Tag Archives: Sue Townsend

Thoughts on the first two ‘Adrian Mole’ books by Sue Townsend

Adrian Mole 1 and 2

After finishing the mental assault that is ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, I thought that I’d better choose something decidedly lighter in tone for my next reading project. I only own the first two ‘Adrian Mole’ books, and thought that I may as well approach them both together due to them being fairly short and following directly on from one another. Also, I’ve got a ridiculous amount of posts to do on books I’ve read recently, so this amalgamation speeds the process up somewhat.

There isn’t really a vast amount to say regarding these books, as they are fairly unassuming and not overly spectacular, to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, they are very funny in places due to the ironic tone that Townsend takes and in the innocence of much of what Mole writes, but they just don’t stand out as great works of fiction to be honest. I did enjoy them though. The use of a diary structure allows for revelations to appear gradually and add much of the humour to the books, with the reader travelling with Mole through the events of his life. One aspect of the books that I particularly liked was the fact that they were written and set in the early 1980’s, and as such include many political and cultural references from the time that are interesting glimpses into the recent past. I did not pick up on some of the references, but understood the vast majority, and particularly liked Mole’s view of Margaret Thatcher:

Friday February 12th

…Sometimes I think Mrs Thatcher is a nice kind sort of woman. Then the next day I see her on television and she frightens me rigid. She has got eyes like a psychotic killer, but a voice like a gentle person. It is a bit confusing.

from The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾

The main thing that bothered me with both of these books was the tone that Townsend uses, with Mole coming across as world-weary and somewhat precocious in his views and opinions of himself, and I fear that in the later volumes this tone may get incredibly irritating if attached to an adult character. As a child and a teenager, it is somewhat believable (some passages remind me very much of my own early-teenage diaries), but gets grating after a while.

Saying that, I will definitely re-read these, in part because they are light reading and quite quick to get through, but also because I want to see if my attitude towards them changes upon second read. I just don’t think that I will read any more after these two. Let me know if you disagree!

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A few more books, and ‘Reclaimed Books part 4’

WIN_20131117_202932

Well it’s time for the inclusion of more crappy-quality photos. Those above are:

  • Paulo Coelho-  The Alchemist     50p
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez-  One Hundred Years of Solitude     50p
  • Graham Greene-  The Heart of the Matter     50p
  • Nelson Mandela-  No Easy Walk to Freedom     50p
  • Sue Townsend-  The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13¾    30p
  • P.L. Travers-  Mary Poppins     50p
  • African Art, a book from the 1970s     10p (library book sale)
  • Gita Mehta-  Karma Cola     10p (library book sale)

I’ve been looking for the Marquez book for a while, so that was a nice find. Also, I’ve picked up a few more books from my parents recently. There are a few children’s books amongst them this time:

WIN_20131117_203142

  • J.K. Rowling-  The Tales of Beedle the Bard
  • Roald Dahl-  The BFG
  •                     – Danny the Champion of the World
  • Brendan Hook-  Harry the Honkerzoid
  • Bram Stoker-  Dracula
  • J.K. Rowling-  Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them
  •                       –  Quidditch Through the Ages
  • Two ‘Doctor Who’ books: The Tomb of the Cybermen and The Five Doctors
  • Mary Shelley-  Frankenstein
  • Charles Dickens-  Hard Times

I do own the rest of Roald Dahl’s major books for children in the same editions to those shown (except ‘Boy’ and ‘Going Solo’, which are a more recent combined edition), but will pick up the rest (i.e. ‘James and the Giant Peach’; ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator’ as one volume; ‘The Magic Finger’; ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’; ‘The Twits’; ‘George’s Marvelous Medicine’; ‘The Witches’; ‘The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me’; ‘Matilda’, and ‘Esio Trot’) at a later date. The two I got this time have always been my favourites, and have been begging for another read for a long time. So what if they are children’s books- I enjoy them, and will read them as Classics, before passing them on to my children when they are old enough to read them.

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‘Reclaimed Books part 3’, and a quick rant

As I said on my last book-purchasing update, I was going to pick some more of my books up from my parents’ house, and I managed to do this a few days ago. Here are those I ‘reclaimed’:

picture242

  • Bill Bryson-  Shakespeare
  • An anthology of quotes called ‘A Booklover’s Companion‘ published by the Folio Society
  • Douglas Adams-  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (film tie-in edition)
  •                              The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (film tie-in edition)
  •                              Life, the Universe and Everything
  •                              So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish
  • J.R.R. Tolkien-  The Children of Hurin
  • Edgar Wallace-  The Feathered Serpent
  • Emily Bronte-  Wuthering Heights
  • Sue Townsend-  The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole
  • Oscar Wilde-  The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • F.Scott Fitzgerald-  The Great Gatsby

I’ve read the Bryson, Adams and Fitzgerald books here, and already have a copy of ‘Gatsby’ in the house, as my partner bought a nice Vintage Classics edition a few years back, but this copy is the Penguin Modern Classic edition with a critical introduction (always a bonus) and my annotated copy from A Level English.

The Adams books that I picked up are missing the final volume, ‘Mostly Harmless’, and at the moment I am in two minds as to whether I should get this with the original cover, or whether I should wait and purchase the full set in the very asthetically-appealing, Hipgnosis*-designed boxset, as I’m not too happy with the editions I have due to two being the film tie-in editions. This is the boxset:

DA boxset

Also, you may recall from my last book-purchasing post that I had also planned to pick up the old editions of ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ that I read as a child from my parents’. Well; this is where the rant comes in. I won’t go into detail, but suffice to say that I had a falling out with my Mum over this, as she seemed reticent to let me take these due to them belonging to my late Grandma, despite them now belonging to me. To save any further argument, I have decided to buy my own new copies, but have come across a bit of a problem. Which versions should I get? I’m not too fussed which edition of ‘The Hobbit’ I get, to be honest (as long as it is not the film tie-in edition), but am torn on ‘The Lord of the Rings’ between this set:

LotR boxset

…and this one (the picture shows ‘The Hobbit’ too):

LotR other boxset

Even though the latter matches the edition of ‘The Silmarillion’ that I bought the other day, I’m swaying towards the former, simply because I think that these would look far more impressive on a shelf, and because they are very very attractive editions. The only thing bothering me is the fact that the former editions look far heftier than the latter, and I am conscious of trying to conserve as much shelf-space as possible so as we will have to buy less bookcases. The benefit with the old copy I would have had was that it was a one-volume edition, and as a result was actually fairly thin (the joys of using thin paper in the 1960s). The new one-volume versions available are frankly awful to look at, and so are a no-no for me. The only other problem, is actually finding one of these sets for a reasonable price. Hmm. Preferably less than £10, and ideally nearer to £5. Double hmm. Maybe time to visit my local Oxfam, methinks, as they always seem to have a copy there- I just don’t know which edition. I’ll keep you posted!

*Hipgnosis are a design company who produce book and album covers. Famous clients include Pink Floyd (i.e. ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’, ‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘A Momentary Lapse of Reason’ covers, amongst others), Muse (‘Black Holes and Revelations’) and Led Zeppelin (‘Houses of the Holy’).

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