in which things get a little strange

Hello, world.

I can’t believe it’s day thirty of the reading challenge!

I honestly didn’t know if I would be able to stick with it. I may have missed a few days, and this post is a day late (oops), but I always caught up and that’s what counts, right??

And let me tell you, I’m really excited about today’s post as, naturally, I saved the best for last.

DAY 30: MY FAVORITE BOOK

Goodreads summary:

At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England’s history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England–until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.

Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell’s student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.

I LOVE THIS BOOK. I LOVE THIS BOOK. I LOVE THIS BOOK.

(Most of you reading this are probably thinking, I’ve never even heard of this book.)

That’s okay. I forgive you.

Like with the Night Circus, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a descriptive, slow-building novel centered around magic and odd characters and setting. It’s careful and precise and so very, very lovely that I can’t even stand it.

I first read this book in high school. I checked it out from the library because I heard Maggie Stiefvater raving about it and I trust her entirely (of course). From the moment I read the first page, I knew this book would always hold a dear place in my heart. Unlike most books I love, I’ve only read this novel once, that one first time. This is entirely because the book is so long–it literally took me a month to read, and not for lack of interest. It’s just a dense book, one that deserves to be savored. Aside from one thousand and six pages, the book is filled with footnotes detailing the history of magic in this alternative reality. To me, though, these anecdotes and asides add such a character and atmosphere to the novel and allow me to further delve into the world.

I read a blurb about the book that described it as a the lovechild of Austen and Tolkien (two of my favorite authors), which is actually really accurate. The myth and magic feel as ancient and mysterious as Tolkien’s, but the style and voice are so reminiscent of Austen’s clever narration–a proper fantasy.

But in the end, I don’t really know how to articulate why I love this book. It’s more than its literary devices and style and prose (even though I love all these things). It’s the myth of magic, it’s the love of England, it’s the strange and delightful characters. All the elements of the book come together so wonderfully, turning it into an odd treasure of a book.

bbcamerica:“Too right, Mr Norrell. ”
me when i read this book
I love it so very much. I hope to read it again soon.

(Also, the miniseries is super super good and is done so well.)

yours, Natalie

My thirty day reading challenge is now complete! If you missed any days, or want to start over, here is day one.

 

 

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in which things get problematic

Hello, world.

I struggled deciding what to discuss today, partly because I think it’s kind of a stupid prompt. I don’t like it because

  1. I have rather snobby book tastes, sometimes, as I am a pretentious English Major,
  2. all readers have different opinions, and
  3. I hardcore struggled to think of an answer.

But, here I am, answering the stupid prompt anyway.

DAY 29: A BOOK EVERYONE HATED BUT YOU LIKED

Goodreads summary:

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

This answer may not quite make sense at first. Eleanor & Park is actually a rather well-received book, overall. I mean, any book John Green loved is obvious a good one.

When I first read it, I adored it. (I fell in love with Rainbow’s writing after I read Fangirl, which remains my favorite of her novels.) How could I not adore the precious cinnamon rolls that are Eleanor and Park?

Since reading it though, I’ve heard a lot of negative reviews about the book, specifically its treatment of the Asian and Asian-American characters. And there is a lot of truth and legitimacy in those reviews that I, as a white reader, did not see when I first read it. But I can’t lie–I still kind of love the book.

It’s my problematic fave.

What books do you love that are hated or problematic?

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!