Books

Everyone should read… Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

“He was going to live forever, or die in the attempt.” – Joseph Heller, Catch-22

Ah! The story of Yossarian. A story of the ridiculousness of war and man. A story which is incredible on so many levels it is hard to say anything which would do it justice.

But I’ll try.

For those who aren’t familiar, Catch-22 invites you into a world of madness. A world which is set during World War 2 and details the story of bombardier Yossarian and his fellow airman, trying to survive the craziness of war to get home.

Much of their story takes place at their squadron base in Pianosa, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, and it is here where we first find our protagonist Yossarian. Below I’ve attempted to pinpoint a handful of reasons why Everyone Should Read Catch-22. 

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A peek inside Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

“You described the feeling you’d always had of being misplaced, of always standing to one side of yourself, of watching yourself in the world even as you were being in the world, and wondering if this was how everyone felt.

“That you always believed that other people had a clearer idea of what they were doing, and didn’t worry quite so much about why.”
– Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City

Bright Lights, Big City is one of those novels which manages to beautifully articulate the struggles, joys and hurts of life in such a way that is so relatable.

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Books on the Underground: Keeping London Reading

I recently came across Books on the Underground (BOTU) and wanted to do a shout-out about it as I think it’s such a lovely idea.

Books on the Underground…

The concept is pretty much how it sounds: books which find their way to you on the underground. BOTU leave much-loved novels on the tube, you pick them up, read them and then leave them for the next person to enjoy.

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Picture by Claire Johnson

My Life in Books

A novel is very personal. It can capture an imagination. Take a reader on a journey. Influence thought. Be a friend, a comfort. Novels are wonderful things.

Throughout my life I have always had a overly keen interest in them. Here are the ones that I recommend. The ones that have had a profound impact on my thoughts. The ones that you should read. Right now, well, after reading this post.

1) Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

Brideshead Revisited is by far my favourite. Set in the 1920s between the World Wars, it depicts a time of wealth, glamour and how it’s all to change. Waugh creates a beautiful scene of post-war glamour. The overtly descriptive prose, which even Waugh has criticised, is part of what I love about it. It sets the scene of indulgence and decadence.

The characters that Waugh has created are the perfect combination of eccentric, cynical, hilarious and beautiful. Each character has it’s unique traits that add further depth to the novel.

The story, although immensely tragic, is captivating throughout. I won’t say too much as I want you to read it. However, it does have a strong sense of nostalgia and a recurring theme of religion.

2) Harry Potter – J K Rowling

It doesn’t matter which Harry Potter book you read, as I would recommend reading them all, and then re-reading them. Her writing may not be filled with beautiful prose but she is funny, sharp and can create a world that is more magical than any Disney story.

Reading the books, you’ll be heartbroken that you can’t go to Hogwarts. You’ll never get to drink butterbeer and unfortunately Hagrid can’t be your friend. However, you will get lost in a magical world, so at least you can pretend for a bit.

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Review: The Heroin Diaries – A year in the life of a Shattered Rock Star by Nikki Six

It’s Christmas day. You’re naked and alone, laid under a Christmas tree with a shotgun as your only companion. In 1986 this was Nikki Sixx. The Heroin Diaries – A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star is a brutal, surreal look at the real life of rock n roll.

Nikki Sixx, founder, song writer and bass player of Motley Crue, endured a troubled childhood, too much money and an addictive personality. This led him to an addiction with alcohol and drugs, in particularly heroin. During the height of his addiction which was also, not so coincidently, the height of his fame, Sixx kept dairies. On finding the forgotten about diaries he decided to publish them to help others avoid what he endured.

It features a truth, stripped back and real, that you would not find in any biography today; a disturbing insight into the mind of an addict, he died and lived twice, and the tales of a true rock n roll band. It makes Russell Brand’s My Booky Wook look very tame.

The diaries are strung together by a narrative from the present day Sixx and from the people who were with him at the time. This enables a full picture of what was happening and a true representation of his character.

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