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Book Haul (February 2017)

This post is a little early, coming as it is before February has even finished, but I am going on holiday in a couple of days, and wanted to ensure that I remembered to post it.  Without further ado, here are the books which I purchased during February, a month in which I’d told myself I wouldn’t buy anything new.  I bought thirteen books in total; unlucky for some, but lucky for my bookshelf!

9781743215524We begin the month with two travel guides.  My boyfriend and I had originally planned to travel to Riga, and so I bought the Riga Rough Guide before trying to book our flights (which, it turns out, is nigh on impossible from Scotland if we don’t want to change plane twice and have a thirteen-hour long journey…).  After three hours of searching supposed ‘direct’ flights – which was rather trying, believe me! – we eventually decided to book a trip to easy-to-get-to Amsterdam, hence my subsequent purchase of a Lonely Planet Guide to The Netherlands.  The Lonely Planet guides are a little pricier than others, but I absolutely love them, and try to buy them for as many trips as I can.

I lucked out somewhat by finding an omnibus collection of two Elisabeth Sanxay Holding novels.  I have wanted to read The Blank Wall for an absolute age, but have never found a physical copy of it, and those online were rather expensive.  I managed, somehow, to order a used copy with the aforementioned, as well as another of her novels, The Innocent Mrs. Duff.  Good old Internet!

February was, I suppose, a month of classics for me – or modern ones, at least!  I 18176595purchased my final outstanding William Maxwell novel, Time Will Darken It, which I am both ecstatic and rather sad about reading.  I also chose two books by Sylvia Townsend Warner – the Virago edition of her Diaries, and the also gorgeous green spined Selected Stories.  I love Warner’s work so much, and am just as excited to get to her non-fiction as I am to read more of her short fiction.  Carrying on with the green spines, I also bought one of my last outstanding Nina Bawden novels for some well-needed escapism away from my research work.  I chose A Little Love, A Little Learning almost at random, but have later found that it has been well reviewed by several of my friends, and bloggers whom I very much admire.

Two French classics have also made their way onto my shelves.  Whilst neither was 716381actually upon my original Reading France Project list, one of my esteemed reading friends on Goodreads gave both five star reviews, and I just couldn’t resist them.  Thus, I am very much looking forward to Andre Gide‘s Strait is the Gate, and Therese by Francois Mauriac, both of which I endeavour to read whilst in France over Easter.

Two further short story collections and two contemporary novels finish my haul for this 9780307957795month.  With regard to the short fiction, I chose to finally get my hands on a copy of Karen Russell‘s St Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, which I have wanted for such a long time.  As Mother’s Day is also coming up, I plumped for a gorgeous Everyman’s Library hardback edition of Stories of Motherhood, edited by Diana Secker Tesdell.  With regard to my contemporary picks, I chose One by Sarah Crossan, in which my interest was piqued after watching a BBC2 documentary encouraging teenagers in one particular school to read, and Liz Jensen‘s The Uninvited.  I’ve not read anything by Jensen in a long time, and the storyline intrigued me rather.

So ends this month’s book haul!  Which books have you bought and received this month?  Have you read any of these?  Which should I begin with?

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Book Haul (January 2017)

I thought that I would begin to keep a record of books which I’ve purchased in each distinct month, particularly after it was suggested that I add more book hauls to the blog.  I used to film book haul videos, but since moving away from BookTube, I thought it would be a nice idea to create a relatively concise post at the end of each month.  Without further ado, here are the tomes which I bought during January.

9780099521341I shall begin with book club reads, several of which I have chosen to add to my growing TBR pile ahead of time.  Being a full-time postgraduate student means that quite a lot of my time is spent buried in books, but I also have quite a busy social calendar, and want to ensure that I can get to group reads as far ahead of time as I possibly can.  That said, I bought the lovely The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa for mine and Katie’s book club, and a copy of Lori Schiller‘s The Quiet Room for the book group which I run on Goodreads.

I purchased three books with some of my Christmas money whilst on my way up to Scotland at the beginning of the month.  I chose a copy of Caroline Moorhead‘s A Train in Winter, which I have had my eye on for quite a while, and then took advantage of the half price offer in Waterstone’s, picking up Dan Boothby‘s Island of Dreams (which was a touch disappointing), and Agatha Christie‘s utterly brilliant The Witness for the Prosecution.

A couple of my January purchases were made with my 2017 reading projects in mind (see 9780857860866here).  I am planning to read Vita Sackville-West‘s Pepita in the next few months; it will sadly be one of my last outstanding of her novels.  The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh is a choice for my Reading Scotland list, and I want to get to it as soon as I possibly can because I so enjoyed The Girl on the StairsA Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse is one of my most highly anticipated Reading France choices, and one which will also work nicely for my ongoing Reading the World project.

I also chose to purchase several books which could be included within my thesis.  I’m unsure as to which of these, if any, I will end up writing about, but it’s lovely to be able to read so diversely, and sample new authors, as well as those whom I have previously enjoyed.  In this vein, I chose to procure secondhand copies of Miriam Toew‘s A Complicated Kindness and Irma Voth, as well as Anita Brookner‘s Leaving Home and Kaye Gibbons’ Sights Unseen.

9781844085224I rarely buy Kindle books, preferring instead to read free classics or sweep Netgalley for interesting tomes.  This month, however, I made an exception.  I had a sudden longing to read the rest of E.M. Delafield‘s Provincial Lady novels, and found them in a handy omnibus edition for barely any money whatsoever.  I also bought a collection of five of her standalone novels (Zella Sees Herself, The War Workers, Tension, The Heel of Achilles, and Humbug), which I am looking forward to getting to!

I shall finish with those tomes which I didn’t need, but couldn’t resist buying.  I scoured AbeBooks for a copy of Irmgard Keun‘s A Child of All Nations after so adoring Gilgi, and was rewarded with a first edition, which is just as wonderful.  I was keen to try some of Gail Tsukiyama‘s work, and plumped for The Samurai’s Garden as my inroad.  I saw a wonderful review of Sarah Rayne‘s A Dark Dividing on Goodreads, and had to get myself a copy; whilst I haven’t read it yet, it sounds as though it will be brilliantly creepy, and make the perfect read for a long winter’s night.

The Ice Museum: In Search of the Lost Land of 9780143038467Thule by Joanna Kavenna looked fascinating, and as my obsession with Scandinavia shows no sign of regressing, I had to buy myself a copy.  I was also intrigued by Maryrose Wood‘s Gothic children’s novel, The Mysterious Howling, which marks the first book in the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series.  I have read and very much enjoyed it already.  Last but not least, I bought a copy of Karl Pilkington‘s Happyslapped by a Jellyfish for my boyfriend (but I’ll more than likely end up reading it first).

Have you read any of these books?  Which tomes were added to your shelves during January?

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Christmas Book Haul 2016

I have almost entirely moved away from creating BookTube videos, and haven’t written a traditional book haul post in rather a while!  Going forward, I will endeavour to post one of these at the end of each month, so you can see both what I’ve bought and borrowed.  For now, allow me to show you the wonderful books which I received for Christmas!

As I’ve only read two of them so far (the fantastic Speaking in Tongues, and The Little Paris Bookshop, which I read last year and reviewed here), I shall copy the official blurb.  As always, if you’d like full reviews of any of them once I’ve read them, please do let me know.

 

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood
9781760291877Winner of Best Fiction and Overall Book of the Year at the Independent Bookseller Awards / Shortlisted for the Stella Prize and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award / Longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award

‘She hears her own thick voice deep inside her ears when she says, ‘I need to know where I am.’ The man stands there, tall and narrow, hand still on the doorknob, surprised. He says, almost in sympathy, ‘Oh, sweetie. You need to know what you are.’ Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in a broken-down property in the middle of a desert. Strangers to each other, they have no idea where they are or how they came to be there with eight other girls, forced to wear strange uniforms, their heads shaved, guarded by two inept yet vicious armed jailers and a ‘nurse’. The girls all have something in common, but what is it? What crime has brought them here from the city? Who is the mysterious security company responsible for this desolate place with its brutal rules, its total isolation from the contemporary world? Doing hard labour under a sweltering sun, the prisoners soon learn what links them: in each girl’s past is a sexual scandal with a powerful man. They pray for rescue – but when the food starts running out it becomes clear that the jailers have also become the jailed. The girls can only rescue themselves.’

 

Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame by Mara Wilson 9780143128229
‘Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and a little out of place: as the only child on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, the sole clinically depressed member of the cheerleading squad, a valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and one of the few former child actors who has never been in jail or rehab. Tackling everything from how she first learned about sex on the set of Melrose Place, to losing her mother at a young age, to getting her first kiss (or was it kisses?) on a celebrity canoe trip, to not being “cute” enough to make it in Hollywood, these essays tell the story of one young woman’s journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity. But they also illuminate a universal struggle: learning to accept yourself, and figuring out who you are and where you belong. Exquisitely crafted, revelatory, and full of the crack comic timing that has made Mara Wilson a sought-after live storyteller and Twitter star, Where Am I Now? introduces a witty, perceptive, and refreshingly candid new literary voice.

 

Tru & Nelle by G. Neri
51tb2cayyfl-_sx319_bo1204203200_‘Long before they became famous writers, Truman Capote (In Cold Blood) and Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird) were childhood friends in Monroeville, Alabama. This fictionalized account of their time together opens at the beginning of the Great Depression, when Tru is seven and Nelle is six. They love playing pirates, but they like playing Sherlock and Watson-style detectives even more. It s their pursuit of a case of drugstore theft that lands the daring duo in real trouble. Humor and heartache intermingle in this lively look at two budding writers in the 1930s South.’

 

Speaking in Tongues: Curious Expressions from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders 9781910931264
‘Ever feel like you are pedalling in the choucroute? Been caught with your beard in the mailbox again? Or maybe you just wish everyone would stop ironing your head? Speaking in Tongues brings the weird, wonderful and surprising nuanced beauty of language to life with over fifty gorgeous watercolour and ink illustrations. Here you will find the perfect romantic expression, such as the Spanish tu eres mi media naranja, or ‘you are the love of my life, my soulmate’, and the bizarre, including dancing bears and broken pots, feeding donkeys sponge cake, a head full of crickets, and clouds and radishes. All encourage new ways of thinking about the world around us, and breathe magnificent life into the everyday. These phrases from across the world are ageless and endlessly enchanting, passed down through generations. Now they are yours.’

 

The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg
9780224101950‘From the author who brought you The Encyclopedia of Early Earth comes another Epic Tale of Derring-Do. Prepare to be dazzled once more by the overwhelming power of stories and see Love prevail in the face of Terrible Adversity! You will read of betrayal, loyalty, madness, bad husbands, lovers both faithful and unfaithful, wise old crones, moons who come out of the sky, musical instruments that won’t stay quiet, friends and brothers and fathers and mothers and above all, many, many sisters.’

 

Madame Solario by Gladys Huntington 9781910263105
‘Set at Cadenabbia on Lake Como in September 1906, Madame Solario (1956) evokes the leisure of the pre-1914 world and the sensuous delights of Italy: the chestnut woods, the shuttered villas, the garden paths encroached by oleanders: ‘the almost excessive beauty of the winding lake surrounded by mountains, the shores gemmed with golden-yellow villages and classical villas standing among cypress trees.’ When the mysterious Natalia Solario arrives at the Belle Vue Hotel, there are disquieting rumours about her past life and about her excessively close relationship to her brother.’

 

The River King by Alice Hoffman
9780099286523‘For more than a century, the small town of Haddan, Massachusetts, has been divided, as if by a line drawn down the centre of Main Street, separating those born and bred in the ‘village’ from those who attend the prestigious Haddan School. But one October night the two worlds are thrust together by an inexplicable death and the town’s divided history is revealed in all its complexity. The lives of everyone involved are unravelled: from Carlin Leander, the fifteen-year-old scholarship girl who is as loyal as she is proud, to Betsy Chase, a woman running from her own destiny; from August Pierce, a loner and a misfit at school who unexpectedly finds courage in his darkest hour, to Abel Grey, the police officer who refuses to let unspeakable actions – both past and present – slide by without notice.’

 

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George 9780553418798
‘Monsieur Perdu can prescribe the perfect book for a broken heart. But can he fix his own? Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened. After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself. Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives. ‘

 

Unless by Carol Shields
9780007137695‘Reta Winters has a loving family, good friends, and growing success as a writer of light fiction. Then her eldest daughter suddenly withdraws from the world, abandoning university to sit on a street corner, wearing a sign that reads only ‘Goodness’. As Reta seeks the causes of her daughter’s retreat, her enquiry turns into an unflinching, often very funny meditation on society and where we find meaning and hope. ‘Unless’ is a dazzling and daring novel from the undisputed master of extraordinary fictions about so-called ‘ordinary’ lives.’

 

The Girl on the Stairs by Louise Welsh 9781848546509
‘Jane and Petra have been together for six years and after deciding to have a child, they move to Petra’s hometown, Berlin. But things do not quite go according to plan. Jane, at six months pregnant, finds herself increasingly isolated and preoccupied with the monuments and reminders of the Holocaust which echo around the city – imagining the horrors that happened in the spaces around her. She becomes uneasy in the apartment and conceives a dread of the derelict backhouse across the courtyard. She also begins to suspect their neighbour, Alban Mann, of sexually assaulting his daughter, and places a phone call to the police which holds more significance than she can ever have known …’

 

The Philosophy of Beards by Thomas S. Gowing
9780712357661”The absence of Beard is usually a sign of physical and moral weakness.’ ‘Take two drawings of the head of a lion, one with and the other without the mane. You will see how much of the majesty of the king of the woods, as well as that of the lord of the earth, dwells in this free-flowing appendage.’ ‘There is scarcely a more naturally disgusting object than a beardless old man. The Beard keeps gradually covering, varying and beautifying, and imparts new graces even to decay, by heightening all that is still pleasing, veiling all that is repulsive.’ This eccentric Victorian book argues a strong case for the universal wearing of a beard – that essential symbol of manly distinction since ancient times. Thomas S. Gowing contrasts the vigour and daring of bearded men through history with the undeniable effeminacy of the clean-shaven. He reminds the modern man that ‘ladies, by their very nature, like everything manly’, and cannot fail to be charmed by a ‘fine flow of curling comeliness’. Gowing’s book is now republished for the first time since 1850, accompanied by illustrations of impressive beards from history.’

 

The Vegetarian by Han Kang 9781846276033
‘Yeong-hye and her husband are ordinary people. He is an office worker with moderate ambitions and mild manners; she is an uninspired but dutiful wife. The acceptable flatline of their marriage is interrupted when Yeong-hye, seeking a more ‘plant-like’ existence, decides to become a vegetarian, prompted by grotesque recurring nightmares. In South Korea, where vegetarianism is almost unheard-of and societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision is a shocking act of subversion. Her passive rebellion manifests in ever more bizarre and frightening forms, leading her bland husband to self-justified acts of sexual sadism. His cruelties drive her towards attempted suicide and hospitalisation. She unknowingly captivates her sister’s husband, a video artist. She becomes the focus of his increasingly erotic and unhinged artworks, while spiralling further and further into her fantasies of abandoning her fleshly prison and becoming – impossibly, ecstatically – a tree. Fraught, disturbing and beautiful, The Vegetarian is a novel about modern day South Korea, but also a novel about shame, desire and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.’

 

A fantastic haul, I’m sure you’ll agree!  Thanks so much to everyone who gifted me a book this year.  Have you read any of these?

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