Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Whose Birthday? My Birthday

Or, to be more precise, my blog birthday!
Yeah, that's right, I've been blogging with various degrees of, you know, effort, for SIX WHOLE YEARS now. Even I'm pretty impressed with myself, even if the way I blog has changed so drastically over the last six years. For instance, I'm writing this in literally a stolen 15 minutes before work at 6:45am, whereas for my first blog birthdays I baked actual treats for an inanimate internet thing.

I would say oh how the mighty have fallen, but really I think it's probably a good thing that I didn't at all have time to make the above cake. But shit, I wish I had made it, because it looks freaking delicious...

Anyway. I probably say it every year (I definitely do) but there are so many wonderful things in my life that just wouldn't have happened without blogging. I had so many wonderful experiences last year, which were topped by going to Haworth with Nahree and Bex (ultimate readers trip!) but also included two bookshop crawls, an actually really important heart to heart with Katie, and one little night where I was in a hospital and pretty freaked out and couldn't sleep even the tiniest bit but I had friends on both other sides of the world to comfort and distract me, and really who could ask for more than that?

And this year is bringing even more blogging goodness, with another bookshop crawl in mere weeks and I believe some more foreign visitors at some point of the year, and oh man, who knew being depressed and aimless and wanting to write about how bad the last season of Brothers and Sisters was (so bad I didn't even finish it, and I realise I have not even thought about that programme for YEARS other than to mention it every year on this day) could lead to such wonderful, off internet things? Definitely not me.

In summary (because, you know, work and stuff)- if you have been here, in any capacity whatsoever, then thank you. I love you and I kiss you and Imma try to write about books for as long as it's fun, which, no matter how infrequently I do it, it does continue to be. Y'all are fabulous, keep being you.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Things I Read in December

Oy vey is this late or what..? Something something life and trying to catch up on stuff and also other stuff going on and ok look at the time, let's talk about the things I read in December!

(text only because seriously, look at the time!)

Agorafabulous by Sara Benincasa

I loved Agorafabulous so much that immediately after finishing it I requested another of her books (Real Artists Have Day Jobs) for Christmas, and it looks set to be the first book I finish in 2017. Agorafabulous actually is fabulous in many ways, not least because it gives Benincasa a platform to look at herself and her past and her struggles with mental illness in a funny but frank way. The entire book, even though it covers the lowest points of Benincasa's life, is hopeful in tone in a kind of 'I got through this, so can you get through anything' kind of way, and it's also really well written. Did I mention yet that I really liked it? Ok, good.

Wallflower at the Orgy by Nora Ephron

Oh, Nora. Is there anyone more wonderful? Probably not. This is a collection of articles and whatnot that Ephron wrote in the sixties, and even if some (ok all) of the subject matter is somewhat outdated now, Ephron's writing definitely isn't. I would literally read anything the woman wrote, and I'm really trying to read all of it. This is a pretty good place to start, especially if you're interested in Helen Gurley-Brown, Ayn Rand, the celebrity chef culture of the 60s (including a Julia Child mention, sooo many years before Julie and Julia!) or the work of Mike Nichols, and a must read if you care about Nora like I do.

Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro

After I read Never Let Me Go, I started collected Ishiguro books that I ended up never reading. This is a pretty common theme for me with most authors, but I'm pretty sure I have owned When We Were Orphans for about 10 years now and still haven't touched it. I did read Nocturnes though, and it's a pretty charming set of short stories, all based around music in very different ways, and all kind of excellent. It was the perfect thing to read in a ridiculously hectic December, and brightened up many a dull bus ride through Christmas shopping traffic.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Before this December, I had only read Landline in the middle of summer, outside in my back garden. I always meant to read it at Christmas, and this one finally seemed like the right time. This reading reminded me why I've only read it once before, not because it's not good (as if Rainbow could write a bad book) but because it's really kind of stressful. It's stressful not knowing what's going on with the main character's marriage, or her TV show, or the fact that she has a magic phone, and I felt kind of frustrated throughout the book, and not in a good way. Having said all of that, reading the end (the end is SO good) on Christmas morning before everyone was up was pretty excellent and magical itself, so there's that.

And that was December! I had limited time to read things, but I think I still did pretty well! Of course, it's practically February so who can care what I read in December, but you know what? I CARE SO THERE.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

End of Year Wrap Up and Whatnot

Oh well, hey. Look who's come to show her dumb face on the very last day of the year, as if she's anything like a real blogger anymore.

Well I AM SORRY, but look! Here I am to sum up all the reading I've done this year, cool thing to do, huh? I turned my computer on all ready to do Jamie's end of year survey (which is an excellent thing to do if you need, like, inspiration for talking about books) but then realised that so many of the questions don't really relate to how I read anymore so Imma just do my own thing, that cool?

But first, life.

2016 has been a shitty one for the world, almost universally, and whilst it's hard to not get bogged down in all the shit that's happening on a wider scale (and indeed, getting bogged down in all that shit is important and the only way to even begin to take steps to try and make things better), I can at least recognise that on a personal level, 2016 sucks less than 2015 cause I haven't lost any of my most beloved people. I probably shouldn't have just said that considering that I'm writing this on Boxing Day and there are still 6 days of this terrible fucking year left, but fingerscrossedtouchwoodalltheluckythings that is going to remain a fact.

But things! They happened this year! Let's see... I got a new job! Which has been, and remains, an adjustment in thinking and managing tiredness and actually working full time like a real human for the first time in my life. It has been a long time coming, and I'm actually more or less usually enjoying myself, so I'm pretty glad for this change (and like, I have a pension, and sick pay, and much more holiday and basically everything is the best). I also had some fairly crippling pain for a vast majority of the year, which I got magically fixed by modern medicine in October, and even if I now only have a partial left ovary, I do have a fair superior life, so that is pretty nifty.

If anything, I think this year has mostly been about friends. It freaks me out that practically every weekend I have had things to do and people to see, but only in the very best way. This has been exacerbated by having left my old job but actually having made real, true, and lasting friends there, and just by generally saying yes to many and most things where old Laura might have said 'nah, I want to stay home and not do anything'. This is not to say that there isn't joy in staying home and (obviously) reading, but I have been finding so much joy in people this year that I just feel really pleased to have collected such an excellent group of folk into my life. 
So really, 2016 hasn't been so bad in that sense. It's also been half a year of Pokemon Go, a couple of months of trying to eat well and move more (literally for my health) and of trying to be less dumb about boys, the last of which I think I'm finally starting to succeed at. It has, I think pretty obviously, not been a stellar year for blogging, and I'm just about fine with basically being an occasional blogger at this point. I'm not going to make any promises or plans about any kind of blogging schedule, but I will just say that 1) I really enjoy writing monthly wrap ups of things I've read so I'm pretty sure that will continue, and 2) Basically my only New Year's Resolution is to write more. I don't know whether to call that writing something every day, or just more than basically nothing, but more in a manageable, life-fitting-in way. Since this right here is a blog which, y'know, is made up of words, there's a good chance I could write more things here, but mostly my plan involves having a notebook with me at all times and generally trying to chase some of the vaguely interesting ideas that go through my head sometimes. 

But enough about me. Books, innit! I have read some this year and they have been great (the end.) But hey, let's start with this thing: remember how way back at the start of the year I decided to do Read My Own Damn Books? (no, of course you don't) Well fortunately, I DID remember, and I have been reasonably successful. Let's talk about this: 
Because I knew I was consciously concentrating on reading the books I already owned, I actually did really really well with this. Let's look at this stat: I read 75 books this year (wut wut!), and a whopping 50 of them (yeah that's right, FIFTY, bitches) were books I already owned. Of these, only 8 were re-reads, meaning I read 42 books I had previously owned but hadn't read before. Pretty proud, you guys. 

Along with this, I got rid of a fair few books that I just wasn't interested in anymore, and in terms of removing books from my house, I've done a pretty good job. However. I've also done a pretty good job of acquiring more, so the number of books I still haven't read is still not pretty. I'm slightly annoyed with myself for not writing the literal exact number of unread books I owned at the start of this year, but I said 360-ish so let's go with that. At this moment, I have 332 (which, actually, doesn't include Christmas presents... edit: 338 with Christmas books)- not an insignificant reduction, but not nearly enough of one to have made a real difference to the state of my bedroom, and also slightly disappointing in terms of haivng made a real effort to read my own damn books this year.

I think, then, this is it. This is the thing. The thing that I am very much not going to do this year is buy new books, EXCEPT at bookshop crawls, and y'know, I'm probably going to get some for my birthday, let's be real. I have actually managed to pretty much break my bad charity shop habit which is excellent, so I think this is a pretty achievable goal, and I'm pretty much trying to think of the money I'll save just by 'buying' off my own shelves. The especially excellent thing about this is that all the books I've just gotten for Christmas and some of the books I've put off reading this year because I acquired them, y'know, this year, are now fair game, and I am all about that. 

I'm realising that this post is obnoxiously long already (this is what happens when you don't talk to your friends for ages, GOD Laura) so let's do some stats and stuff and try to wrap it up (y'know, maybe)

2016 Book Stats

Books Read: 75
Pages Read: 20,900
First Reads vs Re-Reads: 67/8
Fiction vs Non-Fiction: 59/16
Women vs Men: 34/41 (dammit, Stephen King)
White vs Non-White: 60/15 (ugh, embarrassing af)
Translated vs Not: 9/66
Digital vs Physical: 3/72 (lol why do I even buy kindle books?)

I am, if I'm honest, not too terribly upset with those stats. Sure I want to read more women and men, and definitely less white people, but in terms of having read the books I already own, those are probably fairly representative of the books that were on my shelves. I also read 17 comic books out of all those books (thanks, Scott Pilgrim!) which has been a bit of a change for me (over the past few years so not really...) but omgggg I love them. 

I don't really want to go through favourite characters and favourite books of the year, because I think that's basically what I talk about in my monthly posts now. Just going through the spreadsheet of books I've read this year, it's interesting to see books I've pretty much forgotten and books which have become a part of me now, plus all the stuff in between. For instance, I read Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant way back in January, and now I think incredibly fondly of Anne Tyler, whereas I barely even remember reading Armada. The one Emma Donoghue book I read this year (Landing) still feels so vivid I can't believe I read it in May, whereas The Heart Goes Last (finished last month) was basically instantly forgettable (sorry, Margaret). Time is a funny old thing, I guess.

I do have a favourite book for this year, now I come to think of it, and that is Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman. These teeny essays literally touched all my buttons in terms of abstract thinking and lessons about humanity and really of truth within fiction, and this was an all round pretty excellent book that I'm still trying my mostest to get everyone to read. This has also been the year I started Game of Thrones, the year I recommitted to Stephen King (damn man stats...) and the year my commute gave me so much more time to read, for which I am oh so very grateful.

So yeah. In those ways, it's been a pretty good year, all things considered. I hope 2017 is even better for you and yours. 

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Devouring Stephen King: Duma Key

"Give me a choice and I'll take A Midsummer Night's Dream over Hamlet every time. any fool with steady hands and a working set of lungs can build up a house of cards and then blow it down, but it takes a genius to make people laugh."

Ohhhh dear. It has been such a significant amount of time since I read Duma Key that I can't remember anything about it which is worth talking about. Does this mean there wasn't anything worth talking about? Maybe so, but let's not jump to such conclusions just because we've all read The Tommyknockers. 

Ok, let's see. Duma Key was pretty weird, but a fairly decent read. I started it not long after I had my operation and still had a shit-ton of anaesthetic in my body, so clearly I needed something light and gentle to read, and to be honest this book kind of provided that. It's not a stressful King book to read with loads of shocks and little horrors, but more of a slow burner, that constantly hints at there being something vaguely wrong with the situation, and builds to a dramatic, and actually pretty traumatic conclusion. And ok, yeah, as I'm remembering it, I'm realising that I totally liked this book, I can hide it no longer!

Let's try and do some story, maybe. Let's see, the main character is... some guy, who is super rich but also troubled because he was just horribly injured at work and has lost an arm. This becomes vaguely important later, I think, so keep it in mind. He also has brain injuries which mean that sometimes he can't find the right words, and that he is filled with unbearable rage that leads his wife to leave him (nice lady), and after his near death experience he decides that the thing to do is go away to Florida to rest and recuperate. And, as it turns out, to paint.

The good stuff in this book really, I think, comes with the transformative power of art. It's true that in this book, there is a lot of supernatural stuff tied up with the paintings (paintings that make you murder! The whole island is cursed or haunted or something!) but there is also the part where art heals the main character who probably once had a name, both in a physical and mental sense. Even though his zoning out is part of a larger plan of, like, island spirits (or something), it's still the same kind of feeling that comes with all kinds of creation, and, for reals, art heals.

That's not really the resounding message to take away from this book (that one would be, 'art kills!') but it's apparently what I took from it anyway.

So. Yes. Duma Key was essentially not terrible, which is a really good thing for a Stephen King. It's not my absolute most favourite, nor is it my absolute most least favourite, but I enjoyed the ride and would not be mad if someone made me read it again. Onwards!

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Things I Read in November

*Removes the sheets covering the furniture*
*Dusts everything down*
*Lets some air in*

Well hello, young readers and friends! Did I forget, for the whole month of November that I even have a blog? I didn't, but I was really very busy making up for the things I missed recovering from my operation, and enjoying my now relatively pain-free life for about the first time this year. This is not to say that writing blog posts isn't enjoyable, but it perhaps doesn't bring me quite as much joy as things like eating food with friends, or going on walks with myself (why yes, I am still playing Pokemon Go, why do you ask?) and generally just doing all those living-ish things that are all lovely and good.

But more about that (tentative promise) tomorrow. First, let's do books. Because of all the aforementioned living I've been doing, it took until the middle of the month for me to even finish a book. Surprisingly, despite a slow start I managed to read 4 whole books this month, which I'm gonna take as a win, even though this is in no way a competition (except maybe with myself)

Books though:

A Storm of Swords II: Blood and Gold by George R R Martin
Lookit, I read another Game of Thrones book! I've been pretty much trying to spread these out because I don't want all I'm reading to be Game of Thrones, although that's kind of a throwback decision based on the way I used to blog than the shoddy job I'm doing now. Let's just say that I'm rationing them out because I don't want to carry the damn things around with me all the time (which is also completely true). Anyway. This was good! Like, really good. Pretty much all of the exciting things from seasons 3 & 4 happen in this book (or in this half of the third book, I guess) so it gets like 10 thumbs up. I still have literally no urge to keep or reread these books probably ever, which feels weird but also feels amazing to get rid of them straight away, so there's that.

Patience by Daniel Clowes
I'm never exactly sure how I feel about Ghost World, which is Clowes' most famous comic, but I don't have any similar doubts about Patience. I loved this comic, to the extent that I sat down with it and just didn't move until I was done with it. It's kind of a gritty, time-travel drama that gets super tense and horrible as Jack waits practically his whole life to go back in time to try and prevent the murder of his wife Patience. If Ghost World makes me kind of grumpy because nothing really matters in it, then the stakes (and emotions) are super high in Patience. Also the art is pretty ace, so there's that too. Read itttttttt.

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
I think we all know that I love a good work of dystopian fiction, and that I also love Margaret Atwood, but I did not love The Heart Goes Last. I didn't hate it either, and got through it in a couple of days, but this was a lot more focused on relationships and resentments and human oddity than it is on the REALLY weird society at large. Whilst you get to know the main characters pretty well (and my god, there are more than enough problems there to be going on with), I felt like the world itself could have been explored more deeply because there is some really fucked up shit going on within it. Like I say, I enjoyed it well enough, but it's not the kind of dystopia that will stay with me with crushing fear and horror (oh hai, Brave New World).

Daddy's Gone A-Hunting by Penelope Mortimer
Daddy's Gone A-Hunting is not, as my brain wants it to be, about a psycho-killer husband so much as its about the position of women in 1950s society. This, of course, makes it much better than the plotline I really wanted. Essentially focused on a woman and her teenage daughter, this book makes clear the struggles of women in the ridiculously unequal society of this time, starting with the ennui and depression of the mother and wife who only married her husband because she was pregnant, to the slightly wild teenage daughter who makes a mistake that she refuses to let her life be defined by in the same way. Whilst I read this getting upset about the hypocrisy of the dickhead husband who said that he'd turn his daughter out if she got pregnant out of wedlock when he literally had to marry his wife for that reason, I also came away kind of loving everyone and scared for them in equal measure. This was my second Persephone book, and it was every bit as good as I expected it to be (No book cover cause the internet is letting me down over here).

So that was November! Like I say, I don't think I had a whole weekend to myself for the entire month and I did so many things that I'm impressed with 4 books, even if one of them was a comic book. But enough about me, what did you read last month? Prizes for the best recommendation.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Things I Read In October

Please try to ignore the fact that it's already the 5th of November (remember remember!) and act like I'm more up to date with books and life and all of that good stuff. I have essentially spent the whole month so far trying, in my little pockets of free time, to finish building the furniture I foolishly had delivered on a Sunday and so didn't have time to build before the whole damn work week. However, it's Saturday lunchtime and I'm typing this at my brand new shiny desk (sitting on my brand new shiny chair) so everything's coming up Milhouse, really. 

Before I even get to books, allow me to just recommend a podcast. I have, for so long, been incapable of listening to shit- I think maybe because my old job literally just involved listening to shit- but now. A podcast for the ages. I needed something to listen to whilst trying to sort out the complete mess that is my life (room) and The Babysitters Club Club podcast was that thing. I'm in no way original in my recommendation cause Book Riot already wrote a thing about it, but it is so funny and silly and at this point I feel like I'm listening to a couple of my friends talk about something I REALLY love, which is excellent. Interesting fact: I literally discovered book blogs through a couple of Babysitters Club blogs I used to read (totally snarky but affectionate ones) and now I'm kind of like, have I discovered podcasts through the same route? Spoooooky. 

But anyway. That's quite enough of shit I've been listening to, what did I read last month? Well:

Audition by Ryu Murakami 
Ah, the other Murakami. Not my favourite Murakami, of course, but he has his charms. Audition focuses on a guy (definitely can't remember his name) who, with his friend, decides it's a good idea to set up auditions for an imaginary film, through which he hopes to find a lovely new wife. Because it's (this) Murakami, you know things aren't going to go well, and the end is fairly predictably horrible and violent. I had quite a few problems with this book, namely that nothing really happens until the end (that the blurb handily hints at so it's not even really a twist), and all the things that do relate to it are kind of laughably heavy handed. It's all like "and in that moment I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN" "EVERYTHING WAS WEIRD AND WRONG but I didn't care because my girlfriend was pretty" and it not only made me sigh at a lack of subtlety but also (horribly) made me think that the guy kind of deserved his fate if he wasn't willing to be at least a little bit smart about, you know, life. 

Definitely not my favourite read of the month, let's just say.

Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman

From my not-favourite read of the month to what I can only describe as my favourite read of the year (so far... c'mon November and December!) I have reviewed this already, but to summarise, it's essentially 40 2-ish page musings on potential afterlives and it is too awesome for words. It's kind of philosophy and kind of fiction but it's all just excellent excellent stuff.

Horns by Joe Hill
Another one I've reviewed already (what even?!) and it has become my favourite Joe Hill, out of the three very good books of his I have read. If that isn't enough incentive, then it's also a little bit funny and heartbreaking and truly truly gripping and I read it in basically a day because I had to. Exactly.

Something New by Lucy Knisley
Ellie, aka the bestest person, sent me this as a pre-operation good luck/read this to recover please present because she knew that, essentially, I wanted it more than any other book at that moment. She is an excellent excellent person and I believe also she bought me Horns which is a weird and cool coincidence. I read Something New the day after I came home from hospital when I was in a fair bit of pain, really sleepy and headachey from anaesthetic, and feeling sick from the painkillers (I don't really get on with codeine, who knew?) and it made me forget about all these things for good ten minute stretches at a time! I do wish I'd saved it until I felt a little better cause I think I was not in a good place for reading at that point, but I still really enjoyed Knisley's take on being a kind-of reluctant (plus surprised!) bride. Her love story is so cute and weirdly exciting, and her viewpoint on weddings, traditions, and, of course, the food, is well thought out and interesting and, obviously, adorably and excellently drawn. I doubt I'm ever going to find a way to criticise any of her books, but this really was great, and I can't to read it again as a well person!

The Essential Dykes To Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel
One of my recovery days literally consisted solely of reading this book. It took a whole day to read because it's HUGE, but I was slightly miffed to realise when I was done that there's also a Complete Dykes To Watch Out For. I'm trying to take solace in the idea that the Complete version just has the strips Bechdel created on weeks where she had less time and put less effort in (i.e. the crappy ones), but damn I want to read them all! Which, really, should tell you something about how much I enjoyed this book. I liked it so much. Read all together, it's a pretty spectacular feat of, not only a 20 year chronicle of engaging characters and their relationships and lives (I genuinely kind of believe basically all of them exist in real lifenow? Because they should) but also a chronicle of the history of the end of the 20th and start of the 21st Century, told through an essentially left-wing, (mostly) lesbian perspective.

I realise that last bit sounds a bit overblown, but I genuinely believe that Dykes To Watch Out For is a piece of cultural history, and it deals with literally everything. Politics and cancer and GLBTQ rights and academia and underachievement and promotions and job losses and friendships and relationships and essentially all of the things that comprise lives? It's especially cool in that it tracks the recent developments in GLBTQ rights, so you have things like characters going to Vermont to get married (remember when that was a thing?) and then getting married again when it becomes legal in their own state, and other stuff that, reading it now, seems so outdated and such a weird thing to deny people. Set up against this, which I found really interesting, is one character in particular who essentially doesn't really want any of these rights, not because she doesn't think gay people aren't people, but almost because she thinks that having these rights means giving into a system that's corrupt and broken and that she doesn't want to be a part of. I found this a really interesting point of view (one I think I have heard before, but haven't seen such an extended expression of) and really the book itself, whilst tracking the growing rights of its GLBTQ community also shows a decrease in its radicalism- for example, the one year where none of the characters show up for Pride because it doesn't really feel like it means that much to them anymore. 

I think the length of this mini review proves that I should probably have written a full review of it, and maybe one day I will because I had a lot of thoughts but also too much pains to do anything about it. One day, though.

Duma Key by Stephen King 
I'm definitely going to review Duma Key because Stephen King books, you know how it goes. To be extremely brief about it though, I think I overall enjoyed it but it's kind of a strange book, in that it feels like it's telling two different stories at times- it's telling a family saga sometimes, and others it's going straight for the supernatural, and it feels like they don't always mesh well? But I'll (try to) unpick it in longer form. You know, maybe.

A Storm of Swords: I: Steel and Snow by George R R Martin
I finally got round to the third book in the Game of Thrones series (yes that's what we're calling it), except actually I guess it's part one of the third book and is this just one book in America? Enquiring minds want to know! (I think you can get it all as one book over here, but it's more commonly found in two) I don't have all that much to say about the story itself cause, y'know, I've seen all of this in the TV show, just saying. It's as readable as ever, as non-portable as ever, and AND here is where I saw its first real deviation from the TV show, in terms of pacing. To me, a veteran of the TV show, this book has unbelievable (in  bad way) pacing, and let me explain why. In just this half of a book, Jon Snow's story covers what takes two seasons of the TV show to cover, whilst Daenery's entire chapters are covered in literally the first episode of season 3. Maybe that's why Jon Snow's story in the show can sometimes feel dull as shit whilst Daenerys is always a fucking Queen, but even in the book it does feel as though Daenerys is getting nowhere whilst the other characters' narratives do actually progress. 

Of course, I do perhaps come to these books from the unfair angle of the TV series, but dammit this is my reaction to them so I get to say what I want, correct? Yes, good. IN SPITE OF THIS weirdness, I still had a pretty good time reading this so can I really criticise? Not so much. It's all good stuff.

And that was my October! I am already failing at reading this November in that I have basically read nothing except two copies of The New Yorker (a true commitment in itself, to be fair) but remember way back at the beginning of this post with the furniture building? Exactly. I'm only one woman dammit!

But tell me, I'm desperate to know. What did YOU read last month? Anything I should know about?


Thursday, 27 October 2016

RIP XI Book V: Horns by Joe Hill

Joe Hill remains a constant happy surprise for me. It would be ridiculous for me (especially me) to claim that I didn't start reading his books because, y'know, he's Stephen King's son and all, but he has in his own right paved a little pathway in my brain of happy-thoughts-about-Joe-Hill. Because his books are good- good for scary stories and good writing and good ideas and just generally goodly good good. Horns is the third of his books I've read, and it might just be my favourite so far.

Horns opens by introducing us to Ig Perrish, son of a famous musician, miserable and hungover, and newly sporting horns growing out of his forehead. As the story goes on, Ig learns that he can hear people's innermost thoughts and can make them do things- as long as he suggests things that they kind of wanted to do already- essentially the devil on your shoulder, only without a counterpart angel. Whilst we don't know why Ig has these horns, we do know that he is one sorry individual because his girlfriend was murdered a year ago and although he was never formally charged, everyone in the small town he comes from and lives in believes he did it anyway. It's not a very nice scenario to be in.

That's pretty much the gist of the first section of the book (Ig's visit to his family and hearing their innermost thoughts about him being a particular lowlight) and if the book had been so unrelentingly bleak throughout then I'm not sure I would have liked it nearly as much. The second section, however, goes back to Ig's teen years, and it's here the book really comes into its own. Ig's teenage memories are kind of lovely. HE'S kind of lovely, and you're left with the impression of a life that's strayed so horribly far from where it was supposed to be that it's pretty bewildering. If you get to see Ig at his worst in the rest of the book, then this is him at his best- innocent and kind but not perfect, because let's face it, that would be boring. This was pretty much my favourite part, and it makes the whole rest of the book worth it because Ig is so damn loveable that you somehow manage to excuse his devilish behaviour (which is still so much better than that of characters in the book who haven't been supernaturally endowed with horns).

I'm not going to say Horns is a perfect book, and even I got a little bit tired of Ig being made out to be a perfect sinless person even though he constantly proves himself to be anything but, but it was pretty much everything I wanted from a book when I read it. It's interesting and gripping and kind of scary, and there's a really cool bit in a treehouse that I think rivals anything King has written about creepy centres of mystical energy (I know). Horns may be even more interesting to anyone who knows anything about the Old Testament beyond, like, Adam and Eve existed; although on the flip side someone who actually knows the Bible might find it kind of trite and silly- I don't know because I am in the latter group and went 'oh sure, the devil and snakes- cool!' Either way, I liked the idea that the book was underlaid by some kind of Biblical precedent, even if that's not necessarily the case. More than that though, I just really fucking enjoyed the book- I read about half of the first section on a Friday, and by Saturday evening I had eaten up the whole damn thing.

Like I said, everything I wanted from a book when I read it.

If you want a kind of detective story with some biblical undertones and excellent childhood flashbacks, then this is the book for you. If you want to be kinda scared and kinda disgusted, this is also the book for you, and if you just want a really bloody good read, then, you've guessed it, you're gonna want to read this. It's my favourite book of Hill's so far, and the first one that I'm actually really excited to re-read at some point. Now you go.