A Love Letter to Books

There are many things I love about reading, but the one that I never tire of is starting a new book.

Once I’ve gone through the usually difficult task of selecting my next world to delve into, my favourite thing is carefully opening it up and turning that first page. I love to look down at the title page, as if I’m preparing for battle, before turning to page 1. Really, it’s less preparing and more bracing myself for what is to come – because at that stage, I don’t know anything. I don’t know what is going to unfold – be it greatness in plot, exquisite prose, characters that will steal my heart, a narrator who manages to have a conversation with me (one in which I do not have to say a word) or even be it terrible plot twists and poorly thought out scenes where all I want to do is rewrite every single line.

Books are possibilities. They are portals and windows, keys to someone else’s thoughts and imagination. They are their own entities, ready to transport your mind somewhere else, and the only part of your body you have to move is your eyes. Well, that’s a bit of a lie. The only things that don’t stay still are your eyes and your mind, as someone else’s words filter into your imagination and paint a picture. Books are where you yourself feature as co-director. The author may say that their world is made of blues and greens and pinks, but you are the one to pick the shades. The author could tell you about a man with brown hair, green eyes, and an oddly proportioned body, but your imagined version of this man could look nothing like the author’s.

I’ve been inactive on my blogs the past few weeks (excuses range from moving house to starting full-time at work), and this particular piece of writing starting as a late night note on my phone. This was meant to be a love letter to starting new books, but it’s turned into a love letter to all books – and I suppose in essence that that is what this blog is all about. Not just a place where I talk about what I’m reading and enjoying, but also one of the many spaces that show how incredible reading is – how incredible books are. Where books are sources of inspiration for so many, authors are the magicians who conjure up ideas as one might pull a rabbit from a hat. And those ideas are not just confined to pages, but spark to life emotions throughout every single reader.

It reminds me of something we think about at work when recommending books – that, whilst you may not like one book for one reason or another, it may well be someone else’s favourite. That’s the truly marvellous thing about books – there really is something for everyone. Where one person may not like a mainstream thriller because of it’s predictable nature and heavy influence from old classic crime writers, someone else may adore it because it let them to those classics, and gave them access to a genre they never before considered.

Every book is important in one way or another, from picture books all the way to those frightening looking tomes on law or business or history. And this little blog post is one of the many love letters I’ll write to try and put into words what each new book makes me feel.

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May Reading Wrap Up

Well, it has happened – I have finally finished university. After a month of essay deadlines and exams, I’m amazed I read as much as I did. I think that’s been the standard theme of this year so far; my surprise each month that I actually found time to read. It definitely helped that I participated in a 30 day reading challenge, and I’m sure that’s why my totals this month (two books over 500 pages is quite the feat for me) are pretty darn fantastic.

First up this month was The Hero of Ages, the third and final instalment in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy that I started back in 2015! I read the previous two books the previous two summers, having saved them both all year for when I felt I had enough time to read them – and then the genius that is 2017 me decided I had enough time to read the final book over coursework season. If that’s not impressive, then I’m not sure what is.

Then as if that book wasn’t long enough, I followed it up with another final instalment to a trilogy: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas. This was pure guilty pleasure for me, and I devoured it within a week. Just pure fun, uncomplicated (in a good way) fantasy that you can just lose yourself in. Complete escapism at its best, and a series that has improved so much from its first instalment.

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After that, I finally read a book I’ve been promising myself, and my colleagues, that I would pick up for ages. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders was an unexpected joy, Saunders somehow redefining what it means to write fiction and do so in a way that reminds you just how much art there is in writing. He weaves his story from excerpts of various non-fiction literature on Lincoln, interspersed with his own pure fictional writing. The combination of non-fiction, fiction, and non-fiction crafted as fiction, created a completely new way of reading. Although the first few pages I found it difficult to process, once you get used to the formatting you can hardly put the book down.

It was after this that I read Animal by Sara Pascoe, ‘The Autobiography of the Female Body’. For this I’m just going to repeat what I said in Goodreads, which is that this was a great book separated into discussions on ‘love’, ‘body’, and ‘consent’. Pascoe manages to insert humour and charm, but still discusses serious, and upsetting, topics with a sincerity. This is a good book if you want a mix of entertainment, autobiography, well/explained science, and talks on bodies. Of course people who are well versed on the subjects will find fault with some of the scientific facts, but for me it was a perfect balance of digestible science I could understand and Pascoe’s own thought. Whilst Pascoe is addressing matters of the ‘female body’ and does in her footnotes clarify that this can apply to those who do and do not identify as being female or to those who weren’t necessarily born in a ‘female’ body, I think I would have liked more discussion on gender within her ‘body’ section. Overall the book raises some fantastic points that I definitely support, but for a book on bodies and love I think there should be more discussion dedicated to gender itself.

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If you want more beauties like this you should definitely check out my Instagram *wink wink nudge nudge*

After a successful non-fiction read, which I don’t read enough of, I decided to go for something else new – poetry. The only poetry I’ve really read is within my education, and whilst I’ve enjoyed it I’ve never gone out and read poetry for fun. This is why, to start off my journey, I picked up the bestselling collection Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. And, I’m sad to say, it wasn’t quite my cup of tea – which is why I’m going to do a full review either sometime later this week or next. It’s so difficult, because of course you can see how much heart the author pours in, and then to find you don’t really like it, I especially find it hard to give such negative feedback. One thing is for certain – I’m definitely going to pick up more poetry soon to find something I do love.

And that brings me to the end of May, so let’s look how the reading challenge is going:

 

  1. *4 ‘Classics’
  2. *A Man Booker nominee
  3. **A Baileys nominee
  4. *A Feminist Book cover to cover
  5. **‘A Blue Cover’
  6. *A Graphic Novel
  7. A Horror Book
  8. ***Finish a series you’ve started
  9. A friend’s favourite book
  10. *Poetry book
  11. *Book over 500 pages
  12. *Book under 150 pages
  13. Book with a character with your name
  14. *An autobiography
  15. **A play
  16. *A book from your TBR
  17. ****Book published in 2017

Thanks to Animal, I ticked off an autobiography because that word is within the subtitle so it definitely counts. Milk and Honey also ticked off poetry, so a pretty darn good month. The Hero of Ages and A Court of Wings and Ruin both added a notch to finishing a series you’ve started, as they were both the final instalments of two trilogies I’ve loved. Lincoln in the Bardo added a fourth notch to books published in 2017. Overall, a pretty great reading month. It means I’m still left with 3 Classics (I knew that was going to be a struggle to get to), a Horror Book, a friend’s favourite book, and a book with a character with your name. I definitely have books in mind for the latter two, but still haven’t found a Horror book that I want to read, so if anyone has any suggestions I’m all ears. After all, June is my birthday month so I’m planning to do a rather large book haul.