Thursday, 17 July 2014

The Opposites Book Tag

I spotted this Opposites Book Tag on youtube (the video I saw was on Little Book Owl's channel - original video here) and decided to give the written form a go. To celebrate finally being reunited with my bookshelves, I have decided to include only physical books on this list (no ebooks!), and only books that I personally own and currently have on my bookshelf.


1. The first book in your collection/The last book you bought

The collection of children's poems Read Me was (I think) the first book I ever bought for myself. When I was in primary (elementary) school, we used to celebrate World Book Day by having a book sale in the school hall, and each pupil was given a £1 book token (they really splashed out!) to encourage them to buy something. I don't know if I ever read all the poems in this anthology, but I definitely remember enjoying at least a couple of them. At the time of writing this post, I am in the process of re-organising my bookshelves, so there's a chance this book will be relegated to a box in the attic/charity shop, but it still counts for now!

The last book I bought was actually two books at the same time, so they'll have to go together. Having returned to England and rediscovered an all-but-forgotten Waterstones book voucher, I seized my chance to buy some brand shiny new books (a rarity for this second-hand bookshop fiend). I chose The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling) and have added them to my enormous TBR pile.

2. A cheap book/An expensive book

Not counting books I picked up for free, this Italian edition of the Chronicles of Narnia is probably the best value book on my shelf. This volume is enormous and contains all seven stories, but cost me less than £4. Bargain!

Though I received this as a gift rather than paying for it myself, this is probably the most expensive book on my shelf. Being something of a language nerd, I do have a grand total of six enormous dictionaries, but this was the best looking of the lot, and I think (though I could be wrong) the most expensive. Needless to say, I have certainly not read this one! At least, not cover to cover...

3. A book with a male protagonist/A book with a female protagonist

For my book with a male protagonist, I chose A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I think everyone knows this story: the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts who show him the error of his ways. It's a highly entertaining tale of redemption and the power of good, and has become somewhat iconic as a story. It is also my first Dickens.

My book with a female protagonist is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (though I could quite easily have chosen any of Jane Austen's). I love this story of sisterly love, quarrels, rivalry and reconciliation, with the feisty Jo March as heroine. I love how she knows her own mind, but also strives to please others and do right in the world. It's a book I can re-read time and time again.

4. A book you read quickly/A book that took you a long time to read

I actually wanted to choose the fifth Harry Potter book here, as I remember whizzing through that one especially quickly. But, sadly, I only own two of the Harry Potter books myself (I originally just read my sister's copies - she has the full set), so this is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling. The plots of these books are so gripping that I'm sure I sped through all of them pretty quickly anyway.

Edit: I now own the whole Harry Potter collection! Excitement overload!!!

Greenery Street by Denis Mackail took me a really long time to read. I didn't ever actively put it down and pick up something else while in the middle of it, but nonetheless it took me weeks to finish. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy it - quite the opposite! But it is a very slow-paced book, and I think that's deliberate. It's one to savour, rather than rush to the finish line. It's a book I can imagine dipping into many times in the future.

5. A pretty cover/An ugly cover

I have to confess, I most certainly judge a book by its cover. If a book isn't pretty, chances are I won't buy it even if I really want a copy of the story or even already know I will love it. It also goes the other way; I've lost count of how many times I've bought a book because the beautiful cover has caught my eye. Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong is definitely one of those books! I don't even know what it's about. But it is definitely one of my favourite covers from my bookshelf (though I do have so many beautiful books it was hard to choose just one!).

My ugly book is one that I bought in France very recently. I had already downloaded a free copy of Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (a famous French play) on kindle, but realised that I wanted to be able to make notes on the pages, so I purchased a cheap paper copy as well. This is probably why I didn't pay too close attention to what it looked like when I bought it. But the more I look at the cover now, the more I hate it! I hate everything about it, from the colour to the ugly picture of Cyrano. And why oh why would you put the price in huge letters (well, numbers) on the front!?!? 

6. A national book/An international book

For my national book, I have chosen At Bertrams Hotel by Agatha Christie to represent the UK. Though this may not be Christie's most quintessentially British book (and there are many!), it does feature the brilliantly British Miss Marple, and there's a London bus on the front! How British is that!?

Being a language student, I happen to have a great many foreign language books, so it seemed only fitting to choose one of those. Out of my sizeable selection, I went with Der Tod in Venedig (Death in Venice) by Thomas Mann, who is one of the iconic German writers of the last century. I haven't got round to reading this yet, but it's definitely on my TBR pile. This book is especially international because it's written in German but is about Italy (I assume... I haven't actually read it).

7. A thin book/A thick book

Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson is probably not the thinnest of my books, but is definitely my favourite thin book. I own four of the books in the series and adore them all. They're so bizarre but beautifully written! And I find there's something magical about getting lost in a children's book once in a while.

I don't think my thick book will come as a surprise to anyone... It's A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I do actually have thicker books on my shelves, but I wanted to choose only fiction books (there's only so much one can take of my ever-present dictionaries), and decided against anthologies and book collections. I do own the complete works of Shakespeare and Edward Lear, as well as that Narnia collection I mentioned earlier, but this is my longest single book.

8. A fiction book/A non-fiction book

I own a lot of fiction, but The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams immediately stood out in my mind as the most fictitious and far-fetched of them all. This is the only one of the Hitch-hiker's Guide series that I own in non-ebook form, so really it's acting as representative of the whole series. The story involves the extremes of space and time travel, with various antics and shenanigans along the way. You can't really get more fictitious than that!

For my non-fiction book, I've chosen Is That a Fish in Your Ear by David Bellos. It deals with the fascinating questions surrounding translation and its implications in our lives. Essential reading for any language enthusiast!

9. A romantic book/An action book

I have to say, I'm not big on romance as a genre. But this book immediately springs to mind when I think of romantic books I own. Written in verse, What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones is the story of a teenage girl who falls in love. Simple but beautifully told.

Action-packed and laugh-out-loud funny, Pirates! In an Adventure with the Romantics by Gideon Defoe is my chosen 'action book'. This is a speedy, hilariously-written read with plenty of crazy plot twists and random events.

10. A book that made you happy/One that made you sad

Along with Jerome K. Jerome and Douglas Adams, P.G. Wodehouse is one of my all-time favourite funny writers. Everything he comes out with is pure gold! I don't laugh out loud at books all that often, but Wodehouse's books are notable exceptions. Any Jeeves and Wooster novel is sure to bring a smile (and a hysterical laugh) to my face!

And finally, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl is the book I've chosen for 'sad book' category. Though the much of the book is actually thoughtful and uplifting, the diary is inextricably linked to its author's real-life tragic fate, which is really what makes it so sad. I recently visited the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam, and one thing that really struck me was Anne's father's commentary on publishing her diary. Otto Frank talked about how he had realised, on reading the diary after Anne's death, that he had never really known his daughter at all, which just adds another level of sadness to the whole thing. Though Anne was only around 13 when she wrote it, the words are poignant, insightful and beautifully expressed. I would recommend this book to anyone of any age, not just as a unique record of history at an individual level, but also as a wonderful piece of literature in its own right.


So there you have it! My list of 10 book opposites. Please feel free to comment with your own answers down below, or even create a blog post of your own and link it in the comments. I'd love to see what you come up with!


  1. great idea for a post. i keep meaning to read anne frank's diary. i visited the house in amsterdam too and found it both interesting and sad.
    charl x

    1. Thanks :) yeah definitely read it! I really want to re-read it as i went to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam recently too.
      Thanks for stopping by :)


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