Library Haul for January

I’ve been trying not to borrow too many library books these past few months, since I still have so many unread books on my shelf. But I cannot help but heed the sire call of the Senate House Library just above my workplace… I went in yesterday for just one book and came out with four.

I have the English edition, of course, but isn’t this Romanian cover pretty?

The one I went in for was Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor, because this is the first book chosen by Duncan Jones, David Bowie’s son, who is starting an informal book club in honour of his father, who was ‘a beast of a reader’. Apparently, online booksellers have been inflating the price of this book since he announced his choice, because it is currently out of print. I’ve only ever read biographies by Peter Ackroyd, so this will be my first novel by him.


On the shelf above this book I found Leila Aboulela’s The Translator. As if the title alone wasn’t enough to entice me, the blurb says it is the love story between a young Sudanese widow working as an Arabic translator at a British university and a Scottish academic. Intercultural relations and university environment? Count me in! Maybe I really am an old Romantic after all.

On my way out, I then stumbled into the French literature section, as one does. I had to check quickly to see if Marie Darrieussecq‘s latest was available, as one of my writer friends recommended it, but instead I came across an early one, My Phantom Husband. The first paragraph proved to be irresistible:

My husband’s disappeared. He got in from work, propped his briefcase against the wall and asked me if I’d bought any bread. It must have been around half past seven.

Of course I had to get the original French version Naissance des fantômes as well, to compare and contrast the two. It has been a while since I’ve done that – the last book I read simultaneously in two languages was by Maylis de Kerangal and I really enjoyed that experience.

See what I mean about the joy of open shelf libraries and serendipity?


21 thoughts on “Library Haul for January”

  1. One of my resolutions for 2018 is to use my local library more – after years and years of going weekly either on my own or with children I haven’t had the joy of perusing the shelves for quite some time. A different type of book love.

  2. Working in the same building as a library would be the kind of temptation. I would find impossible to resist.
    Hope you enjoy Hawksmoor. It’s decades since I read it but it made me want to visit all those London churches it references.

  3. Speaking of translators, it occurs to me–is that something you aspire to do? With your gift of writing and knowledge of different languages (3 or 4?) it seems you are on a natural path to translate, as a day job.

    1. I did think about that and have been suggesting some books to publishers, but it’s not as easy to get into as one might think. For now, I am grateful to others for doing the translating!

  4. I remember being gripped by Hawksmoor when it was first published. I’m surprised, and sorry, to hear it’s out of print but I bet the publishers are scurrying to ready that right now.

  5. I feel the same about the mobile library that comes round once a fortnight – I have to use it, even though I’ve loads of my own books still unread. I haven’t read Hawksmoor, but I love Ackroyd’s novels – Chatterton is, I think, my favourite.

  6. Ah, you are lucky to have a library so close, Marina Sofia! And those are great choices. I’ll be interested in what you think of them. I’d heard about Duncan Jones’ book club; it’s a fantastic idea, and I like it that you’re using that for inspiration.

  7. Alas, my local library has few books these days which I want to read. I really like Ackroyd WHILST I am reading him, but I have rather to wind myself up to read new ones. Except for (or perhaps because of) my favourite of his titles English Music, which he cannot top, in my mind

  8. How lovely to be so close to a library…fabulous. And I am *so* glad I still have my original hardback of Hawksmoor – I always thought it one of Ackroyd’s best and I’m quite shocked it’s out of print!

    1. Well done for hanging onto it! I think I might have a couple of books like that myself.
      And yes, I am very fortunate indeed with my work location: Senate House library above, giant Waterstones to the right, British Museum to the left and the British Library just a short amble away…

  9. I used to go to Senate House Library all the time when I was doing my MA about five years ago. I spent far more time browsing the fiction shelves instead of the books I needed for my dissertation! The Translator sounds wonderful. Happy reading!

    1. A lovely way to procrastinate. I spent quite a bit of time there writing my thesis as well, and especially in the British Library, so it makes me feel young again!

  10. That is a great cover of Hawksmoor. And what a great thing: to start an informal book club in his father’s name. I see that Duncan Jones has a film coming out: MUTE which is post production.
    I read Ackroyd’s Three Brothers and liked it.

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