Monday, 11 May 2009

Library Loot

Today I decided to combine my favourite activity (reading and all things book-related) with my least favourite (exercise) by walking to my local library. Now, I'm not usually a library goer as I much prefer owning books and having lovely new copies in my hands but economy as it is and my own personal circumstances I'm all for supporting the community (and small booksellers). I only joined last week, in the hope of borrowing this month's book group book, but my hopes were dashed. However, I decided to waste not want not (besides it makes a lovely walk) and as it was I picked up a few books I've been wanting to read, pictured above (very beige, aren't they?!)

The Uncommon Reader
by Alan Bennett: this one has been on my wish-list for some time. I can't wait to read about the Queen's discovery of the mobile library!

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill: I've heard much about this and fancy reading something Gothic and suspenseful before getting my impatient mitts on Sarah Water's The Little Stranger later this month.

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice: seemingly very popular across the blogosphere this book was first brought to my attention by Danielle at A Work in Progress. The beauty of digital word of mouth is that this is a book I would probably have otherwise overlooked in a bookstore as I would be put off by the chick-lit like cover! I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

Miss Chopsticks by Xinran: I was researching some potential Eastern literature reads last night and this one caught my eye (as it has in the past); the premise interests me and the library happened to have it on the shelf. I also happen to have another Xinran book, The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices, unread on the shelf.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery: apparently another popular book amongst bloggers (I've seen it reviewed a few times) this was brought to my attention by Fleur Fisher; the title intrigued me and her review prompted me to add it to the wish-list.

I have also began to make good use of the inter-library loan service by requesting a few other titles that were on my wish-list, that I hope will arrive soon.

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb: I have heard so many good things about this title. A group of friends in the States all received it for Christmas and were reading it at once and commenting on it.

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa: mention of this has frequently been popping up online and the pretty cover definitely caught my attention.

Scottsboro by Ellen Feldman: one of the six shortlisted titles for the Orange Prize for Fiction this year (of which I have so far read 1/6) the synopsis below definitely peaked my interest, especially as it's a true story:

Alabama, 1931. A posse stops a freight train and arrests nine black youths. Their crime: fighting with white boys. Then two white girls emerge from another freight car, and fast as anyone can say Jim Crow, the cry of rape goes up. One of the girls sticks to her story. The other changes her tune, time and time again. A young journalist, whose only connection to the incident is her overheated social conscience, fights to save the nine youths from the electric chair, redeem the girl who repents her lie, and make amends for her own past.

The Wilderness by Samantha Harris: another Orange contender and also appealing.

It’s Jake’s birthday. He is sitting in a small plane, being flown over the landscape that has been the backdrop to his life – his childhood, his marriage, his work, his passions. Now in his early sixties, he isn’t quite the man he used to be. He has lost his wife, his son is in prison and he is about to lose his past. Jake has Alzheimer’s.

As the disease takes hold, Jake struggles to hold on to his personal story, to his memories and identity, but they become increasingly elusive and unreliable. What happened to his daughter? Is she alive or long dead? And why exactly is his son in prison? What went so wrong in his life? There was a cherry tree once and a yellow dress, but what exactly do they mean? As Jake, assisted by ‘poor Eleanor’, a childhood friend with whom, for some unfathomable reason, he seems to be sleeping, fights the inevitable dying of the light, the key events of his life keep changing as he tried to grasp them, and what until recently seemed solid fact is melting into surreal dreams or nightmarish imaginings. Is there anything he’ll be able to salvage from the wreckage? Beauty, perhaps, the memory of love, or nothing at all?

Some Prefer Nettles by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki: of all the Eastern titles I looked at last night, this is the one that was immediately added to be wish-list and is at the top of my to read list when it arrives.

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson: taking pride of place as number one of the 50 Books You Must Read But May Not Have Heard About (not in order and ongoing), Simon at Stuck in a Book's review of this book made me anxious to read it this summer.

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: the book I most want to buy but am awaiting the day I have money to do so and the book I am too impatient to wait to read until then. Enough said.

Even though I have a huge pile of books awaiting me (and all of the ones on the shelf), I'm off to read my copy of Marie Claire before I make dinner! I also woefully behind reviewing but please check in over the next few days when I hope to add a few.


claire said...

I love your choices! The Summer Book and Uncommon Reader have been on my wishlist a long time but sadly our library doesn't carry them. The new Adichie I'm dying to read, too. I've also got the Ogawa out from the library right now. Hope you enjoy The Elegance of the Hedgehog!

StuckInABook said...

Do hope you enjoy The Summer Book! The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets was another favourite of mine last year (or was it the year before?) - and, like you, I'd have ignored it because of the cover, if a friend hadn't given it to me for Christmas. Very Nancy Mitford and Dodie Smith.

Paperback Reader said...

Claire, are you able to do an inter-library loan (where another library in the region have the book in stick and ship it to your library)? Some of the books I requested yesterday are already in transit and another is available to collect!

Simon, The Summer Book is in transit and I am very excited!
I look forward to the Eva Rice book too; a comparison to Nancy Mitford and Dodie Smith is high praise indeed!

Nymeth said...

The Woman in Black, The Elegance of the Hedgehog and The Housekeeper and the Professor are ones I've been meaning to read as well. Happy reading!

claire said...

Over here, there's no interlibrary loan. We're in the middle of nowhere, lol. We're moving back to the city, where surely everything is available. I used to take advantage of interlibrary loans when we lived there before.