Tag Archive: Big Bang


The Classics Club Spin #3

The Classics Club Spin

It’s that time again where we all list 20 books on our blog and a random number is chosen and we have to read the corresponding book over the next couple of months.  Last time, I read Rebecca which I really enjoyed, so hopefully this time I will be just as impressed by whichever book comes up!

Here is my list:

5 books I am really looking forward to:
1. Othello – William Shakespeare
2. Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien
3. The Comedy of Errors – William Shakespeare
4. The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins
5. The Cranford Chronicles – Elizabeth Gaskell

5 books on my TBR shelf:
6. Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare
7. Suite Francaise – Irène Némirovsky
8. The Mill on the Floss – George Eliot
9. The Warden – Anthony Trollope
10. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

5 books I don’t own yet:
11. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
12. Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens
13. If This is a Man – Primo Levi
14. Night – Elie Wiesel
15. Conference at Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

5 books I am slightly (!) apprehensive about:
16. Dombey and Son – Charles Dickens
17. Agnes Grey – Anne Brontë
18. A Chocolate Orange – Anthony Burgess
19. Middlemarch – George Eliot
20. Atonement – Ian McEwan

As you may well have noticed, it is rather late in May to be doing a wrap-up of April and planning my reading for May!  However, I have been crazy busy recently: in April we had Ugandan guests staying with us (they loved England, especially London!), I was also applying to be Head Boy of my school (I got it!!) and over the past week or two, I have been doing exams and obviously revision has taken priority over reading.  I have done my mechanics and further maths exams, leaving French, chemistry, physics and pure maths but now that I am on study leave (begins tomorrow) I should have more time to juggle.
Anyway, I thought I would post even if I don’t really have much to say about reading!

Here’s what I read in April 2013:

The Two Gentlemen of Verona – William Shakespeare

Le Petit Nicholas – Sempé-Goscinny

This is not very good as I aim to read at least three books every month.  This is half of what I read in February so I have definitely had a poor month!  My aim of 1200 pages a month was definitely not fulfilled, as I read a mere 318 pages which is miles off 1200!
I definitely did not do 30 minutes reading a day, but never mind!
I did not read at least one science book every two months but again never mind.
I actually did manage to fulfil my at least one classic a month target with The Two Gentlemen of Verona!
Lastly, I try to stay an active blogger and this was poor too – when I have more time I really hope to get back into the book blogging world.

Challenge Progress in April 2013:

The Classics Club :  14/60 books read  (1 this month: The Two Gentlemen of Verona )

At the moment this is my only challenge for 2013 – maybe I will formalise some of my own yearly reading goals into a challenge.

Currently In Progress:

At the moment, I have just finished The Code Book by Simon Singh and I am a few pages into my reread of 1984.

May Plans:

Books: Well we are already over half way through May but what the hell! The next three books on my TBR shelf are The Help, Rebecca and Suite Francaise but I can’t see myself reaching these before June.

Challenges:  If I finished 1984, then it will count towards The Classics Club.

Good luck to anyone else who is linked directly or indirectly to the exam season, I wish you all the best.  Everyone else, I hope you are well too and can forgive me for being very silent recently!

The Classics Club Spin

I thought I may as well combine these two posts (as the deadline is tomorrow…) so here is my spin list for The Classics Club.  We list 20 books from our original list in whichever categories we chose and then a random number is selected and we are challenged to read that book before the end of June (who knows if it will happen!)

Here is my list:

5 books I am really looking forward to:
1. Othello – William Shakespeare
2. Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
3. The Comedy of Errors – William Shakespeare
4. The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins
5. The Cranford Chronicles – Elizabeth Gaskell

5 books on my TBR shelf:
6. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
7. Suite Francaise – Irène Némirovsky
8. The Mill on the Floss – George Eliot
9. The Warden – Anthony Trollope
10. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

5 books I don’t own yet:
11. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
12. Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens
13. If This is a Man – Primo Levi
14. Night – Elie Wiesel
15. Conference at Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

5 books I am slightly (!) apprehensive about:
16. Dombey and Son – Charles Dickens
17. Agnes Grey – Anne Brontë
18. A Chocolate Orange – Anthony Burgess
19. Middlemarch – George Eliot
20. Atonement – Ian McEwan

March Wrap-Up & April Plans

Here we are in April yet it still feels like January!  I don’t understand why it is still so so cold here in the UK but I am just hoping it means and extra hot summer will follow… Anyway, March has been a relatively calm month for me apart from the usual business at school.  I got my results for my January exams and I was very relieved that all my hard work had paid off!  This two week Easter break has been very welcome and although it means starting revision for my next set of exams, it has given me some time to relax and read as well.

Here’s what I read in March 2013:

The Host – Stephenie Meyer

Big Bang – Simon Singh

The Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Full Cupboard of Life – Alexander McCall Smith

This is really good as I aim to read at least three books every month.  This is much more than I read in February so I have made up for a weak month I guess.  My aim of 1200 pages a month was definitely fulfilled, as I read 1600 pages exactly.
I’m not too sure if I did 30 minutes reading a day, although I am sure I did at the start and the end of the month!  Overall, I think it probably averaged about 30 mins a day, so that’s good too.
Reading Big Bang mean I read at least one science book every two months but since I didn’t read any science books in January or February, I should really try and read another before the end of April.  Also, it is getting closer to the time I apply to university so I may have to double my science reading.
I also fulfilled my at least one classic a month target with The Hound of the Baskervilles!
Lastly, I try to stay an active blogger and this was medium – I am not getting a lot of traffic on my blog at the moment and I think it’s because I am not reading much of other peoples…I don’t really have that much time to discover new blogs but I do always read the posts of people I follow already.  Maybe in the summer when more people have more time to read we will all become a bit better and being active bloggers!

Challenge Progress in March 2013:

The Classics Club :  13/60 books read  (1 this month: The Hound of the Baskervilles )

At the moment this is my only challenge for 2013 – maybe I will formalise some of my own yearly reading goals into a challenge.

Currently In Progress:

At the moment, I am reading The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Le Petit Nicholas but I have only just started them both and I’m not really into them yet.

April Plans:

Books: The next three books on my TBR shelf are 1984, The Code Book – Simon Singh and Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier.  Both the books I am currently reading may take me a while and when I go back to school next week I will be very busy again so these may turn into plans for May!

Challenges:  If I do get to 1984, then it will count towards The Classics Club.

Hopefully, you are all relaxing and reading a bit over Easter and (if appropriate) finding time for religion/spirituality too.  I am sure you’re all looking forward to the sun and warmth of summer as much as I am (if it ever comes).

the-hound-of-the-baskervillesTitle: The Hound of the Baskervilles

Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Date Finished: 27/03/13

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : Yes – The Classics Club & The Literary Classics

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

Sorry for the silence on the blog recently, I have been reading but I have been (as usual) very busy and although I finished Big Bang by Simon Singh, I didn’t post because I don’t normally write about science books on here.  Anyway, here I am finally on holiday (although revising of course) and I am ready to read!

As normal with Holmes stories, it took me a few days to get into this book, as the scene was set and the plot started to form but once I did I really enjoyed it.  It was interesting to compare this original Holmes writing with that of Horowitz in The House of Silk, which I read back in January.  I also loved reading the Vintage Classics edition (on the right).

The plot is so unique in this story – it really is unlike anything I have ever read before, even though it follows the usual Holmes structure.  I enjoyed the extended feel of the novel compared to the usual short stories that are over so quickly.  I thought the plot twists were quite ingenious whereas sometimes they have seemed a bit silly and contrived for me in the past.  When Holmes revealed himself I was totally surprised!

The characters are vivid as ever in this story – Holmes and Watson are up to their usual antics trying to sniff out a sinister plot but other characters leap out of the pages too, most notably the entomologist Stapleton and noble Sir Henry Baskerville.  I was pleased that there weren’t too many characters flying around to confuse me as sometimes happens.  It always seems slightly more insidious when there are only a few characters and we know one of them must be behind the whole thing.

The setting on the moors is ridiculously spooky so no wonder they are all terrified of this hound!  Dark, lonely, cold,  foggy…there is a lot of pathetic fallacy that helps darken the mood of the story.  I liked the style of writing a lot and I think that writing from the point of view of Dr Watson is one of the reasons why the Holmes stories have been so successful over time – we always feel very involved.

Overall, this was a great read that I would highly recommend, however, I think it is best to experience some of the Holmes short stories first, as there is very little explanation of his queer methods and characteristics.  Another title crossed off my Classics Club list too! 🙂

February Wrap-Up & March Plans

Well February is always a month that goes quickly, as obviously there are only 28 days, and this year that was the case too.  I had an absolutely amazing week in Uganda – I truly fell in love with Africa and with Uganda especially.  The music, the scenery and above all the people just made it the best week of my life.  I won’t bore you with loads of details but basically, my Dad set up a link with his school to a school near Masindi about 6/7 years ago and this year he went back with me, my sister, two students from his school and two teachers.  We saw all the amazing developments the link has made possible for the school in Uganda and we were hosted magnificently well.  We spent the second last day on a river cruise along the Nile to Victoria Falls, which was obviously mind-blowing.  We even saw elephants in the wild!
Unfortunately, while I was in Uganda there was such intermittent power and basically no alone time, so I barely read at all.  Since I came back, I managed to read a bit but my time was taken up with mounds of coursework!

Here’s what I read in February 2013:

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Richard III – William Shakespeare

I know this is a bit rubbish as I aim to read at least three books every month.  This is fewer books than I read in January, but I do think I had good excuses!  My aim of 1200 pages a month was not fulfilled as I read only 637 pages.
I definitely did not keep up my 30 minutes reading a day, although I did read at least for a few minutes every day, even in Uganda when it was like midnight and I knew I had to get up at about 6!
I did take Big Bang with me to Uganda, but I have not read at least one science book every two months so I need to read 2 between March and April ideally!
I definitely fulfilled my at least one classic a month target as both the books I read were classics!
Lastly, I try to stay an active blogger and this was definitely a fail for February – I haven’t been that good at posting or commenting, but I hope I will improve in March.

I am not too disappointed as I did read 2 books and The Host (which I am reading now) is very long anyway.

Challenge Progress in February 2013:

The Classics Club :  12/60 books read  (2 this month: Pride and Prejudice and Richard III )

I reviewed my Classics Club list and have added a few alternatives as I am now a year into my list – details here!

I hope there may be some new challenges in 2013 that fit in with my reading plans for this year; if not maybe I will create my own!

Currently In Progress:

At the moment, I am rereading The Host and actually really enjoying it (I know it may not seem like my kind of book, but it’s actually really good!) I was hoping to finish it in February, then at the beginning of March but it is very long and may take a bit longer than anticipated!

March Plans:

Books: The next three books on my TBR shelf are Big Bang – Simon Singh, Le Petit Nicholas and 1984.  I need to read Big Bang and I would love to get to 1984 and Le Petit Nicholas as well, but this may not be possible!

Challenges:  If I do get to 1984, then it will count towards the classics club.

I really hope to find some more reading time in March – hopefully the Easter holidays will give me a few more hours in the day to play with…but with uni open days and exams looming, it may get worse before it gets better!!

January Wrap-Up & February Plans

I say this every month without fail, but January 2013 has flown by!  It was Christmas and suddenly it’s now February!  Well anyway, January was quite a busy month for me, as I had 5 exams which (mostly) went well thank goodness…I get the results in March!  Also, there was all sorts of crazy weather including a large dumping of snow which shut school…except I had to go in anyway for an exam! :O  I’m sure February will prove to be just as crazy and busy, as I am off to Uganda for 8 days next Sunday!  It is going to be an amazing and eye-opening experience for definite but also a 9 hour plane journey seems like prime reading time!

Here’s what I read in January 2013:

Villette – Charlotte Brontë

The House of Silk – Anthony Horowitz

The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien

This is good as I aim to read at least three books every month.  This is more than I read in December, which is good.  My aim of 1200 pages a month was fulfilled as I read 1340 pages.
For the first 3 weeks of January I had no problems keeping up my 30 minutes reading a day, despite my exams, but as soon as I started Pride and Prejudice, I couldn’t maintain this – I just can’t really get into it!
I need to read a science book next month to keep up with my target of at least one science book every two months.
I definitely fulfilled my at least one classic a month target as I read two – The Hobbit and Villette.
Lastly, I try to stay an active blogger and I have worked on this – commenting more and when not commenting still reading posts.  I also came across quite a few new blogs due to The Classics Club Readathon.

So as you can see, I have met pretty much all of my targets for January 2013, so hopefully I can keep it up in February.

Challenge Progress in January 2013:

The Classics Club :  10/60 books read  (2 this month: Villette & The Hobbit )

The Literary Classics Reading Challenge: 6/15 (Villette) (This challenge has been discontinued but it does no harm to keep track anyway!)

I have some more classics to add to my Classics Club list and I really need to do this before Uganda – I hope I have time!

Currently In Progress:

At the moment, I am reading Pride and Prejudice but it is taking me FOR EVER!  I think this is because I haven’t really had the time to dedicate to it that it deserves and the days have just slipped by.  I am really hoping to finish it before Uganda.

February Plans:

Books: The next three books on my TBR shelf are Middlemarch still, Richard III and Le Petit Nicholas.  I am leaving Middlemarch, but I am taking Richard III, The Host and Big Bang (Simon Singh) to Uganda with me so I have some varied reading.

Challenges:  When I do my Classics Club review, Richard III will count towards that and the next classic I plan for after that will probably be 1984 (a re-read).

Yes my reading has been a bit sparse over the last week or so, but the rest of January was really good for me, especially as I loved The Hobbit so much.  I hope you all discover some new favourites in February like I did in January. 🙂

Title: Fermat’s Last Theorem

Author: Simon Singh

Date Finished: 21/10/12

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : No

Overall: 5/5 – absolutely brilliant

This is the first major science book I have read and I really enjoyed it.  Now that I’ve started my a-levels and have started to think about university, a broad knowledge of the subjects that interest me is becoming expected.  This means (for me) reading around maths and chemistry and this book is almost mandatory for anyone interested in maths to read.  Indeed, I read somewhere ‘you would stand out only by not reading this book’!

However, do not be fooled…you do not need any mathematical background to enjoy this book.  Obviously if maths is abhorrent to you, it may not be the best story to go for, but anyone who has basic levels of mathematics won’t struggle at all, as anything complex (such as elliptic curves or modular forms!) is either explained very clearly so ‘normal’ people can understand, available in an appendix at the end for ‘mathsy’ people (a-level ish standard) to have a look at, or just ignored completely, as we don’t need to be able to comprehend the mathematics to understand the story.

The length of the book was perfect – enough to be a decent read but nothing was laboured over and at the end I felt like I had a really solid overview of the history of Fermat’s Last Theorem and also of number theory in general.  There were interesting chapters on ancient mathematicians such as Pythagoras and some of the attempted proofs of the theorem that I had no idea about.  It is even more compelling to read because you know everything is true!

Singh’s prose is exemplary: he tells a brilliant story and makes complex mathematical concepts easy to understand.  He is very skilled.  It is often the case that authors may possess one of these two important traits and brilliant stories are ruined by confusing calculations or very well-explained concepts are immersed in an awfully dull story.  Singh manages to be the best of both worlds. I will be reading another of his books, Big Bang, soon and I have already ordered another, The Code Book.  If you are interested in some not-too-heavy sciencey-reading, then Simon Singh is definitely a really good place to start.

I don’t think I will re-read this book particularly soon, despite enjoying it so much as there is not the same ‘re-experience’ of characters and a deep plot that you get with a novel.  Next up for normal reading is Macbeth by Shakespeare and I think after that I might start my next science book, E=mc² by David Bodanis.  I have still got The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest by Stieg Larsson on the go as well, and I am really enjoying that too.