August 2015 | In Unusual Words

I haven't sat down to write one of these posts in a long while – though I am right now, as I feel like August deserves a couple of interesting words. Earlier this month, I switched this blog's name to Rustled Pages, and I'm glad I did; it still feels like entirely the right name for this blog. I also read a lot this month, and spent a lot of my free time writing. Here's to hoping I can keep all this up when I return to school next week (my past attempts at balancing school and blogging have been, well, fairly unsuccessful). Anyway, without further ado, August 2015 in a few unusual words:

(Russian, noun) Encouraging people to see common things as strange, wild and unfamiliar
In August, I remembered one of my favourite things to see in a book. I love authors who take seemingly normal events and, through their writing, transform them into something extraordinary. For once I'm not talking about Murakami – in fact, I'm specifically referring to Under the Skin by Michel Faber. Within this novel, Faber takes something as mundane and simple as hitchhiking and transforms it into something beyond strange.

(English, Noun) A person who loves/takes comfort from rain
I know August is a summer month, and that we should be enjoying the rare sunshine the UK offers us  – but I just love rain. Perhaps I romanticise rainy days, but I do adore the clich├ęd image of a day spent curled up in blankets, with a book and a cup of tea at the ready, as the rain hammers against the window pane. I just really, really enjoy the rain – simple as.

Here's a simple fact: if I like a book, I have a lot of trouble letting the story go. In July, I read (and fell in love with) THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE BY MICHEL FABER. In August, I started THE APPLE BY MICHEL FABER, which is a series of short stories set in the same Victorian London as THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE. Though barely 200 pages, I've been reading this book over a long period of time – because I simply can't bare to be finished with Sugar's tale.

(ENGLISH Noun.) Delight; enjoyment; pleasure
Earlier on this month I received my GCSE exam results (if you're not from the UK, these are just qualifications for students aged 14–16). I won't go into details about what I got, but I'm absolutely over the moon (and still a little in shock) with my results. I also, by some miracle, managed to get full marks in one of my favourite subjects. I guess, more than anything, the word 'delectation' refers to the time after results day. In the run up to the day, I felt tense and stressed and struggled to blog/read/write – but, after I got my results, I was able to simply enjoy the rest of the holidays. Ultimately, exam results don't matter – though it's a lovely feeling to have them out of the way.

How was August to you?
Books read this month: Under the Skin, A Streetcar Named Desire, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, The Buried Giant, Sputnik Sweetheart

Recommendations | Short Story Collections

Short story collections are laced with serendipity. The turn of the page can bring an entirely different tale to the last – and very often these tales are unexpected delights. From Angela Carter to Shirley Jackson to Neil Gaiman, here are a few short story collections I highly recommend:

Angela Carter's work is always very odd and very beautiful – and her short stories are no different. Her prose is rich and velveteen, and she puts a wonderful feminist twist on traditional fairy tales. Her stories often require close reading and time for reflection, though this is an aspect of them I really enjoy; her haunting narrative lingers on your mind after every story, and I think that's what makes her a truly masterful writer of short stories. Some of my favourite stories from the collection include: The Bloody Chamber, The Erl-King and The Company of Wolves.

Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger:
J.D. Salinger's relaxed yet polished writing style, combined with his ability to craft vividly alive characters and his flair for realistic dialogue, means his writing translates really well to the short story form. Within Nine Stories there are nine different casts of varied and believable characters – and it's this fantastic characterisation that makes this short story collection worth reading. Some of my favourite stories from the collection include: A Perfect Day For Bannanafish and Just Before the War With the Eskimos.

Can you tell I'm a fan of Neil Gaiman? Because I really am. Within these three collections Gaiman's remarkable artistry seems clearer than ever. To put it simply, he just has this engaging talent for transforming the most mundane elements of reality into the fantastical. (Out of the collections, Smoke and Mirrors is, perhaps, my favourite).

After the Quake by Haruki Murakami:
After the Quake consists of six short stories 'set at the time of the catastrophic 1995 Kobe earthquake, when Japan became brutally aware of the fragility of its daily existence'. Though I prefer Murakami's longer work, his short stories are still endearing, enjoyable and (as any previous Murakami reader would expect) somewhat disturbing. My favourite story from this collection is Super-frog Saves Tokyo (it's the most Murakami-ish, if you know what I mean).

That Glimpse of Truth (selected by David Miller):
This collection does not feature the work of one author, but it instead boasts '100 of the finest short stories ever written'. I've included this collection for one reason: it made me fall in love with the short story form. As you dip into these 100 tales, you're exposed to such a variety of themes, writing styles and characters – and when that happens, it's inevitable you fall in love with short stories. Like I mentioned before, there's a wonderful serendipidous edge to short story collections; needless to say, this particular collection brings unexpected delight with every new tale.

Not the End of the World by Kate Atkinson:
I went through a phase of loving anything and everything written by Kate Atkinson. Her slick writing style and careful characterisation had me bewitched for years (I'll likely be under her enchantment once again when she releases another book). Not the End of the World showcases the quirkier side of Atkinson's writing as it delves into magical realism and experiments with the short story form. One thing I really love about this collection is that the stories interlink in subtle ways – which is a delight for the reader. (It also helps that the stories regularly reference Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my obsession).

The Lottery & Other Stories by Shirley Jackson:
When I read the title story of this collection I was left numb with fear – my throat became dry and my fingers fumbled to turn to the next tale. It was that good. Shirley Jackson's other short stories are also insanely well-written, and this collection is brimming with suspenseful writing and ambiguous endings. My two favourite stories in this collection are The Lottery and Flower Garden.

Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love is strangely transfixing. The stories in this collection, though very little happens within each one, never fail to maintain the reader's attention. Carver explores the human condition throughout each story, and there's something compulsively readable about the lives of Carver's characters. Despite the situations and relationships in each story seeming gritty in their realism, the experience of reading them feels more like a fantastical trance. 

Do you have any recommendations for short story writers or short story collections? I'd love to hear them.

A Trip to the Library

“I ransack public libraries, and find them full of sunken treasure.”

Libraries are wonderful places, and I can't help but feel incredibly grateful for the fact I live very close to one. Whenever I'm in a particularly lethargic mood, I'll almost always take a trip to my local library in the hope I'll come home with a heavy stack of books that can preoccupy my mind.

When I last went to the library I picked up a couple of books by Murakami; I picked up Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman as I've been meaning to read more of his short stories for a long time, as well as What I Talk About When I Talk About Running as I'm deeply interested in learning more about Murakami and his thought process. Murakami's work is so acutely profound, yet reads effortlessly, and I'm slowly making my way through everything he has written.

Following on from this, I also picked up What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver – which I've already read and highly recommend. I picked this up due to the heavy influence Carver has had on Murakami's writing, as well as Carver's artistry when it comes to the short story form.

Another book I grabbed was Under the Skin because I adored The Crimson Petal and the White (also by Michel Faber). Again, I've already read this one. This book honestly made for the weirdest reading experience I've ever had… I did love the sheer insanity of the whole thing though.

The last two books I borrowed were To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris and The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. I've been meaning to read the former ever since I went to the Man Booker reading last year and I heard Joshua Ferris read the opening of this novel. In terms of the latter, I'm a huge Kazuo Ishiguro fan – I just love his writing. Despite the negative reviews this book has received (mostly due to critics not taking fantasy seriously – but that's another story), I'm still looking forward to this.

Have you read any of these? As always, any other recommendations are welcome.

Rustled Pages ~ An Explanation Of the New Name

I've always been one of those people who's fond of a really good name. Maybe good name is not quite what I mean – rather, the right name. Whenever I'm writing, I'll spend hours researching etymology in order to find my characters the perfect name – and, even then, I'm prone to changing their name several times afterwards. Essentially: I like a name that just clicks.

I guess this is why I've changed this blog's name. As adorable a name as Feed Me Books Now is, it's not the right name for this blog. I came up with the name when I was 13 years old, back when the tone and content of this blog were considerably different. And so I've decided to rename this corner of the internet Rustled Pages – and, at this moment, this seems entirely the right name. I can't quite explain why I love this new name, but I'll endeavour to do so. I guess, in all simplicity, this is a blog written purely because of a reader's love for books. And, for me, the rustling of a book's pages is a sound intrinsically associated with all the years I've spent devoted to reading.

Apologies for the brevity of this post, I have a handful of (thankfully more interesting) posts coming across the next few weeks!