How fitting is it that this year´s last blog post is a book club – one of the things that brought me most joy in a most erratic 2020? This post is also the 50th post on this version of the blog (I am still missing about 100 posts that I haven´t transcribed from the last version of the blog but I will be tackling that throughout 2021.). And to wrap up this insane year, what better topic than magical universes? I read three books this month, hereby concluding my 40 book in 2020 reading challenge. I´m thinking of setting an ambitious goal of 50 books to read next year and to focus more on plays and poetry while also balancing the classics with new contemporary authors. 2021 will hopefully be yet another year of learning and growth and I cannot wait to take you along this reading journey through next year´s monthly book clubs!
JK Rowling´s Harry Potter and the Philosopher´s Store
People are often surprised to hear that the Harry Potter books are amongst my all time favourite books. Perhaps they expect the classics, which in truthfulness I also love (hello Dickens and the Russians!), perhaps they associate Harry Potter most with the movies and they just don´t think much of the books. But I personally got acquainted with the HP universe through the books, and I find them quite different (not saying neither better nor worse) than the movies, that I often think of them as two completely separate endeavours. It was the books, and particularly the Philosopher´s Stone that instilled in me a deep sense of magic – a sense that I luckily never lost – as you can see in the title of this blog too. I regard The Philosopher´s Stone a fantastic book for both children who are beginning to learn about the value of friendship, loyalty and humility or standing up for oneself as well as for adults who need reminding that love conquers hate. The book is full of wisdom packed into a fantastic universe and I think that is just what we all need right now.
JRR Tolkien´s Smith of Wootton Major
Smith of Wootton Major is a tiny book containing a fairy tale I´ve been trying to read for the past four years. Not because it´s not good, but simply because JRR Tolkien´s writing style doesn´t really speak to me. I like the movies based on his books (albeit not as much as the HP or Fantastic Beasts ones) but the books I seem to have difficulties with. Alas, this is his first book which I managed to eventually finish reading. The story takes us to what seem like medieval times in the fictional village of Wootton Major, where every 24 years a Fest of Good children takes place. In lieu of this feast, a great cake is prepared – inside of it a strange star that gives the child swallowing it the ability to enter the Land of Faery. Tolkien insists that the story should not be seen as an allegory so I´ll refrain from that and instead say that it is a story about imagination and the loss of it as we age as well as a story about kindness and altruism. Just as the Philosopher´s Stone, Smith of Wootton Major has a lot to teach us, and all its teachings are wrapped up in a magical universe with a king and queen of fairies and magical stars shining upon one´s forehead.
Ransom Riggs´ The Conference of Birds
– The fifth novel of Miss Peregrine´s Peculiar Children –
You might have noticed by now that this month I chose books that have a vast magical universe about them, sometimes spanning over various volumes. The Conference of Birds is the fifth novel of the Miss Peregrine´s Pecualiar Children series and turned out to be an enjoyable read. While I am not particularly fond of the writing itself, I appreciated the fact that the content was engaging enough to read this fifth volume – not many sagas have managed to engage me this far. I also liked it better than the fourth novel of the series (which I reviewed in April´s book club and gave 3.5 stars but am now thinking I should have given that one 3 stars and this one 3.5). The book picks up on where the last one left off, Jacob and Noor´s Chinatown escape. With the help of Bronwyn and Noor, thw two travel to Devil´s Acre and try to unveil de prophecy around the seven while simultaneously trying to help the ymbrynes prevent a war. The book is gripping and easy to read and I continue to find Ransom Riggs´ embedding of odd photographies inside it extremely fascinating.