Tuesday, 12 February 2013

80 Books No.5: The Night Circus

Last year, through some sheer hard graft and forcing myself to concentrate, I managed to read seventy-six entire books, starting the seventy-seventh on 29th December. Loving reading doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes need to persevere with a book more than I’d necessarily want to, and it’s almost always easier to flick idly around the internet than sit down with a book, but I can honestly say that I got more from those seventy-six books than I did from many a TV programme I watched last year.

So this year, I’ve sent myself the challenge of reading eighty books. This is one of my six challenges for this year (perhaps more of which in another post) and it may be the one which kills me as I’m already falling way behind schedule. Still, with some crafty selections of books (e.g. Where’s Wally?) I may be able to catch myself up.

So far, I’ve read:

1.    Spell it Out by David Crystal (29th December 2012-2nd January 2013) – the first non-fiction in over a year and a hard read at times. Interesting on some levels.
2.    Grimm Tales by Philip Pullman (2nd-5th January) – really enjoyable if you like fairytales and Pullman – I do, so it was good!
3.    Looking for Alaska by John Green (8th-9th January) – only because a student insisted and it was okay – pretty average teen stuff.
4.    The Stand by Stephen King (9th January-3rd February) – see previous post for my thoughts on this!

Book 5 of 2013 was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. The blurb on this gave almost nothing away, beyond the fact that it sounded magical and Audrey Niffenegger really liked it. This I met with some mixed feelings: I loved The Time Traveler’s Wife but Her Fearful Symmetry was one of the most disappointing novels I have ever read. Still, the cover of The Night Circus is pretty so I gave it a chance.
I’m really glad I did. This was magical and mysterious and romantic and charming all in one. There are certain books which have that certain something about them which whisks you away on a journey and when you finish them, everything seems slightly different. The Night Circus is almost one of those books for me, perhaps only missing out because there was no character I fully loved in the way I loved Inigo, Penelope, Charlotte and Harry in The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets. In spite of this, I enjoyed the story and the style in which it was written, not least the way so many mysteries were kept from both the characters and the reader. Even at the end, I still wasn’t 100% certain exactly what had happened but far from frustrating me, this somehow gave the circus itself more life, which was really what the novel was all about in the end
And if I haven’t convinced you to read it, it might be worth knowing Wikipedia uses the word ‘phantasmagorical’ in order to describe its genre. That alone surely makes it worth a read.

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