One of my favourite books (source: Goodreads)

The best thing about turning 12, as I recall, was that I finally got access to all the books in my local public library. One of the books I remember most is The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales, edited and compiled by Chris Black, published in 1992, when I was 15/16. When I think about reading it, I remember that I was in the top bunk bed, which doesn’t sound quite right, either in terms of the perfect location for reading  Gothic literature, or in reality, as I’m not sure we still had those beds then. But I recall that the bunk beds were in the attic, which is eminently suitable for the reading of Gothic fiction. The memory plays strange tricks, and for me, that means Gothic fiction being somehow tied up with childhood, or at least with teenage-hood. Continue Reading »

The family matriarch received a copy of A. A. Milne‘s poetry collection When We Were Very Young when she was four years old, and she owns it still. It came to mind this morning when I heard that today is Milne’s birthday. Here’s a photo of the front cover of our (1948) edition. The collection was originally published in 1924; Goodreads records the the latest editions as dating from 2011 (in print), and from 2015 (electronic copy).


A. A. Milne, When We Were Very Young (London: Methuen, 1948). My photo.

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After today’s news of the unexpected death of Alan Rickman, I think most people are agreed that the start of the year has been horrible in terms of the loss of some of the most talented and beloved actors and singers the world has known. In my previous post, I spoke of two men, David Bowie and Charles Perrault, who have made, and, despite their deaths (recent or long ago), will continue to make, my life, and the lives of so many others, magical. Alan Rickman is another such man, so creative and talented, as an actor and director,on the stage and in the cinema; I cannot deny, even at the risk of trivialising a post which I would like more than anything to be about his creativity and talent, that I have always found him attractive, because of those traits primarily, and because of something in his bearing and expressive face, but most of all because of his voice. I struggle to describe the beauty of his speaking voice without lapsing into horrible flowery language which he doesn’t deserve (and nor do you). Continue Reading »

I think that I must have known the works of Charles Perrault before I knew those of David Bowie. I was given, and I devoured, my first fairy tale books before I saw David Bowie, for the first time, act in Labyrinth, as I was just a few months into double digits.  I consider them both as decidedly influential figures in my growing love of fantasy.  Today is Charles Perrault’s 338th birthday, while David Bowie’s 69th birthday was just four days ago, on 8 January. Sadly, as we all now know, his death was only two days ago, on 10 January; it was a shock to hear. My radio alarm activated at 8am, as the news came on, and that was the first thing I heard. I thought I was dreaming at first. You never expect to hear that someone you believe(d) to be immortal has died.  Continue Reading »

drowning in a sea of books

Drowning in a sea of books. Artist unknown at this time. Source: Reflections on Life blog (click image for link)

Following some discussions with a friend (pseudonym still to be decided) over the weekend about reading challenges (specifically the self-guided Goodreads Challenge, where you set your own target), I decided that I need to get back to fulfilling the Discworld Challenge that I set myself on this blog last year. I only managed to finish the first book and start the second before life got seriously in the way. So it goes; additionally, I was trying to take notes on the books as I read, to make my reviews a bit more interesting and focused, and I didn’t always have the time, or space (as I do a lot of my reading in transit), to write as I read. This year, I’m going to just read each book through for pure enjoyment, before rereading it while making notes, and I’ll see how that approach works out. Continue Reading »

Thus far, this has been a week of celebrating the birthdays of some of my favourite men – first Tolkien, and now Hayao Miyazaki, who is still alive, and is 75 today! Thanks to the Glasgow-Edinburgh chapter of Geek Girls Brunch for bringing this to my attention on Facebook this morning! Continue Reading »

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on this day in 1892; today he would have been 124. He deserves to have his birthday celebrated with such fireworks as he gifted Bilbo on the occasion of his eleventy-first birthday (also the day of Frodo’s 33rd birthday): Continue Reading »


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