Not a fantastic month of reading for me. I did finish 8 books, but half were for school, and two were ones that I had mostly finished in March. It’s been an incredibly heavy reading load this quarter for some reason (each class has more than any other class I’ve taken–though I don’t mind), and I still have 10 novels left to read in the final month of school. I’m definitely looking forward to them, but I’m also definitely missing reading for myself—I was able to finish Neverwhere early in the quarter before the workload really started, and after that I’ve only been able to read one novel for fun (The Blade Itself). But, just 5 more weeks until I graduate! So many books I plan to read, haha.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman. Full review here. Basically, this novel had a profound effect on me the first time I read it, and upon reread it last month, it definitely still held that weight. I’d honestly go so far to say that it’s one of the greatest books of all time (I am 100% biased, because Gaiman’s my favorite living author, but I truly think this is an incredible work), and I think also it’s a fantastic introduction to Gaiman. It includes hints of all the “Gaimanisms” he’ll use throughout other novels (i.e. heavy mythology, great children’s POV, mixture of fantasy and reality, etc.), and starts out relatively “normal” before getting to the classic Gaiman weirdness. 5/5 stars.
A Poet to His Beloved, by Yeats. Read this for a class and it’s a nice collection of poems. I’m very particular when it comes to poetry, but enjoyed a lot of these. Not absolutely amazing for me in the way that someone like Poe is, but Yeats’ ability is undeniable (my favorite of his being “The Second Coming”, although that wasn’t included here—it was interesting seeing the dichotomy between a work like that and his love poems here).
The History of the Kings of Britain, by Geoffrey of Monmouth. This was so fantastic, and a lot better than I was expecting. In the past I’ve never really been a fan of history books, and while even though a lot of this is made up, it’s still written like a history book and as such I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it. But the whole thing is incredibly fascinating, and as the first book we read in an Arthurian Romances class, I think it was a great way of situating myself in the history/time period. Highly recommended for fans of Arthur/Medieval lit! 4.5/5 stars.
Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman. Full review coming soon! This is a novel that needs rereading, which I found out while rereading it last month. When I initially read it, I just thought it was an extremely well-written story of an alternate London. But it’s so much more than that, and in many ways a love letter to London, a love letter to the homeless, to the unnoticed—it’s a beautiful story that, much like how it describes London as having so much more beyond the surface, also has much more than what’s just on the surface of the page. And even though I just reread it, I definitely want to reread it again and again, and soon. Also, this time I read the illustrated version by Chris Riddell and I cannot recommend it enough. He and Gaiman work so fantastically together, and I love how he used just the margins of the book for his illustrations, as seen to the right. Just look at how incredible that is. 5/5 stars.
The Blade Itself, by Joe Abercrombie. Full review here. For me this was just a really fun, quick and easy read. There’s also fantastic characterization and world building that I’m looking forward to seeing how it all further develops in subsequent novels. 4/5 stars.
The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien. As I mentioned last month, I’ve been listening to this on audiobook and finally finished it! As expected it was utterly amazing, and I started listening to The Two Towers. I’m only listening to a few hours a week, but it’s just really fun to take my time with it. 5/5 stars, for both the text and the narrator. He wasn’t my favorite narrator, but I still enjoyed it, and it was fun hearing lines said differently than what I’m used to from the film (as I read the book for the first time after already being in love with the movies). I love this book so damn much–Tolkien is just incredible.
Lancelot, or, The Knight of the Cart, by Chretien de Troyes. Read for my Arthurian Romances class, and while I absolutely loved the story, I kinda hated the translation. Because the translator tried to force it into the verse (how it was originally written in French), the result is an inaccurate translation and just rhyming couplets that sound like Dr. Seuss or something. I’m sure it works better in French, because Chretien used words that sounded similar or looked similar but meant different things (which is something that I love, as one of my main interests is just language and linguistics), and that obviously is not translatable, but I just really didn’t enjoy the verse. Definitely looking forward to reading a better, prose translation. 5/5 stars for the story, 2/5 for the translation.
Perceval, or, The Story of the Grail, by Chretien de Troyes. Also for my Arthur class, and I had the exact same reaction. The translation here is slightly better, but still with a lot of problems. Once again 5/5 stars for the story, 2/5 for translation.
First and biggest haul was for school:
As I said, probably the heaviest quarter reading-wise (as there were also a bunch of lengthy PDFs we had to read), and while a part of me is sad I can’t read much for fun, most books we’ve read have been great and/or are ones I’ve been looking forward to reading for a long time.
I also got one haul from BookOutlet that I ordered in March, of which contains all books I’m super excited to read. Two Star Wars books, for my Star Wars New Canon marathon, and the latest Wild Cards novel. I’ve only read the first three Wild Cards books so far, but I really, really enjoyed them and more I just love the idea/world (having GRRM doesn’t hurt, haha); as such, I’ve been collecting all of the books (and the TOR reprintings) when I can find them cheap. I’ve enjoyed the Kafka I’ve read, but actually haven’t read Metamorphosis yet (and I can’t resist these Penguin Deluxe Editions whenever they’re available for something I want to read), and I’ve been meaning to read Don Quixote for the longest time. Blackbirds, Six-Gun Tarot, and Dark Run are all just books I’ve been recommended and sound super interesting, Last Night a Superhero Saved My Life sounds like an amazing collection of stories and has Neil Gaiman in it, and 100 Bullets Book 2 is the second-to-last book I need for the series! So excited to plow through the entire thing, as I loved the first volume.
Otherwise, I’ve actually only bought one brand new book this month, Thrawn:
The other books here are used bookstore finds. ^^Allegiance adds to my Timothy Zahn collection–I now have 5 or 6 books he’s written bust still have yet to read any. XD But when I find a Star Wars book in hardcover and fairly good condition for $1, I won’t say no. Quiet is a book I’ve been meaning to read forever, as I’m a huge introvert so probably will be great for me to read. And The Art of Asking is also something I’ve been meaning to read for a while, as Gaiman is my favorite author but I’ve never read anything by his wife, Amanda Palmer. Plus the book in general just sounds great.
Last mini-haul was this amazingness! I can’t believe I found a signed edition of this book for only $5, and signed by one of my all-time favorite artists: Dave McKean!! This is also one of the few books I don’t have by Gaiman, so an extra plus. ^^
As I mentioned at the beginning, because I have such a heavy reading load this quarter, my May TBR includes only one book for fun: Thrawn.
To be honest I’m not even completely sure I’ll be able to read Thrawn (and in some ways I’m sort of planning not to, as I don’t want to ever feel rushed while reading it, but just take my time and enjoy it), but I definitely hope to! I’m still trying to continue my Star Wars Marathon, and the release of this book was actually perfect as it’s next in the chronological list. ^^ Also, I’ve never read anything with Thrawn before, but I’ve heard so much praise for the original Thrawn trilogy, and I also really, really loved his character in Rebels (in part due to the actor). I simply cannot wait; it’s going to be epic!
For university, I’m also really looking forward to pretty much everything. In my Arthur class, we still have left to read Le Morte D’Arthur (barely started it but loving it so far. A work that I’ve always been meaning to read, and even though the size is daunting I’m super excited to read it), The Buried Giant (which I read last year [review here] and absolutely loved, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (this happened a lot this quarter, but I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet, and especially because it’s one of the works that heavily inspired J.R.R. Tolkien, I can’t wait to read it!).
I’m also taking a class called “The Decadence,” which examines works written throughout the latter 1800s and early 1900s, and the decadent quality they all contain. What we have left includes Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (which I can’t believe I haven’t read; currently reading it and loving it), Dracula (again, something I can’t believe I’ve never read, and I’m really looking forward to it), Venus in Fur (something that’s never been on my radar at all, but sounds interesting), and The Wolfman and Other Cases, by Freud.
The last class I’m taking is Irish Modernism, and we’re reading Waiting for Gadot (which I’ve heard is amazing and–yes, once again–have been meaning to read for a long time), The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (also something I’ve heard great things about. I’ve only read a little bit of Dubliners for Joyce, but I definitely hope to read Ulysses at some point, and this sounds great as well), and other various Irish plays.
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Hope you all had a great month! I fell out of my posting-once-a-week schedule for a bit, but once I graduate next month I definitely plan to keep it up.