On My Bookshelf... // Winter

Ok, did winter even happen yet? This may be a very Southern-based opinion, but I can't remember a winter this warm in ages. Perhaps it's also down to my daily venture outside, which is currently formed of wrapping up in multiple layers, getting on a crammed tube, nearly passing out from heat exhaustion and then stripping off outside for a rapid cool down. 

I have, however, used this time to catch up on a bit of reading for pleasure, even if that means holding the book 5 inches from my face whilst standing on the train... This has been the season for classics. Ones that I should have picked up a long time ago but didn't, ones that I wrote essays on but never read, ones that have been bestsellers for years but escaped my notice.

Cranford // Elizabeth Gaskell

I recently mentioned Cranford in a post about my all time favourite period dramas. When you see the cast line up, you'll know why. I've had the novel on my bedside table and pick it up sporadically when I need a bit of escapism. Think elegant speech, gossipy village women and fussing over new shipments of silk. It's a good one for picking up and putting down, as the original was published in eight installments in the magazine edited by Charles Dickens. Join the women of Cranford as their happy, simple lives are interrupted by the arrival of  a man moving into the village. The bloody cheek of him! There isn't any real plot, so to speak. The novel is more a collection of funny, satirical and easy to read segments, joined together by fleshy, endearingly flawed characters. 

Snug Rating: 3.5/5

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime // Mark Haddon

I have no real reason why I never picked up this book before. Sure, plenty of people told me to, but I always found something else to read first. Silly Abi. This book is simply stunning, in the most understated and poignant way possible. The main character deals with loss, separation, adolescence and empathy in a unique manner that sometimes forces you to reflect on your own intuitions and actions. The literal and highly complex approach to life experienced by the main character is largely down to his Aspergers, which is communicated brilliantly through the narrative style and makes the text hugely accessible for people of all ages. I feel as though I learnt a huge amount about Aspergers as a result; I was in the protagonist's brain and saw and felt as he did. If there's a book you should to shove in someone's face and force them to read, it would have to be this.

Snug Rating: 5/5

Tales of Greece and Troy

Greek myths and legends are a part of my literary knowledge bank that previous to reading this, I knew nothing about. I have no idea why. I could say that it's because I had my nose stuck in Harry Potter almost constantly as a child, but J.K drew on Greek and Roman legends so much when writing those books that I can't use that as an excuse. They sort of just escaped my notice. I picked up this copy in an old book shop in Hay-on-Wye, mainly due to it's beautiful cover and the engraved maps throughout *swoon*. Again, this is excellent for a quick read, as each myth is between 7-30 pages long. I had no idea how much popular culture is influenced by these tales; they're everywhere! Pandora's Box and Helen of Troy are my firm favourites. Dip in and out. It's worth it.

Snug Rating: 4/5

 Frankenstein // Mary Shelley

I admit it. I wrote a 2500 word essay on this text and only read about half of it. For sure, this has been the season of literary redemption. This book is so good. It's description, setting, characters and context are stark and Mary Shelley is the ultimate lady boss. She wrote this book at 20, after travelling around Europe and learning about the alchemy and galvanic experiments that took place in the real Frankenstein's castle but 20 years before. There are also letters that detail dreams Mary had about her 'little baby, came back to life' after rubbing her in front of the fire. This is heartbreaking and just a teeny peek into the brilliant mind of a woman who grappled with the biggest possible question: 'what is the nature of life?' Read it. It's so much more gruesome, complex and brilliant than any bolt-through-the-neck costume suggests.

Snug Rating: 4.5/5

What brilliant (or not so brilliant) reads have you picked up this winter?

On My Bookshelf... is a continuing series, which you can catch up on here.

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