Sometimes I envy book bloggers and book tubers who can do book hauls every single month, but then I remember that a lot of the books they acquire are ARCs. They are nice to get, obviously, but they arrive with the obligation of having to read them fairly soon. Probably wouldn’t work for me, unless it’s a book I really wanted anyway.
Either way, a monthly book haul wouldn’t do me very good, since I would:
A. Run out of money in no time
B. Increase my TBR pile even more (and it’s already taking threatening proportions)
C. Be forced to move to a bigger house (and more importantly: a bigger library. Yes, priorities.)
So usually I end up buying just a few books per year. That is, aside from special occasions like my birthday, Christmas and holidays. Over the years, trips to the UK (mostly London) have evolved into book shopping vacations.
As the title suggests, I recently celebrated my birthday. Well, it’s been a month now, but I had to wait for a few books I’d ordered. There’s a lot to show, since I spent quite a bit and Boyfriend has been extremely generous. Let’s jump right into it, shall we?
Lyra and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among the scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. That is until she embarks on a dangerous journey to the frozen North in search of a kidnapped friend. Little does she know that this sets the destiny in motion that has awaited her since birth. Her adventure leads her to talking bears, flying witches and eventually the northern lights, where she might learn more about the mysterious Dust that worries the adults.
I was almost old enough to read Northern Lights when it was first published in 1995, so it’s a shame really that so many years had to pass before I picked up this children’s classic. In my defense, I tried to read it ten years ago around the time that The Golden Compass – which is the US title of the first volume in the His Dark Materials series – movie came out, but couldn’t get into it. Looking back now, I can’t possibly remember why, as there is so much to love about this book.
For starters, Northern Lights has one of the best opening scenes of the children’s books I’ve read so far. Philip Pullman drops you right in the middle of the action, explains nothing and builds up tension and mystery. If he does throw the reader a few crumbs of information, they are rather vague and difficult to understand. Despite it being marketed as a middle grade book, I expect some themes of the series to be lost on young readers. Northern Lights is one of those books that could benefit from a reread a few years down the road.
June had barely started when the literary world lost an icon. Poet and novelist Helen Dunmore died of cancer at the age of 64. During her career she wrote 12 novels, including Orange Prize winner A Spell of Winter, and 10 poetry collections. Fellow writers Antony Beevor, Tracy Chevalier and Jonathan Coe among others paid tribute to Dunmore by praising her writing skills and her kind and generous personality.
Helen Dunmore had only recently revealed her poor diagnosis and had been realistic and acceptive about it.
“The ground beneath my feet has never been more uncertain, but what is sure is that the ambulance has already called and there is no vagueness about my mortality. I may be ill but I’m also warm and sheltered, surrounded by family and friends and with medical help a phone call away.
I think of a young man or woman in the Middle East who has lived less than a third of the years that I’ve enjoyed and is now alone in a cell, tortured, condemned to death, silenced and very likely denied even a funeral.”
June has also been quite the month for literary awards. After weeks of speculation and a strong shortlist to choose from the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction was awarded to Naomi Alderman‘s fourth novel The Power. Many readers had predicted a victory for Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien or the much appreciated Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo, but the judges favoured Alderman’s brilliantly imagined dystopia, her big ideas and her fantastic imagination.
It isn’t the first time that Naomi Alderman is awarded a prestigious prize. Her debut Disobedience won the 2006 Orange Award for New Writers.
May has flown by already and luckily it hasn’t been all Donald Trump and Brexit in the news. Stuff happened in the world that really matters too: the world of books. Obviously, I can’t give you a summary of everything that happened in May; you’d still be reading this blog post by the end of June. So, here’s a compilation of newsworthy stories I found interesting.
Joanna Trollope (Credits: unknown)
J.K. Rowling (Credits: unknown)
The month kicked off with a sneer towards J.K. Rowling. Not – as you would expect – by Twitter trolls picking a fight over her political views. This time she was criticized by fellow author Joanna Trollope. According to the latter, social media are not the kind of platforms for a writer to express his views.