Personal Canon

After Jillian wrote her “personal canon” list (the books that have most impacted her), she asked me to do one too. Here it is, Jillian; I hope you like it. You did say that you like reading people’s emotional responses to books—so here I am, emoting absolutely all over the place. (There is a spoiler in here about Tenant of Wildfell Hall, in case anyone is concerned about that). Continue reading

Fifty favourites: April 2017

Inspired by Jillian, and entirely for my own pleasure and amusement, I’ve made a list of my favourite fifty novels. The first ten are in a Strict Descending Order of Belovedness, but it gets a bit more lax after that. She did hers in January, like a sensible person, but I am doing mine in April, like a person deep into thesis procrastination. If I remember, I’ll review the list in a year or two, and see how it’s changed. I’ve been incredibly inconsistent about whether I count a series as one entry or multiple, but hey, it’s my list. I couldn’t possibly pick my favourite Swallows and Amazons book, for example—it’s always whichever one I’ve read most recently. Some of these are books I will never read again, because they are too devastating—others I pick up at least once a year. A handful of these I read as a child or young teenager, and they might actually be terrible and I am being nostalgic. Continue reading

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells

Hmmmppppphhhh. I have reached that stage of my PhD that all postgrads eventually hit: I hate it, I wish I’d taken that nice student health visitor post when I had the chance, do you know how much I’d be earning by now, 70 hours a week is too many hours to work, I’m probably going to fail anyway… If you’ve been through the process yourself, you know. You know. It’s looking likely that this is going to be the case until June at the earliest. Continue reading

Lord of the Rings: a love letter

Lord of the Rings holds a place in my heart that will never be taken by any other book. Although I’ve mentioned here and there on this blog that it’s long been one of my favourites, I don’t think I’ve ever unpacked exactly why I love it so much. I thought I’d do so here. Now, in case the title wasn’t sufficiently clear, I am not going to even attempt objectivity here. I am not going to engage with any of the criticisms that could be made of Tolkien. This post is a thank you to Lord of the Rings, and to Tolkien, for having brought so much joy into my life on so many occasions. Continue reading

Five Favourites 2016

2016 hasn’t been a fantastic reading year for me. I don’t know why. Lots of books I read were just *fine*… not bad, but not remarkably good either. However, I did find a handful of books that stood out amid the ones that didn’t really register, so here we go. None of them were perfect in the same way that I found Gilead, Lonesome Dove, and Gaudy Night perfect last year, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t still great. I didn’t actually review any of these books here, so it’s nice to have an opportunity to bring them up. Continue reading

Favourite Fictional Friendships

So, I was on Twitter at 1 a.m. a few days ago (good anecdotes always start this way), and I became peeved about the lack of importance that people place on friendships in fiction. The trigger was my copy of Literary Listography, which I am really enjoying completing; however, even though it has some fairly wacky lists (“Words I Love and Hate the Sound Of”, “Writers I Would Have at my Algonquin Table”), it has no list of favourite friendships. Favourite romantic relationships, fictional heroes, memorable deaths… all represented, but not friendships. It’s not just here that I’ve noticed it, either. When I watch or read reviews, they often discuss a book’s romantic relationships in depth, even when they are secondary or tertiary plots, but I hardly ever see people celebrating well-developed and touching friendships in books. This is such a shame. Most of the fictional relationships (and in-real-life relationships) that have touched me most deeply are friendships. Continue reading