Four books I plan on finishing next and a few of them still this month, I hope! With three days left in the month it is definitely iffy, but I like having a plan. I guess my reading will always and forever be scattered. At least for the foreseeable future as much as I try and get it all under control I just always have piles of books in various stages of completion (or starts/beginnings). Before I started blogging I might have three or four books sitting on my nightstand, but that's it. I was more a one or two book a week reader and would normally just be reading one or two books at a time and all without much thought or planning. I wonder what life would have been like had not the internet (and access to So Very Many Books, oh my) not come along?!
So, from top to bottom: I just picked up Lawrence Block's The Sins of the Fathers, which is the very first Matthew Scudder mystery. I can't remember if someone recommended him or if I read about him via someone like Sarah Weinman, whose recommendations I eagerly and happily always accept as I think she is the goddess of crime literature. Block is said to be one of the very best crime writers working today and as the stories begin in NYC in the 1970s (an era I am most recently interested in reading about or books set in) I was excited to get the book and start reading. Now I think I need to start buying the rest of the books. I just started this but I can see how it could be easily consumed in one lazy day of reading.
I am nearly finished with M.M. Kaye's Death in Zanzibar and if you like Mary Stewart or Elizabeth Peters or even Susanna Kearsley you would find Kaye's work most entertaining and satisfying. Very fun stuff and I am contemplating rereading all her books of romantic suspense again. I had read them all except this one years ago.
Jean Giono's Hill is a bit more thoughtful but not hard going and I am trying hard to finish it this month just to stay on track. Four months into the year and four NYRBs down on my subscription. So far, so good. Can I keep it up for the rest of the year? I will be mightily pleased if I do. I think it is my main reading goal actually.
I don't think I will finish The Green Road by Anne Enright this month, but maybe it will be my first May finish. I am enjoying it immensely. It is the first book by her I have read and it won't be the last. It is also one of the Baileys Women's Prize shortlist books, and I hope to read one or two others before the award is announced in June.
Ah yes. New books. They seem to arrive at my house at a steady pace these days, and sometimes I even go out and find them myself and bring them home! I discovered this quaint little bookstore that is tucked away downtown with very abbreviated hours. I was lucky enough to be in the right phase of the moon on a rainy day at just the right moment and found the doors open and so spent a happy hour drifting about the store enjoying the very eclectic and literary selection of books. Lots of classics, Booker winners, artsy titles, but fun things, too. (Well, not that any of those former mentions aren't fun, but you know what I mean . . .). I allowed myself two purchases and settled on The Collected Works of Nathanael West, which contains four short novels: The Day of the Locus, Miss Lonelyhearts, A Cool Million and The Dream Life of Balso Snell. America in the 30s--"West's vision of American modernity is terrifyingly comical and diagnoses the tawdriness and meretriciousness of much of American popular culture."
I had never heard of The Lawyer's Secret by M.E. Braddon (of Lady Audley's Secret fame, a novel I enjoyed very much). It is one of those slender Hesperus Classics books and will surely be a May read. "Orphan Ellinor Arden is called from her secluded Paris home to London for the hearing of her estranged uncle’s will. To her surprise, she is named as the inheritor of his fortune, on condition that she marry his adopted son. Encouraged by her lawyer and guardian, the dashing Horace Margrave, she attaches herself irreversibly to this perfect stranger, but it soon becomes clear that her trust in a dead man’s wishes has been misplaced."
I probably don't need to say much about the wonderful Sarah Waters's The Paying Guests. But I will say this purchase was quite decadent for me. I had to have the US edition when it first came out as I was captivated by the cover design. Shallow, I know, but I would have had to have it right away in any case. Only it is a hefty hardcover and I hate dragging them about with me in my bookbag so all good intentions to read it right away were ignored. The Book Depository has a "bargain" page and this appeared on it. For just over $5 I now have a spiffy paperback that I can easily carry about. It has immediately risen to the top of the pile and as soon as I finish one of my in progress books, it is slotted for the next place. I shouldn't even ask this question, but I wonder (now that the last is out in paperback), if she is working on a New book? Hmm.
The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson came from that same bargain page. "Romance, suspense, and World War II mystery are woven together in three artfully linked novellas—rich in drama and steeped in atmosphere—from the critically acclaimed author of The Lantern." I read The Lantern so look forward to this one, too.
I've read and enjoyed Michelle Moran before, so when this galley copy of her newest book, Mata Hari's Last Dance, showed up unexpectedly in my mailbox I was thrilled. "rom Indian temples and Parisian theatres to German barracks in war-torn Europe, international bestselling author Michelle Moran who “expertly balances fact and fiction” (Associated Press) brings to vibrant life the famed world of Mata Hari: dancer, courtesan, and possibly, spy."
And there are always new books being added to my wishlist. I won't even tell you how long it is, but I think it runs well into four digits. Here are six of the most recent "wish-fors":
Afloat by Guy de Maupassant -- Saw this one at that little bookstore and noted down the title. It sounds right up my alley. "Afloat, originally published as Sur l’eau in 1888, is a book of dazzling but treacherously shifting currents, a seemingly simple logbook of a sailing cruise along the French Mediterranean coast that opens up to reveal unexpected depths, as Guy de Maupassant merges fact and fiction, dream and documentation in a wholly original style."
Dancing on the Outskirts by Shena Mackay -- Short stories! "Mackay's new collection of short stories showcases her genius for building comedy from terseness and compression ... her precise, unsentimental images, integral to her stories' themes, sum up entire lives ... A triumph! -- Michelle Roberts." Will try and resist until it is out in paper . . .
Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart -- Did I already mention this? I loved the first book and was hoping for another and yes, there is going to be another. "Lady Cop Makes Trouble sets Constance loose on the streets of New York City and New Jersey--tracking down victims, trailing leads, and making friends with girl reporters and lawyers at a hotel for women. Cheering her on, and goading her, are her sisters Norma and Fleurette--that is, when they aren't training pigeons for the war effort or fanning dreams of a life on the stage."
Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford -- Thanks to LindaY for telling m about this one. I have always thought it would be cool to work for the BBC! "The Great War is over, and change is in the air, in this novel that brings to life the exciting days of early British radio…and one woman who finds her voice while working alongside the brilliant women and men of the BBC."
The Disappearance of Maria Glenn: A True-Life Regency Mystery by Naomi Clifford -- "Taunton, 1817. What seems a simple newspaper report of “elopement gone wrong” turns out to be a rollercoaster story of crime, coercion, illusory triumph and fraudulent defeat. Barrister George Tuckett wakes to discover that his 16-year-old niece Maria Glenn, reputedly the heiress to West Indian sugar plantations, is missing. He discovers that she has been abducted by the Bowditches, a local farming family, who intend to force her to marry one of their sons. Maria is rescued and Tuckett starts investigating the crime himself, uncovering a complex and disturbing web of lies and impersonation."
Murder in Time by Julie McElwain -- I think the premise of this sounds intriguing. "When brilliant FBI agent Kendra Donovan stumbles back in time and finds herself in a 19th century English castle under threat from a vicious serial killer, she scrambles to solve the case before it takes her life―200 years before she was even born."
Sometimes I think there are just too many choices in life. Too many kinds of toothpaste, if you know what I mean, and do we really need all of them . . . Strangely I rarely feel that way about books.