New books equal new adventures. During the past summer I read a lot of books (30 to be precise) and, consequently, also acquired a ton of new books. A total of nineteen books is definitely more than I had planned for, but as fellow bloggers and avid readers, you probably recognise the telling signs of a book junkie. Nevertheless, it’s hard to feel truly guilty about the new and exciting stories that now habit my shelves. Here are the new tenants of my bookshelves, moved in between June and September.
Firstly, I’m extremely happy to finally possess a copy of perhaps my favourite book, Animal Farm by George Orwell. The lovely kainzow from Eye of Lynx was so kind to gift me this stunning Folio Society edition. I’ve only seen pictures of these editions and they all look wonderful, but now that I also have the chance to hold one in my hands, I can vouch that they are truly crafted with love. All of the Folio Society editions are illustrated by a different artist, and what better combination that George Orwell and Quentin Blake! This, ladies and gentlemen, is true love.
Aside from writing Animal Farm, George Orwell was also a brilliant essayist, and one of his most known essays is Politics and the English Language. Having read that last year, I was left with a longing to explore more of his essays. Hence when I saw this handy Penguin edition of George Orwell’s Essays in Shakespeare & Sons in Berlin, I knew it would be coming home with me. During my four day trip to Berlin, I did actually visit Shakespeare & Sons twice, because from the moment I stepped into the shop, it became one of my favourite bookshops. I could easily spend hours upon hours just browsing through their collection, then order coffee and lose myself in my choice of a book. And each visit to the shop naturally had to be christened with a new purchase; the second time around I brought home a copy of The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I’ve heard great things about The Road and my boyfriend remembered that the film adaptation was very good, so I’m curious to see the secrets that this book holds.
Contrary to my two book purchases in Berlin, the third book I bought during that trip was in German. I’ve been meaning to read more Kafka and thus when presented a chance, I decided to challenge myself to read Kafka’s The Trial in German. My German friends told me they had to study the novel in school from these school print editions, so I naturally went and bought one in the same edition. I’ve only read Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, but I’ve heard some rumours about The Trial and its absurdity. I will report back on how my language skills faired with this one.
The next three books I purchased all within one day. Firstly, there was a big bookshop sale that had a lot of interesting titles sold for the price of a big cup of coffee. I picked up two books from that sale: Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. Down the Rabbit Hole is translated from Spanish and it follows the Mexican drug cartel through the eyes of a small boy. Jean from Jean BookishThoughts recommended this a long time ago, and because I can’t remember when was the last time I read some Spanish literature, I decided to give this a go. The other title, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, is a big blogger favourite and I’ve seen this book receive lots of love from some of the bloggers I follow. Anthony Marra’s newest novel is coming out in October (I believe), so I’m really looking forward to discovering Marra’s writing style.
After the book shop sale, I went to visit my favourite second hand bookshop, Arkadia International Bookshop, where I came across Simon Rich’s Ant Farm and Other Desperate Situations. Simon Rich is an American humorist who launched to fame with this particular collection when he was still an undergraduate. Rich is to date the youngest person to have been hired by Saturday Night Live and has also worked for Pixar. I heard about Rich through Veronica from Ron Lit and having later read a couple of short stories and columns written by him, I was excited to find his debut collection at the shop.
At the end of August, I realised that I had gone from reading four Tove Jansson novels and a biography in one year (aka. my Tove100 project) to reading none – and that was depressing. Perhaps it was the slow onset of autumn, but I began to desperately crave for Jansson’s writing. So I did what I usually do and picked up a library copy of The Winter Book. However, about three days later I was visiting my local bookshop and they were selling a boxset of four Tove Jansson novels for five euros – an offer which I most definitely could not pass. The boxset includes Sculptor’s Daughter and The Summer Book (both of which I read last year) but also two new-to-me novels: The True Deceiver and The Winter Book. It should come as no surprise that I returned the book to the library in record time. Moreover, I adore these colourful cover illustrations!
The Winter Book was not, however, the only acquisition somehow foreseen by a library haul. I picked up a copy of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne during my latest library haul thinking that I should probably try to read this classic during the autumn time. Then the next day I came across a wild copy of the same book when I was running past the Free Little Library shelf at my university campus. I was in a bit of a hurry, so I picked it up out of curiosity, and only remembered later that I already had a library copy at home. My book collection is slowly reaching the point in which I soon begin to buy second copies of books because I forget that I already own one. Help!
And then there were the ebooks. Compared to the amount of physical books I’ve hauled in during these three months, my ebook selection has stayed relatively within the limits of normal. In fact, four of the seven ebooks were review copies, one I’ve been highly anticipating, one was a spur of the moment purchase and one… well, let’s just say that I’m still trying to get into this author’s work.
First off are Half Bad by Sally Green and A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan. Both were provided me for review through Netgalley and you can find my reviews of them through the links. I’m generally more of a backlist reader, but I do sometimes get curious about the up-and-coming titles. In the case of Half Bad, the book has been out for a while now, but it is still making the rounds in translation. Overall, I enjoyed Half Bad, although not as much as I had hoped for, and was very pleasantly surprised by A Window Opens.
Evelina by Frances Burney is yet another recommendation from the lovely Veronica from Ron Lit – she blurbed it as “one of the books that influenced Jane Austen”. That alone makes the book interesting in my eyes, but considering that it is 18th century literature (something that I’m completely unfamiliar with) and with a fascinating premise – uncultured country girl colliding with the rules of high society. I hope Evelina turns out to be as wonderful as it sounds!
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel took the blogosphere by storm last year (or was it the year before that?). The story of post-apocalyptic world with touring theatre group performing Shakespeare and the infamous “Survival is insufficient” quote pulled me in, but due to many circumstances, it took me until August to actually purchase a copy. I am aware that my expectation for this novel are soon about to hit the roof, so I should just get to reading this instead of thinking about it!
Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Many adore everything that Neil Gaiman writes (it’s almost like the legend of Midas touch). However, Ocean at the End of the Lane seems to be one of the few books that divides Gaiman fans. I’ve so far read three books by him and, with the exception of The Sandman, I’ve mostly found them to be ‘okay’, but not earth-shattering by any means. Thus I’m interested to see how this book compares to the other books that I’ve read by him.
Lastly I picked up two books for the upcoming dark and chilly autumn evenings. Both The Black Tongue by Marko Hautala and Lithium-6 by Risto Isomäki are upcoming titles that have been translated from Finnish.Both translations are published by AmazonCrossing and I’ve received them from the publisher (via Netgalley) for review. The Black Tongue (pub. September 22nd) is promised to be a dark psychological thriller about an urban legend of a hatchet granny, and it has received raving reviews from other Finnish book bloggers. Horror isn’t one of my go-to genres, so I hope that The Black Tongue will enrich my reading experiences. Lithium-6 (pub. October 6th) on the other hand is a science fiction mystery featuring nuclear terrorism from the same author who wrote one of my favourite books of last year, Risto Isomäki. I was super impressed by The Sands of Sarasvati, so I cannot wait to read this one!
I think my shelves are now fully stocked for the upcoming months, and my bank account could definitely use a bit of a break from book shopping. My goal is to hold off from book buying until the end of October when I’ll be attending the Helsinki Book Fair 2016!