Literary Wishlist

As the festive season is almost upon us, what better way to look forward than to peruse bookshops for the literary treasures we are hoping to find beneath the tree.  As I do every year, I have written a Christmas book list and – perhaps unsurprisingly, as I am known as a bookworm extraordinaire – none of the following titles appear upon it

1. Free Love and Other Stories by Ali Smith
‘A teenage girl finds unexpected sexual freedom on a trip to Amsterdam. A woman trapped at a dinner party comes up against an ugly obsession. The stories in Free Love are about desire, memory, sexual ambiguity and the imagination. In the harsh light of dislocation, the people in them still find connections, words blowing in the street, love in unexpected places. Ali Smith shows how things come together and how they break apart. She disconcerts and affirms with the lightest touch, to make us love and live differently.’

2. The Story of Antigone by Ali Smith 9781782690160
‘”The crow crossed the sky, slow-beating her wings. Beat, beat, beat. It was night, not yet morning, and her feathers were so black that she coasted the air invisible above the city wall.”

Thus begins Ali Smith’s retelling of Sophocles’ tragedy, about a young Theban princess who decides to bury her dishonoured brother Polynices, against King Creon’s express orders with heartbreaking consequences.’

3. The Dumb House by John Burnside
‘As a child, Luke’s mother often tells him the story of the Dumb House, an experiment on newborn babies raised in silence, designed to test the innateness of language. As Luke grows up, his interest in language and the delicate balance of life and death leads to amateur dissections of small animals – tiny hearts revealed still pumping, as life trickles away. But as an adult, following the death of his mother, Luke’s obsession deepens, resulting in a haunting and bizarre experiment on Luke’s own children.’

4. The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan 9781846559167
‘The magical story of a floating circus and two young women in search of a home.  The sea has flooded the earth. North lives on a circus boat, floating between the scattered islands that remain. She dances with her beloved bear, while the rest of the crew trade dazzling and death-defying feats for food from the islanders. However, North has a secret that could capsize her life with the circus.  Callanish lives alone in her house in the middle of the ocean, with only the birds and the fish for company. As penance for a terrible mistake, she works as a gracekeeper, tending the graves of those who die at sea. What drove her from home is also what pulls her towards North.  When a storm creates a chance meeting between the two girls, their worlds change. They are magnetically drawn to one another, and the promise of a new life. But the waters are treacherous, and the tide is against them.’

5. The Looking Glass House by Vanessa Tait
‘Oxford, 1862. As Mary Prickett takes up her post as governess to the daughters of the Dean of Christ Church, she is thrust into a strange new world. Mary is poor and plain and desperate for change but the little girls in her care see and understand far more than their naive new teacher. And there is another problem: Mary does not like children, especially the precocious Alice Liddell.  When Mary meets Charles Dodgson, the Christ Church mathematics tutor, at a party at the Deanery, she wonders if he may be the person to transform her life. Flattered by his attentions, Mary begins to believe that she could be more than just an overlooked, dowdy governess.  One sunny day, as Mary chaperones the Liddells on a punting trip, Mr Dodgson tells the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. But Mary is determined to become Mr Dodgson’s muse – and will turn all the lives around her topsy-turvey in pursuit of her obsession.’

97815942051946. The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee by Marja Mills
‘”To Kill a Mockingbird “by Harper Lee is one of the best loved novels of the twentieth century. But for the last fifty years, the novel s celebrated author, Harper Lee, has said almost nothing on the record. Journalists have trekked to her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, where Harper Lee, known to her friends as Nelle, has lived with her sister, Alice, for decades, trying and failing to get an interview with the author. But in 2001, the Lee sisters opened their door to “Chicago Tribune “journalist Marja Mills. It was the beginning of a long conversation and a great friendship. In 2004, with the Lees blessing, Mills moved into the house next door to the sisters. She spent the next eighteen months there, sharing coffee at McDonalds and trips to the Laundromat with Nelle, feeding the ducks and going out for catfish supper with the sisters, and exploring all over lower Alabama with the Lees inner circle of friends. Nelle shared her love of history, literature, and the Southern way of life with Mills, as well as her keen sense of how journalism should be practiced. As the sisters decided to let Mills tell their story, Nelle helped make sure she was getting the story and the South right. Alice, the keeper of the Lee family history, shared the stories of their family. “The Mockingbird Next Door “is the story of Mills s friendship with the Lee sisters. It is a testament to the great intelligence, sharp wit, and tremendous storytelling power of these two women, especially that of Nelle. Mills was given a rare opportunity to know Nelle Harper Lee, to be part of the Lees life in Alabama, and to hear them reflect on their upbringing, their corner of the Deep South, how “To Kill a Mockingbird” affected their lives, and why Nelle Harper Lee chose to never write another novel.’

7. The Book Collector by Alice Thompson
‘Alice Thompson’s new novel is a Gothic story of book collecting, mutilation and madness. Violet is obsessed with the books of fairy tales her husband acquires, but her growing delusions see her confined in an asylum. As she recovers and is released a terrifying series of events is unleashed.’

8. The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile by Alice Oswald 9780571236947
The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile, Alice Oswald’s first collection of poems, announced the arrival of a distinctive new voice. Shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize, the book introduced readers to her meditative, intensely musical style, and her breath-taking gift for visionary writing.’

9. Alice by Christina Henry
‘Alice has been in the mental hospital in Old Town for years. She doesn’t remember why. All she can remember is a tea party long ago. Long ears and blood. Until one night she escapes, free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago. When Alice escapes, something escapes with her. And the truth she so desperately seeks is so much stranger than any madman’s ranting. From the author of the Black Wings novels, the first in a dazzling and mind-bending new series, inspired by the twisted and wondrous works of Lewis Carroll.’

 

Which books are you coveting for Christmas this year?

Purchase these books from The Book Depository

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2 thoughts on “Literary Wishlist

  1. I’m hoping for the new collection of Robert Hughes writings for either my birthday or Christmas – I have dropped large hints!

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