Saturday, January 01, 2005

Books of 2005: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Editors note: The writer of this piece was a swallow away from finishing his second glass of wine when he started this piece. Let this serve as a warning for any unrelated tangents, grammatical errors and general ramblings.

A couple of weeks ago I was thinking about putting together a what-I-read-this-year list after reading one on another blog somewhere (I am not sure which and it is a common type list, no link but check out the list on the right.) I looked at my bookshelves and fired up the laptop and tried a few times put couldn't remember them all. I searched the blog but found that for every three books I read that only one would make a blurb here. This year I want to be able to tell you just how many books I read and when I was reading them. The posts that will assist me with this will be titled Books of 2005. The goal is at least fifty books a year, or one a week give or take. I'm not worried about hitting the number but I am nervous about keeping a solid written record. Explicit and specific documentation has never been one of my strengths.

The first entry in this years list was a Christmas gift from The Wife. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. At close to eight hundred pages I have lofty goals for my reading at a time when my reading is a bit slow. Busy nights and noisy lunchbreaks have my reading at all time lows right now. It has worked out to my benefit here though. Susanna Clarke's first novel is captivating and charming. According to the dust jacket blurbs a Washington Post review read -- "Many books are to be read, some are to be studied, and a few are meant to be lived in for weeks. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is of this last kind...Magnificent and original." I couldn't agree more. My short time in Clarke's 1807 London has been engaging and fun.

Let's get something straight right here and now; Wizards are fucking cool. Always have been. The first short stories that I would write in the 4th grade always involved Wizards. If a character was stuck somewhere or I didn't know how to get from one place to another throw in a wizard and he could fix everything. Merlin, Gandalf!? I challenge you to find bigger badasses in young adult literature. And so it comes as no surprise to me that I am enjoying Jonathan... as much as I am. Only 100 pages in I am already scared that this little journey will end too soon. I am savoring every scene. I recommend to fans of both literary and fantasy.

My number one Book of 2005! If my year goes as well as the choice of this book has I am in for a great one.


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