Having suddenly found myself with a lot more reading time, I decided to challenge myself this year to try the O.W.L.S readathon to fill my month of April. If you are not sure what this is, this is a readathon designed by G at BookRoast and takes inspiration from the Hogwarts examinations students had to take in their fifth year. In this readathon, the OWLS you take allow you to progress into a specific career based on the subjects you have taken (especially when combined with NEWTs later in the year). You can find more information here if you are interested.
I literally made the decision to take part in this readathon last night, meaning this morning I had to decide a career in a bit of a mid morning panic. The career I have chosen is ‘Hogwarts Professor’, which I suppose isn’t that exciting considering the fact I am literally a secondary school teacher in real life but, as the pandemic which shall not be named has presented a few hurdles, it will give me a chance to live vicariously through a Harry Potter medium. As this is my first time completing the readathon too, I thought this would be quite a good career to start with as, other than Defense against the Dark Arts, there are no essential OWLs, only that you take seven in total. Therefore, it gave me an opportunity to be fluid with the prompts that I have chosen.
Defense against the Dark Arts: Grindylows: book set at the sea/coast
For this prompt, I have selected Jojo Moyles’ ‘The Ship of Brides’. This book is a historical fiction, following the young women who had married soldiers during wartime, and now , in 1946, are en route to meet (and live with for the first time) the husbands who were forced to leave them behind. This novel follows four women as they leave Sydney, Austrailia, and are bound to the UK. This is a little nugget of history that I was unaware of before and am really looking forward to diving straight in. I am about thirty pages in and just didn’t have the energy to pick it up and read properly in the final few days of March, but I’m hoping this will change in April with the right motivation.
Care of Magical Creatures: Hippogriffs: Creature with a beak on the cover.
I am currently in lockdown at my parents which means, although I managed to take some of my bookcase with me, the majority of books in my room are a mystery to me. My bookcase here, in fact the room as a whole, has become a bit of a dumping ground. Whilst clearing the bookcase yesterday, which included rehoming two camping lanterns, an expired first aid kit, and a sandwich bag of empty battery cells, I uncovered a treasure trove of books I hadn’t seen before or forgotten about. On these shelves, I found books that hadn’t made the cut for the many housemoves I had made, as well as books my parents had just slotted into my shelves. One such book – and the only one I could find with a beak – is ‘Conspiracy’ by S.J. Parris. This is another historical fiction – no prizes for guessing my family’s favourite genre – set in Paris 1585 and, from what I can gather, is a murder mystery surrounding the increasing tensions between France and England. It is again an area of history I’m not overally familiar with so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.
Charms: Lumos Maxima: A book with a white cover.
For this prompt, I have picked up Philip K. Dick’s ‘The Man in the High Castle’. This is a book that I have been intrigued by for years, and I think I actually bought when the Amazon series first came out, but just never picked up to read. It doesn’t seem like it will take too long to read as it is only about 250 pages long, which is good as a lot of my other reads are huge chonkers.
History of Magic: Witch hunts: Book featuring witches/wizards.
Now, this was a prompt I didn’t anticipate having difficulty with but I could not find a book that fitted into the catagory for ages. Magic I had. Ghosts, a plethora. But witches and wizards? Nada. In the end, as I didn’t just want to pick a Harry Potter book as that felt a little too on the nose, I picked up the ‘monster’ of a book, ‘Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrell’ by Susanna Clarke. I vaguely remember watching this series on BBC but cannot for the life of me remember what it is about, other than there is magic of some kind. I won’t lie, the size is quite intimidating, but I’m looking forward to getting stuck in anyway.
Muggle Studdies: Book from the perspective of a muggle (contemporary).
Now, it’s no secret that I have been thoroughly enjoying Menna Van Praag’s writing recently. The last one on my shelves I have left to read is The Lost Art of Letter Writing. I’m not sure how perfectly this fits the prompt, as I’m fairly sure magical realism will be in there somewhere, but it was the best fit I could find, and from my experience reading the others it isn’t usually the humans who are magical but buildings and objects so I think I can get away with it.
Potions: Shrinking Solution: A book under 150 pages.
For this prompt, I have picked ‘The Castle of Otranto’ by Horace Walpole. As an English teacher, I have used so many extracts from this novella to act as unseen fiction that the students need to analyse, but have never actually read the book in full. At only 105 pages, I can’t wait to get stuck in! The book is acclaimed to be the first superanatural English novel and takes inspiration from a mysterious medieval Italian tale about a devilish prince who forces his son’s bride to marry him. Taking heavy inspiration from Bluebeard, I am thoroughly intrigued to see what this novella involves.
Divination: Third eye: assign numbers to your TBR and use a ranom number generator to pick your read.
For this, I picked a series of books off my shelf that either intrigued me, or that I hadn’t read in a while, and then followed the generator to pick a book. The book selected was ‘Switched’ by Amanda Hocking, which is YA fantasy novel about a girl who finds out she belongs to a mystical race of beings called the Trylle. It is the first book in a series and I’m really looking forward to rereading it.
Seminars and Courses
I’ve also made the ‘somewhat’ adventurous decision to have a go at ‘Merpeople Linguistics’ which meant I needed to complete the Herbology OWL too. For this, I needed to complete a book whose title begins with the letter M, and I have decided to read ‘Me’ by Elton John. I recieved this at chrsitmas and has been really looking forward to starting it, but just couldn’t find the right now. And this gives me the perfect opportunity.
I think I have been quite ambitious with my TBR for this month but, like I say, as my days are now filled wiht a lot more free time as I am only required to set work remotely, it shouldhopefully be manageable if still challenging. I may swithc out some of the reads but I am determined to get those OWLs.
If you’re taking part, what books are you reading and what career did you pick?