2

Book Haul: July 2017

All of the self-restraint which I have demonstrated rather well this year has flown out of the window.  I welcomed twenty six new books into my life over the course of July, and whilst that sounds relatively ridiculous, I have already managed to read several of them, and therefore don’t feel (quite) as bad as I could have done about it.  As ever, I shall split this haul into physical books (ones which I have purchased in person, and then a secondhand book haul thanks to the Internet), and Kindle books.

At the beginning of the month, I was browsing in Urban Outfitters, and found an absolute gem – a Taschen copy of Photographers A-Z, which was marked down to £3.  I then got student discount on top, and couldn’t have been happier with my bargain.  I started to read it immediately, and have added a few new photographers to my favourites.

I then came across a charity shop selling four books for 99p.  I wasn’t expecting great things, as the rest of the shop had rather a jumble sale air to it, but on my first trip, I ended up finding eight books.  I chose rather a rare travelogue by Freya Stark entitled 9781845029821The Lycian Shore, which I hadn’t been able to find very cheaply beforehand, as well as a second printing hardback of Pamela Frankau‘s The Willow CabinThe other novels which I hauled are The Secret Life and Curious Death of Miss Jean Milne by Andrew Nicoll, which is set in the gorgeous Scottish town of Broughty Ferry; The Nanny Diaries by Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin, which was purchased solely for my love of Mary Poppins, and was actually better than I was expecting; Have the Men Had Enough? by Margaret Forster; Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper by Harriet Scott Chessman, which I am about to begin reading; Iris and Ruby by Rosie Thomas, an author I’ve heard good things about; and The Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota, which looks right up my street.

When one of my best friends came to stay, we popped into the same charity shop, and I found four more books to add to my shelf: Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty, which I have wanted to read since my parents praised the television adaptation a few months ago; The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Fry, which looks like a sweet 9781860496929and amusing choice for summertime reading; Daughter Buffalo by Janet Frame, whose novel Faces in the Water I very much enjoyed; and my final Sarah Waters novel, Affinity, which I’ve heard mixed things about, but appeals to me regardless.

We then had an hour-long browse in Waterstone’s on a bright Sunday evening, and I picked out the following from the sale racks: Jamilia by Chingiz Aitmatov, which was a lovely single-sitting read; An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender, which I am very much excited for; and Ariel’s Gift by Erica Wagner, which is a Sylvia Plath/Ted Hughes biography I’ve not yet read.  I picked up all of them for £5, which I am very impressed with.

9781594634888I succumbed and purchased six tomes for myself online after writing 10,000 words of my current thesis chapter.  I realise that this is something I could repeat ten times over by the time I’ve finished my PhD, but will certainly try not to!  Regardless, I am incredibly excited to be united with all of the following: Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel, which is coming all the way from the USA; Reading the World by Ann Morgan; May We Shed These Human Bodies by Amber Sparks; Malinche by Laura Esquivel, which I am going to read whilst in the Caribbean in September; The Little Girls by Elizabeth Bowen; and The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan.

With regard to new books for my Kindle, I have been relatively restrained, downloading just four.  I chose The Wonder by Emma Donoghue because it sounded fascinating; 9781509818402whilst historically it was rather interesting, I did find a few issues with it, and only gave it three stars overall.  Merlin Bay by Richmal Crompton, however, was absolutely darling, and the perfect choice to read in bright sunshine.  The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking was a lovely book to curl up with on a raining evening, with candles lit; it certainly did add something to the slew of hygge books which I have read over the last year or so.  Finally, I have yet to pick up Why the Dutch Are Different by Ben Coates, which sounds like rather an inspired travelogue.

I am hoping that August will see no new books added to my TBR, and will give me the chance to actually get through some of these!

Which books did you purchase in July?  How many of these have you read, and which would you suggest that I start with?

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4

Book Haul (March 2017)

At the beginning of the month, I was standing in the bookshop of the Anne Frank Huis in 9781408842102Amsterdam with my boyfriend, deciding what to buy.  I thought I’d allow myself one tome as a souvenir of sorts, and plumped for Melissa Muller‘s Anne Frank: The BiographyBefore I went to pay for the beautiful blue covered book, I told my boyfriend that this would be the only book I’d buy all month, as I want to save up for forthcoming holidays, as well as use local libraries more.  Predictably when a bookworm utters the above words, it didn’t turn out like that at all.  In fact, I think this has been my heaviest book purchasing month in over a year…

It seems only natural then that I would want to showcase said purchases – all thirty one of them!  I feel rather ridiculous for buying so many, but haven’t spent much money on them, really (thank goodness for a slew of cheap Kindle books which I ordinarily avoid, and deals at both Fopp and The Works).

Let us begin with a huge collection of books by a single author.  I read of a comparison between my beloved Daphne du Maurier and Mary Stewart, an author whom I had heard of but never read.  Rather than buy a couple of her books just to see what I thought, I trusted the opinion of said reader, and decided to purchase a huge collection of her works from eBay.  I got nine of them in all – Thornyhold, The Ivy Tree, Stormy Petrel, Wildfire at Midnight, This Rough Magic, The Gabriel Hounds, Thunder on the Right, The Moonspinners, and Airs Above the Ground.  I did borrow her long-lost novella, The Wind Off the Small Isles, from 9781444720501the library to reinforce that I would very much enjoy her work; it was a fully successful exercise, and I am now even more excited to dive into my stack of Stewart novels.

I moved to Glasgow for University last year, and have, up until now, been very good at not seeking out the local Fopp.  For those of you who don’t know, Fopp is a cavern of treasures, with hundreds of films, CDs, and books.  It is owned by HMV, but is relatively inexpensive in comparison, and there is far more of an emphasis on literature and foreign films – both of which I have now stocked up with, having buckled and searched out the shop.  My haul is rather varied, but consists of eight tomes which are all on my to-read lists (somewhere!).  They are brand new copies, and cost me only £20 – bargain!  My fiction choices were I Saw A Man by Owen Sheers (whose novel Resistance I really enjoyed), Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas (an author whom I have been meaning to try for years), Les Enfants Terribles by Jean Cocteau, The Plague by Camus, and The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.  I also purchased three works of non-fiction which I have been coveting for ages – The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson, Parisians by Graham Robb, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

9781785780233I also went to The Works, and whilst they didn’t have the best book selection (it consisted mainly of old school thrillers, celebrity biographies by many celebrities I’d never heard of, and chick lit), I did manage to unearth two interesting looking novels – Fellside by M.R. Carey, and The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan – and a real non-fiction gem which I have wanted for ages, Helen Russell‘s The Year of Living Danishly.

I rarely purchase Kindle books, but I saw so many for £1.50 and below that I just couldn’t resist stocking up.  I have read a few already: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I must admit that I found a little underwhelming, the very witty Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, and the very odd but entertaining Peirene publication The Empress and the Cake by Austrian Linda Stift.  Those still on my to-read list are We That Are Left by Juliet Greenwood, The August Birds by Octavia Cade, Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill, A Lifetime Burning by Linda Gillard, Sweet Caress by William Boyd, and Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch. 9781782390725

I also received a free copy of Home Ground, a series of short stories and poems about homelessness in Glasgow, from the library.  Inspired by the Homeless World Cup which took place here last year, I thought that the collection, edited by Louise Welsh and Zoe Strachan, would be football-heavy, but thankfully it wasn’t.

I will try and resist temptation during April; watch this space!  What have you purchased this month?  Have you read any of the books mentioned above?

4

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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2

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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