Squashed between all the time I’ve spent reading books this year, I’ve also been training to run what would’ve been my 7th half marathon. A half marathon, for those who aren’t familiar, is 13.1 miles. It’s my favorite race distance (and please don’t let my use of the word “race” confuse you; I am not fast) because it’s long enough to be a real challenge, but the training doesn’t dominate your life like the demands of a full marathon would.
However, two years ago I was diagnosed with a tiny stress fracture in my foot. Not a big deal, right? “I’ll be back to it in no time,” I thought.
But no. For two years, the stupid thing has remained fractured, healing only just barely enough (but never 100%) for doctors to conclude it doesn’t require surgical repair. I figured it was time to see whether it could hold up to running or not, so I’ve spent my summer following a very conservative training plan that would culminate in my running a fall half marathon – my grand comeback.
Alas, it was not to be. Going from basically sitting on my butt for two years to running six days per week is a lot (even with a low mileage plan), & as a result, I’ve injured myself – not my foot, as one would expect, but now my hip is giving me all the trouble. So I’ve been forced to scrap my half marathon plans, & instead I’ll be spending the fall & winter doing strength training. I’ll try for my grand comeback sometime in the spring.
If there’s a silver lining to this, it’s that now I have more time to read! Coming in at #29 on the list is House of Many Ways, the third book in Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle series. The books are technically a series, but each is a stand-alone story, so you will only lose out on small bits here & there if you happen to not read them in order.
House of Many Ways is about a bookworm named Charmaine, whose parents don’t allow her to do basically anything for fear that it might not be considered “respectable.” When she’s offered the chance to house-sit for her wizard uncle, she jumps at the opportunity, thinking she’ll get some quiet time away from her parents to read. But the house, of course, is not what it seems.
Probably like most people, I was initially introduced to Howl’s Moving Castle via the Studio Ghibli film. It was only years later that I found myself saying, “Wait, it’s also a BOOK?!”
If you are both a reader & a movie watcher, you will often be confronted with two versions of your favorite stories – the book & the bastardized film version that’s loosely based off the book (looking at you, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides). This, however, was a rare, magical instance where I loved both. HMC the book & HMC the movie are slightly different, but they share the same boisterous soul, & the sequels are both equally amazing. I found Charmaine’s endless quest for some time to read even as the world descends into chaos around her to be both hilarious & personally familiar. This series is so much fun, in fact, I think it’s probably an actual crime that I’ve never seen any Diana Wynne Jones books in any bookstore I’ve ever been to.
None. At all.
I had to search for these specifically online. And yet this series is bursting full of wizards & magic & curses & enchanted animals & books & action & humor – c’mon bookstores, what more are you looking for? Sparkly teen vampires?
Seriously, if you have even a tiny piece in your heart that loves magic & books & magical books, read these the first chance you get. Then share them with your friends so you can enjoy watching them say, “Wait, it’s also a BOOK?!”
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