4 // All the Books

I can't remember the last time I didn't have a book on the go; to put it simply, reading has become an intrinsic part of my being. I've grown up among dust-coated and inked individuals – and the flick of a page has become second nature. And yet, I don't feel as if my humble blog lingers enough on the specific books I've read across the years. And so, in order to share more of the books I've read, I've allocated each of my books a number – and, with each of these posts, I'll ponder and muse over a randomly selected array of my books, noting my thoughts on aspects of them.

“All I did was go to the library to borrow some books.”
THE STRANGE LIBRARY follows a young boy who stops off at the library to discover how taxes were collected in the Ottoman Empire. To his surprise he’s led to a special ‘reading room’ in a maze under the library, where he’s imprisoned by the sinister old librarian. His only companions are a strange sheep man and a girl who can only talk with her hands.

Visually, this book is stunning. The illustrations are nothing less than gorgeous, and hand in hand with the small snippets of text, this book makes for an astoundingly imaginative and creatively told tale. That said, I feel like it's this book's aim to eschew the normal. From the subject matter to the characters to the ending, this tale goes beyond weird. I mean, it's utterly insane. If you're not a fan of the abnormal, and don't enjoy the occasional frisson of excitement, then please don't read this book. Though only a short read, this book is bursting with colour and ideas, and would make the perfect gift for any reader who isn't afraid of surreality. 

“… maybe we read heroines for what we need from them at the time.”
How to Be a Heroine is a non-fiction book by Samantha Ellis. Within the book, Ellis takes a retrospective look at her life through the different literary heroines she'd had along the way. Ultimately this book explores the role heroines play in shaping our lives – as well as touching upon some of Ellis' own experiences, such as growing up in an Iraqi Jewish community.

It's been over a year since I read HOW TO BE A HEROINE, and I still can't articulate the brilliance of this book. As a lifelong reader and lover of heroines, this book just clicked with me. I felt overwhelming nostalgia when I read the passages on Jo March and Anne Shirley, and I just got everything Ellis said about Esther Greenwood and Elizabeth Bennet. Samantha Ellis talks about books and characters in a way that only a true book lover could. If this sounds at all like a book that you'd enjoy, don't hesitate to give it a go.

“He who ruled scent ruled the hearts of men.”
Perfume begins in the slums of eighteenth-century France, where Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift — an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the "ultimate perfume" — the scent of a beautiful young virgin.

Smell is not a sense I've ever fully appreciated, yet Patrick Süskind's lavish (albeit morbid) descriptions of various aromas enlightened me to its beauty. He's just a fantastic writer, and I fell in love with the prose of this novel. PERFUME is a seductive thriller, and one I loved every second of.

“The frost makes a flower, the dew makes a star.”
Ariel was the second book of Sylvia Plath's poetry to be published, and was originally published in 1965, two years after her death by suicide. The poems in Ariel, with their free flowing images and characteristically menacing psychic landscapes, marked a dramatic turn from Plath's earlier poems.

I read ARIEL earlier this year, and Sylvia Plath has since become one of my favourite poets. Though I found it very difficult to read at times (because of its connection to Plath's own fate), I couldn't recommend this collection highly enough. I've never experienced such raw and sincere feelings within such beautiful words, and there were so many times I had to pause in awe of Plath's talent. Each line of every poem is affecting in some way: “I am terrified by this dark thing / That sleeps in me / All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity.” 

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?
See my first of these posts HERE


  1. Lovely post. I love Ariel a lot -- Hughes is my favourite poet, so from that point of view alone is fascinating to read Plath's work, and of course, in her own right, she is utterly marvellous. A disturbance in mirrors, the sea shattering its grey one ... Love, love my season. The Couriers, that's my favourite in Ariel. I've not actually read the whole thing, though, and you've made me want to revisit!

    We're studying her this year in English ... I'm so excited.

    The Murakami sounds bizarre, but I'm very keen to give him a go. And I've been desperate to read How to Be a Heroine for ages (I think you recommended it to me).

    Speaking of your recommendations, I'm on page 600 and something of The Goldfinch .... !!! I can honestly say it's one of the best things I've read this year. Absolutely beautiful and captivating. I love the prose, I love the plot, I love the art, I love the furniture, I love Theo. It's such a marvellous and fresh portrayal of addiction; it really doesn't feel like an "issue" book. Wow, wow, wow. Pippa. Wow. Just typing this makes me want to shut my laptop down and go read it!

  2. Hey Ruby.
    Is everything okay? You haven't posted in a long while.
    And I'm really missing your book reviews.

  3. This is the first I've heard of Ariel and I'm surprised because I was a huge fan of the Bell Jar. It sounds really dark, but I'm more interested in it now that I found your review.
    What an interesting story-line for Perfume. It sounds so intriguing, I know I've never read anything like it before.
    Love reading your blog, as always.
    xx Cambrie @ and so the book begins

  4. *quiet whisper, two years after this was posted*

    I wish you would return to us ...

    *haunting violin melody as I float away*

  5. In the event that you haven't ever perused a story by Murakami previously, he's odd. Odd. I'm attempting my best to survey this without giving endlessly any spoilers whatsoever for the individuals who simply need to peruse the story fiction ghostwriting services and for the individuals who like to burrow for the more profound implications.

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