Wish List old and new : March 2016

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.

Everyone looking very reserved, secretly it’s ‘no holes barred, every man for himself’

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:

Out already:

  • “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 :

  1. “I Giardini dei Finzi-Contini”/“The Garden of the Finzi-Continis” by Giorgio Bassani
  2. “The Bloody Chamber” by Angela Carter
  3. “The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton
  4. “Collected Short Stories” by Anton Chekhov
  5. “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” by Susanna Clarke
  6. “Harvest” by Jim Crace
  7. “Nervous Conditions” by Tsitsi Dangarembga
  8. “The Garden of Evening Mists” by Tan Twan Eng
  9. “The Green Road” by Anne Enright
  10. “The Marriage Plot” by Jeffrey Eugenides
  11. “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George
  12. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  13. “The Heart of the Matter” by Graham Greene
  14. “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah
  15. “The Silent Wife” by S.A. Harrison, read, 7/10
  16. “The Talented Mr Ripley” by Patricia Highsmith
  17. “The End of Alice” by A. M. Homes
  18. “When We Were Orphans” by Kazuo Ishiguro
  19. “The Trial” by Franz Kafka
  20. “A Death in the Family: My Struggle – Book 1” by Karl Ove Knausgaard, read Oct 2016, 9/10, hastening onto Book 2…
  21. “TransAtlantic” by Colum McCann
  22. “The Woman Who Waited” by Andreï Makine
  23. “The Shipping News” by Annie Proulx
  24. “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” by Jon Ronson
  25. “The Stone Diaries” by Carol Shields
  26. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot
  27. “The Complete Maus” by Art Spiegelman
  28. “Angle of Repose” by Wallace Stegner
  29. “Pereira Maintains” by Antonio Tabucchi
  30. “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…

Images taken from herehere, here and here, here, here and here, here and here, also here.
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15 Responses to Wish List old and new : March 2016

  1. Gotta love those English book sales, we have one coming up in a couple of weeks, I have boxes of books to donate and hoping not to be enticed by too many more!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have to be one of the most voracious readers in existence, though – I see your reviews also on Good Reads and wonder how many books you get through in a month?!! It’s so hard to part with novels, but oh so liberating to free up a little bookshelf space!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh do you think so! Here I am despairing that I only manage to read one book a week. I did have a big month in January, not of reading, but catching up on reviews as my laptop died in Nov and I wasn’t able to replace it until January, but I keep track on GoodReads and my goal is 52 in a year and if I’m lucky I’ll manage 60. I do think I read more since moving to France, probably because I don’t watch TV and I’m not into series like a lot of my friends.

        I know I’m not a rereader, or at least it’s very rare, so I’m good at passing books on and love the thought that they will be read again and again. Oh for those couple of extra hours in the day, I managed only about 5 pages this weekend, and tonight I feel more like writing than reading, so I’m reminiscing about Georgia O’Keefe and the latest novel about her life!

        Thanks for reading my reviews! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I used to get through books like hot dinners and get so frustrated now that I seem to be slowing up. Having said that, choosing “War & Peace” in January almost counts for three-in-one… although am so thrilled to have it under my belt now.
        Whereabouts in France are you living?


  2. Caroline B says:

    Cracking up at the booksale image!! And your wish lists are so inspiring Nicola! Thank you for this…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Denise says:

    Your wish lists are full of really beautiful sounding books, and it’s great to have someone do all the hard work of searching for me! Especially looking forward to the new Ali Smith.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me too, although I did buy the “Public Library” short stories back in the autumn and am half way through and not madly carried away. Can’t tell if it’s because they are short stories or because I left off part way. Hate putting something down unfinished as it then gets put on the back burner, it’s a very bad character trait to have…


  4. The SOS sale sounds great! I always find charity booksales destroy what little restraint I have, as I can always justify that another book is ‘for a good cause’!

    Wonderful wish lists – I admire your restraint in buying nothing for 3 months. I’m really looking forward to the new Maggie O’Farrell, and Ali Smith, and Eimear McBride, and…. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is NO END to it.
      I don’t think I’ve ever gone three months without buying a book since I left home. And that was several decades ago. Can’t wait for the SOS sale but might just try and keep off the heavy stuff for a bit longer – stretch it beyond Lent, as it were, and see if I can keep it up. My problem these days is having too much work to be able to spend so much time reading. There is something fundamentally wrong about this, wouldn’t you agree…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Naomi says:

    I love the picture of the book sale – it looks like it could have been taken at any of the ones I have been to. It’s true that everyone is pretending to be casually browsing when really they are desperate to grab up all the good books before anyone else spots them! 🙂
    And, book lists are beautiful, aren’t they?

    Liked by 1 person

    • We also do a good line in comparing year on year: “it’s not as good as last year” / “gosh, it’s a really good crop this time isn’t it” kind of stuff – real old biddy chat but it’s great fun. I have to take a list of what I’ve got in house these days to avoid buying books I’ve already got on the shelves, it doesn’t get much more fuddy duddy than that does it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Naomi says:

        I sometimes end up with doubles, too. Glad to know I’m not the only one who does that! But it gives me the opportunity to take them down to the Little Free Library. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Alison, taking the liberty of copying your email bits and bobs here as I will completely forget what you said otherwise when I look back later – am duly taking note of your comments!
    In short: very useful post, espec the calendar of literary dates.
    Some comments: Knausgaard – not everybody’s cuppa – I read bk 1 – immersive trivia, hypnotic – suggest you borrow before you buy.
    Jonathan Strange etc – long & boring, unless you enjoy Napoleonic history.
    Gdn of Evening Mists – not to be missed, if you enjoy Asian Novels. I’ve met him – he spends 6 mths of every year in Cape Town.
    What a great post: Thanks!


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