I’ve never counted the number of books I own, because I think it would scare me. It’s definitely somewhere in the triple figures, but other than that I don’t even want to guess. Every year I have the struggle of choosing which books to take from my gargantuan bookcases at home and transport to my university accommodation, where they pile up on the floor* and glare at me as they get slowly dusty**.
*Because, in my experience, shelves in student houses are usually just there for show and are incapable of actually supporting any weight!
**Not that I don’t love them – it’s just that of course the main reason to become a student is to laugh in the face of hoovering and make a point of wallowing in dust. I still insist on saying that it’s good for building up allergy tolerances.
But this year is different – this year I am studying abroad. The first stop is Oviedo, in the north of Spain. I’ve been here nearly a month now (can’t believe how fast the time has gone!). Next stop will be Mainz, Germany, at the end of March. This presents me with a book problem.
In the weeks leading up to the date of my departure, I went a bit crazy with the book buying. (This happens quite regularly: I buy books in torrents, then panic at the number of books I’ve bought and stop buying them for a while, then I think ‘I haven’t bought any books for a while, so I’ll treat myself’ and the cycle begins again.) But this meant that I had all these lovely new books, and I couldn’t take them all with me – including the fabulous Shaun Tan’s new book The Singing Bones, which, as you may know (if you’ve read this post), I’ve been excited about for a while now.
Anyway, I thought I’d share with you the books I managed to drag to Spain with me (I’m pretty sure they were a contributing factor to my suitcase being given a shameful label to tell the airline staff that it was dangerously heavy!).
Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell
I love the Neil Gaiman novels that I have read so far, but I had never got round to reading his first, Neverwhere. When this illustrated edition came out I had to get a copy – Chris Riddell’s drawings take me back to brilliant books like Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart that I read when I was young. The fact that there are illustrations throughout the text (on nearly every page!) is just fantastic. I have read the first few chapters so far, and have not been disappointed.
The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair – Joël Dicker, translated by Sam Taylor
I bought this copy sometime last year during one of my regular trips round the charity shops in Harborne, Birmingham. Only while reading HHhH a month or so ago did I realise that both books are translated from the French by Sam Taylor, so I thought I’d bump this one up my to-read list. I’m so glad I did because I really enjoyed it! (I’ll post a full review soon.)
The Vegetarian – Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith
This hardly needs an introduction, having won the International Man Booker Prize back in May. I’m very aware that my bookshelves are dominated by Western authors from Europe and the USA, so I hope that this book will be a step towards my reading habits becoming more global.
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson
I bought this book at the same time as The Vegetarian in the lovely Alison’s Bookshop in Tewkesbury. It has been on my to-read list since the brilliant Jen Campbell mentioned it in a video, and I look forward to reading it soon!
Beyond the Pale – Emily Urquhart
Another recommendation from Jen Campbell that I am currently about halfway through. I expect I’ll finish it soon because I’m finding it hard to put down! It is an amazing account of a mother’s journey of discovery that begins when her daughter is born with albinism.
The Soul of an Octopus – Sy Montgomery
Given that this blog is called Kraken Reads, I thought it would be appropriate to read a book about octopuses. 😉 But in all seriousness, they are fascinating creatures and I’ve heard very good things about this book!
Crow – Ted Hughes
I am still working my way through this poetry collection, which I have enjoyed a lot more since reading Max Porter’s Grief is the Thing with Feathers. Progress has nevertheless been quite slow, mainly because I’m not in the habit of reading poetry and so I only remember to if I put the book somewhere visible!
So that’s it! Hopefully I will be able to replenish my book supply in one way or another while I’m still in Spain. I’m planning to write another post fairly soon about the bookshops in Oviedo that I’ve discovered so far, and the books I’ve bought since arriving. In the meantime, feel free to leave thoughts and comments below!