Why You Should Binge Read As Well As Binge Watch

Stack Of Books

Netflix recently advertised for someone to binge watch its shows, films and original content and give it ratings, which set everyone of as screen slaves, film enthusiasts and lazy twats alike all started vying for this coveted position.

However, whilst binge watching continues to be a popular pastime for many, few expostulate on the benefits of binge reading. After all, there is nothing so fun as setting aside a few hours to devote to making a dent in that stack of books that you’ve been meaning to check out for an absolute age.

Recently, someone asked me on Twitter if I chose to binge read or read one book at a time. However, to my mind these are not opposites. Whilst I understand what they were asking, that being whether I read one book at a time or have several on the go, I believe that binge reading is something completely difference. Binge reading is reading several books in quick succession, engrossing yourself completely in each then carrying straight on, the way many might choose to read a particularly engrossing series or the all the books by their favourite author.

I myself indulge in this practice on occasion, and I think it should become more popular. The Easter bank holiday gave me a chance to really get my teeth into a number of books that have been in my ‘must read’ stack on my bookshelf for a while now. With May, AKA ‘the month of two bank holidays’ coming up, what better time to stock your shelves and settle in a for a couple of days of binge reading?

After all, whilst binge watching is an easy, lazy pastime following a hectic day at work, people often forget that binge reading is just as good a way of relaxing and unwinding. Whilst people often think that reading is harder than watching, in reality the benefits outweigh the negatives, as reading may be slightly more laborious but it is more stimulating for the brain and many often remember things better when they read them rather than ingest them through a screen.

Also, I often find it is a great day to make myself check out new books, authors and genres that I would otherwise not bother with. Over a couple of recent long weekends I’ve had I have checked out a number of books that are not my typical reading material, including memoirs, non-fiction and even a comic novel.

In the end, with extra time on your hands in May and the Summer holidays rapidly approaching, I would thoroughly recommend grabbing a load of books, shutting yourself away from it all and indulging in a little binge reading. You never know, it might become a new favourite pastime!

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Happy Second Birthday to The Dorset Book Detective!

Happy 2nd Birthday Dorset Book Detective

It feels like only yesterday that my beautiful blog turned one, yet here we are a year on and still going strong! Thanks ever so much to everyone who has supported me and helped me to create my blog, I look forward to providing you with my ramblings for many years to come!

Changing Christie: Heinous Or Harmless?

ordeal by innoncence 2

Following the recent furore around the BBC’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Ordeal By Innocence, I wondered why everyone was so upset. After all, when adapting TV shows and films Directors and Script Writers often change the plots to suit the audience.

However, many have been incredibly upset by the serious change in plotting that the writers have made. Instead of the perpetrator being the housemaid, at the instigation of the adopted son of the victim, her lover, who was falsely accused, she is in fact his mother, and neither were actually guilty. The murderer, in the show, turns out to be the victim’s husband, who is found out by his adopted children and maid, who capture him and hold him hostage in his late wife’s nuclear bunker whilst they get on with their lives.

This myriad of changes caused great consternation among die-hard Christie fans. The book had not been faithfully adapted, and as such the BBC has ruined it. These people do not seem to understand that what the BBC has, in fact done, is not created a Christie adaptation at all. It may have the same name as one of the Queen of Crime’s novels, but it does not have any of the classic traits or characterisation of her works.

After all, the book uses Arthur Calgary as a form of principal detective, rather than the blubbering mental patient that the show transforms him into. In the book the character, accompanied by others, doggedly explores the blasé secrets, petty scandals and sad affairs of the principal cast of suspects, all of whom are neatly contained within the family home, being either family themselves or servants. Like many of her novels, Christie crafted a unique ending for Ordeal By Innocence by having the innocent be a master manipulator who actually played a key role in the murder. Having his accomplice as the housemaid allows Christie to criticise both the class system and the treatment of women at the time.

Whilst the BBC adaptation might make minor observations about class and gender, as well as making a clear racial statement by casting a black actress in the role of one of the victim’s adopted children, none of these allusions are particularly impactful, and are muddied by the adaptation’s lack of sincerity and sheer lavishness- the costumes are better thought out than the plot throughout, and the dialogue has been woefully neglected in favour of stunning panoramic views of lakes and vast tree lined forests.

I can completely understand why Sarah Phelps chose to change the adaptation so drastically from the original: not only does this allow her to put her own stamp on the work, but it also makes for better TV. After all, the novel relies on the reader being completely transfixed by the notion that Jacko is innocent and the author’s copious red herrings to steer them towards a nail-biting conclusion, whereas, spread over three episodes, the TV series would struggle to build and maintain such tension. As such, Phelps not only intensifies the characters, making many much more bitter or shrill than they are in the novel, but also completely changes the plot in order to make it memorable. After all, the fact that I am writing this post about it proves that this divisive move has worked. All publicity is good publicity- right?

Overall, it is my firm belief that the BBC has effectively not made a Christie adaptation at all, and whilst I am not sure I would go so far as to say that this Easter’s Ordeal By Innocence is an outrage, it is certainly not fit to bear the Queen of Crime’s name.

Easter Reads to Get You Through the Last Day of the Long Weekend

Easter Reading

Happy Easter! I hope you are having a lovely weekend filled with fun, family and, most importantly, chocolate! If you work in retail or healthcare then I am sorry for flaunting my freedom to you, but for everybody with a long weekend, now is a great time to check out new books.

With so much extra time on your hands (for those of us lucky to have Bank Holidays off), now is a great time to peruse your local second hand bookshops, charity shops or even use your leftover Christmas vouchers to buy that book that’s been on your wish list for like ever. As the working week draws ever nearer, now is the time to curl up on the sofa and check out your new books in peace and quiet.

Pastoral novels are a great read in Spring, as you long for rolling hills and wide, open fields. Fingers in the Sparkle Jar is a great choice, or there’s a new book called The Wood by John Lewis-Stempel, a beautiful nature text which I personally am keen to check out. If you have never read it, I am also very keen on H is for Hawk, an engaging memoir by a fascinating author.

There are those who would like to get back to the religious roots of the holiday (never mind the fact that it has in fact been reappropriated from a Pagan festival), and perhaps reacquaint themselves with some more spiritual texts, such as the bible or some non-fiction which discusses it, however I know nothing about all that, so good luck to you.

For those who fancy re-reading an old favourite, or getting to know a beloved classic, now is the best time, as I have already asserted in my previous post. Having recently visited Jane Austen’s former home at Chawton, I have been reaching for her works, and have devoured her unfinished three novels, Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sanditon, with great delight.

There are also many great reimaginings of older classics that you can grab, for example Money in the Morgue, Ngaio Marsh’s unfinished Inspector Alleyn novel which has been completed by Stella Duffy, and will soon be reviewed on the Dorset Book Detective very soon. There is also A Talent for Murder, Andrew Wilson’s innovative novel featuring a reincarnation of real life Queen of Crime Agatha Christie as a fearless crime solver working to uncover how she came to be almost pushed in front of a train and what her is behind her rescuer’s attempts at blackmail.

There’s also books which are the basis for your favourite film or TV series to consider if you’re a screen junkie, and with so many to choose from now is the time to grab your favourite and settle down for a cosy read. With Ordeal By Innocence dominating the Easter TV Guides as the show to watch, avid readers can either grab that or check out one of the other, slightly better books in Christie’s expansive back catalogue, such as Dead Man’s Folly or They Do It With Mirrors. There are also book versions of your favourite films, such as Netflix’s Annihilation, Ready Player One as well as A Wrinkle in Time.

If you fancy something completely new, there are many great new releases out there that you can check out; there is Silent Victim by Caroline Mitchell, The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths or The Visitor by K.L. Slater. Crime Fiction always gets a boost around this time of year, following Christmas and in the run-up to the Summer holidays, with the January releases now out in Paperback whilst the Summer books are only just out in Hardback, with their Paperback release scheduled in time for everyone to snatch one as they jet off to sunnier shores.

Whatever you choose, as Monday brings the long weekend to its close you can while away your final day off with a good book and remind yourself why you love reading.

Jane Austen’s House at Chawton: A Great Literary Adventure

jane austen house

Recently I had the pleasure of spending some time in Hampshire, the county in which Jane Austen, the famed writer of such classics as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Emma, resided for many years. As we were travelling through, myself and my companion decided to visit her former home in the picturesque village of Chawton, which has now been turned into a museum dedicated to preserving the memory of her charming and intriguing life.

As a bookworm who has always had a fascination with Austen and her works, which were ahead of their time and are still utterly compelling to this day, I was delighted to visit this beautiful house and gain an insight into one of my favourite authors. In the past month I have also had the pleasure of exploring the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Buckinghamshire, which was a great place to learn about another extraordinary writer and revel in the childlike glee which his work inspired in readers around the world.

However, the Jane Austen museum is something altogether unique, and I would throughly recommend that anyone with even a passing interest in this exceptional novelist visit this perfectly preserved and lovingly curated house. Filled with fascinating curios and insightful notes on the history of Austen’s family and their lives, this is a great way to indulge your reading hobby in a more sociable, outdoorsy manner.

After all, reading is, primarily, a solitary activity, and one that is often difficult to share with others. With a trip to a museum such as this, book lovers can share their joy with their friends and family as they explore the life and learning of this beloved author. As Austen’s works are popular with a wide variety of readers and film fans, her former home is the perfect day out for a family or group of friends that can never decide where to go or what to do.

There are so many fascinating objects in the house, including the little table at which Jane Austen sat and wrote her letters, a muslin shawl she actually made and transcripts of a number of letters that she wrote to her friends and family. The walls are covered in beautiful portraits of the Austen family and drawings that they and their friends created. There is also a museum cat, who is definitely worth a mention!

So, overall, Jane Austen’s House Museum is the perfect trip for book lovers and Jane Austen fans seeking an innovative and exciting way to find out more about this pioneering female author. Although the house is not vast, there is plenty to see and do, and the building has extensive gardens which are stunning, especially in more clement weather such as this weekend (although, this is Britain, so we’ll just have to wait and see how long it holds on for!). There is also a local library where Austen took inspiration which is worth a visit, and with a pub and a tea room nearby you can truly make a day of it.

Books: Do We Really Buy With Our Eyes Anymore?

books store

The other day I wandered past my local Waterstones and noticed the vast effort that goes into book jackets and covers. The beautiful, colourful displays were inviting and enticing, but in the digital age and with readers increasingly choosing their next book through review sites and bestseller lists, is it worth all that effort now?

I can understand the need a few years ago, when buyers bought with their eyes. Without the ease that we have today of finding book reviews online, readers had their eyes drawn to a pretty cover, read the blurb and then made the decision to purchase or not. However, today there are so many other factors, yet still publishers and authors pay a fortune to have sumptuous designs created for their stories.

So many of them are truly stunning, and designers are always coming up with quirky new designs for both new novels and reimagined versions of the classics. After all, they are always recreating The Harry Potter Series with new and exciting covers, even making one for adults as well as children. Recently Penguin Books published The Wood by John Lewis-Stempel with a pretty cover with a sweet, floral design complete with a gamboling badger and swirling vines. Being a West Country girl, this cover really drew me in and, although I did not immediately buy a copy I know that I would never have bothered to read the blurb had it not been so enticingly pretty.

As such, it’s my opinion that books will remain aesthetically pleasing for a long while yet. Despite the advent of ebooks and the temptation for readers to review their books before they buy, purchase online or take recommendations, there will never be anything better than a good old-fashioned rummage through a good book shop. As such, I don’t believe that book designers have anything to fear from the technological revolution.

As Winter Continues, Is Now The Time To Be Revisiting The Classics?

Reading in Winter

With winter here in the UK seemingly endless and many of us unfortunately cooped up thanks to the snow, comfort is on the agenda. Everything from favourite foods to cosy jumpers and blankets is coming out to keep people warm and snug, so why not go back to an old favourite or find a new one among the classics?

After many months of being good (ish), I recently went on a book shopping spree at my local charity shop as well as in Waterstone’s, the Works and my favourite independent bookshop, indulging in a number of new purchases for my already overstocked shelves. Among these was a copy of E.M. Forster’s novel Howard’s End, which I purchased after having watched the superb BBC adaptation over Christmas. I have read the novel before, however when I watched the show I realised that I have almost entirely forgotten the plot.

I also grabbed a copy of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, a novel I’ve never read before that I’ve always wanted to, alongside a load of Jane Austen short stories. This nostalgia grabbing is nothing new; like the TV adaptation of Howard’s End shown over Christmas, it’s clear that we all crave a little familiarity when the cold weather sets in.

Maybe it’s the fact that we know what we’re getting with something we’ve already read before, or maybe we crave something we can really get our teeth into when we’re cold and craving comfort. Whatever the reason, I find that I often want a classic to dip into when I’m cold and find my plans cancelled by the weather.

Often I enjoy re-reading my favourites, such as Pride and Prejudice and Things Fall Apart, but I also crave new classics when I’m cold and cranky. Maybe its because I read more when I’m stuck inside or maybe I just want something that I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy. It may even bring back good memories from University, when I studied English Literature and was constantly dipping into and analysing classic novels. Whatever the reason, grabbing a classic novel is a great way to cheer yourself up in the chill.

So as you contemplate spending the weekend hiding away from the snow and keeping yourself warm and toasty, consider grabbing a copy of a classic and letting literature take you away.