What I Love About Reading That Has Nothing to Do With Reading

The crackling sound the spine makes when I open a hard cover.

The smell of old books.6745

The smell of new books.

Learning that someone loves the same books that I do.

Buying an empty bookshelf and slowly filling it with books and memories.bookends

Seeing a stranger read a book I love out in public – it’s like we’ve formed an invisible connection.tumblr-reading-recommendation

Getting excited at long train rides because I know I get an hour of uninterrupted time.

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The satisfaction after finishing a long book.

Feeling a brand new, untouched book before opening it for the first time.

Feeling a well-worn, well-read book before opening it for the hundredth time.b8-1

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday Tag: Top Ten Books That I’ve Added to My To-Be-Read List Lately

It’s Tuesday and you know what that means! It’s Top Ten Tuesday Meme by The Broke and the Bookish. This week it’s…

The Top Ten Books That I’ve Added To My To-Be-Read List Lately

  1. Six four by Hideo Yokoyama. It’s a Japanese crime thriller with a police procedural so it’s standard reading material for me. It’s been a while since I tackled something solid and heavy and they’ve even made a movie out of it.
  2. The Vegetarian by Han Kang. This won the International Man Booker Prize in 2016 and according to Goodreads is “a disturbing, yet beautifully composed narrative told in three parts, The Vegetarian is an allegorical novel about modern day South Korea, but also a story of obsession, choice, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another” so my whole body is itching to read this, even if I strongly suspect the deeper philosophical meaning escapes me.
  3. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip L. Dick. I love me some dystopian sci-fi and this novel supposedly provided the inspiration for the movie ‘Blade Runner’ and is considered one of the most iconic Sci-fi novels in the genre.
  4. The Godfather by Mario Pulozzo. I love making my way through the classics and it’s time to give the (God)father of gangster novels a try (I swear I’m funny). I’ve watched the movie already and I’m very curious as to how the infamous horse head scene plays out.
  5. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I promise I’ll give this Romance genre another serious try without judgement. I’ve heard everyone cries at the ending so I am expecting tears.
  6. Dowager Empress Cixi by Jung Chang. When I went to China, I became almost obsessed with the woman responsible for the Summer Palace, and the Marble Boat, and the Long Corridor. I also enjoyed Jung Chang’s lyrical prose in her memoir ‘Wild Swans’ so I’m eager to read something else written by her.
  7. Inferno by Dan Brown. Anyone who’s been following my blog for a while will know that I consider Robert Langdon novels to be the ultimate guilty pleasure and the Tom Hanks movie that’s coming out makes me want to read it even more.
  8. One Child by Mei Fong. As an only child myself, I’m fascinated by only child dynamics and this book goes on to discuss the Little Emperor phenomenon in China as a result of the One-Child policy.
  9. The Sellout by Paul Beatty. This year’s winner of the Man Booker Prize, it’s supposedly Swiftian in its commentary on modern day society.
  10. Strangers On A Train by Patricia Highsmith. I’m slowly becoming addicted to Patricia Highsmith and I think  her most famous stories are this one and ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’. Not only do I need to read more of her stories, I would also love to own an original copy.

As you can see, I’m trying to read more diversely. If I had my way I’d drown myself in suspense, thrillers and paperback crime novels but then I’d miss out on exposing myself to everything

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Happy Halloween!! Favourite Horror Novels

Happy Halloween!

We don’t really celebrate it here in Australia but that doesn’t stop businesses trying to commercialise it or some of the kids going door to door despite the neighbours not having a full comprehension of the event (Exhibit A: in my neighbourhood, someone tried to give the trick-or-treaters a carrot).

Nevertheless, even though I occasionally get incredibly overwhelmed by American over-saturation of pop culture, there’s nothing wrong with having more holidays and celebrations to be a part of, so to get us all in the mood, here are my horror recommendations:

  1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. This was the first horror story I ever read. My dad had gotten me a series of summarised classics designed for children when I was about 8 and Frankenstein was one of them. I was so scarred by the experience that I didn’t have the guts to touch the damn thing again until I was 10.
  2. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. If you ever went through a ‘phase’ (like emo, goth etc) when you were a teenager (and I know I did), you would have read and loved ‘Interview with the Vampire’, though unlike my friends, I never got into the whole series.
  3. Ring by Koji Suzuki. I still remember exactly where I was when I bought it and where it was located in the bookstore. I loved the mystery element as Asakawa tries to find a cure, though I have never seen the movie.
  4. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. Better known as the movie where Daniel Radcliffe has to fight ghosts, it focuses less on gore and more on the destructive power of hate and malice.
  5. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist. A vampiric coming-of-age story set in Sweden, I can finally read a Swedish novel that’s not ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’.
  6. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. The original story about a satanic cult that became all the more unfortunate after the Manson murders, it’s increasingly claustrophobic atmosphere gives it it’s terrifying feeling (read my review here).
  7. Horns by Joe Hill. Better known as the movie where Daniel Radcliffe grows horns on his head, it’s deeply religious undertones gives the story greater depth and I expected nothing less from the son of Stephen King.
  8. Any short story by Edgar Allan Poe. The original master of gothic suspense, the stand outs for me would be ‘Red Death’, ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’, and ‘The House of Usher’.

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So I think for a novel to be classified as horror, it needs both the supernatural or gothic element and the author’s intention to scare their readers. For example, Harry Potter has supernatural elements but it’s more fantasy than anything else. And some novels contain some pretty messed up scenes (‘The Silence of the Lambs’) but you couldn’t classify them as horror.

I tried not to include anything that was too sci-fi, such as ‘I am Legend’ since despite exploring the vampiric folklore, the story is more about being the last person on earth than anything else.

I try not to read too much horror since I’m such a wuss so I prefer stories where they challenge the traditional elements of horror (like vampires) as opposed to using them in a straight forward manner (so I’m quite partial to ‘Let the Right One in’). Generally speaking, I get pretty freaked out about anything with ghosts (and even typing about this stuff out is making me a little nervous).

Please leave your recommendations below (though anyone who recommends paranormal romance is dead to me).

Book Tag: This or That

I wasn’t tagged to do this but I want to do more fun stuff like this since I have a blog now.

 

The Rules:

  1. Mention the creator of the tag (Tea and Paperbacks).
  2. Thank the blogger who tagged you! (I saw this on The Chronicles of Danielle so let me spread the love there).
  3. Choose one of the options, you don’t have to tell the reasons why you chose that but you can also do them if you want to.
  4. Tag some people to do this tag to spread the love.

 

1) Reading on the couch or on the bed?

The couch. I try to do as little as I can in bed so I will always associate it with sleep, no need to exasperate my insomnia.

 

2) Male main character or female character?

Look I want to say female characters because anything less would be embarrassing to a self-identified feminist but most of my favourite books have male protagonists. On the flipside, I find that when female characters are written great, they are amazing and way more memorable than male protagonists because the author usually puts more effort.

 

3) Sweet snacks or salty snacks when reading?

I usually don’t like eating when I’m reading but I prefer savoury foods to sweet as a rule of thumb

 

4) Trilogies or quartets?

Trilogies for the juvenile reason that I prefer the number three over four

 

5) First person point of view or third person point of view?

First person because there’s so much potential for utilising the Unreliable Narrator technique which adds so much layers and depth into any story.

 

6) Reading at night or in the morning?

In the morning. That way, if the book is good, I have more time to consume it.

 

7) Libraries or bookstores?

Bookstores all the way (despite my firm support on libraries). I love the variety way too much to show any consistent favouritism to libraries

 

8) Books that make you laugh or make you cry?

I never funny books actually funny and I rarely cry from novels but I find it’s easier for me to be moved by something heart-wrenching.

 

9) Black book covers or white book covers?

Black covers. Even though white covers are so clean and crisp, for practicality, black covers are less likely to show my grubby fingerprints.

 

10) Character driven or plot driven stories?

Character-driven stories because a strong character set can move mountains and change how you see the world afterwards. If it’s plot driven, there’s too much risk that the author descends into cheap thrills just to one-up what previously happened.

 

It’s quick and fun so everyone can do this!

Twenty Book Facts About Me

Let’s keep it book-themed, shall we?

  1. I can read almost anywhere but my regular spot seems to be public transportation. There’s nothing like an hour of uninterrupted peace.
  2. I can use any flat piece of paper as a bookmark.
  3. I never dog-ear my books because damaging my books is sacrilegious.
  4. With that being said, I love natural wear and tear on novels like spine creases and aging pages.
  5. But I like to preserve my books as much as I can by covering them in clear wrap.
  6. I have close to 300 books sitting on two IKEA bookshelves.
  7. I organise my books by genre.
  8. My reading habits almost came to a stand-still in my teen years because I was so bored with all the young adult fiction.
  9. I never purchase books online.
  10. For similar reasons, I do not use an e-reader.
  11. I prefer to own the book, rather than borrow.
  12. The first book that was ever read to me was The Three Little Pigs. The second was Little Red Riding Hood.
  13. I’m not fond of listening to music when I read.
  14. I don’t like eating while I’m reading.
  15. I hate dust jackets on books, beautiful but impractical.
  16. I hate fantasy with a raging passion (except for Harry Potter).
  17. I really struggle to read anthropologies or even a collection of short stories, everything feels disjointed.
  18. Even though I love crime fiction, my preference is weirdly specific for example, I’m not too partial to American crime fiction, but I’m crazy for Japanese crime fiction.
  19. I have an intense need to finish a series even if I don’t like the series anymore.
  20. Whenever I see someone reading out in public, I need to know what they’re reading.

How To Buy Books

  1. Go to Bookstore (bricks-and-mortar or online).
  2. Pick Book.
  3. Exchange Cash or Credit for Book.

 

I kid, I kid!

This post will be mainly about how I buy books to stretch out my dollar as far as I can without going to an online store. I still like to touch the item before buying it, which means I end up spending more than I should, so I try to be as thrifty as I can. And if you’re insistent on owning the book like I am, you’ve probably noticed that reading can be a pretty expensive hobby.

 

Behold, my tips!

  • The key to buying anything that’s not brand new and from a main retailer is patience. If I can’t find the book straight away, I have to resist the urge to go racing to my nearest commercial store and having it ordered. It also requires sifting through a few duds before you find something that you want.
  • If you’re ok with the varying qualities then Second Hand Bookstores are a goldmine. On a side note, I love it when the book has some kind of personal message or a photo in it because it feels like it’s meant something to someone once.
  • And any charity sales too. The volunteers usually don’t price their stock more than $5 to encourage as much sales as they can. I once went to a fundraising sale where they handed out cardboard boxes at the front door because walking out with anything less than a stack made you the odd one out, everything was that cheap. The annoying thing about these is that you have to get there on the first day and quite early too as all the good stock will be taken, unless the organisers have had a huge donation and would bring out fresh stock as the day wore on.
  • Discount stores are also a treasure trove too if you don’t mind that some of the covers are no longer in print because they’ve been replaced by something fancier. Discount stores are usually treated by publishers as a dumping ground so you may see one copy of a book or a thousand copies, there’s no in between.
  • Any Pop-up store is also good value. And because the owner usually has a short lease on the spot, everything’s discounted aggressively to drive up purchases.
  • If you live in Australia, you might be familiar with Elizabeth’s Bookshop (they’re the ones responsible for the funny signs). I think they’re a little on the expensive side (some of the tatty Penguin novels still go for $10 when I can get a brand new one for the same price) but they usually have an interesting range.
  • If you’re really patient like I am, any book that has been made into a movie will eventually make it’s way to discount stores and the second hand pile. Generally the life cycle can take between six to twelve months, so it does mean that you miss out on trending topics.
  • The same goes for any top sellers (although I feel a bit skivvy when I see second hand Fifty Shades or Mill & Boon novels because any stain marks on these books will unnerve me).
  • If you’re more selective with the quality and less patient, try waiting for major retailers to have their specials, for example, I’ve noticed that Dymocks usually have their 3 for 2 special at the Financial Year and New Year Sales.
  • I never buy any Classics for more than $10, even if it’s brand new. Classics are the staple of Second-hand bookstores and Discount stores because like Mark Twain said “A classic is something everybody wants to have read, but no one wants to read”.
  • With that being said, I generally buy my non-fiction brand new and as they come out. I think it’s because non-fiction dates very easily and there’s a limited time frame that you can read them before they’re quickly replaced with a brand new theory.

 

How do you cut costs when reading? I love cost cutting tips in all its form so please feel free to share below in the comments!

 

On Another Note…

To be clear, to subsidise my spending, I never sell any of my old books. I don’t follow the “One in, One Out” Principle.

My Favourite Crime Series

I tend towards crime fiction so this post is really a gushing fan post of all my favourite crime series.

The Comoran Strike Series by Robert Galbraith

I’m a loyal fan of J.K. Rowling so if she wanted to write about paint drying I would still buy it (though on a side note, I couldn’t finish ‘The Casual Vacancy’). I love the articulate planning involved in all of her books, so I think it’s only natural that she could write crime fiction well. Her ability to hide key information yet ensuring readers don’t feel cheated when the criminal is revealed is her key strength.

I’ve read all three of the series so far.

Inspector Singh Series by Shamini Flint

There are too many White Male Detectives so I was just excited to find something where the protagonist did not fit that description. It’s also set in Asia which is another bonus because the locations tend to rotate between America or Britain. I love that Shamini has experience in the legal system and it really shows in her writing.

I’ve read three of the series so far.

 

The Galileo Detective Series by Keigo Higashino

Higashino is a stunning example of not underestimating a nice, simple murder. There’s no violent shoot-outs or alleyway fights; everything is solved using brain power. The analysis of the crime is cut and diced from multiple aspects yet the solving of the crimes always blow my mind, it’s always the smallest detail that make the story.

I’ve read two of the series so far.

The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency Series by Alexander McCall Smith

It’s a very slow burn. It can also be quite sticky sweet at first, but there are sharp barbs on society throughout to balance it out which I’m a real sucker for. Nevertheless, the crimes are always neatly tied up, the good are always rewarded and the bad punished. I think I’m just reading it for the characters and McCall’s writing at this point.

I’ve read eleven of the series so far.

 

The Phryne Fisher Series by Kerry Greenwood

What can say, I love that she’s Australian. Like Comoran Strike, Phryne is more action-orientated than the others, but that doesn’t mean she’s not a delight to read. And Greenwood has also dealt with the law so there’s an underlying realism in her work.

I’ve read two of the series so far.

 

Notable Mentions

I haven’t included these because most of the novels can be read as stand-alone although they have the same private detective throughout:

  • The Poirot Series by Agatha Christie. The Law and Order of crime fiction novels, each book has a similar format and quality.
  •  The Marlowe Series by Raymond Chandler. I watched ‘The Big Sleep’ in high school and fell in love with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, so I’ve been devouring any Marlowe books I can get my hands on. I dislike hard-boiled detectives as a genre, erratically enough, Marlowe is the only series of the sub-genre I’m loyal to.
  •  The Sherlock Holmes Series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Come on. Can you really write a list of favourite crime fictions and not include the man that started it all?

 

 

Have you read any of the above series? What’s your opinion? Do you have any favourite series?