Archive | January, 2011

Hubris

29 Jan

While conversing with Miss Emma a few months ago, we realised that neither of us could come up with a definition of the word hubris. I thought I had a basic idea but couldn’t put it into words, so I might as well have never heard of it. Her idea turned out to not be quite right either. So… what do you reckon hubris means?

I’ll give you some time to think about it. Go on. Pause for a second and actually try to put it into words. Use it as a very basic Reader’s Digest WordPower test.

You’d better be really considering this.

So, according to the good old Oxford dictionary, hubris is a noun that means: “excessive pride or self-confidence.”

Kind of fitting that this would be my first definition post – my job used to revolve entirely around knowing a lot about the English language, so I’m supposed to know things like that.

Anyway, now you know.

My favourite books of 2010

29 Jan

“The Literate Chicken,” I was often asked earlier this year, “What were your favourite books of 2010?” Okay, so that’s not entirely true: firstly, this blog was nothing but a registered wordpress site by then, so very few people would have known about the whole ‘Literate Chicken’ thing to call me that, and secondly, I don’t think anyone has ever asked me what my favourite books of any one period of time were.

BUT! I’m sure this is something you would ponder henceforth if I didn’t answer that very question now, so I will.

room: a novel

Room, by Emma Donoghue, was an absolute stand-out for me. Having a novel narrated by a five-year-old boy could have made it a cheesy mess – the first season of Full House featured a five-year-old Stephanie Tanner, so just imagine the horror of a book narrated by a character like her, for example – but the child’s voice is what made Room for me. The boy, Jack, lives in Room with his mum. He’s never been out of Room, and eventually we piece together why: he and Ma are captives of a deranged but clearly very intelligent man. Kidnapping, imprisonment, depression and rape could have been incredibly heavy going if it had been told by the mother character, but seeing it all through Jack’s innocent, hopeful eyes actually makes it work. I still think about this book a lot. And I can’t really say much more because I don’t want to give anything away, so just read it, dammit.

My natural leanings towards young adult lit took me to The Perks Of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, and man, am I glad I found it. This is just AMAZING. I’m going to do a proper review-type thing of it in future, so I’ll link this to it once I do; in the meantime, just know that it’s a coming-of-age story about a young guy who has a few issues. And that it’s about a thousand times better than that description made it sound. And that technically it came out in 2009, so it doesn’t really fit into this 2010 list, but oh well, it’s so good that its year-of-being-published can span two years. Maybe even three, I’ll see how I feel in 11 months.

Of course, 2010 was also the year of One Day by David Nicholls (but I just realised this was published in hardback in 2009, so I’m giving up on the 2010 theme). This book was recommended to and by just about every reader I know, and it seemed like we all happened across it at the same time. Funny, somewhat realistic, sweet, romantic, sad… One Day is all I could ask for a in a book, really. I actually feel that the approximately three people who may read this blog will have already read this novel, so I’m not going to go into detail – chances are they already understand why it’s on this list. And the four of us can go see it when One Day comes out in movie form. Hot date ahoy!

Anyway, that was my top three books of last year. What did you lurve in 2010 (or 2009, as the case may be)? Want to join in our One Day movie date?