‘Books are a uniquely portable magic’ – especially if you have a huge backpack

Thanks for that quote, Stephen King.

Let’s be honest, this is why we’re all really here. I went to the book fair in Edinburgh, and filled a huge backpack with books. There were so many books that I had to transfer some of them to a canvas bag I brought with me, in order that I wouldn’t collapse and end up like an upside down turtle.

So, without further ado, in no particular order…

Me, obsessed with Russian history? Only fourteen of the twenty books I bought had anything to do with Russia…

I’ve read this book a few times, and was even in a play version a couple of years ago, but I didn’t actually own a copy until yesterday. I played a pigeon if you’re wondering – now that’s a dream role right there.

This book is huge – the largest book I bought yesterday – epic both in size and the scope of its subject matter. It was also the most expensive, at £4 – shock, horror!

I can’t speak, read, or write Russian. Why I bought parallel texts is anyone’s guess. I was intruiged by the fact these were specifically Soviet stories, rather than simply Russian stories, or older folk or fairy tales – so of course I had to buy them both!

I will be completely honest here – I bought this one as much for the cover as for the plot about a writer dealing with the red tape (ha, red tape) of the Soviet regime.

I am a playwright, and I love Russian history, yet I haven’t actually read any Chekov plays. Sacrilege, I know. I intend to rectify that ASAP.

My other current historical period of interest – Ancient Rome. Emperors? Check. Death? Check. Book? Purchased.

I would have bought this for the cover alone – that picture of Hamlet is gorgeous!

I have read and was fascinated by One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by the same author, so thought I would give one of his longer works a try. Also, got to love that cover…

More parallel texts, oops. But since I’m in the planning stages of a play set in Russia, I want to explore the sort of stories and folk tales my characters would realistically have grown up with… these sort of books seemed like a good place to start.

This was bought for the same reason…

As were these… a chance to experience the work of these writers without diving headfirst into something as intense as War & Peace. That, and the fact I was able to buy all three together for £6.

A serial killer in the Vatican? With echoes of one of my all time favourites, Robert Harris’ Conclave, I knew I had to buy this one when I found it.

I have read and studied a couple of Kane’s plays as part of my MSc, and so was thrilled to pick up a complete collection of all her scripts for just £2!

The first book I bought – it has mediaeval in the title, I’m sold. Also, I feel these lyrics will come in handy for future history plays…

For those days when I don’t want to wade through a huge historical tome when I’m writing my play, a slim textbook will be ideal.

One of my favourite historians also writes fiction? Sign me up!

A script that is influenced by Shakespeare, but also involves Soviet Russia? The first book I picked up inside the actual building at the fair – and, as you can see, it wasn’t my last.

I will not be reviewing all of these, but I will be reviewing some of them for sure! Now, which one to read first?

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