Books With The (Somewhat) Dreaded Book Travelling Syndrome

Book Travelling Syndrome Definition: the art of getting so lost in your own story that plot, character and everything else is forgotten in favour of random adventures

Yes, I made the term up, and no, it’s not taking off. I feel like the response to this post could be very Mean Girls…

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Whatever- it’s totally a thing. And I know it’s a thing, cos it’s something I’ve struggled with as a writer. So I’ve decided to compile a list breaking it down, into the good, the bad, and, well you get the idea- enjoy:

The Good

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The Hobbit– Yup, even my beloved Hobbit has it, that’s why I got it into my head that this was a good idea in the first place (as I explained here). I won’t say I have no regrets about this cos it’s not always a great storytelling strategy. At least, most of the time, as we’ll come to see…

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Neverending Story– again, this book tricked me your honour, cos sure it has “neverending” in the title, which would imply boredom, but this is *far* from boring. In fact, it’s one of the most entertaining books I’ve ever read. I owe it so much as a story- but also *shakes fist* curse you for filling my head with so many bad structuring mechanisms.

The Bad

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Eragon– really not the worst book on this list- but it does meander about a lot pointlessly.

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Phantastes– it’s alright, but it has plenty of pointless meandering about and is quite forgettable.

And the Ugly…

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Eye of the World– I’m sorry to disappoint fans of this book, but oh-my-gawd I was so bored with this! I think this was like a sledgehammer over the head that book travelling *doesn’t always work*- so I guess some thanks is in order, in a way.

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Wise Man’s Fear– one of the most disappointing sequels I have ever read. And one of the worst things about it was all the unnecessary different places (inevitably where Kvothe would pick up another skill, then be on his merry, ambling way).

Hope you enjoyed that very random post- my cold-smothered brain thought was a good idea… What books do you think suffer from book travelling syndrome? Let me know in the comments!

My Top Ten Fantasy Books

I’m very excited about today’s post! A couple of days ago, I mentioned how Red Sister had the power of reminding me about why I had fallen in love with fantasy. And as I was doing the post, I realised I have never done a post about my favourite fantasy books.

Ever since being obsessed with Peter Pan as a child, I have always loved escaping to other worlds in books. And since these are *my* personal favourites, this post is about to get super nostalgic up in here 😉

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1. The Hobbit– although I will give an honorary mention to LOTR, this one was always my favourite of Tolkein’s work. More than that, it was my gateway drug for fantasy and the main reason why I love dragons #TeamSmaug

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2. His Dark Materials– this is another one I remember from childhood and it’s stayed with me over the years as one of the best series I have ever read.

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3. The Abhorsen Trilogy– ahh I cannot say how much I loved this book- I was obsessed with it in my teens and used to take it out the library over and over to reread it back to back. To my mind it’s the *perfect* dark fantasy and the best story about necromancy I have ever read.

the novice

4. Black Magicians Trilogy– so this is a funny one to include, because I didn’t initially like this series. I felt letdown by the first book and only continued because the last part picked up enough to have me intrigued about where it was going. I was so glad I con tinued though, because by the end of this series I had fallen in love with the characters and became so invested in the series that I was *wrecked* when it was all over. So yeah, definitely top ten material.

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5. Seven Realms Series– I can’t actually think of another series with characters I’ve loved more. This series is nothing totally original, but man, does it get you with the *feels*.

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6. Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy– this is one of the very rare series I’ve rated 5* across the board- and for good reason! Call me a sucker for a good romance, this series had love interests I was actually routing for the whole way through. Add an incredibly clever storyline and utterly unique world-building and, *bobs your uncle*, you get one of the best series I’ve ever read.

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7. Carry On– I absolutely adored this book. I wrote a post titled “ten reasons to read Carry On”- but to be honest, I could probably think of ten more! Not least because it is such a fun book that for a change doesn’t take itself too seriously. I love how it subtly pokes fun at the genre, whilst also delivering some the most emotional and interesting storylines to date! And speaking of funny books…

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8. Anansi Boys– oh man do I love this book!! Yeah, I’m a Gaiman fan- and proud of it! This one is easily my favourite (though I won’t say no to anything he’s written to be honest)

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9. Discworld Series– come on- did anyone not see this coming? And for the record, my favourite to date is Mort.

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10. Neverending Story– this is the most recently read book on this list, but it *easily* made it onto this favourites list. One of the best books I read last year, it is self-aware, smart and very imaginative. Plus, it’s a book about books- and you know how much I adore those!

So I like to think there will be others to add to my list of fantasy favourites one day- and I can already think of some candidates from series I’ve not finished yet… but for now…

that's all folks

(actually can’t believe that I’ve never used that joke before)

How about you? What are your favourite fantasy books? Let me know in the comments!

“Every Real Story is a Neverending Story”

*Since this is somewhat analytical, there will be spoilers*

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So this is one of those books that was just sitting on my tbr for ever and ever- it was thanks to a recommendation from the lovely Zezee that I finally took the plunge and picked it up. And I’m so glad I did!! Because this book was just *wow*.

I’ve mentioned before that I LOVE books about reading- and this is pretty much as good as it gets. It is “the book of books!” And that is no overstatement. Right from the word go- I knew this was going to be a book I related to so much.

“If you have never wept bitter tears because a wonderful story has come to an end and you must take your leave of the characters with whom you have shared so many adventures, whom you have loved and admired, for whom you have hoped and feared, and without whose company life seems empty and meaningless.

If such things have not been part of your own experience, you probably won’t understand what Bastian did next.”

Part of what makes this so clever is how it toys with the notion of reading. Reading is in many ways about finding the truth- hence the conflict between truth and lies in the story. The author elevates these messages with religious undertones, such as using the godlike all-knowing Childlike Empress. At the start of the story she sends Atreyu on a mission, all the while knowing the outcome, because the lessons of the story can only be learnt through the journey. In many ways, it is a parable of the quest for truth.

“Only the right name gives beings and things their reality. A wrong name makes everything unreal. That’s what lies do.”

More than that, even, the story shows how books can illuminate the real world. The book therefore takes us on an emotional journey of self-discovery. Through Atreyu’s journey, the book illustrates how a story can relate to the reader. I adored the interactive element of the story and Bastian’s own relationship with its messages. So much of it had a dual meaning, relating back to Bastian’s own struggle in reality, such as the Swamps of Sadness being a visual metaphor for his father’s struggle with depression.

“The Nothing is spreading,” groaned the first. “It’s growing and growing, there’s more of it every day, if it’s possible to speak of more nothing.”

Through symbols such as these, the interplay of reader with the story is enhanced. In a move that felt reminiscent of Barthes’ “Death of the Author”, Bastian’s interpretation becomes central to the plot of the Neverending Story that he reads, until eventually he is sucked into the story. Here the book plays with the structure, bringing the beginning into the middle of the story, so that there can be a greater exploration of what it is to affect a story and be affected in turn. The message is clear: we rewrite stories with our own experiences and are rewritten by stories as we allow them to change us.

“You must live your story.”

However, the book also explores the danger of getting lost in the story and the need to rejoin reality. The danger being that if you forget reality, you will not be able to bring back the lessons you have learnt. Bastian comes very close to making this grave error- and nearly forgets to return so that he can save his father (from himself) in the real world. Here the theme of the story going on after it’s finished is most evident. In this way the book is truly never ending because you take the messages into the real world and live them. That is how “every real story is a neverending story”. In fact, so much of the story is how it is never ending, because there is a sense that the book and the world of Fantastica go on even after you turn the last page.

“But that is another story and shall be told another time.”

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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Have you read the Neverending Story? Are you going to? And what is your favourite book about reading? Let me know in the comments!