Something a bit different today – books, not animals! Strictly speaking, I wasn’t tagged – but I read a post about it (by Samantha Murdoch) and I liked it so much that I wanted to do it, too! So here goes. The idea is that you connect a book you read to a Harry Potter spell. Harry Potter and books, two of my favourite things!! 🙂
1. EXPECTO PATRONUM – a book connected to good childhood memories.
Oh dear, where to start!! There are so many books I have great childhood memories of. I was a ravenous reader as a child. I still am, but time is limited. I also suspect that I used books as an escape from any negative situation or feeling. It still works for me, but by now, I have learned to face up instead of run away..!
I think the book that needs to be mentioned here is Crusade in Jeans by Thea Beckman. Thea Beckman is a famous Dutch writer of novels for children and teenagers – YA literature, we would call it now. I read all her books countless times, but Crusade in Jeans is the most internationally famous one. It’s a story about a boy from modern times (the 1980’s, that is) who accidentally time-travels to 13th-century Germany and ends up in the middle of the Children’s Crusade. He travels with the children and we experience this astonishing piece of history through his 20th-century eyes.
In my opinion, Thea Beckman was an incredible writer and a fascinating person. Her novels make history come alive for people of all ages. Her unforgettable stories are romanticised but realistic and her protagonists are common people, not kings and princesses. She also incorporates real historical figures in her stories. The position of women plays a prominent role in all of her books. Her female characters are strong and independent. Thea’s death in 2004 was a great loss for all of Holland and its literature. Expecto Patronum!
2. EXPELLIARMUS – a book that took you by surprise.
Oh, that’s easy! I think Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes was my biggest book surprise ever. I still can’t get over it! I remember exactly when I encountered this lovable novel for the first time. I was travelling in East Africa with my husband (then boyfriend) in 2004. We were staying in a hostel in Kampala, Uganda, and I had nothing to read (gasp!). Out of pure boredom, I picked up a random book that someone left behind, not expecting much. Ten minutes later, I was hooked. I kept reading into the night and all through the long, tedious journey to Ssese Islands the next day. We got stuck in the harbour because we had missed the last ferry and had to camp in our hot tent surrounded by swarms of mosquitos – but I didn’t care. I had Rachel’s Holiday.
Rachel Walsh (the Walshes, protagonists of several of Marian’s books, are a creation of genius) lives a life of heavy partying in New York – until she accidentally overdoses on a cocktail of drugs and is sent to rehab in Ireland, her home country. The story of how Rachel’s total denial gradually turns into realisation and acceptation of her addiction is incredibly moving and captivating. Rachel still is one of my favourite heroines ever, not least because of her famous sense of humour, which is Marian Keyes at her hilarious best. Definitely disarming!!
3. PRIOR INCANTATO – the last book you read.
The Giver by Lois Lowry. Yes, I have a fondness for YA literature. And I recently discovered this classis quartet of books starting with The Giver. I devoured the first three and have now started on the fourth. The novels are set in the very far future and have some fantasy elements. The Giver is a story about a “perfect” society where all is not as it seems. The other books deal with different societies in the same world. The protagonists are young teenagers. I like Lowry’s clear language, vivid descriptions and the innocence of the young characters. Her world-building is fascinating, the stories are rich and moving. Wish there was more to come!
4. ALOHAMORA – a book that introduced you to a genre you hadn’t considered before.
Well. This is where I admit to having read all the Twilight books, and enjoyed them. I sometimes read fantasy, but I have never understood the popularity of vampire romance. It sounded totally unappealing to me. How can dangerous, cold, bloodsucking creatures be considered attractive? Some of my friends raved about Twilight, but I stayed supremely unaffected. Until one day, I decided I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. And found out I actually quite enjoyed the books! I still found the vampires totally unappealing -it was the werewolves who did it for me. I kept hoping Bella would end up with Jacob Black, but sadly, that never happened. So, I can’t say that I am now totally into vampire romance, but these books did pull me into a genre I usually don’t bother with. I could fill several posts with Things that are Wrong with Twilight, but I’m not getting into that here. No desire to travel further down that path. Colloportus!
5. RIDIKKULUS – a funny book you have read.
All of Marian Keyes’ novels would qualify for this. She is the master of hilarity!! Seriously. If you need cheering up, read a wonderfully Irish Marian Keyes novel. But I’m going a bit further afield and I’m going to nominate Three Wishes by Australian author Liane Moriarty.
The wacky family dynamics of the triplet protagonists will have you in hysterics. But this book offers more than just funny dialogue – it has sharp psychological insights and addresses some serious stuff. Like Jodi Picoult, Liane Moriarty doesn’t shy away from tackling difficult issues and complicated moral dilemmas. Neither does Marian Keyes, for that matter. And that’s what makes these authors great.
6. SONORUS – a book you think everyone should know about.
Tracy Chevalier has the historical novel down to a fine art. Her most famous book, Girl with a Pearl Earring, was made into a wonderful film starring Scarlett Johansson. But I am talking here about Remarkable Creatures, an unusual and captivating jewel of a book. It tells the amazing true story of the 19th century fossil hunter Mary Anning, through the eyes of her friend, spinster Elizabeth Philpot. The struggle of these two single women to hold their own in the man’s world of science is decribed in a beautiful, bittersweet way. I had never heard of Mary Anning before I read this book. Her story should be widely known! Sonorus!!
7. OBLIVIATE – a book or spoiler you would like to forget having read.
I would love to forget having read Second Glance by Jodi Picoult. Not because it’s a bad book – it’s not – but because it’s so scary it gave me nightmares!! Jodi Picoult is one of my favourite authors, and I was reading my way through her novels one by one. Second Glance took me totally by surprise – usually, Jodi’s books are very realistic. But this was a true-to-its-word ghost story. It tells the story of a professional ghost hunter who gets more of the supernatural than he bargained for, and it is absolutely, chillingly terrifying. I couldn’t put it down, but I also couldn’t sleep anymore, or get up at night in the dark, or stay home alone..! I’m a wuss though. You might fare better reading this book. Because as I said, it’s good. Just terrifying. Please Obliviate me..!
8. IMPERIO – a book you had to read for school.
I took four languages at school, so I had to read many books. At university, this trend continued. If truth be told, I rarely actually enjoyed these books. Sometimes I was intrigued, freaked out, horrified or something else. But rarely ever did I just enjoy this compulsory reading. After I’d read my share for the day, I’d put the classic literature aside, thinking: great, now I can read my book! and bury myself in my latest bit of escapism. I can only say that apparently, I am not that intellectual after all. Which is fine. I have accepted this of myself. 😉
What I did read with pleasure, though, were Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. I suppose these witty, romantic novels with their female protagonists were a form of escapism in themselves. Chicklit for 19th century women. But brilliant chicklit. I loved Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility and all those books. I showed here Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte because it is one of the lesser-known ones. It is more modest and down-to-earth than her sisters’ novels, but just as enjoyable. No need to use the Imperio curse for this!
9. CRUCIO – a book that was painful to read.
I can see how Life of Pi by Yann Martel will be forced down the throats of countless students in years to come – maybe already is now. Because – and this is the thing – it is a fantastic book. It is also excruciatingly painful to read. It is bizarre, shocking, gruesome and many other uncomfortable adjectives. I read it peering anxiously through my fingers. I read many things I never wanted to imagine and was thoroughly relieved when I finished it. But still, I couldn’t stop reading and I’m glad I managed it. I have to wonder though. How on earth did the author come up with the concept of a boy stuck in a small boat on the ocean with a Bengal tiger? And how in heaven is it possible that this has become such a riveting book? Riveting, but painful.
10. AVADA KEDAVRA – a book that could kill (interpret as you will).
Don’t get me wrong – I loved the Hunger Games trilogy. But the final book is so very pessimistic that you’d be in danger of death by suicide caused by dangerous depression. Would it have killed her to put in a tiny bit of hope? A little ray of light, just so that people wouldn’t be driven to desperate acts? No indeed it would not. Although how she doesn’t depress herself, I will never understand. The End.
That was it! My Harry Potter Spells Tag. I have no idea who to nominate. Consider yourself nominated if you’d like to do it. I’m looking forward to see what books you come up with!
And now back to my favourite books of all time. Accio Harry Potter! 😉