January’s been off to a pretty good start, reading-wise! With some money I received at Christmas, I hit eBay and some second-hand online bookstores, since I’m a sucker for scrappy, dog-eared, written-in, falling-to-pieces copies. So, naturally, £70 disappeared at the bat of an eye and over a glass of wine.
My goal, this year, is to pick up and get through titles I’ve always heard of, been interested in, and kinda kept an eye out for – but never really picked up. Whether this was material that was brushed over during my Literature class at college, or just a title someone mentioned to me in the last year or so.
So, I started off the year with The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers.
The opening half of this book was honestly grand. Bizarre, unnerving, beautifully written, and strangely modern. The Repairer of Reputations was a brilliant start and got me jazzed for the ensuing stories. The Mask and In the Court of the Dragon, again, held a lot of promise for the rest of the collection, but by the halfway point, my interest was teetering off. By the time I got to The Street of the First Shell, Our Lady of the Fields, and Rue Barrée, I was essentially skim reading just to get through the collection. Which, honestly, was a shame, because as I mention, the prose itself was gorgeous and compelling, but the stories themselves really lost their edge for me and seemed to trundle along to conclusions I no longer cared about.
Next up, was The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
I feel like I’m one of the few people that have never seen this bloody film, so I really went in blind. I heard so much praise about both the book and the film that I was genuinely worried that the hype over it would ruin the read for me – but I was pleasantly surprised. Loved the format and the voice of the main character was vivid and interesting for me (even if it was potentially contradictory in how stunted the letter format was, and yet how apparently attuned to literary work the character apparently was) and it really is quotable as all hell. There were so many lines in this that stuck in my head for days afterward. There were only two genuine issues that stopped me from enjoying it fully. One being that I’m a pensioner in a 25-year-old’s body, so I felt as though my peak age for really connecting with this was long gone. Second, there are a lot of heavy-hitting subjects crammed into one sitting. I found it almost heavy-handed in that regard.
After this, I dipped into The Vine That Ate The Starlet by Madeleine Swann.
I had set my eye on this for ages and was low-key annoyed with myself for hanging on for so long to grab it. It’s such an utterly vivid read. You get a feel for the characters almost instantly and I felt utterly immersed in the time. The opening line alone had me swooning. It’s creepy and charming in equal measure, fast-paced, full to the brim with personality, and was so easy to sit and binge read. I’m pretty sure I started and finished it during one very long bath. This leads me to my only criticism… I was so in love with Madeleine’s strange story that I wanted more. There were so many details I wanted to know and desperately wanted a bigger scope on the story, which is what shaved a little star from me. Trust me when I say it’s rare I want a book to be longer than what it is.
Finally, my last read for January was The Chrysalids by John Wyndham.
I just sailed through this book. As with many well-known titles, because I am an uncultured swine, I’d only ever heard about this book in passing while at school, so I went in wonderfully blind – and the premise hooked me straight away. One thing I appreciated more than anything, the world-building was subtle, it grew around you rather than being dumped on your head like a textbook. The revelation regarding ‘offences’ built the anxiety, again, wonderfully subtly. Admittedly, the more action-leaning half of the book kind of grew a smidge old for me, but overall it was a quick, pleasant read.
And now, we chip away at February’s list.