The rest of the rules were simple: 'trawl local charity shops, second-hand bookshops, car boot sales, Amazon used - whatever - for two amazing books that you love. They must be good, clean copies - they don't have to be brand new but they have to be in what I would call 'very good condition' - not something that looks like it's been dropped in the bath!' Easy. Ish.
I had an idea of what I wanted to give to Claire but found it an absolute nightmare to get hold of the books. Fruitless wanderings led to last minute online dashes and thankfully I managed to get my little box of books off last week (better late than never, I hope?!)
Claire, on the other hand, was much more organised than me and I received my little parcel last week. After a long two days spent with a client in Bournemouth, coming home to presents is the best.
I'm absolutely thrilled with my books from Claire. I'm a huge Ian McEwan fan - from Atonement and Solar to Enduring Love - but I've not read On Chesil Beach. I dove straight in but I've been saving it for my commutes on the tube, making the book last rather than getting through it in half a day (my usual activity). Following two newlyweds on the night of their nuptials, the book wraps itself around the two characters - Florence and Edward - who are caught in time in 1962. Post-war and pre-free love, the couple are shy yet stoic, knowing what they individually want from their wedding night but not what their partner does. I'm aching to finish it and yet desperate to prolong it because McEwan's writing is so beautiful; all-encompassing and inclusive, picking up on the minutia of life that really makes a character.
And the second is a collection of poems to dip in and out of. Despite being a pretty well-read Literature graduate, I never reach for poetry normally so I'm really looking forward to finding some old classics and some new favourites. And not misquoting Keats in a rowing boat with Daniel Cleaver. (By the way, you'll find one of my favourite poems by ee cummings here.)
I'm keeping what I bought Claire a secret until she posts it herself but having sent one of my favourite books (and two others I really like), I'm hoping to have converted someone else into the coven. What're your favourites?