Thursday, July 6, 2017

Top 10 books of 2017, so far

Total cliché to say that I can't believe it's halfway through the year already, but it's totally true. I've read 67 books this year so far, which is pretty respectable! Looking over my list I've read some really good books so far, so actually making this post was pretty tough. These are my top 10 so far, in the order I read them because I suck at ranking things. And, of course, this isn't necessarily books published in 2017, just books that were new to me this year.

Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of…1. Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon
I'm a big fan of both Marys, and having studied a little about their lives I wanted to know more. This is such a good, interesting take on the lives of the extremely talented and extraordinary mother and daughter duo, who of course never got to know each other, Wollstonecraft having died eleven days after giving birth to her daughter. This book alternates chapters of biography of each of the women which actually works out as a really good structure, as we can compare their lives and their writing. There's a wonderful background cast of enlightenment and romantic folk and all sorts of wonderful historical detail, as well as the inevitable scandal (Byron is a major character, after all...) But the book also avoids the stereotypes the women tend to fall into. Also, reading a literary biography of this period that deals with women is great, as it deals with questions like "how did Mary Shelley write when she always had young children around?" All in all, one of the best biographies I've ever read and wholeheartedly recommended.

2. The Sellout by Paul Beatty
I did a module this year called "Literature in Crisis", and although it was a bit of identity crisis itself- part African-American writing, part international crime, part dystopias- I did read some pretty good books I probably wouldn't have been exposed to otherwise. This was actually the first book I read for it and it blew me away. It's difficult to describe this book in a way that won't make it sound completely bananas- spoiler: it is completely bananas- but it follows our protagonist in the small black town of Dickens after the death of his father and his attempts to reinstate slavery and segregate the local high school, among other things. Yep. There's so much going on in this book where one second you're laughing and then you're thinking that actually, it's not that nonsensical after all considering the world we currently live in. Such an interesting and entertaining read.

3. An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
Okay, so total mood whiplash here. This is definitely not a barrel of laughs. Mirielle is visiting her parents in their home country of Haiti with her husband and young son when she is kidnapped and held at ransom. Which is apparently a serious thing that happens in Haiti pretty often. This is a dark, dark book about her captivity and what comes after, as well as the struggle between her family- her father refuses to pay the ransom, to the horror of Mirielle's husband. It would be weird to say I enjoyed this book, as I read it pretty much with a permanent look of horror on my face, but I did whip through it super quickly. It is gripping stuff. Really looking forward to reading some more Roxane Gay later this year, especially her memoir Hunger which just came out.

4. Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
I was super excited to read this book, as it's probably the only book I've ever read with a non-binary main character. Hooray for representation! Even though Riley is genderfluid and definitely experiences nonbinary gender in a different way to myself, I still found so much to relate in them. Riley is the child of a congressman, still closeted, who starts a new school and starts writing a blog about their experiences which suddenly goes viral, thrusting them into the spotlight and forcing them to come to terms with their identity and their relationships with others. I pretty much loved this except for one spoilery/triggery thing which I find to be a bit of an unwelcome trope in queer literature and made the book possibly darker than it needed to be, but that's really just my own preference. In general, I'm just so happy that this book even exists and I hope it gets the attention it deserves- I haven't seen much hype about it so far.

5. Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock
Second trans book in a row, woohoo! So I hadn't actually heard of Janet Mock until this book came out and started getting so much attention, and I finally picked it up (yes, I'm very late to the party). This is a memoir of Mock's life until about the age of twenty or so, growing up poor, mixed race, and trans. This is wonderfully frank and open, as much of a cliche as that is to say about memoirs. The trans stuff is definitely written in a way accessible to people outside the community, but it doesn't pander to them- and I feel like this is one of the things I liked the most about it. For example, she's honest about the privilege she has by being a conventionally attractive, cis-passing trans woman. I just really loved this and I'm excited to read her follow-up, Surpassing Certainty, about her twenties which just came out.

6. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Anna and the French Kiss (Anna & the French…I have to be honest, I was not expecting to like this book nearly as much as I did, much less put it on this list. You know those books that don't really personally appeal to you, but you read them sort of semi-begrudgingly because they keep being recommended to you? Yeah, I have to admit this was one of those. So Anna is an American girl who is sent to boarding school in Paris for her senior year, makes friends with a boy but wants something more from him. It's a fairly straightforward romance, the type of thing I usually avoid. I mean, even look at the cover! But I don't know, something about this book really charmed me. I think it was partly Anna herself but mostly the lovely descriptions of Paris, a city I used to live pretty near and spend a lot of time in... and it was weirdly nostalgic on that front. This book will definitely make you want to go to Paris. And I went and bought the sequel, which to my understanding is not even set in Paris, on the strength of this, so that's a good sign.

7. Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls' Boarding Schools 1939-1979 by Ysenda Maxtone Grahame
Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls'… By contrast, this was a book I knew I wanted to read as soon as I first laid eyes on it. I'm weirdly fascinated by boarding schools, having read far too many Enid Blyton boarding school books as a kid and have spent the last few years working on a novel set in one (So this totally counted as research, right?). This is a really fascinating, entertaining look at girls' boarding schools in the 20th century and the weird things that went on in them. Graham interviews former students who have wonderfully vivid memories. If you're looking for somewhat funny, somewhat tragic, very British anecdotes about boarding school life, this book is full of them. The schools vary from stringently academic places such as Cheltenham to places where practically no formal education went on at all. It's an interesting look at girls' education in general and how much it has changed in such a short time.

8. The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman
The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye…I'm super late to the party, having never read nor watched any The Walking Dead. And I'm trying to combat that now, thanks to my girlfriend's substantial collection of the graphic novels. If, like me, you've been living under a rock, basically our protagonist is police officer Rick Grimes, who wakes up in hospital to find zombies have taken over. Separated from his wife and son, he heads out in search of other survivors. I realise this is the very start of what has become a substantial franchise, so there's not really much I can say! Except that this was awesome- character driven and creepy and shocking and I can't wait to keep reading the series.

9. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky…Simon Spier is a closeted gay teen who strikes up an email conversation with 'Blue'- another gay teen at his school, neither knowing who the other is, but gradually falling for each other. Except Simon's emails are discovered by another kid at school, Martin, who then basically blackmails Simon in exchange for setting him up with Simon's hot friend. This is another case of a reasonably straightforward romance which ended up totally charming me. The email exchanges are lovely and really well done if that's your thing (which it totally is, for me). I also really enjoyed this book for presenting the situation where you're gay, you're comfortable with it, you're fairly sure no-one's going to have a bad reaction if you come out... but you keep avoiding coming out anyway, because you just don't like awkward conversations. It's an experience I've had and I think a lot of others have had, but not one I've seen in fiction before. Also, I guessed the identity of 'Blue' pretty early on, but it didn't really impede my enjoyment of this. Albertalli just released another book so I definitely want to check that out too.

10. Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard
Girl Mans Up by M-E GirardYep, another LGBTQ+ YA book! They're becoming my jam, what can I say. But that said, I'm still choosy and won't just read something because it has a gay main character- I like original experiences to be portrayed. And I was super excited to find this book, which has a masculine of centre lesbian main character! This is still so rare, as most lesbian YA seems to feature feminine characters and lack of masculine girls/tomboys/butches/whatever in fiction in general is one of my bug bears. Anyway. Pen is a boyish girl whose best friend Colby is, well, kind of a douche, but she doesn't have many friends so she kind of sticks with him. Until she falls for the gorgeous Blake, and ends up befriending Olivia, Colby's ex. She also has to deal with her traditional immigrant family's disapproval of her, as well as the struggles of everyone wanting to put a label on her and find out what her deal is- when Pen just wants to be herself. This is basically about her growing up and standing up for herself and doing the things that she wants to do, not the things her family and friends want her to do. It's so good. I didn't rank this list, but if I did this would definitely be near the top. There's so much to chew on with gendery things and female friendship and toxic masculinity, and, seriously, I hope this book gets the recognition it deserves. I loved it so much.

Friday, June 23, 2017

This week in books 12/6/17-18/6/17

It's been a long time since I did one of these, and yes I realise it is now near the end of this week and these books are ancient history, but I somehow managed to finish five books last week?! (Okay, so one was 32 pages long, but still). So I figured why not.

The Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniThe first book I read this week was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. This has been on my radar basically forever, because who hasn't heard of it? I read his A Thousand Splendid Suns waaaay back in 2011 and always intended to get to this one next... but I never did. This is about two friends growing up in Afghanistan from the 1970s onwards- Amir and the son of his father's servant, Hassan. Things happen, their friendship turns a bit sour, and later Amir moves to the US when shit goes down in Afghanistan. Later as an adult, he returns to Afghanistan to make amends. I liked this in a lot of ways- I'm always fascinated by books set in times and countries that I know very little about, and the depiction of the horrible things that happen in this book is brave and unflinching... but there were other things I was less keen on. The trouble with books that deal with such horrible things as war, rape, child abuse and so on is that it's difficult to avoid becoming overly sentimental and, well, a bit hackneyed. And it's not helped by the frequently implausible coincidences and the like that go on in the plot. Is this balanced out by the horror? I don't really know. Still, I enjoyed this, if not quite as much as A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Girl Mans Up by M-E GirardI know already that Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard is going to be one of my favourite books of the year. I've been looking forward to reading it basically since I first heard about it- a YA book with a butch lesbian main character!- and it did not disappoint. I'm trying to formulate a full-length review of this because I have so many feelings, so I'll be relatively brief here. Pen is a boyish girl who loves video games and struggles to deal with her traditional Portuguese family who disapprove of the way she dresses and acts and want her to be more like a girl. Also, her friends are kind of dickbags. She starts dating Blake, the lead singer of a band and strikes up an unlikely friendship with her best friend's ex Olivia, cuts her hair, learns to 'man up' and deal with her family and friend problems. I loved this book on so many levels- the focus on gender identity and not feeling like quite one or the other, misogyny, masculine identity, as well as just being a really good story about a girl growing up and dealing with shit. I loved this so hard.

Next up we have Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, something I probably wouldn't have picked up myself except my girlfriend is a big fan and swore it's better than the movie. And it totally is in many ways. The book is much more scientific and much more violent and it really does make you wish for a more loyal adaptation- or maybe a nice Netflix original series. But at the same time, the film does simplify it to an extent that feels much more accessible. There are so many characters in this book that don't really serve much purpose and all sort of run into one another- I much prefer the distilled main cast in the movie. Plus Hammond, the rather cuddly, eccentric owner of the island is completely different and completely awful in the book. Which makes me weirdly uneasy, even though obviously the book Hammond came first. All in all this is a pretty fun read.

Tenth of December by George Saunders
Next up: Tenth of December by George Saunders. Hmm. Sometimes when I'm doing these round-ups, I get to a book and I don't really know what to say... because in the short space of time since I've read it, it really hasn't left any impression on me. And, sadly, this is one of those. I wanted to like it, as in general I like short stories and this came highly recommended, but... yeah. Don't get me wrong, this is definitely not a bad book and I guess I liked it, but maybe I just wanted more. This is a collection of short stories which can be best described as a bit weird, a bit off. And normally that's my jam, but... oh, I don't know.

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in…Okay, let's get this out of the way: I bought Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie literally a day before all the stuff came out about her views on trans women vs. cis women and it sort of put me off her a little. But only a little. The relationship between trans* people and privilege is a vast, complicated issue and I don't think she meant any ill will by her comments. Basically, I don't agree with her and that's soured our relationship just a little. And that's all I'm going to say about that.
But anyway! This is another little short book very much in the style of We Should All Be Feminists (I actually just listened to the TED talk for the first time this week too). It's a response to Adichie's friend who asked for advice on raising her daughter as a feminist. This treads a lot of the same ground as WSABF but sort of sets out more of a vision for how to raise the next generation to make them feminists. It's a nice companion to it, actually. And it's only 32 pages long, so definitely worth a read if you can pick up a copy.

What I'm reading next:

  • Wildthorn by Jane Eagland, a YA take on the "Victorian girl is falsely imprisoned in lunatic asylum trop". With lesbians!
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, as I have read and loved only bits of Ulysses and it's definitely time to read something proper (and relatively unintimidating) by Joyce
  • The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia by Sir Philip Sidney, in which I once again try to put myself outside of my comfort zone by reading some 16th century literature. Also, according to Emma Donoghue it has lesbian undertones, and I'm all for that.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Readathon is go!

Just a quick note to say I'll be participating in the Dewey's 24-hour readathon today. All the action will be on my Instagram @omgeegollygosh so please come say hello! Happy reading!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Life update, aka I accidentally didn't blog for two months

Oh gosh. I knew it had been a long time since I'd updated last but two months?? Really?? Oh well.

As usual life got a bit away from me. But my days of juggling a 30 hour week uni work load and a 30 hour work week are soon to be over! I'm currently off for Easter, and when I head back I only have one more uni essay to do before my dissertation, which as a part-time student I get an entire year to complete. So, in theory I should have a lot more time to do bloggy things as well as human things like clean my house and sleep. In theory, anyway.

I've been studying some great books at uni. We did a section on race in contemporary American fiction and read Paul Beatty's The Sellout, Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad, Claudia Rankine's Citizen and Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me, all four of which were wonderful and I wholeheartedly recommend. We've also been doing posthumanist stuff and feminist stuff and seriously, I love studying literature. I'm sad this is my last semester of actual classes. I'm going to miss it so much.

I haven't been reading all that much outside of uni, to be honest. Bits and pieces, which has meant I'm currently in the middle of *counts* six books, which is... something. Shall I talk a bit about them? Why not.

1) Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman: I picked this up purely for the hype and I'm glad I did. It's about the nineties and high school girls and some seriously messed up shit is going on. I'm nearly at the end and currently asking myself why I'm not finishing it right now, omg.

2) Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin: I saw this randomly on a friend's instagram and instantly bought it on the basis that the main character is genderfluid and I don't think I've ever read a book where the main character is non-binary before. Honestly that fact was really enough for it to score major points for me, but I'm really loving it. Riley is a congressman's kid, just started a new school, trying to be invisible while their new blog about being a genderfluid teen goes viral. I'm loving the characters and finding it so relatable. I'm just over halfway through but I'm already pretty sure it's going to be one of my favourite books of the year.

3) Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick: Right I'm like less than 50 pages in, so I don't have too much to say about this so far. I basically picked it up because I've been trying to read more classic SF. I'm really liking the worldbuilding and everything so far.

4) Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: I seem to always have one doorstopper on the go. Well, this is allegedly the first ever novel and supposedly one of the greatest, so I had to give it a go. It's pretty funny so far, though I'm super intimidated by the sheer length of the thing.

5. Redefining Realness by Janet Mock: I'd never heard of Janet Mock, who is a writer and TV host and trans activist and all sorts of things, until this book got lots of hype when it came out a couple years ago. It's her memoir and I'm really enjoying it so far.

6. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon: Another book that I picked up because of the hype. I'm torn two ways about this: I'm not a big fan of teens meeting and ~~inspiring each other~~ and ~~falling in love~~ as this book basically is, on a surface level at least. That said, I'm enjoying the writing style and the format with the illustrations and I'm somewhat invested in the characters. So I'm reserving judgement so far.

So, yeah, that's basically what's going down in my life right now! I'm off to Brighton next week which I'm super excited about, and hopefully I'll get lots of reading and relaxation done there.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Re-readathon: Days 5-8

Day 5
I've been re-reading: The Secret History, Gone Girl
I've been not re-reading: The Sellout, Oroonoko

Pages re-read; 49
Pages not re-read: 126

Books finished: Orooonoko

Total pages re-read: 265
Total pages not re-read: 505

 I realise my attempts to re-read more than I read is going to be foiled by the fact that my uni reading is not re-reads. Oh well.

I fell asleep again this afternoon... whoops. Really must stop doing that. Still super busy with uni work, which is cutting down on my reading time considerably. But I did manage a teeny bit of The Secret History in the morning and a bit of Gone Girl before I went to bed. I'd forgotten how downright unlikeable Nick is. Reading Amy's parts, in light of what I know now, I'm wondering how much of it is actually true.

Day 6

I've been re-reading: Gone Girl, The Secret History
I've been not re-reading: MoranifestoThe Sellout

Pages re-read; 104
Pages not re-read: 150

Books finished: Moranifesto

Total pages re-read: 369
Total pages not re-read: 665

Not a terrible day for reading, especially since I ended up falling asleep super early and sleeping for about 12 hours straight through to next morning. Oh well.

I finished Moranifesto, which I intended to finish before the re-readathon but oh well, better late than never. As always Caitlin Moran is hilarious, but maybe not quite as hilarious in her previous books? I think this might be more to do with more political themes in this one. Hmmm. I enjoyed it very much all the same.

Still liking Gone Girl, still liking The Secret History. I'm realising I have very little memory of what actually goes on in The Secret History beyond, like, the main big things, so that's nice I guess.

Day 7 and 8

I've been re-reading: Lumberjanes Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy, Gone GirlThe Secret History, Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
I've been not re-reading: The Sellout (I've also realised I haven't been counting another set text from uni that I've been reading all week, but oh well. Factor in 50ish pages for that!)

Pages re-read; 209 (plus a chapter of Mansfield Park - damn you kindle version and your lack of page numbers!)
Pages not re-read: 150

Total pages re-read: 576
Total pages not re-read: 815

Blogger has been super unco-operative the past few days, so I'm only getting to put this up now!

I started re-reading the first Lumberjanes book because I love them so, and who doesn't love graphic novels for bumping up your word count? Uni also finally came through with Mansfield Park which I can count as a re-read, yay. Since I read it last I have acquired a cat called Thomas which is making the references to Sir Thomas a lot more giggle-inducing. Doesn't help that the book also has a Mrs Norris... Catsfield Park anyone?

The Final Stats
Books read from:
Rereads: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, Lumberjanes Vol 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson et al, Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Not-rereads: Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon, Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran, The Wonder by Emma Donoghue, The Sellout by Paul Beatty, Oroonoko by Aphra Behn, Surpassing the Love of Men by Lillian Faderman

Books finished:
No rereads! But I did finish all of my not-rereads which is fairly impressive I hope.

Total pages re-read: 576 plus a chapter of Mansfield Park
Total pages not re-read: 815 plus 50 pages or so of Surpassing the Love of Men

Okay so not re-reads won this round, but I think I can safely blame that on uni. All in all I think I didn't do too badly, considering what a hectic week I've had!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Re-readathon: Days 1-4

Day 1 and 2
I've been re-reading: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Secret History by Donna Tartt
I've been not re-reading: Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon, Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran, The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Pages re-read: 94
Pages not re-read: 261

Books finished: Romantic Outlaws, The Wonder

As I've said in my intro post, I was a wee bit late starting the re-readathon due to being in Dublin on Sunday at a gig. I got home from the gig at 3.30 am and had work at 6 am. You do the maths. As a consequence I spent most of Monday after work sleeping.

I also haven't, umm, been re-reading that much. I decided to go ahead and finish two of the books I was currently reading- not re-reads, but still brilliant, so I thought I'd just stick them in my stats for posterity.

Day 3
I've been re-reading: Gone Girl
I've been not re-reading: The Sellout by Paul Beatty

Pages re-read; 77
Pages not re-read: 9

Total pages re-read: 171
Total pages not re-read: 270

Okay so purely for gimmicky reasons and also to make it look like I'm reading more than I actually am, I'm going to continue putting my not-rereads in my stats. If at the end of the week the re-read number is higher than the not-re-read, then I'll be happy.

I'm back at uni this week and it's seriously kicking my arse already. I stayed up late tonight finishing my reading because I'm determined not to be behind already in week 1, dammit.

Gone Girl is interesting. It's very weird that I'm picturing the movie characters- having seen the movie since my first read of it- so that's a bit annoying. But I'm already picking up on all the little details that the movie missed. I'll have to rewatch it after I finish rereading it...

Also I think Gone Girl lends itself pretty well to a reread. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that something happens in the middle of it which drastically changes how the first half of it reads... so re-reading the start of it again is interesting, and I can start to unpick things I wasn't aware of the first time around.

Day 4

I've been re-reading: The Secret History
I've been not re-reading: MoranifestoThe Sellout, Oroonoko by Aphra Behn

Pages re-read; 45
Pages not re-read: 109

Total pages re-read: 216
Total pages not re-read: 379

So after staying up quite late last night I ended up falling asleep after work... whoops. So I spent most of the evening working on uni reading and not re-reading. I've also been reading Moranifesto in a an attempt to finish it and also because the format of short essays which is nice to fit in in my study breaks.

On the actual re-reading front! The Secret History is so good. It's sucking me right in just like last time and it's a great feeling :)

Re-readathon Challenge: Different Perspectives

Welcome to my blog and the second mini-challenge of the re-readathon! Today I'd like you to reflect on different perspectives that a re-read has given you, for the better or for the worse. Maybe you've re-read a book and found it wasn't quite as good as you remembered. Maybe you've re-read a book and found it was actually much better than you first thought. Maybe you've picked up on little details you missed first time around. Good or bad, I want to hear about it!

I thought a lot about what I wanted to talk about today. There's been a lot of books I've reread and picked up different things... but then I thought about 2003, and a time that many people who know me have trouble believing actually happened: a time when I stopped liking Harry Potter.

Dramatic Cat 2013 GIF. Animated gif from the video "Dramatic Cat 2013", starring Mylo the Cat... THATS a dramatic cat

Yep, today I'm going to talk about Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and my initial response to it. I've been vaguely ashamed of this in recent years, and I usually write it off as me being young and stupid- but between 2003 and 2005, I was no longer a Harry Potter fan. So when I read Melissa Anneli's wonderful memoir of Harry Potter fandom, Harry: A History earlier this year, I was relieved to discover I wasn't alone.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.jpg

It's important to set the scene. It's 2003. I'm ten years old. I've been a Harry Potter fan since I was six, an impossibly long length of time when you're that age. I gobbled up the first three books when my brother got them for his birthday in 1999. Goblet of Fire's release is still one of my most exciting childhood memories, though I'll never forgive my brother for telling me who won the Quidditch World Cup before I had a chance to read it for myself. I finish the book and I'm burning with excitement: Cedric Diggory is dead, Voldemort is back, and shit is about to get real

I spend the next three years dying of curiosity. I write my own versions and build up the fifth book to impossibly high expectations in my mind. I swallow up as much publicity as I can in my pre-internet fandom glee- the title, the cover art, that someone big is going to die. Then it's released. Just like for Goblet of Fire, my brother and I split our pocket money and share the purchase of Order of the Phoenix, he gets to read it first since he's the faster reader, but when he finally hands it over to me in the early hours of the next morning I'm burning with excitement. 

And then... I'm... underwhelmed. I'd expected something huge and dramatic. Instead we have Harry and his friends stuck at school, nothing really happening beyond flouting the rules of a tyrannical teacher. I skimmed the last few chapters, impatient for what I felt was an overlong book to be over... and then JKR did the unforgivable and killed off one of my favourite characters. 

I was heartbroken. I was angry. I felt like I was living a lie. Was I 'outgrowing' Harry Potter as so many adults had warned me I would? I got really into Lord of the Rings instead.  I stopped my near-continual re-read of the series and didn't even buy Half-Blood Prince when it came out- though I was tantalised by the details. When my friend dropped a massive spoiler- the biggest spoiler of all, you know what I'm talking about- I gave in and had to read it

And I loved it. And I jumped right back onto the wagon again, re-reading Order of the Phoenix and realising that really, it had to happen, that it fit perfectly into the rest of the series. I realised I loved Luna (still do), loved the banding together of the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore's Army, finally read the last chapters properly, heart in my mouth because I knew what would happen in the end

I won't lie, it's still not one of my favourite books in the series and I still think it suffers ever-so-slightly from over-padding- but no longer is it the killer of my favourite book series. 

So, tell me your experiences! You need not write an essay like I did. Please do link up your entries or drop me a comment to tell me how your perspective of a book has been changed by a re-read!