It’s World Book Day, so naturally there’s discussion in the office about the books we’re currently reading. As a PR agency, we’re all lovers of the written word, even though we may have differing tastes – we’re yet to get Dave reading Harry Potter books, not for lack of trying. So here are some of the books we’ve been reading recently.
by Julia Donalson
As a mother of two young children, I don’t get a huge amount of time to read for myself. But I do have an extensive knowledge of anything and everything written by Julia Donaldson, and can probably recite The Gruffalo in my sleep.
I’m lucky that both children genuinely enjoy story time and have very good taste in books (and there are many damn awful kids books out there, trust me). Julia has written some classics; my particular favourites being ZOG and Room on the Broom. Each encompasses beautiful illustrations by Axel Scheffler, interesting characters, gentle captivating rhyming, and some truly wonderful plot twists! I mean, who imagined that when ZOG first went to school, he’d wind up becoming a flying ambulance?! MIND BLOWN!!
Another plus about Julia’s stories is the cleverly woven-in messaging around equality, bravery, friendship, and the importance of perseverance. All of which, of course, are important things to teach your kids.
So, whilst I might not be as well-read as perhaps once I was, I do take heart that I’m raising two future bookworms, who I’m sure will go on to great things having started their reading journey at such a tender age.
Poison for Breakfast
by Lemony Snicket
I have just finished a book by one of my favourite authors, Lemony Snicket. The book is Poison For Breakfast and it’s a very… interesting book. The story tells how the author finds a note after breakfast saying that he has “just eaten poison” and follows his quest to discover who sent the note and if it is true.
The resolution is pretty underwhelming, but the book is not really about him trying to find out if he’s been poisoned. It’s all the things that happen on the way. The people he meets and the places he visits that makes him think and question the world around him.
“We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” the sign on the wall continued, and this struck me as alarming, because I didn’t want a supermarket thinking about me much more often than I thought about the supermarket. … Someday the supermarket will close down, because of bankruptcy or mice or an invading army, and so this promise will be shattered along with the wall on which it was written. I would have been more reassured by sentences like “We’re here, although you know this already because you’re here too” or “We have reasonable business hours”.
Another neat feature is that at the back of the book there is an index of the cultural references made in the book, with a line or two about the book/play/song and author to encourage you to learn more.
The trademark humour and philosophical nature of the book is very engaging and provides some unique insights on the world and how we live our lives.
Why The Dutch Are Different: A Journey into the Hidden Heart of the Netherlands
by Ben Coates
After relocating to the Netherlands at the end of last year, I was keen to find out more about other expats’ experiences, especially from a perspective of someone that has left the UK.
The author takes readers into the heart of his adopted country, going beyond the usual tourist attractions and cliches to explore what it is that makes the country unique – and why the colour orange is so important!
I am enjoying this book so far, as it does a good job of weaving Dutch history with current events, tensions and traditions in the Netherlands. The authors exploration of Dutch history and as a way of understanding their character is clear and well written. Being married to a Dutch man, this book is helping me understand him and his family on a much deeper level too.
If you love a Dutch person, would like to visit the country or have an interest in The Netherlands this is definitely worth a read.
by Bridget Collins
I thoroughly enjoyed Bridget Collins’ previous work The Binding. In fact, I loved it so much that I stayed up until 7:00 AM in the morning; unable to go to sleep without knowing what happened next! Therefore, when I discovered her subsequent novel The Betrayals in my local bookshop, I immediately picked it up without hesitation.
Like The Binding, The Betrayals is a piece of magic realism fiction for adults. Set in a fictional European country during the 1930’s, the plot centres around a mysterious art form called ‘the grand jeu’. The author never explicitly explains what this ‘grand jeu’ is – even though the two main characters are dedicated scholars to it – however it is alluded to being a subtle game that utilises elements of mathematics, music, meditation and a “communion with the divine”.
So far, I am not finding this book as addictive a read as its predecessor, and I often find Collins’ deliberately enigmatic approach to describing the grand jeu in The Betrayals both tedious and frustrating. However, Collins is a master at interweaving small details throughout the story that keep you intrigued and wanting for more, as well as creating characters that you are genuinely interested in and care about. So, for now I will keep on reading!
by JK Rowling
Today is World Book Day, and although I’m not currently reading anything, it has become tradition for me to use these blogs to promote the Harry Potter series. Having recently visited Harry Potter World at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, I was reminded of the book’s overwhelming success upon release, and how it still holds the same cult-like following today.
Having sold more than 500 million copies worldwide, Harry Potter is undoubtedly one of the greatest storybook successes of all-time, and one that I was lucky enough to enjoy during my younger years. For this reason, it is a series that I will occasionally revisit and would definitely recommend to those who still haven’t tried it!
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
by Douglas Adams
My current read is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. A classic winding tale first released as an award winning radio program, that follows the adventures of a curious cast of characters, navigating the weirdest parts of the universe and meeting people, creatures and situations that boggles the mind.
Truly an accurately described classic for the ages. I am thoroughly enjoying this book and upon finishing it, I doubt it will be put on a shelf for long.
Dave is currently reading… his emails.