Hello everybody and welcome into Official Autumn Time – surely the best time to be reading? I love it. You can either be wrapped up with your winter coat on for the first time, woolly scarf flung over your neck while reading in a park littered with russet coloured leaves, a kaleidoscope of orange red hues whirling around your feet. Or, even better, you can be at home tucked upon your sofa, blanket on lap, candles flickering while outside the window the dark sky is like a thick velvet curtain ready to cover up daily worries, saying to you “you can’t go out now, so just put everything to one side and simply read”. I come from a family of sunshine lovers but you can probably tell where my heart lies.
I have been reading a few different things since I last checked in so this is going to be a real selection box, something for everyone hopefully!
First for me to pop on the bench in front of you is ‘Ctrl, Alt; Delete: How I Grew Up Online’ by Emma Gannon. If you read my posts over on my other site, www.dansailshership.wordpress.com, you will know that I went to see her chair an event at Cheltenham Literature Festival a few weeks ago. I have followed Emma on twitter (and suggest you do to, she is excellent twitter value! @emmagannon) and also listen in on her great podcasts when I am soaking in the bath (I don’t know how she will feel about this info!) I had got myself a copy of her book when it first came out as I had heard such good things on my book grapevine and it was looking at a topic that I am really interested in. The problem is (although I realise this hardly constitutes some terrible woe I can justify moaning about) so many books enter my flat on a weekly basis that as much as I would love to read things just as they have been released, it often cannot happen. I figure this is ok though because they naturally will get a lot of attention when the book first arrives on the shop shelves, if I enjoy it I can help bring some readers its way who maybe missed out on that, so my rather out of date reviews have a purpose. Everybody just nod along ok?
Emma is just a little younger than me and is a member of the ‘Generation X’ we so often read about in the newspapers. We were the first generation to experience a whole load of changes in the education exam system, the first to have the internet appear during their teenage years (and because of this the last to be born and experience childhood without the internet) and the first who will probably never own houses and will live on a pretty inconsequential wage until they hit 70 and try to remember what the word retirement means. This book charts Emma’s experience growing up with the internet, from those first days of msn and Myspace through to the dating world of tinder and the heaven/hell that twitter can be for a woman.
I related to this book so much, I found myself nodding along in several places. From her passion for Meatloaf and Cher singing ‘Dead Ringer for Love’, the first time being duped on the internet into sharing your private thoughts with somebody you thought would respect that trust, to somebody you have never heard of in your life sending you messages to inform you just how wrong you are about – well, everything you have ever said and, in significantly stronger words, to find the edge of a cliff and walk straight towards it. She also shares the joy of the internet, the great friends that you can make and the support network that you can build. I have found this myself on Twitter and there are people I talk to on there who I value dearly who I have never actually met. I appreciate this is an extremely strange thing to get your head around if you haven’t jumped in to this online world and had that experience but Emma does a great job of explaining it.
I found the sections of the book that dealt with how important the internet and social media is in the work place fascinating. I use these platforms on a very basic level, talking about books on this site, tweeting on my work account and the like, but I know I could make this platform a lot better if I had the skills. Her passion, talent and enthusiasm in this area is infectious and highlighted to me just how open companies have to be to the fast paced world of the internet, and how there is this sudden chasm between those who have more traditionally titled jobs and those who now, when asked what they do, have to answer ‘I am X/Y/Z’.
Emma has a writing style that is incredibly friendly but informed, it is like going to the pub with a friend who not only natters about memories both happy and sad from their past, but also explains the back story of that film you just went to see that you didn’t understand; you come away so grateful she is in your life.
Now I don’t want you to think that this book was just a great read for me because I could relate to so much of it, I think it is a book that will be enjoyed by readers of all different age groups. Those who are interested in the changing nature of business because of the internet, parents who are wanting to know more about what is honestly happening on those screens they can hear being clicked on in the room next door and also younger readers, who can see the experiences of those who have been through some of the social media pitfalls and have come out the other side to say ‘it’s ok, you can make it through!’
Emma has, in book form, taken a perfect snapshot of a moment in history that we will never have again, and told it through personal experience that is inclusive and informative. Reboot your day by dipping into this book.
Ctrl Alt; Delete: How I Grew Up Online by Emma Gannon £12.99(Ebury Press)
We couldn’t be flipping to a more different side of the coin with this next book, as I present to you a charming little read I picked up for my nephew and ended up enjoying myself over a cup of tea. ‘Yours Sincerely, Giraffe’ by Megumi Iwasa has quite a simple jacket and almost childlike line illustrations throughout, which is not seen as often these days with all the cloth bound covers and special editions with big name artists, but do not let this make you think it is not worth selecting for the bedtime read. We meet Giraffe, who has been feeling pretty lonely with nobody to chat to all day. He writes a letter and pops it in the rather alternative mail system with the advice to pass on his words to the first creature possible, and so, unlikely as it seems, correspondence begins between the giraffe and his new pen pal…the penguin! I challenge anybody to stop themselves from smiling as the pair try to explain to each other what they look like, with much detail gone in to what exactly is a neck?! The penguin and his pal the whale are completely stumped! With an eventual date arranged to meet we await the day itself with anticipation, and it does not let the reader down, with giraffe arriving not quite as we would expect him to. This went down an absolute treat for my 5 year old nephew (an instant demand to read it again as soon as it was finished is always a winner) and I have to say it warmed my heart for the ten minutes I decided to indulge my inner child as well. Simple but a winner.
‘Yours Sincerely, Giraffe’ by Megumi Iwasa £6.99 (Gecko Press)
Next up is a poetry collection I picked up with no prior knowledge of the poet at all. WOW. I feel silly about that now, do you ever come across an artist and just think ‘HOW have I escaped your work?!’ Well, that is how I feel with Salena Godden *hangs head in shame*. Her work has hit me like having a shot of tequila after a year of drinking milk. I am awake to her world now and I intend to stay so. In case you are in a similar position to me, she is currently being talked about in pretty much every good bookshop due to being featured in ‘The Good Immigrant’, a book I am desperate to start, but that is not how I actually found my way to her work. I ended up with a copy of ‘Fishing in the Aftermath/Poems 1994 – 2014’ which is a selection of over 80 of her poems. I am finding this a great introduction to her outstanding career, with a fascinating introduction that can only briefly touch on all of her highlights otherwise it would take over the whole publication. Her poems can be visceral and raw, I feel like I have been plugged into her heartbeat and can feel her rhythm. Intense friendships, messy life and all its human frailties are splayed across the page, sometimes leaving me only able to take in one or two at a time as I need space to absorb her words before I move on to the next. I almost feel like I can recommend this book to you as medicine, this time of year people are often bunged up, heads full of cold. If you feel your reading life may be suffering in a somewhat similar fashion, grab a copy of this and like in those adverts for cold and ‘flu remedy, you will be blasted fresh and clean with a voice menthol fresh! (A terrible analogy, forgive me, but as I am that person filled with horrid cold it just seemed so fitting!)
‘Fishing in the Aftermath/Poems 1994 – 2014’ by Salena Godden £12.00 (Burning Eye Books)
Now despite having many more books to talk about I think I am going to leave it there for today, I don’t want to over load you with options! BUT I have some posts lined up to come your way in the next few weeks and days about some other great reads and news about bookish goings on, so keep your eyes peeled.
As usual, let me know if you have read any of the above in the comments below or over on twitter, @dogeared_reads, or what you have ready to get stuck into on your bed side table.
Until next time, happy reading!