book meme

(this is really to remind myself of what I still have to read!)

What we have here is the top 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’s users. As in, they sit on the shelf to make you look smart or well-rounded. Bold the ones you’ve read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish.

Here’s the twist: add (*) beside the ones you liked and would (or did) read again or recommend. Even if you read ’em for school in the first place.

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Sorry I haven’t updated in over two weeks. Now watch while I distract you with a poem. I know I totally missed the silent poetry reading (was it last month?) but Crumpet just reminded me of it. I read it for a speech and drama exam or competitions or both, I can’t remember, but I still love it.

First Day at School

A millionbillionwillion miles from home
Waiting for the bell to go. (To go where?)
Why are they all so big, other children?
So noisy? So much at home they
Must have been born in uniform
Lived all their lives in playgrounds
Spent the years inventing games
That don’t let me in. Games
That are rough, that swallow you up.

And the railings.
All around, the railings.
Are they to keep out wolves and monsters?
Things that carry off and eat children?
Things you don’t take sweets from?
Perhaps they’re to stop us from getting out
Running away from the lessins. Lessin.
What does a lessin look like?
Sounds small and slimy.
They keep them in the glassrooms.
Whole rooms made out of glass. Imagine.

I wish I could remember my name
Mummy said it would come in useful.
Like wellies. When there’s puddles.
Yellowwellies. I wish she was here.
I think my name is sewn on somewhere.
Perhaps the teacher will read it for me.
Tea-cher. The one who makes the tea.

Roger McGough

To-do list

This is from Most Common Unread books over at The idea is that you bold what you have read, italicise what you started but couldn’t finish, and strike through what you couldn’t stand. The numbers after each one are the number of LT users who used the tag of that book.

hmmm….. some real gaps there, as well as many books I have absolutely no desire to read! I must remember this though and come back when I’m looking to buy more books (or to join a library, I’m running out of shelf space!)

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I needed a book to take to Wales with me, so I went to Borders.


In my defence, the Jasper Fforde books are signed.

ETA:  Of the five books, I have realised that four are sequels, and four are set in parallel universes.  I guess I know what I like!  I’m sure I thought of something else most of them have in common too, but it’s slipped my mind.

Spoiler free!

So last night I hadn’t even figured out where I was going to buy Harry Potter, since most of the bookshops around here are independent, arty, secondhand, academic, glbt, etc etc.  I figured I might head up to Borders in Islington.  With that in mind I decided to take a slight detour to catch some Potter film locations on the way: First up was Grimmauld Place: (what do you think?  I might have to watch the movie again to check as I can’t find any pictures online)

(there’s a whole row of these houses around a rather grim looking square, just like in the books, except the square doesn’t feature in the movies)

Then St Pancras:

Then I headed into Kings Cross to grab a photo of Platform 9 3/4 before getting on the Tube to Angel, only silly me, there’s a WH Smith at the station and a queue starting to form.  So I became number 33 in the queue.

It was about 9:30 so I still had some time to go, but I’d packed Watching the English (an appropriate book to read in a queue, I felt) and my knitting.  There were some incredibly obnoxious Australians behind me talking at the top of their voices saying stuff like as soon as they got the book they were going to read the last page out loud (London seems to be full of obnoxious Australians, but I’m sure it’s not, they’re just so loud.  I’m sure there are also lots of quiet, polite Australians too, but they just blend in with the natives.  That’s what I try to tell myself anyway).  I was starting to think this was going to be a very long 2 2/1 hours…

The press were out and about, with one reporter going around asking if anyone was English.  I think maybe she was going for the English queuing angle.  I’d actually just read on the BBC website before leaving home that they were having a hard time finding anyone English in the Waterstones queue as well (people started queuing there on Thursday morning!).

A gorgeous French guy (like, really REALLY gorgeous) dressed as Harry Potter came up to me, apologised for his English, and asked if I knew what the programme was.  Unfortunately I couldn’t help him and he left!  Stupid Sarah, that would have been the ideal time to start talking in French to the guy!!

However right at that point a magician appeared in front of me and started showing card tricks to me and number 32.  He stayed with us for ages and showed us all kinds of tricks.  Number 32 turned out to be  25 year-old Kenyan girl called Allison, and thanks to the magician we got talking.  And then the evening flew by!  So I’ve made a new friend in the bargain. Thanks to the number system, we were also able to excuse ourselves from the queue for a few minutes to go here:

And at 10 the entertainment the French guy had been looking for started: lookalikes, the magician (who had started early), and face painting.  The lookalikes in particular were pretty good:

At 12:00:50, Professor Sprout led the countdown, and at 12:01 we were finally allowed through “Platform 9 3/4” (a hanging thingy they’d put up with a slit in the middle to walk through), grasp our copies of the book fresh from the boxes, and proceed to the checkouts with haste!  And then block our ears as one of the obnoxious Australians made good on the promise to reveal the ending.

Actually it’s really funny, but since I bought the book I’ve had more strangers in London talk to me than I have in the whole two months I’ve been here.  On my way home a group of Gypsy (Roma?) women asked if they could look at it.  Then in the patisserie this morning a couple asked if it was good.  Then in the park a guy out with his family marvelled at how far through I was.  There really is something very magical about Harry Potter.  I’ve made a new friend and all of these Londoners are actually talking to me!

Loved it, by the way.

Grimmauld Place

Still on Harry Potter (and no doubt will be for some time leading up to and after next weekend).

When I saw the film the other day I almost went nuts when I saw Grimmauld Place.  The style of the terraced houses was identical to the typical building style here in Bloomsbury.  I was absolutely convinced I had seen Grimmauld Place before and that it must be somewhere near here!  That would be borne out if the filming location chosen for Grimmauld Place is in reality close to Kings Cross, as it is in the story.

So I did some internet searching and didn’t really turn up anything concrete, until I saw mention on a forum that Grimmauld Place shows up on Google Maps.   How about that?  You will recall that I live on the corner of Judd and Cromer, just a couple of blocks southwest of where Google Maps puts Grimmauld Place.  I’ll have to wander over and take a photo someday soon.

Watching the English

So, back to the “familiarities” of England I mentioned earlier.  New Zealand is a culturally similar place to England as it was a British colony and many of its inhabitants either have direct or ancestral ties to England.  However, New Zealand society is far more level and it is much more of a meritocracy than England.  Of course, given that my parents are English I am probably more English than some, and especially after the foreign-ness of Paris, London with its chip shops (never mind that I prefer french fries) and red telephone boxes felt like a welcoming place.

The reason I have been thinking about all of this is because I have just started reading Watching the English, by Kate Fox.  It is a book on the social anthropology of England (as an aside, I am currently not reading purely for pleasure but carefully choosing my reading material for personal study reasons as well.  This is my “reward reading” for getting through the French translation of Onze Minutes by Paulo Coelho.  Thank you for the recommendation, Louise!)

Anyway, I have to say this book has terrified me.  I have so far read the chapters on conversation and class, and I may never speak to another English person again.  Indeed, as the book quotes George Bernard Shaw, “It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate him or despise him”.  Of course, my advantage here is that I am not an Englishman – I suspect have the benefit of being given the leeway afforded to foreigners while still possessing enough “Englishness” to get by.  But it is still a fine line to be tread!

I would recommend the book though as it cleverly explains all sorts of seemingly nonsensical English traits such as talking about the weather, saying “sorry” all the time, constant self-deprecation, and getting involved in pointless pub arguments.  I can’t wait to get to the bit where the author deliberately queue-jumps to observe how people react.