How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

I was eyeing this book up for some time but couldn’t really commit to buying it; something with being unsure if I needed more books and all that. But after putting it in a virtual wish list and getting it for my birthday back in January, I felt summer was the time to get into reading again, and to pick up this book. It took me a little longer to read it than I had hoped, but sometimes you just hit a standstill with a book and you really need something to motivate you. I find reading on trains and planes really easy and a place where I seem to get most of my reading done; but with my travels to a town 20 minutes over, I seem to forget my book more often than not.

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I gave How to Stop Time a 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, there was just something about it that stopped me from putting a full five star rating on it. Overall, it’s a very engaging book which I would definitely recommend for whatever mood you could be in. The author does a great job of going between the past and present and interlinking them in a very clear and effective manner so the reader isn’t lost in the plot. There was never a time where I felt like I didn’t know what was going on. Naturally, like any book, there are slight slumps in the story where not much seems to be happening, but once you get past that the action picks up soon after. There isn’t much dullness to the book, but it is not one that is overly fast paced; it simply is a comfortable, and quick, read all around.

The plot is engaging and encourages reading more and nothing is left unexplained. The climax of the story is one that is relatively predictable when you really pay attention to what is commented on throughout the story, but it is one that appears relatively late in the novel and the falling action and conclusion are not as long as some like. Nonetheless, everything falls into place and the ending of the story itself is one that I anticipated to some extent. There is no set up for a second novel, but I feel like How to Stop Time would make a decent movie, there is a multitude of elements that I believe would make it something worth putting on the screen, but romance films are in a slight slump at the moment so it may be years, if ever.

Anyway, this was a book worth the time and can definitely be read in less than nearly three weeks, so if you’re looking for a quick read or are on a deadline from the library this is something you should pick up when you have the chance.


There were a lot of good quotes throughout this book, and many times, they were super long, which is why it seems that the ones chosen just go on and on, but they are probably the ones that stood out to me the most when reading (then re-reading in an attempt to find them as I didn’t note them down initially).

“I have been in love only once in my life. I suppose that makes me a romantic, in a sense.” (23)
“The hall fell silent. I had never hears a silence like it. The whole hall seemed to be holding its breath. It felt civilized and modern. It felt refined and tantalizing all at once, like a polite collective pre-orgasm.
Time slowed, inside that moment.
Then the music began.”
(99)
“And within moments they disappeared through the packed room with their cocktails and, though they made it perfectly clear I could join them, I stayed there with nothing but vodka and tomato juice for company, staying in the safe shadows of history.“(179)
“This is what the piano does.
This is the danger of it.
It makes you human.” 
(209)
“I quote others only in order the better to express myself”, she’d say, which was itself, I sensed, another quote. (217)
I was hungover. I was always hungover in Plymouth. Well, either hungover or drunk. (255)
“You can’t fall in love and not think there is something bigger ruling us. …” (297)

 

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Top Girls – Caryl Churchill

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Processed with VSCO with b1 preset

Another text taken from my reading list for this term – the rather feminist play Top Girls by Caryl Churchill, something that I would likely never stumble upon otherwise. But, I was not a fan.

I usually don’t mind reading plays, I’ve read some great ones in the last few years such as Shakespeare’s Macbeth, A Streetcar named Desire by Tennessee Williams, or Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest; and all of these together were very enjoyable to read and didn’t feel like a chore unlike this one. Looking back, even Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen was a more satisfying read than this was.

Naturally, that could be that I had to read this play in one day in order to prepare for my class, but all in all, after getting through it, it really just didn’t sit with me well. It’s not an uncomfortable book to read – however there are some moments which can slightly take you aback. However, a major influence to Caryl Churchill was the German playwright Bertold Brecht, and he had a rather peculiar style of staging his play, with notions that you should be in a detached state where you’re supposed to get the message versus getting into the story. He was often very focused on getting the political message across, felt also within Top Girls as it tackles, quite literally, the theme of the feminist.

The entirety of the play is set within a circle of women that, despite channeling a rather strong feminist attitude, seem to have a large portion of their discussions devoted to the topic of men and having, or not having, children. This stood out to me as rather surreal, it just simply seemed rather strange for them to challenge the Patriarch in one way, but be so focused on, essentially, the complete opposite. The initial scene is a dinner party featuring the protagonist and a mix of women from different centuries, and are not necessarily all real; which adds the the strangeness of this play. If one were to see the play in performance, it’s worth to know that the actresses who play the historical or fictional figures are later re-cast in roles of the leads work friends and family – adding more to the already bizarre nature of the play.

I gave this play 2 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I was clearly not a fan.
To me it just seemed kind of messy and I was never quite certain as to what was going on. My opinion could be slightly negative due to the influence from other authors upon Churchill and the overall detachment from reality of the overall piece. With that being said, I likely would not recommend this

The Prisoner of Heaven – Carlos Ruiz Zafón

All books by Carlos Ruiz Zafón have a special place in my heart and I believe that I have in fact read every single one of them (no shame).
So naturally, when I stumbled upon The Prisoner of Heaven I was super excited to read it. Unfortunately, it took quite a while for me to get into it, not so much due to the plot but more due to wasting time and not reading (big mistake, do not recommend). Thus when I finally got around to it, it took little time to get into it and be through with it.

The plot follows the already known to readers Daniel Sempere, however now with the addition of his friend Fermín, who introduces the new mystery into his life after recollecting a particular event. However warnings from said friend forbid Daniel to follow the mystery, hut there are other problems to solve regarding Fermín. The book is enticing with every page turn as you scramble along with the protagonist to uncover the secrets.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

This novel can fit into any time of year, as once you get into it, it can be read within a few days and none of them will appear to have been missed.I recommend this book to anyone with time to spare and dedicate to an engaging mystery. It’s a quick read that is appropriate for many readers as it covers a plethora of genres that may interest different people.

Quotes from the text;
‘Is the gentleman a collector?’
‘I suppose you could call me that. But not of books.’
(11)
In this world, everything is a fake, young man. Everything except money. (12)
…clothes maketh not the man… (14)
…his body seemed mostly composed of cartilage and attitude… (25)
This veins of black water bled down the stone walls… (60)
Madmen always think it’s the others who are mad. (80)
One musn’t dream of one’s future; one must earn it. (102)
Turned out that all that glittered wasn’t gold. (219)

How to Fall in Love – Cecelia Ahern

How to Fall in Love truly is a heart warming book by Cecelia Ahern (also the author of P.S. I Love You). The title gives off the feeling that it will be one of those advice books, which it quite in fact is not. Despite this being a work of fiction however, it gives off a reasonable representation on how love really is. It doesn’t give the false ideology of love that so many romantic fiction novels do. Now when putting my mind too it, I did read this novel in two days, yes it is 416 pages but it is do-able, and therefore making it a reasonably quick read. Despite this book clearly being about love, as the many others by this same author, they are quite realistic. This text featured a protagonist that had just divorced her husband, and the second protagonist, is quite an interesting character and the further one reads the more you get into their lives of up and down moments full of plot twists and moments of fear. A really hard to put down book, with a very satisfying ending.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

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A few quotes that provoked thought and stood out:
“the blankness before me mirroring my creative flow” (13)
“and now my love affair with the dream was over” (63)
“you can’t sit on your couch at home and expect to fall in love” (226)

The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer

I have just finished a wonderful book by Nathan Filer – The Shock of the Fall. And I do have to agree, it really is a moving book. Primarily, it portrays the story of a teenage boy from his perspective, it is as if he is indeed writing this book. There is a balance of the good and the bad in it, naturally as any book would have. The most important point to state is that the protagonist is in fact, ill. This should not change ones opinion on whether or not to read the book, for it truly is written in an engaging fashion which makes it hard to put down, I know I read majority of it in one sitting. The simplicity of it is what makes this book suck a quick read, and despite the moments of repetitiveness, it really emphasizes what the protagonists is trying to convey.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

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Some quotes that stood out too me when reading:
“It is more than all the stars in the entire universe.” (71)
“Hello my name is potential. But you can call me impossible.” (114)
“He gets fairly repetitive when he’s been drinking, and he drinks fairly repetitively.” (215)