Friday, 20 January 2012

Emerging from enforced hibernation

I have spent all week suffering from what I'm calling the lurgy of death, so called because it makes you feel so ghastly. I have barely slept and haven't been to work. This means I have spent all week in my house, have cabin fever and am slowly losing my mind. However, I have attempted to tidy my room a bit, spent some time with my sister (who usually avoids me) and watched too much shitty daytime TV.
I've also made plans to see a few friends and catch up with them. I feel a bit like I've been neglecting them, I spend most of my free time with The Boy, and I miss my weird, funny, strange friends. So I've put it out there (on Facebook) that if anyone wants to get together, I'm up for that. Obviously I have to go to work, but outside of those very dull hours, I'm free to hang out with those people who mean so much to me and without whom I'd probably be really, really weird, instead of just a bit. :)

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Some of the best books I read in 2011

I realised earlier that I hadn't done any sort of round up of books from last year. So here is a belated list of 10 books I read last year that were really good and enjoyable.

*When God Was a Rabbit - Sarah Winman
*The Gallow's Curse - Karen Maitland
*Snuff - Terry Pratchett
*Island Beneath The Sea - Isabel Allende
*Mastiff - Tamora Pierce
*The Hunger Games Trilogy - Suzanne Collins
*How To Be a Woman - Caitlin Moran
*Any Human Heart - William Boyd
*Auntie Mame - Patrick Dennis
*The Crimson Petal and the White - Michael Faber

Not all of these books were published in 2011, but I don't think that should stop them from being on this list. A few I only read after seeing adaptations of them, some I had been waiting to get my hands on for a while, and a couple I just picked up as they had interesting titles or a bit of hype about them.
I'm looking forward to seeing what new reading experiences 2012 has in store for me!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


As I live in the UK, the SOPA and PIPA legislation seems not to affect me, but if whole websites are forced to shut down, it affects everyone.
I appreciate the need to protect copyright and support artists, writers, musicians and others whose work has been pirated and therefore had their livelihoods damaged. However from what I understand, these new laws would go above and beyond this protection.
I rarely watch TV online, and then usually through legal methods, like the BBC iPlayer and 4oD, and I tend to download music legitimally too. But I know people who stream content regularly. That's their business.
Personally I find any form of censorship galling. This is censorship by another name. It would allow a government to decide what was allowed and what wasn't, much in the way we deride other countries' governments for doing so, for regulating what their citizens can and can't access.
My field is in books, that is what I know best. There is a lot of concern about censorship in the literary world; the American Library Association every year publishes a list of the most banned books. Often these are books written for children and young adults.
Instead of letting these readers discover the worlds contained within books, adults decide what is and isn't appropriate and get rid of those they deem harmful. Whenever I think of this I am reminded of Heinrich Heine's quote "There, where one burns books, one in the end burns men". The idea of legislating against a book, or a website, simply because it offends your sensibilities to be unable to control it, is petty and wrong. This kind of policing has no place in our modern world. People are intelligent enough to work out what is right and wrong for themselves. They know what is and isn't acceptable. Stealing from others is wrong, we know this, and while people continue to do so, I'm going to suggest that they're probably the minority.
So, US government, behave like adults should and let people make decisions for themselves. Don't decide to police the internet. It doesn't need your interference.