Reading In The Dark : Library Haul

My Sacred Spaces

Libraries have been an invaluable resource for me from since before I could walk. They have been my go-to safe and sacred spaces, my own little universes. The world could throw whatever it wanted at me, I always had libraries.

I can walk into a library feeling horribly depressed, and within a matter of moments, find myself healed by the scent of print, by the sight of seemingly endless shelves, by the millions of words waiting for another set of eyes to find them. I feel a surge of optimism in libraries, and a beautiful warm wave of peace and satisfaction.

This happens with every library I walk into, and I’ve been in ones all over the world: Norway, Sweden, Iceland, England, America, Canada… The moment I’m in a new place, I’m like ‘okay, so where’s the library at?’

I’ve been living in Sweden for almost two years, and have just now got myself a library card. Up until yesterday I was using my boyfriend’s and it never felt quite right. One of the very first things I do when I move to a new place is get myself a library card. It’s a top priority. To not have my own just feels weird, like life is slightly off-kilter. Now I have one for Borås City Library, I feel that I can breathe better.

Cravings

I’ve mostly been reading non-fiction in recent years, but have been craving a really solid novel and some life enhancing short stories recently. I’ve also been listening to my soul and what it wants – for me to spend less time online and more time between the pages of books.

So yesterday I spent over an hour among the horror and fantasy shelves, sampling and putting back and sampling and adding to my pile. Before long I was lugging around about 20kg of books.

I can get majorly protective over my haul. Say, when I put it down for just a moment, I always have one eye on the shelf, another eye on my pile to ensure no one so much as glances at it. If someone drifts too close I think ‘touch any of those books and I’ll kill you were you stand…’ Slightly over the top? Perhaps. But you get my point. Books are my everything.

The Haul

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If you’re interested in buying any of the books from my haul, click on the titles!

 

Pretty Monsters By Kelly Link

It was the illustration by Shaun Tan on the cover which initially made me snatch Pretty Monsters up. Then I was further seduced by the promise of six stories from a variety of genres including  magic realism, fantasy and horror – three genres I’ve been starved of recently.

THIS BOOK CONTAINS TEN SHORT STORIES

And: A phone booth in Las Vegas ~ Aliens ~ Unhelpful wizards ~ Possibly carnivorous sofas ~ A handbag with a village inside it ~ Tennessee Fainting Goats ~ Dueling librarians ~ A statue of George Washington ~ A boy named Onion ~ Pirates ~ An undead babysitter ~ A nationally-ranked soccer player ~ Shapeshifters ~ An unexpected campfire guest. . . . – Amazon.co.uk

I’d never read anything by Kelly Link before, but with staggering reviews from some of my favourite authors, including Audrey Niffenegger and Neil Gaiman, I had a feeling I was going to be putting my time into good hands.

(I chose Pretty Monsters to start off with. The first story The Wrong Grave was massively enjoyable…the second story The Wizards Of Perfil…not so much. I ended up skipping much of it. Hoping things will pick back up again with the third story, Magic For Beginners. Just learned that this is supposed to be a collection for young adults…which does explain the vibe somewhat.)

The Three By Sarah Lotz

I had (still want to have) high hopes for this novel because I think the idea is excellent…but many of the reviews on Amazon are pretty dire, saying that there’s ‘too much padding,’ and that it’s ‘good just not great.’ I never do put my whole trust in Amazon though, and I still intend to dive into this with the same enthusiasm as I felt when I first found it on the shelf.

Four simultaneous plane crashes. Three child survivors. A religious fanatic who insists the three are harbingers of the apocalypse. What if he’s right?

The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage. – The Three Website

Trigger Warning By Neil Gaiman

Neil oh Neil oh Neil…is this going to be another treat that I’ll feel the need to read as slowly as possible so that I can savour each word? I have a feeling it will be.

It was through the comic book series The Sandman that I was first introduced to the work of Neil Gaiman, and I’ve never been quite the same since. (In the best kind of way.)

It was the cover of Trigger Warning that wowed me initially (and it’s even more beautiful in real life) and the tantalizing offerings of dozens of ‘short fictions and disturbances.’

In this new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction–stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013–as well “Black Dog,” a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods, exclusive to this collection. – Amazon.co.uk

Release By Patrick Ness

The cover of Release – illustrated by Levante Szabo – hit me like a full blown smack in the face. Just like the cover for Ness’s young adult book When A Monster Calls. I knew that I’d be taking this ‘personal and tender’ novel home even before I knew what it was about. The Guardian have described this ‘coming-of-age story’ with themes of sex, shame and sexuality, and touches of the supernatural as as Ness’s most ‘heartfelt novel to date.’

It’s Saturday, it’s summer and, although he doesn’t know it yet, everything in Adam Thorn’s life is going to fall apart. But maybe, just maybe, he’ll find freedom from the release. Time is running out though, because way across town, a ghost has risen from the lake…

Missing Mom By Joyce Carol Oates

I first read Joyce Carol Oates back in 2010. I was travelling in Sweden and one of her books had been left on a hostel ‘free for all’ library shelf. The book was her 2008 novel My Sister, My Love and it raised the bar for me and whom I chose to give my reading time to. Since my introduction, I’ve admired her rich use of language and unparalleled story telling.

Whenever there is a death in the family, I have a tendency to surround myself with death orientated literature. While the story is quite close to home – except it was my Nanna who died – I know that I’ll finish it feeling like a more well rounded person because of it, and better educated on the greatest mysteries of our time – life and death.

Nikki Eaton, single, thirty-one, sexually liberated, and economically self-supporting, has never particularly thought of herself as a daughter. Yet, following the unexpected loss of her mother, she undergoes a remarkable transformation during a tumultuous year that brings stunning horror, sorrow, illumination, wisdom, and even—from an unexpected source—a nurturing love. – Amazon.co.uk

Harbor By John Ajvide Lindqvist

I have a confession to make. I never finished John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel Let The Right One In. I don’t know why. Something just didn’t click with me. But I was all over the film like a rash.

Anyway, I wanted to give the Swede another chance so picked up his novel Harbor. The cover didn’t do anything to wow me (it’s not the one you see here), but after having a quick glimpse at what I have waiting for me between the pages, I’m going to let it slide.

It was a beautiful winter’s day. Anders, his wife and their feisty six-year-old, Maja, set out across the ice of the Swedish archipelago to visit the lighthouse. There was no one around, so they let her run on ahead. And she disappeared, seemingly into thin air, and was never found.

Two years later, Anders is a broken alcoholic, his life ruined. He returns to the archipelago, the home of his childhood and his family. But all he finds are Maja’s toys and through the haze of memory, loss and alcohol, he realizes that someone – or something – is trying to communicate with him.

His return sets in motion a series of horrifying events which exposes a mysterious and troubling relationship between the inhabitants of the remote island and the sea. – Amazon.co.uk

Doctor Sleep By Stephen King

It’s been a long time, a terribly long time since I’ve sat down with some King, so it was round about time I changed that. There were several King novels that I hadn’t read, but it was the creepy as shit title and just as creepy as shit cover that saw Doctor Sleep come home with me.

King says he wanted to know what happened to Danny Torrance, the boy at the heart of The Shining, after his terrible experience in the Overlook Hotel. The instantly riveting DOCTOR SLEEP picks up the story of the now middle-aged Dan, working at a hospice in rural New Hampshire, and the very special twelve-year old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless – mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and tween Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the ‘steam’ that children with the ‘shining’ produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him and a job at a nursing home where his remnant ‘shining’ power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes ‘Doctor Sleep.’

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival . . . – Amazon.co.uk

The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams

While I’m a king fan, I don’t keep track of every word he has published…which actually has its advantages because then I stumble across unknown works and my entire day can shift from something good into something magnificent.

This is what happened when I found his 2015 collection of short stories, several of which have never appeared in print before. AND before each story, King provides a short essay about how the piece came to be. I think I’ll be saving this one to read last.

There is a treasure here for every reader: a man who keeps reliving exactly the same life, repeating his mistakes over and over again; a columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries; a poignant tale about the end of the human race and a firework competition between neighbours which reaches an explosive climax.

‘I made them especially for you,’ says King. ‘Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.’

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