1

November Book Haul

The eagle-eyed amongst you might have spotted that I haven’t published any book haul posts since August.  This is because I have been very restrained with adding to my TBR, focusing instead on reading books which I already own, as well as many tomes which are still unread on my Kindle.  I have caved a little in November however, and thus have a few different titles recently added to my shelves, both literal and virtual, to talk about.

9781474604796I shall detail those which I have bought for my Kindle first.  I tend not to buy books from Amazon, whose morals are not up to scratch in a lot of ways, but wanted a few things to read both over Christmas, and on future holidays.  Everything which I purchased was rather cheap (under £2 per book), and they are largely tomes which I have found it difficult to get hold of in physical editions.  I thus chose four titles by the wonderful Celia Fremlin, whose work I have recently discovered: Don’t Go to Sleep in the Dark: Short Stories, The Trouble-Makers, Uncle Paul, and The Jealous One, all of which have been recently reissued by Faber Firsts.  I took advantage of two Kindle daily deals to buy a rather lovely-looking novel, The Boy Made of Snow by Chloe Mayer, along with a shortlisted title from this year’s Man Booker Prize, The History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund.

I have been a big fan of Nancy Pearl, librarian extraordinaire, for rather a few years 9781477819456now, and am starting to actively choose and seek out those titles which she has recommended, and which appeal to me (which, to be fair, is most of them).  I saw a copy of Susan Richards Shreve‘s Plum and Jaggers on the Kindle store for just £1, and couldn’t resist purchasing it.  To appease a bout of nostalgia, I also chose to download a copy of Christmas Tales by Enid Blyton, one of my favourite childhood authors.  I’m very much looking forward to snuggling up with it next month!

I saw a wonderful review of Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman, and decided to sneak a secondhand copy into my AbeBooks basket, which I purchased soon afterwards.  It’s a memoir of her experience with breast cancer, and whilst not the most cheerful tome, I’m hoping to read it over the Christmas holidays.  I have also been 9781509813131keen to undertake a year-long reading project for a few years now, and have finally found what I hope is the perfect book with which to do so – Allie Esiri‘s beautiful A Poem for Every Night of the Year.  I am gifting myself a lovely hardback copy for Christmas, and shall be savouring one poem every day (or, rather, night) in 2018.

As some of you may have seen, I am taking part in the Around the World in 80 Books challenge next year, and have been busy preparing lists, and finding tomes on my to-read pile which fit.  There are several countries I wish to read about which were proving difficult to find books from, at least with regard to my existing titles and those which I can find in the library, and I thus bought five from AbeBooks to prepare myself well.  I chose Two Under the 9781870206808Indian Sun by Jon and Rumer Godden, Spanish author Mathias Malzieu‘s The Boy With the Cuckoo-Clock Heart, Sigrid Rausing‘s memoir of working on an Estonian farm, entitled Everything is Wonderful, Welsh author Eiluned LewisDew on the Grass, and Marguerite Yourcenar‘s Coup de Grace, which is set in Latvia.

Going forward, for ease of admin more than anything else, although with a little sprinkling of hope that I will gain enough willpower not to buy any new books, I will be grouping two or three months into each of these book haul posts.  They will thus be far more infrequent, but rather larger than detailing one or two new books each month.

Which books have you bought this month?  Are there any on my list which pique your interest, or which you would like to see full reviews for?

Purchase from The Book Depository

3

New Year, New Plans

I have been thinking of replacing the Saturday Poem posts for quite a while.  Whilst I adore poetry, I have exhausted a couple of the free sources which I’ve been using to schedule the posts, and don’t really have the inclination to seek out new material.

I would therefore like to make each Saturday post going forward a showcase of translated books set in other countries.  I am not going to be solely reading translated literature during 2017, but I hope to be able to slot in more tomes which fit the bill, especially with access to such great, well-stocked libraries.

around-the-world-in-80-book-book-riot

From bookriot.com

I will largely be consulting the Around the World in 80 Books group lists on Goodreads for this project, as well as Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust To Go.  I hope to be able to include books from further afield than Europe and the United States.  I am hoping that these Saturday posts will become an extension of my ‘Reading the World’ posts, which were sadly lacking as soon as the borders of Europe and the US had been reached.

What do you think of this idea?  Are there any books which you’d like to recommend to me?  Which are the top five translated fiction books you’ve read?

4

Nancy Pearl Recommends…

I’m sure that all of us in the blogging word are familiar with library heavyweight Nancy Pearl and her recommended reading lists.  I own three of her books, and thought that I would pick ten of the books which she recommends at random, all of which I want to read.

1. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay pens an homage to the stylish menace of 1940s noir, in a novel that imagines if Alaska, not Israel, had become the homeland for the Jews after World War II.

2. In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant
“With their stomachs churning on the jewels they have swallowed, the courtesan Fiammetta and her companion dwarf Bucino escape the sack of Rome. It’s 1527. They head for the shimmering, decadent city of Venice. Sarah Dunant’s epic novel of sixteenth-century Renaissance Italy is a story about the sins of pleasure and the pleasures of sin, an intoxicating mix of fact and fiction, and a dazzling portait of one of the worlds greatest cities at its most potent moment in history.”

3. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
“When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she’s kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana’s discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire genticist. Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels…”

4. The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman
“After their zoo was bombed, Polish zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski managed to save over three hundred people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages. With animal names for these “guests,” and human names for the animals, it’s no wonder that the zoo’s code name became ‘The House Under a Crazy Star.'”

5. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
“When an infected bolt of cloth carries plague from London to an isolated village, a housemaid named Anna Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer. Through Anna’s eyes we follow the story of the fateful year of 1666, as she and her fellow villagers confront the spread of disease and superstition. As death reaches into every household and villagers turn from prayers to murderous witch-hunting, Anna must find the strength to confront the disintegration of her community and the lure of illicit love. As she struggles to survive and grow, a year of catastrophe becomes instead annus mirabilis, a “year of wonders.” Inspired by the true story of Eyam, a village in the rugged hill country of England, Year of Wonders is a richly detailed evocation of a singular moment in history.”

6. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
“On a May afternoon in 1943, a US bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean. After an agonising delay, a young lieutenant finally bobbed to the surface and struggled aboard a life raft. So begins one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War. The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. As a boy, he turned to petty crime until he discovered a remarkable talent for running, which took him to the Berlin Olympics. But as war loomed, he joined up and was soon embroiled in the ferocious battle for the Pacific. Now Zamperini faced a journey of thousands of miles of open ocean on a failing raft, dogged by sharks, starvation and the enemy. Driven to limits of endurance, Zamperini’s fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would depend on the strength of his will…”

7. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
“The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 and its amazing ‘White City’ was one of the wonders of the world. This is the incredible story of its realization, and of the two men whose fates it linked: one was an architect, the other a serial killer. The architect was Daniel H. Burnham, the driving force behind the White City, the massive, visionary landscape of white buildings set in a wonderland of canals and gardens. The killer was H. H. Holmes, a handsome doctor with striking blue eyes. He used the attraction of the great fair – and his own devilish charms – to lure scores of young women to their deaths. While Burnham overcame politics, infighting, personality clashes and Chicago’s infamous weather to transform the swamps of Jackson Park into the greatest show on Earther, Holmes built his own edifice just west of the fairground. He called it the World’s Fair Hotel. In reality it was a torture palace, a gas chamber, a crematorium. These two disparate but driven men toegther with a remarkable supporting cast of colourful characters, including as Buffalo Bill, George Ferris, Thomas Edison and some of the 27 million others who converged on the dazzling spectacle of the White City, are brought to life in this mesmerizing, murderous tale of the legendary Fair that transformed America and set it on course for the twentieth century.”

8. Bookhunter by Jason Shiga
The year is 1973. A priceless book has been stolen from the Oakland Public Library. A crack team of Bookhunters (aka. library police) have less than three days to recover the stolen item. It’s a race against the clock as our heroes use every tool in their arsenal of library equipment to find the book and the mastermind who stole it.

9. Perfect Reader by Maggie Pouncey
“Flora Dempsey is the headstrong only child of Lewis Dempsey, a college professor and world famous critic. When Lewis passes away, Flora returns to her New England hometown to act as his literary executor. There, she finds herself responsible for a manuscript that he was secretly writing at the end of his life–love poems to a girlfriend Flora didn’t know he had. As Flora is besieged by well-wishers and literary vultures alike, she tries to figure out how to navigate it all: the fate of the poems, the girlfriend who wants a place in her life, the wounds left by her parents’ divorce, and her uncertain future. Brimming with energy, humor, and the elbow-patchy wisdom of Flora’s still-vivid father, this enchanting debut””is the uplifting story of a young woman striving to become the “perfect reader” of her father’s life, as well as her own.”

10. Molotov’s Magic Lantern: Uncovering Russia’s Secret History by Rachel Polonsky
“When Rachel Polonsky went to live in Moscow, she found an apartment block in Romanov Street, once a residence of the Soviet elite. One of those ghostly neighbours was Stalin’s henchman Vyacheslav Molotov. In his former apartment, Rachel Polonsky discovered his library and an old magic lantern. Molotov – ruthless apparatchik, participant in the collectivizations and the Great Purge – was also an ardent bibliophile. Molotov’s library and his magic lantern became the prisms through which Rachel Polonsky renewed her vision of Russia. She visited cities and landscapes associated with the books in the library – Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Akhmatova and many less well-known figures. Some were sent to the Gulag by the man who collected their books.”

Purchase from The Book Depository

 

Have you read any of these books?  What did you think of them?  Which ten books would you recommend if you were creating your own list?