Summer Reading Challenge – July Part 4

I know it is now August, but this isn’t even my last July post. In my last blog post I said I’d taken a breather from reading, and almost immediately after writing that I lost my motivatioin to keep writing. So I’ve recovered from my reading blog but couldn’t find the energy to write about the four or five I’ve read since. In my defence, I’ve been too busy being on holiday, spending time with my partner, swimming and walking and exploring beautiful Scottish castles and countryside. I’m back at work on Friday and jumping right into the craziness of the Edinburgh Fringe so I better get back to it and write up these blog posts before I have a proper excuse for not having time.

I read these next three sporadically from about mid-July until the end of August since they are all either short story collections or poetry. I have one more post of my July reading to go and then the start of my August reading: I’ve already read two books since the 1st August.

Sick Day: Read a book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t

Now again, I can’t remember the books that I either read or was supposed to read in school so I’m going for another option from university. I’m also possibly cheating a little because for this prompt I’m reading a fairly short poem, took me less than half an hour to read, an that is The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti. I’m not sure why I didn’t read it back when I was studying because it was so short, but I do remember attending an hour long lecture about it which gave so much detail maybe I felt like I didn’t need to read it. If you’re wanting something short and sweet to read, this is a great choice, especially with the long, sweet, sensual descriptions of the goblins fruit. There are lots of connotations you can glean from the fruit and the story which are fairly easy to read into so I won’t go into them here.

Campfire Story: Read a book that scares the bejesus out of you

For this prompt I read a beautiful collection of stories and poems by Edgar Allen Poe that my wonderful partner bought for me years ago and I’ve never gotten round to reading anything further than The Raven. After reading the whole thing front to back (with some jumping around in between) I have to say The Raven is definitely the best of them all. I struggled with a lot of his stories in particular, although I think that was mostly my frame of mind at the time as well as just coping with the outdated language and his lengthy, convoluted word choice and sentence structure, I often got past this quickly though and found myself drawn deeply into the stories. My favourites of his stories included all the ones in which a character was buried alive, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Premature Burial, they were just too much fun to read! The ones I found most disturbing were the ones from the point of view of a murderer, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Black Cat. Berenice is also a brilliant story which may or may not contain all or some of my favourite elements, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Out of the poems, only The Raven really resonated with me, but all are much better if you read them out loud (as with all poems, you could argue). I also have to mention the version done by The Simpsons, I watched it about three times in between Poe’s stories, I kept going back for more.

Forefathers: Read a book about your country’s independence

I thought this could be a really interesting reading prompt because, as you may know, we obviously had an independence referendum in Scotland just a few years ago, so I was looking forward to findinng a recent book written by someone local with interesting or conflicted characters discussing the referendum. Unfortunately, all I could find was lists of political non-fiction books (which I had absolutely no interest in struggling my way through), and a couple of kindle books. I am alway sceptical of Kindle books since my experience of them has been extremely hit-and-miss, and these books definitely seemed like more of a ‘miss’ kind. Ultimately, I decided to take a different approach to this prompt and look for writing which was heavily Scottish or celebrated Scotland in some way.

I actually am really pleased with what I found, in more ways than one. I was thinking of my usual plan of looking up lists and lists of books online and debilitating over the choice before finally picking one at random and then having to go through the process of trying to find some way of reading it, checking libraries and bookstores and ordering it and picking it up, etc, etc, etc, when I thought instead that what I’m looking for is some sort of gem, something that maybe not many people have heard of before but truly reflects Scotland, embodies the characters that we have here. And here I am in this beautiful city full of excellent second-hand book shops. And literally, I went out that afternoon, not intending to seriously find something, but thinking I might as well check my local charity shops while I’m picking up food for dinner, and I found this collection of short stories for 1.50: Crimespotting: An Edinburgh Crime Collective.

Crimespotting is a collection of crime stories all inspired by Edinburgh and written by various authors including Irvine Welsh, Margaret Atwood, Christopher Brookmyre, Isla Dewar and many more who I can’t recall off the top of my head. The collection was put together by ONECITY Trust, and I happen to have read and highly enjoyed another one of their (three so far) short story collections many years ago. What made this particular copy I found so much more special though, was that most of the short stories had been signed by the author, with the only exceptions being Margaret Atwood and Isla Dewar and I think one other.

The problem with me being on holiday is that I have no brought my entire bookshelf with me, so I can’t remember enough detailis to sufficiently write a review foor this brilliant collection of stories. I may write something more detailed in the future but for now all I can do is recommend it, the stories are amazing and varied and I don’t know why you would expect anything less coming from a collection of extremely talented writers.

I have to go now because my wordpress app on my tablet keeps crashing and I’ve already written far more than I intended just now.

Til next time,

Isla

xx

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