Wednesday, April 24

Word-Hunting in Tess

A while ago, I promised that I would share all the strange and wonderful words from Tess of the D'Urbervilles that I wrote down on my vocabulary building list.  I like Thomas Hardy's writing.  It's easy to read and understand, but is still strewn with words that I've never encountered before, and are mostly very fascinating to look at.  Here are the ones I've jotted down so far:
calcareous - adj. containing calcium corbonate; chalky
conterminous - adj. 1. sharing a common boundary; 2. having the same area, context, or meaning
extemporize - v. improvise: perform without preparation
emolument - n. a salary, fee, or profit from employment or office
dolorifuge - n. something that banishes or mitigates grief
nascent - adj. just coming into existence and beginning to display signs of future potential; not yet fully developed
mien - n. a person's look or manner, indicating their character or mood
ensconce - v. establish or settle esp. in a comfortable, safe, or secretive place
dyspeptic - adj. of or having indigestion or consequent irritability or depression
vituperation - n. bitter and abusive language
accretion - n. the process of growth or increase, typically by the gradual accumulation of additional layers of matter
concatenation - n. the state of being linked together, as in a chain; union in a linked series
So many of them seem so strangely random, but their specificity makes them each incredibly unique and quirky.  Now that I know what they mean, I particularly like 'mien' and 'concatenation'.  I must admit, however, to liking the sound of 'vituperation'.
Having a little scrap of notepaper in every book is great because it means that I never have to leave behind a word I don't know.  I collect them, gather them up, so that I can learn them and use them!

Saturday, April 20

Reading in the Bath is Terrific

Normally librarians say R.I.B.I.T.  = "Reading In Bed Is Terrific".  

But I think R.I.B.I.T. = "Reading In the Bath Is Terrific!!!"

Unfortunately, we missed the international Reading in the Bathtub Day (9th of February).  I didn't know it even existed until this morning.  But I can't possibly be made to wait until next year to talk about it.  

Obviously all readers have their own special tips and rules for reading in the bath, but I wanted to share mine.  


1.  Towels
I try to keep a towel very close at hand just in case!  If I start to read while I'm still filling up the bath, I like to drape the edge of the towel over my knees as a protective barrier from splashes.

2.  Library Books
I do not object to reading library books in the bath, as terrible as this may sound.  Usually library books have a hard laminate on them, which means that if they do get splashed, they can be easily wiped dry.  However, I would never take a heavy, excessively large or floppy, or valuable book in the bath, for obvious reasons.  

3.  Poetry and Short Chapters
Even though I'm not a big poetry reader at all, I find poems are great for bathtub reading!  Because they're short, I can contentedly finish reading one before that warm, sleepy bathtime feeling makes it impossible for me to concentrate.  Similarly, books with short chapters are brilliant, too.


The first book I ever read in the bath was Watership Down which I thought was absolutely hilarious and coincidental because it had the word "water" in the title.  Since then, my most memorable bathtub reads have been The Penguin Book of Romantic Poetry, (especially the works of Keats), and the Harry Potter series.  

So, what are your favourite books to read in the bath?  

Friday, April 19

Would You Date Kerouac?


One of the page that I have 'liked' on Facebook is the official page for ABC's televised book club, called simply 'The Book Club'.  (While we're talking about 'The Book Club', if you live in Australia, I would hugely recommend catching up with some of the episodes on their website.  They're simply delightful.)  

Back to the point, The Book Club Facebook page regularly sends me lovely little updates sharing links to quirky book-lover things.  Just two days ago, they shared this link:

In my creative writing course, we've talked a lot about Jack Kerouac, laughed at his beautifully posed author profile pictures, and revelled over his radical experimental style in On the Road.  Please do have a read.  The link above will take you straight to the original site.  I really enjoyed reading it, and how his typically wild and rhythmic language was merged with highly stereotyped dating jargon.  It's pretty funny.  Would you go on a date with Jack?  


I'm not so sure that I would go on a date with someone like Jack, but I can think of other writers that I gladly would.  

1)  I would definitely have dated James Herriot, if I had been a country lass in Wales before WWII.  He was always so sweet, sincere, good-humoured, and hard-working.  Even reading All Things Bright and Beautiful now, my poor heart is torn to pieces when he goes to war.  I pity him, laugh with him, sometimes laugh at him, cry for him.  Yes, I definitely have a crush on the late James Herriot.  

2) I would love to know more about the uncannily perfect writer, Jonathan Safran Foer.  His writing is so gorgeous and glorious, it seems like it couldn't possibly have originated from any place less than the profoundest, deepest, most loving soul.  I think it would be incredible to spend some time and actually learn a little more about this incredible writer, be that in the form of a date or just a friendly chat.   

3) I daresay I would have had a crush on both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. 

4) I mustn't forget my old love, Colin Dann, with all his animals.  

5) And, oh my, Scott Fitzgerald!  I would have leapt into his arms, devoured his books, and pored over his shoulder as he wrote, balancing a glass of red wine in my fingers.  Oh to be whisked to the 20s!  

So, out of all the writers of every age, who have you had a secret reader's crush on?

Thursday, April 18

Mateship with Birds

The winner of the first ever Stella Prize was announced today.  The Stella Prize was awarded to one of Australia's great woman writers, Carrie Tiffany, for her novel, Mateship with Birds.  (That's $50, 000 dollars worth of prize money - it's exciting that such a huge appreciation and prestige is placed on our Australian writers!)

Jumping onto the Stella Prize webpage, I had the chance to read a little bit more about this winning word of fiction.  I would recommend you do the same.  The description of Tiffany's meticulous manner of interconnecting every minute detail, and her use of different formats to tell her story including letters, home work, and diaries, is just so intriguing!  It described the work as an exploration of the relationships between people, and with their environment.  I am definitely motivated to read this book.  

By following this link, you can also read Tiffany's interview following her acceptance of this prize.  

If you are passionate about supporting our Australian woman writers, you can donate to the Stella Prize fund, to keep this prize running for many years to come.  

Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany

Monday, April 15

The Winner of the One Book Challenge

I have just drawn the winner of our One Book Challenge:

Hoodie, with his One Book Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams!!!

Congratulations Hoodie for your success in Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils' very first challenge with a prize!!!  Expect a very special prize package coming your way soon!  

I would also like to give a humungous thankyou to all the readers who participated in this challenge.  Your eagerness to get involved makes it possible to do super fun things like this every now and then.

If you would like to read any of the entries to the One Book Challenge, follow the links below!  

Just because the challenge is over doesn't mean you've missed your chance to talk about your favourite book!  I always love to hear about your reading and writing lives.  So please feel free to share your passion in a comment.  

Sunday, April 14

One Day Left!

You only have one day left to enter in our One Book Challenge.  Just answer the challenge question:

If you were only allowed to take ONE BOOK with you on a long, round-the-world trip, what book would it be, and why?
And leave a contact url or email in a private message.  For more details, read the original post.

I'll be drawing the winner tomorrow Monday the 15th.  

Here's a reminder of the prize options: 

Prize Option 1
Prize Option 2
Prize Option 3
Prize Option 4

Friday, April 12

The Incredibly Close Book by Safran Foer


Escape from Children's Hospital - that is the title of Jonathan Safran Foer's new book, due for release in 2014.  For a lot of us, the news of a new Safran Foer work is mind-bogglingly glorious.  I believe my heart may have skipped a beat when I found out.  So, naturally, you are the first people I have to tell!

There is just one little paragraph written about it, which can be found on and Jonathan's wikipedia page.  Here it is, verbatim:

A fictionalised account of a life-changing event that happened to the author as a nine-year-old – an explosion in a summer camp science class, which left his best friend without skin on his face or hands, and whose brunt the author avoided by inches and for no good reason – this is a story about the shared trauma of childhood, the potential destructiveness of storytelling, and the redemptive power of friendship. Weaving precariously between non-fiction and fiction, and existing at the intersection of different styles (suspense, memoir, imaginative storytelling), the book moves out from that moment in 1985 to the repercussions on the ever-expanding circle of those affected by it.
The Tree of Codes
I don't think the subject matter even really... matters when it's Jonathan writing.  I have, and I am sure many of you have also, developed a great level of trust in him.  I completely trust him to challenge me, wound me even, jerk the tears out of me, then hug me lovingly and reveal to me an incredible side to myself and the world around me.  His books are an experience and epiphany in love and relationships and community.  

If this is the first time you've ever heard of Jonathan Safran Foer, there is a lot of catching up for you to do.  

Extremely Loud and Incredible Close

Not only are his themes powerfully provocative and moving, his writing is wildly fresh and experimental.  I am currently studying experimental literature at university, and he is high on the list of the masters.  He is an artist of imagery and metaphor, but a lot of his metaphor stems from his incredible manipulation of his books' physical form, and visual literacy.  

Flipbook animations, handwriting and scribblings, weird shapes and patterns, pictures and photographs, words blown up and shrunk and written over each other.  

The words are only one level.  Then, he reveals our primal, instinctive hopes and fears without saying a thing.  

I cannot describe the experience of reading his books that can in any way do it justice.  It is exactly that - an experience.  

Finishing one of his books, I have felt as though it altered everything.  As though I could not live another moment without responding in some way, just as Jonathan himself describes his experience with Schulz's The Street of Crocodiles, which lead him to create the new work of The Tree of Codes by cutting and pasting the words of the original.  (See picture above.)


Everything is Illuminated

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Eating Animals

The Tree of Codes

Please, I implore you to discover Safran Foer for yourself.  I can never escape the immense impact it has had on me, as a reader, writer, and person.  

Flipbook animation
in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Wednesday, April 10

Tess in the Right Place at the Right Time

I am currently reading Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles for my literature class.  It's a book that I've been meaning to read for a long time, so I'm glad for the opportunity to read it now.  (Thankfully, it doesn't feel like homework because I'm actually enjoying it, and I can indulge in a good book without the guilt trip that usually comes from avoiding my study.)  

I'm only a little way in, so please, nobody give the ending away by accident!  So far, though, I'm really enjoying the writing style.  It is strangely fresh and tangy - much more so than I would have expected from a book so old.  I am also enjoying the language.  It's fairly easy to understand, but every now and then Hardy slips in an outrageously unusual word that I've never heard of before, which immediately sends me scrambling for the dictionary.  I had to tear out a bookmark-sized strip of paper from my notebook so I could jot down all the cool words I was learning.  I will share them with you eventually, but I don't have the book with me at the moment.  I'm blogging from my university library, you see.  Yes, I am currently avoiding essay-writing.  

Anyway, there was this lovely passage at the end of Chapter Five that I wanted to share.  Here it is:

In the ill-judged execution of the well-judged plan of things the call seldom produces the comer, the man to love rarely coincides with the hour for loving. Nature does not often say “See!” to her poor creature at a time when seeing can lead to happy doing; or reply “Here!” to a body’s cry of “Where?” till the hide-and-seek has become an irksome, outworn game. We may wonder whether at the acme and summit of the human progress these anachronisms will be corrected by a finer intuition, a close interaction of the social machinery than that which now jolts us round and along; but such completeness is not to be prophesied, or even conceived as possible. Enough that in the present case, as in millions, it was not the two halves of a perfect whole that confronted each other at the perfect moment; a missing counterpart wandered independently about the earth waiting in crass obtuseness till the late time came. Out of which maladroit delay sprang anxieties, disappointments, shocks, catastrophes, and passing-strange destinies.
When d’Urberville got back to the tent he sat down astride on a chair reflecting, with a pleased gleam in his face. Then he broke into a loud laugh.
“Well, I’m damned! What a funny thing! Ha-ha-ha! And what a crumby girl!”
Tess of the D'Urbervilles: Chapter Five by Thomas Hardy.  (First published in 1891)

This is my copy of Tess
What I like about this passage is that it reminds me so much of in a movie, when the action suddenly cuts and the narrator, using a warm, story-teller's voice, takes some time to hint at the misfortunes that are soon to follow.  It is like the voice of God, pausing the story of Tess's life to reflect upon it.  The change in tone makes this little piece seem like a serious and shivery awakening.  

I also love the imagery of perfect people just missing the right place at the right time so that it all goes wrong - a distressingly thought-provoking concept that should remind you all of that horrible scene in the movie adaptation The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  (Which is, by the way, an incredible story that you should take to time to read, or even to watch, as both are beautiful.)  

Anyway, I must get back to my study.  Also, don't forget to enter into our  One Book Challenge.  
(You still have until Monday the 15th to enter, so get cracking!  Just follow the link.)

Sunday, April 7

One Book Challenge - Airhead by Meg Cabot

I'm pleased to say that we're going pretty well for our very first challenge and prize, so far!  Read the entries so far and don't forget to enter yourself, before Monday the 15th of April.  

Reader, Sommer Holiday, responds to our One Book Challenge question:

If you were only allowed to take ONE BOOK with you on a long, round-the-world trip, what book would it be, and why? 

If I could only choose one book for a holiday around the would it be a book that I'd always like to read no matter what time of day or weather.  I would choose any stories by Meg Cabot e.g.Airhead, Being Nikki (airhead 2),Runway(airhead 3) Prom nights from hell, Size 12 is not fat, teen idol, All american girl and how to be popular.

Thankyou so much, Sommer Holiday, for your entry!  Your love of Meg Cabot's books is making me think it's about time to finally get around to reading The Princess Diaries.  I'm glad to hear that you recommend her work!  

Don't forget to post your entry in the comments section of the One Book Challenge post.  Just follow the link, and answer the challenge question to be in the running.  

The challenge finishes on Monday the 15th of April so hurry!  The more entries, the greater the range of prizes the winner will have to choose from.  

Sommer Holiday's One Book, Airhead, is Prize Option 4.  Read more about Meg Cabot's Airhead on  Just follow the link!

Prize Option 4: Airhead by Meg Cabot
(Sommer Holiday's One Book)

Saturday, April 6

One Book Challenge - All Things Bright and Beautiful

So, I thought it was about time that I added my own entry to the One Book Challenge, and added my favourite book to the range of prizes.  

The One Book Challenge question:

If you were only allowed to take ONE BOOK with you on a long, round-the-world trip, what book would it be, and why? 

Here is my response:

James Herriot's All Things Bright and Beautiful is definitely the book I would take with me around the world.   
It is a book that I continually return to for my 'happy-shot'.  Any one chapter is a perfect portrait of love and community, full of honesty and laughter, and at times tears.   
Entering at any point of the book, I walk right into the midst of another life where I left off.  Dinner is made, the dog is wagging his tail to see me, and Herriot, his wife Helen, and his friends and neighbours are my family, waiting for me to pull up a chair at the table.   
No matter where I go in the world, this book can be my Home, just as it can be Home even when I'm at home.  It allows me to enjoy everything I would want in a perfect life.  It is my One Book.  

So, don't forget to post your entry in the comments section of the One Book Challenge post.  Just follow the link, and answer the challenge question to be in the running.  

The challenge finishes on Monday the 15th of April so hurry!  The more entries, the greater the range of prizes the winner will have to choose from.  

My One Book is Prize Option 3.  Read more about James Herriot's All Things Bright and Beautiful in some of my old posts.  (The Winds of Change, and In Stitches).  Just follow the links!

Prize Option 3: All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot
(The Book Florist's One Book!)

Friday, April 5

One Book Challenge - Deltora Quest

Reader, Cheeseballs, has entered our One Book Challenge, answering the question:

If you were only allowed to take ONE BOOK with you on a long, round-the-world trip, what book would it be, and why?
That is a very difficult question to answer. However, I keep thinking back to this set of books (that have been combined into one book, which I would take with me on the trip) that I absolutely love! They are Deltora Quest, by Emily Rodda. She is my favourite Children's book author. The Deltora Quest books are so fun and adventurous, and I can read them over and over again, and enjoy them more each time. They are so full of exciting quests (aha) and danger, and they have beautiful character relationships. These books are a genuine example of good verses evil. I love them!!!! 
Thankyou so much Cheeseballs, for your entry.  At the nagging of my little brother, I read Deltora Quest a while ago, and I loved them too.  I know what you mean about the great character relationships.  I always enjoyed the characters' interactions - they were so well written.  Rodda is definitely a master of adventure.  Thanks again for taking the time to share your love for these brilliant stories.  

So, don't forget to post your entry in the comments section of the One Book Challenge post.  Just follow the link, and answer the challenge question to be in the running.  

The challenge finishes on Monday the 15th of April so hurry!  The more entries, the greater the range of prizes the winner will have to choose from.  

Deltora Quest Book One: The Forests of Silence is Prize Option 2. Read more about Emily Rodda's Deltora Quest at  Just follow the link!  

Prize Option 2: Deltora Quest 1: The Forests of Silence
(Cheeseballs' One Book)

Thursday, April 4

One Book Challenge - Life, the Universe, and Everything

We have our first entry to the One Book Challenge!  

Reader, Hoodie, answers the challenge question: 

If you were only allowed to take ONE BOOK with you on a long, round-the-world trip, what book would it be, and why? 
Unfortunately choosing just ONE BOOK as a 'globe-trotting companion' became a little difficult around about as-soon-as-I-started-thinking :P 
That said my single story has become a little list - Enjoy :D 
1. First would be 'Life the Universe and Everything' by Douglas Adams, simply because it's my FAVOURITE book xD 
2. Our family recipe book for when foreign cuisine brings you down and you need a taste of home :) 
3. Or finally 'Around the World in 80 Days' so I could follow the events of the book and make sure I see the sights - but still get back home on time :) 
Thankyou Hoodie for your entry!  I know it's so hard to trim your favourites down to just one book,  but Douglas Adams is an incredible writer, and would undoubtedly make a hilarious and whacky travelling companion.  

I also think that bringing a recipe book, for a taste of home, is such a lovely idea.  I suppose it's that sort of thing that I first thought of when I was considering this tricky challenge question.  A book that can recreate a sense of 'Home' no matter where in the world you wander.  Thanks again!  

So, don't forget to post your entry in the comments section of the One Book Challenge post.  Just follow the link, and answer the challenge question to be in the running.  

The challenge finishes on Monday the 15th of April so hurry!  The more entries, the greater the range of prizes the winner will have to choose from.  

Hoodie's One Book is Prize Option 1.  Read more about Douglas Adam's Life, the Universe and Everything on  Just follow the link!  

Prize Option 1: Life, the Universe and Everything
(Hoodies' One Book)

Wednesday, April 3

The 'One Book' Challenge

Hello my dear readers!  It looks like we're going to have a challenge after all!  

In the last few hours there have been several new responses to my Challenge post, so I think that we finally have enough interest to get started!  Yay!


If you were only allowed to take ONE BOOK with you on a long, round-the-world trip, what book would it be, and why?


  • Click on the comments section below this post to leave a comment.  In your comment, please
  • Name your One Book, and
  • Explain why you would choose it over every other book in the world, to go with you around the globe.  (You can be as long, passionate, and flowery as you like.)  
  • Important:  Either in your comment or in a private message via Blogger (or The Book Florist Facebook page), please leave a link or email address that I can contact you on, in the event that you win the challenge.  
  • Each response to the challenge will have its own special feature on Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils.  Please take the time to read and comment on other people's entries.  This is a chance to share and talk about things that are exciting and special to us.


  • The winner will be chosen on Monday the 15th of April.  That gives you a little under 2 weeks to enter.  
  • The winner will be drawn from a hat.  (I will see if I can possibly film the name-drawing ceremony for you, but it will require some technical fiddling.  We'll just have to see.)
  • I will unveil the winner on Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils on the 15th and contact him/her via the link or email address that they left me in their private message. 


  • The prize will be the winner's choice of any one of the 'One Books' entered into the competition.  (Therefore, the more entries, the better the range of choice will be for the winner.)
  • In a private message, the winner and I will arrange an address for their prize to be mailed to.  I will also be adding a hand-drawn original watercolour card of congratulations to the winner's package.  


  • Get everyone you know - your mum and dad, your grandma, your next-door neighbour - to enter!  The more entires, the better the range of prizes to choose from for the winner!
  • Please show respect and appreciation for each entry, and take some time to respond to them.  
  • Pay attention to other people's entries.  You might discover a new book that you would be interested in reading, or a new author that's right up your ally!

Good luck all!  I'll post an entry of my own this week to get the ball rolling on our very first challenge with a prize!

The One Book Challenge!!!
(Drawing copyright The Book Florist 2013)

Tuesday, April 2

How Can You Get Involved?

This last week I have been asking for a minimum of 5 comments, follows, or likes, as an expression of interest in my challenge.

There have been 2 responses.  Thankyou so much to the 2 people who took the time to respond!  You are wonderful!

The only problem is that I don't think it's quite enough for a challenge.  For a fair and fun challenge, we really need a few more competitors.

I am still very keen to run a challenge, especially now that I have some ideas for awesome prizes, too.

So, please, readers of Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils.  I know there's plenty of you viewing my blog.  Could you take some time to follow, comment, or like the Book Florist Facebook page?  

Just show me any sign at all that you're interested, and there will be plenty of fun times ahead.  I can't do anything exciting or out of the ordinary unless there are other people willing to share.  


Here are a few ideas to help you could get involved at Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils.

  • A good way to start is by leaving a comment on any one of my posts.  I always respond to comments, so there's no need to fear being cold-shouldered.  
  • If you're a fellow-blogger,  you can share something you're passionate about, and post a link to your blog.  The first 5 people to do so will be given a mini-featurette on Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils.  
  • If there's a book that you love, leave a comment suggesting that it be added to our list of 100 Books to Read Before You Die.  
  • If you have written a review on any one of the books that we've discussed on Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils, feel free to send it in to me via private message (via Blogger or Facebook) and it will be featured on Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils.  (P.s. Make sure to give a name or pseudonym, and a date, so that your work is copyrighted in your name.)

Please exploit these opportunities to be heard and make known your passion for reading and writing!  I look forward to hearing from you!