"She Gathered Books Like Clouds. . . " | The Curious Wren Tag

It never rains but it pours, they say. . . Well, it's been pouring tags lately, folks, and I can't complain! I love tags, and enjoy the process of reading them on other's blogs, and writing 'em myself. It's been one of those easy things to write on my blog lately, too, considering how busy things are with my studies. (Hope you all don't mind too much!) I do have more in-depth posts planned out in the weeks to come, Lord willing - reviews, literary reflections, musings on life and faith and daily struggles; it's just a working challenge to fit time to sit down and write all my deeper thoughts. Until then, I hope you enjoy this delightful tag hosted by the lovely Annie from her lovely new blog, Curious Wren. (I did an interview with her last Tuesday which you can check out: here !)
1. What was the last book you read, and would you recommend it?
I finished reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett last week, and I really enjoyed it. It's such a sweet classic story :). It was quite an appropriate season to read it in as well, as here in Australia we're slowly putting aside winter and embracing the joys of Spring, with the twittering of birds and feeling of hope and promise in the air!

But I actually just finished reading the first book in the King Arthur Trilogy: The Sword and the Circle by Rosemary Sutcliff the other day, which was so good. It's my first introduction into the King Arthur legend (I'm trying to get more into it before I start Suzannah Rowntree's novel, Pendragon's Heir), and I must say, I'm loving it so far. . .and I love Rosemary Sutcliff, so there is that too :D. 
2. Describe the perfect reading spot.
A cozy reading nook for me would be in a couch or armchair by a fireplace in the winter, and by a window facing the sea-breeze and sunshine in the summer, preferably with a downy light and bookcases near me; a pretty lace curtain would be an amazing addition! 
3. Favourite book beverage? Tea? Coffee? Hot chocolate? Tears of your readers?
It really depends on the mood I'm in, and the season. I  quite enjoy fresh fruit juice beverages, in particular during the summer months, like mango, berry fruit boosts, or iced lemonade. But I'm very fond of my tea, especially these days in the afternoons in the midst of my studies. A current favourite is Harney and Sons' Paris flavoured black-tea, and forest-fruit tea - ah, so soothing and refreshing!
But I'd take hot chocolate if you offered me, no questions asked ;). 
4. Share favourite quotes from four books.
Well, it's like this. I went on Goodreads and spent a whole evening browsing the richest and most beautiful quotes from my favourite novels, and I came away with the biggest pile of quotes. I then thought. . . how do I narrow them down? So I tried avoiding the quotes I mentioned in previous tags, and hopefully in my friends' tags, though they may be special too. Just, it was painful, okay?

"Oh, I can't describe my home. It is home, and I can't put its charm into words." - Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South.

"But courage, child: we are all between the paws of the true Aslan." - C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle.

"It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterward were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait." - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit.

"The wind blustered in from the sea, setting the horses' manes streaming sideways, and the gulls wheeled mewing against the blue-and-grey tumble of the sky; and Aquila, riding a little aside from the rest as usual, caught for a moment from the wind and the gulls and the wet sand and the living, leaping power of the young red mare under him, something of the joy of simply being alive that he had taken for granted in the old days." - Rosemary Sutcliff, The Lantern Bearers. 

"It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived." - Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

"It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them." - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King.
5. What is your most loved fantasy read? Dystopia? Contemporary? Sci-fi? Classic?
Fantasy: The Lord of the RingsThe Hobbit and The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, The Tales of Goldstone Wood series by Anne Elisabeth Stengl and The Knights of Arrethtrae series by Chuck Black.

Dystopia: I have not read anything in that genre yet.
Contemporary: I'll give you a few favourite contemporary authors (I don't read in the contemporary genre much, to be honest), so Anne Elisabeth Stengl, N.D. Wilson, Chuck Black, Sarah Sundin, Kristy Cambron, Rachel Heffington, Janette Oke, Jill Stengl, and Rachel Coker's novels are some of my current favourites. 

Sci-fi: I have not ventured into the science-fiction genre at all really (much as Annie begs me to watch Doctor Who!), except for The Cosmic Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength) which I loved immensely and highly recommend. 

Classic: I have too many favourites! They'd include North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, A Tale of Two Cities and Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey and Emma by Jane Austen, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Keys of the Kingdom by A. J. Cronin, Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Shining Company and The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff . . . oh, you know, you get the idea?
6. List three authors you’ve collected the most books from.
I own quite a few J.R.R. Tolkien novels, almost all of C.S. Lewis' main works (there are many more I still need to acquire though), and then it's a tie between Anne Elisabeth Stengl's novels, Chuck Black's and Patricia St. John's, I think. I also have a decent haul of Dickens' books now ^_^. 
7. What are your thoughts on magic in literature?
As this is a rather lengthy question, I'll refer you to another post in which I discussed this issue on my blog. You can check it out here: "Like in the Great Stories, Mr. Frodo. . . "

I also second both Emily and Ana's responses to the question heartily :).
8. What types of book covers capture your imagination most strongly? Feel free to include images.
Ooh, I am fond of so many! I'm a sucker for illustrated-covers, and I love beautiful typography, bright colours, foil and gold embossing, art, illustration, and a cover that will give a sense and feel of the type of novel it is, it's themes, characters and genre through its palate of colours, font, and images. I normally dislike movie-tie in editions, and am very picky with having a full-face model of a character on the cover unless they feel in-setting and right from a book-scene . . . not like ahem. . . a photo-shoot or something like that *shudders*. Here are a few I can't quite have enough of ^_^.
I have not read this book,
though it is on my TBR
I have only read the first book in this trilogy so far. . . 

I have yet to read this. . . 
I have only read the first book this trilogy,
A Distant Melody but I really enjoyed it. 
Another book I have yet to read. . .
I still need to read Flannery O'Connor's books too. . . 

9. Mention the first book character that comes to mind. Elaborate on this.
I had a brief scuffle in my mind, like a kaleidoscope of character-images floating past my mind, when my mind finally rested on Margaret Hale from North and South. She's one of my all time favourite heroines in literature, and a character I deeply empathise with and love. It's interesting, because I love how realistic and genuinely real she is with all her flaws and stubborn prejudices, but also with her deep and loving compassion to those in suffering and need, her sense of moral fealty and duty as a daughter to aid and support her father and mother,  her keen sense of conviction, and her humility and gentle endurance through the sufferings she goes through. . .
I also love how normal and ordinary a literary heroine she is, one I can very closely relate to both in character and in the situations she finds herself - the small regrets and griefs of coming into womanhood, the daily struggles of living in her parents' home and suffering the pains that they do alongside them, realizing a growing change of attitudes and perspectives in her life, a clinging to her faith, the weariness of ironing curtains for the arrival of her father's guest ;), and the struggle of being caught up in more than one society.

Much as I love Jane Eyre I confess Bronte's heroine is not one I can closely relate to just because of the experiences and vividly dark, gothic and morbid circumstances/situations and characters she encounters - they are so far removed from anything I could ever imagine or experience. (It's not every day one finds a mad-wife in the attic!) I do love her, but I cannot relate. . . with Margaret I do, and I love that. She's a real character to me. 
10. Do you lend out your books? Or is that the equivalent to giving away your babies?
I don't mind too much lending my books to members to my family because, you know, I can badger them any time without scruples ;). But uhm. . . sending them outside the house? With friends or acquaintances I get to see no more than once a month? *ouch* I'm a hoarder of my precious books and do not part with them easily, but for the joy of seeing a friend being blessed or delighted by a book I love as much as me, I think I can do it! I'd much rather go and buy them a copy though, if I had the available funds ;).


  1. Oh I like Rosemary Sutcliff's books too, but of course Tolkien and C. S. Lewis have written the best books ever, I so enjoyed the The Cosmic Space Trilogy, not many people seem to have read it though. Oh and Starflower, I liked that one too, and everything Lawhead.

  2. Oh, I love this Joy!

    Yes, I'm in love with that Emily of New Moon cover sooo pretty....

    Love that I found another Tolkien fan and Gaskell fan....

    Don't you just love North and South ....and Cranford!!!

    Enjoying your blog!

  3. Awhh, this is so nice! xx I had such a good little while reading through this post.
    ~ Sanjana

  4. Thanks for your comment, Clare :). It's always fun to meet fellow Sutcliff/Tolkien/Lewis/Stengl lovers too. They're some of the best :D. Ooh, I'm glad you like "The Cosmic Space Trilogy" - I still have a hard time deciding which is my favourite. I think it's Perelandra, though "That Hideous Strength" was so good too, and rich. I need to re-read that series. I've not read anything for Lawhead but I have been hearing some good things from him lately, so I want to check him out.

  5. Hi Morgan, thank you for stopping by my blog and your sweet comment :)!

    Isn't that cover gorgeous?

    It always makes me happy when I meet someone who loves North and South and Cranford the way I do :D.

  6. Thank you so much, Sanjana! :)


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