books that shaped my adolescence? Righteo then.

Judy-May out!

All around me there are books.

I’d like to take a moment on this Saturday afternoon to talk to you about books. That’s right bound paper that sits on shelves. Not one in particular, but as a whole.

I’m afraid people. Very afraid. We are heading down an information super-highway and left on the side of the road, the roadkill if you like, are my beloved (and yours, I hope) friends.

With change comes a lot of fear and uncertainty and in a world filled with Kindles and iPads I have tried to embrace the change. But I still dream of a library, all of my own.

I still open my paper dictionary. Still hand it over to students. Still thumb the thesaurus when I’m looking for the right word.

I love the smell of books. Old and new. A kindle doesn’t smell, at least I don’t think it does, I’d feel rude asking someone if I could smell their kindle. But looking at someone’s book it is almost guaranteed I’ll smell it.

And what about when you read your favourite bit so often you end up with little thumb prints on the page. Or the tea stain from when you laughed so hard you snorted. You don’t get those things with an iPad, they wipe clean.

I love marginalia. I like to read the last chapter before the first. I love book plates and stamps and dog-earring my favourite pages. None of which you can do with an iPad.

I love second hand books, because what if someone famous owned it first? Secondhand gigabytes doesn’t really have the same ring.

I fall asleep and often wake up with a faceful of book, but I suspect an iPad will jolt you awake instantly and leave you with a bruise.

I love bookmarks with my name on them, which are useless on a kindle.

I understand the appeal of the digital version. Lightweight, compact, easy to hold. But if I swung my handbag at an attacker with a kindle in it they’d just laugh. Swing your bag with Crime and Punishment or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows inside and…? Concussed, likely, unconscious, hopefully, escape, certainly.

I love books. As you can see. Let’s preserve what might end up the way of the record. Please. I don’t want to explain what a book is to my children someday.

Click images for their sources. (It’s well worth it!)

Judy-May out!

Oriental Hat Murder, or some such…

I logged onto FB and asked my friends if there were any pressing questions they’d like answered. My friend DC asked:

“Can a man mistake his wife for a hat?”

I wish I had a witty answer for that question but alas I do not, so I answer him with this:

“A man can be happy with (or mistake for a hat) any woman, as long as he does not love her.”

Oscar Wilde

I find that if you have no answer for something, Oscar will have. And he was much smarter than I.

You can find the correct answer to this here.

As you can see I’ll be able to squeeze a little bit of Saturday Lit.

I’m a big fan of writing, one day I hope to complete a novel. But I feel that to be truly good at something you need to study the classics, the greats and your own contemporaries. This is why I love Salvador Dali’s art so much. He studied the great painters before he gave elephants long stick like legs and melted clocks.

I have been continuing my education.

There is a reason Agatha Christie is the Queen of Crime. I picked up Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express. A positively enjoyable experience. Agatha manages to trick you into believing that you know exactly who the culprit is before revealing her hand and you see she has bluffed you all along.

Not only has she a good understanding of the range of cultures in Europe, although it can lead slightly towards the stereotypical, her knowledge of geography is erudite.

Agatha has a way of describing her characters so intimately, that you feel as though you are journeying with them. The revelations of each character after the shocking murder appear to be true to their nature and I was at a loss as to who to suspect. You are lead, much like Poirot leading his friend M. Bouc, down a path of confusion and eventually revelation, that I was not clever enough to predict.

I encourage you all to go out tomorrow, or Monday and find a classic to read. They outlive their generations for a reason!

Judy-May out!