My Birthday Book Haul: Dickens, Hamilton, GWTW, and More!

birthday book haul

Hello, hello, hello! I apologize for my lack of activity this past week; I had my orientation at university and, since I’m not one of those blogger who writes posts in advance, when I’m not home posts don’t get written (note to self – work on organization!). This book haul is my offering to keep the gods of book blogging appeased until I have time to sit down and write an actual review post. 🙂

For those of you who didn’t know, a couple of weeks ago I turned 18 (woo!) and to celebrate my family and I took a trip to Ann Arbor for the day to scour the bookshops there. This haul is a combination of the books I was given as presents and the books I bought myself while I was out shopping on my birthday. All of them look absolutely wonderful, however, and I can’t wait to dive in and get reading them!

hamiltomeHamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter (2016)

This book!!! This book is, at least in my opinion, the most exciting book in this haul. Also known as the “Hamiltome,” Hamilton: The Revolution tells the story of the Broadway musical Hamilton, which is a hip-hop/pop/R&B musical about the life of the Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. For the past couple of months I’ve been completely obsessed with the Hamilton soundtrack, and I was enormously excited when I got this book as a gift from my little sister. There are really two major components to this book: the history of the musical, which is written by journalist Jeremy McCarter, and the lyrics to each of the 46 songs from Hamilton annotated by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the musical’s creator. This book is an absolute must for any fan of Hamilton, but it’s also a really interesting look at the evolution of a musical, from concept to drafting to full-scale production. Plus, the photographs in here are just stunning!

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (1838)oliver twist

I’m going to be completely honest with you: Charles Dickens is an author who scares me a little bit. Although I love classics, for some reason I’ve got it into my head that Dickens is heavy and unapproachable (which he’s not, as I read Great Expectations earlier this year and loved it) so I’ve hardly read any of his works. This is something I want to change, however, and so when I saw this gorgeous copy of Oliver Twist sitting on the shelf I couldn’t help but buy it. I am quite familiar with the story of Oliver Twist, as I grew up loving the 1968 film Oliver! (which I highly recommend you watch if you haven’t already, it’s completely wonderful), however I’ve yet to read the original story so I’m looking forward to picking this up sometime soon.

the art of gwtwThe Art of Gone with the Wind: The Making of a Legend by Judy Cameron and Paul J. Christman (1989)

This book is perhaps the second most exciting book in this haul, because I am a huge fan of both the book and film versions of Gone with the Wind. I found this book while perusing the shelves of my favorite used book shop, and it was published in the ’80s so I’m not sure how readily available it is anymore but if you can find a copy you should absolutely pick one up. Released in conjunction with the film’s 50th anniversary, The Art of Gone with the Wind is a complete guide to everything GWTW: background on the life of Margaret Mitchell, the story of how David O. Selznick spent $50,000 on the film rights for the book, the creation and production of the film, the premiere, the 1939 Academy Awards, and so, so much more. Perhaps even better than the text, however, this book is filled with hundreds of pictures from the set of GWTW: stills from the movie, behind-the-scenes shots of costumes and sets, movie posters, drawings, etc. I’m currently reading this and will definitely be posting a full review when I’m done, but this is a wonderful book and I’m very glad it’s now a part of my collection.

The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connorflannery o'connor

I don’t read volumes of short stories very often, however I read “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by O’Connor for an English Lit class a couple of years ago and ever since I have been on the look out for a collection of her short stories. Flannery O’Connor is an early 20th century American writer from Georgia, and although she wrote two novels (Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away), I think she is perhaps best known for her short stories. This volume collects all thirty-one of O’Connor’s short stories, and the blurb on the back says that it “reveals a lively, penetrating talent that has given us some of the most powerful and disturbing fiction of the twentieth century.” I’m really excited to read this one, and plus the cover was absolutely stunning, so how could I have not gotten this??

once there was a warOnce There Was a War by John Steinbeck (1958)

This is a bit of a different book for me, as I don’t read a lot of nonfiction about wars or the military. I found this in a used bookshop and originally I picked it up because a) I love John Steinbeck and b) I love Penguin Black Classics. Once There Was a War is basically John Steinbeck’s account of WWII through the dispatches he wrote from London, North Africa, and Italy for the New York Herald Tribune in 1943. The back of the book says that “Steinbeck focuses on the people as opposed to the battles” and that this is is “an unforgettable portrait of life in wartime that continues to resonate with truth and humanity.” It wasn’t until I read the first couple sentences of this book, however, that I was absolutely convinced I needed to buy it:

“Once upon a time there was a war, but so long ago and so shouldered out of the way by other wars and other kinds of wars that even people who were there are apt to forget. This war that I speak of came after the plate armor and longbows of CrĂ©cy and Agincourt and just before the little spitting experimental atom bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I attended a part of that war, you might say visited it, since I went in the costume of a war correspondent and certainly did not fight, and it is interesting to me that I do not remember much about it. Reading these old reports sent in with excitement at the time brings back images and emotions completely lost.”

I haven’t heard anyone else mention this book, in fact I didn’t even know it existed until I found it in that used bookshop, however it looks fascinating and I’m sure the prose will be beautiful.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1955)on the road

The last book in this haul is On the Road by Jack Kerouac, that well-known ’50s American novel of sex, drugs, and the freedom of the open road. I haven’t read many books from the 1950s, and On the Road is a book that I’ve been wanting to read for ages and just never got around to picking up  until I saw this copy in a used bookshop. I’ve heard mixed things about this – some people love it, some people think it is disgustingly misogynstic – but I’m looking forward to reading this for myself and forming my own opinions on this classic American novel.

So that’s it for my birthday book haul! Have you read any of these books? Are there any that you think I should start with? Let me know down in the comments. 🙂


2 thoughts on “My Birthday Book Haul: Dickens, Hamilton, GWTW, and More!

  1. I can heartily recommend GWTW, OT, and the collection by Ms. O (though I haven’t finished it, reading it now). I am unfamiliar with the Hamiltome, but you have definitely piqued my interest and I am going to learn more (interested in the soundtrack too now). But, On the Road…I hope you enjoy it, but I very nearly hated it. I agree with Capote’s appraisal of this book.

    But Happy Birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, yes! You should definitely go listen to the Hamilton soundtrack, it really is a history of America that sounds like the modern America we live in today, and the wordplay is amazing. Glad to hear you like the others, and I have heard plenty of people who agree with your opinions of On the Road so I’ll have to see. Thank you for your comment and the birthday wishes! 🙂


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