Have you heard about the "Buy One Book and Read It" Challenge?

The Buy One Book and Read it Challenge is hosted by Amy at My Friend Amy.

She began the challenge because she read a statistic that over 50% of Americans hadn't read 1 book in the space of a year. I don't know what this statistic translated in Australia, but it is am admirable challenge nonetheless so I decided to participate.
I completed the highest level - level 3, and read 12 books that I purchased:

        Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
        New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
        The Legacy by Kirsten Tranter
The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follet
Silk by Alessandro Baricco
Lilian's Story by Kate Grenville
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 
Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin
We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton 

I have since read a few more that I have purchased.

I actually thought that I would find it hard to complete this challenge because up to this year I have been more of a re-reader than a buy a book and read it kind of person. I would hazzard a guess that until this yar I had read most of the books that I owned at least 3 times each. Some books I was re-reading a lot more often than that.

The great thing about taking Page Turners more seriously this year is that I have prioritised reading mostly books that I haven't read before. This in turn has meant that I have been purchasing more books. 

I have obviously enjoyed this change, although I can't honestly say that my other half has. It has meant spending a lot more money than I would otherwise and it has also meant that as my books have crept to over 300 we are starting to have storage problems. Living in 2 bedroom unit, there is only so much space for bookshelves. Having said that, he has been very supportive and even decided to purchase a brand new bookcase this year which has made a massive difference. 

At first it sounded weird to me that in America over 50% of people don't read a book within 1 year, but the more I think about it, the more I think of it as a possibility. 

I imagine that might be a little bit controversial but I still think it is true, whether people are able to acknowledge it or not. Not everyone is as lucky as me in terms of family and education. In fact probably most people don't get the opportunities in life that I have had. Whether we like it or not, reading is a more middle-upper class activity. It is elite. It is for those of us who have the time, ability and capacity to indulge ourselves. I think that the above statistic (if true) reflects this reality. It only makes me feel more lucky for what I have, including all my books and reading time.

Do you agree or disagree with me? What role do you think that the existence and use of libraries might play in this statistic, if any?

Have you ever really enjoyed a book by an author that you were too intimidated to try?

Welcome to Page Turners!

Thanks for dropping past Page Turners on this weeks book blogger hop. If you are new to Page Turners, why not consider joining in my fun Friday meme: BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAY.

I have three great posts to share with you from this week. A review of 84 Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff, two great books - about books!

A review of French Fried by Chris Dolley.

Finally, I had the very lucky opportunity of interviewing Australian author Kerry Greenwood.

Intimidating Authors

Have you ever been really scared of reading an author because their work intimidates you? It might be because of the quality of the writing, or the size of their books or all the accolades they have received. 

Have you then actually read one of their works and been pleasantly surprised that not only could you read it but you enjoyed reading it and want to read more of their works?

This happened to me recently when I read and enjoyed Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (read my review here) and it got me thinking about other authors that I have really enjoyed despite initially being too intimidated to read their work. 

Here are my top three intimidating authors that I have really enjoyed reading:

Franz Kafka
What I knew about Franz Kafka was that he was supposed to be one of the most talented writers the world had ever produced, and that his most famous and successful work, Metamorphosis, was often heralded as one of the best pieces of literature ever written. 

As a result, although he was an author that I had often heard about but had always been too scared to try.

Instead what I found when I read Metamorphosis was an extremely readable story that was packed with so much meaning and subtlety that I was floored by Kafka's sheer talent. This is an author that I can't wait to read more of.

Leo Tolstoy

When I talk about being intimidated by Leo Tolstoy, I think it would be more accurate to say that I was intimated by reading Anna Karenina, which had been sitting on my sisters bookcase daring me to try it. 

I think that was I was most intimidated by was it's size. I also think that I expected that because it was written in Russian in the 19th Century it would somehow be difficult to read. 

When I finally read it, I found that I really enjoyed it. In fact, I couldn't put it down. I just wanted to read and read and read until it was finished. It wasn't half as challenging as I expected it to be and now I can't wait to try more Tolstoy.

Salman Rushdie
I was mainly too intimidated to try reading Salman Rushdie because of all the furore surrounding his novel The Satanic Verses. I had always had the impressions that his works were extremely challenging in terms of concepts and language.

Although I had always been keen in theory to attempt his works, I was also very apprehensive. I didn't want to fail in my attempt to read his books.

The first Rushdie book I read was Midnights Children, the winner of the Best Ever Man Booker Prize Winners. I absolutely loved it, couldn't put it down. Having surprised myself, I then moved on to The Satanic Verses, the reading of which was an invaluable experience to me.

Why do I say that? Well, of all this authors that I was initially too intimidated to read, Rushdie was definitely the hardest in the end. I had to read very slowly, especially The Satanic Verses. I also found that at the end of the book, I didn't entirely understand everything that I had read, again particularly with The Satanic Verses. You can read my review of it here; the quality of the review reflects my limited understanding of what I read.

Given the difficulty I had reading and understand these books, I am proud of myself for reading them and finishing them... and enjoying them. Completing The Satanic Verses taught me that I shouldn't under-estimate myself and my reading ability.

What is my next challenge?

The other reason that I bring this up is because I am about to embark upon my next challenge - A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. 

I have owned this book for some time now, but have always been too intimidated to read it. Like Anna Karenina, this aversion to reading it is largely to do with its size.

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth is the longest novel ever written (in one volume) in the English language. 

Quite something. And quite something to attempt to read. But I am going to start it as soon as I can.

What about you?

Are there any authors that you have really enjoyed once you have read their works, despite being intimidated by them? Do you have any exciting reads coming up that you have been putting off because of the challenge that they pose?


Book Beginnings on Friday (returns)

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Becky at Page Turners. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence. (Thanks to Rose City Reader for inspiring this meme)

A Room with a View by EM Forster

A lovely friend of mine purchased this for me to listen to whilst I was recuperating from my surgery. It couldn't have come at a better time. Unfortunately I have had some complication this week which have meant that reading for long periods of time has become very difficult. I have also been alone this week becuase my wonderful other half has gone back to work after taking two weeks off to look after me. Here is the opening line of this classic:
"'The Signora has no business to do it,' said Miss Bartlett, no business at all. She promised us south rooms with a view, close together, instead of which here are north rooms, here are north rooms looking into a courtyard, and a long way apart. Oh, Lucy!'"
I know that I normally say that I dislike books that open with speach, but this is definitely an exception to that rule. I love the tone of the voice the speaker is using. It is clear already that they must be middle - upper class, or they wouldn't be getting their knickers in a knot over such small details. I also love how it introduces the title of the book in the first line.

What about you? Leave a link to your BookBeginnings on Friday post in the Mr Linky below.

*Books About Books* 84, Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff

84 Charing Cross Road and its sequel are a books about books, but more importantly they form a story that is about friendship and realising your dreams. 

Both books are autobiographical. 84 Charing Cross Road was first published in 1970 and is a collection of letters between Hanff, a book lover from America and the staff of a antiquarian bookshop Marks & Co at 84 Charing Cross Road, London. In The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, Helene records her journey to London where she finally visits the bookshop and the city that she has become so fond of, meeting old friends along the way. I read both books one after the other, which I think is the best way to do it.

84 Charing Cross Road was my favourite of the two books. 

Reading the correspondence just felt so natural. The written relationship between Helene and the book shop lasted for more than twenty years. Helene's main correspondent was Frank Doel, the main buyer from Marks & Co. Over time though, she cultivates a relationship with other employees at the bookshop, as well as Frank's wife, their neighbour and other wonderful people. There were sometimes big gaps in time between the letters in books, were obviously some of the correspondence was missing, but it was also obvious that they had been writing to each other in the mean time.

Although the subject of their correspondence was largely about the books that she orders from their shop, it is clear that the correspondence is about something more. It is about their burgeoning friendship. She sends everyone care packages of food to help them through their tough times, and surprises them with gifts of stockings and the like. You really get a sense of who everyone is, even though you only get glimpses of their lives and personalities through the short letters. Helene manages to write simultaneously rude but caring letters and you can feel Frank's soft side hidden under his stiff English manners. Helene is always planning a trip to London but there is always something else that she has to prioritise her time and money on. It is therefore sad when she receives a letter informing her of her friend Frank's death.

The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street provided a closure the story of Helene and her relationship with the people of Marks & Co. 

It was the success of 84 Charing Cross Road that finally provided her with her opportunity to visit London. She is able to visit on a book tour, and it was wonderful to read her account of the experience of finally meeting some of her correspondents as well as many other interesting and warm hearted people that show her the city that she has come to love.

I loved that the older and more mature Hanff in The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street was immediately recognisable as the younger one in 84 Charing Road. She has such a wonderfully dry and sarcastic sense of humour that I found hilarious.

And the books!

Her love of books was extraordinary and perhaps a little unique. She describes herself as a chronic re-reader, which until this year perhaps, I could absolutely identify with. I also admired her love of books as objects. Some of her descriptions of the books that she receives from Marks & Co made me want to drool. It was all I could do from running out and spending hundreds of dollars on beautiful antique books.

One of my absolutely favourite moments in both books came towards the end of The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. She has finally made it Oxford and has plans for what she has always wanted to see, but instead she finds herself hijacked by a friend who insists that she visit this particular book shop. She has this to say:
"I despair of ever getting it through everybody's head that I am not interested in bookshops, I am interested in what's written in the books. I don't browse in bookshops, I browse in libraries, where you can take a book home and read it, and if you like it you go to a bookshop and buy it".
My own attitude to bookshops and libraries is very different, but I admire her approach. If I shared it, I would be a richer woman right now I can assure you.

Overall, both books were less about books than I expected. They were about the joy of human companionship. Most importantly, they showed the power of books and language to forge friendships, something I think that is replicated in some way amoungst book bloggers.


What kind of read is this?
Both books are quick and easy to read, in fact I read both in one sitting. But they are really heart warming, especially for book lovers.

Do I recommend this book?
Yes, I recommend both.

Do I recommend that you buy these books?
No. Borrowing them would be fine. As much as I enjoyed them, I don't think that they are the kind of books that you would re-read.

Star Rating

6 / 8

Really enjoyable and well written. I would recommend it.

Have you read these books? What did you think of them? I would love to know what you think of Helene Hanff's view of browsing in libraries rather than book shops. Do libraries play a big role in providing your reading material? Do you only purchase books that you know that you love or will you browse in a book shop and buy anything that grabs your attention?

Lights, Camera, Blog Action!

This is a special feature dedicated to spreading the word about the other great blogs that are out there! I have found a lot of great blogs through such features and I want to be able to share some book blog joy too!

If anyone would like to participate email me at pageturnersbooks(at)gmail.com

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Today I am featuring Danielle from The Book Nerd Club. This is a blog I have been following for a very long time and one I can very much recommend. She is another Australian book blogger with great taste in books and great reviews.

Tell us something about yourself

I am a psychologist and I work with Deaf/deaf and hard of hearing children.

What was your favourite book as a child or young adult, and why?

When I was little, my favourite book to read was the old testament of my children's bible. I find that funny now as I'm not religious at all, but there was something really dramatic about the stories of God and Adam and Eve and Abraham and Moses etc. Maybe because they were the first stories I read about grown-ups that was the part that was so enticing for me. And that love of those kind of stories has stayed with me (one of my favourite books is The Red Tent by Anita Diamant) - like my husband says, I love a good sandals epic.

Why do you love to read?

I love to read for lots of reasons. One is escaping from the real world. Another is that I love spending time by myself (which I don't get a lot of these days) and snuggling up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good read is my idea of heaven. Another is that people and their stories fascinate me, and I find that reading helps me to understand more about people, and more about different ways of living, I think it helps to keep my mind and my heart open.

How do you choose your books?

I follow a lot of blogs and subscribe to 'Good Reading' Magazine and get lots of ideas about what I'd like to read from them. But I also spend a lot of time hanging out in bookstores and so I have a pretty good idea about what is out and might be interesting. I also look at the shortlists for major awards like the Booker and the Miles Franklin to get ideas. At the moment I mostly like getting ideas from people's blogs - there's always a huge variety of books reviewed and I trust the opinions because people aren't being paid for what they write, so they don't have any agenda and so might be more honest than other reviews.

If you had to narrow it down  - who would be your 3 favourite authors and what would be your 3 favourite books?

Paulo Coehlo is my absolute favourite author. I received a copy of The Alchemist for my 13th birthday and it changed my life. I've read a lot of his books, but not all, but for sentimental reasons I'd say my favourite of his is The Alchemist. Stephen King is my second favourite author, Salem's Lot was the first book I bought for myself with my first paycheck from my teenage part time job. I've also read a lot of his books, but not all. It's so tough to pick just one as a favourite because I love so many of them for different reasons. I'm going to say The Dark Tower series (if you aren't going to let me have the series as 'one book' I'll go with the last one) as it is the culmination of all the different things he's ever written about. And the third is The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, I just love it.

When and why did you start your blog?

I started blogging last year because I wanted to do something a bit different that I hadn't done before. I had a baby boy and so wasn't working and after awhile wanted to do something a little bit more with my brain - but not too demanding! I love to read and read a lot, so I thought a blog reviewing books would be a good idea.

How did you choose your blog's name?

In my family I am the book nerd, so that's where the name came from (my husband is a gaming nerd, my mum is the embroidery nerd, my dad is the woodworking nerd and my sister is the animal nerd).

What do you love about book blogging?

What I wasn't expecting and what I love the most is the feeling of community I get. It's great to find so many other people passionate about reading and about books, and how supportive and kind other bloggers have been. 

What tips do you have to offer to other book bloggers?

I don't really think I've got many tips to offer to other book bloggers, as my blog is really just something little that I do for fun, I'm not really trying to be a professional blogger or reviewer. What I would suggest to other bloggers is to join the Book Blogs ning, http://bookblogs.ning.com/ It's a great way to connect with other book bloggers, find out about other blogs and share your own blog too.

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Your job sounds fascinating. I learnt Auslan when I was in my late teens and as I went into my twenties I volunteered as a teachers aid at The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children in NSW at their primary school for children with Auslan as their first language. I really enjoyed it, although I have since lost a lot of my sign language school. Like all languages, unless you use it, it is easy to forget.

I read The Alchemist in the last 12 months and I really enjoyed it. A little bit moralising perhaps, but still really nice. The name 'Santiago' has appealed to me for a little boy ever since. Thanks for the top on the Book Blog Ning, I have heard some mention of it and must check it out.

Thanks for participating - I hope everyone takes the time to check out this wonderful blog.

That's a Wrap - July 2010 (with a big thank you to everyone!)

Thats a Wrap - July 2010

One of the things about blogging that I like so much is getting to know other people who love books and reading as much as I do. When I first started Page Turners I thought that it would be a place where I recorded the books that I have read and my thoughts about them. Instead, I feel like I have become part of a community, where I can really be honest about my interest and talk about it as much as I like.

The reason I am saying this is because I have really been floored by the wonderful messages that I have been getting from people over the last couple of months with my surgeries. There is nothing more annoying for a reader not to be able to read.

I have been enjoying audiobooks, a friend of mine gave me a present of A Room With A View by EM Forster on audiobook which I intend to start tomorrow and am really looking forward to.

But audiobooks are just not the same as reading a book. And I know that you all really understand what it is like not to be able to read. So thank you all so much for all your well wishes.

Books reviewed this month

It has been a truly massive month of reviews here at Page Turners.

The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith by Peter Carey: This is an Australian book by one of our most talented and famous authors, as well as one of the strangest books that I have ever read.

The Book of Lost Threads by Tess Evans: This a debut novel by an Australian novelist. It was a light hearted and pleasant read, sometimes overly sentimental, but relaxing.

The Passage by Justin Cronin: There has been a lot of hype about this book - and from my experience of this book, it was all accurate. I loved it and can't wait for the rest of the series.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka: Kafka is someone that I have always wanted to read but felt to intimidated to try. I was totally wrong though and this was a great introduction to his works.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornett's Nest by Stieg Larsson: I think that by now we all know what we love about these books, and what we don't love. But I can say that I was sad to see this wonderful series come to an end.

Flatland by Edwin Abbott: This is an early science fiction novel that I just didn't get. If you are a fan of science fiction though, I think this is one for you.

Murder on a Midsummer Night by Kerry Greenwood: This a crime series by an Australian author and I am so glad that I have discovered her. This series of books is fun and exciting and full of mystery and I hope that I inspire people to give it a go.

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver: I think that I could honestly say that I have never had such a strong reaction to a book as I had with this one. The feeling has worn off by now thank goodness but this is one for everyone to try. Be strong and just do it.

An Iron Rose by Peter Temple: I wanted to read Peter Temple after he became the first Australian crime writer to win the Miles Franklin Award and I wasn't disappointed at all. This was a great read.

A good friend of mine also did a guest review of a non-fiction work - Voices of Resistance by Sarah Husain.

Literary Discussion

There was a bit of literary and blog discussion this month. On the blog front, I conducted a poll about what design people liked best in a blog - the 2 column or the 3 column? It was fairly even, but you can read about the specific results here.

On the challenge front, I completed the Classics Challenge 2010. You can read about the challenge and the books I read here. 

The 2010 Angus and Robertson (an Australian bookstore) announced their annual Top 100 list, and I was pleased to see that I had read 35 of them. Some of the choices made me smile, and others I have to say I was surprised at. How many have you read?

Finally, I was caught up on the legal dramas surrounding the Franz Kafka papers, fascinating stuff!

And that was my July. I hope that August is just as good. Thanks for sticking with me through my absences this year and I hope that there is more good to come.

French Fried by Chris Dolley

This review was posted first on Book Lovers Inc: a cooperative blog with great reviews, interviews and lots of giveaways.

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French Fried is original for attempting to mesh comedy, travel memoir and mystery into one book.

It isn’t a book that I would normally pick up but when I read it described it as “A year in Provence with Miss Marple and Gerald Durrell”, I decided that I had to give it a try.

It is essentially a memoir about the author’s fun and (mis)adventures setting up home in France with his wife and their menagerie of animals. Dolley puts a lot of effort into describing every misadventure and happening during this harrowing but (I suspect) exhilarating time. They hire a horse box which loses its roof, move into a house with bizarre plumbing and no telephone lines, can’t speak French properly causing them problems where ever they go and buy a car that results in more trouble than its worth.

The main event of the story, however, comes closer toward the middle of the book. Dolley and his wife discover that all of their money has been stolen in a complex fraud that has been perpetrated against them. Using connections in England and France, Dolley attempts to discover who it is that has perpetrated this fraud against them.

Dolley has tried to write a very funny book. At times he succeeds, and at times I felt a bit like the humour was very forced. For me, the story didn’t really get interesting until the big fraud was revealed and Dolley and his wife (at times with his 80 year old mother in law in tow) used their sleuthing skills to solve the crime. I was fascinated to find out how he followed each little clue to the final answer, and it’s very scary to think that this happened in real life.

I enjoyed this book at times, but it wasn’t a year in Provence with Miss Marple and Gerald Durrell for me. It was an okay story of some unfortunate events that happened to a lovely couple, and I am glad that it worked out for the best in the end.


What kind of read is this?
Quick and easy, but at times a little uninteresting.

Do I recommend it?
Honestly, I can't.

Do I recommend that you buy it?

Star Rating

3 / 8

Couldn't get into it but I finished it because I felt like I should.

** This book was given to me for free by the author to review. I have given it an honest review.

A return - with a very exciting author interview!

I'm back and I have an exciting author interview to share with you all.

Some time ago I reviewed Murder on a Midsummer Night by Kerry Greenwood, an Australian author. I gave it 7 out of 8 stars. I was very excited about discovering this fun murder mystery series - a series I have come to describe as something similar to an Australian No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, with a hint of Agatha Christie and a lot more fun!

If you didn't get a chance to read the review, you can read it here.

I was lucky enough to interview Kerry Greenwood. She is a fascinating lady who has a range of fun jobs (including as a criminal yerfor Legal Aid, my current career) and who owns 7,000 books (I am turning green as I write that!).

My interview is on Book Lovers Inc; a cooperative blog with great reviews, interviews and lots of giveaways.

Read the interview here and don't miss out finding out more about this fabulous author and her exciting books!