Mar 2013 tbrI’ve been working my way through that pile of books I picked out at the beginning of the month, which I can now reveal was my planned Holiday Reading (I’m a bit paranoid about revealing I’m off on holiday before the event). I got through all of them apart from the Georgette Heyer, which was a last-minute substitution for a No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency book I’d already read – the one I hadn’t already read has been reviewed already, the big one I didn’t end up reading but released, I’m still reading “English as a Global Language” but started it on the train … and here are the reviews of the others. 4.5 books on a 5 day holiday – I’d say that’s not bad!

And at the end of this post, a small confession, but you’ll see why when you see what I managed to pick up!

Annie Choi – “Happy Birthday or Whatever”

(BookCrossing meetup 26 January 2013)

Picked up at the Birmingham meetup from my friend Sian, who recommended it as a good read.  I have had a bit of a Sian-themed holiday reading schedule, I see …

Memoir of a Korean American girl growing up with a demanding and fashion conscious mum, yet dressed in terrifying inter-continental hand-me-downs, and trying to cope with being a dunce in two languages at the same time. Competently told and amusing except in the traumatic bit – the two styles did jar a little bit there – not the best I’ve read in this genre, but not the worst, and I have read a lot of expatriate / second-generation immigrant books so I am quite demanding!

I released this in Costa Coffee in Paignton and had a lovely chat about BookCrossing with the manager and a barista, and about writing and editing with the barista – they promised to leave the book out for customers to find the next morning.

Joe Keenan – “Putting on the Ritz”

(BookCrossing meetup 29 December 2012)

Not a book I would maybe have normally picked up; the cover didn’t grab me, but this waspish, camp, madcap caper was great holiday reading and, unusual for that category if we’re not talking Middlemarch or an Iris Murdoch, my common holiday reading, quite a substantial and long-lasting read.

A ludicrous but internally coherent plot that’s very cleverly done, hinging on billionaires, revenge, magazine publishing and song writing is set against a world of mad excess in buildings, furnishings, yachts and emotions. By the writer of the TV series, Frasier, it’s ruder than the series but certainly has the one liners. I would like to look out for more by this author.

I released this in the hotel, under a copy of Russell Brand’s “My Booky Wook” so it will reveal its BookCrossing identity after a while …

Priscilla Martin and Anne Rowe – “Iris Murdoch: A Literary Life”

(14 September 2012 – IM Society Conference)

An excellent book which treats the novels in (almost) publication order, grouping them into loose themes and then looking at the books’ internal themes, their echoing characters, and their place in IM’s oeuvre, and then outwards to the critical reaction and Iris Murdoch’s own reactions to and comments on the book and characters. There’s an interesting final chapter about the effect on IM’s reputation of the books and film which came out around and after her death, and of course I do like the fact that I’ve met the authors a couple of times and several people I know are referenced in the book (I know: shallow, but it’s part of being in a community of any kind, isn’t it). Plenty of new material to mull over even for an inveterate re-reader and IM fan like me, and a real pleasure to read. A good bibliography, too.

Holiday Acquisitions

Mar 2013 acquisitions1And finally, acquisitions. I did mean to leave all my BookCrossing books behind and have a lighter case to come back with, but when I spotted these beauties in Cancer Research in Dartmouth (the Sitwell and the Holroyd) and a charity shop in Paignton (the Virago Book of Women Gardeners), I couldn’t resist. Anyway – they don’t count – as I collect Sitwell stuff, Viragoes and a) Michael Holroyd b) he discusses Violet Trefusis who is associated with Vita Sackville-West, who I also collect. So there we go – no books at all, really.

The copy of Edith Sitwell’s “English Eccentrics” is super – I am not normally swayed by pretty books, but this is a lovely Folio Society edition in a slip case with a beautiful illustration on the covers. I thought I had a copy of this in paperback, but find I don’t – I am going to read this one, as it’s been pencilled on and bashed around a tiny bit, and doesn’t go for a huge amount second hand anyway. What a treat!

Mar 2013 acquisitions2

I also treated myself to two books on the area, as I do rather suspect that we’ll be back …

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Coming up – I’m reading “English as a Global Language” and about to start Hardy’s “The Woodlanders” for Ali’s Hardy readalong. Matthew is combing through my TBR for other books he might like to read together, as we did with Capital, so that might yield another out-of-sequence read, but for now I’ll continue working my way through that TBR shelf at the top of the post.

What are you reading? What have you bought recently? Did they “count” or not??