I am still in the process of reading Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, but I wanted to write a quick post about my experience with it so far. I discovered the illustrated version at my local bookstore, and I’m reveling in the fact that I’m reading a thoroughly engaging fairy tale. I’ve had a rather rough couple of weeks lately, so last night I stopped at the bookstore and picked this up. Even though I had other things I should have been doing, I immediately dropped onto the couch and began reading….and I’m so glad I did. It has reminded me (in a way that other books have not been able to lately) of the reasons I love to read. Written in the form of a “fairy tale,” the book appears to be deceptively simple, but before I knew it I had become thoroughly engrossed and had to force myself to put it down so that I could get some writing done. It has been a genuine breath of fresh air and I’m looking forward to finishing it and moving on to another Gaiman book (which one? Neverwhere? Good Omens?). Or perhaps I’ll try China Mieville or George R. R. Martin. I have a feeling that I won’t have too much trouble reaching my goal of 5 books! It’s just a matter of deciding which ones to go with next! But I have to say, I do believe that Stardust has given my brain a desperately-needed recharge, and I woke up this morning with a new outlook and sense of resolution where my work is concerned; I do believe that my research papers are slowly beginning to transform–the amorphous clouds of abstract ideas are gradually taking on a more concrete form (although by saying this “out loud” I’m fully aware that I’ve tempted fate and everything will collapse tomorrow–but on the bright side, at least I’ve had a few moments of certainty).
I also treated myself to Naomi Novik’s His Majesty’s Dragon and Connie Willis’s To Say Nothing of the Dog, so I’m well-stocked for the time being. I always like having a number of books on hand. It’s not like it’s difficult to get another book when I finally finish one, but having a backup pile is my version of a security blanket. But just in case the librarians at my local branch think that they’re going to have to go a week without seeing me make my walk of shame to pick up yet another arm/bag/carload of books–never fear! I’m also thinking of ordering Susanna Clarke’s collection of stories, The Ladies of Grace Adieu, as well as Liz Williams’s The Snake Agent (which is a blend of mystery and fantasy). But I think that this time I will return EVERY BOOK THAT I HAVE CHECKED OUT (well, with the exception of The Wizard of the Crow and Forgetfulness) as a means of clearing my plate and starting out anew (sort of).
So thanks to Carl for proposing the fantasy challenge–I now feel like I have something to cling to when the last few weeks of the semester start getting rough!