BBAW Day One – Introducing Myself

I am very excited to get involved in The Estella Society’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week this year – it’s good to take a pause from blogging and discuss a little bit of why we all do it.  I love how friendly the book blogging community is and have been making an effort to get involved more actively over the past few years and this seemed like an excellent opportunity.

Day 1 Introduce yourself by telling us about five books that represent you as a person or your interests/lifestyle.

      1. Goldilocks and the Three Bears
        ladybird goldilocksThis was the very first story I ever loved.  It wasn’t even just the specific Goldilocks version – I liked any story that featured bears so Winnie-the-Pooh and Paddington Bear were also early favourites.  But what I loved most was pretending to be one of the Three Bears.  I remember reading Allan Ahlberg’s Ten in a Bed where Dinah Price comes home every day to a different character from fairytale stories in her bed and my favourite chapter was the one where the Three Bears turned up. What interests me though is that this is only the first of many, many family sagas which I have read and loved over the years.  The MennymsThe BagthorpesBallet Shoes, Ursula Under, so many of the books that I love best are those which have a strong family dynamic at their core.  Looking through the books which I have reviewed over the years, it is surprising how many of them I can tag as ‘family story’.  From very, very early on – and definitely from before I could read – I have enjoyed stories about families facing a drama together (in this case burglary-by-Goldilocks).
      2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen pulptheprejudice
        The story of how Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy found true love is one of most truly perfect novels in English literature.  I first read it aged roughly nine – I may have been just turning ten, it was certainly a while ago.  This began what I feel will be a lifetime of being a crazy Austen fan-girl.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to go out and watch Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, nor am I likely to ever read Austenland, but when my boyfriend suggested a weekend away in Bath, my first reaction was to ask rather breathlessly if we could go and visit the Jane Austen Centre while we are there.  I am a rather old-fashioned reader in many ways – I like a lot of 1940s fiction, Victorian (e.g. Brontes) literature and have adored The Little House on the Prairie series since childhood – and one of the great things about book blogging is the opportunity to share opinions on even the most obscure books.
      3. The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Alison Weir6wives
        One thing that does seem to be far less popular in the book blogosphere is non-fiction.  I feel that this is hugely sad because I can easily get as enthusiastic over my non-fiction reads as I do over the novels.  This was the first ‘grown-up’ non-fiction book that I read, aged about eight (I took it in dribs and drabs and completed it aged about ten).  I do feel that there is under-representation in book blogging – I admit that they are harder to review since you run the risk of ‘summarising’ the facts, and I have no doubt been guilty of so doing in the past but so often the quality of the writing is still just as highly skilled and yet there is far less recognition for beautifully constructed sentences in the non-fiction section compared to their literary colleagues.  There are very few sections on history in which I am not interested and while I am perhaps a particular Alison Weir fan in particular, there are so many wonderful reads outside of this too.  Strangely, despite being an avid reader of historical fiction, aside from Hilary Mantel’s glorious Wolf Hall, it tends to be historical biography that gives me the keenest sense of the real people – it makes them seem so much more accessible.
      4. Possession, A S Byatt
        possession coverThis is one of those wonderful and rare books that feels as though it was specifically written for me – I love reading and I love mysteries and I love sagas that go back over time.  Possession is a book for people who love books – for everyone who has ever actually gotten excited by textual analysis (this may be a slender demographic but a sincere one nonetheless).  It is a similar way though to how I enjoy the Thursday Next Adventures – both are well-written but there is also a great deal of added value for the long-term bookworm, with copious in-jokes in the latter that would pass the more general reader by.  Possession is one of those books that I truly revere – more so than any of Byatt’s subsequent work, this one feels like a feat of genius.
      5. How to be a Heroine, Samantha Ellishow to be a heroine
        This is another book which feels designed especially for me – or else perhaps as if I really ought to get out and try to get to know Samantha Ellis.  This one is all about how our own reading can affect our outlook – this is incredibly true for me.  This is also part of why I loved Hadley Freeman’s Be Awesome too, which analysed how we can find ourselves mirroring fictional characters.  What I loved in particular about How to be a Heroine though was just how many of the characters loved by Ellis were characters which I had loved too.  This was a literary journey that I was all too happy to join in and which helped me to look back on my bookish past as a journey which has made me who I am.

 

 

So these are the books that I feel best represent me – can’t wait to see what everyone else has picked!

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44 thoughts on “BBAW Day One – Introducing Myself

    1. Haha – I get a very similar sense from yours! I have to admit though, having been following your site for quite a while, I do sometimes forget that you and I have actually not met. It’s the great thing about how a love of literature can unite people!

  1. I love Austen too — but I also have a lot of fun with the spin-offs. Love the cover of your P&P. I too have read a lot of Weir’s nonfiction. I know she’s ventured into fiction, but I’m not sure if I’ve read any of it.

    1. I’m not a fan of Weir’s fiction but I will always be grateful for the nudge she gave me into non-fiction – she’s incredibly talented within her field. And yes, I am a definite Austen geek – have you read Longbourn? That’s my favourite of the spin-offs.

      Thank you for commenting!

  2. No surprises for those of us who have followed you for sometime now!

    It reminds me, not for the first time, that I find myself as on of your followers because of your review of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ and admire your reviews for our shared dislike of ‘The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas’!

    [An aside, the film of TBITSP is on television this week – Wednesday BBC 4 – and in its preview The Sunday Times describes the book as a ‘fable’ more than an accurate history, doesn’t change my view of it all.]

        1. I don’t mind Schindler’s List in the same way. Although I do remember one of my friends as a teenager watched it back-to-back for a fortnight and then wondered why he felt depressed. I think that the film simplifies the story (for example the role of Mrs Schindler) but I think that it does tell an important story. I mentioned the time that I had to explain the Holocaust to a class of ten year-olds and being able to tell them that there had been people like Oskar Schindler was nice – I know it’s a bit of a sop (like stories of the French resistance – sadly outweighed by what was bad) but these stories are nonetheless important.

          1. Yes, very important. My argument against the film is that there many documentaries that do the job of communicating the tragedy and more could be made about those such as Schindler and stories of Jewish resistance that are rarely heard. Using the Holocaust for fictional ends (even when based on facts) is a risky route to follow.

    1. Thank you! I found your list really interesting too – and yes, that cover of Pride and Prejudice makes me giggle every time. Also really good to find another Possession fan – I find people either love it or loathe it. Really enjoying the week already!

  3. Information from BBAW sign-ups also heavily suggests that nonfiction is under-represented in the blogosphere. I actually read a ton of nonfiction that I don’t blog about, but I’d like to be better this year. Maybe I’ll make that a goal!

    Happy BBAW! 🙂

    1. I think it is more challenging to review a non-fiction book, but I do think it’s still worthwhile. I do review non-fiction, but they do tend towards personal reflections on occasion. I think as well that it’s easy for my non-fiction books to stay in the TBR for when I have more time and that’s something that I really want to fix this year.

      Thank you so much for commenting! Happy BBAW to you too!

    1. Ah thank you – not everyone understands how much I longed to be a bear haha 🙂 I think Pride and Prejudice is my favourite classic too – I bought my Mum the Spineless Classic poster a few years ago and wherever you look at it, every sentence is lovely.

    1. Hey! I love your site – I did part of a French degree (it was half English lit, half French) so I was really interested by your pics. I like reading about language – it’s really interesting to see how the meanings of words have changed over time. And I’m so happy to find so many fellow-bloggers agree with me about non-fiction! Looking forward to hearing from you as the week goes on 🙂

    1. That would be an excellent, though ambitious, book for a read along (I always enjoy those too). And yes, How to be a Heroine is fantastic, I can’t recommend it highly enough – although I do think that it’s a ‘Must-love-books’ kind of book, a friend who doesn’t read a great deal read it and didn’t get all of the references.

  4. Hello! I’m new here and it’s lovely to meet you. I love Jane Austen (though I don’t mind the cheeky spinoffs) and I really think I need to read a non fiction account of Henry VIII’s wives. I’ve read so many fictionalized accounts that some bare facts would be interesting. Also interesting? I read an article where they posited that Henry VIII suffered too many head injuries jousting and had the concussion brain thing that football players get. And perhaps that was why he was so keen on beheading? Hard to say, but fascinating stuff.

    1. Lovely to meet you too! Really enjoying BBAW so far 🙂 For me, it really depends on the spin-off – and how well written it is. I find the biography of Henry VIII’s wives far more interesting than any of the historical fiction – and though I have heard the theory of the head injury, I have also read a very convincing account that this is just an urban legend. I think he just got a God complex (easy to do when you’re king) as well as a side-helping of paranoia – oh I could go on and on about him. I’m a fan (sort of) but I think he was a nasty, nasty man. Please do come back and comment again!

  5. I love Pride and Prejudice but not mixed with Zombies, lol! I have read Austenland and it was pretty entertaining. Otherwise I like to just stick with Austen–she does it best.

    1. Not read Austenland, that might be something to try. Longbourn by Jo Baker was good though. I really didn’t enjoy Death Comes to Pemberley, that was just tedious (the television adaptation was significantly more bearable). I agree though that Austen herself did it best. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  6. What a great bunch of books! I had totally forgotten about the Henry VIII book. I was so interested in that one many years ago and I don’t read much non-fiction at all. I’m a Jane Austen lover, although P&P is not my favorite – that would be S&S. And Thursday Next – yes, yes, yes!

    1. Interesting – not many people but S&S first, although I really like it too. It’s such an interesting book and so particularly of its time. And yes, Thursday Next is so amazing! I am a bit of a Tudor nerd – it doesn’t matter how tenuous, the odds are that I will be interested. Thank you for commenting, hope you enjoy the week! 🙂

  7. one of the great things about book blogging is the opportunity to share opinions on even the most obscure books.

    My sentiments exactly! I love it when bloggers highlight older books or titles that got less press–including nonfiction, which as you’ve pointed out is all too rare.

    1. Yes! Exactly! I’ve discovered so many really obscure books through other bloggers – I mean, there are a lot of Young Adult bloggers too but there are also so many great sites dealing with books that are out of print or less well-known – I love talking about books and with my site, I can almost always find someone who will talk back! Thank you for commenting, enjoy the week!

  8. I wish I had thought to include a childhood book on my list…I have so many that were important in my formative years! Matilda is the first that comes to mind.

    Also, if you’re looking for more book bloggy excitement over nonfiction books, I highly recommend checking out Katie at doingdeweydecimal.com…she discusses a lot of nonfic, and also hosts a monthly nonfiction book club. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! 🙂 I will most definitely check that out.

      Matilda is a great pic for favourite childhood book – I find it really interesting to step back and consider what a journey reading can be. There are still a lot of recurring themes in the books I pick now compared to the ones that would have interested me as a child.

      Hope you enjoy the week, do come back and visit again 🙂

  9. I love all your books! I’m an Alison Weir fan myself and love reading history (I don’t really go for historical fiction much though). And I also enjoyed How to be a Heroine, though the first part was my favorite bit.

    1. Thank you! And thank you for commenting! I also have mixed feelings about historical fiction – I want to like it, but so often it just infuriates me. My angriest reviews tend to be of historical fiction. I adored How to be a Heroine – it’s one of my favourite books of the past few years, I think it’s such a fascinating concept, it’s great to hear that there are more fans out there! Hope you enjoy the week! 🙂

    1. I know! I already had a copy and I bought it anyway! Which proves that the people over at Pulp the Classics are on to something there … I also have their version of Wuthering Heights, but that at least was a present. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  10. As others have said, love that pulpy cover for Pride and Prejudice!
    I’m also a nonfiction lover. I think one of the nice things about nonfiction reviews is that I’m much more likely to comment on a review of a nonfiction book I’ve never heard of because I’ll feel that I’ll at least have something to say about the subject matter of the NF book. And I’ve actually learned a lot from nonfiction books even if I haven’t read the book itself. I think there’s a factoid from Bill Bryson’s At Home that I quote to people and I got the factoid from someone’s review. Have never read the book.

    1. Thank you – I love it, I wish I could get it as a poster!
      That’s a really interesting point about commenting on reviews – I agree that if I spot a review of a book on an area that I’m interested in, I am more likely to be interested than if it’s just a general fiction review. Again, that’s because I have an awareness of the subject matter and am likely to want to find out more, while fiction, it feels like more depends on the writer, the plot – there are more variables. I love the idea of learning from each other’s reviews too though. Thank you for commenting and please come back again – enjoy BBAW! 🙂

  11. I hear you on nonfiction being much less popular, and it always makes me sad because some of my favorite books are nonfiction! I’m (finally!) drafting my intro post for BBAW, and four out of my five picks are NF.

    Glad to meet another fact-loving blogger! 🙂

  12. I like your picks! I feel like we probably have a lot in common (aside from books). I recently discovered my love for Austen and if I were anywhere near BAth, I’d probably pop in the Jane Austen Centre — I mean, you’re already there, right? I’ve loved mysteries for as long as I can remember and while I have Possession on my TBR for ages and ages, it has yet to be read. Twas nice to meet you!

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