I mentioned last week that I have been accumulating a number of really interesting-sounding books from a variety of sources (lots of library finds as well as a smattering of new books ordered and arriving all summer long), so I thought it was time to share a few and give highlights of where my reading interests have been taking me.
First a few library books. I've just started reading The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase and almost from the first it has caught my attention. It is one of those double stranded narratives set in 1959 and the present with a house at its center, four sisters and some awful deed that won't rest as decades later a woman falls in love with the house and moves there with her family. Why do I love stories like these--a mixture of drama and suspense in the vein (in this case) of Daphne du Maurier.
A coworker and her husband both read and enjoyed Anthony Horowitz's Magpie Murders. It was a hard decision which novel to start first, since the Horowitz is longer and has a very long line of readers waiting after me for a turn at a copy. I think this is a story within a story with a nod toward vintage English crime (think Agatha Christie).
So this book by Orhan Pamuk is most intriguing, and as you will see below it is meant to be a companion book to one by him I am really eager to read. The Innocence of Objects is a curiosity. It is not a novel, but a novelty really and I think it will make sense when I read the book below. "Orhan Pamuk's Museum of Innocence in Istanbul is the culmination of decades of omnivorous collecting that seeks to capture the city of Pamuk's youth through everyday objects: the ephemera, bric-a-brac, and clutter that adheres to every life. Pamuk's novel of love lends its narrative structure to their arrangement in the museum."
I had to share a few photos so you can get a sense of what the book is about. So far I have only looked at the pictures. The museum is a real place. Maybe someday I will get to visit there, but for now it is only through the pages of his books that I will get to visit.
I have no idea where I came across Gwen John's paintings, but as you can see they are lovely, don't you think? I must have seen one of her 'women reading' (the John painting above is one similar to one shown on the cover of a book by a Welsh author that I own . . .). I had to find a book of her work so have been perusing Alicia Foster's slim volume in the British Artists series, Gwen John. It is out of print but there are inexpensive used copies to be had and I might just get a copy for my own.
Two bookish finds in the gift shop at my local art museum. I always stop and browse but mostly only allow myself a postcard or two. I could not resist (pure indulgence on my part) Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart edited by Krista Halverson. It is a lush, gorgeous, hefty hardcover book about the famous bookstore covering each decade of its history. Once again I have not read it yet, but I enjoy leafing through and looking at all the photos and it is chock full of old photos of ephemera related to the bookstore. I have never visited there, but I have been to the Vienna location of Shakespeare & Company Booksellers (numerous times when I lived in Austria, though books in English were terribly expensive so I rarely bought and always browsed). Oh, to go back now!
Art Deco Fashion: Masterpieces of Art by Gordon Kerr is another lovely, lush book of Art Deco paintings--pure indulgence. I love the period and the fashion and it was a mix of art and film and fashion and so very pretty. The spine edge was dinged and slightly damaged so I got it for less than half price. Books for my coffee table, right?
Four books bought all summer? I wish I could say that I showed all sorts of restraint and this was true, but these are the four most recent or most on my mind at the moment. I think it would take both hands both feet and a good memory for numbers to count all the books I have bought this summer (let alone this year). I can't wait to start reading Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys, which I came across at the Book Depository. "A stunning atmospheric novel in the great tradition of Death on the Nile and Patricia Highsmith - tells of a young girl's journey on a cruise liner from England to a new life on the brink of the Second World War. The only thing stopping me from adding it to the pile right now are those two library books at the top of this post that require my attention first since due dates always loom when it comes to library books.
Yes, there is Orhan Pamuk's The Museum of Innocence. Another itchy-fingers-I-want-to-read-now book, but Pamuk's writing takes serious attention. " It is 1975, a perfect spring in Istanbul. Kemal and Sibel, children of two prominent families, are about to become engaged. But when Kemal encounters Füsun, a beautiful shopgirl and a distant relation, he becomes enthralled. And once they violate the code of virginity, a rift begins to open between Kemal and the world of the Westernized Istanbul bourgeoisie. In his pursuit of Füsun over the next eight years, Kemal becomes a compulsive collector of objects that chronicle his lovelorn progress—amassing a museum that is both a map of a society and of his heart."
The last two books I bought at the bookstore yesterday (finishing up a gift card that I have been savoring for months now). I like the Eve Chase book (above) so much that I looked to see what else she had written and so brought home Black Rabbit Hall. I think she tends to write stories in the same style, but in this case I look forward to knowing I will have another book by her on my shelves. "A secret history. A long-ago summer. A house with an untold story." And I had Joanna Cannon's The Trouble with Goats and Sheep out from the library when it first came out but it went back unread. Now as it is in paperback I can read it at leisure. "England, 1976. Mrs. Creasy is missing and the Avenue is alive with whispers. The neighbors blame her sudden disappearance on the heat wave, but ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly aren’t convinced, and decide to take matters into their own hands. Spunky, spirited Grace and quiet, thoughtful Tilly go door to door in search of clues. The cul-de-sac starts to give up its secrets, and the amateur detectives uncover more than they ever imagined. A complicated history of deception begins to emerge—everyone on the Avenue has something to hide. During that sweltering summer, the lives of all the neighbors begin to unravel. The girls come to realize that the lies told to conceal what happened one fateful day about a decade ago are the same ones Mrs. Creasy was starting to peel back just before she disappeared..."
Do you see a theme with my reading?
I have always had far more books to read than time in which to read them. I read whenever and wherever I can, squeezing in pages all day long, but I do wish I had a more efficient method as I have so many books that I want to read and it always feels a little disappointing seeing them sitting at home unopened, but what can you do? Focus more? The time spent reading is always best without distractions. Be less tempted by library books, or more discerning about what I choose and the same goes with new books, as they come in at a faster rate than they are being read. Always . . . sigh . . . the reader's dilemma, right?