One week into the new year and I've not been overly tempted to bring home a stack of new books from the library. I'm actually quite contented at the moment to read the books on my night stand. I always bring with me to work a couple three books--one for the bus ride, one for breaks and lunch (I'm sadly antisocial and sit by myself somewhere quiet in the library rather in the break room . . .) and one for the gym. Sometimes I even bring one extra just in case. I know people think I am a little neurotic or at the least a bit obsessive, but I think most of you will probably understand. I've been finding, though, that I will get into a book and am happily reading away and then think 'just one more chapter' or 'just a few more pages to finish off this chapter' before switching to the next book. Then I do the same thing with that one. A good sign, don't you think? Now can I have that vacation time back so I can get on with my reading?
But as much as I am enjoying my books and thinking about other books I'll be reading later, I can't quite stop myself from browsing. So far I have only added new titles to my wishlist, though I have also ordered a few here and there (not gone crazy requesting anything and everything that even hints at being a possibly interesting read). I received several gift cards to bookstores which are burning holes in my pockets, though I am trying to ration them out. And I keep finding such great book deals--hardcovers even, deeply discounted. It's almost a sin not to buy them at such reasonable prices. And it does help to support writers and what better way than to buy their new releases, right? And then they become part of my personal library so I'm continuing to read from my shelves. I'm really good at rationalizing, aren't I?
I like making (and then sharing) 'new books' lists, but since I am (and sorry if I seem to be going on about this so much this year) reading from my shelves, it seems only right that along with new books that sound so tempting I also share a few old books that sound equally tempting. So, here are a handful of books I'm looking forward to buying (eventually anyway) and a handful that are conveniently on my bookshelves just waiting to be rediscovered (maybe I'll pull a few out to read soon). Some have been there for eons and a few are likely out of print, but they are handily close by and ready to be read.
A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn -- I had no idea that she had a new book coming out and not a Lady Julia story either. This one is set in Paris and Kenya in the 1920s. "The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even amongst Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather's savannah manor house until gossip subsides."
Sandrine's Case by Thomas Cook -- Cook is always good and I need to read one of his many (unread) books on my shelves. "Legendary crime writer Thomas H. Cook, who is peerless when it comes to finding the humanity behind every crime, offers one of his most compelling books in Sandrine's Case, in which a college professor faces the trial literally for his life when he is accused of murdering his wife, Sandrine."
The Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino -- I read and liked one of Kirino's crime novels (and plan on reading her others), but this sounds very different. "Natsuo Kirino turns her hand to an exquisitely dark tale, masterfully reinventing the Japanese creation myth of Izanami and Izanaki. A fantastical tour-de-force, The Goddess Chronicle is a tale as old as the earth about sibling rivalry, ferocious love, and bittersweet revenge." This would make a good follow up to last year's mythology reading.
Frances and Bernard by Carlen Bauer -- "Inspired by the lives of Flannery O’Connor and Robert Lowell, Frances and Bernard imagines, through new characters with charms entirely their own, what else might have happened. It explores the limits of faith, passion, sanity, what it means to be a true friend, and the nature of acceptable sacrifice. In the grandness of the fall, can we love another person so completely that we lose ourselves? How much should we give up for those we love? How do we honor the gifts our loved ones bring and still keep true to our dreams?"
Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus -- "An atmospheric, character-driven and suspenseful mystery set in a small town that could be anywhere, dealing with issues of gossip, power, and keeping up appearances."
Lessons in French by Hilary Reyl -- "In compelling and sympathetic prose, Hilary Reyl perfectly captures this portrait of a precocious, ambitious young woman struggling to define herself in a vibrant world that spirals out of her control. Lessons in French is at once a love letter to Paris and the story of a young woman finding herself, her moral compass, and, finally, her true family."
Ignorance by Michele Roberts -- "Michèle Roberts's new novel is a mesmerizing exploration of guilt, faith, desire, and judgment, bringing to life a people at war in a way that is at once lyrical and shocking."
All the Light There Was by Nancy Kricorian -- "All the Light There Was is the story of an Armenian family’s struggle to survive the Nazi occupation of Paris in the 1940s—a lyrical, finely wrought tale of loyalty, love, and the many faces of resistance."
Water Carry Me by Thomas Moran -- "From the award-winning author of The Man in the Box and The World I Made for Her comes the breathtaking story of a young woman's betrayal, set against the beauty and violence of a divided Ireland."
The Primary Colors: Three Essays by Alexander Theroux -- I have the companion book to this as well (Secondary Colors). I love anything about colors! "A fascinating cultural history, these splendid essays on the three primary colors--blue, yellow, and red--extend to the artistic, literary, linguistic, botanical, cinematic, aesthetic, religious, scientific, culinary, climatological, and emotional dimensions of each color."
Garner by Kristin Allio -- "Allio's first novel is a shockingly beautiful work about the clash of age and youth, experience and purity, and urban and rural life in 1920s New Hampshire."
Anita and Me by Meera Syal -- "With great warmth and humor, Meera Syal brings to life a quirky, spirited 1960s mining town and creates in her protagonist what the Washington Post calls a "female Huck Finn." The novel follows nine-year-old Meena through a year spiced with pilfered sweets and money, bad words, and compulsive, yet inventive, lies. Anita and Me offers a fresh, sassy look at a childhood caught between two cultures."
A Life of Her Own by Emilie Carles -- "First published in France in 1977, this autobiography vivifies the captivating Carles from her peasant origins in a tiny Alpine village through her work as a teacher, farmer, mother, feminist and political activist."
1949: A Novel of the Irish Free State by Morgan Llwelyn -- There is a whole series of these books--maybe I should start at the beginning? This (or one of Llwelyn's books) would make for perfect March reading!
And the Ladies of the Club by Helen Hoover Santmyer -- I think this was published sometime in the 1980s and I've always wanted to read it, but it is Massive! "A groundbreaking bestseller with two and a half million copies in print, '...And Ladies of the Club' centers on the members of a book club and their struggles to understand themselves, each other, and the tumultuous world they live in. A true classic, it is sure to enchant, enthrall, and intrigue readers for years to come."
Witch of Exmoor by Margaret Drabble -- I have read A.S. Byatt but never Margaret Drabble (even though I have several of her books). Must rectify that. "In a 'profoundly moving, intellectually acute' novel (Philadelphia Inquirer) that is 'as meticulous as Jane Austen, as deadly as Evelyn Waugh' (Los Angeles Times), Margaret Drabble conjures up a retired writer besieged by her three grasping children in this dazzling, wickedly gothic tale."
So, are you tempted by the new or drawn to the old?