I’d always thought that Brontë’s Jane Eyre would be something along the lines of an Austen story… long, tedious and based solely around trying to win the man (my previous reviews of Austen haven’t been the most glowing).
And yes, Jane Eyre seemed to start along those lines, until page 130 when the mysteriousness of Mr Rochester’s attic was introduced, followed by eerie wailings and laughter at all hours. Suddenly, we had a story worth reading!
I expected bleak, and bleak was what I got. I think I’d been warned by someone a few year’s ago who read it, or I’d seen the previews for the TV series… so I knew full-well this wasn’t going to be a fun, light-hearted read.
After Moby Dick, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for another 200-odd days at sea. But this time the journey was shared with a tiger and a few other zoo animals and only talked once about whales.
I had actually planned to add a bit of non-fiction to my reading list, and I asked a few key people at work for recommendations on inspirational books they’d read lately. I was expecting a bit of Simon Sinek or Brené Brown… when my trusted mentor answered, without hesitation, ‘You have to read the Life of Pi.’
‘Have they seen the whale yet?’
So this post needs a big SPOILER ALERT! I have something I’d like to complain about and if you’re planning on reading Moby Dick any time soon (which you should, by the way) you might like to stop right here.
I’ve warned you, right? Now I can go on.
I’d never understood the appeal of fantasy. I’d read just a handful of fantasy books in my life, and pretty much all of them left me rolling my eyes and scoffing, “as if that would ever happen!” Sure, I enjoyed the storylines and that feeling of adventure, but I couldn’t see how the addition of a goblin or a wizard was adding anything to the story. When I critiqued an early version of my friend’s brilliant and now published novel Game Bird, I (embarrassingly) wrote in the margin in red pen, ‘It’s a great story… but could be better if you just took out the dragons.’ I’m glad he completely disregarded that one!
When I came to The Hobbit in my 100 Book Challenge I didn’t have high hopes. And then everything changed…
I have a confession to make. I got caught up in the COVID-19 panic-buying that happened in late March. But mine wasn’t toilet paper or hand sanitiser: it was books.
I remember the day clearly. We’d had dinner, I’d put the kids to bed. I thought I’d check my phone one last time before heading upstairs (never a good idea) and saw that all museums, art galleries and LIBRARIES would be closed… indefinitely.
Our little 3-year-old has grown so much in the year since I posted Top 10 books loved by my (other) 2 year old. She’s understanding much more complicated storylines, and has an amazing attention span when she’s curled up listening to her favourites books.
She’s started recognising words and sounding out letters (watching her older brother go through kindergarten last year has definitely helped her with that!) and I’m pretty sure she’ll be reading by herself before my next post next year. Her favourite books were hard to pick – there’s been so many in the last 12 months – but the below selection have really stood out.
1. Harry in a Hurry by Timothy Knapman
The 3-year-old still loves rabbits as much as she did when she was two, and I bought this book for her when I was away travelling with work. Harry the hare races around on his scooter so fast that he misses the destruction he’s leaving behind… until he crashes into a pond and is rescued by the super. slow. tortoise. Tom (who takes all afternoon just to blow his nose).
It was an intriguing title that sounded light and fun, and I thought it might be just what I needed after 5 weeks of the dense emotional roller-coaster of Love in the Time of Cholera. It didn’t disappoint: I enjoyed reading every word.
In the book, teenage Christopher tries to solve the mystery of who killed his neighbour’s dog. As we read on, it’s clear that he sees the world in a unique way – through numbers and facts – and that he struggles with most human interactions.
I started reading this one in February 2020, coincidentally at the exact same time that our lives were flipped upside down because of COVID-19. ‘Love in the time of COVID’ became my private little joke as I made my way through this first (of two) García Márquez books listed in my 100 book challenge.