A little over a year ago, I joined The Classics Club reading challenge. At the current rate, the only way I’ll even get close to finishing all 52 books on my list within the allotted five years is if I am sent to live in exile somewhere with no access to people, TV or new books. The challenge is Not Happening. The challenge and I are like two strangers set up on a blind date where one of us is waiting at the wrong venue. It’s not that I’m not reading, I’m just not reading anything from the list. I have a pile of three or four newly acquired books on my desk at work. The reason for this is that they do not fit on the shelf with the other 20. There is a slim chance that I will leave the book industry and go to work on an oil rig, in which case I’ll pack a suitcase full of classics and some spare undies, and be able to finish the challenge. In the meantime, here’s a little run through of what I have been reading.
The Tea Chest
This is a debut novel from Queenslander Josephine Moon and I loved it. If books were food this would be a fairy cake - sweet but not cloying, nostalgic, a little whimsical and something you want to simultaneously gobble up and save for later. It was a book about tea so how could I not love it when my two favourite things in the world are books and tea?!
Mag-fucking-nificent. (Brona, please direct your readers to this page if they want an opposing opinion from your own!!). There were moments where I struggled (like Bron) to keep going but it was SO WORTH IT. It was juicy, compelling, exciting, melancholy, disturbing, evocative, thought provoking and thrilling. In a review in Kill Your Darlings journal, Margot McGovern references a BBC interview with Donna Tartt, where she mentions the desire “to give her readers that childhood feeling of breathlessly turning page after page, greedy to learn what happens next while still awarding each sentence the weight it deserves”. She achieves the aim to perfection, making The Goldfinch practically the definition of "unputdownable".
This book by Victoria Finlay has been sitting on my bookshelf, patiently waiting to be read for at least two years. I finally ran out of excuses not to read it, and took it down the other day to begin. I am so glad I did. A small part of me wishes I had read it sooner but I am enjoying it so much right now (haven’t quite finished it yet!) that I cannot begrudge my present self the pleasure it is currently bringing me. It is bursting with fascinating little stories and anecdotes and I keep wanting to share the fascinating facts as I discover them. It's books like this one that make me realise there is nothing better than some well written non-fiction to inspire and enthuse.