Saturday, 26 July 2014


If you're a voracious reader like me, Lae can be a challenge. There are book shops.. well one.. a christian one.. so clearly that's not going to work for me!

One of the many things I miss about home is a lazy Sunday afternoon in my favourite book shop. The smell, the peace, the frisson of excitement as you read the dust cover and think "Hmmm, yes!". The palpable excitement as you drive home knowing that you're going to learn something new, meet some new characters, fall in love, solve a mystery.

There are no book shops in Lae. I know, you might have to re-read that, but it's true. There is actually a city on Earth with no bookshops.

And I live here.

What we do have is 2nd hand shops, some of which stock books. So my now-Saturday morning ritual is to head up to Value City (early, before the heat of the day beats down on the corrugated iron roof, turning the place into a combination sewer/sauna) and rifle through their book section.

Like all shopping in Lae, you gots to be lucky to get any gems. I recently found "In One Person" by John Irving. Given "A Prayer For Owen Meany" is one of my all-time faves, this is a particular bonus for me. I've also found a couple of copies of Booker Prize winners, the last of which was "Wolf Hall".

Mostly the books at the 2nd hand shops are of either the Catherine Cookson/ Dean Koontz genres. Not that there's anything wrong with either type of novel.

There's a run on J. D. Robb crime novels at the moment.

Given I'd read the back of a cereal pack in the absence of anything else, I pick up what I can.

Last weeks' haul was "The Beauty Myth", Augusten Burroughs' "A Wolf At My Table", and

**cue embarrassed foot shuffling and nervous sideways glances**

"Fifty Shades Of Grey".

Yeah. I read it.

Every single, cringe-inducing, nauseating, boring, predictable, "WTF, this is "Twilight with bad porn?" moment.

(I only learnt this afternoon that it was originally written as fanfic. ROOLY? WHOODA THUNK?)

From Time's Dave Barry:

So the plot is: They have sex, she wants to smooch, he wants to flog, there’s a bunch of talking about this, they have sex again, she again wants to smooch, he again wants to flog, there’s a bunch more talking about this, and so on for several hundred word-filled pages.
Finally, Anastasia decides to let Christian flog her, to see what it would be like. So he takes a belt and flogs her on the butt. Then, in the dramatic climax to the story, the moment we have been building up to, Anastasia comes to a shocking, life-changing realization, which nobody could have foreseen in a million years: Getting flogged on the butt hurts. Yes! It’s painful! Anastasia does not like it! Double crap!!
So she breaks up with him.
And then . . .
And then the book is over.
I’m serious. That’s the plot.
There are two more books in this series, titled “Fifty Shades Darker” and “The Third Fifty Shades Book That Was Required to Make It a Trilogy.” I assume these books bring these two lovebirds back together, as well as revealing the Dark Secret in Christian’s past. I don’t know because I haven’t read them, although I fully intend to do so in the future if the only alternative is crucifixion.

 I want to rip out my eyeballs and bleach my brain. I want that few hours I spent reading it back. I want to curl foetally in a corner and sob.

I want my mommy.

If the alternatives were reading it again and eating boiled chicken heads,  I'd chow down on those zombie pops like Linda Lovelace.

I'm now girding my loins for something called "Pale Saint" by Eric Von Lustbader. It's described as a psychological  thriller, but with a last name like that; and after 50 Shades Of Nausea, I'm going in carefully.


  1. Nice to know the Christian bookshop is still there lol. Back in my day (mid 1970s) it stocked C L Lewis' Narnia books and even Tolkien so I did quite well there. Happy to post some books in your direction sometime, if it would help.

  2. Hey Jeni! Awesome page! The Husbang and I are considering a similar lifestyle choice when we leave Lae! We're currently deciding where abouts we might like to return to, given that our blood is old and thin, and our hometowns are just far too cold!