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Matilda The Musical & My Failure To Read Roald Dahl

Matilda The Musical:

Earlier this week I saw Matilda The Musical and absolutely adored it. The singing and acting were both fantastic and, although I will admit that thanks to how many times I’ve watched the film it did take a little bit of getting used to seeing a different selection of actors as the cast, they were all absolutely fabulous. There was some wonderful  stage work (I’m not entirely sure if that’s the right way to describe it but I loved one section where they were climbing up the school gates on some alphabet blocks and I’m amazed that they could do it, so perfectly timed, without falling). I also really enjoyed the opening to the second act but, as a reader, naturally disagree with Maltida’s parents views on books. It made me laugh numerous times throughout and the opening seemed pretty much perfect from the brief ‘First Look’ that I had of the Matilda book on Amazon once. It has a fairly dark plot when you think about it and yet, honestly, it was so, so much fun! I loved every minute of it.

My Failure To Read Roald Dahl’s Books:

I’ve got to admit though that although I’ve watched the film version of Matilda countless times and now also seen the musical that I’ve never read the book. In fact up until recently I was convinced that I hadn’t read a single book by Roald Dahl in my life which I definitely feel bad about as he’s one of those amazing authors that everybody’s heard of. I have no idea why I didn’t read any of his books as I’ve always been a reader. I guess his books might just not have appealed to me but I can’t see how when I’ve enjoyed so many of the film adaptations. But then, to be fair, I’ve always adored the A Series Of Unfortunate Events film but only ended up reading the books a couple of years ago.

My Attempt To Read One:

When I was younger I did take one of his books, George’s Marvellous Medicine, on holiday with me but it was impossible to truly read. I bought the copy from a book fair at school and, when I picked it up whilst away, it was literally just a jumble of random chapters in no real order.  Half of those chapters were even repeated several times within the book. Stubbornly (or from what I remember because I didn’t have anything else to read) I did read that copy but it hardly counts as it was such an odd order, with over half of the book missing, that it didn’t really make any sense. And now the only thing that I remember about that book is the ridiculously misprinted version that I’d somehow found.

The Unexpected Tale That I Have Read:

So, as it turns out, I recently found out from @BeingABookNerd that I have actually read something by Roald Dahl before although I’ve got to admit that it’s certainly not something that I’d have quickly connected with him. And I’d completely forgotten all about the short story in question until something – maybe the cover, maybe the name? – made a switch click on inside of my head, reminding me that I had read a fairly twisted story by him back at school. It’s called ‘Lamb To The Slaughter’, features a leg of lamb in a rather morbid way and can be found in ‘Tales Of The Unexpected’.  Actually having looked at the list of tales within this book I’m not sure if I also had to read ‘Skin’ for school or not. I feel like it sounds vaguely familiar but I can’t say for sure.

The Film Adaptations That I’ve Seen:

Matilda: As I’ve already mentioned I’ve seen Matilda countless times and have always loved it. To me it feels like one of those iconic films that should never be remade because the cast is just so perfect as it is (another example of this for me is the 1968 version of Oliver). I love that the central character is such an avid reader who has powers and her own sense of justice. I love – or love to hate – the villain (and OMG she’s actually quite scary having re-watched it a few years ago). And just… well I love this film; it’s as simple as that.

Charlie/Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory:  I’ve seen both the 1971 version of this and the more recent one and, as far as I can remember, I thoroughly enjoyed both of them. I remember the older version more vividly for some reason although one day should probably try to re-watch them both. I love the setting – because who doesn’t want to explore Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory? – and the characters of this so much.

The Witches: I remember always really enjoying this film although I also think that there were parts of it that really freaked me out. That painting for one. And then, of course, what the witches within the film were actually up to. I still must have watched it one hell of a lot of times though as I can remember certain scenes from it quite well even after all these years.
I’ve also just seen that this is being remade in 2020.

James And The Giant Peach: This is the film that I remember least well but I still think that I enjoyed it.  I think it was part live action, part animated? To be honest my strongest memories are of James’s aunts who fascinated me for some reason :L

The Books That I’d Most Like To Try And Read:

Okay so I’m not entirely sure how I’ll get on with reading a children’s book at my age although I know that a lot of people still love these books so I do want to try and check them out sometime. Plus I really feel like I need to have read at least a few Roald Dahl books in my life. And, honestly?, it’s worth giving them a chance as they’re not particularly long as far as I know. Mostly I’m worried about getting them out of the library and looking odd but I think that most of them are available as ebooks anyway.


It goes without saying that I want to read this one and I find it rather ironic that I’ve seen the film but not read the book in this case considering the main characters love of books.

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Again it kind of goes without saying that I’d like to read this considering my past enjoyment of the films. I’m really looking forward to seeing Wonka’s factory in text.

The Witches

Naturally I want to try this one of his books, if I get along with the first okay, as I’m really intrigued by his take on witches and, again, it’s a film that I saw countless times growing up.

James And The Giant Peach

Again I basically want to read this because I’m fairly certain that I enjoyed the film. As this is Roald Dahl’s first book for younger readers it makes sense to include it for that reason too though.

George’s Marvellous Medicine

Since I started it in the past then I’d like to finish it tbh.

Tales Of The Unexpected

I basically want to re-read this to refresh my memory (and figure out if I ever actually did read Skin too). Plus it will be nice to read some of Roald Dahl’s other work.

So those are my experiences with Roald Dahl – mostly in films – and the books of his that I one day plan to read. Hopefully I will at least get to Matilda this summer.

Don’t forget to check out @BeingABookNerd and read her fantastic post ‘My Favourite Childhood Books‘ which is what reminded me of a Roald Dahl story that I never would have remembered, or connected with him, off of the top of my head. It also contains some other really great examples of childhood favourites, some of which I also still need to read!

Have you read Roald Dahl’s books in the past? Have you seen Matilda The Musical? Did anyone else have to study any of his ‘Tales Of The Unexpected’ at school? What’s your favourite book of his? Whatever you want to say related to the subject I look forward to hearing from you.

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Is It Unusual To Prefer Reading Reviews Of Books That You’ve Read?

I wasn’t sure what to call this blog so I decided to go for the question that summed it up most thoroughly. This post has a slight mixture of functions as it’s here partially as a discussion (hence the title), partially as an explanation and also as a bit of a search for recommendations.

So I personally think that on the whole I’d much rather read a review of a book that I’ve read, even though in some ways that might seem a little redundant. Reviews are designed to share your thoughts and opinions of a book; to say whether or not you’d recommend it to others and, hopefully, gain a book some new readers. So I know that it’s probably fairly strange to then say that I’d prefer to read a review of something that I’ve read. I do like looking at the scores that people give books prior to reading them but, on the whole, I’ve got to confess that I am fairly wary about reading what they have to say for two main reasons.

The Spoiler Risk:

Firstly, and most obviously, when reading reviews there is always a risk that you’ll come across spoilers for the book in question. I’m not saying that it’s guaranteed and I’m not even saying this based on anything that I’ve read recently, it actually comes from my experience of flipping through Goodreads – trying to figure out if some unread books on my TBR list had sequels – several years ago. I happened to glance at the reviews on a book involving a murder mystery and inadvertently saw a comment saying who the killer was. Needless to say I was not impressed.

That’s a pretty major example of the kind of spoiler that I’m wary of reading but truthfully I like to avoid knowing too much about a book in general. I like to discover what characters are like personality wise for myself and, if a betrayal or twist is coming, I don’t mind having a heads up that it’s included within a book but I don’t really want to know exactly whose doing the betraying or who the twist is focused around.

Truthfully I don’t even think it’s just a review that can spoil a book however – I actually feel that sometimes book blurbs give away way too much of what’s coming plot wise. I guess in some ways they have to, to tell you what to expect, but I do feel that sometimes it’s a bit much to know that some major plot point about halfway through is coming because you’ve happened to read a blurb. I’ve actually tried not to read them too close to reading books any longer. I look at them to know if I’m interested in a book but if I decided that I am but only pick it up several months later I do tend not to re-read the blurb: I just like to go into a book knowing as little as possible now.

Going Into A Book With Expectations / Being On The Lookout For Certain Flaws:

The second reason that I’m not all too keen on reading reviews of books that I haven’t read is because going into a book with someone else’s opinions of it in mind can sometimes affect your own judgment. If a books really hyped up – and you raise your expectations too greatly – then you can be let down when it’s not as good as you’ve expected, even if it is a fairly remarkable read. Or, if somebody shares what they disliked about a book, then you can go into it already on the lookout for those things – something that you might not have even noticed if it hadn’t been bought up. I’m not on about problematic content here, obviously, but character quirks that irritate one particular reader or the way that one character thinks about another. I mean things like annoying habits, irritating phrases and overused words. The best, and most recent, example of this that I can think of is when a character dislikes another and repeatedly brings this fact up. I’m not saying where I’ve seen this mentioned prior to reading a book before – and it didn’t even bother me when I read said novel thankfully – but I can see how being on the lookout for repeated mentions of that character’s dislike of another could bring it to the forefront of your mind and make it all too easy to notice.

So yeah I’m rather wary of reading what a person particularly disliked about a book prior to reading the book in question because I don’t want to intently be searching for something that I might otherwise not have noticed. I do want to stress that this is in no way a criticism of mentioning what you dislike in a book however: that’s the entire point of a book review after all – to share both what you did and did not like. I’m just trying to explain the two factors that do make me somewhat wary about reading reviews of books that I haven’t read.

Why I Like To Read Reviews After Finishing A Book:

Although I don’t always want to read reviews in advance I generally do like to see what others are saying about a book after I’ve read it. And again I guess there are several reasons for this:

  • The simplest one, if I’ve loved a book, is to find others who share my enthusiasm of that book and see if they were as enthralled by it as me. Sometimes I really want to gush about a story that I’ve loved or fan-girl about a character that has left me utterly intoxicated.
  • On the flip side of things if I’ve disliked a book I like to try and find out if I was in the minority or if others out there agree with me. Honestly it can be a little disconcerting at times to dislike a beloved book and find yourself thinking ‘did I miss something?’ so finding out that others out there had the same issues as you is somewhat reassuring.
  • Then there’s the middle ground: whether I’ve loved or hated a book I want to know what others thought regardless. I want to see what factors of a novel worked for them and what didn’t. I want to see if they loved and hated certain characters. If they liked the overall plot. If they thought the writing was beautiful or faulty. And, in particular, if they were happy with how things ended.
  • And, although I’m sure I have other reasons for reading reviews, a final major one is that the person writing said review has put a lot of effort into writing down their feelings and sharing their views with the world. I feel that when somebody does that it deserves to be acknowledged and read.

Overall I guess what I’m trying to do is apologize in advance if I don’t read every review that you post and explain my reasons for that. But I also want to say that I probably will look it up again after I’ve read the book that you’ve reviewed. In fact if you’ve reviewed any books that I’ve read – or read in the future – feel free to tell me and I’ll be sure to check your review out.

I also wrote this to ask whether other people feel the same way as me?
Are you wary of reading people’s reviews because of spoilers?
Do you worry about a review hyping you up too much and setting your expectations too high?
Or do you worry that if you’re on the lookout for certain negative factors in a book that it’ll make it impossible for you to ignore them?
Do you like reading reviews if you’ve already read the book that it’s about?

On a related note I’ve got to admit that, because of my attempts to avoid spoilers, I do sometimes feel restricted as to what I can include in a review. Sometimes I just want to rant and rave about a certain character’s actions or else jump up and down, screaming about my love for another individual within a book. Sometimes there are plot points that I’d love to discuss in more detail. Or questions that I’m left with and would like to share. There are times when I want to say exactly what I wish I’d seen more, or less, of. And other times when I’d love to discuss theories for future books. Yet, in reviews, I constantly feel like I can’t without straying into the ‘too much detail zone’. As a result I’m seriously considering adding in some ‘Spoiler Sessions’ as future blog posts eventually. I’d love to have a feature that is clearly labelled as a place full of spoilers, where I could feel free to share exactly what I thought about a book and go into as much detail as I could ever want to. There are already some series that I’m seriously considering doing this with as I’d love to go into more detail with them. Although for now I’ll probably wait.

Finally at the start of this post I said that I was also looking for recommendations. At the moment I only have two monthly features on here and I’d really love some suggestions of memes that I could join in with. I absolutely adore the idea of ‘Top Ten Tuesdays’ but I’m not sure if I’m ready to do an entire top ten post on a weekly basis and, although I know you don’t have to do every single week, I wouldn’t really want to start doing it and miss out on half of the subjects either. So if you know any others that you think are particularly good I’d love it if you let me know about them. Are there any that you feel are a particularly good way of easing yourself into blogging on a weekly basis? (I do already intend to add in my reviews as and when I get books done, although I still have to post my Vampire Academy ones).

Actually if you have any helpful tips on blogging in general then I’d love to hear them as I’m new to this and kind of lost at the moment.

I also apologize for the long post and lack of pictures. I wasn’t really sure what to include in regards to this subject image wise and I rambled on for much longer than I originally meant to.


I was thinking about this subject a bit further and I came to the conclusion that, in general, my likeliness to read a review before reading a book probably falls into one of five categories. There are always exceptions to this however – sometimes I find myself really wanting to read, or avoid, certain reviews as the mood hits me.

Books that I’m desperate to read: if I’m already desperate to read a book then I’m generally more likely to avoid reading reviews for it. If I’m really looking forward to something then my fear of spoilers is going to be at its highest and I don’t really need a review to push me into picking up the book in question as I’m already set on doing so. In these cases I’m also most apprehensive about somebody else’s experience clouding my judgment – I really don’t want to set my hopes too high or have them shattered entirely based on a particularly good or bad review. Sometimes curiosity gets the better of me and I still read books that fall into this category though.

I’ve also got to say that these are probably the books that I’m most likely to hunt down other people’s reviews for after reading the book itself. If I enjoyed it, as I hoped to, then I’m probably going to want to find some way to share in other people’s enthusiasm for that book. And if I didn’t (which breaks my heart every time) then I’m always curious to know if others felt the same way.

Books that I’m on the fence about: these are the cases that I’m probably most likely to read a review of a book for before I pick up the book in question. If I’m not entirely sold on the idea of a book then it can definitely help to know what others have thought about it. Sometimes certain elements of the book, that weren’t apparent from the blurb, will make me find a newfound desperation to pick up that novel as it really appeals to me in a new and unexpected way. So if I’m uncertain about a book I’m definitely more likely to read people’s reviews for it before picking up the book itself as doing so will, hopefully, help me make my mind up about whether or not it’s the book for me.

Books that I wasn’t planning to read but are getting a lot of good reviews: in these cases then I probably would check the reviews out before reading the book to find out what it is that people particularly love about the book and whether those features would make it appeal more to me now too.

Books that I hadn’t heard of:  I’m also more likely to read a review of a book that I haven’t heard about as it ends up bringing it on to my radar for the first time so I’m naturally going to be somewhat curious about it.

Sequels to books: these again I’m quite unlikely to read until after I’ve read the book in question although this category can definitely be broken down further.

  • Sequels to books that I haven’t read: whether I haven’t read a single book in the series or have read some but not all of the previous ones then I won’t read these reviews as I know the risk of spoilers for previous books in the series is naturally going to be fairly high.
  • Sequels to books that I’ve read and loved: if I loved the first book (or books) in a series then I’m obviously planning to pick it up and will most likely want to discover the sequel completely on my own. I’ll also probably search for reviews of these books once I’ve got on and read them as I’m going to either want to gush about it with others or share my heartbreak at feeling let down by what happened next.
  • Sequels to books that I’ve read but wasn’t particularly a fan of: in these cases I probably will check out a few reviews before reading the book as I’ll probably be searching to see if people feel it’s an improvement on the original.

Like I said above these are just general descriptions of how likely I am to read certain reviews before picking up the book in question. I’m always apprehensive for the two main reasons that I mentioned earlier in this post but sometimes curiosity definitely gets the best of me. And I also know how redundant it can seem to read reviews of what you’ve already read for yourself but I really love seeing other people’s thoughts on a book once I’ve experienced it for myself, whether I loved it, hated it or was just a little underwhelmed by the book in question.