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The fourth consolidation post for my #bookaday entries on Twitter. (Scroll down for the first three). Are you playing? if so, let me know your choices / leave your twitter handle in comments, so I can follow you.

June 16 Can’t believe more people haven’t read ….

Well, actually I can.  Clara won the 2002 Scottish Saltire Prize and it would appear that it’s not a very well-read prize at all.  I live in Scotland and it took me until 2006 to discover it.  I won’t go into raptures about it again, once is enough.  But if you’re part of #readwomen2014, I recommend you give this a go, both to discover a fantastic Scottish author(ess) and the strong admirable role model of Clara Schumann.

June 17 A Future Classic

What makes a book a classic?  Themes that render it timeless and universal.  I’d say that is true of Ferrante’s novel of childhood and adolescence in 1950s Naples, even if it is firmly fixed in time and place.  When does a book become a classic?  50 years after publication.  If so, then there are still a few years to go for this book, originally published and translated in 2012.  Somehow though, I suspect the 50-year threshold will be relaxed in this case, assuming that hasn’t already happened.

 

June 18 – Bought on a recommendation

I forget who recommended this in a blog comment but whoever it was, please accept my belated thanks.  Sound  the Deep Waters is the coupling of Victorian Romantic Poetry with Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Gorgeous …

 

June 19 –  Can’t stop talking about it 

First read in 1978, in the days when I could read Dutch, and rediscovered in 2007, when it finally appeared in English translation, this is one of the top 10 reads of my life. (Original publication date 1958 – same vintage as myself.  Of course, it’s a good ‘un!)  Only one other Hermans is available in English (Beyond Sleep).  Please, Harvill Secker, could we have some more?  There are plenty to choose from.

 

June 20 – Favourite cover

I love books with lots of books on the cover, and I find books with Cadbury’s chocolate purple covers irresistible.   Most of all, however, I love a luxurious cover.  Cue these splendid brocaded Gaskells from the Folio Society.

 

June 21 – Summer Read

I am most definitely not a swimming pool person, but this is one pool I will be dipping into this summer.  Actually will be diving in right after posting this.

 

June 22 – Out-of-print

I have been searching for a new copy of Little Man, What Now since the beginning of the year.  I’ve searched in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London. Even Daunts in Marylebone didn’t have a copy. They had lots of Falladas, but not this.  It’s a puzzle because I don’t think technically it is out-of-print.  The title is still available for order on the Melville House Press website but $25 p&p is not acceptable.  I now have a copy on loan from the Glasgow Goethe Institute and I need to get cracking if I’m to join in the upcoming discussion on the online book club.

 

The third consolidation post for my #bookaday entries on Twitter. (Scroll down for the first and second.).  Are you playing? if so, let me know your choices / leave your twitter handle in comments, so I can follow you.

 

june 11 – Secondhand Bookshop Gem

Tennyson’s Poems, illustrated by Rossetti.  Bought from @edinburghbooks, one of the best secondhand bookshops in The West Port of Edinburgh.


June 12 – I pretend to have read it.

Pass.  My tweet on this day says it all.  ” I have more than 1500 books in the TBR.  The only pretending I do is that I’ll read them all one day.” 


June 13 – Makes me laugh

Since reading and reviewing in 2009, I have loaned this book a number of times and all readers have reported fits of laughter.  I feel a reread coming on.


June 14 – A Old Favourite

It’s rare for me to keep a foxed edition on my shelves but this 1967 Penguin edition is the one that helped me through my German ‘A’ level. (Cheating?  Maybe, but we’ve all done it.)  Menzel’s cover painting “Die Schwester des Künstlers im Wohnzimmer” is a pure distillation of Effi’s mood.  In fact, when I unexpectedly spotted the painting, which now hangs in the Neue Pinakothek in Munich,  My heart skipped a beat as I thought “Look,there’s Effi!”  The cover has changed now, but I do not like the current one at all.  It lacks all atmosphere.


June 15 – Favourite Fictional Father

How can it be anyone other than Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird?   Loving, principled and courageous. What more can you ask for?

 

 

The second consolidation post for my #bookaday entries on Twitter.  (Scroll down for the first.) Are you playing? if so, let me know your choices / leave your twitter handle in comments, so I can follow you.


June 6 – I one I always give as a gift

Simply because my friends are superheroes …. each and every one.

 

June 7 – The one I forgot I owned

The dangers of double stacking book shelves …. I rediscovered this in the back row during #pushkinpress fortnight as I was searching for the Szerb I decided to read for the event.  Just as well, because I was about to buy it again!

June 8 – I have multiple copies of this.

This category could be renamed the book that launched a new bad habit.    I loved Measuring the World so much that I bought myself Die Vermessung  der Welt the next time I was in Germany.  Since then a number of originals been purchased after reading the translation, to reread in the original.  It’s a good intention, I’m sure.  Though, to date, never realised.  

June 9 – A film tie-in

I hate film tie-ins and was quite surprised to find one in the stacks.  It has been marked for culling a couple of times already, but reprieved because of some excellent reviews.  I’ll get to the book and the film some day.

June 10 – It reminds me of someone I love

 

From Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes – Bird Pie from The Twits.  Baking this, complete with claws, was the only time I ever earned the “cool” accolade from my son.  You bet – I lost count of the number of times I baked it …  actually, it is pretty tasty!

The first consolidation post for my #bookaday entries on Twitter.  Are you playing?  if so, let me know your choices / leave your twitter handle in comments, so I can follow you.  

Day 1: A favourite book from childhood

I have always been a bookworm but I know I read voraciously before the age of eleven.  But nothing has stayed with me.  The Hobbit was the first book read for English at grammar school and it’s a story once read, never forgotten.  It was also the last bedtime story I read to my dyslexic son.  He was a eleven at the time.  Synchronicity?

Day 2: Best Bargain

These might be Reader’s Digest editions but they are sturdy, unabridged hardbacks and illustrated to boot! Talking of which, I bought them at a car boot sale.  3 for £1 or a ready made library of classics in pristine condition for a £10.  

Day 3: A Book With A Blue Cover

I have hundreds of books with blue covers, so I picked the latest addition to my shelves.  I’ve been meaning to read Tim Winton for ages, but couldn’t decide where to start.  Kimbofo’s 5-star review of his new release convinced me that this is the one.

Day 4: Least favourite book by a favourite author

Like many, I took a strong dislike to Constance, and, therefore, to McGrath’s novel.  Sorry, Patrick.  At least I didn’t dislike it enough to remove you from my completist reading list.

 

Day 5: A book that doesn’t belong to me.

I suspect that if I were a child now, I would have nominated The Gruffalo on Day One.  Maybe I’m reverting to childhood early, but I love this book and have taken to sneak reading when in a bookshop.  This is a memento of the last time I did so.  The location: Watermark Books in King’s Cross Station.

Thanks to The Book Jotter for highlighting the following:

From The Bookseller:

HarperCollins imprint The Borough Press is launching a social initiative for book lovers to share books they love on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #bookaday. It will begin on Sunday 1st June and run throughout the entire month.

There is a topic/question/subject for each day of June.

 

 

I’m not sure about posting pictures of the books I mention because I don’t own them all and others are not easily accessible. (If you saw the state of my book stacks, you’d understand).  What I will do though is pull all my tweets together in summary posts throughout the month, perhaps with a little anecdote about each.  This will be fun.  Will you join me?

As we approach the end of #anzlitmonth 2014 I decided it was time to revisit an author I discovered during the 2012 event.  I rated Chris Womersley’s Bereft so highly, I nominated it for the Not The Booker Prize.  While I enjoyed his recent release, Cairo, just as much, it’s not as literary.  To borrow a term from Graham Greene, it is “an entertainment”.

Cairo is not in Egypt.  It is a famous apartment block in Fitzroy, Melbourne, which once upon a time  was a bit of a dump, a place inhabited by drug-addicted bohemians and the novel’s protagonist, 17 year old Tom.  He has just left home to live in his dead aunt’s flat.  Young, naive, and itching to experience the delights of city life, Tom is soon befriended by a to-him-glamorous couple who widen his circle of friends (to include criminals and heroine addicts) and gradually suck him into their scheme to steal Picasso’s Weeping Woman from the National Gallery of Victoria.

At which point fiction meets fact because that painting was stolen in 1986, only to be returned intact 17 days later.  The theft remains an unsolved mystery and Womersley has capitalised on that historical gap to flesh out the story.  There is much to be enjoyed here, particularly about art and its intrinsic value.  Tom is a budding author and he’s writing his story with hindsight.  We know, therefore, that he’s not dragged down into the gutter by his new acquaintances; that he is older and wiser at the end of his bildungsroman.  This makes it possible to enjoy the ride without too much anxiety.  Not that the story is lacking moments of menace. There are a couple of dangerous villains and there is a murder.  Also an enjoyable farce when Tom’s family make a sudden reappearance.  And, for a story based on well-known facts, a totally unexpected ending. 

An entertainment, indeed.  Womersley has duly been added to my completist reading list.

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This post is part of Australia and New Zealand Literature Month hosted by Kim at Reading Matters.

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An invite to the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Award Ceremony took me to London last week, specifically to RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) on Great Portland Place.

where I met bloggers David from Follow the Thread and Stu from Winston’s Dad  as well as blogger-turned-vlogger William from Just William’s Luck.  I availed myself of the refreshments …. of course I did – the event was sponsored by Taitinger ….

 

 

A couple of glasses later and it was time for Boyd Tonkin to deliver his speech.

 

Salient points:

1) Translated fiction does have a wide-spread audience (Top 3 UK fiction bestsellers w/c 22/05/2014 were all translations)

2) A special mention to the Shadow IFFP panel (that made Stu and David smile)

3) Another special mention for The Mussel Feast. (A bitter sweet moment – oooooh, it hasn’t won but there’s never been a special mention before – hooray! And I must say the Peirene Nymph behaved with absolute grace on the night. One day, Peirene, one day.) 

4) The winner is The Iraqi Christ by Hassan Blasim, translated by Jonathan Wright.  

 

 

The audience applauded heartily though I confess to mixed feelings. I am delighted for Comma Press, the author, the translator and the short story.  (That’s the second short story collection to take a major prize this year; the Folio Prize went to George Saunders’ collection Tenth of December.) But it’s not a winner, I’m likely to read.  It doesn’t appeal. (Cf Shadow IFFP review from Dolce Bellezza)

Still enough of my grumblings – there was champagne to imbibe and German author Birgit Vanderbeke and her translator, Jamie Bulloch to chat to.  I also met translators Frank Wynne and Shaun Whiteside.  And, of course, the nymph Peirene. (The rumour mill has it that she had a sore head the morning after … I confess, I made sure her glass was kept topped up …. What else can you do?  1 glass to commiserate, 1 glass to celebrate, and repeat ….)

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