Category: Books

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (2011)

Cover: The Sense of an Ending © Source: Amazon. Click cover to go to Amazon
  • Publication: Jonathan Cape; First Edition (4 Aug. 2011), Hardcover, 150 pp. £12.99
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224094153
  • Read: 18 April 2020 – 27 April 2020
  • Rating: Very Good ★★★✩✩ | Goodreads: ★★★✩✩ (3.72)

From the Publisher: Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is retired. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove.

‘Someone once said that his favourite times in history were when things were collapsing, because that meant something new was being born.’

As most of you know, I rarely read fiction, concentrating entirely on non-fiction, but a couple of weeks ago, I saw a film that pleasantly surprised me: The Sense of an Ending, directed by Ritesh Batra, and staring the brilliant Jim Broadbent, known for playing the father of Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones’s Diary franchise. Being privy to the list of titles from the Man Booker Prize over the years, I was not unfamiliar to the title and remembered that this was originally a book. So I decided to give the book a read. Out came the Kindle and within a couple of minutes, the book was purchased and ready to be read.

Julian Barnes is the author of twelve novels, and The Sense of an Ending. He won the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. In conclusion, I quite enjoyed reading the novel, it was slightly different than the film (as expected) but I preferred the film. Jim Broadbent gave an excellent performance. And let’s just say that without spoiling anything, I like Leica cameras.◼︎

‘History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.’

I would rate the book The Sense of an Ending as ‘Very Good’ but unfortunately it is not one to which that I would return.

Desert Island Discs: Helene Hanff

I’m listening to the wonderful BBC Radio 4 podcast Desert Island Discs:

From the BBC: Roy Plomley’s castaway is writer Helene Hanff, the author of 84, Charing Cross Road.

Favourite track: In Tears Of Grief by Johann Sebastian Bach

Book: Memoirs by Louis De Rouvroy

Luxury: Scrabble

Read more on about the episode on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, adapted by Sabina Radeva

Cover: On the Origin of Species © Source: Amazon. Click cover to go to Amazon
  • Title: Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species
    adapted by Sabina Radeva (Author, Illustrator)
  • Publication: Puffin, (7 Feb 2019), Hardcover, 64 pp. £12.99
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141388502
  • Read: 25 December 2019 – 2 February 2020
  • Rating: Excellent ★★★★✩ | Goodreads: ★★★★✩ (4.41)

‘A long, long time ago, before humans even existed, the living world looked very different from how it looks today.’

This is without doubt beautifully illustrated. Ms Sabina Radeva has created the first ever picture-book retelling of Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of Species (1859). She has worked meticulously throughout these 64 pages of this hardcover picture-book. Each page is lavishly illustrated in colour and her examples explaining Darwin’s magnum opus into a child-friendly and approachable narrative, that’s not only for a younger audience, unfamiliar with Darwin, but also for grown-ups too, provides a wonderful journey, with which one can take to finally understand this in simple terms.

With that said, Ms Radeva’s creation was one of the most anticipated books in my library, that I had the pleasure of reading with my niece, ever since she received this for her Christmas present. Actually, she chose this by herself, as one of her many Christmas book presents, whilst browsing in Waterstones, in London’s Piccadilly—her favourite bookstore—running over excitedly and asking me to close my eyes, before revealing what treasure she had found. Ms Radeva found the right formula: the cover is striking and popular with children.

‘Since life on Earth began, tiny organisms, plants and animals have been changing slowly, over millions of years.’

Although a short book, it is best read page-by-page or concept-by-concept and not in an entire setting. I found discussing each idea or theory and further expanding it in your own words the best way forward (if you’re scientifically inclined or grasp Darwin’s theories). We particularly liked the family portraits of Mr and Mrs Darwin, their eight children, and their dog, quite charming.

What’s interesting about this title is that it was originally funded as a Kickstarter campaign back in September 2017 and published as an eBook and in Hardcover. Later, the book was picked up by Puffin, and imprint of Penguin Random House, and published on 7 February 2019 in hardcover.

© Source: Amazon

Although, quite enjoyable at the start, once you’ve gone through it, you are left feeling a disproportion present throughout the adaption. Ms Radeva has spent more time working on adapting and illustrating in the start of the book explaining Darwin’s magnum opus and some of its central ideas, but regrettably less so once you reach the end. Now, I say this with adult eyes and from experience reading Darwin, and Darwin is heavy and complex, even for a younger audience, though others might feel Ms Radeva has done is enough and is the right amount of material for a child to grasp these ideas, to just entice them for further study, and that maybe rightly so. If you can explain Darwin, in simple terms, to a child, you can do anything, right?

© Source: Amazon

A book such as On The Origin of Species (1859) is not an easy undertaking, and Ms Radeva does admit this in the end of the book and to help the younger audience, includes a set of important concepts and take-way points in an appendix and a glossary, explaining Natural Selection, Evolution, etc., as well as a brief list of misconceptions. Nevertheless, I felt a small inkling, a slight irritation that the book being relatively a short read, would’ve benefitted from another 5 to 10 more pages to deal with more of Darwin’s central ideas. Alas, given the complex ideas, Ms Radeva has done a wonderful job.◼︎

The Letters of John F. Kennedy, edited by Martin W. Sandler

Cover: The Letters of John F. Kennedy © Source: Amazon. Click cover to go to Amazon
  • Title: The Letters of John F. Kennedy
    by John F. Kennedy (Author), Martin W. Sandler (Editor)
  • Publication: Bloomsbury, (7 Nov 2013), Hardcover, 384 pp. £20
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408830451
  • Read: 1 January – 24 January 2020
  • Rating: Excellent ★★★★✩ | Goodreads: ★★★★✩ (4.46)

The Letters of John F. Kennedy is a good collection of personal letters and official correspondence between known and celebrated individuals and world leaders. You receive a brief overview into the Cuban missile crisis and the exchange of letters from Chairman Khrushchev, but also Kennedy’s view on the civil rights movement and the on-going every day issues that his Administration dealt with.

I was quite astounded as to how close and real nuclear war was and how that affected ordinary Americans in their day-to-day lives. The letter of September 7, 1961 to the nation comes to mind.

I would have liked to have seen more letters by European leaders and by the Queen, Elizabeth II, but I assume as this book has been targeted towards the US market rather than the U.K. that would not include such. You are left with a want for more images/scans of the original letters and a further back story of the aftermath would have been wonderful if included. Nevertheless, you see another side of JFK in these letters that is quite inspiring to see. His quick wit, intelligence, and charm makes me want to learn more about him and it’s admirable to see that he had achieved so much in less than three years in office.

In all, I quite enjoyed reading this collection, though as mentioned above, I did feel left with a want, an emptiness for more information as you conclude reading the letters, and ask yourself: ‘what then?’

Cover: LIFE magazine, September 15, 1961. Click cover to see issue on Google Books

The Slipcase, Volume 1

Front cover of The Slipcase, vol. 1. Download PDF below
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Happy New Year 2020

I can’t deny it, but I’ve been looking forward to 2020 more than anything. That’s because I know it’s going to the best year yet. I’m going to progress and achieve all my goals and go from success to success. I’ve already had a great start this morning. I’m all rested and full of positive energy. I’m smiling more, and what’s better than starting a great day by enjoying a good warm celebratory cup of cappuccino to mark the start of the year. Old habits are dead from today. 2020 is a whole new me.


I’ve decided some changes that I’m implementing from today, and they are:

1. I’m not buying anything for the whole year. 
Yes, this means stop wasting money on things I don’t need. I’m looking at you Amazon Prime.

2. I’m waking up at 4.30 am every day, seven days of the week
Waking up early in the morning is one of the things that I’ve always wanted to do but have struggled with. Having time in the morning to not rush off to work, but being able to plan one’s day and to read is what I want to achieve.

3. I’m going to read more books 
With a busy lifestyle and working in London, free time is always a luxury and I’m saddened to acknowledge that if I don’t stir up things and change my daily schedule, I will not be able to go through my to-be-read list. The list is so long that I’m not even sure I’ll make it before retiring age. So my plan is to be effective and carry a book with me on my commute, read during lunch, and in the early mornings. No moment should be wasted in idleness. On your feet, soldier!

4. I’ve cancelled all subscriptions. 
Gone are Apple Music, Netflix, and Audible. It’s time that I actually finish listening to all those audiobooks I’ve bought.

5. I’m going to watch less television 
No more tv-series or Netflix. Yes, although The Crown is amazing and I’ve just started watching it on Christmas, it can wait a year, or just pick up the Penguin Monarchs about the Queen Elizabeth II: The Steadfast.

6. I’m going to listen to more radio broadcasts 
Less TV, more radio. I’m going to listen to BBC Radio 4 and use podcasts. The Shippings Forecast. Yes, I’m mildly curious and there’s a large cult following. BBC Radio 4 has a whole array of wonderful productions, such as In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg and Desert Island Discs, but there’s also the wonderful Slightly Foxed podcast.

7. I’m going to play (and learn) chess 
I’m going to play more chess with my niece. Learn more about it and join a chess club.

8. I’m going to learn French 
I’ve always had a desire to learn a foreign language. Learning French has been in my mind since 2005 when I first visited the city of Paris. I did try a couple of times but it never happened nor did I commit to it.

Breakfast served on Royal Copenhagen china. Source: Instagram © Jesper Klintdrup Polsen

9. I’m going to create an efficient morning schedule 
This is very important. It connects with number 2 above about waking up early in the morning. Mornings are vital and set the agenda for the whole day. A great start will affect you in positive ways during the day. This will not be easy but I have to create a habit and follow the schedule, but going slow and just by visually looking forward to a cup of black filter coffee in my favourite Royal Copenhagen cup, quietness and in contemplation, coupled with a nutritious breakfast and meditation and reading is enough for me to make a great start.

10. I’m going to publish my journal The Slipcase
My journal The Slipcase has been in my thoughts since it’s inception in 2013. I always wanted to publish a beautiful magazine, have a working website, and blog. I love working creatively, which is quite a departure from my day-to-day job, but it gives me something to look forward to. And I’m almost there. The Slipcase is all done and edited, and I’m just waiting on feedback and minor corrections as well as copyright permission for the use of images. The Slipcase will be available on the 15th of January. I know that all of you are excited to see the first issue.

So there you have it, my plan or new year resolutions for 2020. What’s yours? Leave a comment below.

– The Editor

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A Merry Christmas

Welcome to my personal blog – The Slipcase. I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas filled with much joy and happiness with loved ones and friends.

I got up early this morning, made a cup of coffee and am reading Pac Macmillan Collector’s Library’s A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. You can scan the QR code or click the cover below to go to Amazon UK.

What are you reading this Christmas Day morning?

Note: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon UK.

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