There was ages there where I wasn’t reading. It was a strange place for me to find myself, because growing up I was surgically attached to books, the more the better. We used to get book parcels in the mail, from some lending library off somewhere in the great big world that it seemed I’d never get to see. Reading was my refuge and my hope in a cruel teenage world where I was never going to fit in, and fed my insatiable curiosity about the world as I careened through my University degree. For years there, I found myself in this lovely nexus of synchronicity, where I’d find the most unlikely, random, strange books in op shops and clearance tables and garage sales. Fabulous books that opened my mind and gave my world depth and colour and shine.
I’ve started reading again, the last year or so, and there have been some moments like that again. Nowadays I find it hard to browse for books like I used to; I seem to lack the patience and openness, and there’s always something else to do, somewhere I have to be, something I have to say that money for. But some get through that net of denial, and come to me through strange and wondrous channels.
The star of the show right now is Burial Rites. This pearl of a debut novel turned up when I visited my sister and my new nephew back in January; my mother, it turned out, had read it and left it at The Sister’s house for me to read. Mum and I share a love of reading but our taste in reading material doesn’t always mesh; that said, whenever she sends, lends or gives me a book I at least give it a chance, as I hope she does with those I send, lend or give her.
Burial Rites is set in medieval Iceland, and is based on the true story of a woman who is found guilty of murder and is sent to a remote farm to await her execution. The synopsis is enough to set the pulse racing; the reality of the book exceeds the wildest expectations. Kent’s prose is tense, sparse, raw. The honesty and unflinching courage in her wordsmithing makes this a riveting read, one full of conflict. I want to devour the story without a moment’s pause because it’s so engrossing; on the other hand, I want to eke it out in tiny moments, partly because I want it to last and partly because it’s so hard to cope with its enormity. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
The other book worth mentioning here is one I got last week when Frog and I went on a library date. A little aimless browsing turned up a few potential gems and I proceeded to check them out. (Self checkout at the library is a winner! Not like those awful things at the supermarkets…but I digress.) One of those was Homegrown Honeybees and I started reading it as soon as we got home and had had dinner. I was immediately engrossed! Of all the books on backyard beekeeping I could have picked up there, I’m so glad it was this one. It’s friendly, up-front and full of fetching photos. The layout is engaging and visually attractive and the content is utterly fascinating. Of course, in our shoebox home we can’t keep bees, but once we move to a bigger place…who knows!?
What are you reading? Leave me a comment if you’re reading something awesome and want to get the word out. I’d love to hear about your gems!