Quote Challenges – Favourite First Lines: Day 6

Hello all! I’m still at it with these favourite first line posts 😀 Here are the rules in case you’ve missed them:

Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Post a quote for 3 consecutive days (1 quote for each day)
  • Nominate three new bloggers each day

Thanks so much to chomeuse with a chou– her stories about things going on in her life are always super entertaining! If you want to read fun, engaging post, you need to check her out!

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Enigmatic, intriguing and inspiring- I frickin adore the opening to Shadow of the Wind (and the rest of the book!) I don’t think there’s anything else to say other than that.

I tag:

Stuck in Fiction, Paper Royalty and Bookishly Rebecca

Who else has taken a trip to the Cemetery of Forgotten books? Let me know in the comments!

Books That I Think Will Be Future Classics

No doubt whatever I put on this list will be controversial for academics and bookworms alike. So I do want to clear some things up: I’m specifically going for “classics” in the academic sense, not “stand the test of time” books (there is, in my humble opinion, a difference). You’ll probably be able to note the books that I think are simply wonderful, but that don’t fit well enough into that category. This is a combination of books I personally admire and my own experience of the canon, not what I think the most popular books of our time are and I do hope people won’t be offended by what is/isn’t on here. And obviously, this doesn’t mean that I think I’ll be right, because who knows what the future holds? University students might very well end up studying Noddy in 2200 for all I know- at least I won’t be around to see it 😉 Without further ado, here are some books that I reckon *should*/*will be* the classics of the future:

The Book Thief– I hadn’t mentioned this book in ages… and now I’m mentioning it twice in a week- figures 😉 It is an *amazing*, inventive and emotional book. I definitely think this is the sort of book that would be worth delving into a little deeper, whether or not it does end up getting studied in the future- at least in schools surely!

Homegoing– a modern day epic, spanning centuries, it’s a remarkable piece of literature. With so many embedded themes and stunning writing, I’d be amazed if this didn’t end up on a university syllabus in the future.

Memoirs of a Geisha- Again, I’ve mentioned this recently, but I do think it’s a singularly striking story. I think this already has the label of “modern day classic”- but I don’t set much stock in that label. Most of the time it seems like a marketing ploy to be honest. However, when it comes to this book it’s pretty apt.

Never Let Me Go– yep, this also falls into that category of “modern day classic”- yet it’s fully deserving of that moniker. The writing, while unshowy, is very powerful and there’s a lot of fascinating themes about what it is to be human here. I certainly think it’s worth studying in greater depth.

A Thousand Splendid Suns– I know a lot of people would put the Kite Runner ahead of this- and I’ve no doubt that both will end up as future classics. The reason I put this ahead of Hosseini’s other books is quite simply because I love it so much!! Beyond the emotional depth, the writing is seductively beautiful and the story itself speaks to the human experience.

The Shadow of the Wind– I’m trying to not include books in translation, but I can’t help it with this one, because what a gem this book is! In any language, this book speaks to my soul and truly captures the essence of what it is to fall in love with stories. There’s so much here to admire- the characters, the multi-layered story and the wonderful writing. I certainly think there’s grounds for further exploration of its literary merit.

The Northern Lights– this could be hit or miss, because there’s a snob-value that goes into these decisions, and depending on the university, some do not see fantasy like the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings as a classic (they’re wrong, but whatever). Purely going on my own experience at a redbrick, this could be studied…

Neverwhere– again, I can’t say for certain that this will end up as a future classic- but it definitely deserves to be. Unlike a lot of the books on here, this isn’t my favourite by the author (though it’s wonderful), only I think this is the best example of all the symbolism and intrigue that Gaiman has to offer. I do know someone that did their dissertation partly on American Gods, so it’s not totally implausible as well.

There are a couple of other books that I’d like to put on here but I’m a bit more sceptical about whether they’d make it into the canon (even if I think they should). In the meantime, which books do you think will be future classic? Let me know in the comments!

Bookish Wanderlust for January Blues

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Well, I don’t know about you this month, but I’m definitely experiencing the January blues. It’s still pretty grim out, my reading slump is only just beginning to shift and I’ve got another cold (wtf is wrong with my immune system lately?!). Which is why I think it’s the perfect time to start thinking about a quick getaway… and by getaway, for us shall-we-say financially strapped bookworms, I mean rushing to the bookstore and reading about some lovely and impossible farflung places. And to make this even more fun, I’ve picked books with some real world locations you can actually visit. So hold on tight and here we g-o-o-o….

daughter of smoke and bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone– as you might be able to tell from my review the other day, this book has some *wonderful* descriptions of real world places, starting with Prague. What I didn’t mention, however, is that this book has *tons more* locations and the story spins across planets. Yup- that’s right, this book can take you out of this world! (and you won’t have to wait for Virgin’s space programme to get going 😉 )

bear and the nightingale

Bear and the Nightingale– *one day* I will go to Russia (I just want the opportunity to sing “St Petersburg is gloomy, St Petersburg is bleak…”- who’s with me?!) but if you’re like me and can’t exactly do that right now- NEVER FEAR- this book can transport you in both time and place. And the second one, Girl in the Tower, involves far more excursions. This is a trip perfect for the historically minded (fairy tale obsessed) traveller 😉 Speaking of fairy tales…

a song for summer

A Song for Summer– In my opinion, Eva Ibbotson was *the queen* at making history fairytale-esque and transporting the reader to faraway lands. One rather neglected book I’d recommend is A Song for Summer which takes you to the Austrian countryside, at the brink of WW2. It’s a wonderfully romantic story and if you fancy feeling like you’re somewhere else, this is perfect.

shadow of the wind

Shadow of the Wind– ahh Barcelona- one of the most beautiful cities in the world- that’s the glorious setting of Zafon’s remarkable series and boy does he bring it to life! With evocative description, a mysterious story and an eerie sense of the supernatural lurking, this book is what I recommend for anyone feeling restless for some sun, yet doesn’t mind a few chills along the way. But of course, if sun is all you’re looking for…

Sisterhood_of_the_Traveling_Pants_book_cover

Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants– as the title suggests there’s some different locations in this and some girl friendship and a little bit of magic 😉 I’d recommend this for anyone looking to just rock up on a beach for a book and whose down for a summer fling 😉 Still, if it’s romance you crave, there’s something even better on offer…

return of the native

Return of the Native– one of Hardy’s more romantic works and often his most popular novel. What makes this even more perfect for this list is Hardy’s remarkable ability to characterise the landscape of his Wessex (dubbed after the Medieval term for the area of Southwest England). This is, in my opinion, one of the finest examples of that. What’s even better is if you visit Hardy’s Wessex you can tread a lot of the same paths as the characters and even see where Hardy’s mad wife lived (in an attic, as per her request, she was a bit bonkers- read some of her diary if you don’t believe me 😉 ) Here you can stay with one foot in the real world and another just on the brink of imagination. If you want to go *full on magic*, well then look no further than…

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_Cover

Harry Potter– not only is the wizarding world *amazing* but there’s also some wonderful real life places you can go. I’m not gonna pretend I get the whole “let’s go to King’s Cross and pose by a random wall” thing (sorry, I’ve been there loads to catch a train and don’t find it particularly glamorous) BUT I used to live in Edinburgh and let me tell you, there was clear inspiration for JK up there- everything from Teviot (the student union) to Greyfriars Bobby Cemetery ( ❤ ) with some very famous residents… Side note, if you ever do find yourself up there, do go to the Elephant House cos it’s beautiful and niche (though a little pricey) not for the HP graffitied toilet- please.

 

inkheart-trilogy

Inkheart series– okay when it comes to trying to make this real world setting, this one is pushing it. HOWEVER I think this is such a fun book to put on the list, because it’s a book about stories coming to life and as the series progresses it becomes about entering stories. How awesome is that? If you fancy a trip somewhere completely unique then book your ticket today 😉

six of crows

Six of Crows– again, this is stretching the rules a bit, because this isn’t a real world destination. BUT it is based on Amsterdam and that certainly comes across in the books. I loved the way Bardugo brought the location to life in her books, incorporated elements of the trading and canals and generally made it feel true to the real world, but with a twist. It also involves a heist in Scandinavia- which is probably more dramatic than a lot of book travellers are expecting. More for the adventurous tourist I’d say 😉 Speaking of more daredevil types…

city of masks

City of Masks– VENICE, HISTORY, ADVENTURE- need I say more? I think this is a pretty underrated series to be honest and the first is one of my favourite books set in Venice. Well, an alternative Venice 500 years before our time, where silver is more valuable than gold- interesting right? Not exactly for history buffs, but you’ll get more than you bargained for out of this- it’s quite the journey.

Now we’ve come to the end of the road 😉 Do you fancy a trip to any of these bookish worlds? And do you have any bookish locations to recommend me? Let me know in the comments!

“All true stories begin and end in a cemetery”: Review of Shadow of the Wind

shadow of the wind*Warning: be prepared for some serious gushing*

Invisible
Wow, just wow. This book is in a whole other league of brilliance. It is a rare book indeed that captures the soul of storytelling and can remind you why you started reading in the first place. Shadow of the Wind is one of those rare finds that speaks to the heart of readers, captures the essence of what it is to be drawn into the world of a book and somehow reminds you of what it was to fall in love with reading in the first place:

“Few things leave a deeper mark on the reader, than the first book that finds its way to his heart.”

But it is not just a book that reminds you of all the pleasures of reading. There are layers and layers to the story that I was not expecting. Above all, this is a mystery built on layers and layers of exquisitely woven narrative. Unravelling the secrets of the plot is half the fun.

“It’s a story of love, of hatred, and of the dreams that live in the shadow of the wind.”

Beyond the plot, the cadence of the writing is incomparable. It moved me beyond words- and that is saying something. Whilst it is a slow-burner, Zafon masterfully draws the reader into an evocative vision of Barcelona- a vision that captured the rhythm and sensation of the city wonderfully. At the centre of this vision, the characters shine. Characters that capture not only the spirit of readers, but the very essence of writers as well:

“His soul is in his stories. I once asked him who inspired him to create his characters, and his answer was no one. That all his characters were himself.”

Undoubtedly, this is one of the most immersive, lyrical, beautiful books I have read in a long time. You know when you’ve found a perfect book because you devour it as fast as possible, and yet you want to savour it and make it last forever. My one disappointment with this book was that it had to come to an end. And when it did end, I was left with one of the worst book hangovers I’ve had in a long time. But then, it is almost a perfect irony that a book about obsessing over a book should bring out such obsessive tendencies in me. As Zafon said so eloquently:

“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.”

So if you fancy finding the obsessive reader in yourself, I really recommend this book.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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Gosh, a huge part of me wishes there was a book hangover hotline to call when a book takes over your life! What was the last case of book hangover you had? Commiserate with me in the comments below!