To keep my to my resolution of reading more books this year and inspired by the Lars Book Club and my new found love of Ariel Bissett, I thought I’d start a little bit of a book club. Every month I’m planning on writing a review of a book I’ve read this year, accompanied with a bit of design work, some food for thought, and further recommendations if you like what you’ve read.

I thought there was no better way to start than with the book I read at least once every year Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal. If asked I’m not sure I would say it’s my favourite book because I’m far to indecisive to commit to a favourite book, but it’s probably up there. At only 112 pages long it’s quick enough to finish in one sitting but complex enough to read over and over again.

Alternative book cover design for Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal

My alternative cover for the novel inspired by the crushing weight of the paper press and the texture of ink on worn paper.

Set in Prague at a time of communist censorship, Too Loud a Solitude is the story of Hanta an old hermit of a man who has spent his life compacting wastepaper and books. Hanta tells his own story in first person throughout the novel, meandering through his youth and minutiae of his day to day life. There’s a mix of absurd comedy and literary musings, as well as a political subplot that seems unavoidable given the book’s setting.

Hrabal’s story pulls you in as a pair open arms. On the one side, you have a human interest piece all about an old man struggling to keep up with a changing world. On the other, there’s a celebration of literature, of Hanta’s defiance to keep the written word alive in the bales and in his mind. In short, it’s about the mortality of man and the immortality of literature, and their unbreakable bond. If that sounds a bit too pretentious, it is also just a story about a weird old man.

I think this little book has a lot of appeal for almost everyone but particularly those who have an interest in all things literary or anyone who wants to learn more about a lesser discussed bit of European history.

SOME QUESTIONS TO PONDER AS YOU READ…

  • Hanta repeats the refrain “for thirty-five years now I’ve been compacting wastepaper and books” throughout the book, what effect does that have on your reading experience?
  • Hrabal’s style has been described as one of digressions, how do the wanderings of Hrabal’s style reflect the wanderings of an old man’s mind?
  • Too Loud a Solitude is both personal and political, did one message resonate with you more than the other?
  • Hrabal’s writing is very much rooted in a certain time and place, do you think that Hanta’s story can transcend that setting? If so how?
  • After reading about Hanta’s love of books and fight to keep them whole, how do you reflect on your own access to books and interest in literature?

    IF YOU WANT SOME FURTHER READING TRY…

    IF YOU WANT MORE BOOKS A BIT LIKE THIS THEN HAVE A LOOK AT…

If you’re planning on reading Too Loud a Solitude and need something to mark your place, you can download and print the bookmark above for free here.

The last of my advent posts had to be a thank you card, not just because your mum is probably going to make you write a load of them on boxing day, and you really should. I wanted to post a thank you note today, to say thank you to you, anyone who has read my blog over the last few months. It’s been so much fun to see a silly idea I had to keep myself busy is now something people actually read. I’m going to take a little break over Christmas and New Year but I will be back at the start of January – I’m already stockpiling ideas

 

The card is here, sorry if you were just interested in the printable and not the ramble!

If you’ve got a fiddly little something you’re struggling to wrap, this gift box is here to save the day. Just print out the pdf onto some card or thick paper, cut it out and fold the sides in. Then you can either stick the curved sides to the inside of the box or just tie it up with string so it’s super easy to get into. If you want you could even add one of the matching gift tags I posted earlier. Then you’re done.

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And here’s the printable box.

These crackers don’t crack but they are mighty cute and you can put whatever goodies you want in them so they would work at a dinner party or as gift wrapping. Just cut them out, fold them length ways 3 times and stick the long sides together. Fill them up and tie some string around the cut out diamonds to form a cracker.

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Download and print your crackers here