Nothing to do with voices, but never mind…
I love books, and I love getting post, so getting books through the post is something I find very exciting. Due to me being off sick and them being lovely, my colleagues at the Library of Doom sent me a card, some chocolates and a Waterstone’s voucher. Their generosity was such that I’ve already been able to buy two books, and still have enough money left on the voucher to buy several more! (Thanks everyone). The delights of the internet mean that I’ve been able to purchase the books without actually going to a bookshop (getting back up the hill from town would be a problem at the moment) and means that not only am I able to buy books, but I also get post!
Anyway, my first purchase was Stardust, by Neil Gaiman, with illustrations by Charles Vess. Having seen the film and enjoyed it, I was keen to read the book on which the film was based. I was also eager to see Charles Vess’ illustrations because I really liked the ones he did for Susanna Clarke’s The Ladies of Grace Adieu. I haven’t read the book yet (or the other book that I’m about to tell you about – I should have thought of that before I started writing about them, shouldn’t I?), but I’ve had a look (or several) through it, and the illustrations are lovely.
I’m looking forward to getting stuck into Stardust, but first I have to read a book someone has lent to me. I always feel that I should read books lent to me before reading books I’ve bought. This probably means I shouldn’t buy any books if I already have borrowed books waiting to be read, but sometimes the temptation is just too great. Besides, someone might lend you a book while you’re waiting for a book to arrive in the post, and by then it’s too late.
So, the next book on my list to read is Fifth Seal, because this is a book I’ve borrowed from someone else. It is, I must admit, a book I never thought I would read. I think I have actually said that I would never read Christian fiction (for this is what Fifth Seal and its companions are), and yet, I find myself not only reading it, but, shockingly, enjoying it quite a lot.
Needless to say, someone at church offered to lend me Fifth Seal, but only after she had already lent me Fourth Dawn and Sixth Covenant, the books either side of Fifth Seal, in the A.D. Chronicles series. I borrowed them because I didn’t want to seem impolite (how English of me), but I was a bit dubious about them. I’ve never really got on very well with Christian books in general. More often than not they leave me feeling patronised, inadequate (!) or angry and the idea of Christian fiction really did not appeal. However, I dutifully started to read Fourth Dawn and found it very interesting. Even if it’s not the most well-written book in the world I’ve read a lot worse, and the authors have obviously done a lot of historical and theological research.
The books I’ve read so far deal with the years preceding and following the birth of Jesus, ‘historical fiction’ focussing on the lives of Mary, Joseph and their families and friends, the political intrigues of the time and the consequences of those intrigues for the ordinary (and extraordinary) people of Israel. I was particularly pleased to find that Jesus’ Jewish background is made very explicit, something which doesn’t always happen in Christian circles. There’s a lot of fascinating information about Jewish law, practices and scripture and the way in which it relates to Jesus, as well as historical background concerning Roman and Herodian rule in Israel during the time before and after Jesus’ birth.
As a contrast, theologically at least, the other book I bought with my voucher is Once Upon a Time in the North, the new book by Philip Pullman. I didn’t know it was coming out until I read about it on Vicki’s blog the other day. It arrived yesterday, and it’s beautifully put together, apart from anything else. I can’t comment on the story because, as I said, I haven’t read it yet, but if it’s anything like the other books set in the world of the His Dark Materials series I’m sure it will be very good indeed. I will try and report back on my recent purchases once I’ve read them.