Incoming Books – Week of 16-22 October

My iron willpower may not match that of the legendary Fiction Fan, but I have tried to limit my spending on books, since I realised that my income is now a stable monthly affair, and cannot be supplemented by a few extra days of work.

So this week most of the books I’ve acquired have been sent for review or borrowed from the library. So there, ye doubters! I did have one momentary lapse of reason when I entered that fatal Waterstone’s near work and found their second-hand vintage Penguin section. I spent many a happy minute (hour?) in the sea of orange and emerged victorious with High Rising by Angela Thirkell. I’ve never read anything by this author, who was very popular in the 1930s/40s, but this book in particular has been discussed by several bloggers whose opinion I value, including Jacqui, Heaven Ali and Booker Talk (the last not very complimentary).

Plus, you can see why the premise of a single mother trying to make a living as a novelist in order to educate her sons might appeal to me…

Although I’m trying to pretend Christmas is still miles away, I was sent a Christmas anthology Murder on Christmas Eve by Profile Books. Classic Christmas-themed mysteries always make for popular presents for booklovers whose tastes you don’t quite know, so this should do a roaring trade. It includes stories by Ian Rankin, Ellis Peters, G. K. Chesterton, Val McDermid, Margery Allingham and many more. And you can’t fault the cover either for what it promises!

One I received this week and have already read (gasp! yes, I am occasionally speedy!) was Jenny Quintana’s The Missing GirlI was very touched by the fact that Emma Draude, the publicist for the book, actually sent me her own personal copy, as she had just run out of preview copies. So it’s a much-loved proof! And I found it very compelling – although perhaps the label of crime fiction does it an injustice. This is not the kind of book which you read for unfathomable twists (in fact, I figured out what was going on pretty early on). Instead, I enjoyed it for the pitch-perfect evocation of the 1980s, excellent writing and the psychological depth of sisterly love, family secrets and the lonely surliness of growing up.

My local library finally found a book I had reserved as soon as I heard that Kazuo Ishiguro had won the Nobel Prize, namely The Unconsoledone of the few which I haven’t read. I can feel another bout of Artist of the Floating World coming along, that is my favourite book by him, probably because of the obvious Japanese connection.

Last but not least, I ‘happened’ to pass by the Senate House Library at lunchtime and got lost in the Latin American section. I couldn’t resist Vlad by Carlos Fuentes, translated by E. Shaskan Bumas and Alejandro Branger. A Mexican take on the Romanian Vlad the Impaler? Yes, please! In this book, Vlad is upset by the shortage of blood in modern-day Eastern Europe and is looking for a new place to establish his kingdom. What country or city on earth could offer him a lot of people crowded in one place, where a few human disappearances wouldn’t even be noticed? Well, Mexico City, of course! And so begins this satire of the Mexican bourgeoisie…

I notice that, by some strange coincidence, all of the cover pictures above seem to be going for the monochrome look tinged with red. Luckily, the bright orange Penguin spoils that sober elegance!

So what lovely reads have you begged, borrowed, stolen or bought this week? Do tempt me if you can…

29 thoughts on “Incoming Books – Week of 16-22 October”

  1. I’ll be interested to see how you get on with the High Rising. Save it for a time when you’re in the mood for something light and frothy – not to be taken too seriously. 🙂

  2. I too will be interested to hear how you get on with Angela Thirkell. I need to be in the right mood for her. Though The Brandons which I read more recently has been my favourite to date. There were a couple I didn’t much like. Jacqui is right – definitely not to be taken seriously.

  3. Oh my. I wish my local Waterstones had a second hand penguin section!

    A good selection of books. I received two from the British Library for review – Foreign Bodies (translated Golden Age crime short stories) and Somebody at the Door. And two books I purchased – signed copies of Origin by Dan Brown and Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks. So a very eclectic mix!

    Hope you enjoy yours 😊

    1. Signed copies? Well, I am impressed! Not so much Dan Brown, I have to admit I find him hilariously … something. I’ve got my eye on the Foreign Bodies collection, it sounds lovely.

  4. I happened to be in Reading of all places over the weekend to see a band – but discovered their branch of Waterstones is rather lovely so I succumbed to the Tempatations of Phillip Pullmans Book Of Dust along with half the population it seems and also walked away with Ocean Vuong’s poetry collection Night Sky With Exit Wounds.

    1. Ah, near me – although a bit too far for me to go for regular bookshopping there… Just as well I find myself in London most days now. I have picked up and fondled The Book of Dust but am trying to stay strong. And I’ve got Ocean Vuong on Kindle – but haven’t read it yet, because I hate poetry on Kindle. The lines go all wrong!

  5. You could listen to Simon Russell Beale on Radio 4 reading THe Book of Dust via iplayer. Lovely. I didn’t know any Waterstones had S/H shelves. I too have Vlad on my shelf – it’s only a novella, so I could easily fit it in this Halloween season.

    1. I hadn’t even thought about Halloween when I picked up Vlad – but yes, it’s an obvious choice, isn’t it? And thanks for the tip about the audio version of Book of Dust.

  6. Wish our Waterstones had a second hand section – I think there is one in the Blackwell’s branch near the university where students get to offload their copies of Tristram Shandy ……

    I wonder if its something to do with changing of the seasons but I have also been succumbing to temptation these last few weeks after months and months of restraint.

  7. Oh, you did get some great reads, Marina Sofia. And if you ask me, there is no possible way that you could pass by a Waterstone’s and not go in. And, once there, how could you walk by the vintage books? I mean, really! And yes, FictionFan is a legend!

  8. Aside from the second copy of The Oppermanns I purchased because I couldn’t find the first copy (let’s forget about that one), I recently treated myself to a Finnish translation: The Rabbit Back Literature Society, which is supposed to compare to the Swedish Let the Right One In, but so far reminds me more of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next. But I haven’t gotten very far yet, so I’m sure it will get a little more intense as the story progresses.

  9. Hahaha – thank you for the kind(?!) mention! And well done on the willpower front – make the most of it, it won’t last! The Christmas Eve mysteries sounds like a lot of fun – I enjoyed the BL collection last year, Crimson Snow, and I see you’ve already been discussing Foreign Bodies, which I managed to snaffle a copy of – I’m intrigued to see what all these “foreigners” were up to during the Golden Age…

  10. I agree with Fiction Fan, the Christmas Eve mysteries sounds like a good Beach (err… Ski Slope?) and Public Transport book.

    I got a review copy from Wakefield Press for the last Stephen Orr and I’m looking forward to reading it.

    And I got a used copy of Kim Scott’s True Country (French translation , my last attempt at reading Scott in the original was an epic failure)

    Australian lit it is!

  11. I am not one for Christmas mysteries, as I grew up in a Chanukkah/Christmas/Winter Solstice household, but this anthology looks very enciting. A good choice of authors.
    I resist buying books most of the time, and get what the library has to offer. However, I bought a friend who just got her doctorate in archaeology at the age of 76(!) “Out of the Ice,” set in the Arctic, her favorite book location.
    And I bought myself Lisa McInerney’s “The Blood Miracles,” her sequel to the excellent book, “The Glorious Heresies.” I could not get the library to buy the book, so I bit the bullet and got it from Book Depository for $11, with free shipping and no taxes.
    Other than that, I have a slew of library books and books sent to me by blogger friends.

    1. Back in the days when I was a student – and even in the days when I was working and had considerably more money than now – I too relied mostly on libraries. But for some reason, books have become my companions and my solace now, so I have bought more and more… and haven’t yet read so many of them.

  12. Well, I have piles of books on various tables that I haven’t yet read. And keep a stack on my bed, as I like them being there.

    1. My bedside tables (both of them) are an utter mess with piles and piles of books. There is a certain order to them – but why I think that I will need them all at the same time close by, I don’t know…

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