It’s National Book Lovers Day today or so I’m reliably informed by an email that landed first thing this morning. I can’t keep up with all those feast days, and most of the time I’m grateful if Christmas doesn’t creep up on me unawares. But a day just for celebrating books? I should remember that one. And celebrate it, too.
So, while I’m between tasks on my day job, let me just wander my bookshelves and pick a few of my favourites. Some get taken down quite often to check for something, others I can “read” without even touching the pages.
I’m not going to justify my favourite reads, or even say much about them. Because books, just like music, seem to have more impact when you take the time to discover them. Or that’s how it works for me.
No prizes for guessing which book gets first mention! But Ai and Estraven are not the only characters that have been with me for too many years to count. Isabel Allende’s books kept me sane during a winter in Moscow and Larionowa’s book has always fascinated me with its premise: what would you do if you knew the year of your death?
My love for fantasy is alive and well, but even fantasy comes in flavours. In Grimwood’s Arabesk Trilogy, his view of an alternative history is as disquieting as his prose is gorgeous. And I can’t get enough of the inventive worldbuilding with its myriad of tiny details in both Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner Series and Melissa Scott’s Astreiant novels, which have been a very recent discovery.
Some very old favourites here. And some very new ones. In each case, I love the sense of the period and occupation I get from each book, from running a brothel in 11th century London to teaching in a Cambridge college just before Europe was torn apart by the battles of the First World War to serving in that war and dealing with the aftermath.
And finally, a few quiet love stories that soothe, and comfort, and pick me up when something else has kicked me in the teeth. Genli and Estraven’s story would fit in this row as much as would some of the others, and there’s a huge stack of books missing from this list, but for the moment, to celebrate a day for books while I’m stuck between tea break and afternoon coffee with a stack of work to keep me out of mischief…. this little collection will serve.
After all, National Book Lovers Day isn’t just on one day in my calendar. It’s every day.