A few weeks ago I announced my unceremonious book-buying ban. I have a serious book-buying problem and often fear that my floors will cave in from stashing hundreds of books in the same room! But it’s now the season to curb my spending a little (Christmas is on the horizon! An impending house move with my parents! An imminent house purchase of my own! A broken MacBook I had to replace!), so I’ll be reading from the remnants of this year’s book hauls as well as the shelves of my local library.
Reading has changed my life for the better, particularly in the last two years. I’ve always been a voracious reader. I’d spend summers completing reading challenges at the same library I visit now, and would sleep with books underneath my pillow so I could be close to the fictional heroes and heroines that now define and shaped my childhood. I’m now about to surpass my Goodreads Reading Challenge 2019, and so I thought I’d talk you through what I plan to read next.
Watching the Tree by Adeline Yen Mah
Adeline Yen Mah, whose autobiography ‘Falling Leaves’ is an international bestseller, here interweaves her own experiences with her views on Chinese thought and wisdom to create an illuminating and highly personal guide for Western readers.
Adeline Yen Mah was born in Tianjin, and through the conversations and wisdom of her grandfather and aunt learnt a great deal of traditional Chinese thought, history and religion. Through her father’s second marriage to a Eurasian woman, and their subsequent move to Hong Kong, she learnt more about the Chinese attitudes to business and to family, and the strength of the Chinese in exile.
Since living in London and California, Adeline Yen Mah has studied Chinese thought, looking at both the strengths and weaknesses which it gives those who follow it and now, in ‘Watching the Tree’, she takes us on a journey through the Chinese language, religions and history, using both Chinese proverbs and her own experiences, to bring to us an understanding of the richness of China and the ways that we can take and use some of the wisdom for ourselves in the West.
Adeline Yen Mah is the author of one of my all-time favourite books – Chinese Cinderella – so I when I spotted this title, I had to indulge. Non-fiction isn’t usually my bag, but I can make an exception when I already advocate for the writer! Watching the Tree is a fascinating exploration of Chinese philosophies, and how they play into a more Western mindset. It’s short but really meaty and gives you lots of food for thought, as well as space to ponder. I’m about halfway through this title as I write this post and as a British-Chinese woman, I’m finding it truly illuminating and full of information and wisdom. It’s also been a comforting read, reassuring me that the nuggets of wisdom imparted to me by my Granny weren’t madness, they had true roots and that is precisely why my train of thought is this way today.
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.
So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.
And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist…
After ploughing through the Amazon Prime series adaptation, I immediately wanted to pick up the original book inspiration behind Good Omens. It’s every part as good as the TV series, if not even more nutty. Pratchett and Gaiman’s witty, wild turn of phrases work perfectly for this wacky story and if you’re a fan of the series, you’ll adore this book with all of the bonus tidbits scattered throughout.
The book isn’t divided into traditional chapters, it’s presented by day of the week and I think this lends well to the premise that it’s the week run-up to the end of the world. I’m about a third of the way through and it is a wonderfully fun read.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.
Despite being a big reader, I’m yet to dip my toe into Donna Tartt’s work and for that I’m surprised. Her novels The Goldfinch and The Secret History are much talked-about and have been on my TBR list for probably years. I picked a copy of The Secret History up from Herne Hill Bookshop when I found Good Omens and can’t wait to dive in.
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
Here is the first volume in George R. R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced. Already hailed as a classic, George R. R. Martin’s stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.
I first read the A Song of Ice and Fire series – or what has been released so far – back in 2014 and really wanted to revisit the books before the final season of the TV series came out. Alas, that didn’t happen and yet the desire to see what made me fall in love with the fantasy saga remains strong. I’m hoping I’ll get the time to reread the series starting this autumn. The books are certainly meaty and require all of your attention, so they’re hardly one for morning commutes or some light pre-bed reading. Nevertheless, I’m really excited to delve back into the world of Westeros and beyond.
Which books have you put aside ready to read this autumn/winter 2019?