Booking Through Thursday – Burn

It’s being a while since I joined in with Booking Through Thursday’s weekly meme, but when I saw todays question I knew I had to get involved.

This week the question is:

If your house was burning down and you could save just one book from your collection … what would it be?

(And, for the purposes of this discussion, we’ll allow series to count as “one” long, multi-volume book.)

This question immediately intrigued and excited me. My book collection is one of the most precious and sentimental things in my life. Each book is loving cared for and my entire collection takes centre stage in my home; the shelves carefully and intricately arranged.

The idea of losing my entire collection therefore fills me with dread. But what if I could save just one book? As painful as the thought of losing my books is there is one book that instantly comes to mind and is irrefutably, without doubt the book I would save.

The book is the His Dark Material collection by Philip Pullman, a trilogy that includes Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. The specific book in question was a gift last Christmas and it’s a very special book indeed. Beautifully designed with a classic cover, this book is a first edition collectors item.

It’s the only first edition of a book that I own, perhaps making it even more dear to me. It’s also one of my all time favourite books, a collection of stories I could read again and again.

So this is the book I would save. I’d feel deeply guilty about leaving my other books but I couldn’t consider losing this volume. Sentimental, full of memories, a book I am truly proud to own.

What about everyone else, if your house was burning down, which book would you save and why? I’d love to hear your answers and don’t forget to post your answers at the Booking Through Thursday site.

Thanks BTT for coming up with such a great question and for prompting to really appreciate my book collection.


August rounded up

I must apologise if it has been a quiet month here at I Hug My Books, despite plenty of reading fun behind the scenes, it seems I’ve had little or no time to share my thoughts. On a positive note though, this means that I have many upcoming reviews soon to be published and I can’t wait to let you all know about the great books I’ve recently discovered.

I started August by finishing How To Be A Woman by Caitln Moran, a book I absolutely loved and which had a huge impact upon me. It made me truly rethink so many of my principles and although I didn’t agree with all of Moran’s opinions it did remind me of the importance of nurturing and acknowledging my own feelings.

I then moved onto The Hunger Games, a book totally different to How To Be A Woman but one I still deeply enjoyed. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a book that you can just get your teeth stuck into. I couldn’t put it down from page one and frankly that’s sometimes all I want from a book.

I then moved onto a book I probably would never have read had it not being chosen for my book group. The book in question was Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion and my review is soon to be published. I enjoyed this book, but in the midst of a month of brilliant reading, this book finds itself firmly at the bottom of the pile.

Last, but by no means least, I read The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. This book links beautifully with Zafon’s other two novels The Shadow Of The Wind and The Angels Game and it took me no effort at all to become addicted to this story. So much so that no sooner had I started it then I had finished it. I must say it’s definitely spoilt my reading appetite, nothing I’ve picked up since seems quite as worthy. Fingers crossed it wont be too long till Zafon’s next offering.

So that was August for me. I’ve just started Q by Evan Mandery, I do hope the story picks up soon, because even though I’m only fifty pages in the story is really dragging. But what about everyone else? What did you read in August? Anything you could recommend? Anything that really got you talking? And what do you have planned for September?

July Reflections

They say better late than never and hopefully that’s true. I’ve being meaning to sit down and share my thoughts with you on the wonderful books that I read in July and yet I keep getting side-tracked by a book that I’m currently reading and can’t put down. But enough of that for now, firstly it’s time to re-cap on July’s reading.

I began the month by reading Every Last One by Anna Quindlen, a book that on it’s on I did love, however pitted against the other brilliant books that I read in July somehow became overshadowed and paled in comparison. Every Last One, the story of a mother whose world becomes shattered and turned upside down when her family is hit by tragedy, is a compelling and intriguing story. Whilst it may not have been the best book that I read in July it is certainly worth a read.

Next up I chose a darker and more gothic novel in the form of The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. I first discovered Waters at the end of the year but I quickly fell in love with her writing style and talent for story telling. The Little Stranger was no disappointment, gripping from the first page, I couldn’t put this novel down. From the haunted feel of Hundred’s Hall to the complex decline of its residents. This is an intelligent and entertaining novel that you wont easily forget.

From ghosts to fantasy the next book I chose to read was Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. I chose this book for my book group in July and didn’t regret my choice. Whilst not everyone loved the book most did and I was happy to find a group of people with whom I could pick apart this rich and complex work. Northern Lights still ranks as one of my all time favourite books and for anyone put off by the fact that the book was originally a children’s story, fear not this book has just as much to offer an adult audience.

After immersing myself in so much fiction I decided to choose a more factual novel for my next book. This came in the form of Born To Run by Christopher Mcdougall and although I’m yet to share my thoughts on this book it’s enough to say that I was blown away by this story and was shocked to find myself so drawn into a story that essentially centres around running.

Lastly I began How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran. I’m currently only half way through this book but Moran gives you so much to think about and muse over that I don’t want to rush a moment of it. Needless to say this is the book that has recently stole so much of my attention and had me up late into the night pouring over Moran’s witty and perceptive take on life and women. I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you when I’ve finished this book.

So that was July for me, ghosts, running, feminism, family tragedy and children’s fiction. It was certainly an eclectic month to say the least. As usual I don’t have any solid plans for August, other than reading Warm Bodies, a zombie novel, for my book group.

So what about everyone else? What have you all being reading this month? Anything amazing? And what do you have planned for August?

The Prisoner Of Heaven & Other New Offerings from Carlos Ruiz Zafon

If there’s one writer sure to bring to joy to all who read his books then it’s Carols Ruiz Zafon. I’m yet to meet a reader who hasn’t fallen for his captivating and daring story telling. The fact that The Shadow Of The Wind is the only book to entertain and please every member of my book group is a further testament to Zafon’s success.

Imagine my excitement then when I was asked to review Zafon’s latest book, The Prisoner Of Heaven. Of course I didn’t need to think twice and I can’t wait to get stuck into this much-anticipated novel. The Prisoner Of Heaven reunites us with the much-loved characters of The Shadow Of The Wind. Daniel and Bea Sempere have had their first child and their dear friend Fermin Romero De Torres is soon to married. But then a deeply buried secret threatens to become uncovered unveiling a world of trouble and dangers in a plot that promises to be as dramatic and spell binding as Zafon’s other works.

The Prisoner Of Heaven went on sale July 10th and I’m sure many have already tucked into this latest offering. But if this wasn’t exciting enough there’s another treat in store. Harper Books have also released a free short story from Zafon titled The Rose Of Fire. You can read it here. Fans of Zafon are sure to love this story which takes us back to the Cemetery Of Books, whilst I’m sure first time readers will also love the chance to try his work.

I do hope you all decide to read The Rose Of Fire, a brilliant read and completely free! I’d love to hear your thoughts and off course I’d love to know how everyone feels about the release of The Prisoner Of Heaven, perhaps you’ve already read it and would like to share your thoughts?

Happy Reading everyone.

I’m back in the world of blogging….

I must apologise to my readers because I hug my books has being a little quite of late. I haven’t purposefully neglected my blog, I’ve being in Paris for the past week and frustratingly couldn’t get access to the internet. Not being able to access your blog certainly makes you realise how much you miss it.

It was great to come back however and see all of the wonderful comments left and to check out everyone else’s blogs and what they had been reading. I didn’t do my usual monthly wind up post last month due to being away, however I thought I would briefly share with you here my reading experiences in February.

The month began with the brilliant The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks which was kindly recommended to me by Sammy Dee as part of my Day Zero challenge. For years people have being telling me to read this book and yet I’ve always put it off. Something about the blurb and it’s promise of unprecedented violence put me off. More fool me because not only was the book amazing but it was one of my favourites this year.

 Next up was Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay, this book as you will see from my review blew me away and had me captivated from the first to last page. The book formed part of a book tour hosted by TLC book tours, I must again thank them for asking me to take part, again this was one of my favourite books this year. I’d highly recommend this story, especially to those interested in Russian history and ballet.

Last up was Moby Dick by, this is the book up for discussion at our next book group meet this week. Therefore I will refrain from saying too much about it now. I’m still not completely finished the book but I think I can be forgiven for that when it’s such a weighty number.

I don’t have too many concrete plans for March, I need to finish Moby Dick by Herman Melville and I’ve recently also started my very first Agatha Christie book, By The Pricking Of Thumbs, after that I’m keeping my options open. Does anyone have any recommendations, after all my recent ones have being brilliant. What’s everyone else’s plans for March and did you read anything interesting in February?

On another note my blog will be a whole year old this month. I will be running a quiz and giveaway to celebrate so do keep an eye out for that. Happy Reading everyone.

Goodbye January….Hello February

Yikes is it really already February? Where does the time go? If things have been a little quiet at I hug my books recently it’s thanks to hectic schedules and nasty college deadlines. But thankfully I’ve still managed to squeeze in some brilliant reading, some I’ve shared with you, some I’m looking forward to sharing soon.

I began the month with The Particular Sadness of Lemon cake which I enjoyed despite it really not being my usual kind of book. I hadn’t given it too much thought after reading and reviewing it until a friend asked me my thoughts just the other day. It made me re-asses my feelings and realize just how much I’d liked this book in spite of the unusual and unpredictable turn that it took.

Next up was another book that I probably wouldn’t normally read, Ask The Dusk by John Fante. Thanks to a work colleague insisting I try it I was soon immersed in the wonderful world of Arturo Bandini, enjoying another novel set in the heart of L.A. A setting that doesn’t usually show up in the books I read but one that fascinates me.

I then read The Secret Life of bee’s which was given to me as a gift. I’m yet to post my review so I’ll remain quite hushed up on this one for now. Also I haven’t quite made up my mind on this book. I enjoyed it, in the momentt, but it was one of those books that once finished seems to vanish from your memory almost immediately.

And lastly a book I’m not likely to forget anytime soon is The Shadow of The Wind which I read just the other day as part of my book group. Again I’m yet to post my review but once I do I’m sure you’ll find I was enthralled by Zafon’s magical story  and the mesmerizing world he has created. I’ll also be posting the thoughts of my fellow book groupers. There will also be a small quiz posted on this book in the near future with a chance to win a free book. More details to follow shortly.

For now I don’t really have any solid reading plans other than reading The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks which I’ve finally managed to get a copy of from my local library. I’m also going to be reading Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay as part of a book blog tour, more details of that to come soon.

So what about everyone else? Read anything god this month? Got any plans for February? I’d love to hear what you’ve being up to reading wise.

To Speed Up Or To Slow Down?

Time is ticking

 Perhaps it’s through the discovery of other bloggers and their impressive ability to read at what seems to me a superhuman speed which has caused me to become so self-conscious? Either way I have recently become increasingly concerned with how much I’m reading and at what speed rather than what I am reading and if I’m enjoying it. Strange isn’t it? Surely reading should be carefree and relaxing? Does it really matter about much you read?

 These are the thoughts that I have being musing with since beginning my blog and so eventually I decided to give speed reading a chance. I’ll confess to high hopes because the idea of reading two books a week from my usual snail pace of one was very tempting.

 Initially I really struggled with ‘speed reading’, in life I’m known for analyzing situations and this seems to follow through when reading. Poetic prose and deep metaphors get my full attention and I can never move from one sentence to another without fully understanding the last. I suspected that it was this acute attention to detail that slowed me down so much and so I brought the subject up with my more swift friends.

The idea that I spent so much time trying to understand the full meaning of each sentence baffled my friends, ‘why waste so much time?’. But I’d always thought skipping through idea’s and sections that I didn’t comprehend was cheating?

 Forcing myself to give this ago I adopted the rule that if I read something that didn’t quite click for me the first time, I would re read it once, maybe twice and then move on regardless. My worry was that this would spoil my connection with the book and sully how strongly I bonded with the writer. Yet it in reality I learned that so long as I didn’t do it with every sentence I still managed to understand and appreciate the book. In fact a certain pressure was lifted and I enjoyed the book more from my own perspective instead of trying to figure out every little meaning of the writers.

Skipping the incomprehensible has definitely sped up my reading but only marginally, so I forced myself to plow through at an even faster rate and it was then that I started to notice a detachment to the books I was reading. When putting my book down for the night my first thought wasn’t ‘wow that was incredible’. No personal observations of the story sprung to mind. Instead it was ‘Ok I read 50 pages there, must read another 100 tomorrow and then 100 the day after and eureka that’s a book in 3days!!’. Brilliant but where is the emotional connection?

Currently I’m half way through both The Shadow of the Wind and The Secret Life of Bee’s and after a harried and rushed start I’m giving up on speed reading in favor of taking my time. It’s giving me reader’s indigestion. Books shouldn’t be rushed or forced in my opinion, they should be devoured as slowly as you like, taking your time to digest and absorb each delectable page.

 Off course that’s just me and a small part still envies those that can speed read but I’m giving up on that in order to try and get back to just enjoying books for what they are.

 So what about everyone else? Are you a fast reader, blasting through page after page at a super sonic pace? Or are you a slow reader who likes to take their time? Do you even care or does it just not factor into your mind? I’d love to hear how everyone else feels about it and whether or not you’ve changed your reading habits.

…Now back to those wonderful books.