Sunday, 27 July 2014

My Holiday Reads

I'm off on my summer hols in just 12 days, and so I've bought some books to keep me company on my travels. Going away is a wonderful excuse to buy some books, as I won't be able to get to my library for six weeks [that will be the longest I've ever gone without visiting a library since I was about four!] I've only bought three, which probably won't be enough to last me much longer than a fortnight, since they're all relatively quick reads and I've aleady started reading one of them [oops.] Oh well, if I do finish them quickly, it will give me the excuse to visit some foreign bookshops [in the hope that they'll have some English language books knocking around] which will hopefully make for nice excursions and interesting blog posts. Here's what I bought:

 1. Can't Stand up For Sitting Down by Jo Brand

This one was a surprising purchase for me as I don't find Jo Brand particulary funny - I certainly don't expect to laugh out loud when reading this. I do however find her warm and pragmatic, and after scanning a few pages found I liked her writing style. I've read several autobiographies by comedians including Graham Norton, Alan Carr and Michael Mcintyre, and I think I'm drawn to their stories because I so admire what they do. Even though I don't mind public speaking, standing up in front of hundreds of people trying to make them laugh would be incredibly daunting for me,and I always find it interesting to hear about this experience from the comedian's point of view. It also interesting to hear about the comedian's struggles to get to the top, and the hecklers and the stony silences they had to endure along the way. I've read a few chapters, and already I'm intrigued by the tales Brand has to tell. 

2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them by J.K Rowling or [Newt Scamander]

There was a time in the not so distant past where every summer was spent reading the latest Harry Potter. Sadly that time has now ended, so as a way of re-entering a world that I love so much, I bought this. It's basically J.K Rowling's imagining of a wizard's text book - a guide to the mythical beasts that litter Harry Potter's universe.This book should prove to be a fun read, not least because Rowling has written this from an eccentric wizard's point of view.

3. How to Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran is what I want to be when I grow up - confifdent, balsy, infinitely talented and my absolute favourite journalist ever. Her first book How to be a Woman is excessively wonderful - you just can't argue with her beautiful logic, and after reading that, I vowed to purchase every book she wrote after. So, in keeping with that vow, I bought her latest work today; a fictional story of a teenager's growing pains set against the backdrop of Wolverhampton in the 1990s. It closely resembles Moran's own teenage years, and that is precisely why I want to read it - because Moran's childhood was so very different from my own. This is the book I am most excited about reading on my hols!



Sunday, 20 July 2014

Dyslexic Friendly Books

I stumbled upon the publisher Barrington Stoke whilst working my way through the shelves in Streatham library. I picked up a slim volume called Rose of No Man's land by Anne Perry, which was written as a piece of historical fiction for teens. In the story, Rose goes back in time and works as a Red Cross nurse during World War One. On reading the book I was impressed by how moving the story was, despite the brevity of the book. It wasn't until I got to the end of the text that I noticed the dyslexic friendly sticker on the front. Intrigued, I googled the term and found out about the work that Barrington Stoke does - they commision authors to write books that make it easier for people with dyslexia to read. According to their website, Barrington Stoke say that their 'books are edited and designed to minimise some of the obstacles that can stop struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers really getting hooked by a book. [Their] books don’t patronise and since they’re by the best authors in the business there’s no stigma attached to being seen reading them.'

I thought it was fantastic that Barrington Stoke books encourage people with dyslexia to read more, since as the publishers say themselves, 'once a reader is hooked by a story, research shows that their reading ability actually improves.' I also thought that some of the methods used by the publisher to make their books more accessible to reluctant readers were very clever. Their methods include:

  •  Short word lengths so readers can enjoy the achievement of finishing a book
  • Lots of chapter breaks so readers can take a rest
  • Special edit processes, with trialling by children of the correct reading age
  • Cream paper which minimises glare
  • Our own dyslexia-friendly font
  • Special line, character and paragraph spacing
  • Lots of illustration in lower reading-age titles to help with understanding
Barrington Stoke publish books for children, teens and adults, and even though I don't have dyslexia myself, I throughly enjoyed the two titles I read which had been published by them [After completing Rose of No Man's Land, I also read Tilly's Promise by Linda Newberry, another piece of historical fiction] since I thought they were beautifully written, historically accurate and very poignant. I would reccommend their books to readers of any ability. 

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Coffee Table Books

I don't own a coffee table, but I still like coffee table books. They're perfect for flicking through when you're feeling too lazy to read something more substantial, and they're great for providing sudden bursts of inspiration. Here are my five favourite:

1. The Book of Islands by Philip Dodd and Ben Donald

I've said elsewhere on this blog that I'm really drawn to islands and here is a whole book of them! This book explores every possible kind of island, from the widly remote Socotra to the hugely popular Ibitha. Each page is dedicated to a different island with an accompanying photograph and interesting details about what life on the islands are like. A must read for all islomaniacs.      

2. Fruits by Shoichi Aoki

This is possibly the most colourful book you'll ever see. In this collection of photographs, Aoki reveals just how eccentric and vibrant the inhabitants of Harajuku in Japan used to be during the the early 00s.After looking through this, everything in your wardrobe will seem tame in comparison.

3. Style by Lauren Conrad

I love Lauren Conrad's minimalistic style, and I love how practical her style advice actually is. Not only does she give great advice about how to put outfits together, she also discusses how to care for your clothes, and how to make the most of them. It is a definitive guide for women  [although for technical knowledge you could supplement it with Fashion for Dummies] and is one of my most useful coffee table books, in that it actually provides useful advice.

4. Books Do Furnish A Room by Leslie Geddes Brown

I believe that books make a house a home and Geddes Brown very much agrees with me. This book is lovingly filled with ideas about how best to display your favourite tomes and is certain to make you want to rush out to your nearest bookshop just so you can buy more stacks to fill the empty spaces around your house. I also like this book because the author advocates that books should be touched and not kept behind gass.

5. Toyko A Certain Style by Kyoichi Tsuzuki

If you are nosy like me, then you'll like looking inside other people's houses. This book does just that - it looks inside the homes of the residents of Toyko and showcases how they arrange their belongings in often cramped spaces. For me, it's always interesting to see how people live and this book could almost be used an anthropological resource, as there is such a variation in the way people live even in just one city. This book is fascinating, and I would love to have a similiar book dedicated to people's houses in London, as I am always curious about my own city.