Book Locations

If I may direct you to a thing that @nwbrux (on Twitter) is doing, where he’s using LibraryThing and GoodReads to try to find the most famous book from each European country – http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/tag/famous%20books%20by%20geography. (Inspired by this mentalfloss thing doing the same for each US state –http://mentalfloss.com/article/56377/most-famous-book-set-each-state).

Other than being very happy that Kidnapped got a mention for Scotland, and hoping that The Three Musketeers gets a mention for France, I have suddenly become aware that the other thing I think of when you say French book isn’t a novel per se (Asterix for the win) and neither is the thing I think of when you say Dutch book (the Diary of Anne Frank).

Anyway, I did a quick blast through the books that I have reviewed on LibraryThing (because it’s common knowledge function is useful when you can’t quite remember where one of the Aubrey and Maturin books is set), and I have found that I really need to read a more varied selection of books.

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And that Brazilian one is pushing it a bit because they literally only just touch there in HMS Surprise, but the whole “you debauched my sloth” thing is too magnificent to ignore.

It’s even worse if I look at the UK-based books:

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(Yes, all of the Welsh ones are Torchwood books.) Add to that that most of those are set in London or the Home Counties, it definitely means I need to read a more varied set of books.

Some further explanation of my Top 10 Films of 2014

There have been complaints about my top 10 films of 2014 list, expected complaints, from parties that shall remain nameless but obvious, who are partisans for Guardians of the Galaxy.

First of all, it’s a top 10 favourite, not a top 10 best list so it will be wonked by my taste, or lack thereof.

Secondly, some explanation of how I rank films.

a) Does this film achieve what it set out to do?  Or the Ebert rule.  Or, you can’t watch a horror film and then a musical and complain about the lack of songs in the horror and the lack of gore in the musical (unless it’s supposed to be a musical horror).

b) Technical merit.  Which I grade on a curve, which we shall call Twig’s curve for the person who explained it best.  Basically, I expect the explosions in a film that cost £150 million to be better than the ones in a film that cost £150.

Or to use a proper example, the fact that in ‘Tooth and Claw’, Doctor Who produced a better werewolf than Warner Brothers managed to make for Harry Potter, means that Prisoner of Azkaban gets a lower tech. merit score.

Soundtracks so loud I can’t hear the actors goes in here, along with lighting so poor I can’t see anything.  It’s that sort of category.

Then there’s the even more subjective criteria.

c) Intellectual satisfaction.  Is the premise internally consistent, are the characters?  Is there an annoying deus ex machina?  (It’s possible to do deus ex machina well without me claiming that a film has cheated.  It normally involves a film charming me or being clever enough that I don’t care.)

Then there’s the most subjective.

d) Does it affect me?

Obviously this is going to vary wildly from person to person, because part of what you get out is the influences you brought in.

I am always going to like a film that makes me respond more than one that didn’t.

A perfect example is Inception, and the spinning top at the end.  I saw it at the Leicester Odeon on an Orange Wednesday and the entire, sold-out, audience groaned at the end, making a noise that can only be described as ‘ngh’.  There was a woman a few rows in front of me who was trying to knock the top over by waving at the screen.  That film got us all and good.

So, some justification for the positions (some slight spoilers follow):

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