Thursday, 18 May 2017

Books in Flight

I have been directly affected by the UK ban on electronics arriving on flights from selected airports. I was ready for my holiday to Istanbul, having only recently been more open to reading on a Kindle, A Little Life loaded smugly onto my light weight e-reader complete with portable power pack and cable.

Leaving the UK is no problem, laptops, tablets, all manner of decadent electronics are allowed to fly through the air without alarm. My flight back to the UK was delayed for an hour as the land crew painstakingly searched and assessed every single bag. Mine was scanned twice for an electric toothbrush. Infuriatingly the delay was not the caused by the passengers, I arrived an hour before boarding and got through to the plane at 8:55. The scheduled take off time was 9am but looking at the queue there was no way we were leaving soon. 

Although news articles and websites were clear about tablets and laptops it was not until the morning of my flight that I received notification that portable battery packs (and hard drives by the way) above a certain size were not allowed in hand luggage OR in checked luggage. I put mine in the hold and didn't mention it. But several passengers had their batteries taken away. Where? Into a red cooler bag that the steward carried to the back of the plane cabin. So it's still in the cabin, not in the hold, and sitting next to a bunch of other electronics and batteries likely to blow. 

Aside from the general frustration at this inane attempt by the government to look like it is making an effort to stop terrorist attacks, which makes no technological sense at all, the difference on the flight was noticeable. I clearly think it is a pointless and unhelpful security measure, but I loved the reappearance of books, newspapers and magazines on the flight. More people slept on the flight than working, which probably made them happier on the other end. Although many people turned to their phones to play games, or detonate a device hidden in hold luggage (which is only scanned once and with no question about your destination), several people pulled out books. 

I'm not suggesting that some people don't always carry a book on a plane anyway, but without kindles I could see what everyone was reading, what language they were reading in, and how far they have got left to read. I loved it and used half an hour of the trip just snooping into other peoples book habits. The rest was powering through my current book while half listening to the family of five behind me reading a children's book together. 

I still sneer at the restrictions, but welcome back books!

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Book of the Year

As is tradition, every year in May I tot up how many books I've read and more importantly how many I've read since the start of this blog page. It makes it a bit weird to count from May to May, but its a tiny piece of nostalgia that I like to do.

May - Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
June - The Old Man & The Sea, Queenie, The Signature of All Things, The Guernsey Literature and Potato Peel Pie Society
July - The Moth, Binge, The Widow, Armada
August - The Man in The High Castle, Eat Pray Love, Leaving Atocha Station
September - Look Who's Back, Queen of Shadows
October - The Box of Delights
November - Blackass
December - Love Letters to the Dead,

January - Captain Corelli's Manolin, Othello, Playing With The Grown Ups
February - Half of a Yellow Sun
March - The Essex Serpent, The Vegetarian, Anil's Ghost
April - The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, A Little Life, The Colour Purple, The Sultan's Organ

Book of the Year May 2016- April 2017 has got to be Love Letters to the Dead.

Love Letters to the Dead
Ava Dellaria
Hot Key Books 01/05/2014 Paperback
Movellas Haul

This book was perfect to get me out of my depressed, I'm-not-even-reading-right-now, slump. It was aimed at teenagers, so lacks the pretension that might make my head hurt, but has beautiful writing elements that would wake me up to my love of reading and language - something I needed to find again.
As an epistolary novel, the protagonist relates her daily struggles of high school to her heros. They are cleverly chosen, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Eirehart, John Keats; the people that you discover for the first time at that coming of age stage of life. As the story comes out, the people that she writes to the most come to the foreground and reveal something of the character and her friends in what they have in common. For example she only write to Amy Winehouse a few times, and she is inspired to do so because her new friend sings Amy Winehouse music. As it transpires Amy and the best friend have a lot in common, and it speaks to the moulding of the character as well as the protagonist discovering the musician.
It is very clever.

More than anything I will cherish this book because in a world where my depression had leaked into every aspect of my life, colouring even my happy times with darkness and bitterness, I reclaimed reading as mine. People see me as a reader and without books I wasn't myself.