A Mildly Political Tone

Britain is currently under the control of a coalition government. The majority of the coalition is Conservative with the rest being Liberal Democrats. It’s been a tough old time. Most recently, our Prime Minister went into the Eurozone ‘crisis’ talks with his veto already in his hand and promptly slapped it down on the tables to eliminate us from any possible negotiations. Although it is tip toed around and denied, that act right royally pee’d off some major trade partners. Britain is enduring broken promises (*cough* tuition fees *cough*), a referendum on the Alternate Vote which got (wrongly in my opinion) shot down in flames, many thoughtlessly abolished quangos e.g. the UK Film Council who were contributors to ‘The King’s Speech, an Oscar winning film, and many public sectors have and still are undergoing massive funding cuts.

One of the things enforced by the Government this year which agitated me the most was the closure of local Libraries. It upset and enraged many others too. I felt hypocritical about my fury at the closure of local libraries as I hadn’t been a member of one for years. The thought of not having a local library to go to spurred me, and many others I am sure, into action so I hot footed it five minutes down the road and signed myself up once more. As a result, I have now read quite a selection of books this year and I’d like to get down here what my thoughts were about my best reads this year.

The Book of Lost Things is a deeply creepy fairy tale. In parts, I didn’t want to continue reading because it really is quite disturbing. John Connolly leads you through pages which will keep you awake at night without you really realising you can put the book down. You are so wrapped up in the tale that stopping reading just doesn’t seem to strike you as a realistic option. It’s a very well written story about how a boy copes with his life being turned upside down. It pulls at the heart strings one page before making your stomach clench uncomfortably the next. Truly a superb book which I would highly recommend reading (just not by or to anyone under the age of 14).

I read this book on recommendation and will be recommending it onwards too. Truly, a brilliant read. A television adaptation was shown on British Television earlier this year but I did not (and still have not) watched it. Having now read the book, I cannot see how the TV drama can possibly have included all of the essential detail needed to convey and explain how the remarkable and complex lead (Logan Montstuart) lived his life. It is a disjointed and often confused fictional autobiography in the form of journals and truly will have you reading on and on. Please oh please read this book with a box of tissues next to you.

I read this book because I adore the film ‘I Am legend’ (the one with Will Smith). I am a fan of the post-apocalyptic/virus runs wild type of genre and had heard, from more than one source, that the book surpasses the film. The sources are correct. The film is based so loosely on the book that they can be enjoyed as separate entities. It’s almost impossible to draw comparison between the book and the film, the differences are too enormous. Firstly, the book is about zombies, not viral infection survivors. Secondly, there is no ‘Hollywood Hero’ aspect to the book meaning you can enjoy it as a much more realistic portrayal of how a man might cope in the circumstances present in the book. Thirdly….I don’t have a thirdly but, take my word, that the book will not spoil the film and vice versa. If you have seen the film and not read the book, or vice versa, you will realise very quickly that there is no cross analysis of the two required which is quite a unique trait for a book to film adaption.

I struggled with Catch 22 until I was about half way through. I found it a very tough read but, once I had settled into and gotten used to the erratic narrative, it was worthwhile powering through the difficult sections. I would recommend reading Catch 22 but you should be prepared for it to be challenging on the eyes and brain. In the beginning, I could only read a single chapter at once as I felt that was as much insanity as could be manageably digested in a single sitting.  I never read more than 3 chapters in one sitting. The writing style really is something else. Truly and intrinsically bonkers which falls in-line wonderfully with the lead character, Yossarian. I don’t really know what else to say about Catch 22 other than the fact that is is completely insane and that if you can stick it through until the end, you will be rewarded. Equally, I wouldn’t blame you for quitting at chapter five, it really isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

My favourite summation of the general feelings surrounding the Library closures is probably a song composed and performed by a rather marvelous man called Piers Cawley. I have been lucky enough to befriend Piers via the London Open Mic scene and found our stance on the Library issue was completely inline. Piers wrote his song in order to vent his feelings and I would like to share it with you, Child of The Library (warning, there is a bad word in there).

I’m doing my bit, Piers is doing his. If you neglect your Library and think you could use it better then, please, get yourself there. Rent a film, a CD or a book and make sure we don’t lose irreplaceable services like local Libraries. Our apathy towards these services doesn’t make them less valuable and they will be taken away if we continue as we are. Don’t make libraries a casualty of the ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’ mentality.

 

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