Friday, 7 December 2012

Abducted by aliens, who wouldn't let me read

So it's been ages and ages since I've posted and my main excuse is that during that time I was abducted by aliens and they wouldn't let me take any books with me or let me read any of theirs. Aside from that things around here have become awfully busy. I have started writing for the online foreign film magazine Subtitled Online and I've also started working as a teaching assistant at a secondary school in Cardiff. I thought that a daily two-hour commute would make for lots of reading time, but it turns out that the only manageable activity on a train at 7am is the one where you don't fall asleep and spill tea on other passengers. So outside of my time watching amazing films and trying not to fall over in the early hours I have managed to read only two books, but they were two really very good books. They were The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

I read The Fault in Our Stars around the time I was in a really bad reading slump and it was the perfect reminder at that time how much I need books in my life. While I didn't give Paper Towns the best review I did enjoy the style of writing and so I decided to read more books by John Green in the hopes of falling in love with one. So when I began reading A Fault in Our Stars I was not only completely drawn in by the writing, but also by the hilarious, highly relatable  and exceptionally well-drawn characters in the story. The character of Hazel is introduced at the beginning of the story as a terminally ill sixteen year old girl, who spends most of her days either attending advanced college classes at her local community college or watching America's Next Top Model at home with her diligent parents. John Green has developed a truly original character in Hazel in that she is not projected as having become a hero as the result of living with illness or as having any kind of remorseful outlook on life; she is simply a normal teenage girl and her cancer does not dominate her story. Hazel meets Augustus Waters at a support group for children with or in remission from cancer and she is immediately drawn to his good looks and surprised by the attention he seems to give her. The story develops as the relationship between Hazel and Augustus develops and while the story deals with the significant and devastating issue of the tragic consequences of illness, it more importantly identifies the value of life and the importance of time and how and who we choose to spend ours with. If you haven't read it, stop reading this and go and read it now, right now. 

The second book that I read in the last few weeks is The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. The Glass Castle is a memoir by American journalist Jeanette Walls, which documents her childhood, from the age of three when she was rushed into hospital with burns following an accident while she was cooking herself hot dogs, to the beginning of her senior year of high school when she finally moves away from her parents and on with her life. The story is far from the usual sob-story style childhood memoirs, but is instead written with the right balance of intelligence, humour and tragedy to make it an instant classic. Walls writes the accounts of her family experiences with an equal level of frustration and compassion that makes it clear to the reader that it is these experiences that define the person that she has become. While I would definitely not go as far as saying that I can completely relate to the childhood of Jeanette Walls and not at all with the more serious and disturbing experiences of her life, I can definitely relate to certain aspects of the story, in particular with having take on too much responsibility at too young an age and so for me this story was remarkably engaging.  
mini book haul
So now that I have been returned to Earth by the aliens, my posts will hopefully become much more frequent. If you get the chance do check out Subtitled Online for really great foreign film news and reviews. I'll put the link to the website below and also my author page, which has all of the articles that were written by me.

I am currently reading The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite by Beatrice Colin and I'm already completely mesmerised. Has anyone read this or any of the other books that I've mentioned? I would also love to hear what your reading this month. 

Happy reading