October 2019 Reading

October looks great regarding my reading, but in truth half of these are children’s books. Still, it’s said that being a great writer is helped by reading widely. The children’s books are for my university course starting in a couple weeks, and as I’ve been reading classics (never again, Wuthering Heights) it was a nice change.

Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

This is a timeless mystery. Set in 1900, Picnic at Hanging Rock follows a group of school girls as they, well, picnic at Hanging Rock, though spooky vibes set in when a few of them go missing.

The creepy vibes were perfection in this story; Joan Lindsay found that balance between writing about the characters and the environment around them. Though the story focuses entirely on the missing girls and what happens to characters in the following days, I wasn’t bored. I was captivated by the circumstances surrounding each character and loved how every individual was somehow caught up in the tragedy of the missing school girls.

Each character is introduced and characterised briefly, yet the reader knows enough to be swept up in their side of the story.

Though I’ve heard the sequel isn’t as good, I do want to read it for the sake of closure. I do have my suspicions, but it would be nice to get the full picture of what happened that day.

My rating: 5/5 stars

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

North and South is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Set in the 19th century, it follows Margaret as she moves to Milton, a manufacturing town in the south, with her parents. The way the characters related to one another was complex and interesting, particularly with difference in class and reputation.

The love story is equally gentle and intense, with moments of conflict as well as quiet, loving moments. The development of Margaret and Mr. Thornton’s relationship is heart-warming and the final chapter satisfying.

I look forward to reading more Elizabeth Gaskell in the future.

My rating: 5/5 stars

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

I was a bit nervous going into this novel, as the synopsis did nothing to comfort me. However, I really did enjoy it. The narration is quirky and captivating, and each character had their own way of speaking and acting; something I appreciate in a novel.

Scattered throughout the book are lists created by the narrator, Rob. Lists about music and lists about his worst breakups. Having this varied storytelling kept me reading as we heard about his past as well as present.

The insecurity explored in Rob’s life, and the experiences of rejection, were quite intriguing, especially as I don’t usually read novels with a male protagonist. I liked how casual his life and storytelling are; the novel doesn’t have any major stand out moments, but gently pulls you along as life happens to the protagonist.

My rating: 4/5 stars

The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan

This book is so quirky, I love it. I can’t even explain how wonderful the illustrations are, and how I could just stare at the pages for hours and not get bored.

The lost thing is a giant red machine-looking creature that a boy finds on the beach. At the end of a fun beach day, no one claims the lost thing and the boy makes it his mission to take him somewhere safe.

This book holds a sadness, despite the lost thing being dropped to a safe place of other lost things. We see the boy finding lost things all over the city, but he sees them less and less as he grows older. I found myself quite attached to the lost things and was troubled when the adults couldn’t see them or didn’t care about them.

There’s a lesson in that.

My rating: 5/5 stars

Once There Was a Boy by Dub Leffler

Did this book take anyone else by surprise? I was expecting it comment on the origins of our land or on a different culture. (And to some extent it does, but it’s so much more than that, as well.) The story begins with a boy who lives alone on an island, when a girl shows up.

What follows is a tale of conflict, vulnerability, and reconciliation.

What took me by surprise was the, er, heart. As in, a literal heart. In a box. The boy’s heart, in a box, under his bed.

Besides the whole, you know, heart thing, I gave this book four stars. The overall message was quite elegant and beautiful.

My rating: 4/5 stars

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

This is so well-regarded I had to give it a try.

This is a beautiful book with many different lessons, and almost warnings, for children and adults alike. It’s nostalgic and sad, with the Little Prince being so open, vulnerable, and affected by life.

I won’t give away the plot, because explaining the plot will give away the lessons adults must learn, but I hope you believe me when I say this book is wonderful. It’s one that I will return to time and time again and try to understand a bit more each time.

The drawings scattered throughout the book also made my heart happy.

My rating: 4/5 stars

John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat by Jenny Wagner, illustrated by Ron Brooks

All these children’s books are thawing my ice cold heart.

Just kidding, I didn’t have any icy heart to begin with. But it was lovely to look at all the different illustrations and how simple, yet profound, the stories are.

John Brown, Rose’s dog, was a great character. He’s relatable whilst taking the opportunity to grow and become a better… dog.

Good on him.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Matilda by Roald Dahl

I love Matilda. I found my heart continually warmed as Matilda goes to the library on her own and reads through classics. There’s something so appealing in who Matilda is and how she’s going to deal with her terrible family.

Miss Honey is refreshing compared to the other horrendous adults of this book, though I do appreciate the way Mr and Mrs Wormwood are characterized. Though they’re awful, they’re intriguing.

As a kid I was terrified of Miss Trunchbull, and reading this book as an adult… I am still scared of Miss Trunchbull. But just like Matilda’s parents, Miss Trunchbull is characterized in the most interesting way that makes you want to keep reading about what she’s like and the bad things she does.

Roald Dahl, while I wouldn’t normally choose to read his stories again (this book is for university), is a fantastic author. His children’s books treat the child reading them as intelligent, as important, as though they’re in on this joke that adults aren’t allowed to hear. There’s something special in being able to speak to the reader in a humorous, intelligent way, regardless of their age.

My rating: 5/5 stars

Well, there you have it; a happy reading list for October!

Sarah xx

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