Monday, February 7, 2011

4 Books

I am an avid reader. My prized possession is my collection of Virginia Andrews' novels, and have been known to treat them as if they were a papery third child. I do not like anyone touching them, and if someone asks to read them I politely make up reasons as to why they cannot, when inside my head I am screaming at them to get their grubby fingers off my effing books.
I have decided that I am not going to post any books by Virginia Andrews on my list, to give you a feel for other books I have read and enjoyed, as it's no secret how I feel about Miss A's writing.

1. Letters from the Inside by John Marsden - If there was ever a book that I completed in under two hours, and plagued my thoughts until I picked up another book to read, this is it. As soon as I finished it, I begged my Mum to read it, just so I'd have someone to talk to about it, because it messed with my head so much. The way it finished caused me to pace, turning the pages of the book, and re-reading the last few pages over and over again in case I missed something. I didn't miss anything, the book was meant to be unsettling. I often speculate about what happened in the end, and have compiled many "Dear John" letters in the hopes he'd tell me what the hell he was hoping to achieve by doing this to me.

2. Minimum of Two by Tim Winton - Studied this one in Year 11 Literature. I quite enjoyed it, and when asked to write a "Winton-esque" short story that could fit somewhere into the novel "Minimum of Two", I felt like my teacher handed me $1000 and let me loose in a clothing shop. I got an A for that project, but that's no surprise, when didn't I get an A in Literature!? I don't know how it came about but for some reason an old friend & I were under the impression our teacher [who received the nickname "Old Balls" and I will use that to refer to him, should I ever refer to him in future posts, so keep that in mind] was regularly meeting Tim Winton for lunch dates. He spoke about him as if he knew him personally. This was a tad frightening, because we did several assignments on Tim Winton's writing styles, and after reading "Cloudstreet" by him, wanting to shred the pages, I wrote an analysis about how much it sucked the fat one. If Old Balls knew Tim Winton, chances are Tim Winton saw my analysis on it, and probably wants to stab me in the eye.

3. What's wrong with Bottoms? by Jenny Hessell & I want my Potty by Tony Ross - Okay, I only have 4 spots, so I am putting two books in one spot so I am not "breaking the rules". These books are children's books. Neither are alike. "I want my Potty" was a favourite, THE favourite, book of mine when I was younger. I used to read it over and over again. I even took it to school and shared it with my classmates in Grade One. I was so pleased my teacher read it to the class. It was as if she were commending my choice of reading... I was 6 years old, but I still cared about shit like that. "What's wrong with Bottoms?" was a joke to me when I came across it. I was 14, it was a picture story book in my High School library. Naturally, any children's book found in my school library was a point of hilarity for me [i.e. "A rag, a bone & a hank of hair" which I discovered in our library, and stole the 90's borrowing card out of it, you know, the paper card in the pocket before they gave library book bar codes!? Still don't know what a "hank of hair is"...] so when I came across this one, I had to laugh. "What's wrong with Bottoms?" was a joke as far as I was concerned. What a stupid name for a story book. A children's story book. If I had a camera phone back then, I probably would have taken photo's of it. I hired the book [purely for a laugh]. The librarian gave me a funny look when I took it up to her, and it wasn't until I got home that night and read the book, did I understand why. The book is NOT as funny as the title suggests. It's a story of a girl who is put into a compromising position by her Uncle, aimed at kids, to advise them that should they feel uncomfortable with an adult's behaviour [any adult] they NEED to tell someone, because it's wrong.. I didn't tell anyone what the book was about, but the jokes stopped then and there as far as I was concerned. I will definitely be checking it out of my local library when my kids are a little bit older and reading it with them, as it says everything that needs to be said, perfectly, and it's said so that children understand.

4. Mum, can you lend me 20 quid? by Elizabeth Burton - Aside from having two healthy children, the next thing I am proud of is that I have never touched any illegal substance. The amount of times I have drank alcohol in my life can be counted using the digits on my hands, yes, I was a smoker of cigarettes but am kicking that habit, but I have never so much as "smoked a joint", let alone injected, snorted or swallowed any pills [except for medicinal purposes, of course]. I must say my drug education has been somewhat of an eye-opener. It was nothing like Mr. Mackey from South Park saying "drugs are bad... mmmkay!?", and for that I am glad, because I don't think it's solid enough to truly educate people. I saw 2 friends of my Mum's that she went to school live the drug addict's life and in one case one died from drug use. They told me their stories, why they went down the road they did, why they wish they hadn't, and why I shouldn't do it, either. They were pitiful. Good people, they were, but their crutch on drugs was killing them from the inside out. I could see that, and my Mum made no secret of how shit their lives were, in the hopes it would scare my brother and I out of doing drugs. It worked, and I am glad I learned the way I did, regardless of what people may think about it. It's not everyone's cup of tea to have junkies coming to your home for afternoon tea, but we did, only so my Mum could make sure that for 2 hours of the day at least, they were safe. I did not witness these people actually doing drugs, buying drugs or selling drugs, but if I had questions, about their scars, why their eyes were so red, why they couldn't afford to pay their bills, they were honest. They told me why. They made stupid choices in order to cope with things, and now they were stuck in a shitty situation. The two friends of my Mum's in question are now dead. They died within days of each other. One was murdered. The other from an overdose. I was old enough then to hear the full truth about their deaths, and nothing was hidden from me in relation to them, if I asked. They were good people, who were down on their luck and used the wrong means to pick themselves up again. Now, back to this story. I read it a few years ago, and although I could not directly relate to her story [as neither of my children are drug addicts, obviously] the feelings she felt, the fear, the hurt, the betrayal, is easy enough to relate to. I've been around people who care about people who have turned to drugs, seen the aftermath of what happens when someone loses their life after taking a "hot shot" and it further cements my absolute refusal in trying any drug. This book is beautifully written, honest, and you can almost feel her pain and suffering as if it were your own. I don't know why I read it, when drug use is not something I am even remotely curious about, and anyone who tells me "it's fun" or "you've got to try before you die" is just a moron, but it was a great read and if you have an incredibly strong stomach, I'd advise you to read it.

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