16 March, 2008

Books (Part One)

SSS likes to read. It's always been one of my most favourite occupations, right up there with eating peanut crackle and trying out new gin. Here are a few of my favourite titles.

The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood. A religious group overthrows the government and womens lives change dramatically. Fertile, unmarried women are stripped of their assets, bank accounts, children and even their names. They are brainwashed and taken to live with elite government officials and their wives. Once there it becomes clear that the women are there to bear children for the couple, essentially she is turned into a sex slave who is used for breeding purposes. Our protagonist is Offred and we follow her experiences in the Republic of Gilead. This book absolutely chilled me to the bone. I think I was about 18 when I read it. I've been more than wary of right wing religious misogynistic nutters ever since.

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding. Yes, I know. It's chicklit. But it's good chicklit. I loathed the film version with a passion previously reserved for any Tory Cabinet Minister from the 1980s ( one - because they made Bridget stupid and two - because they got that ridiculous Zellwegger girl to do a shocking English accent) but it's a great book. I felt at times as though Helen Fielding had been tapping my 'phone line. Some cultural references are no doubt lost on non UK readers but I still maintain it's the finest chicklit ever. V good.

Motherless Daughters. by Hope Edelman. I found this book in Books Etc, Covent Garden when I was about 24. Silly as it sounds I like to think that the book found me. I remember sitting on the floor with it and drinking it in. I read all the way home on the Tube and didn't put it down that night till I'd finished it. I was so happy to find out that I was not alone, and that other women had similar experiences and feelings. I have recommended this book to quite a few of my friends, which in itself saddens me because I personally believe there are two many women out there without mothers but I am always happy to be able to recommend such an excellent resource. I don't have my original copy, I gave it away after recieving another copy from a dear friend who had heard the author being interviewed on the radio and thought of me. I hope no one here ever has to read it but if you have a motherless friend who you know struggles from time to time (and we all do) then recommend it or buy her a copy. I can't tell you how much it helped me.

Finally, to finish on a light note,I adore the excellent The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and 3/4 by Sue Townsend. The precocious self proclaimed poet of the Midlands who passed time measuring his 'thingy' and writing poetry about growing up in Thatchers Britain whilst coping with his parents infidelity and crumbling marriage has to be one of my favourite fictional characters ever. Adrian Mole and Pandora Braithwaite must surely rate with historys most poignant star crossed lovers along with Romeo & Juliet, Maria & Tony from West Side Story, (okay, so technically they're Romeo and Juliet as well but give me a little break), Antony & Cleopatra and Margaret Thatcher & Cecil Parkinson. First published in 1982, it's an interesting read from a historical perspective as Adrian notes the news stories of the day, most notably the Falklands Conflict. Apparently it was never a 'war' but it sure felt like it. I remember crying when the HMS Coventry was lost after being bombed by Argentina.

So, these are a few of my favourite books. If you've got a uterus and you haven't read The Handmaid's Tale then shame on you! Go out and get a copy.

13 comments:

mscrankypants said...

I have a uterus and I haven't read The Handmaid's Tale -- thanks for the recommendation.

Good point regarding chicklit. It doesn't pretend to be 'proper' literature but it's still subject to the same rigours such as characterisation, point of view, storylines, plot and narrative. Writing a good book of any genre is fucking hard work to get right.

SSS said...

You must buy it. It's one of the best books ever.

I used to be quite snobbish about reading but I've come round to the view that it doesn't really matter what you read as long as you're reading something.

Foodycat said...

The Handmaid's Tale really is excellent. I think I am due a re-read.

Ellen said...

The Handmaid's tale I agree is fantastic. I don't think I have read it since I was about 17 though, time for a re-read I think

Jacki said...

I too have a uterus and haven't read The Handmaid's Tale - I will add it to my list.

I was very cranky about the movie version of Bridget Jones- I think they missed some of the essence of Bridget and I could not fathom why they felt they needed to use an American actor??

vicki said...

I've not read The Handmaid's Tale either. Must search it out.
I must say, I used to love a bit of chicklit back in the day. I'll still read anything that Marian Keyes writes. I also used to be quite snobbish about books, but the past couple of years I've also come round to the same view as you. I've been reading loads of genre fiction, fantasy and - eek!- romance! But I find I cannot bear to watch much tv at all, and after a hard day's slog at the orifice, I much prefer to dive into a ripping yarn.

SSS said...

That's it, then. Time for a rereading of The Handmaid's Tale!

Ellen said...

I started my re-read last night. It is as good as I remember, but more poignat and with more meaning now I am a few years older. Was going to lend it to a friend today, but was too selfish to do so. I will just have to read it this weekend and give it to her next week. Thanks SSS for discussing it which has made me start reading it.

mscrankypants said...

Hey, there's more dots on your cluster map!

*slinks from blog and ponders meaning of mini-obsession with sss's map*

SSS said...

You want one, N. You know you do.

mscrankypants said...

I'm thinking about it, but haven't managed to change the blog once without destroying stuff ... hmmmm but it is a day off and plenty of time to fix what I wreck.

DHS said...

I read The Handmaid's Tale for the first time as a very impressionable 17-yo (I was much more lefty then) and then again at my time at the University of the People's Republic of Cambridge (the one in the USA). a bit more chilling when you're actually at the places described in the book and realise that, there but for the grace of god...

mscrankypants said...

Thanks for the recommendation for The Handmaid's Tale. I was excited when I found it interstate yesterday and sat in a park and read. And read. I've nearly finished; it's a beautifully put-together story and wise and chilling at the same time.