A thing of beauty

Sense: A Collection of Short Stories

In the city there is an island
Where life rustles beneath the surface
Of a green exterior.

A growing heart and hearth
Telling of a time once disappeared
And now only hinted at
And cultivated.

If you were to remove your shoes
And socks filled with the grief of hard days
You would feel and sense the grass beneath your feet.

If you were to inhale,
You would sense soul and Nature
Connecting once again.

The city is kept out and caged away
Few intruders from it’s depths can touch you here.

Just close your eyes
Take a breath
You are where you’re meant to be.

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American Psycho

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5/5 This is a novel with controvery at the centre of it. Yes, it is incredibly bloody, graphic and heartless, but that does not mean you should squeamishly put it to one side. While reading this I had to pause with one hand to my mouth as unspeakable acts were spoken of in depth.

American Psycho is difficult to get through, I’m not going to pretend that I laughed through it but now that I’ve got through the other side I am glad that I saw it through. Once you see past the mindless brands and understand that the novel is a satire (Ellis’ aims were to expose this way of life not to say look how disturbed I am), you can admire the novel for its irony. The film is well known for its business card example and there are more ready to surprise you throughout the text.

I gave this novel a 5/5 as it really makes you think, criticise and question how different we are from the protagonist. No, I am not a mass murderer nor do I fantasise about it, but it did make me question the images that we conform to in everyday lives, as well as our obsession with expensive brands.

If you are going to embark on this literary journey however, I do recommend that you view it from a distance, this is such great fiction as it is fiction. We are meant to be alienated from the characters. 

 

Admire ‘The Great Gatsby’

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4/5

In short, this a story of love and money. The Great Gatsby is a novel famous for the prelude of grand parties and the wild lifestyle of the nouveau riche. But this is as far as I want to go with the plot as I rally don’t want to take any risks with spoiling it for any future readers.

Although saying this I was one of those unfortunate victims that had the end of the story revealed to me before I read the book. However, this did not stop it being a thoroughly enjoyable read. It is clear why it is one of the classics, and why it is being remade with Leonardo DiCaprio, as Hollywood get another chance to make a lot of money out of a great story.

It is sad, as it is a plot that is heavily interlaced with tragedy, but it is this that makes the novel so special to so many.

Virginia Woolf’s ‘To The Lighthouse’

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4/5

This is the only book of Virginia Woolf’s that I have read, and I really enjoyed it. Her style is called a ‘Stream of Consciousness’, and this is exactly what it is. The narration flows softly from psyche to psyche, and if you’re not careful then you’re carried all the way through the novel.

It is the story of a Victorian holiday home, and the family that inhabits it. What I really admire about Woolf’s writing is the way she can make the characters so disconnected from each other, and yet you can still feel the characters’ frustrations so vividly. It is clear why she has become a household name to so many, and I would happily read more of her style!

Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Just So Stories’

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4.5/5

Another great set of childhood stories, these were originally meant for Kipling’s children, and I’m very glad that he chose to share them. He gives answers to why animals are the way they are, and how they they came to be in such a way. My favourite is ‘How the Elephant got its trunk’, although it is not a controversial concept to claim that they all have their own equal charm.

I’m sure this is a book that I will be revisiting many times, and maybe when the time comes to read them to my own children, just as Rudyard did to his (and I’m sure it will be inspiration to write some of my own children’s stories too)!

The Wonders of Roald Dahl

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5/5

I am a big Roald Dahl fan, he definitely made my childhood a lot more entertaining. His stories always have some dark punchline to keep you interested in the next one. While they are written for children, I feel that I couldn’t have truly grasped the dark humour at a young age. He has a very smooth style and a great clarity of expression when he gets at the flaws of the human condition.

This is a collection of short stories for everyone over the age of ten, and one that I feel is a valuable part of literature’s history and culture. It is a definite classic, and one I wholly recommend as a part of everyone’s education.

Be Charmed by ‘The Old Man And The Sea’

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4.5/5 

A very short novella that won the author the Nobel Prize for literature. It is simple and straightforward, and you can read it as a heart warming story, or you can choose to read into the many depths of meaning that are put in place.

The story revolves around an old fisherman who has had an extended dry spell in terms of the fish he has caught. The novella is set just off the coast off Havana, Cuba, and the story really stirs into action as the man snags a fish on his line that starts towing him further out to sea.

A great read however you wish to look at it and Hemingway has done a wonderful job , if you have a couple of hours free then this is perfect, and a very easy one to re-read!

‘Atonement’: A Great Achievement

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4.5/5 

A book of a tragic separation between a young couple that happens at the hands of a fanciful young girl during the period of WWII. Ian McEwan writes from the three different protagonists’ perspectives, one of whom is the fictional author of the novel (Briony).

This novel is moving in so many different ways, as the use of different perspectives means we can see the traps that people lead themselves into, and how out of innocence there can still be great hurt caused.

I have always found that McEwan’s writing has such a deep insight into the human condition, and its relation to the rest of the world. This is a novel that definitely doesn’t disappoint, and is one of those rare books that has a worthy film to accompany it. Whichever way you choose to visit the storyline, you will be well rewarded!

Is it a ‘Brave New World’?

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3/5 Very similar to Orwell’s style in being a prophetic view of the future. It is about an imagined world if we were to be determined by our animal desires addressing the flaws of ideology. The premise is that each and every child of the society is through IVF and conditioned to be a part of each social group.

As a philosophical novel this is great, Huxley paints a wonderfully doomed picture of mankind, as everyone has to conform. It is about the free minds in a fixed society, and does make you question your own surroundings.

Huxley however, is obviously a philosopher, and his writing can tend to be a little shallow. The most important thing about his style is that it does serve his purpose and explain his point, retaining the book’s meaning and prowess. A good book if you fancy a good ponder and a discussion afterwards, but not really for a bit of light entertainment.