My favourite month of the year, for the simple reason that it has my birthday in it.
Not that anything particularly exciting ever happens though. :p
I have been wanting to put something up in this space ever since the last post, but never seem to have enough substance or content, nor the inspiration to make up for a post-worthy piece.
So I thought I will just go ahead and share some of the random bits (bookish and otherwise) that might (or might not) be of interest to anyone visiting these pages.
This post was supposed to be up last Friday, as I didn’t want the month to go by without leaving some footprint here. But then one of my cats went missing and I was derailed for a bit.
I am happy to report that all is (almost) well now (hence the appearance of this post), and my cat is safely back, recovering from its wounds after being found on Saturday night, bloodied and traumatized – aftermath from a vicious catfight.
Speaking of cats, here’s a useful tip I came across on Instagram recently, which might be of interest to some:
Random bits on reading.
And here are some of the ones that have been most recently added to the never-ending list of want-to-reads. I will not attempt to share the list that I have also managed to amass in Scribd.
I read a really funny short story by W. Somerset Maugham titled ‘The Luncheon’ and am encouraged to want to read more.
I also read some Saki and am reminded of his deliciously wicked wit.
Read the first essay in Julian Barnes’ “The Pedant in the Kitchen” and hope to continue soon.
Finishing up Ali Smith’s “Public Library & other stories”, and am reminded again of what it was that made me fell for her all those years ago when I first read her slim Pocket Penguin edition of “Ali Smith’s Supersonic 70s”.
Random bits on listening.
One reason I am so in love with Scribd is because of their huge selection of audiobooks.
Managed to finish Anthony Horowitz’s Magpie Murders and Barbara Pym’s Jane & Prudence in the last month.
Currently making my way through Rachel Cusk’s essays in Coventry and Sinead Gleeson’s anthology of Irish Women Writers in The Long Gaze Back.
Most impressive recent discovery is Norah Hoult. Loved her piece in the Irish anthology – ‘When Miss Cole Made the Tea’. Makes me want to track down everything by her now.
So, there’s been a small influx of books over here in the past couple of weeks, thanks to an outing to a book sales, as well as certain online discounts that I seemed to have gladly taken advantage of.
As I am already rather resigned to the fact that most of my stacks of TBR will very likely outlive me, I guess it’s futile to feel bad and guilty for this ‘extravagance’. Personally, I always feel that the joy and pleasure that I get by just simply gazing at them (even before any actual reading has commenced), is already well worth the price paid for.
As book collectors know all too well: We only regret our economies, never our extravagances.
I have been so overwhelmed by the amount of treasures that came home with me from this year’s Big Bad Wolf Box Sale that it has taken me forever to get this post up on the blog, simply because I just didn’t know where to begin in sharing the richness of this loot! 😀
There are so many good finds in there that I am more than excited to show and tell. So, without further ado, here there are:
I remember having read some good things about the Beatrix Potter biography some time back and was very happy that I also managed to get my hands on a Peter Rabbit box set to bring home with me. As I have never been properly acquainted with Potter and her creations before, they would do well to complement the biography, I think.
Finding a copy of Durrell’s The Corfu Trilogy and The Whispering Land also brought much cheer to the box. 🙂 I recall finding two other of his works at last year’s box sale and they were also in the same edition as the one found this time, so that makes it even better.
“Natural Histories allows readers a privileged glimpse of these seldom-seen, fully illustrated scientific works.Forty essays from the museum’s top experts in a variety of disciplines enhance each rare tome’s unique qualities and scientific contribution, and three to four illustrations accompany each one. This beautiful book will fascinate natural science and art lovers alike.”
As usual, the loot also included a fair few tomes on one of my favourite genres: travel writing.
I was especially happy with the Geert Mak (I actually gave a small squeal of delight, I think!) when I saw the solitary volume among the stacks on the table. In America: Travels with John Steinbeckhas been on my wishlist ever since I knew of it. I love Mak’s writing and am currently making slow but steady progress with his In Europe: Travels through the Twentieth Century.
Gary Kamiya’s Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco, “…. is a one-of-a-kind book for a one-of-a-kind city. It’s a love song in 49 chapters to an extraordinary place, taking 49 different sites around the city as points of entry and inspiration-from a seedy intersection in the Tenderloin to the soaring sea cliffs at Lands End. Encompassing the city’s Spanish missionary past, a gold rush, a couple of earthquakes, the Beats, the hippies, and the dot-com boom, this book is at once a rambling walking tour, a natural and human history, and a celebration of place itself-a guide to loving any place more faithfully and fully.”
Next to New York, San Francisco (& Seattle) are the cities I would love most to have the chance to visit in the US, someday. Am expecting good things from this one!
The Other Side of The Tiber: Reflections on Time in Italyby Wallis Wilde-Menozzi. “Beginning her story with a hitchhiking trip to Rome when she was a student in England, she illuminates a passionate, creative, and vocal people who are often confined to stereotypes. Earthquakes and volcanoes; a hundred-year-old man; Siena as a walled city; Keats in Rome; the refugee camp of Manduria; the Slow Food movement; realism in Caravaggio; the concept of good and evil; Mary the Madonna as a subject―from these varied angles, Wilde-Menozzi traces a society skeptical about competition and tolerant of contradiction. Bringing them together in the present, she suggests the compensations of the Italians’ long view of time.” Another one that sounds rather promising.
Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic travelogue, Travels with A Donkey in the Cervennes, was picked mainly for its slim size which is a very handy feature to look out for in a box sale. They make for great gap-fillers (no offense to Mr Stevenson, I hope!) :p
I found an unexpected piece of gem in London: A Literary Anthology, a lovely British Library Publishing edition that features “…… a wide-ranging collection of poems and scenes from novels that stretch from the 15th century to the present day. They range from Daniel Defoe hymning “the greatest, the finest, the richest city in the world” to Rudyard Kipling declaring impatiently, “I am sick of London town;” from William Makepeace Thackeray moving among “the very greatest circles of the London fashion” to Charles Dickens venturing into an “infernal gulf.” Experience London for the first time with Lord Byron’s Don Juan, and James Berry in his Caribbean gear “beginning in the city.” Plunge into the multi-racial whirlpool described in William Wordsworth’s Prelude, Hanif Kureishi’s The Black Album, and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. See the ever-changing city through the eyes of Tobias Smollett, John Galsworthy, and Angela Carter. From well-known texts to others that are less familiar, here is London brought to life through the words of many of the greatest writers in the English language.”
There is much to be savoured from this one, no doubt! 🙂
The Spirit of the Dog and The Elegance of the Cat are two lavishly illustrated volumes that is bound to be treasured by dog lovers and cat lovers alike. Beautiful photography by the award-winning photographer Astrid Harrisson makes these two a real pleasure to behold.
And now, on to the fiction stack…..
First up, the recent Penguin reprints of William Trevor’s backlist. I just love the black and white photos used on these covers. I find the effect to be so very evocative and appealing. Just like an invitation to step into another world, another time…..
As opposed to the beautiful set of Trevors, the copy of Willa Cather’s The Bohemian Girl that I managed to bring home from the sale, has to be one of the ugliest edition I have ever come across! :p If it was not Cather’s name that was on the cover, I would never have picked it up. Yes, I am a shallow reader who tends to judge a book by its cover, sorry!
Colette’s The Last of Cheri was another one that was picked for its handy size and purpose.
Rose Macaulay’s The Towers of Trebizond has been on my wishlist for some years now, so spotting it at the sale was a joy. And it was in very pretty edition too. 🙂
Angela Thirkell’s recent VMC reprints are another set of titles that have been on my wishlist in the last couple of years. I just love the cover designs on all their covers! Pomfret Towers is the first one I have managed to get my hands on, and I am sure it won’t be the last.
Also managed to add two lovely editions of Gabriel Garcia Marquez into the box, and I am especially in love with the cover for his One Hundred Years of Solitude. Hope it’s as good as it looks!
Yet another fabulous find, James Joyce’s Dubliners in the Penguin Classics Deluxe edition. Am so glad it was this that turned up, and not Ulysses! :p
Last but not least, the Centennial Edition of Steinbeck’s masterpiece East of Eden. This had to come home with me even if it had meant the disposing of some other books in the box to make room for it, and ignoring the fact that I already have a perfectly fine copy of it in the Penguin Modern Classics edition!
Blame it on those French flaps and deckle-edged pages.
I had started the year without any specific reading plans or lists because I knew I was not a good one for keeping to pre-planned plans when it comes to reading. I prefer to do my reading at whim.
So, I thought it was probably futile to have one and was not quite inspired to make any.
But then something changed.
And now, I think I do have one, and it’s one that I am quite excited about and feeling rather determined (or hopeful!) to see it through.
What happened was this.
I started an Instagram account sometime in December, after discovering the delights in being able to feast my eyes on a regular dose of book porn, through the various bookstagrammers’ feed out there. I was actually amazed to find that there are so many talented book lovers (cum photographers) out there who can effortlessly make books look so desirable as objects.
Creating the account was intended to mainly facilitate my ease of accessing to these feeds on a regular basis.
But when the new year started out on an unexpectedly rough note for me, I soon found myself in desperate need for a diversion of sorts.
As it happens, there was a book challenge hosted by some bookstagrammers that was taking place for the month, called the #AtoZbookchallenge, whereby one is to post a photo a day for each of the alphabets, relating to either book titles or themes or authors that goes with the particular alphabet each day.
Preferably, it should be books that are already on one’s existing physical TBR shelves.
I thought that sounded diverting enough.
And that’s how my unplanned reading plans came to be.
Here’s the A to Z of it.
Not sure how long it will take for me to complete this A to Z reading list, being the slow reader that I am. What I do know is that right now, I’m feeling pretty enthusiastic about it, and that’s a good start!
Let’s just hope that I won’t be stuck at ‘D’ for a long, long time…….
Looking at how my TBR pile is getting way out of control, I think it’s time I come up with a plan of some sort. I have never really had the habit of making lists of books that I plan to read, but I feel that it might be a good idea to do so now. It will probably help me to have some kind of a structure whereby manageable “reading goals” can be better met, I think. So this year, here’s to giving it a try!
First In First Out or Last In First Out?
If it’s gonna be FIFO, then I should be well reading these few oldest occupants on the shelf :
The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Greer
The Accidental by Ali Smith
Stiff by Mary Roach
The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain De Botton
Fresh-Air Fiend by Paul Theroux
My Sergei : A Love Story by Ekaterina Gordeeva
But if it’s LIFO (and you know how it is with current fascinations, you just can’t wait to dive into them), then this would be the stack to tackle :
Violet to Vita : The Letters of Violet Trefussis to Vita Sackville West
The Secret Self : Short Stories by Women
In Tearing Haste : Letters Between Deborah Devonshire & Patrick Leigh Fermor
The Odd Women by George Gissing
All Passion Spent by V. Sackville West
Wish Her Safe At Home by Stephan Benatar
The Reader by Ali Smith
On Borrowed Wings by Chandra Prasad (bought on account of Danielle’s high praises)
And while I am deciding between the two, here’s also the ‘already-planned-to-read’ stack :
Life Mask by Emma Donoghue
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh
a couple from the Bronte sisters’ collection
The Hound of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Then there’s also the ‘already-started-and-stopped-but-need -to-get-back-to’ pile :
The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton
Three Weeks With My Brother by Nicholas Sparks & Micah Sparks
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
In Europe by Geert Mak
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides by James Boswell
There are also a few tomes which I plan (& hope) to be dipping into regularly :
Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker
Words In Air : The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop & Robert Lowell
Classics For Pleasure by Michael Dirda
Bound to Please by Michael Dirda
Seeing Further : The Story of Science & The Royal Society edited by Bill Bryson
The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen
And last but not least, the stack of gems I am most looking forward to reading :
The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue
Prague Tales by Jan Neruda (already started)
Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker (highly recommended by Stuck in A Book’s Simon)
The Odd Women by George Gissing
The Diaries of Sylvia Townsend Warner (already started)
I’ll Stand By You : Letters by Sylvia Townsend Warner & Valentine Ackland
In Tearing Haste : Letters Between Deborah Devonshire & Patrick Leigh Fermor
Wait For Me by Deborah Devonshire
Just realised there’s two of them (The Odd Women & In Tearing Haste) which had appeared in one of the earlier stacks too. Guess this makes them definite must-reads, no? 😉