In all honesty, this goes for virtually all the books I read before I got involved in the blogging community, but here are a few that stick out in the memory. There are going to be quite a few mentions of the word ‘library’ in this one – all the best pick-up reads come from there!
1. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
I was wandering round Waterstones with book tokens in my pocket… How many of my book purchases start like that? Probably beyond counting. Thanks to the author’s surname this was the first book in the fantasy section and as such it was turned so you could see the cover rather than the spine. The covers for this series are beautiful and so cleverly done I just had to look at it properly. Then I read the blurb and the rest is history. Aaronovitch’s Folly Series is on my auto-buy list. I don’t even read the blurb before I pre-order, I know it’s going to be good.
2. Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett
This was the first Discworld book I picked up and remains a firm favourite. I’d read Pratchett before but only his stuff for kids/teens so when I saw this at the library I thought I’d give him a shot. This is the one that really opened my eyes to the series and is definitely responsible for my preference for the Guard stories. I can probably quote entire sections at you. I feel no shame about this, but this one little pick up read has a whole bookshelf to answer for.
3. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
I discovered this one in the general fiction section of Waterstones. Picked it up more out of puzzlement as to why it was there rather than any particular desire to read it. But once I’d read the blurb I was intrigued. I’m so glad I discovered this series. Cogman’s got some very clever things to say about the power of language and narrative, on top of some brilliant humour – robot crocodiles!!!
4. Shadowfall by James Clemens
This was a holiday read – I don’t remember picking it up at the library, it certainly wasn’t one I set out to find. But I can remember so clearly being curled up in a chair and just falling into this incredible world. This book and it’s fantastic sequel – Hinterland – are amongst my favourites. The fact that Clemens never came back to this series remains a source of horror to me. But I’m so, so glad I found it – regardless of why I picked it up.
5.The Midnight Mayor by Kate Griffin
Another library find. At the time I was completely unaware that KG was actually Catherine Webb, I’d adored her book Waywalkers when I was younger but had no clue she’d written more. The Midnight Mayor was her second Matthew Swift book, although I did not realise this as it made for a brilliant starter read. I’d just picked it up amongst my regular pre-holiday library haul but was completely dumbfounded by it once I read it. The narration, the world building, the characters – it just crawled inside my brain and refused to leave. It’s up there with my favourite ever reads. Made all the better through being a complete surprise.
6. Not Forgetting the Whale by John W Ironmonger
Periodically I go for a systematic wander round the bookshops to work out what I need to look out for/order from the library. This was one of those finds. It was the spine of the book that caught my attention, such a strange title. Then I pulled it out and fell in love with the cover, flicked to the blurb and got completely drawn in by Ironmonger’s strange whimsical storytelling. I went straight to the library to pick up my copy but after reading it in one sitting I ended up having to buy my own. A wonderful book.
7. A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston
Thank goodness for Netgalley. I’d never heard of E.K. Johnston, but I was just craving someone to do something interesting with the source material of 1001 nights whilst I happened to be clicking through for books to review and there it was. A masterpiece, steeped in oral storytelling, sisterhood, the magic of belief and the power of narrative. There’s another book set in this world coming out later this year and I cannot WAIT to get my mitts on it.
8. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
This was another Netgalley find. I was trying to read some more Sci-Fi so I was clicking through the genre section and this one caught me eye. I’m so, so glad it did. It’s a wonderful book, one that just seems to fill you up with hope without being saccharine. I could talk about this book all day honestly. There’s going to be a companion novel released later this year, so expect me to keep telling you how good it is guys as I’ve got it on the brain at the moment.
9. The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman
I picked this one up in the Primary School library when I was little. It wasn’t much of a library as we were a catholic school with very little funding. It was just a room wedged between the year three and year four classrooms that doubled as the TV room, or the room for having school photos taken. But it also had books. I didn’t use it much, I mostly lived in the county library nearby but once or twice a term we were allowed to go in and pick a book out. I always just picked the thickest one I could find and hoped for the best. I can remember picking this particular one up because it was too thick to wedge into my tray when I got back to class. I had no idea how invested I was going to get in Pullman’s world, I don’t think the ending will ever leave me, so thank goodness for that little library.
10. Theft of Swords by Michael J Sullivan
I remember picking this one up at the library in town. The cover wasn’t particularly outstanding and I’d never heard of the author but there was something about the blurb that suggested it would be a fun read. And that was exactly what it was, but it was also a book that stuck in my memory with characters I continued to want to follow so it turned out to be more than that, which was a great surprise!