I think I have my reading mostly sorted for the moment and what you see on my sidebar (though perhaps I have not quite gotten a rhythm going with those two 'epic reads') is actually what I am reading at the moment. I have been rotating the books on my nightstand and trying to pick them up regularly to make progress. I did add a couple more (and there are a few books on the side that I am dipping into occasionally without quite making a commitment to), but more or less those are the books I am spending my reading time with.
Let me start with the first of two really wonderful nonfiction books I have on my pile. I picked up Browse: The World in Bookshops edited by Henry Hitchings and published by the wonderful Pushkin Press. This is my November prompt book and it is a collection of essays by writers and their favorite bookshops. I love the collection as it is very eclectic and the bookstores are literally worldwide. I will never be able to go to most of them, but it is s delightful peek into other worlds and with each new essay I am jotting down new to me authors and books, and discovering places I would never have known existed.
I have been reading an essay a day, so I should have plenty of time to pick another book, a reread of an old favorite later this month. Today's essay is by Ukrainian writer, Andrey Kurkov, several of whose books have been published by Melville House under their International Crime series. He begins by writing about the hunt for a book he loaned to friends over and over as it was a much loved book of poetry, which someone else loved so much they didn't return it to him. But that is just a jumping off place, really, for all the other interesting things he has to say about his city and the literary history of its bookstores under Soviet rule, and then not under Soviet rule. I would happily visit the Bukinist Bookstore in Chernivtsi if I ever happened to be there. It looks like the sort of city where time stopped and I could happily walk its "old alleys and cobbled streets". Needless to say I plan on picking up a book or two by him now.
I really enjoy essays, but I have to say I love a good memoir. And Emma Beddington's We'll Always Have Paris: Trying and Failing to be French is a real gem. Maybe it is just a case of the right book at the right moment, though I think I would have enjoyed this no matter when I picked it up. She has such an engaging writing style. She's a good writer, the narrative really flows, but it is also warm and funny, a little bit sad and I wish every time I pick up the book and I read that I could live in Paris and be French, too. Apparently she has (or had?) a blog, but I don't want to go looking yet, as my reading experience is so magical that I don't want to break the spell by bringing 'reality' into it quite yet or giving any endings (as much as nonfiction has an ending) away. Now, of course, I am going to want to read more memoirs like this, so the hunt will be on. I think the last time I read a memoir this good was Antonia Fraser's My History.
I am juggling three mysteries/crime novels at the moment. I am quite enjoying Cordelia's Cambridge investigations and might even finish An Unsuitable Job for a Woman this weekend. And I like the grittiness of Maurizio de Giovanni's Naples in The Bastards of Pizzofalcone. I have mentioned how nicely layered and textured the storytelling is. But into the mix I have added a Hercule Poirot mystery with Agatha Christie's Appointment in Death. I was looking for a story set in Jerusalem, and while I have loads of books when I saw this Christie is set there it sounded perfect. I am not entirely sure there will be all that much description of setting (so will still be on the lookout for other books), but her books are always a delight. This story begins with Poirot overhearing two people talk about murdering someone, but he is sure they must be plotting the events of a novel--nothing so exciting and real. But, you know to expect some dastardly deed . . . she is introducing characters and their observations of each other are as always wonderful.
As for straightforward novels I have been reading two. I am almost finished with The Woolgrower's Companion by Joy Rhoades, which I like very much, but it is set during WWII in rural Australia and the author really shows how poorly the Aboriginal people were treated. It makes for hard reading sometimes, but I like how the main character's realization about how (both Aboriginal Australians and Italian POWs) wrong those biases are. I am curious how the story will be resolved as there have been so many hardships and troubles. She is definitely another author I will be watching and hope she is busy writing another book!
I was excited to see a new book by Israeli author Eshkol Nevo be released recently. I was introduced to his writing in my Israeli Literature class of a few years ago. I loved that class and read so many great books, so when Nevo's Three Floors Up came out I, of course, snatched the copy that came in at my library. It is set in contemporary Tel Aviv where the lives of an apartment building are intertwined. The story is broken into three segments with stories revolving around people on each floor and I expect will ultimately interconnect in some way. I'm looking forward to seeing how he pulls all the threads together, but it is an interesting look into contemporary Israel (unique though the country may be, the themes are still universal). When my Israeli Lit class ended my teacher was working on a novel, which I see is out in Israel with translations coming out next year in German and Italian. And English? Please? Why do we in the English speaking world lag so far behind in translating good international fiction?
It's not, as you can see, that I don't have plenty of books on my pile to read in the interim, but I do always wonder what other good books I am missing out on! What are you reading (or wishing you were reading!) this weekend?