I’m still in the process of figuring out what I want this blog to be, but I’ve decided that it should include some way to track my reading progress.
This year I’ve dedicated more time to books: I was tired of letting them slip so far down my list of priorities. I wanted to become more like the reader I used to be. Plus, there were several classics that had been on my TBR for an embarrassingly long time, and I was determined to change that.
So here’s the first installment in my series of Bookthoughts (a name I’ve chosen because I can’t really call them reviews), covering the first three months of 2019.
The Warden by Anthony Trollope
I picked up this book because of a quote: “What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?” It was such a lovely image; I thought, Anyone who could write a line like that must be pretty cool.
I was not wrong.
While the plot of the book was kind of dry — is the warden of the almshouse living on too high an income? — the writing style was utterly enchanting. If you like the wit and humor of Jane Austen, you’ll appreciate Anthony Trollope. This book was a joy to read, especially with annotations for historical context; I highly recommend the Oxford World’s Classics edition (ISBN 978-0199665440) to understand the many “pop culture” references.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I had been meaning to read something by Wilde, and I chose Dorian Gray. I wish I’d gone with The Importance of Being Earnest instead.
Wilde has a gift for witty banter, and that was my favorite part of this novel. Unfortunately for me, there was more baseness than badinage to be found here.
Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah
After receiving a free Kindle copy of this book,* I (almost literally) could not put it down. As you can see from the time stamps on my Instagram posts below, I stayed up all night reading.
This was an absolutely stunning debut novel. I’ll say no more. Just go get yourself a copy immediately.
*At this time, I was an Amazon Prime member and got to choose one title from a selection of free books each month.
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
I had heard good things about Bardugo and was not disappointed. This collection of short stories was magical, unexpected, thought-provoking, and beautifully written.
The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Ah, Tolkien: I always felt extremely guilty that I’d never read any of his books. I had avoided the movies, too, because I wanted to read the books before I saw them. But this year I finally watched (and loved) the LOTR films — all 11 hours of the extended versions — and subsequently got my hands on The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring.
The Hobbit was fun, but I could tell that I wasn’t really the intended audience. It ought to be read out loud (preferably in a British accent) as a bedtime story. Fellowship, as I had been told, was very different. It was quite a bit darker, but still in that meandering, whimsical, old, distinctly English style that — though enjoyable — didn’t completely captivate me.
I can see why so many people love LOTR. The world is so rich and detailed, the plot is magical and intriguing, and it includes some of the wisest, most quotable lines I’ve ever read. The characters seemed a bit flat to me, but maybe that’s because I only read the first part of the trilogy. (Gandalf, I would say, might be the better wizard, but Dumbledore is a far more interesting character.)