I'm trying to keep it simple this month as my prompt, 'Don't Bother Me I'm Reading', could easily inspire a nice overly healthy pile of potential reads. I'm thinking a book about books or about the pleasures of reading, but maybe something novel-ish, set in a bookstore or about a character who is a little OCD about reading (maybe like me?). I didn't come across a book of the latter theme, but I have a few others that would work nicely including a reread which I think I can easily squeeze in on a nice leisurely afternoon sometime this month. From top to bottom, which shall I start with?
The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley -- I read his Parnassus on Wheels some years ago and of course enjoyed it immensely. This sounds like great fun, too. "Mifflin, who hawked books out of the back of his van in Christopher Morley’s beloved Parnassus on Wheels, has finally settled down with his own secondhand bookstore in Brooklyn. There, he and his wife, Helen, are content to live and work together, prescribing literature to those who hardly know how much they need it. When Aubrey Gilbert, a young advertising man, visits the shop, he quickly falls under the spell of Mifflin’s young assistant, Titania. But something is amiss in the bookshop, something Mifflin is too distracted to notice, and Gilbert has no choice but to take the young woman’s safety into his own hands. Her life—and the Mifflins’—may depend on it."
84 Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff -- How many times have I read this one already? But it is a classic for me and I will happily read it again and again. It has a charm that is unsurpassable. The movie is good, too! "This charming classic love story, first published in 1970, brings together twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, at the time, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used-book dealer in London at 84, Charing Cross Road. Through the years, though never meeting and separated both geographically and culturally, they share a winsome, sentimental friendship based on their common love for books. Their relationship, captured so acutely in these letters, is one that has touched the hearts of thousands of readers around the world." I like Helene Hanff's other books, too.
Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill -- "Early one autumn afternoon in pursuit of an elusive book on her shelves, Susan Hill encountered dozens of others that she had never read, or forgotten she owned, or wanted to read for a second time. The discovery inspired her to embark on a year-long voyage through her books, forsaking new purchases in order to get to know her own collection again." Maybe reading this will inspire me to do the same?
Reading Diary by Alberto Manguel -- "A Reading Diary: A Year of Favorite Books -- "While traveling in Calgary, Alberto Manguel was struck by how the novel he was reading (Goethe's Elective Affinities) seemed to reflect the social chaos of the world he was living in. An article in the daily paper would be suddenly illuminated by a passage in the novel; a long reflection would be prompted by a single word. He decided to keep a record of these moments, rereading a book a month, and forming A Reading Diary: a volume of notes, reflections, impressions of travel, of friends, of events public and private, all ellicited by his reading." . . . And this one sounds good, too . . .
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi -- "Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Azar Nafisi, a bold and inspired teacher, secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular; some had spent time in jail. They were shy and uncomfortable at first, unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they removed their veils and began to speak more freely–their stories intertwining with the novels they were reading by Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, as fundamentalists seized hold of the universities and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the women in Nafisi’s living room spoke not only of the books they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments."
The Nafisi the book I had most in mind for this month, but pulling out all the other books makes the choice far more difficult than I anticipated!