Well over half way through the self-imposed 3-month or so long book-buying ban, and so far it’s proving to be a lot less arduous than expected, although it’s a bit like avoiding food shopping on an empty stomach, and I only go anywhere near bookshops once the loin has been girded or have sternly reminded myself that I can look but I can’t touch.
The idea is to famine not feast till April and that has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the twice-annual Parisian bun fight, sorry SOS English second hand book sale, takes place a bit later this year on the very first Sunday of that lovely month. With nary a charity shop in sight in this enlightened City of Light, getting hold of English paperbacks usually involves carting a ton of bricks back in an all-too-small suitcase after an all-too-brief weekend trip to the UK – fine on the Eurostar, but fraught with anxiety if flying and trying to sneak past the attendees to hoik your bulging case into the overhead lockers of the plane, squash squash.
The SOS helpline book sale has therefore become an event of almost mythical proportions. Along we trundle religiously, determined to be the first in the queue and with fashion statement wheelie caddies in tow, usually containing a stash of outgoing books to optimistically donate and make up for the inevitable cartload that ends up coming back home again to clog up the shelves and the literary arteries.
Wouldn’t miss it for the world – row upon row of books with possibly every English-speaking person in the capital inching their way along and trying to be patient with people who tenaciously move against the current and those who are so darned slow that you don’t know whether to risk stepping out of line past them or not, for fear of not being able to slot back in again. A fair bit of British restraint is often required not to stretch out and rudely swipe a treasure of a find spotted just ever so slightly out of reach, not to mention the very ‘non-cricket’ casual loitering by the entrance after a while to try and get our hands on new donations as they come in and before they get dispatched to the front line. It’s a laugh a minute.
Whichever books are hauled back home and lovingly placed on the To Be Read shelves, there are still quite a number of new tomes due to be published this year that are definitely going onto a brand new Wish List. The challenge will be succeeding in holding off from trying to buy them all the minute they appear in print. Hot off the press and up and coming temptations include:
- “The Noise of Time” by Julian Barnes
- “The Fox and the Star” by Coralie Bickford-Smith (Waterstones Book of the Year 2015) (V&A William Morris room), 10/10
- “Did You Ever Have a Family” by Bill Clegg (Man Booker Prize 2015 Nominee), read, 9/10
- “Pure Juliet” by Stella Gibbons (previously lost book)
- “Our Souls at Night” by Kent Haruf (thanks to Kay at Whatmemead), read July 2016, 9/10
- “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by Shirley Jackson (recommended by Shoshibookblog)
Up and coming :
- “In Other Words” by Jhumpa Lahiri (this month)
- March : “Hot Milk” by Deborah Levy, read, 4/10
- “Some Rain Must Fall: Book 5” by Karl Ove Knausgaard (this month) , read, 7/10
- “This Must Be the Place” by Maggie O’Farrell (May), read July 2016, a cracking 10/10
- “The Gustav Sonata” by Rose Tremain (May), read October 2016, absolute understated gem of a read, 10/10
- “Vinegar Girl” by Anne Tyler (June) – although thought the last one was announced to be the final one?
- “Autumn” by Ali Smith (August) – read, 7/10
- “Angel Catbird” by Margaret Atwood (September) – first foray into the graphic novel
- “The Wonder” by Emma Donoghue (Sept)
- “Here I Am” by Jonathan Safron Foer (Sept)
- “The Lesser Bohemians” by Eimear McBride (Sept)
- “The Dark Flood Rises” by Margaret Drabble (November).
Plus how to resist these two as described so temptingly by The Independent’s Katy Guest :
“But my tips for 2016 are two books about Paris. “Les Parisiennes; How women lived, loved and died in Paris from 1939-49” by Anne Sebba (W&N, July) is about the resisters, collaborators, spies, jewellers, writers, housewives and singers who were left in a war-time city almost empty of men.
And it’s not often that you miss your bus stop because you’re so engrossed in reading a book about existentialism, but I did exactly that while immersed in Sarah Bakewell’s “An Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being and Apricot Cocktails” (Chatto & Windus, March). The story of Sartre, Beauvoir, Camus, Heidegger et al is strange, fun and compelling reading. If it doesn’t win awards, I will eat my proof copy”.
The literary calendar is also looking nice and plump already. No doubt decidedly inexhaustive, the first half of the year stacks up a little like this :
- Sun 28th Feb was the 100th anniversary of Henry James’ death in 1916 (read “The Turn of the Screw” for the Classics Challenge), 6/10
- Tues 8th March – Baileys’ 2016 longlist announced (holding off for the shortlist but on tenterhooks as always)
- Mon 28th March – anniversary of Virginia Woolf’s death 75 years ago (reading “A Room of One’s Own” for Heavenali’s Woolfalong
- Sun 3rd April – 25th anniversary of the death of Graham Greene (read “Brighton Rock” (9/10) for Kaggsysbookramblings’ 1938 event)
- Mon 11th April – Baileys’ 2016 shortlist : let battle commence !
- Fri 15th April – World Night books
- Wed 20th April – Pulitzer Prize lists finalists declared (revisited with joy “Olive Kitteridge, still 10/10)
- Thurs 21st April – Bicentenary of Charlotte Bronte’s birth (reading “Shirley”), nearly and perhaps aptly overshadowed by…
- Sat 23rd April – Shakespeare’s 400th Anniversary…
- Mon 25th April – Welcome prize winner
- Sun 1st May – International Man Booker prize winner
- Wed 8th June – tantara, winner of the Baileys’ prize announced
- Thurs 9th June – IMPAC prizes awarded.
Blink, and you miss it. The Oh Need To Buy list moves into the danger zone in April, then – and that’s even without reckoning on the Ones That Got Away and are still standing present and correct and unread on last year’s wish list.
WISH LIST 2015 :
- “I Giardini dei Finzi-Contini”/“The Garden of the Finzi-Continis” by Giorgio Bassani
- “The Bloody Chamber” by Angela Carter
- “The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton
- “Collected Short Stories” by Anton Chekhov
- “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” by Susanna Clarke
- “Harvest” by Jim Crace
- “Nervous Conditions” by Tsitsi Dangarembga
- “The Garden of Evening Mists” by Tan Twan Eng
- “The Green Road” by Anne Enright
- “The Marriage Plot” by Jeffrey Eugenides
- “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George
- “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
- “The Heart of the Matter” by Graham Greene
- “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah
- “The Silent Wife” by S.A. Harrison, read, 7/10
- “The Talented Mr Ripley” by Patricia Highsmith
- “The End of Alice” by A. M. Homes
- “When We Were Orphans” by Kazuo Ishiguro
- “The Trial” by Franz Kafka
- “A Death in the Family: My Struggle – Book 1” by Karl Ove Knausgaard, read Oct 2016, 9/10, hastening onto Book 2…
- “TransAtlantic” by Colum McCann
- “The Woman Who Waited” by Andreï Makine
- “The Shipping News” by Annie Proulx
- “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” by Jon Ronson
- “The Stone Diaries” by Carol Shields
- “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot
- “The Complete Maus” by Art Spiegelman
- “Angle of Repose” by Wallace Stegner
- “Pereira Maintains” by Antonio Tabucchi
- “The Beginner’s Goodbye” by Anne Tyler.
Now all that is needed is a cosy spot to nestle down with a good book….and a couple of extra hours in every day…