Books, books and bookstores

As we venture into another month of Winter, I feel the wisps of Spring edging closer each day. The sun is out more despite the loneliness of staying inside. In the spirit of new beginnings and lighter days, I’d like to discuss a few books (though there are a significant number on this list) I am excited about.

Searching for new books outside the popularity and hype of social media was difficult. Aside from QBD Books, the Dymocks in Sydney’s CBD and the Kinokuniya, I am far from local bookstores and distributors. I mainly source my books from booktopia, but I would love to buy from second hand shops and local bookstores.

I dream of…

My own dream was one day to open my own store. It would have an attached café, a a lovely patisserie with a huge variety of pastries, muffins, delicate cakes and biscuits. Of course, there would be a hearty influence of coffee and tea throughout the theme and design. Light academia has always been one of my favourite aesthetics – beige, neutral tones, oak and wood, more of a vintage 40s style, Oxford university?

The images that pop into my head are of Edinburgh and London, tall grey buildings and beautiful architecture. Foggy days where escaping to the local bookstore suits your agenda perfectly. Your eyes immediately sight the display table with the popular choices of the month. Whether you drift toward the classics section, filled with the romantic lyricism of Jane Austen, the odes to a lover or the epic tales of prophecies and knights in our fantasy section, a plethora of recommendations await your attention. My favourite part of a bookstore is the overall vibe – its usually calm and quiet. I hope to travel to the wonderful libraries and establishments overseas. I’ve seen magnificent libraries online from Switzerland, London, Edinburgh, Russia. Visiting each of these wonderful spots will definitely be on my to do list once travelling is safe again.

Without further adieu, let’s get into the *books*

Romance

I’ve recently gotten into watching Darling Desi’s YouTube videos and I can gladly say, she is the Queen of the Cottage Core and Light Academia aesthetic because WOW. Her outfits, hair, makeup and backgrounds are incredibly reminiscent of natural settings, the Regency period and the romantics. After a couple videos, I’ve selected my favourites in the hopes of branching out my reading and getting into a different genre. I mostly read fantasy, because I’ve always loved escaping into other worlds and discovering new creations of one’s imagination. I’ll always be a hopeless romantic and so here are the selections I grabbed from Desi’s own lists.

Jane Austen

First and foremost, we cannot read nor recommend a list of romance novels without mentioning the queen of romance herself, Jane Austen. Her books made a stance in literature and history during a period where women were only bestowed expectations of marriage on their name instead of the wholly freedom men were given. Jane Austen’s novels were not only ground breaking, but a statement of defiance against society’s expectations. Austen is the blueprint for the women who write men entirely in the female gaze. We all want a Darcy or a Bingly – never Collins.

Emma is a book I’ve been meaning to read for many years. I borrowed a copy from my sister two years ago, but never got to it. Now, Desi’s argument has convinced me so I’ve added it to the list. She worded it as a story of an independent and striking young woman who match-makes for others, finding love for herself in the end. She also reminded me that Clueless was a modern adaptation of said novel and that pushed me to solidify its placement on this list.

Further, Northanger Abbey situates on this list because of the tale of a beautiful romance as well as a personal development story for the young female protagonist in a new world. Its also a satire on Gothic novels of the Regency period, so that is a fiery motivator.

Lastly, Persuasion comes under here as a story of a young woman who rejected a marriage proposal to a man she loved because of her family’s opinion about status and wealth. Seven years later, she still loves him and he has returned, ensuing a pit of drama and tension whenever they’re in the same room – UM, lovers to enemies to lovers, anyone? I am here for these vibes.

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”

Northanger Abbey

Bringing Down the Duke – Evie Dunmore

This book was recommended for readers if you like Jane Austen’s writing and romances. Young Annabelle Archer, daughter of a country vicar, has earned her place among Oxford University’s cohort, however, in return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women’s suffrage movement. Her role – recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain’s politics at the Queen’s command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can’t deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Georgana’s Secret – Arlem Hawks

A regency romance on the high seas. Daughter to a sea Captain, Georgana Woodall dreams of freedom from her past and her secret. Escaping on her father’s ship in disguise as a cabin boy, she encounters enough drama and tension as she tries to pull off her new façade. Insert the Lieutenant Dominic Peyton who takes ‘George’ under his wing. Georgana quickly loses her heart to Dominic’s compassion and caring attributes, however, she can never act on these as she continues to play her role. Georgana’s Secret is a story about two hearts yearning for a safe harbour, and possibly, a lasting love.

“Seeing his face so soft and full of concern made her heart melt like sealing wax over her father’s letters

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

You had me hooked at Greek Mythology. Since Percy Jackson was published and Rick Riordan got all of us interested in these demigods, I’ve been intrigued by the mythos. Now, I’m aware of the hype surrounding this book, but I’ve been considering purchasing it for too long. The time is now! I’m adding it to this list as an ‘age old’ type of romance. While this tale takes place in ancient Greece during the ‘Age of Heroes’, Patroclus is still an awkward young prince with his own problems. He has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect song Achilles. Despite their evident differences, Achilles befriends Patroclus and they help each other grow…that is until their bond blossoms into something deeper, despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother. When word that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in Troy and fulfil his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, knowing little of the years of tests that would follow.

“In the darkness, two shadows, reaching through the hopeless, heavy dusk. Their hands meet, and light spills in a flood like a hundred golden urns pouring out of the sun.”

Pride and Premeditation – Tirzah Price

This book is perfect for fans of Jane Austen and whodunnits. If you inserted Lizzie Bennet into a murder mystery and Mr Darcy was the stern young opposition to her investigations – you would get this book. Convinced that the authorities have the wrong culprit, Lizzie takes the law into her own hands to investigate the murder on her own. As the case becomes more convoluted and tiresome, so does her relationship with Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy. What if the job she love so much was also something that would kill her?

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany – Lori Nelson Spielman

I added this one to my list because it reminded me of the cheesy rom-coms you’d see on Netflix. Desi also recommended it as a, ‘If you love Gilmore Girls, you must read it’ type of book. The vibes I am getting are immaculate and swoon-worthy from the get-go.

The second-born daughters of the Fontana family are destined to never find lasting love, something that has been true for the past two hundred years. Filomena Fontana would be the one to set it different when her great aunt calls her to her homeland of Italy, assuring Filomena she would meet the love of her life at her eightieth birthday and break the curse once and for all. Prepare for a romantic trip to Italy, with gondola rides on Venetian canals, rolling Tuscan fields, enchanting villages and delectable food. Love will blossom and destiny finds a way to unite love in a wonderous city.

“To me, love is more like a lending library. To keep it, we must continually renew it. Otherwise we pay a hefty fine.”

Poppy’s Recipe for Life – Heidi Swain

Another Gilmore Girls recommendation. This takes place in a small town where Poppy moves after she needs change in her life to right things when they haven’t been going as straightforward as she wished. Moving into a beautiful cottage, she indulges in her passion for food, surrounding herself with lovely friends and her grumpy new neighbour, Jacob. The unexpected arrival of her troubled younger brother is what threatens to shake her world, forcing Poppy to decide where her priorities lie.

These are all on my wish list and hopefully, by September, I would like to have them in my possession so I can get to reading all about these lovely romantic journeys. I don’t know what to say, I’m a Spring baby and a Virgo. Does that make us inherently romantic or dreamers?

A Wandering Reader

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