(Or: A Mini Account Of The Books I’ve Read So Far This Year)
Ever since Harry Potter changed my life when I was eight years old, I’ve always loved to read fantasy. I’m under the impression that we watch movies and read books for escapism, and if I’m gonna be escaping my own mundane existence, I’d rather jump into the life of someone who flies around on dragons instead of someone who has the same problems as I do. I bet if I had ‘Mother of Dragons’ written on my CV, I’d stop getting job rejection emails all the time. Fire cannot kill a dragon.
To fill the empty void that is my existence, I decided to do the 2014 Reading Challenge over on Goodreads. I initially set the bar at thirty books, ‘cause I don’t know how my year is gonna look, but I might set a higher goal when I finally find out what is going on with my life. So far, I’ve only read a shameful four books, so I’m one behind schedule. Though it’s not through lack of trying; I’ve downloaded like five different samples onto my Nook this week and have found a problem with all of them. Such is the life of a picky reader.
Two of the books I’ve read so far have come from various booktuber suggestions, one was something I’ve been meaning to read for a few months, and the other was one I’ve been excited about for two years. The latter, Hollow City by Ransom Riggs, the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (a book that I didn’t think I’d love as much as I did), is the only fantasy novel I’ve read this year. It definitely didn’t disappoint me, being just as adventure-filled and creepy as the original. The pictures make it a really unique reading experience, and I’m super excited for the Tim Burton directed film adaptation that’s coming up. It definitely reads like a Tim Burton film. I did have a tendency to forget who was who and what their power was, which is something that has haunted me throughout my entire time reading fantasy. But it was the second novel I read this year and it definitely made me excited to get back into reading again, after a really slow couple of years drowning in Elizabethan literature at university.
The third book I read this year was the one I’ve been meaning to read for forever. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith, AKA J.K. Rowling. I was very nervous about getting into this book. Harry Potter has been such a huge part of my life (cries every twentysomething and teenager in the world), but The Casual Vacancy just didn’t do it for me, so much so that I never actually finished it. Admittedly, I only downloaded Cuckoo because it was 99p in the Nook store, but wow, I am so glad I did. I was instantly hooked. Strike was such a likeable narrator, very flawed but with enough redeemable qualities to make him believable. I soon found myself reading it constantly. Like, all the time. When I woke up, when I was eating, when I was falling asleep (which let’s face it, is pretty much my whole day). I needed to know who the killer was. It took over my life. I’ll admit that some of deductions Strike makes are a bit ‘ehhhhh, if you say so’, but I’m not very well versed in the likes of crime novels, so maybe it’s just something that’s reminiscent across the whole genre. I’ve always avoided them because my mother practically devours James Patterson’s books, but I really don’t trust someone who vomits out like eleven books a year.
But the first and fourth books I read this year are what this post was supposed to be about, before my ‘I love J.K. Rowling’ tangent. The first was Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando. I’m not sure if I was having some weird post-graduation hysteria, but it marked the first of two books I’ve read this year about girls going off to college. It was a cute read, alternating between the narrations of Elizabeth and Lauren. It included both their normal prose narrations of life, and the emails and texts that they send one another before they meet. Because you get the two different accounts of the conversation, you really get to see their friendship develop. Like I said, it was cute. The characters are likeable and I never found myself picking favourites over the other. I was invested in their stories, even if I found them a bit cliché at times. But it was the perfect brain mush book I needed to get me into the new year.
The most recent book I read was Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, an author I have heard a lot about. Initially, I looked into reading her novel Eleanor & Park, but after I saw Fangirl I knew that it was the one. I think I preferred it to Roomies, I found it less predictable and it had some nice little twists and turns along the way. And I totally loved Cath, the protagonist. Her love of the fictional Simon Snow is definitely representative of how so many people feel about Harry Potter (hey, we came full circle!). Between each chapter was a little snippet from either the Simon Snow books or Cath’s own fanfiction about them. It was really fun getting into the mind of a fanfiction writer, because it’s never really a part of the fandom I got into (okay, maybe I read a little bit of Marauders era stuff, shush). The fears Cath had about college were the ones I had too, so it was interesting for me to read it as a graduate and see parts of little eighteen year old me in the protagonist.
I know I’ve only read four books so far, but it’s not often I get to say ‘only 25% of the books I’ve read this year have been fantasy!’ I’m still definitely first and foremost a fantasy fan, but I am going to try and broaden my book horizons a little more this year, instead of fantasy world after fantasy world after fantasy world. Sometimes you need a little break from all the dragons. Not often, but sometimes.