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Let's Talk Books

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

I'm pleased to report that the March book buying ban went very well. I did read a lot of books over the past month or so, especially when I was on holiday, yet somehow the to-read pile hasn't gone down at all. If anything, it's bigger!



I'm blaming this slightly on the fact that I'm suffering from a common complaint. Despite having all those books next to my bed, I can often be found wailing "I've got nothing to reeeeeaaaaadddd!" The local library comes in handy when this mood strikes me but bless them, they don't have the greatest selection in the world. Or perhaps I'm losing my ability to pick out the good ones?

The last armload I took out was a truly mixed lot. It contained Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger and William Walker's First Year of Marriage by Matt Rudd and they are two of the worst books I've ever read. What was Audrey Nifenegger thinking with this one? I won't even bother reviewing it because it will make me want to set the book on fire. Just look at some of the things people have written on Amazon and ignore the 5 star reviews because they were clearly written by lunatics. The plot is frankly ridiculous. I can't believe it got through the whole editing and publishing process without someone pointing out that it made No Sense. As for the other one, well I honestly don't know how he ever got a book deal. I'm sure he's a competent enough writer (it is his day job after all) but the characterisation is horrendous and the viewpoint of the title character was really quite nauseating. I felt thoroughly depressed after it and it was meant to be funny. Doom.

However, in the same batch were The Importance Of Being Seven by Alexander McCall Smith (oh Bertie, what a joy you are), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Six Other Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce, all of which were really rather good. The latter in particular is absolutely wonderful. It's not on general release yet - this copy was available as part of World Book Week as the author is from Liverpool and does lots of work with local libraries. His books often bring a little tear to my eye but they also really make me chortle.

Also worthy of a mention was a recent holiday read, Nemesis by Lindsey Davis. It's the latest (20th) in a series of detective novels set in Ancient Rome and the surrounding Empire, so I wouldn't recommend you start with this one if you haven't read any of them before. Grab yourself a copy of The Silver Pigs and start there. Oh they're brilliant - she creates such a sense of time and place and they're so interesting and funny. Not to mention the food descriptions - yum! Don't be put off by the historical setting either. I always think that they've got a very modern air to them and they're not difficult reads.

If you do follow my recommendation then I envy you, I really do. I would love to discover Falco again for the first time - he's one of my very favourite literary characters. This book is quite noticeably darker than some of the other recent books from the series but that's not a bad thing.

The to-read pile won't be going down any time soon either. My recent birthday has meant that I now have another 24 books to add to it:

I've been watching lots of sci-fi films recently so am muchly looking forward to reading the Philip K. Dick stories. And I don't think I've ever mentioned it on here but I do love wrestling, so the Chris Jericho book is bound to be v. entertaining.

You can always count on Lee to buy brilliant presents. Aren't these two sets lovely? I really like the clashing covers on the Penguin set but the cover designs on the Harper ones are just beautiful.

These are going to be so useful. The sewing book is amazing; absolutely packed with hints and tutorials.

I think I should probably just give up on further efforts to reduce the pile and embrace the fact that my bedside table is entirely made up of books. Does anyone have any recommendations for me?


  1. I too am a huge Bertie fan. In fact I love all Alexander McCall Smith books! Have you read his other Scotland series, the Sunday Philsophy Club,and the London one, Corduroy Mansions?

    I also have that Penguin book boxset - all very good, and I love the covers!

    Recently, I've enjoyed Stuart, A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters, and One Day by David Nicholls. I'd also recommend trying Jasper Fforde if you haven't already!

    Amy x

  2. Wow that is a rather huge pile of books to read! I don't know if you've read Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks? One of my all time favs, also Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, and The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov (funny and odd and amazing) xx

  3. I was absolutely gobsmacked at the ending of Nemesis. I was all, 'Oh no you didn't!' I am excited for the next in the series. I wrote to Ms Davis and asked if she'd ever reprint the Regency novella that got her nominated for a Georgette Heyer prize, but she wrote back and said she didn't think it stands the test of time. I would STILL love to get my hands on it.

    I just got in London (on a delayed 3 AM BA flight)! I put all the Falco novels in my ipod to read as I go through Bath and London and all the places he's been.

    It seems we share a fondness for quite a lot of authors, so I will recommend Connie Willis (To Say Nothing of the Dog!) and Margery Allingham. And second Amy's Jasper Fforde suggestion!

  4. OMG what a pile! I bought a sewing book recently, still haven't even opened it lol.. :)

  5. That's a pile and a half, Alex! I rarely buy books new so it's more by luck than judgement that I find a gripping read.
    My most recent great reads were The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell, Drop City by TC Boyle and my current book, Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. xxx

  6. I wish I had more time to read :( my to-read pile is HUGE!

  7. Dearest Alex, that is some pile! I wish I had more/made more time to read. I used to read a lot. These days I'm either plugged into an electronic device (my laptop) or I'm out.

    That Penguin set looks wonderful. I've read nearly all of them.

    Have you seen the Benjamin Button film? I loved it.

    I'm the same with clothes. I have tons but I'm always saying I've nothing to wear. It's almost too much to tackle to find anything! Hope you had a great Easter xx

  8. I love that there's someone out there more hooked on reading that I am, it makes me feel better that I have a to read pile. Unfortunately my books are generally just detective novels or the occasional Chic-Lit. I just can't bring myself to be a literary connaiseur right now.

  9. What a collection! I too have an obsession with books! the OH has banned me from buying any more and jumped for joy when I sold some to raise money for charity... I literally have books in every room of the house! xx

  10. Will try the 1st Lindsey Davis - thanks for the recommendation. I've got a bit stuck with my reading this past wee while - the same thing, lots of unread books at home but nothing I'm quite in the mood for. xx

  11. Just finished 'The Help' by Kathyrn Stockett, her first and it was brilliant, really surprised how much i enjoyed it. I decluttered loads of books last month, ones i've started and didn't grip me so off to the charity they went. I actually only have 2 in my 'waiting to be read' pile, that is some stack Alex!!
    Sharron x

  12. What great collections! I must say, I also found Her Fearful Symmetry awful. The beginning was okay, but it just became stupid!

    I'm hoping to get the Chris Jericho book shortly, however I need to read Shawn Michaels autobiography before buying anymore books hehe.
    Great post


  13. What a great bunch of books, or should that be pile!

    I should read more, I would say I don't have time but thats not really an excuse is it!

    X x

  14. Isn't it disappointing when you get so far into a book that you must continue reading it but hate it.
    I'm very interested in reading The Curious Case as I love the author and the movie was amazing.

  15. I hate it when you reallise you really don't like a book. I always read to the end. I don't read almost at all now, except on holiday. I'm missing out!

  16. Good grief, you have a lot to read! I have loads I want to get my hands on but haven't got round to it and end up reading my favourites over and over

  17. Ah Chris Jericho, used to love that guy! Altho I was more in love with Edge, yummy.... Gotta start watching wrestling again! Oh and reading more from the sounds of it... :)

  18. Totally with you on her fearful symmetry, I hate it when you wait for books to get good and then they end! I'm dipping back into graphic novels at the mo: The Watchmen and Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, excellent and very dark.

  19. Wow, that is a truly impressive collection of books! Are you on Goodreads? I think they might make you their queen:)

  20. Argh, I would totally look into Lindsey Davis if only my own to read pile wasn't taking over the house. I'm currently racing through crappy chick lit to try and get it down a bit - although I did just read The Road by Cormac McCarthy (basis for the recent film) - bleak but brilliant!!

    I too have the Penguin set, only read Diary of a Nobody (enjoyed) and Cider with Rosie (endured) so far though xx

  21. That isn't a pile Alex, it's a small mountain range! Someone at work was only telling me yesterday how awful Fearful Symmetry is.

  22. I am just as bad, Ive got 3 half read books next to my bed I just cant get into them right now. Ive spend this week putting a ton of books up on Amazon and still have lots to go. We are trying to get sorted to move so I could do without stacks of books I dont need anymore. I am disapointed to hear about the audrey Nif book I loved the Time Travellers wife. I get that with a lot of authours though, they are never as good as the first one.

  23. wow! that is alot of books!! my collection looks so pitiful compared to yours!! thanks for your lovely comment on my blog awhile back sorry it took me so long to reply! :) x

  24. I agree re William Walker, read it last week when on holiday. I have Jusr started The Postmistress and l am gripped already.

  25. Hi! Just found your blog and LOVE it!!! Funnily enough I've just written about my fave childhood books and am collecting them all over again (all the Ladybird ones) as get very nostalgic.
    Love your frocks by the way!
    My blog is about my charity shop purchases, do feel free to have a look!

  26. Holy SHIT that's a great pile of books!!!!
    Bugger recommending for you, I need to get smart and stock up on the ones you've recommended in the past and have in your pile!EEK! Winter is prime time for reading, and by jove, I'm gonna do a lot of it!
    Love! xxx

  27. The penguin set has some corkers. Cold Comfort Farm is one of my favourite books, and I also love Three Men in a Boat, 39 Steps, and Out of Africa. Diary of a Nobody was very funny too. I haven't been reading as much lately as it seems I'm always working, but I did read one of your Jilly Coopers while on hol, as well as Twilight. And I've started on the Peter Ackroyd London book, which looks to be pretty good xx


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