🎂Happy Birthday, Harry Potter!🎂

IMG_0063I finished work at midnight, kept awake when I got home by a little buzz of excitement. As each Harry Potter book was released, it became tradition for me to take the day off school, race to the book store as soon as it opened and spend the rest of the day in bed devouring it as quickly as I could. And so today, nine years after the Deathly Hallows was published, I revived that tradition. On Harry’s birthday, of all days – it seemed like a wonderfully apt way to celebrate! I took the day off work and arrived at Dymocks just as the doors opened, feeling very underdressed amongst the host of witches and wizards eagerly awaiting the unboxing of the books. We counted down the seconds until 9:00, when the boxes could be opened, and with the book in my hands I experienced a blissful rush of nostalgia, the anticipation of re-visiting a world that inspired my childhood. Ever since The Cursed Child was announced, I was curious to know how the story would read as a play, and what kind of world readers would be invited to step into nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts. With only the snippets revealed by blurbs on the internet to go by, I looked forward to a story that would combine the adult concerns of Harry, Ron and Hermione with the sense of childhood adventure that I grew up with.

I won’t spoil anything about the book, as I appreciated the secrecy surrounding the plot leading up to its release. Needless to say, I could not put it down, and consumed it in one sitting. It was equal parts surprising and familiar, the unexpected built on the foundations of the earlier books: the strength and loyalty of friends and family. I fervently hope that the play comes to Australia – I can only imagine how spectacularly it would translate to the stage. (There are a few spoiler-free photos on the official website for the curious.) I can’t wait until more people have read it so that I can gush over it with them!

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Has anyone else bought The Cursed Child today? Were there celebrations at your local bookshop? Did you find it as un-put-downable as I did? Please share your experiences!

june book haul

outlander coverThis month, I have been completely absorbed in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. After a semester of reading 18th-19th century literature for uni, it has been a breath of fresh air to indulge in something a little lighter – in content rather than physical weight, as my shoulders are aching from slugging this hefty, 864 page tome around! A glorious romp through the Scottish Highlands, with time travel, a feisty female lead, a self-sacrificing hero, a nefarious villain and plenty of sex, all set against the historical back-drop of the Jacobite uprising. How could I go wrong? I’ve been a captivated fan of the TV series for the past two seasons, but I’ve been reluctant to commit to the books for fear of becoming completely overtaken by the eight door-stops of novels that make up the series so far. And lo and behold, as soon as I finished it, I wanted to dive straight into the next one. But, I have been a horrendous book-buyer this month despite my slow progress with Outlander, and I thought it would be best to make some progress on my newest acquisitions before they gather too much dust.

shelter jung yunShelter, by Jung Yun, has been one of my most anticipated new releases of 2016. Following in the vein of my love for dark Asian literature, Shelter is a melancholy and thrilling suburban family drama exploring the changing dynamics between generations forced to live together after an act of violence. I have kept myself blissfully ignorant about it, avoiding reviews and synopses, and I’m looking forward to diving in.

In a moment of weakness, I succubeyond the deepwoods paul stewartmbed to a book-buying binge and ordered the first six books in the Edge Chronicles, by Paul Stewart and illustrated by Chris Riddell. Oops. These were some of my favourite books in primary school, and inspired so many of my early short stories and novel attempts. Such a wonderfully fleshed-out and imaginative young adult fantasy world, and it will be interesting to revisit it with adult eyes.

I picked up Consider Phlebas and The Left Hand of Darkness to sate my craving for classic science fiction. Two very different books – the first, an intergalactic space opera, the secondthe left hand of darkness ursula le guin, a staple of sci-fi cconsider phlebas iain m banksanon exploring humanity, society and gender on an alien planet. I read and loved Ian Banks’ The Wasp Factory and never realised that he wrote science fiction as well, so I’ll be interested to see how his bleak voice translates to the genre.

The Natural Way of Things, by Charlotte Wood, winner the natural way of things charlotte woodof the 2016 Stella Prize and nominated for the Miles Franklin Award. A dystopian allegory in which two women awake, drugged, to find themselves imprisoned in an isolated property with no idea of how they came to be there. It criticises a culture of misogyny, echoing Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale.

Another new release, Mark Z. Danielewski’s The Familiar Vol. 3: Honeysuckle and Pain. I’ve not yet read volumes one and two, which I ran out and bought post-House of Leaves hangover, but I’m starting the first now. So many different story-lines, and I can’t wait to see where and how they converge. The first three books are just the beginning of an ambitious, planned 27 books in the Familiar series.

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And finally, one last, monstrous, doorstop of a book – barkskins annie proulxAnnie Proulx’s latest release, Barkskins. It follows the descendants of two families over the course of three hundred years, from New France, to China, to New Zealand, raising the question of the finiteness of Earth’s natural resources and the possibility of ecological collapse.

In happy, happy, news, I recently turned on ABC iView to discover that The Book Club has now become a weekly show! It is such a wonderful programme, showcasing a mix of new releases and classics, and more often than not, the debate becomes very heated! It is joined by a new sister show, Bookish, which provides bite-sized snippets about the latest bookish trends, bookish culture, and bookish people. So many books! So many authors! So much discussion! I fear that my teetering TBR pile will not be able to handle the extra influx of recommendations.

june tbr

happy towel day, you hoopy froods

I wish I had more time to write about this, but alas, I have two assignments due over the next couple of days and I’ve barely had time to squeeze in a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster before breakfast!

towel day 2016

Today marks the 15th annual Towel Day, celebrating the life and works of Douglas Adams, most renowned for his foremost guide to inter-galactic hitch-hiking. I read and fell in love with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when I was in high school. Over ten years later, the trilogy of five still holds a very dear place in my bookshelves. There’s something timeless, and – dare I say – universal, about Adams’ humour, warm and very aware of humanity’s foibles, that keeps it relevant and beloved by so many after all these years.

So, wherever you are in the galaxy, don’t panic, make sure you know where your towel is, and have a Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters or two (but never three, unless you are a thirty ton mega elephant with bronchial pneumonia) for the great Douglas Adams. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Is anyone else celebrating Towel Day? If so, please share!