Hidden beneath the cover,
the path is precisely cut.
Figures, animals, empires,
a jungle of words
layered into a hive
where no guide is needed,
just the marker for ‘A’.
I love to look across at my bookshelves.
I don’t just see slabs of paper wrapped in pretty pictures,
or titles on spines acting as identities.
I see doorways.
I see vines of words reaching out to tangle around my arms and drag me in,
whether to another world entirely,
or to a part of my own brain that I’ve never greeted before.
Even after I close the book
once my ticket there is spent,
I know I can use it as a wedge to return to that place.
A place where I will always find a home
or a friendship,
a truth, a discovery
Is it an odd thing
to want to put my name on a shelf?
Pin it up amongst the other names
of other dreamers, ones who have been told many times,
probably even more times than me,
that their dreams aren’t worth following?
Is it an odd thing
to want to pour my mind out?
Use my blood as ink, staining the words
onto white sheets binding the dreams always to the world,
polishing until they are no longer
dreams, but real, solid books?
Perhaps it is.
And perhaps I’ll do it anyway.
When opening to a page and getting lost within,
whether fiction, non-fiction, poetry, short stories sweet or grim,
remember that those words, before they were inked,
were the ideas, imagination and experiences
of those creators with whom you are now linked.
So today I did something (kind of) impulsively – I made a video about books. I plan to make more, though I won’t have a specific upload schedule, it’ll be more of a ‘when I have time’ kind of thing, but this is the start to what will hopefully be an interesting Booktube channel.
As with all first videos, there are plenty of awkward moments, but it was fun to record and just talk book talk for a while. And yes, I say ‘fantastic’ a lot.
You can view it here.
As promised, here’s part two of my recent book haul! They cover quite a few genres and age ranges.
Dragon Rider: The Griffin’s Feather by Cornelia Funke – The last winged horses are on the brink of extinction. Three foals lie curled in their eggs in a sanctuary for threatened creatures, where a young dragon rider lives with his silver dragon. The foals are ill, and the pair volunteer to seek the only cure: a Griffin’s feather. But Griffins, with the heads of eagles and the bodies of lions, are a dragon’s fiercest enemy, and live far across the world in the sweltering jungle. A dangerous and exciting adventure begins …
Around the Universe in 10 -43 Second by Manu Breysse – Sareth is a Pharaoh on a lost planet at the far end of an arm of the Milky Way. While imposing a hard-line, despotic regime there, he is accidentally teleported to the centre of the galaxy. Lost, Sareth goes to take refuge in a city library to try to understand what is happening to him. But, just as he is about to discover the meaning of life, it disappears before his very eyes… Come discover Sareth and his companions on their insane quest to find the meaning of life! A quest against which the universe itself appears to put them on their guard with its space worms, galactic jellyfish, pan-dimensional creatures, humans… Accompanied by an alcoholic, his shrink and the latter’s daughter who is in the throes of adolescence, Sareth will confront the dangers of an absurd universe, which has no other purpose than to make life rare and precious!
Carnivalesque by Neil Jordan – To Andy and his parents, it looks like any other carnival: creaking ghost train, rusty rollercoaster and circus performers. But of course it isn’t. Drawn to the hall of mirrors, Andy enters and is hypnotised by the many selves staring back at him. Sometime later, one of those selves walks out rejoins his parents – leaving Andy trapped inside the glass, snatched from the tensions of his suburban home and transported to a world where the laws of gravity are meaningless and time performs acrobatic tricks. And now an identical stranger inhabits Andy’s life, unsettling his mother with a curious blankness, as mysterious events start unfolding in their Irish coastal town.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl – James Henry Trotter lives with two ghastly hags. Aunt Sponge is enormously fat with a face that looks boiled and Aunt Spiker is bony and screeching. He’s very lonely until one day something peculiar happens. At the end of the garden a peach starts to grow and GROW AND GROW. Inside that peach are seven very unusual insects – all waiting to take James on a magical adventure. But where will they go in their GIANT PEACH and what will happen to the horrible aunts if they stand in their way? There’s only one way to find out . . .
Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book by Terry Jones, illustrated by Brian Froud – This is a reproduction of the diary of Lady Angelica Cottington, which features pressed garden fairies. Or rather the psychic images of the fairies, who quickly turned it into a game, where they leapt between the closing pages in an effort to outdo each other to produce the most outrageous poses. The book claims to be the facsimile edition of the notebook of Lady Cottington who, it is said, took the infamous photograph of a group of fairies that was authenticated by Conan Doyle, but later discredited. She was determined to prove the existence of fairies and began to capture them between the pages of her notebook, in which she had previously pressed wild flowers. This is a record of the fairies she caught, and of the disruptive influence they had on her otherwise sheltered life.
The Museum’s Secret by Henry Chancellor – Welcome to the Scatterhorn Museum! But don’t get too excited – it’s a cold and dingy place, crammed full of tatty stuffed animals and junk. Nobody much wants to visit any more, and its days are surely numbered. But when Tom is sent to live here he soon finds there is more to this museum than meets the eye. The animals may be shabby and moth-eaten – but they possess an incredible secret. And when Tom discovers he can go right back to the time of their making, a hundred years earlier, he embarks on a journey full of unimaginable terrors… Join Tom in his breathtaking adventure in and out of time, from an Edwardian ice fair to the wastes of Mongolia, the jungles of India, and beyond…
The World’s Worst Children 2 by David Walliams – The brilliant follow-up to David Walliams’ bestseller The World’s Worst Children! Ten more stories about a brand new gang of hilariously horrible kids from everyone’s favourite children’s author, illustrated in glorious full colour by Tony Ross. If you thought you had read about the World’s Worst Children already, you’re in for a rather nasty shock. The beastly boys and gruesome girls in this book are even ruder, even more disgusting and WORSE than you could ever imagine!
Moonlocket by Peter Bunzl – It’s hard to escape the secrets from the past.
Storm clouds gather over Lily and Robert’s summer when criminal mastermind the Jack of Diamonds appears. For Jack is searching for the mysterious Moonlocket – but that’s not the only thing he wants. Suddenly, dark secrets from Robert’s past plunge him into danger. Jack is playing a cruel game that Robert is a part of. Now Lily and Malkin, the mechanical fox, must stay one step ahead before Jack plays his final, deadly card…
Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops by Jen Campbell – ‘Can books conduct electricity?’ ‘My children are just climbing your bookshelves: that’s ok… isn’t it?’ A John Cleese Twitter question [‘What is your pet peeve?’], first sparked the “Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops” blog, which grew over three years into one bookseller’s collection of ridiculous conversations on the shop floor. From ‘Did Beatrix Potter ever write a book about dinosaurs?’ to the hunt for a paperback which could forecast the next year’s weather; and from ‘I’ve forgotten my glasses, please read me the first chapter’ to’Excuse me… is this book edible?’ This full-length collection illustrated by the Brothers McLeod also includes top ‘Weird Things’ from bookshops around the world.
The View from Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman – ‘Literature does not occur in a vacuum. It cannot be a monologue. It has to be a conversation.’ This collection will draw you in to exchanges on making good art and Syrian refugees, the power of a single word and playing the kazoo with Stephen King, writing about books, comics and the imagination of friends, being sad at the Oscars and telling lies for a living. Here Neil Gaiman opens our minds to the people he admires and the things he believes might just mean something – and welcomes us to the conversation too.
Nightwalking by Matthew Beaumont – In Nightwalking Matthew Beaumont recounts an alternative history of Londonpopulated by the poor, the mad, the lost, the vagrant and the noctambulant. He shines a light on the shadowy perambulations of poets, novelists and thinkers: Chaucer and Shakespeare; William Blake and his ecstatic peregrinations and the feverish ramblings of opium addict Thomas De Quincey; and, among the lamp-lit literary throng, the supreme nightwalker Charles Dickens. We discover how the nocturnal city has inspired some and served as a balm or narcotic to others.
So there you are, a breakdown of all the books I’ve gathered this month. Most of them I bought myself, but Carnivalesque and Around the Universe in 10 -43 Second I gained from giveaways – always a bonus!