Sunday Morning Round-Up: Alice, Quentin, and Murder Mysteries

Your one-stop shop for the week’s most interesting bookish news and reviews

Wrinkly Old Alice

Print Collector/Getty Images
Print Collector/Getty Images

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was this week celebrated for having reached its 150th anniversary.  Yes, that’s right, the now iconic novel was published 150 years ago on 2nd August, 1865.  So to celebrate, of course, The Telegraph have questioned whether it’s an “innocent fantasy or dark and druggy” – hmm, I’m not sure if matters either way, so long as it’s an entertaining and enjoyable read!  There are celebratory events going on all over the world but alas, I’m not attending any (although if anyone has spare tickets…), and here is a great list of quotes from the book to get you in the mood!

An Interview with Quentin Blake

Quentin Blake
Quentin Blake

The illustrator most famed for his work with Roald Dahl, has illustrated over a massive 300 books to date and has most recently been working with actor and comedian David Walliams.  He has spent time working with The Nightingale Project, a charity that works to put art into hospitals and Blake has produced work for several hospitals in both London and France.  Quentin Blake’s work is so distinctive and so integral to many, many people’s childhoods that it’s no wonder he’s reached an almost legendary status.  I’m not much of a star-gazer but if anyone could make me star-struck, I think Quentin Blake could do it!  Here he is talking about my favourite thing: books!

Cosy Killings

A Cosy Murder Mystery
A Cosy Murder Mystery

Crime drama: cosy little mystery with a puzzle to solve – Agatha Christie style; or gritty, violent, and bloody drama – Karen Slaughter style?  Despite modern propensity for more guts and gore, it appears that the former crime drama style is making a bit of a comeback.  Joseph Knobbs of Waterstones talks to The Guardian about how people are increasingly looking for something lighter and perhaps more fun, if crime dramas can ever be fun.  Either way, I’m not a big fan of murder mysteries – I get frustrated if I guess ‘who-dun-it’ because it’s too easy, and I get frustrated if I don’t guess ‘who-dun-it’ because I don’t like to lose!

Boring Goody-Two-Shoes

imagesVirtuous characters in fiction are boring.  That’s the statement debated by two writers this week in The New York TimesThomas Mallon, arguing in favour, talks about the joys of going to hell for company (unless your Sartre, of course), whilst Alice Gregory discusses how being good is at odds with the world in general, thus making it an intriguing character trait.  It’s an interesting debate, but I can’t help but find myself inclined towards Mallon’s case.  Regardless of what it says about me, I’d far rather read darker books about bad people, than happy books with ‘good’ characters.  What do you think?

World-Changing Books

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This week, The Guardian published a list of ten books that have changed the world.  For the most part, the list makes sense – non-fiction books that have had a massive influence on the world, but I can’t help but feel they’ve got a few things wrong.  Such as the fact that they’ve included the Complete Works of Shakespeare.  Not that Shakespeare isn’t hugely influential, of course.  It just seems a bit of a cheat to me as it’s more than one book!  There should also be a place made for the dictionary/encyclopaedia.  Whilst not the first dictionary*, Johnson’s Dictionary, published 15th April 1755, has to be the book that has had the most influence of all books, literature, and people in general since its publication.  Do you agree?  What are your top ten books that have changed the world?

*If you’re wondering, the first single-language English dictionary was published in 1604 by Robert Cawdrey and was called Table Alphabetical 

Short-Listed Six

The GuardianLast week, we had the announcement of the Not the Booker Prize Prize long-list, and this week, they’ve released the short-list, as voted for by the public.  They are books that, to my shame, I have neither read nor heard of, including Kirstin Innes’ Fishnet and Oliver Langmead’s Dark Star.  So no, I can’t comment on who should win but one thing’s for sure – I need to get reading, and quickly!

And for the fun link of the week: Friends who like Books

Book Riot this week published an article about cool girls who like books, and one cool girl in particular: Rachel Green, the iconic Jenifer Aniston character from the sit-com Friends.  Here, they gather the evidence that she is a secret read-aholic, and they make a pretty convincing case too!

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7 comments

  1. I think you have to have both dark and virtuous characters – and of course there is always the good character who becomes the hero and saves the day. Sometimes that can be boring but in a really good book where the villains are too terrible to bear then the virtuous hero is somewhat a relief

    1. Lol oh you are a bad girl! lol We are on the opposite side of the fence on this one though. I’m no innocent or angle by any stretch of the imagination, however, I do prefer stories and characters that show us the better side of humanity. I don’t think I agree with an entire cast of only “good” but certainly having them more predominant. I guess it comes from watching first hand how much the people around me were impacted by their choice of entertainment and feeling powerless to stop it. Because though I could see the changes in their behaviour, if I tried to discuss it with them or steer a different path I was the one called down and said to be “wrong” – which in itself was a trait being picked up from their choice of entertainment. I don’t think everyone is necessarily drastically influenced by their choice of entertainment, but I think it affects us far more than we acknowledge and especially over prolonged periods of time. 🙂

      1. Well Angle (lol!), I hope I haven’t been too heavily influenced by what I read!

        I’m not saying that good shouldn’t win overall, or that I don’t want to see good in books. But if it’s all good, or if good always wins, it gets boring. For a long time, I wouldn’t watch a Hollywood film because you’d know right away that good would win (and the leading characters would fall in love), which basically makes the whole story pointless. It’s getting better now and there is some variety (or maybe I’m getting old, less contentious, and more soppy)!

        Having said all that, I can see how an all ‘bad’ cast would be boring too but at least there’s a bit more excitement there! I suppose, as Mallon said in the debate, that reading about evil or the bad things people do is almost like exploring your own perhaps darker thoughts and their consequences without actually having to do it! For example, a nasty character who always says what he/she thinks, regardless of the feelings of the other people – I don’t do that, but sometimes I want to (it’s true, I’m no angle here!) and by reading about it in books allows me to explore the consequences without actually upsetting anyone! I’m already nice to people (at least I think I am, I try to be) so I don’t really need to explore that.

  2. The dictionary had a major influence on the British because it standardised language so that different regional dialects could use this standard in their various forms of communication.

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