Meet the Bookworm – Hannah Simpson

Welcome to a new feature I’m hoping to make a regular thing on my blog, how regular is yet to be seen as it depends on the response of willing contributors and reactions. I’ll be asking fellow bookworms 10 questions about books etc. and including a photo of them. This will hopefully, show the diversity and reach of literature and also give you some book recommendations you may have otherwise ignored.

My first wonderful contributor is Hannah Simpson, from Manchester, UK. She is an avid reader and blogger/writer (you can check out her blog here) What I love about Hannah’s answers is the sheer passion and excitement that comes through. You can really tell how much she loves getting lost in the pages of a book, so without further ado please welcome Hannah Simpson.

Hannah Simpson.jpgWhat age did you get into reading? I’m really privileged that reading has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember.  Both my parents are avid readers and my mum is a school librarian, so I grew up surrounded by books and constantly encouraged to read.  Some of my happiest childhood memories are of being read to by my parents, or exploring our little local library.

What’s the first book that really struck a chord with you and why? My first instinct for this question was either Little Women (which we will come back to!) or Harry Potter, but since the question is the first book, we’re going back even further and I’m going to pick something totally different.  We have a stash of Christmas-specific books that we would break out every year and one that I remember being full-on obsessed with is called ‘A Letter to Father Christmas’ by Rose Impey – it’s a really sweet picture book about a girl called Charlotte who accidentally sends her mum’s shopping list to Father Christmas rather than her own wish list.  I have no idea why this book got me like it did, but it just makes me so happy when I look back on it now.

Do you have a favourite genre? I tend to read contemporary fiction and am mostly drawn towards stuff which is best classified as ‘first world white girl problems’.  Basically anything that’s a bit like Jacqueline Wilson or Judy Blume (the queens!), but for twenty-something women.

Is there a fictional character or characters that you can relate to? Jo March from Little Women was my first feminist icon and a big part of the reason I have always aspired to write for a living.  More recently, Johanna Morrigan from Caitlin Moran’s ‘How To Build A Girl’ and ‘How To Be Famous’ really spoke to me.  She is a character not often represented in (particularly YA) literature – bolshy and outspoken in contrast to the quieter, more reserved female characters who often narrate coming of age stories.  Johanna is a protagonist for the loud girls, the girls who have spent their lives being told to calm down and sit down and stop being quite so ‘much’.

 What’s the worst book you’ve ever read and why? This is a really hard question because I’ve got quite good at picking books that I’m fairly certain I’ll enjoy – my Goodreads account is just a load of four and five star reviews, because I don’t tend to read things that I don’t like.  One book I was really disappointed by was ‘The Virgin Suicides’ by Jeffrey Eugenides, because everyone loves it and so many women hold it up as this incredible piece of work so my expectations were high.  I just didn’t enjoy it that much – I didn’t really care about any of the characters.  Maybe if I read it again now, I’d get more from it?  I probably won’t bother.

What’s your favourite book to screen adaptation and why? I’m bending the rules and doing a top 5 for this (in no particular order) because I absolutely couldn’t narrow it down to just one.  ‘Prisoner of Azkhaban’ is my favourite HP book and the film is absolutely brilliant; the 1994 ‘Little Women’ has an insanely good cast and fills me with so much joy; ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ is one of the only book-to-screen adaptations where I think the film is actually better; the recent Netflix adaptation of Armistead Maupin’s ‘Tales of the City’ series is fantastic, with loads of diversity and LGBT representation within the cast; and the BBC’s ‘Sherlock’ remains some of the best TV I’ve ever seen and I loved all the nods to the books.

 What was the last book you read? The last book I finished was ‘Convenience Store Woman’ by Sayaka Murata, which is a punchy little Japanese novel about a women who has worked in the same convenience store for eighteen years.  It’s a really compelling exploration of the way society tries to force us to conform and what happens to those who don’t.  Very funny, well worth a read.

What are you currently reading? I’ve ended up with two books on the go at the moment, which I don’t normally do.  I started ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ (really fascinating and not something I would typically pick up) and then had a load of books I’d reserved from the library come through, so that’s on hold for now.  ‘Daisy Jones and The Six’ by Taylor Jenkins Reid is the one that stole me away and I can’t put it down – it’s an oral history of a fictional 70s rock band, and I’m absolutely devouring it.

If you could recommend just one book to everyone you ever met, which book would it be and why? Either ‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas or ‘The Power’ by Naomi Alderman.  Such powerful book.  Just read them.  Please.  They should both be on the national curriculum.

And finally, if you were to write an autobiography of your own life what would you call it? I mean, ‘First World White Girl Problems’ pretty much sums it up.

If you would be happy taking part, please comment below or alternatively you can tweet me here or send me a message on Instagram here.

Happy reading!

G.
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Currently Reading…

So those of you who follow my blog know that I suffer from the problem of indecisiveness. I struggle to select which book or novella I should read next as I have so many books backlogged from my years of not reading, so I use my TBR jar to help me decide. Quite simply, I write all the books I own, but haven’t read yet on a piece of paper, fold it and put it in the jar, then once I’ve finished a book I give the jar a shake and pick one out at random. It saves me the time and energy of standing in front of my bookshelf and perusing the titles, reading the blurbs, feeling the book, flicking through the pages, pursing my lips and scratching my head…I have a wedding to plan, a job to go to and Mr Tibbs (my kitten) to feed, so I don’t have time to do all the above. The point to all this?

The book I selected out of my TBR last night is…

 

Americana by Don DeLillo.

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I’ll put a full review up as soon as I’m done.

 

Thanks for reading and remember, it’s ok to have more books than shoes.

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These Are A Few Of My Favourite…..Words!

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As we communicate on a daily basis, there are words that we use more than others, but this post is all about the other words. The words that are delightful to use but tend not to seem right in our modern day society. So here are some of my favourite words.

 

Word: Discombobulate

Meaning: Verb INFORMAL MAINLY HUMOROUS – to confuse someone or make someone feel uncomfortable

Reason: My question to you would be ‘What’s NOT to love about this word?’ Just say it, go on…Discombobulate. It’s so enjoyable to say, so why don’t you make someone feel uncomfortable and use the word in your next conversation.

 

Word: Plebeian

Meaning: Adjective – of, relating to, or characteristic of the common people, esp. those of Rome

Reason: In my head there’s something so incredibly ancient about this word, it also reminds me of something I think the Queen would use in private to talk about the likes of normal people.

 

Word: Obstreperous

Meaning: Adjective – Noisy and difficult to control: ‘the boy is cocky and obstreperous’

Reason: When I finally have a child and it misbehaves, this is the word I’m going to pull out of the hat when other mothers are judging me because my little boy or girl is being noisy. I can see it now ‘Harry, stop being so obstreperous’ I can then look at the judgemental mothers, roll my eyes and give a little chuckle and walk away feeling smug in the knowledge that whilst my child may be a little mischievous, I’ve also used a rather beautiful word that they will have to go home and look up on the internet, because it’s the little victories in life.

 

Word: Ameliorate

Meaning: Verb – to make or become better; improve

Reason: Because to me, this word perfectly encapsulates, why many of us choose to get lost in a good book. We want to expand our mind, introduce ourselves to new characters and the worlds in which they live, but aside from that we want to add to our vocabulary. Essentially we all ameliorate from time to time, whether it be at sports, at work or in ourselves, we all want to become better and improve.

 

Word: Schmaltz

Meaning: Noun – excessive sentimentality, esp. in music

Reason: I love this because it sounds like a word that’s been made up by a TV show and popular culture, but it’s origins lie in German and Yiddish. Just give it a try, it sounds delightful in the mouth.

 

Word: Macabre

Meaning: Adjective – gruesome; ghastly; grim

Reason: This one of few words that when uttered by anyone, instantly conjures up images of dark and grotesque things. Let’s be honest you would be more inclined to visit the ‘Haunted House’ at a fair or read a horror novel if someone used the word macabre to describe it to you…Or is that just me?!

 

Word: Serendipity

Meaning: Noun – the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident

Reason: The actual meaning of the word is what I enjoy the most. Who hasn’t found a crumpled £5 note in a pair of jeans right when you really needed it, a pair of jeans you were just about to throw out too?! It isn’t all luck; it’s serendipity lending a hand when you’re least expecting it.

 

Word: Logophile

Meaning: Noun – a lover of words

Reason: This one makes me laugh, for someone who is a lover of words, one would expect the word itself to be more poetic, ambitious or, at least, slightly difficult to pronounce but alas logophile is what I am, and indeed you are. But I do love this word, because I thrive on learning new words and their meanings. I am a logophile and proud, thank you very much!

 

Ahhh, beautiful words…. I’d love to learn about the words other people enjoy or appreciate, so please do get in touch in the comments below.

 

Mr Keating and I…

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I still have no words at how unbelievably saddened I feel about the passing of this great man. The Dead Poet’s Society was a film that really inspired me when I was younger; I fell more and more in love with the written word and absorbed as many books as I could. I always dreamed of having a teacher like Mr Keating, but was never lucky enough to have that dream fulfilled. But when I recently re-watched the film, I realised it doesn’t matter, because Robin Williams brought Mr Keating alive on the screen and immortalized him forever on film. And like a well loved book, all tattered, beaten, dog eared but incredibly loved, I can revisit him as often as I want and find myself being inspired all over again.