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About willoyd

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  • Reading now?
    Almost certainly!
  • Location:
    Wharfedale, Yorkshire
  • Interests
    birding, cycling (mainly touring), running, walking, family history.

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  1. Willoyd's Reading 2020

    Book Acquisitions A last fling before everything shut down for a while, mostly hardbacks in my local charity shop: The Men Who United The States by Simon Winchester The Blackest Streets by Sarah Wise Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight by Naoki Higashida The Priory by Dorothy Whipple The Seafarers by Stephen Rutt The Planets by Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen Mudlarking by Lara Maiklem Postwar by Tony Judt Deadliest Enemy by Michael Osterholm I've also now got some 19 library books to work my way through!
  2. Willoyd's Reading 2020

    A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles ***** This was the March choice for one of my book groups, a book and an author I knew nothing about, so I didn't really know what to expect. The premise is that the main protagonist, Count Alexander Rostov, has been sentenced to indefinite house arrest in the Metropol Hotel in central Moscow by a Bolshevik tribunal in 1922 - this is the story of his subsequent life. That didn't seem an overly promising scenario, but I was seriously mistaken. Right from the outset, I was engaged by both the narrative and the style of writing. Written with a light almost elegant touch, a strong streak of humour ran through the book. Indeed, this was a rare novel where I actually laughed out loud on a couple of occasions, and smiled through many others. There have been one or two criticisms in reviews of the author treating serious events with too much levity, but I felt rather that he was, if anything, focusing on how the characters coped with the difficulties - and finding the humour in a situation is an effective way of retaining one's sanity in dire times. In its own way this approach underlined the sheer madness of the system. The vast majority of the characters were incredibly likeable and came over as humans trying to cope as best they could with whatever their bizarre world threw at them, even if the setting initially seems almost too opulent to be truly oppressive - a classic 'gilded cage'. There are moments of unutterable sadness, made all the more so by their suddenness and the fact that they are not belaboured, occasionally being mentioned almost in passing. I, and the whole group, loved this book, and spent a very happy hour or so discussing it in more detail. There were some anomalies and unexplained oddities (we were not sure, for instance, how the Count could afford to live continually in the hotel, although some partial explanations were, at least, implied), but overall we were all rather pleasurably and unexpectedly surprised as none of us, including the nominator herself, had read book or even author before (our nominator had simply been recommended it, and said it looked promising). I can certainly recommend it on to others! 5/6 - Excellent.
  3. Your Book Activity - March 2020

    Finished Emma last night. A (second) reread, as a follow up to seeing the recent film. Remains one of my favourite books! 6/6
  4. Your Book Activity - March 2020

    Just finished A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Read as a book group read. I almost certainly wouldn't have read it otherwise, but loved it, as did the rest of the group. 5/6 (Excellent). Yet to finish both Emma and The Luminaries. Have a stack of library books to read too, so plenty to go at. Great literary fiction it may not be, but Rowling has the wonderful skill of being a really good storyteller. My son and I loved reading this series side by side pretty much all the way through his late primary and early teenage years. I found it quite sad that, more recently as a primary teacher, I found fewer and fewer children were able to handle her books simply because they couldn't handle the length of her books, even her earlier ones - just hadn't got the attentional skills. Those that did had an equally wonderful experience. Definitely on my reading list!
  5. Willoyd's Reading 2020

    Reading Update mid-March Well, my reading has been a right mess the past couple of months. First of all I got behind on reading for one book group, so failed to finish The Luminaries in time for that meeting. Then I started Emma as a follow-up to the film, but got bogged down in writing my annual local bird report (150+ species of birds, 50+ pages) so failed to finish that before I needed to swap to A Gentleman in Moscow to read that for my other book group....but swapped so late that I failed to finish that in time too! So, whilst I've at least completed the report, I now have 3 unfinished books on the go, a situation I can't remember before, and really don't like! Stupid thing is that I was enjoying all three, so didn't want to swap from any of them. So, I need to settle down and start finishing them. I'll start with A Gentleman in Moscow, as that'll mean one less book interrupted than if I go back to the others first. A very unsatisfactory start to the reading year. Book acquisition continues apace, much agains my better judgement! Predominantly from charity shops, those added to my library since the last update include: Life, A User's Manual by George Perec Independent People by Halldor Laxness Till The Cows Come Home by Philip Walling White Teeth by Zadie Smith The Ambassador's Secret by John North (about the Holbein painting) Under the Rock by Benjamin Myers Admirals by Andrew Lambert Becoming by Michelle Obama
  6. Raven's Reads

    I'd say it was completely up to you and how you feel about it. If you think you're 'cheating', then you are, and if you don't, you aren't; when all said and done, this is not a competitive sport, and how you record your reading is up to you. For my list, it is rather subjective. I have included novellas like Christmas Carol, even though it's usually published as one story amongst several as Dickens' Christmas Stories, and some children's books as short as the Paddington novels (they take me about an hour so to read at most). I think I've even included Asterix books - and they are a scant 64 pages or so long (and not many words, although I do try and read them in French so they take a bit longer than usual!). But they are only occasional reads - not sure what I'd do if they and similar took up more of my reading - I don't think I'd count them as it really would give a false figure (for me).
  7. Willoyd's Reading 2020

    Life Without Diabetes by Roy Taylor *** I've been getting a bit bogged down with my reading, as trying to tackle The Luminaries for one of my book groups has coincided with my annual report writing binge on local birds, which means the book has stuttered somewhat. Have finished the report now (thank goodness!), but found this interesting looking quick read in the local bookshop, so read that this weekend - iinteresting to me at least as having been found to be prediabetic, I've been reading up on ways of tackling it to ensure it doesn't go any further. Anyway, the first few chapters on the research the author and his team have carried out at Newcastle University was as interesting as expected, both confirming some of my reading and challenging other parts of it. Unfortunately, the second half, when he talks about how to implement the results (basically to lose weight, whatever weight you were at to start with) was horribly wishy-washy and vague - and certainly no help for those who struggle to keep weight off once lost. So, 4 stars for the first 6-7 chapters, and 2 for the rest, averaging out at 3. Definitely worth reading though if this is a topic you need or want to read about - it's important stuff (and by odd coincidence, it's cropped up in the papers today). Am going to move on to Emma for now. We went to see the film last week, and both loved it, and want to reread the book asap, not least because a little uncertain in some places as to how book and film tie in, and want to review whilst fresh in the mind. Coincidentally, the film was scripted by Eleanor Catton....the author of The Luminaries. So at least I'm sort of sticking with the author! Other book acquisitions: False Value by Ben Aaronovitch The Beast, The Emperori and The Milkman by Harry Pearson Ground Work by Tim Dee Orison for a Curlew by Horatio Clare Belonging; the Story of the Jews 1492-1900 by Simon Schama (Kindle deal) The Library Book by Susan Orlean (Kindle deal)
  8. Stonking read - really hope you enjoy this (although 'enjoy' is probably the wrong word!).
  9. The Last Film You Saw - 2020

    Went to see Emma with OH today. It's had mixed reviews, but we loved it. It's not classical, but there's some real bite, and love the somewhat irreverent approach. Anya Taylor-Joy is excellent, as are most of the women (although feel Jane Fairfax was a bit underused). Men are fine, but several didn't quite fit the parts for me, especially Johnny Flynn, who played it well but was simply too young. Loved Bill Nighy as Mr Woodhouse though.Sets, costumes etc were cracking (OH, a bit of a specialist, commented that for once the sewing looked genuinely hand-done). Not perfect, but I'd go and see it again tomorrow.
  10. 2020 - Muggle Not's Reading

    It's certainly the weakest that I've read so far. Rated it 3/6, whereas most Dickens I've read has had at least a 5 (Bleak House, David Copperfield full out sixes). I enjoyed the thread that followed Kit, Quilp was a pretty good villain, and there were some enjoyably Dickensian characters, but I found Little Nell and Grandfather such hard work. Dickens is just hopeless with young women - over-sentimental slush - and to have her at the heart of the book put all the problems at the centre of the novel.
  11. A Book Blog 2020 by Books do Furnish a Room

    Oooh, sound good. I've never read Comyns before, but you obviously rate her. I have a hardback copy of Mr Lear - as trade books go, it's a gorgeous production. Looking forward to reading it too.
  12. As a reasonably recent ex-Year 5 teacher, these books seemed to go down best with my class: anything by David Walliams (by far the favourite author) Tom Gates series by Liz Pichon (maybe not so far behind DW!) Alex Rider novels by Anthony Horowitz The Nomes series by Terry Pratchett (Truckers etc) The Diamond Brothers series by Anthony Horowitz (again!) Stig of the Dump I found Robert Westall was very popular once children had been introduced to him - they tended to be very conservative and wouldn't branch out to new authors, and Westall isn't a 'name'. I used to read Philip Reeves's Mortal Engines to the class, which they loved, with one or two following up, but many latterly found it too much like hard work. Equally, Kenneth Oppell's Airborn series. I say it through gritted teeth, but Jacqueline Wilson proved popular with some of the girls. Don't forget non-fiction - boys especially liked Horrid History, Science, Geography etc. and more visual books on 'exciting' subjects. Library visits saw some almost fighting over the Guinness Book of Records, even if tended to be just browsed through. To be honest, I found Yr 5 reading age declining steadily throughout the 10-12 years I taught that age group. Back in 2010 or so, many of my class would think nothing of reading Dark Materials, Harry Potter etc, but more recently they couldn't cope with the length of these books, and gravitated towards books that previously were the preserve of Year 3/4 (Mr Stink, Horrid Henry, Diary of a 'Wimpy Kid). Always the more mature exception of course.
  13. Whoops was an interesting one. Even I reckon to understand how it all happened after reading this, even if I can't remember a thing now!
  14. A Book Blog 2020 by Books do Furnish a Room

    When you said 'competent', I thought you were going to damn a bit with faint praise, but a score of 8 out of 10 suggests otherwise! I must admit I generally love Jenny Uglow's books, and this for me was one of her better ones - gave it a full 6/6. I like her mainstream biographies, but prefer her slightly off beat efforts, such as this and Thomas Bewick, Nature's Engraver, etc (actually, her Hogarth was a stonker - must reread it sometime). I'm hoping to get stuck into In These Times soon - another promisingly interesting angle. Looking forward to hearing about Black Tudors.
  15. Willoyd's Reading 2020

    Reading Update mid-February Gosh it's gone awfully quiet here, not least on this thread, so a quick update after a three week hiatus: I'm still reading Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries and, to be honest, have not made huge progress, as am not quite half way through yet (around p. 350). That's not a problem with the book - far from it - but I've had a fairly frantic month, which is likely to carry on for another week or so. Indeed, I'm in danger of actually reaching the end of the month without a single book completed, which would be a first for at least 12 years! Big book + lots of work = not a good formula! In the meantime, I've still managed a few acquisitions (surprise, surprise!), mostly through charity shops (not the Kindles!): Fiction and Poetry The Gentle Axe by R.N. Morris The Night Manager by John Le Carre Wing by Matthew Francis (poetry) Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine (Kindle) Non-fiction Sagaland by Richard Fidler and Kari Gislason Leviathan by David Scott Napoleon the Great by Andrew Roberts Incredible Journeys by David Barrie