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Summer Reading Plans

I have been so good for the last month whilst on a book-buying ban, but ended up being sucked in with cheaper prices on AwesomeBooks, as well as a 20% off discount code on Monday.  I could have been far more restrained – as is evident from the fifteen books which I ordered – but whilst looking at my to-read list, I found that I had hardly any books which seemed like summer-appropriate reading.

I tend to read on whims, picking up what I want to as and when, but have had some rigidity in my reading life this year, what with my Around the World in 80 Books Challenge.  I have a few holidays and trips away planned over the next few months, so thought it might be a nice idea to make a list of those books which I am planning to read over the summer, and my reasoning for them.

Madame Solario by Gladys Huntington is yet another gorgeous Persephone book  9781906784355which my parents bought for me last year, and which I’ve not yet read.  It is set in Italy – one of my favourite holiday destinations – in 1906, and looks like the perfect immersive read for summertime.  Likewise, Margaret Forster‘s Diary of an Ordinary Woman has been on my to-read shelf for quite a while now, and I so adored her novel Have the Men Had Enough? that I want to pick it up soon.  Treveryan by Angela du Maurier is set in Cornwall, one of my favourite reading locations.  I am so intrigued by the lesser-known du Maurier’s writing, and how it may compare to Daphne’s. Eden’s Garden by Juliet Greenwood is set in Cornwall too, as well as in Wales, and I am waiting for the perfect sunny day in which to devour it in one sitting, as I pretty much did with her novel We That Are Left.

9780307947697The Pigeon Pie Mystery by Julia Stuart is a novel which I’ve had my eye on for such a long time, and I was finally able to find a heavily discounted secondhand copy a couple of months ago.  Her books are amusing and intelligently written, and perfect to race through on holiday.  I have a review copy of Non Pratt‘s Truth or Dare to read, which tells the same story from two different perspectives, and looks wonderfully intriguing.  Fenny by Lettice Cooper is about a schoolteacher who , but I was so eager to pick up a copy after reading Ali‘s review; it’s only taken me six years to do so!

I like to read crime and thrillers over the summer particularly, and have a few to choose from: Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie, Singing in the Shrouds by Ngaio Marsh, My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart, and The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena.

Other novels I really want to get to during the summer are Ursula, Under by Ingrid 9780143035459Hill, about a young girl who becomes trapped in a well; The Big House by Helena McEwen, This House of Grief by Helen Garner, and Devotion by Nell Leyshon, all of which are about loss; The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud, as I have so enjoyed her short stories in the past; Panic by Lauren Oliver, as I feel that she does thoughtful thrillers rather well; The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud, as I loved her latest novel, The Burning Girl; Maria Semple‘s Where’d You Go Bernadette, which many fellow readers have loved; and Louise O’Neill‘s Asking for It, which seems to have been all over my Goodreads and Booktube feeds of late.

9781408802816I am aware that there is no non-fiction on my list thus far, so I am including Eudora Welty‘s One Writer’s Beginnings, which I hope will give me a much-needed kick to focus on my own creative writing (well, once my thesis is out of the way, that is!).  I also have a copy of the much-anticipated Henrietta’s War by Joyce Dennys, which many reviewers whom I admire have raved about.  Memories of Anne Frank: Reflections of a Girlhood Friend by Hannah Goslar and Alison Leslie Gold is also highly anticipated.

I have focused on rather easy reads, it seems, but whilst in the midst of University work, it is nice to know that I’ll be able to pick something a little easier up than dense theoretical books.

Have you read any of these?  Which books are on your summer wishlist?

Purchase from The Book Depository

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Showcasing the TBR

As I’m sure a few of you will remember, I ran a project during 2016 to cull my TBR list to just one or two tomes.  I managed it alongside reads for my Master’s course, but the number of unread books on my shelves has crept up steadily since, and is now consistently at around the fifty mark (oops…).  I thought that I would take this opportunity to showcase ten of my unread tomes which I am most looking forward to.

1. Time Will Darken It by William Maxwell 18176595
The decision to invite his Southern relatives to stay proves a fateful one for Austin King. By the time they leave, his reputation and his marriage have suffered irreparable damage.  Against the perfectly-drawn background of small-town Illinois at the turn of the twentieth century, Maxwell uncovers the seeds of potential tragedy at the heart of a happily-established family.

 

2. Madame Solario by Gladys Huntington
A novel of period and place, of mood and manners, tells its story in three parts:- the first and third, through Bernard Middleton, a young Englishman on tour, which sees the beginning and the end of Madame Solario’s stay at Cadenabbia, on Lake Como; and the second through the unrelenting questioning of Madame Solario by her brother, Eugene Harden.   It is 1906 and Cadenabbia’s visitors are ending the summer. Their many nationalities, titles, money, and idle chatter make a new world for Bernard, while Count Kavonski’s pursuit of Madame Solario gives him a chance to protect the woman who has infatuated him. The antagonism between the two is dissolved when Eugene appears, and envelops Madame in his plans for an opportunist alliance with wealth.

 

12552113. The Harsh Voice by Rebecca West
In these four short novels set in America, England and Paris, Rebecca West explores the lives and relationships of rich women and men who are ruled by ‘the harsh voice we hear when money talks, or hate‘. There is Josie, a flower of American girlhood with boundless ambition for wealth. There is Etienne de Sefavenac, a dilettante French aristocrat whose courtly stratagems are intended to ensnare Nancy Sarle – a plain American businesswoman. There is Alice Pemberton, a sensible Englishwoman – the very salt of the earth – in her own estimation. And lastly there is Sam Hartley, an American businessman who has fought his way to riches with his wife at his side, but whose life is now haunted by visions of beautiful young women.

 

4. Selected Stories by Sylvia Townsend Warner
In the selection of her stories from 1932 to 1977, the author casts a kind but piercing eye on human quirks and passions, as well as chronicling the events of Elfland. A brother and sister, shattered by the horrors of war, find solace in a tender, incestuous ‘marriage’. A wife, bored and rancorous, stitches a widow’s quilt. An old level-crossing keeper watches over his speechless, disfigured niece. In this magnificent selection of her stories, ranging from 1932 to 1977, Sylvia Townsend Warner casts a compassionate but piercing eye on the oddities of love. There’s the joyously farcical story of the mouse and the four-poster bed, the strange fugue of a sad woman and her doppelganger cat, the composer unexpectedly spending an afternoon ‘living for others’. And finally, there’s the skein of stories reporting on the events of Elfland, precise, witty and strange. Readers who know this author’s work will be delighted, while newcomers will find the perfect introduction to a writer of incomparable style and substance.

 

5. Strait is the Gate by Andre Gide 716381
A delicate boy growing up in Paris, Jerome Palissier spends many summers at his uncle’s house in the Normandy countryside, where the whole world seems ‘steeped in azure’. There he falls deeply in love with his cousin Alissa and she with him. But gradually Alissa becomes convinced that Jerome’s love for her is endangering his soul. In the interests of his salvation, she decides to suppress everything that is beautiful in herself – in both mind and body.

 

6. Therese by Francois Mauriac
From the moment she walks from court having been charged with attempting to poison her husband, to her banishment, escape to Paris, and final years of solitude and waiting, the life of Thérèse Desqueyroux is passionate and tortured. The victim of a hostile fate, Thérèse, as Mauriac said of her ‘belongs to that class of human beings … for whom night can end only when life itself ends. All that is asked of them is that they should not resign themselves to night’s darkness.’ Thérèse’s moving and powerful story affirms the vitality of the human spirit, making her an unforgettable heroine.

 

12199497. The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng
Set in Penang, 1939, this book presents a story of betrayal, barbaric cruelty, steadfast courage and enduring love.  The recipient of extraordinary acclaim from critics and the bookselling community, Tan Twan Eng’s debut novel casts a powerful spell. Set during the tumult of World War II, on the lush Malayan island of Penang, The Gift of Rain tells a riveting and poignant tale about a young man caught in the tangle of wartime loyalties and deceits.

 

8. The Innocent Mrs Duff and The Blank Wall by Elizabeth Sanxay Holding (omnibus edition)
Two novels of suspense in one volume. Long out of print, Elisabeth Sanxay Holding wrote popular suspense novels in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Raymond Chandler was among her fans. The Innocent Mrs. Duff is from 1946, The Blank Wall from 1947.

 

9. A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse 7998632
Ivan, a one-time world traveler, and Francesca, a ravishing Italian heiress, are the owners of a bookstore that is anything but ordinary. Rebelling against the business of bestsellers and in search of an ideal place where their literary dreams can come true, Ivan and Francesca open a store where the passion for literature is given free reign. Tucked away in a corner of Paris, the store offers its clientele a selection of literary masterpieces chosen by a top-secret committee of likeminded literary connoisseurs. To their amazement, after only a few months, the little dream store proves a success. And that is precisely when their troubles begin. At first, both owners shrug off the anonymous threats that come their way and the venomous comments concerning their store circulating on the Internet, but when three members of the supposedly secret committee are attacked, they decide to call the police. One by one, the pieces of this puzzle fall ominously into place, as it becomes increasingly evident that Ivan and Francesca’s dreams will be answered with pettiness, envy and violence.

 

10. The Ice Museum: In Search of the Lost Land of Thule by Joanna Kavenna
A legend, a land once seen and then lost forever, Thule was a place beyond the edge of the maps, a mystery for thousands of years. And to the Nazis, Thule was an icy Eden, birthplace of Nordic “purity.” In this exquisitely written narrative, Joanna Kavenna wanders in search of Thule, to Shetland, Iceland, Norway, Estonia, Greenland, and Svalbard, unearthing the philosophers, poets, and explorers who claimed Thule for themselves, from Richard Francis Burton to Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen. Marked by breathtaking snowscapes, haunting literature, and the cold specter of past tragedies, this is a wondrous blend of travel writing and detective work that is impossible to set down.

 

If you’re interested, you can see my working TBR, which consists of physical books and those which I have purchased on my Kindle, on Goodreads.

How many books are on your TBR?  Which are you most looking forward to reading?

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To-Read Lists

I have reached crisis point; I am about to near the end of my third chunky to-read notebook.  If I am to fit everything I have found around the Internet, in libraries, and recommendations from friends, in to my future reading, I will probably have to stay alive until I am about 150…

This has led me to a question.  How do you organise your to-read lists?  Do you often find yourself perusing them before going to the library or on a book-shopping spree, or do you prefer to have them as a reference point for a rainy day, and just browse?  How many notebooks, spreadsheets, or Goodreads shelves, have you filled with the titles and authors of books you want to read?  How do you then go through these lists to ensure that everything you have read has been identified?

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TBR Announcement

Like many readers and bloggers, I had rather an out of control to-read shelf (technically, due to the sheer number of books which were unread, the total ran to three double stacked shelves) this time last year. The rough total of books which I had bought or received as gifts and had not yet read was somewhere around the 150 mark. Since then, I have focused upon reading more books than I am purchasing, and when discounting my library books and three travel guides, I am thrilled to announce that my to-read shelf currently stands at only 13 books. For me, a self-confessed book buyer of manic proportions, this is quite an amazing total. I would go as far to say that it is actually at the lowest level it has been since I was a toddler. How is everyone else getting on with their to-read piles? How many books does yours consist of?

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2015 Book Club Reads

We are so very organised here at The Literary Sisters that we have already finalised our book club reads for 2015.  As with this year’s list, we have chosen a diverse list of novels and authors, and we have even included a non-fiction book.  What do you think of the list?  Are there any books upon it which you have particularly enjoyed?

2015:
January: Le Bal by Irene Nemirovsky
February: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
March: The Boy With the Cuckoo-Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu
April: Metropolis by Thea von Harbou
May: The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama
June: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
July: Whistling for the Elephants by Sandi Toksvig
August: Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
September: First and Last by Truman Capote
October: Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny
November: The Palace of the Snow Queen: Winter Travels in Lapland by Barbara Sjoholm
December: The City and The City by China Mieville