Summer Reading – What’s In My Stash?
My family and I are lucky enough to have a small holiday place in Daylesford. Now that my children are both school-aged, it’s a wonderful place to come and relax, crack open a book (or seventeen) while the boys play with their new Christmas cricket bats and soccer balls.
I find that I read more books when I am up here than when I am at home. This is probably because internet access is limited, so I don’t get distracted by checking my email, getting involved in Facebook and Twitter chatting, and checking out the blogs that I follow. Planning to come to Daylesford always includes choosing what books I am going to pack – and I find that I tend to ‘save’ books to bring. I tend to like big, hefty tomes at this time of year. These holidays, I have an assortment box that includes a new release, a classic and the first volume in a vampire series (hint: it’s not the one you think!)
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
You might have heard of a little movie being released these holidays called The Hobbit. And yes, I admit the release of the movie has me going back to the novel. But it’s been a while since I visited this much-loved book, one that I first read when I was about 8. I think it was one of my ‘bridge’ books – one that made a link from the world of non-threatening kid’s books into the world of something darker, opening the way for more ‘adult’ narratives and darker realms of imagination.
If you haven’t come across The Hobbit before, it is the story of Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit from the Shire and a journey he makes with 12 dwarves. The journey becomes darker and more treacherous, eventually involving cavernous mines, giant spiders, a certain Ring and the nightmarish, self-repressing Gollum.
But this time I’m going to be doing something different: I’m going to be reading it aloud to my children. At 5 and 7, they are old enough to enjoy a slightly scary, totally rollicking story unfolding in nightly instalments. And coming in at only 19 chapters, The Hobbit is short enough to get through at a pace of one section per night, finished by the end of the holidays.
(Mr 7 is at the stage where he can do some of the reading aloud, but probably needs to be hooked on the story first…)
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
A confession – I’ve been reading this book for about a year now. Every time I come to Daylesford, I pick it up and get totally absorbed in it. Yet, when I’m at home, I find that I can’t stick with it. Perhaps it is something about being on holidays that favours reading a 592-page novel about a witch and a vampire falling in love and uncovering the secret behind a mysterious – and dangerous – document. Diana Bishop is an academic historian who discovers three things (a) she is a witch (b) the manuscript that she uncovered is an alchemical one that holds deadly secrets and (c) Matthew Clairmont, the man who is also searching for the manuscript (and whom Diana is dangerously attracted to), is a centuries-old vampire. It’s loads of fun, being both scary and hilarious: at one point Diana muses ‘Nothing in my culinary experience had taught me what to feed a vampire when he came for dinner.’ Think of Discovery as a cross between Possession and Twilight – a literary mystery entwined with a fantasy novel. And the best part, it’s (only) the first volume in the All Souls Trilogy.
(The second volume, Shadow of Night, was released in 2012. The third is not yet published. Perhaps Diana Harkness is waiting for me to catch up?)
Grace by Grace Coddington
Did you see The September Issue a couple of years ago? Did you love the wonderful flame-haired creative director who not only challenged Anna Wintour about every artistic decision made about Vogue magazine, but also extolled a model to go ahead and eat that piece of cake? That amazing red-head was Grace Coddington. And I’m delighted that she has recently released her memoir, Grace. Coddington has had one of those lives that seems like it belongs in the pages of a novel. She was a model in the swinging 60s, an It girl, whose face was disfigured in a horrific car accident. She then rebuilt her life to become a fashion editor, first in London and then in New York. Her visual style is bold, dramatic and bohemian – and her memoir promises to deliver that same tone in prose.
(This is the one book in my holiday collection that I don’t currently have. It is, however, the book I am going to buy on that one afternoon when I go into town sans boys, and have time to browse in the local bookshop. Then I shall go to a café, and read the first few pages while I drink a coffee in peace…)
What’s in your summer reading stash? Like me, do you like to ‘save’ books for your summer reading? Perhaps you would like to share your ‘bridge’ book with us, or tell us about your favourite reading spot…
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About Our Reading Space Contributor
Carolyn Leslie is an IPEd-accredited editor, a writer, an award-winning book reviewer and a business chick, as well as Mama to two little boys. Carolyn loves books, blogs, op shops, gardening, mucking around in the kitchen and dancing crazily with her kids (and sometimes even with her husband). She dreams of someday having a quiet and (totally) uninterrupted read…
You can follow her on twitter @carolynleslie. Or if email is your thing, drop her a line sometime at email@example.com.