Tag Archive: Orwell


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

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May Wrap-Up & June Plans

Wow I’ve managed to write a planning post within the first week of the month!  May has been slightly better than April for reading, although it has gone crazily quickly!  I have had lots of exams and now (hallelujah!) I only have one left.  It’s a shame though, as it’s in two weeks time and all my friends have finished already! Oh well, that’s life!  I am back to school and lessons next week so I thought I would try and post now as I might not have time again for a while.

By the way my classics club spin book is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, which I have started and I am enjoying so far.

Here’s what I read in May 2013:

The Code Book – Simon Singh

1984 – George Orwell

This is not very good as I aim to read at least three books every month.  This is the same number of books as I read in April  so at least I haven’t got any worse (if that’s even possible!).  My aim of 1200 pages a month was definitely not fulfilled, as I read only 727 pages – but this is over double what I read in April so it’s ok!
I definitely did not do 30 minutes reading a day, but I actually wasn’t far off!
I did read at least one science book every two months as I read The Code Book.
I did fulfil my at least one classic a month target with 1984 too!
Lastly, I try to stay an active blogger and this was poor too – better than last month but still a lot of improvements to make.

Challenge Progress in April 2013:

The Classics Club :  15/60 books read  (1 this month: 1984) This makes 25%!

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 enjoying Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and I am about 1/4 of the way through.  I am also loving my latest science read, Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey-Williams, which is all about some of the myths, history and traditions of the chemical elements and is so far a great read.

June Plans:

Books: The next three books on my TBR shelf are: The Help, The Amber Spyglass and Suite Francaise.  I really hope to get to The Amber Spyglass but I don’t know about the others.

Challenges:  Rebecca and Suite Francaise are part of my Classics Club list.

Again good luck to everyone with exams (or with friends/family doing exams!) I hope you all do your best and enjoy the rest of the summer.  I tell you, if the weather stays like it is, I won’t even need my holiday to Corsica!  We have had so much sunshine over the past week or so and there has also been the French Open…you can see why I might not have done as much reading as I could have done…nor revision!

1984 – George Orwell

1984Title: 1984

Author: George Orwell

Date Finished: 28/05/13

Re-Read? : First time read

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

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

It seems like so long since I last posted about a book (I read The Code Book recently, but I don’t usually post about science reading) but now that it’s half term I have had a few more hours in the day to play with.  Although using reading as a was of procrastinating probably isn’t particularly conducive to good exam results, it is better than just watching the French Open all day, right?!

I have three exams left out of six – chemistry physics and my final maths exam and I am just trying my best to keep up the revision motivation until the end!  I will really be tested when I go on my annual church weekend away for the weekend before my maths exam!!

Anyway, back to the reading!  1984 is a re-read for me but I first read this rather powerful novel back in 2010 when I was only 14 so I expected to have a different experience this time around.  I think last time, I probably only focused on the plot and trying to keep afloat in the world of Ingsoc, Newspeak etc.  Now I am much older (maybe more mature?) and definitely more educated – I have, since then, studied the rise of extremism in Europe and how the fear of communism drove westerners crazy.  Hopefully, I have appreciated some of the more subtle points that Orwell made this time.

In terms of the plot, 1984 is totally unique and despite the 3 year gap, the main story had stuck with me.  This is quite an endearment because usually I can only remember the very basics about a book.  This also meant my attention could focus deeper into the story.  I don’t want to spoil the plotline for people who haven’t read this yet (you should!) but the inevitable discovery by the Thought Police came to me this time as quite a strong point – it is the point where the book deviates from the ‘norm’ in my opinion – there are so many books about individuals trying to fight oppression and they are almost always successful!  Not in 1984.  Throughout the book, even as a reread, you can’t help but have hope that Winston will find a way of successfully hiding his rebellious thoughts whilst surviving and it takes until the very end for you to realise Orwell’s point – there is no hope and no possibility of maintaining ‘bad thoughts’.  Never have I experienced such a perfect embodiment of a state of mind into a book!

The characters are quite sparse in 1984 but the ones we do get to know are very well detailed.  Julia is a breath of fresh rebellious air, and O’Brien is never really understood.  The book is definitely about one man’s (Winston’s) struggle against the state and it is him whom we really know even though the book is in the third person.  I would’ve preferred slightly more storylines and definitely more characters to read about – really for how much detail the book crams in, it is quite short and I would be quite happy to read another 100 pages!

The prose is very eloquent and the sophisticated and extensive range of language often contrasts nicely with the use and description of ‘Newspeak’ in a kind of juxtaposition which I liked a lot.  Despite the sometimes verbose language, I did not find it a struggle to keep up with the book and I think this shows how much I have improved as a reader over the last couple of years.  The setting is very haunting to us in Britain and I wonder if this book can ever really have the same impact in other countries.  To see London becoming faceless and dull is awful and makes Orwell’s point hit home – this is what left wing totalitarianism means.  On the other hand, the ‘red scare’ was obviously a lot more prominent in the USA so maybe at the time, this book spoke more to people on that side of the Atlantic.  Obviously, I don’t know the answer, but I do know that 1984 is a brilliant, thought-provoking read and essential for a well-rounded reader!  Put it on your reading list if you haven’t already!

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).

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. 🙂

Every week, The Broke and The Bookish poses a category for book bloggers to post their ‘Top Ten’ in that week’s category.

This week the category is ‘Top Ten Favourite Covers’, with the advice to be ‘as specific or general as you want‘. Therefore I have decided to post my top ten covers of books that I currently own (not in any order – that would be too difficult!)  The covers here are the versions that I actually own.

1. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë (Vintage Classics).  The Vintage Classics series is known for stunning covers – ‘jacket design is integral to our vintage classics’ and each book in the series has a pertinent and beautiful cover.  I love the way they hint at something in the book’s plot, like the key signifying the locked up secret in Jane Eyre.

2. Saraswati Park – Anjali Joseph (Fourth Estate).  Unfortunately, the best part of this book was actually the cover as the story was rather disappointing! However, the cover is very well designed and a pleasure to look at – one of those books you are very careful with, as you don’t want to damage or spoil it!

3. The Man In The High Castle – Philip K. Dick (Penguin Modern Classics).  Again, a book that I didn’t particularly enjoy (although it is very unique) but a cover that I will never forget.  The reason it made this list is because of how shocking the cover is – it immediately perplexes you and really gets your mind thinking.  I did have to be a bit careful as to where I was reading it though!

4. 1984 – George Orwell (Penguin).  This is such an iconic book and the cover is striking and memorable too – both in the book and on the cover you can’t get away from the idea that ‘big brother is watching you‘!

5. The Number 1. Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith (Abacus).  This series are possibly THE books I most enjoy reading, on account of their being so funny, interesting and cheerful.  Lovely happy, bright covers which perfectly match the books they are surrounding.

6. Matilda – Roald Dahl (Puffin Modern Classics).  I have always loved Roald Dahl’s books, especially Matilda and The Witches and I have chosen the cover of Matilda for this list.  My version is very pink, but has a large illustration of Matilda by Quentin Blake on the front.  I think Roald Dahl’s words and Quentin Blake’s illustrations and both just as important for these childhood books so that is why this cover is so important to me.

7. The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo – Stieg Larsson (Quercus).  This book is one of my favourites and the whole series keeps me reading through the night.  I especially like this cover of the first book because it shows Noomi Rapace (who plays Lisbeth in the Swedish films) who I think portrays Lisbeth perfectly.

8. Northern Lights – Philip Pullman (Point).  I love the original (back in my day blah blah…) covers of the His Dark Materials Trilogy and I think Northern Lights is my favourite of the three, probably because my favourite colour is blue and that is the main background of this one!!

9. One Day – David Nicholls (Hodder).  There is so much to love about the cover of this book: its design is unique, the orange is amazing, the actual feel of the book is great … I could go on.  A great book with a really novel idea and a really novel cover to match.

10. Emma – Jane Austen (Vintage Classics).  I started this list with a Vintage Classic and I’m ending it with one too; rather appropriately, I think, because in my opinion this series of classics has the best covers that I have come across and they are always the ones that catch my eye when I’m browsing in bookshops.