When I say ‘plain’, I mean for those folks who have the luxury of a whole room in their house dedicated to books, reading, thinking, escaping…
Finally, for those who are thinking of converting their garage, here is a brilliant idea from Dwell. Instead of housing a car, why not house all your books on three storeys, with a sunken bathtub in which to relax?
OK, that last one might be stretching the definition of ‘plain’ somewhat…
Only one week of summer holidays has gone by. A week only. Nothing but a week. ONLY one week with both children at home (2 1/2 weeks with the older son, who started earlier)… and I can see my plans for writing and reading are going to suffer… Add to that admin or professional things such as arranging house rentals, visa applications, travel arrangements for September, course preparation and tax returns, plus some writing-related projects which are more fun, but still require a lot of time. So you will not see me blogging very regularly over the next few weeks.
Instead, let me me tell you about my tentative reading plans. I’m very happy to have finished my #TBR20, but it’s only made a small dent in my reading pile. I will need to do a rerun at some point in September/October.
But first, I want to read those books I borrowed from the library, which have been waiting patiently in queue for #TBR20 to be over.
Fred Vargas: Temps Glaciares – the latest Adamsberg book, not yet available in English
Caroline Deyns: Perdu, le jour où nous n’avons pas dansé (Wasted, the Day We Did Not Spend Dancing) – a fictional account of Isadora Duncan’s life
Emannuel Carrère: L’Adversaire
Women in Translation Month (August)
Valeria Luiselli: Faces in the Crowd (Mexico) – this will count towards my Global Reading Challenge as well
Tove Jansson: The True Deceiver (Finnish)
Therese Bohman: Drowned (Swedish)
Alice Quinn: Queen of the Trailer Park (French) – this will count towards my Netgalley Challenge as well
Netgalley Challenge – trying to get my bookshelf in order, as I’ve been ‘overfeeding’ my already obese e-reader
Sarah Ward: In Bitter Chill
Renee Knight: Disclaimer
Karin Fossum: The Drowned Boy (also counts towards WIT challenge)
Sarah Leipciger: The Mountain Can Wait (also counts towards Global Reading Challenge)
Lucy Atkins: The Other Child
You may notice there is a pronounced chiller thriller feel to the list above – just what I like reading on the beach (although there won’t be much beach featuring in my summer this year).
I reserve the right to chop and change within each category (except for the library books, which are due back end of August). I also hope at some point this summer to reread ‘Tender is the Night’ – quintessential summer read, to my mind (OK, depressing as hell, but still…).
Still, those are but shadowy plans and, as the Romanians say (as the Greeks are finding out): ‘your calculations at home never match the calculations in the marketplace’.
We’re having such a heat wave that the thunderstorms typical of the Lake Geneva area have been rendered toothless. They hardly dare to make an appearance and never seem to cool down the sky even at night. So I had to turn to basements and water features in gardens for any hope of coolness… Thank you to Emma from BookAroundtheCorner for the suggestion!
And if the lack of natural light gets to you after a while, here are some refreshing exteriors.
Who wants to spend time inside, when there are such pools, patios and views beckoning? In this hot weather, however, don’t forget your sunscreen, floppy hats and books to cover your faces (tablets are just not the same thing…).
Last year I waxed lyrical about the great atmosphere of this book festival for readers and authors in Morges, on the banks of the bonny Lac Léman. This year it’s taking place between the 5th and 7th of September and I’ll be heading there again for what promises to be a great line-up and a chance to enjoy the last days of summer in congenial surroundings. There is a giant book tent where you get a chance to buy books and get them signed by your favourite authors, as well as a number of panel discussions or Q&A sessions with authors.
This year too, you’ll find the usual suspects of Swiss and French-speaking writers, including old favourites of mine (or those I look forward to reading), such as: Metin Arditi, Joseph Incardona, Yasmina Khadra, Martin Suter, Alex Capus, Emilie de Turckheim, Tatiana de Rosnay, Alain Mabanckou, Timothée de Fombelle.
They will be joined by a diverse bunch of writers who also speak English (not all of them write in English): Esther Freud, Jonathan Coe, Louis de Bernières, Helen Dunmore, Amanda Hodginskon, Jenny Colgan, Tessa Hadley, Elif Shafak from Turkey, Petina Gappah from Zimbabwe, Gabriel Gbadamosi from Nigeria, Frank Westerman from the Netherlands, Paul Lynch (the Irish writer rather than the Canadian filmmaker). Also present: several members of the Geneva Writers’ Group who’ve had new books out recently, writers I’m proud to also call my friends, such as Michelle Bailat-Jones, Susan Tiberghien, Patti Marxsen. The Geneva Writers’ Group will also be hosting a breakfast on the boat from Geneva to Nyon to Morges, a wonderful opportunity for readings and Q&A sessions with some of our authors.
This year’s guest of honour is poor, battered Greece, a reminder that art and creativity can nevertheless survive like wildflowers peeking through cracks in austere cement. Here are a few of the writers I look forward to discovering there:
Christos Tsiolkas – Australian of Greek origin, who needs no further introduction
Ersi Sotiropoulos: an experimental, avant-garde writer, whose novel about four young Athenians musing about their future, Zig-Zag through the Bitter Orange Trees, has been translated into English. She is currently working on ‘Plato in New York’, described as a hybrid of a novel that uses fictional narrative, dialogue, and visual poetry.
Yannis Kiourtsakis – suspended between France and Greece, novels exploring the heart of displacement and emigration
Poet Thanassis Hatzopoulous, whose wonderful words (translated by David Connolly) I leave you with:
The clacking of prayers persists
And the rattles of the temple where
The beauteous officiates
And yet no one
Can bear this beauty, the touch
Everything glows and fades incomprehensibly
By itself carrying so much desolation
And charm peculiar to verbs
The seasons rotate under the veil of rhythm
And the people who bear them
Return more vigorous full of freshness and breeze
Conveyed in their steps
Dripping their tracks
And whatever life gives them they return
So equally the soul’s universe is shared
Rendering in radiance whatever
In at times its own way avaricious
Yet beauty has no justice
All turmoil, prey to chance is meted
And finds peace.
What, you may ask, is this little stamp of approval that I am supposed to add to the sidebar of my blog? It is a new badge from Netgalley designed for members who are auto-approved by four or more publishers. (The one below is what every reviewer registered on Netgalley receives.)
So what does this mean? Does it mean that my gorgeous writing style and incisive reviews have wooed the great and mighty of the publishing world? That they crave my approval and are falling over themselves to put my words of wisdom on their book covers?
Nope, it means I am far too greedy for my own good still. And that, despite my efforts to clear a little of my TBR list, I still have 30 (thirty!) unread books on my Netgalley shelf. That website will be my undoing…