Monthly Archives: April, 2013

84, Charing Cross Road / Helene Hanff

  • Title: 84, Charing Cross Road
  • Author: Helene Hanff
  • Published: 1970
  • Page Number: 97
  • ISBN: 0-380-00122-5

“It all began with a letter inquiring about second-hand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene’s sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the stodgy and proper Frank Doel of 84, Charing Cross Road, a relationship blossoms into a warm and charming long-distance friendship lasting many years.

 

 

I was recommended this book by my mother, who said it was fantastic. The book is a short one and it took me two days to finish. 84, Charing Cross Road belongs to the genre of epistolary novels, which are novels that are written as a series of documents such as letters or diary entries.

The book 84, Charing Cross Road is the documentation of the correspondence between Helene Hanff and the staff at the bookstore Marks & Co. between the years of 1949 – 1969. Hanff is a writer living in New York. She is a lover of books and so she contacts a second-hand bookshop in London, wondering if they might have books she’s looking for. The great service and quality of the books she receives by post leads her to send another letter, which leads to more and more letters that eventually leave the topic of books and become a correspondence between friends – Hanff and Frank Doel, the man who replies to her letters. Doel tells Hanff of the rations on food products in England following WW2 and she sends the shop food for the holidays which leads to other staff members secretly mailing her as well. Hanff manages to form true friendship with quite a few people from the shop and even with Doel’s wife, Nora. Along with other stories, in the letters the friends discuss the idea of having Hanff come and visit the bookshop in person.

As a child, I actually despised epistolary books. I could not understand how a bunch of letters or diary entries could form an interesting story. Eventually I discovered that I was mistaken and since then I have read quite a few epistolary novels.  84, Charing Cross Road is a wonderful book. It is definitely a new favorite of mine. Despite not knowing many of the books mentioned in Hanff’s letters, the writing itself is lovely. It was so interesting to see how a friendship was formed over the simple matter of a correspondence between a salesman and a client. Hanff’s letters are funny and I found myself laughing quite a lot. In the beginning Doel’s replies to Hanff are very official since he is writing as a representative of the bookshop, but Hanff drops the official tone almost immediately and just writes how she pleases, as if she’s known Frank for years. I feel like my review can’t possibly do this book justice, and even quoting is pointless because the sentences are part of a whole – a letter, a relationship – and don’t mean much out of context. All I can say is that through 97 pages and 20 years, Hanff manages to build a sturdy, loving relationship that spans over time and space. The core of the relationship is a mutual love of books, and behind these books we find people filled with so much more. The letters are both sad, bitter, amusing and smile inducing – sometimes even at the same time. The sadness because of the distance is tinged with the bittersweet happiness of still being able to communicate and the hope to one day meet.

Helene Hanff’s book 84, Charing Cross Road made me want to have my own similar correspondence. I wish I could thank Hanff for… for publishing her letters and for affecting me in a way I utterly fail to explain in this review. Unfortunately, Hanff died about two and a half months after I was born. I hope this book won’t be forgotten. It is small and simple, and yet so much better than many of the larger, more exciting, bestselling novels of our time.

Top Ten Tuesday – Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy/Pick Up A Book (April 30th)

Another week, another Tuesday, another Top Ten Tuesday post from The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is  Top Ten Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy/Pick Up A Book. I just read a few other entries for this topic and one blogger mentioned that many times they pick up a book because they think it’s about something they like but then they read the back, discover it’s not what they expected, and put it back. This happens to me a lot with books, so this list isn’t going to be very exact and I hope you’ll forgive me for that. Also, this will be including authors… many of them. Oh and look at my coloring!  I’ve included examples of titles for each topic underneath it.

*the photos included are photos of books I’ve read and books I want to read.

*I’ve put one photo for each topic but I’ve included more examples under each choice itself.

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What Are You Reading? Monday! – April 29th

This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Every Monday we discuss our reading plans for the week!

I am currently almost halfway into 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I actually don’t really get what all the hype about this book is for. I apologize if I offend anybody with my next words, but it sort of reminds me of Pretty Little Liars. In case you’re new here or haven’t read previous posts of mine – I read the PLL series BEFORE it came out (or was even talked about) on TV. I actually enjoyed the books very much. However, this book reminds me of the same feeling I had with those. That whole deal with a living person completely… enslaved by a dead one. The dead running the living’s lives, ya know? I simply do not like any of the characters. Clay is borderline likeable, but he’s… a loser. Annoying. Hannah is horrible. I think the moral of the book – from what I’m getting so far – is a very good one, and yet Hannah Baker is simply not the sort of character who should be creating that moral. I keep feeling like… like she knew what was happening and she played along. I know I sound like a victim blamer and I know that saying “I swear I’m not!” sounds even worse. I am so happy that a book has been written to show exactly how one’s tiniest “joke” can be a very dramatic issue for someone else. I think the whole “snowball effect” is a brilliant one – each kid thought he was innocent, and really his action wasn’t then end of the world, but when you looked at the big picture it all formed together into a nightmare. And yet, I just don’t like Hannah Baker. At all. And that makes it very hard to get into the book and to really take in what Asher is trying to say.

Wow, this is turning into a review so I’ll stop now. I might just end up quoting this post in my review because I’m actually pleased with what I’ve said here.

Anyway, I started this book on Friday and plan on finishing it no later than Saturday, which gives me a week for this book.

Next, I think I’ll do something from the ’13 Ecelctic. Maybe Dystopian or New Age. To be honest, I actually have no clue what 11/12 genres on that list are… whoops.

WHATCH’ALL READIN’, PEOPLE.

26 Post Challenge – April 28

Second post of BA’s 26 Post Challenge! Today’s question is.

What are some of the cons you’ve discovered when it comes to blogging?

So, I’ve been blogging almost a month now. Well, book blogging. I’ve been blogging in general for nearly two years. In this answer I’m going to refer just to the book blogging since it’s the first SERIOUS blogging I’ve really done. I think the main con is just… pressure. The pressure to read a book a minute. I do read a lot, but not nearly as much as the very big book blogs. I have such a busy schedule and I try my best. I also am new to reviewing and it takes me time to write reviews and meanwhile my Reader is flooded with review upon review and I just sit there staring blankly at my Word document and crying silently to myself. So yeah, I guess pressure really is the main low point. Pressure to manage doing as much as everyone else. Obviously, there’s also the pressure to write well, to be interesting, to attract viewers, to have people CARE. The idea that people take time out of their day to read something I wrote makes me so happy. It truly does. So that’s a con that also has a plus side.

Well, I obviously can’t finish this post without asking… what cons have YOU GUYS discovered about blogging? Any blogging is welcome – fashion, food, books, music!

Weekend Updates

I finished m or f? by Lisa Papademetriou and Chris Tebbetts and then ten minutes later began 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Despite wanting to participate in the Dewey Read-a-thon I could not because of all kinds of time-related issues. However, I have been reading a lot more lately. Since finishing What If by Yoav Avni on Monday I’ve read two books. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff really was very short but IT STILL COUNTS GUYS.

So, what can be expected for the coming week?

  1. 84, Charing Cross Road review. Almost finished, I was just having a bad writing day and it came out all wrong and I loved the book so I will wait until I have a properly written, worthy review to post.
  2. m or f? review. I’ll try and get that done by Tuesday because I’m on vacation till then so hopefully I’ll have time. 
  3. memes. the usual What Are You Reading Monday, TTT, WWW Wednesday.

Well, I guess that’s all for now, folks. This point is sort of pointless. I’ll end it now.

Adios.

What If / Yoav Avni (Original Hebrew הרצל אמר / יואב אבני)

  • Title: What If / Yoav Avni (Original Hebrew הרצל אמר )
  • Author: Yoav Avni
  • Published: 2011
  • Page Number: 381
  • Format: Paperback

*originally In Hebrew

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WWW Wednesday (+ Top Ten Tuesday Failures & Announcements)

It’s Wednesday again, and I’m back with the WWW Wednesday meme, hosted by Should Be Reading.

This meme basically just includes three simple W Word questions so update y’all ’bout our reading during the week.

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

This week, unlike last one, I actually have much better answers since I am nearly done with a book for the second time this week!

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Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books I Thought I’d Like MORE/LESS Than I Did (April 23rd)

The topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful The Broke and the Bookish, is…

Top Ten Books I Thought I’d Like MORE/LESS Than I Did!

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Week Two of this lovely meme hosted by the even lovelier Book Journey!

I have an annoucement to make. Are you ready? I said ARE YOU READY?

*drumroll*

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26 Posts Book Blogging Challenge – Book Lies (April 21st… Kinda Late)

I’m beginning a new meme! (hosted by Bookish Ardour) Yes, I know. I’ve been doing a lot of these lately. I am FINALLY nearing the end of my current book and hopefully the next won’t drag on as long. So anyway, this meme – like my Monday and Tuesday ones – will keep me posting despite the whole no-reviews issue I’ve been dealing with. DON’T GIVE UP ON ME, FOLKS.

Have you ever lied about reading a book (if so, what was it)? Would you?

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