Monday, 8 April 2013

Some recent books...

I thought I'd do a little round-up of various books that I've bought and been given, because... well, why not?  You usually have something fun to say about them.


That Sweet City: Visions of Oxford - John Elinger and Katherine Shock
Kathy Shock is Our Vicar's Wife's dear friend from school days, and also lives in Oxford (my experience of Oxford for the first 18 years of my life was chiefly visiting Kathy and her family) - she is also a brilliant artist, and sent me a copy of That Sweet City.  It has poems by John Elinger and illustrations by Kathy (one of which you see in the photo above) - I'll write more about it in due course.

Zuleika Dobson - Max Beerbohm
Continuing the Oxford them - so many people have told me that I must read this (and been rather outraged when they discover that I haven't) that I'd better snap up this Penguin edition when I saw it.

The Teleportation Accident - Ned Beauman
I loved his first novel Boxer, Beetle (even though I didn't expect to at all), so I was excited to receive the paperback edition of this Booker-longlisted second novel.  And isn't it a fantastic cover? Thanks, Sceptre!

The Secrets of Bredon Hill - Fred Archer
I had to bring this home, when I saw it in a Headington charity shop, since it's about the year 1900 in Aston-under-Hill - which is the village in Worcestershire where I went to Bredon Hill Middle School for three years.  Quite a curious coincidence to find this in Oxford...

The Crack in the Teacup - Joan Bodger
When I wrote about Bodger's brilliant account of touring literary sites in England, How The Heather Looks, the blogger at Leaves and Pages (sorry, can't find your real name, I feel bad about that) recommended that I try Bodger's autobiography - and I immediately ordered a copy.

C.S. Lewis: A Life - Alister McGrath
When Sophie at Hodder offered me a copy of a new C.S. Lewis and mentioned that she'd found my review of Lewis's beautiful book A Grief Observed, then I couldn't say no, could I?  I've seen Shadowlands, but I've never actually read a biography or autobiography of Lewis, some I'm excited to get my teeth into this one.


Any comments on any of these very welcome!  What is the latest book you've bought?

25 comments:

  1. Lovely books! Of the books listed, I have only read Zulieka Dobson…I found it a bit of a slog, actually. I believe it is a satire, but I don’t know the works it is satirizing, so I didn’t get the humor. Pretty much the only thing I remember is that Cleo is the muse of history, which has actually turned out to be very useful for crossword solving. Hopefully you will find it more entertaining! The Teleportation Accident looks interesting, I’ve been meaning to pick that one up as well.

    I just bought five used books from the library today: three Terry Prachett hardcovers (I have never read him, but I believe he is pretty universally adored…and the books are in PRISTINE condition, always a plus), Candide by Voltaire (again, in perfect condition. I’ll bet someone had to buy it for a class and didn't read it. I first read it in college too) and Parallel Lives, Five Victorian Marriages by Phyllis Rose (sounded interesting).

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    1. Oo, that's the first negative review I've heard of ZD! At least it'll make me feel less guilty if I don't end up liking it...

      But I'm not hugely admiring of Terry Pratchett! I've only read one, Going Postal, which was pretty good but not my cup of tea.

      I've not read Candide for over ten years! I should again, although I did like it the first time around.

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    2. I would like to give ZD its second negative review. I recently read it for A Century of Books and was so excited to dip into it. The first few pages great. But it didn't take long before I really disliked it. Ruth is right, it was a slog, and whimsical slog at that, which somehow made it worse.

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  2. Lovely books! I enjoyed Zuleika Dobson - I think I read it first when I was at University myself and all of my then boyfriend's close circle of school friends were at Oxford, so we used to go down and visit quite a lot, and I'm pretty sure I've read it again since. A real romp, I recall.

    I bought "The Tent, the Bucket and Me" by Emma Kennedy just this last Saturday - the current Mr Lyzzybee's fault, as he wanted to go in a shop I don't like and left me in Smiths ... one more for my Book Confessions category!

    Liz

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    1. I'm hoping that being in Oxford will make me appreciate ZD all the more... and there aren't enough funny books out there.

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  3. I've been meaning to read 'Zuleika Dobson' for years. I recently visited the Lord Randolph Hotel and saw the bar there that's full of Osbert Lancaster's illustrations for the book---well worth a visit.

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    1. Really? How lovely - I do love Lancaster.

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  4. Even the title 'The Crack in the Teacup' has me shivering. I live in dread of cracking one of my favourite teacups. Tea would never taste the same again. I think I'd better avoid this one:)

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    1. Oh dear, Alex! (And I think things get even worse than cracked teacups... if you can imagine such a thing.)

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    2. You mean she breaks a teapot! I need a lie down in a darkened room.

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  5. Lovely selection! I'll bookmark Alister McGrath for then I'm done with Roger Ebert's autobiography.

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    1. Great! I'm definitely interested to find out what he says.

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  6. Great books Simon! I have a Penguin Zuleika Dobson waiting to be read too! I'll be interested to hear what you make of the C.S. Lewis biog - I went through a CSL phase many, many years ago and read most of what was about at the time, but haven't read any newer stuff. An intriguing and complex man.

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    1. Intriguing and complex indeed - I'm looking forward to that biog. And it will doubtless lead off into me reading all the unread CSL books on my shelves.

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  7. look forward to your thoughts on all these books simon ,All the best stu

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  8. I've had my eye on the McGrath - you will have to report on that one. Love the cover of the Visions of Oxford book. My most recent purchase was Beverley Nichols' A Village in a Valley - I read the first of the trilogy last fall, got the 2nd for Christmas and was eager to get the third.

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    1. I'll try to make sure I do, Susan!
      And I MUST read something by Nichols... well, except the one he co-wrote with Monica Dickens.

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  9. Let's see now ... made a lovely haul last week when stuck in town for far too long; did the rounds of the charity shops and one of my favourite "proper" used book stores. The Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry (which I immediately read and can report that it's tremendously funny in a rather rude, over-the-top way, but rather jaw-dropping in it's explicit depiction of what could only be termed bestiality, except the motivation was not what one would think - very weird overall but unputdownable), also a bunch I haven't started yet.
    The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (companion to Half-Broke Horses)
    The Road Past Altamont by Gabrielle Roy (new to me, and I've been reading her stuff forever)
    Hill's End by Ian Southall (vintage Australian teen drama)
    Down the Great Unknown by Edward Dolnick (John Wesley Powell's trip through the Grand Canyon, because we are hoping to make it down there some day and the history is fascinating)
    Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn (because Simon mentioned it recently and then it jumped off the shelf at me)
    The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski (an erudite history)
    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
    Once in a House on Fire by Andrea Ashworth
    Earthly Pleasures by Roger Swain (hurray! one of my favourite garden writers from back in the days when the magazine Horticulture still had actual articles, not just sound bites and splashy, too-big pictures)
    Fits Like a Rubber Dress by Roxanne Ward (for the title, mostly - love it!)
    The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke (it looked like a vintage book, but is instead a recent collection of short stories in a nicely designed cloth cover)
    and that's it.
    Now just needing time to read. Ha!
    Of your list, the only one I know is the Bodger, and I hope you enjoy it Simon. (I'm Barb, by the way. :-) )
    Have tried Beerbohm several times but he never seemed to "take".
    And that's about it. Tea break being more than over, I'd better head back out to the greenhouse; transplanting season is in full swing and we must get the green babies into bigger pots so they'll be ready for the sale season, a mere month away... (I operate a perennial plant nursery, in case this last comment makes no sense at all.)

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    1. Hi Barb! Lovely to know your name now :)
      What a haul! I have The Book on the Bookshelf on, ironically, the bookshelf - I must read it this year, since it was a gift book. The only one of these I've read is Ella Minnow Pea, which you know I admired :) - oh, and Never Let Me Go, which I'm afraid I didn't.

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  10. Well, I gave up buying books for Lent so have got a bit out the habit. The latest book I borrowed from the library was Maria Semple's Where'd You Go Bernadette which is on the Women's (formerly Orange) Prize For Fiction long-list this year. I loved it. Very funny & an excellent plot.

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    1. Well done you! (When I've given up buying books for Lent, my reaction has been to buy lots more, rather than lose the habit...)

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  11. Oooh! I'm going to have to find myself a copy of "That Sweet City." Amazon lists it as a pre-order... but says it will be available March 28, 2013 :/ I'll keep an eye out :)

    I recently took a trip to one of my favorite bookshops (Powell's in Portland, Or). I came away with:
    - The letters of John Keats
    - The Rhymes of a Red Cross Man by Robert Service
    - Selected Poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins
    - Brighton Rock by Graham Green
    - Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
    - The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    Now I just need about a week off to sit down and get stuck in a book :)

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    1. Great selection, Samara! I've heard such good things about Powell's from various blog commenters, and it certainly sounds as though you did well.

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    2. Katherine Shock19 April 2013 at 20:41

      HI - I hope you enjoy That Sweet City - but it is being published on 1st May - not 28 March.

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