The Post-Exams TBR List

May 31st. If I had an old-school wall calendar, that date would be circled in bright red felt tip. Sadly, it features only as a slightly feeble entry in my Google Calendar. Not quite so evocative. May 31st, since you ask (you didn’t, but never mind) will be my first full day of freedom from everything University related – lectures, supervisions, seminars, essays, my dissertation, and exams. I fully intend to spend it encased in a social media-free bubble, reading to my heart’s content. May 30th is my last examination date, but I presume I’ll either be too passed out from mental exhaustion or from post-exam bubbles (as it’s the tradition at Cambridge to mercilessly spray finalists after the last exam with cheap bottles of cava) to do anything remotely resembling reading.

Recreational reading doesn’t look to be on the cards at all, in fact, until that hallowed date. Yes, I started this blog at a silly time…

Without further ado, I wanted to share the five books that I’m most eagerly anticipating reading once I’m free.

1) The Three (Sarah Lotz)
So first up, we have The Three. I’ve been excited about this ever since I saw Hodder’s Twitter posts announcing it a few months ago, but then a couple of days ago they released a sampler of the novel as a free Kindle ebook via Amazon. I’m now approximately one thousand times more ramped up about The Three than previously, and I’m almost glad that I have revision and exams to plug the gap between now and the release date on May 22nd. The premise is that four planes crash more or less simultaneously around the world, but three children miraculously survive, seemingly unscathed. The free sampler doesn’t confirm exactly what role these children are going to play, but my guess is that they’re extremely dangerous. And creepy. Promising stuff.

2) Dust (Hugh Howey)
So I said that I probably won’t have time to do any fun reading in this peak finals period. But let’s be honest here. I bought Shift, the second instalment of the Wool trilogy, in a moment of weakness at Forbidden Planet last week, and I really doubt I’ll get through the next month without reading it during my breaks. I’ve written about how much I enjoyed Wool, which I devoured in one day flat. So I’m really looking forward to cracking open Dust and escaping from thoughts about results (ack) into a subterranean world racked by poisoned air and terrible secrets.

3) On Beauty (Zadie Smith)
I found a hardback copy of On Beauty in the secondhand section of Heffers in Cambridge last term. It was like discovering buried treasure. On Beauty is the second hardback that’s been on my TBR list that I’ve picked up there for £2, the first being Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World. I like how Smith often roots her narratives in northwest London, particularly the borough of Brent, where I’ve grown up, and I loved reading White Teeth, so I have high expectations regarding On Beauty!

4) The Sign of Four (Arthur Conan Doyle)
I finally started reading the Sherlock Holmes series in Michaelmas term. I’m a late bloomer, I know. I think I read The Hound of the Baskervilles in primary school, but it’s all a bit hazy now. Anyway. The Study In Scarlet was not at all what I expected, having followed the slick Sherlock BBC adaptation and the Sherlock Holmes Robert Downey Jr. movies religiously. Slick and fast-paced it may not be, but I enjoyed what I read, particularly the Mormon side plot. I’ve heard that The Sign of Four is even better than its predecessor. *Rubs hands gleefully*

5) Sandman Volume V: A Game of You (Neil Gaiman)
I love the Sandman series, and I reckon I’ve been pretty restrained in reading them really. Let’s compare: I read the entirety of The Walking Dead (published so far, that is) in the space of about a week, but it was like binge-eating. Albeit binge-eating zombies, as opposed to eating a nice pack of Doritos too quickly. Anyway, with Sandman I’ve been buying the series one volume at a time and allowing myself one day to savour each, which always feels so much more virtuous.

Other books currently vying for attention on my gigantic TBR list: The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway), The Girl With All The Gifts (M.R. Carey), Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (Robin Sloan), It (Stephen King), Lexicon (Max Barry).

May 31st cannot come soon enough.

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