Sunday, 20 January 2013


One of the greatest pleasures in life is reading. Suffering from dyslexia has meant that I do not choose to avoid reading, but find the pleasure in it by approaching it in a different way. It bugs me having to read books with a purple overlay on top of the words, but when I do, everything makes sense. There is nothing more fun than waking up, having a good breakfast, walking for a few hours, to return to a warm cosy flat. I jump on my bed, and just like the illustrated lady above - I keep my scarf on, tie my hair up, wrap up warm, sit on my bed right next to the window (because fresh air is always good), and read my books.

The two books that I mentioned in my 'Christmassy Victorian Reads' post have already had their pages turned. I thoroughly enjoyed them, and I couldn't recommend them enough if you're a big fan of the literature of the period.

What I wanted to discuss with you all today, however, were books that are not read for academic purposes. Everyone has read at least one classic, whether it be Dickens, Austen or Wilde. What I was wondering, though, what is it like to be a reader outside of an academic institution? If there's no reading list, what books do you insist upon reading? Does anyone really pick up Milton's 'Paradise Lost' just for fun? (If so, you must be very strange!).

Here's a list of books I've always been intrigued about. I'm happy because this year I will be graduating, and this means that I will be released into the world of normality and work. I will be able to download titles onto my Kindle, without the worry of needing a specific edition that requires page numbers! I will be able to afford lovely books from Waterstones ... idyllic.

Here's a list of books that I've read, and ones that I intend to read post-graduation!

Book I've already read:

1. Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger.

Catcher in the Rye is one of those books that you either 'get' or you don't. I'm not sure why, but some people tend to perceive the teenage protagonist as a bit whiney, whereas other readers see it as a novel that was ahead of its time. I thought it was a very intriguing book, and I read a vast majority of it on the bus from Hyde Park two summers ago. Salinger identifies and captures what it is to be a teenager in this book perfectly.

2. Breakfast At Tiffany's by Truman Capote.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novella. If I could, I would have read this before the film. You find out why Holly Golightly is characterised the way she is in the film, and there is much more substance to the characters in this version of the story. 

3. The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins

If you buy the hardcover edition of this book, you will see that it is one of the most beautiful ways to learn about the foundations of science. As I have never attempted to learn the syllabus for a Science GCSE, this book made everything fun and interesting to me. The illustrations are stunning, and it's one of those books you can dip into whenever you like. It has made me look forward to taking the subject after University finishes. When people say that literature is more poetic than science, it's books like these that make me question this.

4. Gods Behaving Badly - Marie Phillips

I admit, this isn't a very good book in terms of its writing. I think the main purpose of this novel, however, is its ability to make fun of classical mythology and to just have a laugh! The idea of the Olympian gods residing in London as it is now made me giggle a bit too much. My A-Level Classics teacher recommened me this book as some 'light reading' that should not be counted as studying. If you love anything related to classical antiquity, I think you will enjoy this very much.

5. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

 I've got many of Plath's books, including her poetry anthologies. This is her only novel, but The Bell Jar is certainly one of those stories that will stay with you forever. As the novel is semi-autobiographical, you definitely feel close to the narrator by the end. The crafting of Plath's words make this book enjoyable, despite its dismal tone. I will be giving it a second-reading later this year.

Books I'd love to read:

1. Information is Beautiful

I keep stumbling upon this every time I walk into a bookshop. The title says it all. It concerns information about everything, and it is all presented beautifully.

2. The Woman in Black - Susan Hill

I love a good gothic story. Apparently this one is very scary! A friend recommended it to me, so I will be reading this in November, as that's the perfect time to indulge in some gloomy reads!

3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I read the first few chapters of this novel on my Kindle, as they were offering it for free. I loved Chobsky's writing style, and I'll definitely be purchasing this as soon as I can find the time to read it without feeling guilty over Uni work.

4. Tired of London, Tired of Life - Tom Jones

I'm sure that the Tom Jones who wrote this book isn't the Welsh singer I'm thinking of, but nevertheless this looks like a wonderful book to own. It's the perfect coffee table book, and suggests ways in which Londoners can explore the hidden secrets (or more simple pleasures) of London at affordable prices. I'd love to have this book, as I should be moving to Norwich in a few months time, so it'd be lovely to spend my last few months home and really enjoy it by doing things I haven't tried before.

5. The Fault In Our Stars - John Green

I remember in second year, an exchange student recommended this book when we had to do presentations based on books in the bestseller lists. The only thing that I knew about John Green was that he wrote a book named 'Looking For Alaska' and apparently he was on YouTube? The book intrigues me, though, and I keep seeing quotations from the novel all over the internet.

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