It's no secret that I'm a huge book nerd. It's also no secret that I'm a really bad book nerd. I love books, and I love reading, but I rarely actually sit down and spend time with a good book these days. It's my own fault, really. I spend all my spare time online, playing video games or reading blogs and forums, and any time I would have once dedicated to reading - on the train, in the car, in the bath, even - I now spend watching shows on my tablet. I'm a pretty bad book nerd! And yet despite that, I keep buying new books! Yes, even after I promised on here that I'd stop. I'm sorry! (Not sorry).
I've been watching a bunch of Booktubers lately and some of them have been discussing 'book guilt', lately, which is mainly the guilt of buying new books when you have an entire shelf of unread books sitting there, begging for attention. My 'TBR' (To Be Read) pile isn't so much a pile... it's more a mountain. And considering I went out yesterday and bought four more books I don't think it's going to get smaller anytime soon!
And so, with that confession already out there, I thought it might be fun to finally own up to a few other secrets I've held onto over the years!
I haven't read all the Discworld books.
I'm a huge fan of the Discworld. Living just down the road from Wincanton, a town legally twinned with Ankh Morpork, it's difficult not to fall in love with the books and the characters that live within them. I've been a huge Discworld fan since I was a teenager and read Good Omens for the very first time (not a Discworld book, I know, but it's the one that started the ball rolling!). However, unlike most of my friends who are also all big fans, I've not read all the books in the series. In fact, I've hardly read any. I have a shelf full of them, all the art books, I own THUD, the tabletop game, and I was fortunate enough to meet Terry Pratchett numerous times, but I've only read a handful of the books themselves. The ones I have read are mainly the Death and Guards-themed books. I need to actually focus on reading the others, I know, but as I said earlier, I'm really bad at reading books!
I only read 1984 because of a Phoenix Wright fanfic set in a similar world.
And in fact, it kind of started my whole love of dystopian fiction. I've always been a fan of post-apocalyptic stories, but it took a fanfic to teach me there was a whole genre dedicated to dystopia! How embarrassing is that? I can't even remember the fanfic anymore, but I remember falling in love with the horrible, oppressive feel it had, so I ran out right away to find a copy of George Orwell's 1984.
Relatedly, I had no idea how 1984 ended, despite even having a degree in English, for crying out loud!
I never read 1984 in school. Heck, we didn't even touch Animal Farm. I somehow missed this hugely vital part of the English curriculum. I knew vaguely what it was about, but I didn't know how it ended. Yes, I know it's one of the most famous endings in literature but I'd somehow let it pass me by.
Funny anecdote time! The first time I read 1984, I was on a long train journey up North to visit my friend, Katy. The train stopped outside the station for a while and I was a few pages away from the end, and I in my naive, uneducated state wondered how the heck Winston Smith was going to save the day. I know! I had a few pages left and I genuinely believed he was going to win, take down Big Brother, save the day, save the world. What I got was... well, the ending of 1984. The train pulled into Manchester and I was completely numb! I met my friend, who thankfully is a huge book nerd herself and of course she'd read 1984, and the first thing I said was how I'd literally just finished the book. With that, she put an arm around me and simply said; "right, we're going to the pub."
I'm kinda-sorta obsessed with Sweet Valley High!
Yeah, I'm just really digging myself into a literary hole here, huh? All that stuff about 1984 and now this? Yep! A few years back, I found all my old Point Horror and Fear Street books and started devouring them! I loved them as a young adult, and really enjoyed reading through them again whenever I had a few moments. However, I found I was enjoying all the nonsense teen drama far more than the, y'know, brutal murder, so I set out to find books that focused more on that side of things. I remembered that we had a whole rack of Sweet Valley High books in our school library, so I set out to find some whenever I went to second hand stores. I found some, and immediately became hooked! I now own so many of them we have to store them all over the house! I just love the wholesome, simple tone so many of them have and I'm always flipping through them when I'm feeling down or a little blue. I read Sweet Valley High for the same reasons I love 90210 or Gossip Girl; simple escapism. I always wanted to be a teenager in an American high school as a kid, cheerleader, going to prom - and, yes, while I know these books and shows are far from a realistic example, I really don't turn to them for realism!
I'm setting myself a huge challenge in 2015! I know, it's a little early, but it's good to have goals, right? See, I really really love books, but I'm really, really bad at reading them. Before I had a tablet and an iPod, I'd devour books with ease, reading them on the train, in the back of the car and even in the bath. These days, however, I tend to use this time to catch up on my latest TV shows. Thanks to Netflix, I watch a lot of television lately. Yes, even in the bath. Don't worry, I make sure the tablet's out of harm's way!
And yet, I still love buying books. I'll go into charity stores and buy them cheap, or find my way to Waterstones taking advantage of their frequent '3 for 2' deals. I buy books far faster than I read them, and they take up so much room! I've even clogged my tablet up with ebooks and comics, with the best intentions in the world. One day, I'll read them! One day... Honest!
So here's my little project. I'm not allowing myself to buy a new books until I some of the many books I already own. I'm going to go through my shelves and list every book I have on them that I haven't yet read, and I'm going to make an active point of reading them! For real this time!
So here's my list... it's a whole lot of Young Adult and Dystopian fiction. Sometimes it's even Young Adult Dystopian fiction. And sometimes it's Sweet Valley High.
My Big Book Project 2015
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident -Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code - Eoin Colfer,
Northern Lights - Philip Pullman
Amber spyglass - Philip Pullman
Night Watch - Terry Pratchett
Men at Arms - Terry Pratchett
Feet or Clay - Terry Pratchett
The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett
The Last Continent - Terry Pratchett
Interesting Times - Terry Pratchett
Lords and Ladies - Terry Pratchett
The Somnambulist - Jonathan Barnes
The Atheist's Guide to Christmas - Various
Yellow Blue Tibia: A Novel - Adam Roberts
World War Z - Max Brooks
Neuromancer - William Gibson
M is for Magic - Neil Gaiman
The Resurrectionist - James Bradley
Mister B Gone - Clive Barker
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne
Blind Faith - Ben Elton
Are You Dave Gorman - Dave Gorman
Googlewhack - Dave Gorman
Last Chance To See - Douglas Adams & Mark Carwardine
The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
Blitzcat - Robert Westall
Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep - Philip K. Dick
The Penultimate Truth - Philip K. Dick
The Divine Invasion - Philip K. Dick
The Man In The High Castle - Philip K. Dick
We - Yevgeny Zamyatin
Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife - Sam Savage
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S. Thompson
Skeleton Crew - Stephen King
Everything's Eventual - Stephen King
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency - Douglas Adams
Cryer's Cross - Lisa McMann
Knife Edge - Malorie Blackman
The Maze Runner - James Dashner
Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
Timeriders - Alex Scarrow
Storm Front - Jim Butcher
The Time Machine / The Invisible Man / The Island of Doctor Moreau - H.G. Wells
I picked up this book on a complete whim after watching Kristina Horner's video review. I'm a sucker for a twist and absolutely hate being spoilered, so when I heard this book had a pretty major twist/spoiler in it, I just had to grab it and see what all the fuss was about before anyone ruined it for me!
'We Were Liars' is immediately entirely my cup of tea. I love young adult fiction, love teenage drama nonsense, and love over-privileged, rich white person silliness (see; Gossip Girl, 90210, Revenge). This book doesn't bathe in it or revel in it, though - through The Liars' eyes, we see the rich, All American family for how it 'truly' is, and it isn't very pretty even before the darker events in the book. First person and casual, Cady's voice instantly pulled me in. I finished this book in two baths (who doesn't mainly read in the bath?) because I was so invested in the story, in the mystery, in finding out the 'what' and 'why'.
I've never read an E. Lockhart novel before, but I really love the way she writes. I can absolutely see why a lot of people wouldn't be a fan of her writing, because it is extremely poetic in places, with fluffy obnoxious purple prose that I, personally, adore. Back when I actually wrote fiction myself (a degree in Creative Studies in English kind of knocked out my passion for writing, ironically), my entire 'deal' was long, fluffy prose. Lockhart uses absolute metaphors (bleeding, being shot in the chest), and a really informal structure wonderfully. She intertwines the story with fairy tales that increasingly reflect the real life world around Cady and it's all just so nicely done. Clever, too.
So, the twist. Suffice to say, guys....
~ *here be spoilers*~
I knew there was a big twist, which is, as I said, why I wanted to snap the book up right away. I wonder what it would have been like to read the book without that knowledge, because the punch to the gut I received on the reveal was enough even with that mental preparation.
I kind of saw it coming, in an entirely wrong kind of way. Because I knew there was a big twist, I started imagining the most random things, but one of the things I immediately thought was "I bet Cady's dead." It would have been very Sixth Sense, it would have explained why The Liars didn't reply to her or care about her all summer long (I mean, really? Why wouldn't they otherwise? Their friend was ill and away and sad.) But as the story went on, and it seemed more and more unlikely that Cady was dead. It never occurred to me once, however, that The Liars were dead instead.
It was horrible. I finished the book during a game of Civilisation: Beyond Earth and as I read the ending, I'd absolutely stopped paying attention to the game. I cried. I felt like I'd been cheated somehow, that I'd been lied to.
Which was entirely the point, I suppose.
I immediately reopened the book and flipped through random pages, any pages that featured The Liars alongside other characters, constantly amazed that there actually hadn't been any interaction throughout the entire book. Of course there hadn't, because The Liars hadn't really been there. In fact, there was only one real moment that stuck where Cady even mentioned The Liars to anyone else - to the Littles, asking if they went out on the boats with Johnny last year. Their response was simply a "no". It made sense at the time, and made more sense on reflection.
It never felt weird - The Liars hadn't gone to dinner because they hated the Aunties and the horrible family affairs, for example. It made sense. And as I flipped through the book, I started to pick up on things. The haunted house. Carrie wandering at night, crying. Will's nightmares. Why Mirren hadn't received the doll Cady sent her (signed for, by her mother, but of course, never received). Why nobody replied to her emails, which seemed so cruel and out of character. It also explained the other things, the messy house, the scrabble tiles, the lies they told about where they were and what they'd done during her blackout days. If they were ghosts apparating simply for Cady's benefit, they wouldn't have been around to do anything while she was asleep, so when they appeared and were suddenly questioned, they came up with nonsense, lies, anything to keep up the pretence for Cady.
It was, on reflection, heartbreaking. They did it for Cady, because they loved her (and they told her as much, over and over). It was tiring, it was hard. This was a part that got me, from Johnny:
"And honestly, Cady, I love you, but I'm fucking tired. I want to lie down and be done. All this happened a very long time ago, for me."
It made it all so much worse. We were living with these guys, loving them, learning what made them tick and they were so alive and real as we read. In the space of a page, you learn that it was all a lie, that they're not only gone, but have been dead two years. We feel cheated. We feel heartbreak. Gat, her Gat, who isn't her Gat because he can never be her Gat. It all made sense before the reveal, and then it made so much more sense after. What a horrible story. It was beautiful, and it was horrible.
I don't know if this book has a movie deal yet but crikey, it'd make an extremely beautiful, haunting film. It's perfect movie material, and I'd be first in line to watch the reveal again on the big screen, ready for the punch to the gut.
I'm Selena, an artist, blogger and gamer - but maybe not always in that order! Dream Somehow is a blog dedicated to travel, geeky adventures, vintage style and a little bit of Disney Dreaming! If you'd like to learn a little more about me, click here.