My year in books

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A lot of people believe that English literature students spend all their times with their noses buried in dusty tomes, turning engraved pages, and finding precious knowledge in medieval manuscripts. As a representative of that class of students which haunt the half-price displays at Waterstones, and lounge in the corners of the library, I have decided to share my year in books, and what exactly being a literature student means for my reading habits.

The Divining Pool – a decidedly modern reading experience,

In January I was preparing to start my undergraduate dissertation for my degree in English Language and Creative Writing. That meant I spent most of spring re-reading Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter– a gripping, action packed urban fantasy book series with a lot of snippy dialogue and exciting plot twists. It’s perfect for anyone who’s looking for a fun and engaging story, but doesn’t necessarily want something too heavy.

I had relatively little time to focus on leisure reading, but I did come across the poetry collection The Divining Pool – a decidedly modern reading experience, and perfect if you don’t have much experience with contemporary poetry, but you’re eager to try anyway.

Around my graduation in July, I was looking for a bit of life affirmation of my own,

Over the Easter holidays I went back home to Bulgaria and hit the local bookshops. I got my hands on a lot of Bulgarian poetry by Dimana Yordanova, as well as Rene Karabash’s debut novel Ostainitsa about the traditions of Albanian sworn virgins. I also picked up a few more cheerful novels along the way – a bit of Nora Roberts, which is always good for my nerves and humor, and a few books from Alexander McCall Smith’s series about Isabel Dalhousie, which are both excellently clever, and incredibly funny and life-affirming.

Around my graduation in July, I was looking for a bit of life affirmation of my own, which lead to rereading some of my long-lasting favorite novels – Anna Karenina, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre. I looked on them with new eyes, feeling so much older and more mature.

I took a brief three-day holiday in Morecambe, and devoted time to the Avengers graphic novels – Civil War volumes I & II, which impressed me with the art and action. As a long-time fan of the MCU, it made me want to explore the comic universe deeper.

I readied myself for the Durham Book Festival

My favorite month by far is September, which I spent at the writing residency Can Serrat. I arrived there armed with novels – I read Rupi Kaur’s second collection the sun and her flowers, devoured short stories from various Granta collections (I particularly enjoyed the Granta Africa series), and delved back into young adult writing with The Wrath and the Dawn. I also had an opportunity to meet Melba Escobar and discuss the writing process of her novel House of Beauty, and the difficulty of being pigeonholed into a singular genre.

It was also at that time, that I had to begin on my reading lists for the Durham MA – from T.S. Eliot’s fantastic poetry, to a collection titled bad, bad by Chelsea Minnis, I came to Durham in October, prepared for anything, and hungry to read more. I readied myself for the Durham Book Festival with collections by Carol Ann Duffy, and was delighted to have Sarah Waters herself sign my copy of The Little Stranger.

I found myself frantically reading all the books I promised myself I would finish

Finally, before the year closed in December, I found myself frantically reading all the books I promised myself I would finish: Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy; Kevin Kwan’s hilarious and incredibly romantic Crazy Rich Asians; If We Were Villains; Madeline Miller’s Circe. In between all that, I know for a fact that I am likely to ring in the New Year re-reading Garth Greenwell’s touching, heartwarming love story The Frog King.

As I progress into 2019, my only hope is that I find the time to read even more books and hopefully, even write one.

Photograph: Clay Banks via Unsplash

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