Books, Life

the bookworm’s guide to reading on a budget

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I’m currently Saving Money For The Greater Good Of My Future. It’s a trial, but I’m just about bearing it. Here’s how …

The Open Library

for those who like to enjoy the wonder of the library from the comfort of their home (AKA those who avoid other humans at all costs)

You have to sign up for this website, but once you’ve done it – huzzah! You’ve entered a secret cult of booklovers and teadrinkers just accessed a library with zonks worth of books that are yours to read FOR FREE!

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Project Gutenberg

for those who do not wish to sign up for anything. and like older books. you rebels you.

I’ve spent countless hours using this website. In fact, I read the great majority of G.A Henty’s books on Project Gutenberg and I regret nothing; for now I, too, can write a tale of an honest looking youth – not handsome, mind – around the age of fifteen who is VERY VERY COURAGEOUS! and has MUCH PLUCK! (not the kind of pluck one would do on a chicken’s feathers) and lives an exciting life interspersed with a droning, monotonous voice that says Lord So and So moved his armies to such and such a place in the year something or other.

(If you have ever read a Henty, you will appreciate the very great wit which I have just employed. Probably.)

I also read The Rose-Garden Husband, discovered what a love triangle was (SPOILERS: the heroine chose Bill. Or was his name Bob?), and found Sir Walter Scott’s The Bride of the Lammermoor to be disgustingly miserable.

Also – it’s been over eight years and I still can’t spell Gutenberg correctly. I add an extra ‘u’.

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LibriVox

for those who cannot afford Audible. and don’t mind listening to strangers talking. for hours.

LibriVox is the spoken form of Project Gutenburg Gutenberg. Some of them are awfully good. I once tried to persuade my brothers that The Scarlet Pimpernel was a magnificent book of magnificent proportions.

It is, and it was, but I didn’t realise that a) Marguerite had so. many. emotions and b) the emotions took up such a great deal of space. I had to reassure my poor brothers that the really AMAZING AND AWESOME PART was coming up soon. It did not, in fact, come up soon. It was at the end of the book. They were not overly impressed.

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The Library. Your Local Library.

for those who are willing to leave the shelter of their homes in search of books. introverts around the world salute you.

I have nine books out right now. Nine. One of which is the hefty five book trilogy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Do you know how much money that would have cost me to purchase? A fortune. A massive fortune.

Do you know how much money I spent? Nothing. NOTHING.

I ordered a book in the other day – instead of buying the ebook version for £4.74, I spent 45p ordering it. FORTY-FIVE PENCE.

It is a universal truth that libraries make you feel good about yourself. They are peaceful places – unless there is a mother and child group in the children’s section. In which case you will be serenaded by the sweet, sweet sounds of The Wheels On The Bus (Go ‘Round and ‘Round). 

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Since making the agonising decision to save money on books (it is painful, I can assure you) no less than THREE books have been published by authors I quite enjoy. But if one must have principles, one should probably stick to them. I am using three libraries – my personal one (if I can call my kindle collection, and bookshelves that), my local one, and the online version.

It can be done, my friends. It can be done.

happy reading!

Books, I think I just rambled, Recountings

Bookish Influences: The One That Cost Me an Arm and a Leg

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via Pinterest

Alright, I’ll admit it – a book made me purchase a violin. Which, of course, probably says more about me than I’m comfortable with admitting.

[cough *gullible* cough *easily influenced* cough]

In my defense, read this and see if you don’t want an instrument that understands you and …

… instead of playing any of my classical pieces I drifted into improvising as I went along, and then, as my thoughts took me far away, I gave myself up to them entirely. ‘Dwell deep’ was ringing softly but clearly in my ears. Storms could come and storms could go, but in all and through all were those two little words of peace and quiet. And my violin was with me, and understood my mood. I don’t know how long I played, but when I came to myself and surroundings, soothed and comforted in spirit, I found them all staring at me in astonishment.

The violin understands her. Her moods are translated into sound. Is it any wonder that I purchased a violin? Is it any wonder that I wished to do the same?

But alas, I found to my surprise that … well, to be perfectly honest, Fiction doesn’t always meld well with Real Life. The eardrums of my poor family will attest to this. I can only say that if Heinrich – my violin – truly did translate my moods, than I am in dire need of therapy. Dire need.

What book was this that prompted such expense, such existential crises brought on by Heinrich?

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Dwell Deep

by Amy Le Feuvre

I suppose that I ought to delve into the basic plot. It is thus: a newly converted Christian [Hilda Thorn] goes to live with her non-Christian guardian and his family in the country. Morals and Principles clash and through many trials, Hilda Thorn learns to ‘dwell deep’ as it says in Isaiah.

Now look, here is the link to Dwell Deep – go ahead and read it if you do not want mild spoilers, but otherwise, let us commence this recounting/bookish influence post.

I must admit that I’m not going to talk about the trials that Hilda endures because of her new-found faith. But I’d better note that they are good, encouraging and some of the things she doesn’t do – like dancing – are a matter of conscience. But on the whole, her journey is one that I found to be inspiring.

I’ve already told you of how Dwell Deep influenced me, or rather, influenced me into emptying my bank account with the purchase of Heinrich, who was either the wrong violin for me, or I the wrong musician for him. (Or rather, the wrong untalented musician for him).

Now let’s move onto the Recounting side of things. Or, as I like to call it: my Pet Rant.

My Pet Rant

Kenneth is the son of Hilda’s guardian. This book would not be one that I enjoyed without Kenneth. He teases Hilda, calls her ‘Goody-Two-Shoes’, and watches her narrowly for any chance of slipping up and becoming a hypocrite. He’s just … Kenneth.

‘I don’t think she possesses a temper,’ put in Kenneth. ‘I know for a fact that I often lose mine in trying to make her lose hers!’

It’s a typical case of a boy provoking a girl because he likes her. The proverbial ‘Pigtail Pulling’ and I can’t deny that a delighted part of me whispers: dawww, he wuvs her.

‘Why do you love to make people uncomfortable if you can?’ I said in desperation to him, after he had been chaffing me unmercifully on the same subject before a lot of people in the drawing-room one afternoon.

‘Because it is my nature to, I suppose,’ he retorted. ‘I don’t think anything would make you uncomfortable, Goody! You go serenely on your way, wrapped in a cloak of supreme self-content and satisfaction. Except for bringing a little extra pink colour into your cheeks, which I like to see, no words of mine can ever stir you.’

See?

But alas. A new player appears on the stage. His name is Philip Stanton and he is Perfect For Hilda. Naturally, he and Hilda fall in love.

Now, I would like to make it clear that it is not that I dislike him, he is after all, a good gentleman, a Christian and seems to be a decent sort of chap. And yet – and I’ve just noticed this – he calls Hilda ‘his darling child’. Child. That’s worse than ‘babe’.

Ahem. Anyway, they fall in love and drama ensues when he disappears and will they ever see each other again?

(Hopefully not.)

I am a firm believer that Hilda and Kenneth were the perfect match and nothing can tell me otherwise. Philip, you say? Philip who?

‘There are moments, Goody Two-Shoes, when you and your fiddle are before my eyes, that I think I should like to marry you and take you away with me somewhere where you should charm me with those strains continually. Don’t look so frightened. We understand each other. I know you wouldn’t dream of having me, so I am never going to ask you.’

Hilda, you should have waited for him. People change and he could have. Why?!!! You belonged together. Or rather, he needed someone and that someone was you. (I have decreed it, so it must be so.)

And yes, I am passionate about books which are old and no one else seems to have heard of. Join me next week for my recounting of The Rose-Garden Husband, and the week after that: He Fell In Love With His Wife (Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the ah-may-zing plot twist. But here’s a clue: he falls in love with someone who he is possibly wed to. It’s like, totally unexpected).heinrichmylove

In the mean time, Heinrich sits, neglected, tucked between my bookshelf and my black leather chair that only ever seems to hold my childhood soft toys, or if I’m in an untidy mood, an array of clothing and books and papers which I fondly call ‘My Doom’.

I’m so, so sorry Heinrich. But do not be frightened – I’ll wring a mood out of you yet, even if it takes me a thousand tries of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.

Books, Recountings

Henty and I

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G A Henty

I’ve read the great majority of G A Henty’s books. I gorged on them. They were on the internet! Better yet, they were free! Many late nights were spent reading one book after another. Beric the Briton, A Knight of the White Cross, In the Reign of Terror, For the Temple and Winning His Spurs to name just a few.

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Me, as represented by a Duck

After a while, one books merges into another. The hero often begins his journey as a boy who is either fifteen or sixteen, he’s not particularly handsome but has an open, honest face. He is always courageous, good and honourable and has buckets – buckets! – of pluck.

Adventures take place between great patches of texts on the history of that time period. Who fought who etc. (I may or may not have developed the habit of skipping those sections and diving into the more exciting ones).

And though the books are often somewhat similar, I enjoyed the great majority of them. After all, I invested a good many hours in Henty’s works. My favourites of his books are often his most unusual ones, such as:

A Search for a Secret Vol 1 – 3: G A Henty writing a female character in first person? Count me in. Only … the story needed more Percy. Lots more Percy. And a longer ending because really, I wanted a bit more of a glimpse of the happy ending – I’d just read three books after all).

In the Reign of Terror: I can’t quite put my finger on the reason why this is one of my favourites of his books, it is more to the usual Henty fare than the others on this list. It’s full of the French Revolution! Danger! Plucky side characters! Harrowing escapes! Intrepid daring! (I think I’ve just described the Scarlet Pimpernel).

A Girl of the Commune: The hero is of the lazy genius ilk who falls in love with a girl who is of the Suffragettes-type ilk. She jilts him. He pulls his belt in and begins to become a Useful Member of Society. They meet again in Paris and are trapped in the city when the Paris Commune comes to power. However will they cope?

Rujub the Juggler: Alright, let’s have a hero with a weakness. Let’s have a hero who is frightened to death of gunfire. This is one of my favourite Henty books purely because the hero isn’t a Perfect Specimen of Manhood. However, I’m not fond of either mysticism or magic and unfortunately there is a little in this book, mostly to do with the title character.

Want to read his books? For FREE?! Find ’em right here.

Quotables

Quotables – Fascinating Work, Slaving Away and Poetical Landscapes

4921I can’t sit still and see another man slaving and working. I want to get up and superintend, and walk round with my hands in my pockets, and tell him what to do. It is my energetic nature. I can’t help it.

– – –

I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.

– – –

What the eye does not see, the stomach does not get upset over

– – –

I don’t know why it should be, I am sure; but the sight of another man asleep in bed when I am up, maddens me.

– – –

It was a lovely landscape. It was idyllic, poetical, and it inspired me. I felt good and noble. I felt I didn’t want to be sinful and wicked anymore. I would come and live here, and never do any more wrong, and lead a blameless, beautiful life, and have silver hair when I got old, and all that sort of thing.

– – –

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome isn’t an ordinary book. It is a rambling, hilarious book that doesn’t perscribe to the usual story structare of a novel. It started out as a travel guide and ended up as, as … one must really read it to find out. And you can (for FREE! Public Domain, I love you) right here.

… and don’t forget …

… that while Our Intrepid Heroine isn’t in the public domain, it is waiting for you to pick up a copy right here. Think of it as a Christmas present to you.