Thursday, 25 March 2010

Once Upon A Time IV

Carl V. at Stainless Steel Droppings runs some truly life-enhancing challenges, of which my absolute favourite is the Once Upon a Time Challenge. I’ve spent a very satisfying hour already, looking at other people’s lists and deciding what to include on my own.

I’ve decided upon Quests the First and Fourth–for Quest the First I shall be reading 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time categories: fantasy, folklore, fairytale and mythology, while for Quest the Fourth I’m planning to read Ursula Le Guin’s essays on writing fantasy, The Language of the Night (with thanks to Nymeth, who gave me the idea) and Alexander Porteus’ The Forest in Folklore and Mythology, which was first published in 1928. I bought this last year and it’s been sitting rather reproachfully by my bed ever since. Its first chapter is called The Forests of Eld! It coincides nicely with my current reading, Oliver Rackham’s History of the Countryside, which starts by discussing received wisdom about the history of forests in Britain, from which I am learning a good deal.

I’m also going to join in the short story weekends when I can, because I found a book of short stories that I couldn’t resist, since they are on my favourite Green Man theme. It will fit well with the Porteus book. And I’ve just seen that it’s on Carl’s list, too. I’ve added The Ladies of Grace Adieu, as well, because I think I’ve still got a couple of stories to left to read; the same goes for The Wind from Nowhere, because I’ve been rationing its stories–I don’t want to finish it.

I’ve listed my reading pool by category, but I’m going to allow myself some leeway so I don’t have to read one from each. Some will come from the TBR pile and others from the library (and I have already bought two, which wasn’t the idea at all!) but there is more fantasy than anything else, which most closely reflects what I want to read right now.

The list makes me want to plunge straight into reading, but I'll have to restrain myself a little longer, as I have a conference to run in less than a fortnight. I'll probably take one of the books with me to read, but it will have to be chosen carefully: it must be absorbing enough to hold my attention and help me unwind at the end of a long day, but not so much that I can't bear to stop reading. That's a challenge in itself, with a list lovingly compiled for un-put-downable qualities!

Kate Griffin, A Madness of Angels
Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Prince of Mist
Clive Barker, Abarat / Abarat 2
Stephen Hunt, The Rise of the Iron Moon
Diana Wynne Jones, The Dark Lord of Derkholm
Frances Hardinge, Verdigris Deep
Neil Gaiman, 1602 (graphic novel)

Jeanette Winterson, Weight
Victor Pelevin, The Helmet of Horror

Macdonald Harris, The Little People
Nicholas Stuart Gray, The Stone Cage

Frederick Grice, Folk Tales of the North Country

Ursula Le Guin, The Language of the Night
Alexander Porteus, The Forest in Folklore and Mythology

For short story weekends
Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (eds), Tales from the Mythic Forest
Susanna Clarke, The Ladies of Grace Adieu
Nicholas Stuart Gray, The Wind from Nowhere


  1. oooo I am soooo looking forward to the release of Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Prince of Mist!! His other two books were excellent! looking forward to a review on that one in particular.. if you get to it!

  2. What a lovely list.. thank you for posting it. :)

    I have added a few to my tbr pile.

    Looking forward to your reviews.

  3. Lets try this again...
    Looking forward to your reviews and I love your choices for books here - and have added a number to my tbr list - thanks for sharing!

  4. Your list looks fantastic! I'm still trying to decide what to read for this challenge, and Weight, particularly, is going on my list. :)

  5. Abarat is very 'different', an unusual kind of fantasy. And the illos are wonderful. And I really liked The Ladies of Grace Adieu. Interesting list, look forward to your reviews.

  6. Hi!
    I have an award for you at my place. Have a great day!

    Just Books

  7. I'm planning on reading The Ladies of Grace Adieu for this challenge as well.

    And glancing down your list quickly, the "V" in Verdigris Deep sort of ran over into the next title and I thought I'd read "1602 (VERY graphic novel)" ;) Wonder what kind that would be?