Wednesday, 10 October 2018

A 'Beginning of Fall' Book Haul


Is anyone else unreasonably excited by the fact that autumn is now officially here? I've spent the whole of summer ready for this seasonal change, not least because the autumnal equinox coincides with my birthday (so double the reason to celebrate)! As I mentioned in one of my most recent posts (8 Books to Conjure that Cosy Autumn Feeling), autumn is always super significant with regards to my reading habits. As soon as the weather changes, so too do my bookish cravings. This year has been no different and my to-read pile is stacked with various unread novels that lend themselves to dark evenings and big cups of tea (or, more likely, hot chocolate). 

Similar to bears preparing themselves for hibernation, my nesting habits involve an unreasonable amount of book buying. I can't enter the autumn without a good stack of books ready to assist my complete rejection of the outside world. Autumn and winter are the seasons of many important things but my favourite feature is undoubtedly the fact that I no longer need an excuse to choose evenings-in as my preferred way of spending time. To ready myself, I've spent the past few weeks making trips to different bookshops and building a collection of novels ready to accompany me through the rest of the year. I think that today's post is the perfect opportunity to usher in the season, with an overview of my September 'ready for autumn' book haul!

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens: Autumn, for me, is the season of Dickens. My birthday almost always generates a pretty immediate impulse to pull out one of his books. I'm sure that this is a combination of his atmospheric descriptions and my exclusive association of winter with The Muppet Christmas Carol. I picked up David Copperfield at one of my local independent bookshops (since moving to St. Louis, I've been really surprised to find that there are a lot of great independent bookshops around - I'm sure that I'll post more on this in the future). David Copperfield is one of the few Dickens novels that I haven't already read. In fact, it's largely his most reputed and famous works that are still on my to-read list. I figured that this autumn would be a great opportunity to tick off some more of his incredible novels.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: Anyone who is familiar with The Book Habit from back in the day will probably be shocked by the fact that I've yet to read Great Expectations. It's a novel that has eluded me over the years. Somewhat surprisingly, I never actually read any Dickens at school. Everything of his that I've read has been very much a solo endeavour. So, while most of you will likely be acquainted with Great Expectations or A Tale of Two Cities from your school days, these are two that I've yet to read. However, I could truly talk for days about Our Mutual Friend and Bleak House, so maybe this just means that my reading habits are edgily off-trend.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee: One of my favourite occupations is going out at 9pm to our nearest Barnes and Noble and spending the later part of my evening trawling the shelves. Don't get me wrong, I do my best to support independent bookshops as much as possible - and I generally balance my book-buying accordingly. However, nothing beats a late night visit to one of the few shops to be open into the evening. Going to Barnes and Noble without any particular intentions is always my favourite way to shop for books. I've discovered so many incredible novels this way (this is an experience that Amazon absolutely cannot replicate). I saw Pachinko on a few separate trips but, for whatever reason, skirted past it. Eventually, something must have grabbed my eye and, after a read of the first few pages, I was hooked. This story of Korean immigrants in Japan is one that I'm incredibly excited to read.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders: Another product of a late-night trip to Barnes and Noble. I've seen Lincoln in the Bardo hailed as one of the best books in recent years (it was originally published in 2017). It has won the Man Booker Prize and secured a position on the '2017 100 Notable Books' list from the New York Times. One of the ways that I'm coping with being an immigrant in a country currently experiencing such incredible political turmoil is by trying to immerse myself in its history as far as possible. During times of particular social division, it can be difficult to recall a period when political disagreement looked different from the violence and vitriol that currently seems to exist everywhere. Lincoln in the Bardo is a novel about President Lincoln, following the death of his son. The New York Times Book review called this novel "a luminous feat of generosity and humanism." Since these are two things of which we are deeply in need, I'm hoping this novel will help to clear my head a little.

The Illustrated Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (illustrated by Dame Darcy): Can anyone ever really have enough copies of their favourite book? Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre are two novels of which I own multiple copies. They didn't even get lost in the great book cull of 2017 (in which I was sadly forced to part with roughly 80% of my book collection - overseas shipping costs are no joke). When I saw this illustrated version of Jane Eyre, I couldn't resist. The fact that I got it in a book sale at one of my favourite local bookshops only helped to hurry the transaction. Although I have minor fears of impacting my reputation as a *serious* reader, I have to admit that I absolutely love illustrated versions of classic novels. Not only am I convinced that cool and quirky illustrations make classics accessible to people who wouldn't otherwise attempt to tackle them, they're also just aesthetically pleasing. Unsurprisingly, I'm obsessed with this very gothic copy of Jane Eyre.

A close-up of the cover. These illustrations are incredible!

The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman: Reading the His Dark Materials trilogy was one of the highlights of my young life. Meeting Philip Pullman and having him sign my copy of The Amber Spyglass was the definitive highlight. I have to confess that I haven't really kept up with Pullman's work post-His Dark Materials. I did try to read a couple of the books that he put out but, for various reasons, they didn't manage to grip me or create any lasting impressions. That said, I was incredibly excited to get a copy of The Book of Dust for my birthday, from my lovely grandma. This book is essentially a renewal of his famous trilogy, albeit following a new main character - Malcolm Polstead. I'm so excited to return to the world of His Dark Materials and indulge the part of myself that still very much believes it's the late '90s.

So there we have it! All of my most recent acquisitions. Don't be fooled into thinking that these will carry me through the year, however. This week has seen a couple of important new releases that I'm already working to secure for my to-read pile! One of these releases also coincides with an amazing author event that I'm attending on Saturday and which I'll give you the scoop on next week. So stay tuned for that. 

If you have any of your own recent reads or purchases to recommend, let me know in the comments! I'm always looking for any excuse to keep rebuilding my demolished collection.

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