Last week I mentioned the very real need in the coming days weeks months years (heavy sigh) for good comfort reading? There is no time like the present, so I now turn to my library books for some good diversions and distractions. I think there will be lots of helpful lists out there and already I have found one right up my alley. I might even work from this list and try and read my way through it. I have started with (well, it sits on my bedside book pile at the moment) Elisabeth Sanxay Holding's The Blank Wall, which is not only a good crime noir novel but happens to be a Persephone Books edition, too. This sounds great--"Holding is a master at atmosphere, infusing the quaint seaside suburb with lurid undertones as the family hosts a number of visitors, savory and not: a man claiming to have blackmail material on the daughter, a cop investigating the murder, another man claiming to be a friend, etc. Throughout, Holding’s heroine keeps herself and her family together—no matter what."
Balcony on the Moon by Ibtisam Barakat. I have always tried to choose authors with unique voices and diverse backgrounds and lifestyles. I think that will be more important than ever to read across the great divide, if you will. So bring them on. Stories about and by people who look different, speak different, live different, love different. Those voices are welcome here. The subtitle of this book, which happens to be classified as a juvenile biography, "Coming of Age in Palestine". It sounds intriguing as growing up in the 1970s in Palestine she wanted nothing more than to become a writer and was encouraged and inspired by penpals and the adults around her.
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn. She always offers a thumping good read and this is the first book of a new series featuring the "intrepid adventuress" Veronica Speedwell. It is set in 1887 London.
And I have really been looking forward to artist Marina Abramovic's memoir, Walking Through Walls (fingers crossed there is not a line of readers waiting for this since I am such a slow NF reader). She was born and raised in the former Yugoslavia and is a performance artist.
A quick run through of some of my most recent purchases.
My friend John at Rambles from My Chair recommended 26a by Diana Evans. He called it a favorite book of the year so I am looking forward to it. "A hauntingly beautiful, wickedly funny, and devastatingly moving novel of innocence and dreams that announces the arrival of a major new talent to the literary scene.
I can't seem to find it now, but I think it was one of those Book Depository recommended books groupings and in this case the era of the 1920s and 30s that made me want Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall which has been called one of the greatest comic novels. The premise--"Sent down from Oxford Paul Pennyfeather is oddly unsurprised to find himself qualifying for the position of schoolmaster at Llanabba Castle."
E.B. White: Writings from the New Yorker, 1927-1976 edited by Rebecca M. Dale--because I love New Yorker writing and this promises to be a "delightful, witting and inspired collection of essays."
I eyed this one when it was in hardcover. The Dig by John Preston. "An enthralling story of love, loss, a real literary treasure." as well as "very fine, engrossing, exquisitely original". The "Dig" in this case is the 1939 discovery of Sutton Hoo.
And another book I have long had my eye on and will fit in nicely with my Indian Literature, Sunjeev Sahota's The Year of the Runaways which was shortlisted for last year's Booker Prize. This is the story of Indian immigrants in England.
Ah, and first up in the Comfort Read pile is to revisit my favorite Jane Austen novel, Persuasion. Anne Elliot is my favorite Austen heroine. Maybe I will read all her novels (still have two I have not yet read and the rest would be rereads) in the coming year.
Maybe someone needs to organize a collective readalong of books that celebrate diversity as well as books that help keep us all sane and informed during the coming storm. (I wonder what that would look like--books on religious diversity, immigration, LGBTQIA, climate change and nature, feminism . . . ).