A Slip of the Keyboard

Currently Reading: A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Non-Fiction

Author: Terry Pratchett

Genre: Non-fiction / Short Stories

Sir Pratchett has made me laugh in the fictional, satirical fantastical world he created in the Discworld series. With this collection of non-fiction writings, he made me laugh and see that we live in a fantastically brilliant world. This collection also made me see him in a completely different way. Finishing this novel left me sadden anew by the loss of this great man and grasping with the realisation I never understood what drove him to write.

I always pictured Sir Pratchett as a jolly fellow much like Saint Nicholas – rather than the giving of dolls and rocking horses, he gives us humorous and enjoyable stories. Neil Gaiman’s introduction to this book warned me that my view was mistaken. Yet, I didn’t realise/believe how naive I was until I read the thoughts of Pratchett for myself.

Pratchett was driven by anger, caused by witness unjust things occurring without comment from the rest of the world. An anger that, once discovered, is difficult to ignore in his writing. He was driven by it in a way that will bleed through forever more in his writing; his witty comments now seem biting, burning remarks on society.

A warning: The musings in this short novel will make you stop sailing through life without viewing the injustice of many situations. (I do not put on my justice tights and stop crime during the nights as Captain Justice. But I can no longer say that I am opinion-free on human rights topics like assisted suicide, feminism, the Syrian Conflict, etc.)

-A Bookish Girl

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Currently Reading: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Author: Neil Gaiman

Genre: Fiction/Fantasy

It would not be fair for me to write this review without you being aware of the fact that I adore Neil Gaiman (and not because we share a name). Gaiman writes clever, engaging, and exciting fantasy novels that make you see the world completely anew. And isn’t that everything you want in a book?  I could write an entire review about the strengths of Gaiman as an author. I won’t. But, I could. Now that my bias is clearly stated…

I am an engineer. We don’t use words like beautiful, haunting, emotionally-drawn, or mysterious. These irrational and immeasurable words are meaningless to the very structured mindset we pride ourselves in having. Yet, this short novel was all those things to an overwhelming degree. Writing this review has been a challenge for me because I am so programmed to write technical, measurable reports. How do I draw from this training to adequately describe the feel of lost, sorrow, and nostalgia that I felt when I finished this beautifully tragic tale? When I finished this story, I missed my childhood with a longing and yearning I have never before felt.

This novel is the essence of childhood.

There are monsters. And because there are monsters, there is courage, strength, and prevailing good. There are moments of such simple and profound insights, you will throw down the book and wonder why you’ve never thought it that way before. You will feel the entire world is missing out until they too have read this tale. As you finish, you will regret with what haste you have devoured the story. You will feel a loss that such a beautiful, haunting story cannot again be experienced for the first time.

You too will adore Neil Gaiman (and perhaps hate him for having such control over you).

Neil Gaiman stated this novel was meant for anybody who has been eleven-years-old. And, I hope everyone who has been eleven-years-old does read it.

-A Bookish Girl

Life’s a Beach

Currently reading: Life’s a Beach

Author: George Mahood

Genre: Humour/Memoirs

This is the second in a collection of memoirs following George Mahood as he celebrates every one of those silly holidays throughout the year. (The first book is Every Day Is a Holiday. It contains the journey celebrating holidays from January 1 through June 30. The narrative is humorous, engaging, and thoroughly enjoyable. It was my first memoir and I found it a wonderful introduction to the genre.)

The holiday challenge seems to have taken a backseat in this instalment of the series. Yet, it is still an entertaining and funny memoir. After the first book, the family has become like that of your favourite family sitcom (as a fan of Bob’s Burgers the family and the humour was like an extension of my favourite TV programme) so you are not too invested in the challenge anyway.

I am a doctoral candidate with a sub-par internship at a Tier 1 supplier for the automotive industry, so my days had begun to be lost in looking toward the future, for that day when I am no longer waiting to graduate, but actually contributing to society as a professional in the automotive industry. These books have inspired me to really celebrate every day and make every day memorable. I am still working on making this change in my life – I read these books in two or three days at work, so obviously I haven’t completely achieved this end goal – but the effects of this small tweak is clear already.

One such effect is that I am seeking little adventures or making the mundane an adventure. Not that my lectures have suddenly become inspiring or that I am trying a new way to work just to add a little drama at seven o’clock in the early morning. More, I am playing new games with my cats and dogs, rather than settling down to pass time with the telly. Or, I am suggesting walks or new topics to research with my significant other. This way, when my head hits the pillow at night, my day feels filled.

These adventures have resulted in a more positive outlook. I don’t feel like a rat in the machine. Yes, I still have to work a job with no chance of a raise or career after graduation. Yes, I still pay bills. Yes, I still go to class, do work, and get tested on what I have learned. Yes, the cycle is still there. However, that is just a portion of my life. With these little micro-adventures and daily celebrations of small things, I don’t feel like I have sold my soul to keep the machine going. I no longer feel lost in the wheel as it turns.

It amazed me that these very easy, quick reads, laced humour and many (ultimately pointless) antecedents, would influence my life so much. I would recommend anyone feeling stuck or like another cog in the machine to read these. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

-A Bookish Girl