Tag Archives: literature

3 reasons I love my library

Libraries are a hot topic in the UK at the moment, with the government and councils seeming to view them as pointless moneypits which can easily be dispensed with without any derogation to life or culture. I’m not going to add anything dramatic to the debate, but I wanted to articulate why libraries full of books are important to me.

For books I want to read

I discovered Leigh Bardugo recently. I bought Six of Crows after reading the first few pages in Waterstones, and it is utterly superb (check out my review if you want to know why I think so). I then bought Shadow and Bone, the first of the grisha trilogy (same author, same world, different story and characters) and consumed it with equal haste and delight.

Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy
Just ask for books and your library will get them for you. Magic!

Finances then drew me to a bit of a stop, but I requested Seige and Storm and Ruin and Rising from the library and I’m halfway through Seige and Storm already.

Without a library, I’d be broke or bereft.

For books I might want to read

When I bought Six of Crows I also scanned the blurb and first few pages of Snow Like Ashes on the promotions table in Waterstones. It had caused quite a buzz on my twitter stream, and I liked the sound of it. But I wasn’t quite convinced in the bookshop and Six of Crows won the day.

So when I saw Snow Like Ashes in the library, I snapped it up … only to set it down again after reading a couple of chapters. Not for me, I’m afraid (too much backstory for my taste).

I’ve just picked up The Sin Eater’s Daughter for very similar reasons. I like the sound of it (and I’ll review it as it’s shortlisted for the YA Book Prize), but I’m not convinced enough to buy it and keep it forever.

Read without risk - I might like this, I might not...
Read without risk – I might like this, I might not…

For books I have no idea I want to read (but I do!)

I have found so many treasures in my local library. Browsing in the “just returned” section has brought books to my attention that I would never have read otherwise. Charlaine Harris’s “Grave” series was one of those finds. It’s completely out of my genre because I don’t read crime (ordinarily) – but I liked the cover, picked it up, enjoyed the first few pages, took it home and fell in love.

I’ve checked it out of the library about half a dozen times, so with Christmas book tokens this year I finally bought my own copy, and it’s now on my (overflowing) “keeper” shelves.

A cool premise, and never mind the crime, it's the relationships that keep me reading.
A cool premise, and never mind the crime, it’s the relationships that keep me reading.

There are so many other happy discoveries made through my library it would be worth my taxes just for that.

So that’s why I love my local library – do you love yours? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments.

Books unread

If books create a whole new world for readers to enjoy, then some books stand out as landmarks, familiar spots we can all relate to as a shared experience. Not to have read these giants of literature (if you are a person who reads) becomes a cause for surprise and even concern by others – akin to visiting Paris and not stopping off at the Eiffel Tower, or going to Egypt and not taking in at least one pyramid.

I read voraciously, and I’m also well-educated in English with a couple of GCSEs, an A-level, and both Bachelors and Masters degrees in the subject, but still, famous and much-loved books that I haven’t read litter my reading world like craters.

Perhaps my biggest omission (since there is always an element of romance in everything I write) is Jane Eyre. And I have tried, I promise. I’ve started the book several times, but I’ve never managed to get past the awful school scenes. The other great I managed to elude throughout my literary education was Dickens. I finally read Great Expectations about two years ago because, mostly, I thought I should. I did finish it, but frankly can’t recommend it since whatever has made it appeal to generations of readers passed me by entirely. Hardy, too – I love his poetry and short stories, but I’ve yet to battle to the end of one of his (dreary, I’m sorry, but there, I’ve said it!) novels.

I used to feel bad about these gaps, but they don’t bother me any more. That I’m reading is the main thing, what I’m reading is … well, it’s down to taste, isn’t it? Everyone’s reading world looks different, so if I don’t mind the craters scattered around mine, I bet they don’t bother anyone else, either.

Please, join me in confessing the greatest books you’ve never read. What do you pause and think you ought to read, before passing on to what you want to read?