Book mountain – my nemesis and oasis all at once

As a writer it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I‘m also an avid reader.
I love, LOVE, L.O.V.E. books. And when I say books, I mean the old fashioned kind.
I have nothing against e-books at all and have been known to read a few novels on the Ipad now and again, but it’s not my preference.
There is the tactile experience of flicking through the pages of a book, running your hands along the spine and across the cover, just the simple act of opening and closing a book is completely satisfying. I like to keep my favourite books on display, to admire, to remind me why I love writing so much. They are my beautiful friends.
Then there is the completely practical reason I prefer old school books – they tend to hurt less than an Ipad when they land on your head after falling asleep mid-sentence.
So yep I love books, which brings me to my dilemma – Book Mountain.
Book Mountain is my nemesis and oasis all at once. It is a pile of books that sits tantalisingly next to my bed. This is where ‘must-read’ books wait for me to get to them.
I try to only read one book at a time, but occasionally I have an urge to park what I am reading and delve into a different topic, land or time.
Then there are the books, I really, really want to read but haven’t got time for right now, but maybe soon…they are perfect candidates for book mountain.
Just when I make a dent in Book Mountain, another must-read arrives and takes its place. The books that are lucky enough to make it to the top of Book Mountain, will be read…unless another more enticing book comes along in the meantime…but I will get to it…eventually. At least that is what I tell myself.
This week I wanted to share Book Mountain with you so you could get a snapshot of what kind of books inspire me and my writing.
So here it is:
The Tournament by Matthew Reilly – I was very fortunate to win a signed copy of this book when I subscribed to the Never Ending Bookshelf blog by Jess – a big shout out there to the fabulous Jess. I’d never read any of Matthew’s books before but admired his journey as an author. He is an international best-seller who self published his first book. Legend! I’m reading The Tournament right now, and am really enjoying the story and Matthew’s no nonsense writing style. It’s a fascinating story with a young Queen Elizabeth I, as narrator.
It centres around a chess tournament in Constantinople held by Sulleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The Sultan invites all of the major nations to send their best player for the tournament. A 13 year old Elizabeth Tudor, accompanies her teacher, Roger Ascham, to the tournament but the focus quickly turns to murder.
This is a crime story, which is not my usual type of book, but I am a major fan of historical fiction and the Tudor Court, so this take on Queen Elizabeth is definitely new and exciting for me.
The White Princess – I’m a sucker for anything written by Philippa Gregory. I share her passion for history and I love the stories she builds up around real historical figures, particularly how she portrays female characters. I can’t wait to read about King Henry VIII’s mother.
War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy) – I bought this on a whim. I guess I wanted to find out what all the fascination was about. When I saw how many pages it was, and how small the font was, I was reminded of what people mean when they say, ‘Don’t give me War and Peace’. That being said, I’m determined to get to this one.
Week-end Wodehouse– I’d heard somewhere that PG Wodehouse was a remarkable chronicler of a particular kind of Englishness. That his witty stories had become required reading at country house parties in the late thirties. As a fan of anything vintage and English country houses, I bought this wanting to transport myself to dark panelled drawing rooms, evening gowns and smoking jackets. I’m still looking forward to this one.
Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations (Norman Davies) – I read a review once about this historical reconstruction and it sounded fascinating. Apparently Norman Davies brings back to life the long-forgotten empire of Aragon; the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, once the largest country in Europe, and the Kingdom of the Rock, founded by ancient Britons when neither England nor Scotland existed.
Geez! That does sound interesting.
Catherine the Great(Robert K. Massie) – this was featured in another review that struck a chord with me. Historical – tick! And a strong female character – double tick!!
Ulysses and The Dubliners – I was watching an interview with one of my other favourite authors one day, Ken Follett. Ken recalled an anecdote about author James Joyce explaining his day’s work when writing Ulysses. He had spent the day painstakingly writing two sentences. “I have the words already. What I am seeking is the perfect order of words in the sentence,” he is quoted as saying. I found the anecdote fascinating and wanted to read the book myself. I added The Dubliners to the shopping cart at the same time, for good measure.
A Tale of Two Cities(Charles Dickens) – I love Great Expectations, especially after watching the recent BBC adaptation. I thought it was only fitting I read this Dickens’ novel as well.
The Once and Future King (TH White) ­– A while back a childhood memory came to me of reading a book about King Arthur, while lying on a blanket in our backyard, enjoying the sunshine and eating watermelon (the ones where you had to spit out the seeds!) trying not let the juice drip all over the pages. The power of nostalgia got me thinking that I should start reading some Arthurian novels. I love historical fiction and fantasy, so this was an obvious choice.
The Crystal Cave (Mary Stewart) – I bought this one at the same time as the Once and Future King. I started reading it a while back, but it was taking too long to get to the ‘magic’ stuff so I put it down in favour of something else. I know this is supposed to be a great read, so I’m determined to revisit it.
Rendezvous with Rama (Arthur C. Clarke)  ­– this science fiction novel came with an irresistible recommendation. My husband read it, enjoyed it and said I should read it. For a start my husband isn’t an avid reader. Secondly he’s not the science fiction type. So if he liked it, it must be awesome. This earns its place in Book Mountain based on his recommendation alone.
So there you have it, my ‘pending’ pile of books I’m reading/will read. Hopefully next time we revisit Book Mountain, we will find some brand new candidates in their place.

I realise my ‘must-read’ mission is doomed to never-end and Book Mountain will simultaneously haunt and thrill me…but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Kylie Fennell
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