Book Review: The Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac

What’s it about?

Humane, humorous and deeply felt, this is a unique book about reading.

The Rights of the Reader, which has sold over a million copies in France, grew from celebrated French writer Daniel Pennac’s experiences of teaching in “challenging” schools. Central to the book is his belief that readers have rights: to read what, how, where and when they want, and – if they choose – the right NOT to read. 







My thoughts

I can’t recall where I saw this book mentioned, it was probably on a Booktube video and I was like, ok that looks interesting, I’m a reader, it should suit me.  I was also drawn to “The Rights”, and in particular, The Right Not To Finish A Book, as this is something I struggle with.  I have this need to finish books and could count on one hand the amount that I have DNFed over the years.

Pennac’s Rights:

“The right not to read.

The right to skip.

The right not to finish the book.

The right to read it again.

The right to read anything.

The right to mistake a book for real life.

The right to read anywhere.

The right to dip in.

The right to read out loud.

The right to be quiet.”

How many do you observe? 😉

The book is a series of short stories, some are just a page long, some a paragraph, about the author’s teaching experiences with his students and their reading…or lack of it.  Maybe it’s because I’m not a teacher that I found these accounts the hardest to engage with.  I got what the author was saying but it had little effect on me.

However, I enjoyed his chapters describing reading to children and then discussing how they go off reading when it becomes uncool, as a parent and an aunt, I have experience of this.  But the book became a lot more engaging for me after chapter 56 when he discusses how we treat our books, the more generic topics, that most readers will have experience of.

I loved the illustrations by Quentin Blake which were a fun touch.  A quirky little book, which will be well suited to teachers and teaching staff or anyone involved with getting kids to read!

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Small print for info
Source: Library
No of pages: 174
Publisher: Walker Books

Book Review: The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie EffectWhat’s it about?

Forty-one-year-old geneticist Don Tillman had never had a second date before he met Rosie.

Now, living in New York City, they have survived ten months and ten days of marriage, even if Don has had to sacrifice standardized meals and embrace unscheduled sex.

But then Rosie drops the mother of all bombshells. And Don must prepare for the biggest challenge of his previously ordered life – while dodging deportation, prosecution and professional disgrace.

Is Don Tillman ready to become the man he always dreamed of being? Or will he revert to his old ways and risk losing Rosie for ever?

My thoughts

This book was our book club read for March.  It’s the sequel to The Rosie Project and a lot has happened since the Project I was looking forward to re-visiting these characters and see how they were getting on.

So the book started off at a good pace and it felt like old times, Don was just…well Don and Rosie seemed ok, settled.  But then their situation changes and things start to fall apart.  Don starts taking bad advice from his new group of friends which just ends up in a whole other world of mess.

There were some amusing scenes but they didn’t provoke proper laugh out loud moments for me…all those things that you loved about the first one, either didn’t carry through to this one or were just missing.

I don’t think it helped that I didn’t really like Rosie in this book and thought she treated Don somewhat badly for reasons that were pretty poor and unclear.  And what was going on with Gene, although you loved to hate to him, having this complete reversal in his character was daft and somewhat unbelievable.

I think if you enjoy farcical novels or things like Mr Bean you’ll like this.  Overall, a little disappointing in comparison to the first book and one that would probably be better received as a movie.

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Book Review: Bella’s Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson

Bella's Christmas Bake OffWhat’s it about?

Bella Bradley is the queen of television baking – a national treasure. Her Christmas specials have been topping the ratings for years and her marriage to Peter ‘Silver Fox’ Bradley is the stuff of Hello magazine specials.

But this year things are going to be different.

For Amy Lane, Bella’s best friend from school, life hasn’t held quite the same sparkle. And when Amy’s husband walks out three weeks from Christmas, it seems their lives are further apart than ever.

Amy has watched Bella’s rise to fame fondly, despite the fact Bella was always a terrible cook. But when she realises that Bella’s latest Christmas book is made up entirely of Amy’s mother’s recipes, the gloves are off…

My thoughts

I think there’s just time to fit in a quick Christmas book review and as it’s quite an easy read you can squeeze it in before the holidays are over

It took me a while to get into the story as it wasn’t quite what I expected and found the opening few chapters a tadge slow but it does pick up pace and with some nice character development.

I think fans of The Great British Bake Off would enjoy this as it comes with some interesting insights into tv programmes and so comes as no surprise that the the author worked in the TV industry. You’ll also enjoy this if you like books with copious amounts of lovely foody descriptions and festive goodness that’ll make you feel a little bit warm inside (I even found myself unexpectedly filling up towards the end during one particular poignant scene, quite unusual for me).

No real plot surprises for me but I enjoyed the writing and the humour and so I don’t think it’ll be my last Sue Watson novel.

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

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Book Review: Solar by Ian McEwan

SolarWhat’s it about?

Michael Beard is a Nobel prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him. A compulsive womaniser, Beard finds his fifth marriage floundering. But this time it is different: she is having the affair, and he is still in love with her.

When Beard’s professional and personal worlds collide in a freak accident, an opportunity presents itself for Beard to extricate himself from his marital mess, reinvigorate his career and save the world from environmental disaster. Ranging from the Arctic Circle to the deserts of New Mexico, this is a story of one man’s greed and self-deception; a darkly satirical novel showing human frailty struggling with the most pressing and complex problem of our time.

My thoughts

This was our book club read for May and having not being over-impressed with The Children Act I approached this book with trepidation and it seems I was right too! This was a quote from quite early on in the book but it kind of reflects my feelings towards it.

“And that was the problem. Much of the time he did not know what they were saying.”

The book started off well; there’s humourous antics, in particular the artic arrival, the accident and crisps scenes did raise an eyebrow but the author’s choice in language coupled with no chapters and the constant pages of solid text with too much laborious description of the science and technology aspects did not sustain my interest or raise my enjoyment level.

It’s not even if there’s any relatable or engaging characters, the protagonist Micheal Beard is a first class tw*t, his behaviour, the way he treats people, his wives, he’s just not a nice bloke with this air of arrogance about him that he doesn’t seem to think he’s doing anything wrong.

In parts I started to feel a little sorry for him but overall I think he totally deserves what he got but even then he still manages to come up smelling of roses.

I’m so glad to have finished this book for 2 reasons; 1) so I can say I got to the end and 2) so I could start something far more interesting.

This is one of the most baffling and boring books I’ve ever read. I just don’t get all the hype that surrounds Ian McEwan’s books  as they just have a way of making me feel totally uneducated and thick. Although at book club we did discuss the fact that he is able to write about an array of subjects extremely convincingly and with such thorough research that I totally believed everything he wrote – this I can appreciate. Overall, his books are just not for me so won’t be reading another!

If you wanna give it a go, here are the links: Paperback | Kindle

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Book Review: Holy Cow by David Duchovny

Holy CowWhat’s it about?

Elsie Bovary is a cow and a pretty happy one at that. Until one night, Elsie sneaks out of the pasture and finds herself drawn to the farmhouse. Through the window, she sees the farmer’s family gathered around a bright Box God – and what the Box God reveals about something called an ‘industrial meat farm’ shakes Elsie’s understanding of her world to its core.

The only solution? To escape to a better, safer world. And so a motley crew is formed: Elsie; Shalom, a grumpy pig who’s recently converted to Judaism; and Tom, a suave turkey who can’t fly, but can work an iPhone with his beak. Toting stolen passports and slapdash human disguises, they head for the airport …

My thoughts

I’d seen this book doing the rounds on Twitter and I have to say I was drawn to it by the badges that were being sent out with the books (I wanted the badges!). This book was way out of my comfort zone but I requested one and have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it – any book that can make me laugh out loud in the first few pages is going to be a winner.

Now, before you read this you’ll obviously need to leave reality and disbelief at the cover or you won’t like it, it doesn’t matter how the animals know how to do stuff, or get places or end up in conflicts, it’s not real, it’s a bit of fun with a moralistic undertone in that we’re all the same and should be treated as such regardless of animal type, race or religion.

Elsie’s not your typical cow (if there is such a thing??), she comes across as a teenage girl, which of course is what she is – a calf but she’s curious about the outside world and decides she isn’t happy to settle for the same as the other cows and after seeing something shocking on the tv she decides to leave the farm and herein starts her adventures. Think Babe, think Chicken Run and that’s what we have here.

The book’s full of witty funny one liners and some fun illustrations, a lot of which comes across as a satirical look at how people run their lives these days; ie the constant use of a smart phone, unable to have conversations, addicted to tv – you know that kind of stuff.

As for target audience, it’s good for younger teens as long as parents are aware there’s some not so appropriate language but probably nothing they’ve not heard before. It’s good fun, I think adults and teens alike will enjoy. If you think you might enjoy it or know someone that will then read it, if it’s not your cup of tea then don’t. I enjoyed it, it was a complete break from the norm that I read in 2 sittings.

The last third of the book does go all a bit moralistic but after all it’s a modern-day dairy tale!

Thanks to the publishers Headline for the ARC requested via Bookbridgr.

Try the book Hardback | Kindle

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