A step back into 2018 for the last time until the Viragoes and Persephones – I was reading this at the same time as “Murder Runs in the Family” but this was a larger format hardback book so stayed upstairs or on the sofa. I’m very pleased to be at 20 Books of Summer book 10 with this one, so half-way through around half-way through the month (I’ve had a reviewing lag so I actually finished this one a good few days ago now).

See below for some exciting incomings, too!

John Sutherland (ed.) – “Literary Landscapes”

(25 December 2018 – from Ali)

When Ali read this back in October 2018, I alighted on it with excitement (and may have become a little bratty and demanding in the comments to her post), and it duly arrived for Christmas that year!

I will admit to having become a little confused, as I thought this book included created maps for each of the books it describes. That’s not quite the case, although maps are certainly features: instead this lavishly illustrated hardback “charting the real-life settings of the world’s favourite fiction”, as the subtitle lays out, takes contemporary illustrations and sometimes maps for the areas in which very location-specific books are set. The choice of books is global, with lots and lots of authors I’d not even heard of (which is fine and often intriguing, of course). It runs from Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” to Miguel Bonnefoy’s “Black Sugar” and for each book you get a little bit about the author (with a picture, except in the case of Elena Ferrante!) and the book, including its translator and date of first publication in English if it was translated. Then for example we see an illustration from Punch showing cholera in all its evils in the article for Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House”.

It’s careful to be fair and even-minded: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s troublesome division into us and them as regards Native Americans (although she is somewhat sympathetic to them at times) is addressed in the piece on “Little House on the Prairie” and the resder is directed to the article on Louise Erdrich’s series of novels with their switched perspective on the same timeframe.

I learned a lot about world writers as well as discovering lots of little juicy facts, for example about Daphne du Maurier only being able to afford to live in Menabilly thanks to the success of the book and film of “Rebecca”! Written by many contributors (they’re not attributed in each article but there’s a list of potted biographies at the end including which articles they wrote) but manages to have a pretty consistent tone. A good read and I’m glad I finally got to it!

This was Book 10 in my 20 Books Of Summer project.


I’m currently reading Book 11 in the project, “Girl in a Band”, having finished a light NetGalley read, and I’m not entirely sure what’s next (exciting!).


New acquisitions …

Remember that lovely big order I did from Foyles which arrived the other week? I had ordered “Sagaland” by Richard Fidler and Kari Gislason as part of that order, but they eventually admitted it was out of print and they couldn’t get it. I reluctantly went to Amazon (I am trying not to these days) and they DID have it and now I have it. It’s a lovely fat tome which re-tells some of the Icelandic sagas, and then they also travel to saga sites (this is not something that is offered on commercial tours in Iceland at the moment, which makes me sad – I have been to Egil’s grave on one trip that gave some highlights, and also had a pizza at a petrol station/shop at Hliðarendi, location of Gunnar’s house in Njal’s Saga, but only by accident) and there is a connection between Gislason’s family and one of the sagas, too. I bet this doesn’t live for too long on my shelf before being consumed. Anyway, imagine it with the others, leavening out the (of course very) worthwhile modern reads on race and gender with a good dollop of Iceland stuff.

It’s Spanish Lit Month and I noticed this on Ali’s blog, too – this reading month is run by blogger Winston’s Dad and you can find the post about it here. As I’ve been learning Spanish on an app for the past 470-odd days, and not being up to their special past historic tense used in chapter books onwards (plus stsill slightly reeling from that time I attempted to read a Mr Men book in Icelandic), I decided to keep my horizons limited to what I knew I could do and searched for a children’s book in Spanish. “Amo a mis mamas” (by Elias Zapple, translated by Camila Ayala Teran) “I Love My Mums” is actually a tiny bit more basic than I was looking for, but I’m going to work my way through it (there are some words I need to look up still) and see if that counts. It looks lovely and sweet, anyway.

In Shiny New Books news (and I’m very aware I need to share with you my latest two reviews on there, coming soon!), I have received a digital copy of James Raven (ed.) “The Oxford Illustrated History of the Book” – an absolute perfect fit for me, of course, and featuring wonderful looking essays by many experts in the field. This one is out on 13 August so I will be fitting it into my reading schedule very soon (on my tablet, so I can see the colour illustrations properly) and reviewing it in Shiny and sharing that.

And finally, in NetGalley news, hot off the press (or not even off the press yet) is “Loud Black Girls” ed. Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, which is an anthology of pieces by twenty Black British writers, exploring what it means to live in these current turbulent times and what comes next. This is published on 01 October but I am so looking forward to reading it (although these authors also wrote “Slay in Your Lane” and I’m thinking I should get hold of that first …


Any new incomings for you? Read or about to read any of these?