A little bookish update

This delayed arrival of a Christmas gift still brought much joy and delight! ūüôā

Received my first bookmail of the year, and what a joyous feeling it was!

And especially so, because it was thought to have been lost in transit, but arrived when it was least expected to.

I know nothing about knitting, but am (strangely) very much looking forward to reading this.

Currently enjoying this Maigret.

I have not managed to read much lately, but the little that I have been spending time with, was spent in the company of Commissaire Maigret.

And it has been enjoyable, to say the least. (Fun fact: Maigret happens to be the same age as me in this book. :p)

If money was not an issue, I would dearly love to own the entire set of these Penguin Classics editions.

One can always dream…..

By the way, I still have not been able to decide on the one book that I said I was going to treat myself with for my upcoming birthday.

I did sort of narrowed it down to these two, though:

I have heard many good things about Shirley Hazzard and have been wanting to meet her for some time.

Book Depository is offering an attractive discount on this at the moment and that is why I find it hard to decide.

Because my heart is leaning towards meeting Sapienza in Positano, instead.

Italy, especially the southern parts, and the beautiful Amalfi coastline, has been occupying a very special spot in my heart ever since my 2013 Italian trip.

The Sapienza doesn’t have such a good discount on it, though. :p

Picking up where we left off…..

This really is a literal picking of things up from where they were since my last post on the Big Bad Wolf Box Sale haul. As you can see, the books are still sitting quietly in the box, as pictured (there are two other boxes as well that are not shown), three months down the road from when they were first brought home. ¬†It really is high time to get things moving….

 

I managed to haul back quite an interesting selection and variety of non-fiction titles from the box sale this year.

Cezanne: A Life by Alex Danchev.
Victor Hugo by Graham Robb.
I have been a fan of Robb’s subject matters and style of writing for some years now, and this looks like another gem to be added to the stack.

Now All Roads Lead To France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas by Matthew Hollis.
Another one that I’m quite looking forward to reading, especially having just recently learnt of the story of his close friendship with Robert Frost, whose words in ‘The Road Not Taken’ became the deciding factor for Thomas to enlist in the army, which sadly led to fatal consequences.

Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation and GPS Technology by Caroline Paul (illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton). This looks like a delightful volume, accompanied by some lovely illustrations.

Michelangelo’s Mountain: The Quest for Perfection in the Marble Quarries by Eric Scigliano.
As I’m currently reading (and enjoying) Jonathan Jones’¬†The Lost Battles:¬†Leonardo, Michelangelo and the Artistic Duel That Defined the Renaissance, I think this will make for some great further reading once I’m done with the Jones.

The Horologicon: A Day’s Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language by Mark Forsyth.
“The Horologicon (or book of hours) contains the most extraordinary words in the English language, arranged according to what hour of the day you might need them….”.¬†I wonder what those words could possibly be.

A couple of C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed and Miracles. 

Mohsin Hamid seems to be getting quite abit of attention lately, with his Exit West being shortlisted in the Man Booker prize. Just realized that I had brought back one of his works from the sale too, Discontent and Its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York and London.

Barbara Demick’s¬†Besieged: Life Under Fire on a Sarajevo Street is another piece of journalistic ‘dispatch’ that I am very interested to be given an insight to. I have been impressed with Demick’s writing (even from the little that I’ve read) ever since coming across her reporting on the lives of ordinary people in North Korea in Nothing To Envy. This looks to be just as good.

 

The Scientists: A Family Romance by Marco Roth is the memoir of a “…..¬†precocious only child of a doctor and a classical musician, whose world had revolved around house concerts, a private library of literary classics, and discussions of the latest advances in medicine‚Äēand one that ended when Marco’s father started to suffer the worst effects of the AIDS virus that had infected him in the early 1980s. [….]¬†it’s a book that grapples with a troubled intellectual and emotional inheritance‚Äēthe ways in which we learn from our parents, and then learn to see them separately from ourselves.”

Herta M√ľller’s¬†The Land of Green Plums¬†.¬†I’ve heard of this one for some time and was happy to find it at the sale. Has anyone here read it?

The Myth of Wu Tao-tzu by Sven Lindqvist is a meditation on art and its relationship with life. Inspired by the myth of the Chinese artist who was said to have walked right into his own piece of art and disappeared behind its painted gates, Lindqvist takes us on a fascinating journey through his moral awakening as a young man, and his grappling with profound questions of aesthetics.

Estimating Emerson: An Anthology of Criticism from Carlyle to Cavell by David LaRocca.
“Estimating Emerson is the most comprehensive collection yet assembled of the finest minds writing on one of America’s finest minds. It serves as both a resource for easily accessing the abundant and profound commentary on Emerson’s work and as a compendium of exceptional prose to inspire further thought about his contribution to our thinking.”¬†I think I may have struck gold with this find.¬†¬†ūüôā

As with this, London: A Literary Anthology.

Also found a couple of fun coffee table books on London, on interior decorating, and a most practical one titled,¬†You Need More Sleep: Advice from Cats.¬†Definitely sound advice to listen to from the ‘experts’ on the subject, I’d say. :p (hahaha….)

 

Enough of non-fiction for now, let’s get back to some good old fashioned story telling, shall we? To start off, there’s the two lovely editions of Picador Classic that I am very happy to have picked up. Barbara Pym’s¬†Quartet in Autumn¬†and Robert McCrum’s¬†memoir on recovering after a stroke in¬†My Year Off.¬†Then there’s the lovely copy of Louisa May Alcott’s¬†A Merry Christmas & other Christmas stories¬†in a beautiful Penguin Christmas Classics edition. This will keep my Trollope’s¬†Christmas at Thompson Hall¬†in good company. ūüôā

Next up are the Penguin Modern Classics editions, another favourite of mine! Managed to find Penelope Lively’s¬†Moon Tiger, which is one book that has long been on my to-read list, and so naturally I am very happy about the find. Although I am not one who is much into reading plays, finding J. B. Priestley’s much acclaimed¬†An Inspector Calls and other Plays¬†was still nothing short of thrilling. I loved that it came in this edition.

The same can also be said for the two Inspector Maigret that I found, The Flemish House and Night at the Crossroads.

 

Don’t they look just so alluring?

 

Three slim volumes by three writers who are known for their ‘minimalist’ style of writing.

Patrick Modiano’s Ring Roads¬†(book 3 of the Occupation Trilogy).
Raymond Carver’s Cathedral.
Cees Nooteboom’s¬†Rituals.

I am generally not a fan of Japanese literature, but I quite like the title of Yukio Mishima’s¬†The Sound of Waves,¬†so into the box it went.

I have yet to read any Zola todate, and so finding his Therese Raquin at the sale seemed to be an added incentive to try him soon.

The same goes for Graham Swift, whom I have also yet to read. Earlier this year, I came across a fair few good reviews on his Mothering Sunday, which¬†sort of triggered my interest in checking him out. It’s a timely thing that I found two of his works at the sale.¬†Ever After¬†and¬†Making an Elephant¬†both seems like good starting points.

So, seen anything you like here?

ūüôā

 

 

 

My first Maigret

simenon - maigret1a

I have finally started on my first Inspector Maigret novel, after hearing and reading¬†all the good things about this¬†famous creation of Georges Simenon’s.¬†So far (at the halfway point, that is), I am happy to report that¬†it is living up to¬†expectations. ūüôā

Simenon has been described as the most economical of writers, following closely the advice given by Colette to “Be simple. Never try for literary effect. Leave out every word or syllable you can.”¬†¬†Although the writing is often economical and taut, it is however, not without its literary flair. The wonderful¬†feel¬†for places and people that Simenon has is one of the reasons for the Maigret novels’¬†appeal.¬†It is said that¬†Simenon‚Äôs empathy, and his insight into how people behave when they approach the breaking point, is what¬†lifts his work high above the common run of crime fiction.

I think I am rather inclined to agree with that, after coming across the excerpts below in the first half of Pietr the Latvian:

Inside every wrong-doer and crook there lives a human being. In addition, of course, there is¬†an opponent in the game, and it’s the player that the police are inclined to see. [….] Some crime or offense is committed. The match starts on the basis of more or less objective facts. It’s a problem of one or more unknowns that a rational mind tries to solve.
Maigret works like any other policeman. […] But what he sought, what he waited and watched out for, was the crack in the wall. In other words, the instant when the human being comes out from behind the opponent.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s a long way from Gare Saint-Lazare to Hotel de Ville, there’s a whole city centre to get through. Between six and seven in the evening, pedestrians flood the pavements in ocean waves, and traffic pulses along the streets like blood pumping down an artery. [….] He reached the ghetto of Paris, that’s to say, the area around Rue de Rosiers, in the Marais. He sidled past shop fronts with signs in Yiddish, kosher butchers and window displays of matzot. At one¬†corner, giving on to a passageway so dark and deep it looked like a tunnel, a woman tried to take him by the arm, but let go without his saying a word. Presumably he had made a strong impression on her.

Seeing that this is just the first¬†of all his¬†75 Maigret novels, one can certainly look forward to taking one’s time in getting better acquainted with the Inspector, I guess.

I¬†don’t think I could have made a better choice than to have started off with this, for this year’s Paris in July.

Oh, and if you are interested to¬†go on¬†a¬†trail of Maigret’s Paris one of these days, do check this out. ūüôā

 

 

 

One thing leading to another…..

Can’t believe it’s already the end of September. And once again I’ve managed to post nothing till now. This is certainly not the path I wish¬†to see¬†this little blog¬†go down. I do miss¬†spending time¬†here,¬†as well as¬†time spent visiting all your lovely bookish blogs out there. It feels abit like I have just¬†spun myself out of orbit lately.

September¬†had actually started off on a rather promising note. I started going back to the gym consistently (3 or 4 times a week), and was¬†getting back into the audiobooks I had got going earlier. It felt good to¬†have finally¬†managed to get past¬†Hugo’s neverending extensive chapters describing the Battle of Waterloo and get on with the story of poor little Cossete instead,¬†in Les Miserables. I also enjoyed listening further¬†to how Mary Russell was getting on¬†at her first encounter with the enigmatic feminist Margery Childe in¬†A Montrous Regiment of Women. This is my first Mary Russell book and I think it won’t be the last.

Besides these, I¬†also found myself¬†getting rather caught up in¬†Barbara Vine’s¬†atmostpheric tale of murder and mystery with¬†an imposing¬†rural estate as its setting in A Fatal Inversion. William Gaminara’s reading¬†is just perfect¬†in this¬†telling¬†of the tale. Somehow, I am¬†reminded of Donna Tart’s The Secret History, which I happened to have just finished listening to recently. Maybe it’s¬†the tone or theme on youthful passions gone awry, and how¬†one carries on¬†living a life¬†of guilt and regrets that I find similar to The Secret History.

I am not a reader of crime novels usually, but somehow one thing seemed to have led to another, and as a result of having read¬†this post at Books to the Ceiling¬†a few weeks back, I found myself¬†browsing through the shelves at the Crime/ Thriller section¬†while I¬†was¬†at one of the local bookstores recently. A couple of the new¬†Penguin editions (with new translations) of Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret series caught my eye and before long, I decided that I¬†wanted to¬†get better acquainted with Inspector Maigret and spend some time in the some of the seedier¬†parts of Paris¬†(and¬†her neighbouring countries,¬†as well). And so,¬†out of the¬†entire 75 Maigret novels¬†that Simenon had churned out, I¬†think I’m going to start with this one.

Don’t they all look great? Such stylish noir…. ¬†it does make crime look rather inviting, don’t you think?

“The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien was written in the autumn of 1930 and draws on Simenon‚Äôs experiences in Li√®ge years earlier, just before he moved to Paris. At that time, he had been involved with a literary set, comprised of poets and young artists. A member of the group, Joseph Jean Kleine, was found hanging from the doorway of the church of Saint-Pholien during this period, a tragedy that left its mark on Simenon.”

Besides the new Penguin Simenons, there was one other particular book cover that stood out and caught my attention.
Peter May’s Extraordinary People. Any book that has a¬†black and white shot of Paris on its cover will always get my attention.¬†It doesn’t hurt to also find that the book does actually have an interesting storyline to go along with, and its author is one whom I have read good things about.¬†Never mind that¬†those good things I’ve read about Peter May were mainly to do with his award-winning Lewis Trilogy, which strangely,¬†does not hold¬†much of an appeal¬†to me. Not as much as this does, anyway.

Peter May - Extraordinary Ppl

 PARIS

An old mystery
As midnight strikes, a man desperately seeking sanctuary flees into a church. The next day, his sudden disappearance will make him famous throughout France.

A new science
Forensic expert Enzo Macleod takes a wager to solve the seven most notorious French murders using modern technology – and a total disregard for the justice system.

A fresh trail
Deep in the catacombs below the city, he unearths dark clues deliberately set – and as he draws closer to the killer, discovers that he is to be the next victim.

So, is anyone else in the mood for some murder?

ūüėČ