Welcome to another instalment of What I'm Reading Wednesday. I hope that you all enjoyed last week's guest post by Isabella from LOVE and WARdrobe. It certainly gave me an excuse to dip back into my Jeeves and Wooster collection (not that I needed one). With some more guest posts booked in over the coming weeks, I thought that I would take the opportunity of a vacant post to update you on my current reads, and share a snapshot of the reviews that are in the works.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
I read a review of this particular book quite recently on the website of a fellow book blogger (I would link to it but my brain is in exam revision mode and therefore disregarding all extraneous details). Mostly, reading reviews acts as a fairly abstract signpost for me in terms of books to add to my enormous 'To Read' list. The length of this list means that it is often quite some time before a book actually finds itself in my hands. But the review of The Shadow of the Wind was so appealing that the book was able to make the almost unprecedented move straight into my Amazon shopping basket. Written by Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafon and set in the beautifully diverse Barcelona, the novel follows the young Daniel Sempere as he attempts to unravel the mystery of the enigmatic author, Julian Carax. After stumbling upon the only remaining copy of Carax's The Shadow of the Wind (yes, same title), Daniel finds himself pursued by an individual of uncertain identity who is hell-bent on obtaining and burning the last of Carax's work.
I'm currently about half way through this novel and it has so far surpassed expectations. It is decadent in its description and style, but without pretension. Daniel's frequent visits to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books are certainly amongst the highlights (we all know about my ill-concealed penchant for a good fictitious library setting). I am completely in love with this book and already anticipating the upcoming review!
Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
This read also comes as something of a confession. Because I am fully aware that admitting I have yet to read Farenheit 451 will have a number of you throwing up your arms in despair. There is no particular reason for my failure to confront this novel and it has been occupying a space on Bookstack Number 3 for quite some time now. However, my problem with Michael Grant's Gone has provoked me to throw myself into a dystopian novel of certain calibre. While Farenheit 451's status as a 'classic' is no guarantee, it definitely offers some reassurance. The novel follows the fireman Guy Montag, charged with burning prohibited books and the houses that are found to contain them. Mirroring the intellectual awakening that serves as the heart of George Orwell's 1984, Farenheit 451 depicts Guy's confrontation with the reality of a society built on censorship and the prohibition of dissent.
My decision to finally give this novel a read also coincides with my ongoing project to set up a Bookcrossing at London's Firebox cafe. Given my obsession with all things Orwellian, it should come as no surprise that I hold a major place in my heart for banned books the world-over. So, in the process of planning a launch event for the Bookcrossing, I have already decided that the focus will be on censorship and the political power of the written word (if you know anything about the Firebox, you will understand this particular connection). Reading Farenheit 451 ties in nicely with this and means that I can justify eschewing exam revision as 'research' for my event planning.
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
Chocolat is not a book that I had any familiarity with before picking it up in the local Oxfam bookshop. I have subsequently learnt that it has been turned into a film, starring Juliet Binoche and Johnny Depp. Quite how there is a Johnny Depp film that I have no knowledge of is worrying. But, adhering to the general view that it is always better to read a book before seeing the film version, I am glad that events have worked out in this way.
Given my fairly recent admission that I have little familiarity with contemporary French literature, it is fantastic that a couple of opportunities to dip into the category have presented themselves. Chocolat is set in the small village of Lansquenet, opening as Vianne Rocher arrives to open a chocolate shop. Working contrary to the principles of self-denial that dominate this conservative environment, Vianne finds herself engaged in a battle of wills with the local priest, leaving a community divided.
*Disclaimer: I am a little worried that this book will give me an excessive craving for chocolate. If I emerge from reading it two stone heavier, you will all know why.
So those are my three ongoing projects, with some hopefully resounding recommendations coming your way shortly! Stay tuned for those. Plus, check back on Saturday for a truly fantastic Harry Potter-related Giveaway!