After a very kind December full of not-freezing, sunny days and a beautifully mild Christmas, January has swept in with a vengeance. We’ve been buffeted by gale force winds for the last week (thank you to our wonderful roofer who replaced the seven slates we found in our garden and ensured our roof wouldn’t blow off!), though until this morning we’d managed to avoid the snow. This is the view from our living room window now.
It was definitely a week for cosying up on the couch with a good book, preferably with the fire on and covered in blankets and cats, sharing warming cuddles with all and sundry, which is exactly how I spent my evenings this week.
After finishing up my gargantuan brooch order on Monday I was desperate to get started making a dent in the pile of books that I treated myself to this month (I say myself – most of the household will be reading these!). The past couple of years have been absolutely dreadful for me in terms of fiction reading. With the exception of six books, every book I’ve read in the last two years has been non-fiction, and one of those was a re-read, so technically it’s only five. Five! Shocking. From 1999 until 2011 I consistently read at least fifty two books over the course of the year, usually vastly exceeding that number, but after some major life changes in 2011 my reading habits fell by the wayside. I’m really looking forward to getting back on track in 2015, though I’ve set myself a slightly easier goal than usual to ease myself back into the way of things – thirty six books finished in the year, and no re-reads, which will be the really difficult part!
These are the six books I’m starting the year off with (I know there’s only five in that pile, but I’m still waiting on the last one to arrive!). I’ve been an ardent devotee of mythology, folklore, and fairy tale since I was a wee girl, so I was delighted to find out that the magical realism and mythic fiction genres seem to have exploded since I last devoted any time to fiction reading. I suspect that the majority of my reading choices this year will come from those two categories.
So without further ado, my six books for January!
Witch Light and The Silver Dark Sea by Susan Fletcher
I stumbled across Susan Fletcher entirely by accident when my Mum gave me her first book, Eve Green, after getting it free with a magazine. Mum didn’t like it much, if I recall correctly. I adored it. Susan Fletcher’s beautifully lyrical, meandering style of writing is an absolute delight, and I can’t get enough of it. Witch Light is historical fiction, another of my favourite genres, but more to the point it’s Scottish historical fiction – amazing! Set around the time of the Massacre of Glencoe, it tells the story of a young girl who has been imprisoned for witchcraft. The Silver Dark Sea is also set in Scotland (!), this time on the fictional island of Parla, four years after the small, close-knit community of islanders lose one of their own to the sea. I’m so redonculously excited to see my homeland fleshed out in Susan Fletcher’s dreamlike prose.
The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey
This is not a book I’d necessarily have picked up just from reading the blurb, but it comes highly recommended so I’m giving it a shot. The blurb reads:
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.
When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh.
Melanie is a very special girl.
I’m not usually terribly interested in the dystopian future hook that this book utilises, but after it was described to me as a cross between 28 Days Later and Roald Dahl’s Matilda, I figured it was worth a try.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
My love affair with Neil Gaiman’s writing will hopefully continue with The Ocean at the End of the Lane. This is the story of a man who returns to his childhood home town to attend a funeral, causing buried memories of his time there as a boy to surface. I’m told it has a real fairy tale feel to it. At only two hundred and thirty five pages, this is the shortest of the books in my January haul and I’m looking forward to racing through it.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
I do love a good title, and that’s definitely a good title. This is the first in a five book series about a girl called September who finds herself in Fairyland, tasked with restoring the order there. It’s been described as an Alice In Wonderland for the 21st century so naturally I jumped at the chance to read it, and assuming there’s nothing massively inappropriate in the story I’ll pass this one on to Esme to read once I’ve finished with it.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
This is the first of my January haul that I’ve finished reading. Erin Morgenstern writes beautifully, and the whimsical, poetic nature of her work puts me in mind of Susan Fletcher at times. The Night Circus is a book about duelling illusionists, set in a circus in the late 19th and early 20th century. Morgenstern’s prose populates the world of the circus so thoroughly that it’s an absolute delight for the senses. The little nods to Shakespeare throughout the book are delightful, and the steps forwards and backwards in time and multiple character perspectives keep your brain in gear, just in case you were getting a little too lost in one of the myriad of magical attractions that Morgenstern offers up to your imagination. The plot is a slow burner but it’s worth the wait. I loved this book. It put me in mind of two of my most favourite books: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and the magnificent Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. If you enjoyed either of these, or enjoy magical realism in general, you’ll love The Night Circus, and I highly recommend picking up a copy.
So that’s my reading plan for January. If you want to keep up with what I’m reading you can add me on Goodreads, and if you have any reading recommendations for me, please leave them in the comments! What are you reading just now?