Incoming! Books Added to TBR

I was going to start a self-imposed book buying ban, but am postponing it to the New Year. So I am making the most of these last few weeks before it kicks in! So what have I acquired this week?

Orenda Books very kindly sent me Beton Rouge by Simone Buchholz to review. I somehow missed out on reading this German author’s first book translated by Rachel Ward, but dived straightaway into this second one. I was instantly smitten. It is to crime thriller what jazz music is to classical music. An unconventional, refreshing voice, one that I haven’t heard in German crime fiction since Arjouni, and I don’t mind at all crime taking second place in this novel. Full review coming up on Crime Fiction Lover, but I can’t resist sharing one of those little throwaway sarcasms which litter the book:

It always strikes me that tourists in Hamburg look completely different from tourists in Munich or Berlin… Perhaps they think Hamburg is already on the North Sea, although that’s a good thirty to fifty years off yet.

The next two are books I purchased following some Twitter and blogging discussions. Several of the bookbloggers I admire mentioned that Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved was one of their favourite reads, so I found a second-hand copy of it to see what all the fuss was about. 

Karen, from Kaggy’s Bookish Ramblings, is already extremely knowledgeable about the Russian Revolution, but she asked for some reading recommendations to get up to speed about French revolutions (they had several, although we are mostly familiar with the 1789 one). My personal favourite revolution – can one have such a thing? (other than the one I lived through in 1989, about which I am conflicted anyway)- is the 1870 Paris Commune. So I starting reminiscing about what I had read on the topic and ended up ordering two books, one of which has already arrived. Donny Gluckstein’s The Paris Commune: A Revolution in Democracy is the Marxist interpretation of it, but, after years of indoctrination, I like to think that I know how to read beyond the ideology to the actual history. The book which is still on its way is Paris Babylon by Rupert Christiansen, which looks much more about the conditions which led to the Franco-Prussian war and the decadence and poverty which led to the Paris Commune.

Can’t resist an archive photo from the Commune de Paris, the barricade at Rue de Castiglione in one of the poshest central locations in Paris.

While waiting for my friend to show up to go to the RADA show on Friday, I popped into Waterstones in Gower Street and couldn’t resist two of those tiny Penguin Modern Classics. Fernando Pessoa’s poetry in I Have More Souls Than One, which led to a discussion with the bookseller if he should embark upon Pessoa (my answer: ‘Absolutely, but dip in and out rather than read it all in one go.’) and four short pieces by Anais Nin in The Veiled Woman.

The final book was an impulse buy from the Vintage Penguins which are strategically placed just opposite the cheap and cheerful Modern Classics. The title comes of course from Alice in Wonderland, the Mock Turtle’s song, and is used as an epigraph for the book:

“‘ Will you walk a little faster?’ said a whiting to a snail,

‘There’s a porpoise close behnd us, and he’s treading on my tail.'”

It’s a broad comedy about London theatrical life and trying to navigate your way through it. I’ve never heard of Noel Langley, but it appears he had several plays produced in the West End in the 1930s and later moved to the US, where he wrote screenplays, most notably for The Wizard of Oz. He moved from South Africa to England in the mid 1930s and I can’t help wondering if his experience as an ‘outsider peeking in and trying to fit in’ informed this book about two young and innocent drama students let loose in the big bad theatre world of the time. A light read for dark days!

15 thoughts on “Incoming! Books Added to TBR”

  1. The Langley sounds fun!

    I’m nearing the end of my year long book-buying ban & I would say: you can do it! It’s easier than you think it will be, you’ll feel very smug, and carry on stocking up for now!

    1. Buying books makes me feel much better than buying clothes or shoes and is certainly healthier for me than buying wine or food. But I just have to admit to myself that I have enough to see me through…. oooh, a decade or so of reading!

  2. Please don’t have a book buying ban! I love the fact that there are bookshops in the world, and independent bookshops have a really hard time. What about an Amazon/Waterstones/Barnes and Noble, etc, ban? Making a point of just buying in independent bookshops, with love and care? If we all stopped buying books, they would go out of business, and they really need our support.

    1. I don’t buy from Amazon anyway! And certainly wouldn’t touch Black Friday with a barge-pole! However, I think it’s time others who can afford it kept the publishing world afloat instead of me. I spend hundreds of pounds on books every year but with a potential court case coming up that will cost me £20,000 or thereabouts and possibly having to sell and buy a house next year, it’s high time I read the books I have instead of acquiring more.

  3. Good luck with your book buying ban. I’ve tried it but the longest I went was only three months. I too loved Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved – hope you do too.

  4. Oooh nice! And thanks for the recommendations (I think…) The nice thing about wanting to read about the French Rev is that it covers such a massively long period of time that there are oodles of books and different angles you can approach it by. I’ve read and enjoyed another book by Christiansen about the building of modern Paris so I may have to check this one out soon!

  5. Those all look good, Marina Sofia. I’m especially interested in Beton Rouge. It sounds like a different sort of take on a crime novel, and I like that touch of wit that you shared. Not that I need anything more to add to my TBR *sigh,* but still…

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