Hisham Matar’s (author of The Return and In The Country of Men) article in The New York Times perfectly encapsulates why I love reading. I think he’s spot on when he says: ‘the most magical moments in reading occur not when I encounter something unknown but when I happen upon myself, when I read a sentence that perfectly describes something I have known or felt all along […] And the more foreign the setting, the more poignant the event seems. For a strange thing occurs then: A distance widens and then it is crossed.’ A great article.
I’ve always been curious about the concept of The Great American Novel. What is it? Who made it up? Which ones are they? There’s something sweeping, weighty, grand about this notion, isn’t there? I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that it helps to be a white, male to make into this category. Looking at Literary Hub’s excellent article confirms my suspicion. Let’s hope that will change in the future.
Of the books on the list, I’ve read The Great Gatsby (one of my favourites, ever), To Kill a Mocking Bird (wonderful), Underworld (that 50 page baseball game did me in), Beloved (great), Freedom (fabulous), Rabbit Run (gave up…) and The Flame Throwers (good, but not sure it belongs here). And this article makes we want to read more of them, Mason & Dixon and Grapes of Wrath have joined my reading list as of now. I’m surprised Philip Roth didn’t make it. But, hey, arguing about which ones belong there or not is half the fun, no? Which ones would you add?
James Wood’s annual list of new book discoveries seems shorter this year but his description of Joy Williams’ Ninety-Nine Stories of God made even me (not usually a short story fan) want to pick it up. Perhaps you too will find something here?
As much as I love Christmas, I’m not so sure about the shopping part of it. My heart sinks when I look at the number of Christmas presents I need to buy over the next few weeks. I do enjoy buying books for people though, and there’s nothing quite as satisfying as finding the perfect book for someone you love. We’ve been trawling the bookshops and the newspapers to find the most interesting or beautiful (or both) books out there, and hopefully help you find the perfect book for someone. Here’s what we found.
Michele, Meg, Jane and Julie
Twenty books to choose from, four in each of the five categories: Novel, First Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Books – there’s is definitely something for everybody on the Costa Book Awards short-list. And it’s a great place to start you Christmas shopping.
In the Novel category we have Sebastian Barry’s Days Without End, Maggie O’Farrell’s This Must Be the Place, Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent, which we loved, and Rose Tremain’s The Gustav Sonata which we weren’t so keen on (full reviews are in the links).
There are also some interesting debut novels to look out for: Susan Beale’s The Good Guy, Kit de Waal’s My Name is Leon, Guinevere Glasfurd’s The Words in My Hand and Francis Suppford’s Golden Hill.
Winners in each category will be announced 3 January and the overall winner of Costa Book of the Year on the 31 January.
The parlor may have its charms, but the Japanese toilet truly is a place of spiritual repose.
In the Praise of Shadows, Junichiro Tanizaki
It seems every country has a sort of skewed and hallowed reverence for the quietest room in the house. I’ve recently discovered, however, that the ‘library in the loo’ is primarily an English occupation (sorry I can’t speak for the rest of Britain), but my Scandinavian and European friends looked at me in puzzled amusement when I recommended a book for the loo.
Often we despair when a film version is made of our favourite book. The images we’ve created in our heads don’t match up with what the film director had in mind. The locations look wrong, the casting doesn’t work. BUT occasionally, they do get it right. And what a thrill that is! Here is a list of some fabulous films that will inspire you to read these equally great books on which they were based. Do you have any to add? Let us know.
As many of will know, we here at Bookstoker are big consumers of audiobooks and we know that many of our followers are as well. There’s nothing like a good audiobook for killing time stuck in traffic, while out walking or doing housework. And with Amazon’s great invention Whispersync for Voice, you can switch seamlessly between reading on your Kindle and listening on Audible. Your Kindle or Audible will automatically pick up where you left off. Genius!
From old classics to popular new publications we’ve enjoyed these audiobooks for being brilliant books, perfectly narrated.
Our top 10 this year are…