My name is Sophie and I’m a Bibliophile.
It’s okay – it’s not as weird as it sounds, it just means that I have a small (out of control) love of (obsession with) books.
Last month I shared some of the books this bibliophile loves, is loving, and has loved, and I enjoyed it so much I figured I’d make it a monthly tradition. So, as the deliciously grey autumn weather truly starts to kick in and with a long weekend upon us, I figured it was the perfect time to pick out some more favourite fiction I think you might enjoy.
Dead Air by Iain Banks (2002)
I am a HUGE Iain Banks fan, have been ever since The Wasp Factory entered my life (an absolute MUST READ). Not to be confused with titles by his authorial alter ego, Iain M Banks, Dead Air is one of Banks’ non-sci-fi books.
I love Banks because of the worlds he creates; the characters who are so grounded, real, and incredibly engaging, despite their flaws, his ability to give every-day-life an air of magical mayhem, and his constant, dark, dry humour.
I am yet to be disappointed by anything of his, and many of his titles have made it to my ‘Favourite Books of All Time’ list. So far, so good with Dead Air.
In a nutshell:
A couple of ice cubes, first, then the apple that really started it all. A loft apartment in London’s East End; cool but doomed, demolition and redevelopment slated for the following week. Ken Nott, attending a mid-week wedding lunch, starts dropping stuff off the roof towards the deserted car park a hundred feet below. Other guests join in and soon half the contents of the flat are following the fruit towards the pitted tarmac…just as mobiles start to ring, and the apartment’s remaining TV is turned on, because apparently a plane has just crashed into the World Trade Centre.
Sometimes it’s nice to revisit old friends and go back to a good book you haven’t read in years. This month I’m going back to another favourite from childhood …
Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden (1993)
I vividly remember people talking about this book when it was first published, I was only 7 years old at the time, so it was a little bit beyond me. A few years later, however, I devoured the book over one week when I was at Intermediate School.
Tomorrow, When the War Began is the first book in the Tomorrow series by Marsden. It details a high-intensity invasion and occupation of Australia by a foreign power. The novel is told in first person perspective by the main character, a teenage girl named Ellie Linton, who is part of a small band of teenagers waging a guerrilla war on the enemy garrison in their fictional hometown of Wirrawee.
Even if you don’t go on to read the whole series (I think my passion ran out at number 4), this is a fantastic book. The brilliant thing about Marsden is that he never talks down to his young readers, this was one of the first books I remember reading that made me feel grown up.
The Non-Fiction Nook
Who doesn’t love a good made-up tale? However, sometimes, the truth is stranger than fiction, so I like to mix it up with some fact …
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (2016)
I love Trevor Noah, I love his stand-up and I love him as the host of The Daily Show, he has a beautiful and insightful subtlety to his comedy that makes him stand apart from his late-night talk show peers. I also love it when you read a book by someone you know from the screen, and you can hear their voice.
Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison.
Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.
USA Today called the book “soul-nourishing” and I couldn’t agree more.. it’s also hella funny.
Continuing to explore the finalists of the 2022 Ockham NZ Book Awards and the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry, I discovered The Sea Walks into a Wall by Anne Kennedy.
A biting new collection by this award-winning poet, in The Sea Walks into a Wall, the natural world around us hits back.
The sea crashes its glass onto the bar.
You watch from afar.
You’d take it all back if you could. Everything.
You’d go down there and you’d.
From rainy Ihumātao to London’s Kew Gardens, in the face of seas and streams, ducks and dogs, black drops and bureaucracies, humans bumble through. Intelligent, playful, witty and innovative, these poems bite where it hurts.
Books on Film
Don’t roll your eyes at this one, classics are classics for a reason and while the melodramatic title stirs up memories of my ‘emo’ teenage years, Dead Poet’s Society (1989) will always have its place on my list of favourite films.
Written by Tom Schulman and directed by Peter Weir, the film is set in 1959 at the fictional elite conservative Vermont boarding school Welton Academy. It tells the story of an English teacher who inspires his students through his teaching of poetry.
If for no other reason, I implore you to watch it for the amazing performances from a stellar young cast, including Ethan Hawk, and, of course, the indelible Robbin Williams – showing off his dramatic side, while still remaining so essentially himself.
I can’t think of a movie that inspired both the bibliophile and the writer in me more, and that end scene (the famous ‘Oh Captain, My Captain desk-standing scene) gets me every time – and we’re talking hundreds of times.
If you’ve never seen it, carpe diem and do it now!
I hope this gives you some reading inspiration, and once again, stay tuned to see more of my top picks for all those bibliophiles out there next month. After all, readers gonna read.