In October Rosie wrote a post about a blogger book swap she was organising, curious I put my name down, stated I didn’t want to receive any chick lit and waited for an email with the details of who I was to swap with. I already had an idea of the books I wanted to send, so set about over the next few weeks searching for them in charity shops and online. I found my first selection , David Boring really quickly on ebay and purchased it for 20 pence, bargain! David Boring is a graphic novel that was originally serialised in Daniel Clowes comic ‘Eight Ball’. I first heard about this book after I read this article citing Dev Hynes top graphic novels and bought it on a whim in a shop. I had seen the film Ghost World and really enjoyed it. One thing that equally entices and repels me towards a graphic novel is the drawing style. I really dislike scrawny, scratchy line drawings and tend to lean towards bold graphics and realistic depictions of people. I really love the way Clowes draws and coupled with the weird, Lynchian plots and likeable anti heros I found this graphic novel hard to put down an have re-read it a few times so hope Michelle, the person I am swapping with likes it too.
The second book I choose was ‘South of the border, west of the sun‘, by Haruki Murakami. If you know me you will know Murakami is by far my favourite author and I devour his books. The reasons I choose this specific book were that it was the first book by him that I read by him , it’s fairly short and it’s not as surreal and more subtle than some of his other works, but provides a good overview to his style. What compels me most about the way he writes is the emotion, imagery and pacing of it. I believe Murakami can be a bit marmite and while I love love the vivid descriptions of cooking spaghetti and talking cats I accept that for some people it simply doesn’t fit. For me all of Murakiami’s books are fairly similar with usually a man looking for a mysterious woman and strange, unexplained events filtering through. His writing style is what really draws me in and often I wish I could read it in Japanese as in English it’s utterly beautiful, so I can only imagine what it reads like in its original form.
I put my package together with a few treats (chocolate, makeup, Brighton rock) and sent it to Michelle. When I received my package it was the week leading up to Christmas, so I delayed opening the package as I didn’t want to have to quickly open it while running out somewhere or coming back from somewhere tired. I actually opened it the day before I flew away for the Christmas break (hello from the Netherlands) and was utterly speechless with how beautifully presented and carefully considered everything in it was, from someone who I don’t know, it really lifted me from my pre-Christmas tiredness and fatigue. Alongside the books I received sweets , a beautiful mug and selected tea bags and a lovely card from Michelle. The books I received were Apples by Richard Milward and Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland. I must admit I wasn’t familiar with these books, but i’ve hardly been able to put them down since I started reading them. I finished Apples in a day and am already halfway through Hey Nostradamus. Apples is written from the perspective of quite a few characters, but mainly centres on Adam and Eve two teenagers growing up in Middlesborough. This was an easy read and though alot of the experiences I couldn’t directly relate to I really related to the era and cultural references and what it felt like to be 16/17 and all of the emotions and experiences you go through. Hey Nostradamus is about a high school massacre and is written from the viewpoints of five different characters at different points in time and how the events affected them. I’m excited about the rest of the book and seeing what else happens in it.
Over the past year I’ve not really read that many books and getting so into these books has been a great feeling and motivator for me. I’m the kind of person who goes through phases of reading a few books in a row then will get stuck with one book and not read anything for a few months. With this in mind and the good start I have got off to i’m thinking of setting myself a reading challenge for this year, say 15 books and see where I go from there. I’d also be really keen to do more book swaps throughout the year. I think they are a great idea and Michelle’s book taste is really in line with mine. I have my fingers crossed now that she enjoys the selection I sent her and am so grateful to her for taking the time to send me such thoughtful books and gifts and to Rosie in the first place for organising the swap.