Library Loot: December 1st to 7th
I skipped doing LL last week, so this week I have over 30 books to talk about! That means the vlog is rather long again (16 minutes), so I’ve included narrative in the covers/links section if you don’t feel like watching the video. A couple disclaimers about the vlog: first, four books are missing! Two (The Evil Genuis and The Ascent of Mount Fuji) because I already read them & returned them and two (Dead Souls and The Balkan Trilogy) because I missed them when I was stacking the books up. But I write about them all further down in the post. ;) Second, a couple of times you’ll hear a small child crying in the background. I was hoping my webcam wouldn’t pick it up, which is why I don’t really react to it in the video, lol. But that’s my niece! She had been given a time out, which tends to upset her, and her bedroom is quite close to my reading room. So yeah, I promise we don’t torture her. ;)
Vlog (if you’re seeing this in a feed reader, click through for the video to appear):
I chose Ancestor Stones by Aminatta Forna from a list I made for the African Diaspora Challenge, because Amy and Kinna’s recent Ghana week put in the mood for West African lit. This is set in Sierra Leone, so it fits the bill! Meanwhile, A Persian Requiem by Simin Daneshvar is part of my sudden dreaming for the Middle East. A White Teacher Talks About Race by Julie Landsman was an impulse grab off the shelves, when I was looking for another book. I’m working on my teaching certification, and I’ll be teaching in multicultural neighbourhoods, so it sounded relevant.
I’ve wanted to read The Balkan trilogy by Olivia Manning since 2007 (when a blogger did a challenge of forgotten once-popular authors), but my old library didn’t have her. CB’s recent post on Manning remindeded me to check my new catalogue, and I was delighted to see I could read it! My forays into 18th century literature this year continue with Belinda by Maria Edgeworth . So far I’ve enjoyed all of the authors I’ve tried: let’s hope my streak continues! I suddenly realised I’d barely read any Irish authors this year (or ever, really), so I went back to check out all of the titles y’all recommended to me. Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd called out to me, and it was on the shelves at my local branch (important, since I’m almost always at my 20 hold limit).
I checked out The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh earlier this year but didn’t get to it before moving. I requested it again since I adored Sea of Poppies, and I’m curious to see how Ghosh handles science-thriller stuff. Gavin mentioned Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko as a possible modern classic in a comment on my post about defining ‘literary’ books. I hadn’t heard of it, but as soon as I looked it up, I knew I had to read it! The Crusades through Arab Eyes by Amin Maalouf is a bit of a consolation prize: Maphead did a great review of Destiny Disrupted, a history of Islamic culture by an Afghani-American author. I checked it out from my old library, but moved before I could read it. Imagine my surprise when my new library didn’t carry it! I’ve put in a purchase request, but until then I’ll read about a different era history by a Lebanese author.
I’ve read and loved Gogol’s short stories, so it’s about time I gave Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol a go. And it’s translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky, of course! ;) Eating India by Chitrita Banerji came up when I was doing a different catalogue search. I love Indian food, and I’ve begun cooking it at home this year, but I have a lot more to learn about it all so this seemed perfect! Egg on Mao by Denise Chong is me giving Chong a second try. I read her biography, The Girl in the Picture last year and thought it woudl have been better at 300 pages than 400. This one is only 250 pages, so I have high hopes!
I love Indian lit, but I tend to read more men authors. I’m not sure why that is, but I’ve decided it’s about time to get to know more Indian woman writers! Fire on the Mountain by Anita Desai seemed like a good place to start, since Desai is such a big figure. I began my fascination with Burma a couple of years ago…since then, I’ve read several books on the country, but I have yet to read the writings of its most famous citizen. Freedom from Fear by Aung San Suu Kyi is her earlier book. I’d heard about The Gentle Axe by R.N. Morris, first in a mystery series set in historical Russia, awhile ago. But it was the review of the most recent one over at We Be Reading that made me decide to go ahead and give it a go!
The Habit by Elizabeth Kuhns was an impulse grab. I meant to pick up Sister: the story of Catholic Nuns in America, but this one was rigth next to it on the shelves, and it just appealed to me more! The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo arrived for me just in time: I’ve been craving Hugo since finishing Vargas Llosa’s criticism of Les Mis. :) I’ve been in a Caribbean mood lately, so The Kingdom of This World by Alejo Carpentier lets me keep that going!
Tony (of Tony’s Reading List) reviews a lot of classic Japanese lit. His post on a different Soseki novel made me search my catalogue. I’m not sure why, but Kokoro by Natsume Sōseki caught my eye. Another blogger, Cobblestonesea, is responsible for me getting Mad, Bad and Sad by Lisa Appignanesi. I’ve got quite a few women’s studies nonfiction books this week: even though Women Unbound has officially ended, I’m not giving up my addiction any time soon! ;) Medea and Her Children by Ludmila Ulitskaya was another request do to a blogger: Maria of the Boston Bibliophile in this case, and her 2008 review that she linked to during her Russian Extravaganza last month.
I was on Twitter a couple of days ago when Claire (of Paperback Reader) asked if I’d read Naughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman yet. I hadn’t even heard of it, but upon looking it up, I had to have it! I was so dedicated that I waded through large amounts of middle schoolers at my library in order to find it in the young adult section. ;) As I mentioned, I’ve been craving Middle Eastern lit lately: Portrait of a Turkish Family by Irgan Orga is part of that. I read about it in Ardent Reader’s Books about Turkey post. I requested Powder Necklace by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond right after Amy’s review; I was so excited that one of the books from her and Kinna’s Ghana week was actually available at my library!
Secret Son by Laila Lalami is another part of my Middle Eastern mood; I’ve been wanting to try Lalami for awhile, but my old library didn’t have her. I’ve also been in more of a novel than short story phase this year, which is why I’m starting with her second book. Jenny’s review made me request The Sundial by Shirley Jackson; I loved We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House, but I thought those were Jackson’s only novels! I’m glad that I was mistaken. When I was looking for West African authors on my African diaspora list, Without a Name and Under the Tongue by Yvonne Vera also caught my eye. I haven’t read anything about Zimbabwe in a couple of years, so it’s about time to revisit it!
When I was looking up The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, The Gardens of Light by Amin Maalouf also came up. It’s fiction by the same author, and I thought it’d be neat to compare his styles! I noticed Rapunzel’s Daughters by Rose Weitz on the shelves when I was picking up a different book at the library. It’s about women’s relationships with their hair, and as someone who has gone from a pixie cut to quite long hair over the past four years (with various stops in between), it just sounded neat. I don’t need a reason to request The Evil Genius by Wilkie Collins: I love Collins and I plan to read all of his stuff eventually! I already finished this one, which is why it didn’t appear in the vlog: I returned it.
Finally, I couldn’t find a cover for The Ascent of Mount Fuji by Chingiz Aitmatov and Kaltai Mukhamedzhanov. This is a play I came across when researching my Central Asia book list. I already read and returned it, and will talk about it more on Sunday, but let me tell you it was wonderful!
Have you read any of these? Any advice on where to start?