Chronicles of an easily diverted reader

So, after finishing Valeria Luiselli’s Sidewalks, I was prompted to dig out my Joseph Brodsky, as Luiselli’s rather engaging essay on the account of her attempt to search out Brodsky’s tomb in Venice had reminded me of how I had been wanting to read his essays ever since I came across a copy of Less Than One a couple of years back, at one of the book sales.

But once I opened its pages, the first thing that caught my attention was this quote by Czeslaw Milosz: “And the heart doesn’t die when one thinks it should”.
This again reminded me of how I had loved Milosz’s writing, when I had read some of his essays in his collection To Begin Where I Am, at the start of last year.

And so, back to the shelves I went looking for the other volume of Milosz’s essays which I have in the Penguin Central European Classics edition. This series was one of the more thrilling finds I had chanced upon at one of the previous years’ Big Bad Wolf book sales. I remembered how excited I was when I had picked those four volumes out, despite not having heard of any of the writers’ names before. Somehow my gut feelings told me that I was on to something good. 🙂

I ended up favouring Thomas Bernhard’s Old Masters over the Milosz as my next current read.

This whole little episode has just reminded me again, of how essential and satisfying it is to have a personal library that is curated well enough to cater to one’s whole gamut of interests and inclinations. A library small enough to be housed within the confines of one’s limited four walls, and yet, large enough to allow for the occasional wandering around, that one’s bookish whims and fancies might call for.

🙂

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The World’s Loneliest Library….

[source]
The Sanlian seaside library, located in northern China’s Hebei province.

 

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Aesthetic tranquility.

 

Reading with a view.

 

The perfect beach reading experience, don’t you think?

 

Reading is a solitary act, it has been said.

 

A setting like this would certainly help to amplify that solitariness….

 

A beacon of light, literally.

 

Am definitely adding this into my bookish bucket list!
Any one else wants to come along?
🙂

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, dear book loving friends! 🙂

I thought I would have been able to put up a year end post before the new year commenced, but I failed once again, just as I have failed at so many other points in time in the year gone by, with regards to maintaining this blog. I’m sorry that even my New Year greetings are four days late, but please do know that I sincerely wish all of you the very best in all things to come for the year ahead!

I know I have been remiss and neglected this little space here badly, while I was busy tinkering away over at a new platform – Instagram. I found myself rather enjoying the instant gratification that came from all the bookish visuals treats offered there, and the convenience and ease at sharing my bookish pursuits through snapshots that are accompanied by just a brief text. While it has been fun (it still is!), and new friends have been met and made (and hopefully, to be kept), it isn’t the same as this. It isn’t ‘home’.

This is. This little corner of the blogosphere here, is still that one special place which I feel is well and truly mine to call ‘home’. Coming here is akin to coming back to my first love.

And so, although I am not a good one for making (and keeping to) plans, you have my word here that I have every intention to keep this space going! (btw, WordPress reminded me that today happens to be the 6th year since the day A Reader’s Footprints began).

Anyway, before we start the year off proper, here’s a quick peek at the new stacks that have mushroomed over the last month…..

Lovely hardback editions of Roger Deakin. ❤

 

This one has been on my wishlist for a long time. Finally found a copy at the right price! 🙂
Can you tell that I’m a Francophile, by now? 😀 Very excited about this one.

 

Another one that I’ve been on the lookout for ever since reading some glowing reviews on this around the blogs some years back. Can’t wait to dive in!

 

A much subdued stack from the Big Bad Wolf Book sales this time (there are still a few more volumes that are not pictured in this stack, though).

 

One of the loveliest finds from the sale, for this Van Gogh fan. 🙂

 

Very intrigued by this one. Has anyone read it?

 

A graphic novel, with a strong message. Looking forward to this one, too.

 

The stack that came from another book sale.

 

This sounds very promising, although Pete Fromm is completely new to me. Love the title.

 

Another lovely cover that I couldn’t resist. I’ve been meaning to read Bakker’s ‘The Twin’, though.

 

I’m actually more interested in these two earlier works of Doerr’s than his overhyped ‘All The Light We Cannot See’.

 

More finds from the same sale.

 

 

The most practical and useful book of the lot, I guess! Having been a dog person for most of my entire life, it is only in the last couple of years that cats have featured in, and they seem to be not very subtle in letting me know that I have a lot to learn! :p

Lastly, some bookish treats that I received for Christmas (something that does not happen very often!)

Told you I was a dog person. Isn’t this a beauty?

 

As with this.

 

And this. ❤

What about the rest of you? Found any bookish treats under your trees? 🙂

 

Shelving solutions

Behold, my latest bit of ‘home improvement’! 😀

 

This is definitely what I would call ‘a moveable feast’, wouldn’t you agree?

My mum is only too glad that she doesn’t have to trip over my box of books anymore. :p
And I am more than happy to be able to still have them close by so that I can gaze at them whenever I want. Which happens to be very often, because I just find that the simple act of gazing at my books can be so, so therapeutic. Anyone here feels the same way too? 🙂

Things were clearly getting a little out of hand around here, as you can see…..

Although I did try to straighten things up a bit with some minor tweak to the stacks, it was obvious that something more had to be done.

No thanks to all the influx of new acquisitions from the hypermarket in recent months.

Not that I’m complaining, though….. how could I, when there’s such beauty to be had?!

And so the ‘red spines’ kept gaining ground……

 

A special shout out to these beauties in particular…….

Yes, I’m afraid I do tend to judge a book by it’s cover.

I wonder if Sontag has anything critical to say about that, amongst others …..

And oh, just to update on my progress in completing the Proust collection, only one more to go and we’re done! 😉

Book Mail!

Look what the postman brought me! 😀

Belated birthday gifts from a dear book loving friend, who clearly knows what floats my boat. 🙂

It has been a long while since I last had the pleasure of having the postman drop books into my mailbox. And it’s been even longer since I last received any books as birthday gifts. So naturally, I was more than thrilled to find these lovelies waiting for me at home on two separate occasions in the last two weeks.

 

My first ever volume of a Slightly Foxed edition! 🙂

Thanks to the big hearted folks over at Slightly Foxed who had a recent huge giveaway on their Instagram account (@foxedquarterly), I am now the proud owner of one of their long-coveted objects of beauty!

John Moore’s Brensham Village, which captures life in the English countryside during the 1930s, sounds like a book that’s just my cup of tea.

🙂

 

Post Christmas reading

father-brown-1a

The consulting-rooms of Dr Orion Hood, the eminent criminologist and specialist in certain moral disorders, lay along the sea-front at Scarborough, in a series of very large and well-lighted french windows, which showed the North Sea like one endless outer wall of blue-green marble. In such a place the sea had something of the monotony of a blue-green dado: for the chambers themselves were ruled throughout by a terrible tidiness not unlike the terrible tidiness of the sea. It must not be supposed that Dr Hood’s apartments excluded luxury, or even poetry. These things were there, in their place; but one felt that they were never allowed out of their place.
Poetry was there: the left-hand corner of the room was lined with as complete a set of English classics as the right hand could show of English and foreign physiologists. But if one took a volume of Chaucer or Shelley from that rank, its absence irritated the mind like a gap in a man’s front teeth. One could not say the books were never read; probably they were, but there was a sense of their being chained to their places, like the Bibles in the old churches. Dr Hood treated his private book-shelf as if it were a public library.

‘The Absence of Mr Glass’ (taken from G. K. Chesterton’s The Wisdom of Father Brown).

While I have not been able to get much reading done during these past few weeks, what with all the busyness of the season and at work, thankfully the little that I have read has been good. I discovered that Chesterton’s dear old Father Brown makes for an excellent choice for company during such times. The vividly descriptive writing, peppered with Chesterton’s trademark wit and humour, is working very well to serve as the perfect comfort read for me at the moment.

And yet, however high they went, the desert still blossomed like the rose. The fields were burnished in sun and wind with the colour of kingfisher and parrot and humming-bird, the hues of a hundred flowering flowers. There are no lovelier meadows and woodlands than the English, no nobler crests or chasms than those of Snowdon and Glencoe. But Ethel Harrogate had never before seen the southern parks tilted on the splintered northern peaks; the gorge of Glencoe laden with the fruits of Kent. There was nothing here of that chill and desolation that in Britain one associates with high and wild scenery. It was rather like a mosaic palace, rent with earthquakes; or like a Dutch tulip garden blown to the stars with dynamite.

‘The Paradise of Thieves’ (taken from G. K. Chesterton’s The Wisdom of Father Brown).

…. like a Dutch tulip garden blown to the stars with dynamite.
How beautiful is that! I just love the picture that is painted here by these words…..

christmas-2016-a
Not quite the same thing as a Dutch tulip garden blown to the stars, I suppose, but still a pleasant enough sight at one of the malls.

What about the rest of you?
Read anything good lately? 🙂

The season for apparitions and fantasies…..

november-window

But this is the season for apparitions and fantasies, and I indulge myself in the possibility of a merlin. I remember childhood bird-watching always seeming to be just like this – full of romantic hopefulness and astonishment at the crossing of paths with wanderers from another country.

Richard Mabey, ‘A Nature Journal’.

October seemed to have left me in a dry and weary state, with a major bulk of the month being taken up with meeting deadlines at work, while having to deal with recurring water supply disruptions to the home, and finishing off unexpectedly with some rather unwelcomed dental woes.

Reading has been sporadic, with whatever leftover energy that remained. Having said that though, I must make mention of how much I have been enjoying Margaret Drabble’s delightfully charming book, ‘The Seven Sisters’. I am endlessly entertained by the witty and insightful writing that Drabble displays in bringing her characters to life, in this tale of seven unlikely (but not rather unlikeable, except for one) ladies who are well past their prime, embarking together on a Virgil inspired Mediterranean journey.

Am hoping that November would be a much more conducive month for doing some serious catching up on my reading, before the year ends….

By the way, am I the only one here who has just been made aware of the existence of these gorgeous, book-lust inducing, Anita Brookner reprints?

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I happened to stumble upon this thrilling discovery while taking a brief stroll at a local bookstore over the weekend.  How brilliant it is of Penguin to decide on the use of these evocative black and white covers for their new Brookner reprints. The tone is just so aptly suited to the kind of moods and themes that often run through Brookner’s works. What a perfect match!

Can you tell that I’m seriously smitten?

🙂

 

The Big Bad Wolf Box Sale: Box the First

BBW Box 1a (2016)

So, this is the sale where you pay for the box and get to stuff it with as many books as you wish, as long as the box can be closed and sealed, flat.

I have to say that I was quite impressed with my own packing skills (hahah!) considering the fact that I managed to squeeze all the above, and the ones below (plus a few thick hardcover volumes of food/ healthcare books that my mum wanted that are not in the photo), into one 32.5cm x 46cm x 20cm box.

BBW Box 1 (2016)

The Willa Cather letters was an unexpected (but utterly delightful!) find. A lovely hardback volume, with a beautiful dust jacket. I have to confess that I have yet to read any of her works, but have read so many good things about her that I am determined to get acquainted soon.

The two pretty volumes of Gerald Durrells (A Zoo In My Luggage; The Aye-Aye and I) are the lesser known titles compared to his popular Corfu trilogy, with The Aye-Aye and I being Durrell’s final adventure.

What made me pick out Evan S. Connell’s Mr Bridge was mainly because I had spotted its Penguin Modern Classics spine, and rare is the occasion where I see one and don’t bring it home. Now I guess I’ll probably have to look out for Mrs Bridge, too. :p

Julian Barnes’ Through the Window: Seventeen Essays (and one short story) looks rather promising as well. “From the deceptiveness of Penelope Fitzgerald to the directness of Hemingway, from Kipling’s view of France to the French view of Kipling, from the many translations of Madame Bovary to the fabulations of Ford Madox Ford, from the National Treasure Status of George Orwell to the despair of Michel Houellebecq, Julian Barnes considers what fiction is, and what it can do. ”

Adding on to my growing pile of ‘armchair gardening’ reads, are Richard Goodman’s French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France and The Roots of My Obsession: Thirty Great Gardeners Reveal Why They Garden. Delicious titles, don’t you think?

Chris West’s fascinating A History of Britain in Thirty Six Postage Stamps sounds like my kind of history book. Although I was never a stamp collector (I was more into coin collecting back then), this looks to be an exquisite volume that holds much appeal. 🙂

Being the Francophile that I am, I was thrilled to discover Lorant Deutsch’s Metronome: A History of Paris from the Underground Up. “Metronome follows LorĂĄnt Deutsch, historian and lifelong Francophile, as he goes on a compelling journey through the ages, treating readers to Paris as they’ve never seen it before. Using twenty-one stops of the subway system as focal points―one per century―Deutsch shows, from the underground up, the unique, often violent, and always striking events that shaped one of the world’s most romanticized city. Readers will find out which streets are hiding incredible historical treasures in plain sight; peer into forgotten nooks and crannies of the City of Lights and learn what used to be there; and discover that, however deeply buried, something always remains.”

If all I had managed to find in the sale was just this one book, I think I would still have felt that the trip was well worth it. Vivian Swift’s Le Road Trip: A Traveler’s Journal of Love and France has been on my wishlist ever since I knew of its publication four years ago. I became a fan of her works after chancing upon her first book When Wanderers Cease To Roam: A Traveler’s Journal of Staying Put, in one of the Big Bad Wolf sales some years ago. Her beautiful illustrations and charming doodlings are a delight to feast upon. Highly recommended!

I was also very happy to bring home the pile of Home and Living coffee table books in the second photo, as these books are usually out of my budget (even during their normal sale), so if ever there was a good time to grab them, it’s during the box sale. And grab them, I did!

All in all, each book in the box had averaged out to just around 1 USD (or less) each. Now, that’s quite a hard bargain to beat, wouldn’t you say? As the sale is still on till the end of this week, I am planning to make another trip or two, and hopefully come back with more goodies to share. Until then…. happy reading, everyone! 🙂

 

 

A New Chapter Begins

new chapter (2016) b

WordPress just reminded me that today is the 4th year since I first registered my little blog with them.

Four years ago today, I had wanted a place to call my own, a place where I can indulge in all my bookish passions and obsessions, with little or no reservations. Four years later this day, I am still as enthusiastic about this space as I was then and what it means to me. Though often the enthusiasm may not have been as well represented in terms of the frequency or consistency in the maintenance of the blog, I am still very glad for the existence of this little corner of the blogosphere where I can call, ‘home’.

Here, I know that I am with friends.

🙂