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’s experiences in Liège 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


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?



A Fresh Start

NY pic

….. Behold, I make all things new.

Revelations 21:5

So, the old has gone and the new has come. Whatever that has been left unsaid, unread, undone in the year just gone by, will just have to be left at that I guess. Thankfully, we can all start anew and afresh with the dawning of each new year.

2013 has been the year where I got acquainted with the brilliant Russian that is Mikhail Bulgakov, and became a fan of the gentle yet profound wit of Alexander McCall Smith’s writing. I am happy to know that there’s an extensive backlist of both the writers’ works still waiting for me to discover and to savour.

One other standout piece of writing that I encountered last year that calls to be mentioned was Babette’s Feast by Isak Dinesen (author of Out of Africa). This refreshing little gem, while being told in a quiet, unassuming way, left an indelible impression on both the heart and mind. Such brilliant storytelling!

My resolutions with regards to books and reading for this year are simply to be carried away by stories and to read without procrastination the books that are calling out the loudest at each particular moment, so as not to miss the ‘timing’ and the momentum that will help to give me the push to finish the books that I get started.

I also intend to get back into listening to audiobooks, something which I really enjoy doing very much but have fallen out of in recent months. This would also mean that I need to get back to regular workouts at the gym, because that’s where I get to do most of the listening done. So, more workouts = more audiobooks. An ideal way to be killing two birds with one stone. First in line would be picking up where I left off, the Julie Rose translation of Hugo’s Les Miserables read by George Guidall, which is a rather excellent combination, I must say. I’m hoping to finish the book before watching the movie proper.

IMG_0826aMeantime, these are some of the books that I have got going and was thinking to spend time with this month. But even as I write this post, I think I am begining to  hear the low rumbling of a different set calling out altogether ……. oh well.

Anyway, happy reading to all of you!
I hope you have all gotten off to a very good start to the new reading year. 🙂

Friday Feature : Van Gogh, the Reader (2)

Van Gogh’s Still Life with Books {source}

It is with the reading of books the same as with looking at pictures; one must, without doubt, without hesitations, with assurance, admire what is beautiful.

Vincent van Gogh, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh’s Still Life with Open Bible {source}

Let me stop there, but my God, how beautiful Shakespeare is! Who else is as mysterious as he? His language and style can indeed be compared to an artist’s brush, quivering with fever and emotion. But one must learn to read, just as one must learn to see and learn to live.

Vincent van Gogh, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh’s Still Life with Three Books {source}

I have been re-reading Dicken’s Christmas Books these days. There are things on them so profound that one must read them over and over; there are tremendously close connections with Carlyle.

Vincent van Gogh, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

But you see, there are many things which one must believe and love. There is something of Rembrandt in Shakespeare, and of Correggio in Michelet, and of Delacroix in Victor Hugo, and then there is something of Rembrandt in the Gospel, or something of the Gospel in Rembrandt, as you like it – it comes to the same, if only one understands the thing in the right way, without misinterpreting it and assuming the equivalence of the comparisons, which do not pretend to lessen the merits of the original personalities.

If now you can forgive a man for making a thorough study of pictures, admit also that the love of books is as sacred as the love of Rembrandt, and I even think the two complete each other.

Vincent van Gogh, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

Reading the letters that Vincent wrote to his brother Theo, one gets to see a clearer picture of the man behind the art, the mind behind the driving force that moved the hand to produce such strokes of genius.

In his own words, Van Gogh was an artist who wanted to “…. paint what I feel, and feel what I paint.” No one could truly see his paintings without knowing his story.

“As my work is,” he declared, “so am I.”

What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart.

Vincent van Gogh, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

Destination Paris

The Paris in July 2012 event is finally here! Isn’t that one of the loveliest buttons you have ever seen? I just fell in love with it the moment I saw it on Karen’s blog at Book Bath. This event, which is already into its third year now (first for me, though) is co-hosted by both Karen & Tamara at Thyme for Tea.

Besides the two books that I have already started (and enjoying much) in June, I thought I’d also round up the rest of my little French collection from the various nooks and corners they were hiding at on the various bookshelves around the house, and plonk them together for a ‘family photo’ kinda shot.

A closer look.
Books on how one fits into the ‘French life’. Or rather for Janelle McCulloch in La Vie Parisienne, it’s ‘looking for love and the perfect lingerie’ in Paris. 😉
Americans in Paris (then and now). In contrast to Charles Glass’s gripping true accounts about Americans living in Paris during the Nazi occupation, Adam Gopnik’s Paris To The Moon (one of my favourite titles ever for a book) is a much lighter and warmer series of essays journaling the adventures of a family who has relocated from the US to Paris in the 1990s.
Literary Paris (tales ranging from the dark side of Paris to the light-hearted sketches of Parisan life as observed by Thackeray).
I am especially interested in Carol McCleary’s The Alchemy of Murder which sounds like a fun romp for a historical thriller, what with Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde and Jack the Ripper all thrown in, and the unveiling of the Eiffel Tower for the 1889 World Fair as the background! Anyone read this, by the way?

So many good stuff waiting to be savoured, where does one start??
Maybe for the time being, I should just concentrate on finishing the two I have got going at the sidebar up there and not be too greedy. :p
Still, it’s always fun to imagine all the possibilities and choices that could be had, isn’t it? 😉

Books aside, I plan to also celebrate Paris in July 2012 by reliving some of my favourite moments from my first trip to the city in the form of a series of snapshots. I think I would like to refer to the series of posts to come as ‘Paris in Pictures’.
Well,  that’s the plan anyway. Let’s see how well it translates out. 🙂