Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Salon: Goodbye, GoodReads


So a lot of you probably heard the news last week about social book site GoodReads selling itself to Amazon. Amazon wants GoodReads' user data to direct its marketing better and to incorporate with their Kindle products, to use against competitors like the Nook and Kobo. Meanwhile GoodReads users get... I don't know, the knowledge that their data is being mined? I'm not sure what the benefit will be to users, but since it's a nice benefit to Amazon in their fight to put my employer out of business, I deleted my GoodReads account. It's possible that they have my data archived, but I sure won't give them any more. And you know what? It's just a website. I can live without a website. There are more.

I know a lot of people don't share my very strong views on the subject; I don't care. I've been through this ad nauseum on Facebook and to a lesser extent on Twitter. Do what makes sense to you. I can't pretend it's not going on but seriously don't even leave a comment about it because I'm spent. Writing this, I was tempted to delete it just to be sure to avoid "getting into it" with anyone else, but what the heck, I like to live dangerously.

Otherwise life is ticking along. I'm adding some new items to my Etsy shop this week, including a new sewn accessory (eyeglass cases) and some jewelry. My Etsy store is Etsy.com/shop/PandorasCraftRoom if you're interested. I've also started selling my bookmarks at the bookstore, so check those out at Porter Square Books if you're interested. Today is Easter and we'll spend the day with my inlaws, who leave nearby. I made a lime merengue pie for dessert.

March was a pretty solid reading month for me. I read only 2013 releases and enjoyed most of what I read. April will be "always-wanted-to-read-it" month though I have a feeling that a 2013 book or two will sneak in. I don't have a list as such but I'm starting with Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys and we'll see where I go from there.

What are you up to today? Leave a comment & let me know, and have a great Sunday. More Sunday Salon is on Facebook.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Review: HOW TO GET FILTHY RICH IN RISING ASIA, by Mohsin Hamid

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, by Mohsin Hamid. Published 2013 by Riverhead Books. Literary Fiction.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia was one of those books for me that was just nothing like what I expected. It got a starred review from Kirkus, which was why I decided to give it a try, but even that glowing write-up didn't prepare me for how much I would enjoy this book. Author Mohsin Hamid writes the book in the second person, so everything is "you"- and he writes it as a kind of mock self-help book, a kind of "how to live" for a generation on the cusp of a new era. But that's every generation, right, and the "you" is everyone.

But mostly the "you" is a male character growing up in a country resembling India or Pakistan, a rural boy brought to the big city with his family who makes his fortune in bottled water. Hamid's narrative tracks this man from childhood till death, and along with his fortunes tracks those of an unnamed woman known only as "the pretty girl," the man's lifelong love. Their story forms the heart of the book which also touches on various social and political issues and trends, including corruption, social mobility, marriage, religion, globalization and more.

But How to Get Filthy Rich is also a book about books, about their power and sway.
It's remarkable how many books fall into the category of self-help. Why, for example, do you persist in reading that much-praised, breathtakinginly boring foreign novel, slogging through page after page of please-make-it-stop page of tar-slow prose and blush-inducing formal conceit, if not out of an impulse to understand distant lands that because of globalization are increasingly affecting life in your own? What is this impulse of yours, at its core, if not a desire for self-help?
So that's a question anyone could ask when reading a book about a different country, or even a different person. We are all foreign lands to each other, and books help us understand other places and other people. We learn how we're different as well as how we're the same, and Hamid has crafted a luminous universal story about life and love and the drive to make our mark:
We are all refugees from our childhoods. And so we turn, among other things, to stories. To write a story, to read a story, is to be a refugee from the state of refugees. Writers and readers seek a solution to the problem that time passes, that those who have gone are gone and those who will go, which is to say every one of us, will go. For there was a moment when anything was possible. And there will be a moment when nothing is possible. But in between we can create.
And that's what this book is about, that time in between, when we can still make something and make something with ourselves. I love that Hamid says "we can create." It's possible. We have the choice- it's not written whether or not we will take it. His characters create lives for themselves, create personas, create a world around themselves. What they create is what you have to find out by reading this remarkable and lovely book.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Review: THE RAGE, by Gene Kerrigan

The Rage, by Gene Kerrigan. Published 2013 by Europa Editions. Crime Fiction.

Crime readers, listen up. First of all you need to know that Europa Editions is launching a new crime series this year, World Noir, which involves a combination of backlist and new titles of their classy, excellent international crime novels. So if you are running out of Swedes, there are Italians, English, Irish, French, Israeli and more authors from all over the world whose dark and hard-boiled adventures are sure to keep you sweating it out. Secondly, you need to know that although the official launch of World Noir is in April, you can read the first title in the series now, Gene Kerrigan's new book The Rage.

Kerrigan is a mystery (and Europa Editions) vet with the The Midnight Choir and Little Criminals to his name among others. He's a Dublin-based reporter and knows what he's talking about, and The Rage bristles with post-Celtic Tiger busted dreams and anger. The story concerns Bob Tidey and his investigation of the connections between the murder of a high-profile Dublin real estate shark and a small time hood; at the same time that Tidey is being frustrated by the brass and trying to keep his own life in line, a very angry man named Vincent Naylor, newly released from prison, is putting together a major heist that will have a big impact on everybody.

I'll admit the book got off to a bit of a slow start for me, but once it picked up it flew. Vincent Naylor is a very entertaining maniac, a real loose cannon who lashes out without warning and whose only human emotion is contempt- at least, until his beloved brother runs up against the law. Then we see what else he's made of, and it isn't pretty. Bob Tidey is a sympathetic if imperfect figure, a realistically flawed man who is nonetheless someone to root for, and Kerrigan's portrayal of the dashed Celtic Tiger dreams rings true. I had a lot of fun reading The Rage and I recommend it to fans of Stuart Neville and Tana French especially. I'm definitely going to keep Kerrigan's other books on my radar for a rainy day.

It's my fifth book for the 2013 Europa Challenge.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I received The Rage for review from Europa Editions.

Monday, March 25, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Well, I finally finished The Rage by Gene Kerrigan, and Wave, by Sonali Deraniyagala. And they were both good, so that's nice. But I've been having trouble finding my next read. I spent the rest of last week and the weekend dipping into my pile of 2013 galleys, trying to find some must-reads as well as my next read, and I've settled on a few that I'm going to make an effort to finish.

Curtis Sittenfeld's new book, Sisterland, comes out in late June and I'm off to a good start with it. It's about twin sisters with psychic abilities who have taken very different paths in life but intersect over a natural disaster that may be about to strike. Sittenfeld's last book, American Wife, was a standout for me so I'm tickled to have her next one.

Jean Thompson, who wrote The Year We Left Home, which I loved, is back with The Humanity Project. It's about a girl who survives a school shooting. I love it so far. Thompson is really a great chronicler of the absurdities of American life. I think both she and Sittenfeld are wonderful at documenting the everyday in unexpected ways. It comes out in early April.

Where Tigers Are At Home, by Jean-Marie Blas de Robles is a book I didn't expect to want to read. It's huge- a veritable brick around 800 pages- and NPR gave it a good review but one that warned that it starts off slow. I'm not finding that at all. On the contrary, I'm loving it. That's out now.

So I'm going to continue dipping but I'll keep going with these three for now. What are you reading? Check out  BookJourney.wordpress.com for more.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Salon: OMG, A New Post!

So, lately this whole blogging thing has been kind of slow for me. I've been extremely busy between work and sewing, which has kind of become my second job or at least a major obsession. Pretty much all I want to do when I'm home is sew and I have to remember that occasionally I should cook, vacuum or pay attention to my pets. I have been having a lot of fun though.

But now I have a new obsession, and that's planning our trip to Ireland later this year. See, when I was 22 I spent four months in Dublin waiting tables and had a wonderful time and truly fell in love with that country. But I haven't been back since then, and it's been almost 20 years, which is really sad. I remember thinking it would only be a few months before I went back, but of course life gets in the way. But the tickets are bought and we're working on our itinerary, so it looks like it's really going to happen. I have to remind myself that we have time, that I don't have to have it all figured out right now, but I'm so excited it's hard to not want to work on the details all the time.

This month I've restricted my reading to 2013 releases, to mixed results. My reading has been very slow going, and I put aside one very heavily-hyped galley after a few days of dipping, and made a pile of the rest of my 2013 galleys, and weeded my TBR stacks to some degree. Of course I still have more books than I can possibly read this or any year, but I hope that will always be true. That seems like a nice problem to have, all told.

But I'm already looking forward to April and "books I've always wanted to read" month. Again I won't get through all of them, but I'll knock off a few. I need a YA month, and a crime month, and a nonfiction month, and a re-read month, and other theme months too. Little by little, between weeding and selective reading (and DNFing) I hope to make it through the darkest, most spider-webby corners of my bookshelves, and maybe even discover some great books in the process.

More Sunday Salon on Facebook. Have a great day and let me know what you're up to in the comments.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Review: ROLE MODELS, by John Waters

Role Models, by John Waters. Published 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Nonfiction. Essays.

I've never seen a John Waters film so I guess you'd say I'm a fan of the idea of John Waters' films rather than of his work itself.  That's okay. I don't plan to see his films. But he is a cultural icon, not only a notorious purveyor of filth but an advocate for the marginalized, the outcast, the people who don't quite fit in. And that's what I find so appealing.

His book Role Models is an appreciation of the people he admires for all kinds of reasons. He starts off with Johnny Mathis, the reclusive legend who keeps a low Hollywood profile and a very private personal life. From there he moves on to some figures famous, notorious and obscure, from a Manson family killer still in prison to fashion designer Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons to high society artist Cy Twombly and marginalized pornographers who captured Waters' imagination with their depictions of gay male sexuality at a formative time in Waters' life.

Overall I enjoyed the book a lot, mostly owing to Waters' charming and engaging voice. Reading the book is like listening to him talk, enthusiastically and at length, about the people and things he loves and appreciates. He shows the same love and respect for the everyday people he talks about as for the celebrities, and while I don't always share his admiration for some of his subjects, he comes across like a genuinely nice and caring person. He's also funny, raw, obscene and everything else you'd think, so if you do read this don't go in expecting him to be someone else. There were some parts of the book that I found I could not really read, either because they crossed a line with me in terms of being very explicit or because they were just over my head. I love his appreciation, for example, of artist Twombly but knowing nothing about modern art, much less graffiti painting, I'm not in much of a position to share it. But I do love his sense of humor.

On the subject of celebrity perfumes:
Or better yet, maybe you could be the first on your block to sell a perfume I'm planning on marketing with my attached...Whenever I say my name in Paris, the French laugh because to them it means "toilet waters." So my perfume would have to smell like, what? The humorous absence of God mixed with the odor of a piece of 16 mm film getting caught in the projector gate and burning?
 Elsewhere, on the subject of moral dilemmas:
If someone was racist and really cute, could you still have sex with him? I had to admit the answer is yes. I have. You just change the subject or shout, "La la la la la la la," covering your ears when he speaks his nonsense. If all else fails, stick something in his mouth to shut him up.
As someone with a number of friends who, though I love them dearly, have political views that make me want to duck and run for cover, I can say the "la la la" approach works well. And these are but two examples of his philosophy of life. In one chapter he discusses a number of books that he loves or that influenced him; several are books that I've either wanted to read or tried to read, but I was sad to find that we had no favorites in common. The chapter "Baltimore Heroes" talks about the ordinary people in his life whom he admires and the final chapter, "Cult Leader" is about his own legacy.

But who's this book for? Film buffs, Waters fans, and anyone who's ever felt like mainstream American life passes them by. Ultimately what I got from this book was his love and loyalty to people who don't live at the center of celebrity, wealth or fame but who live honestly, try to be kind and to create some kind of meaning with their lives. And that's a pretty good standard to live by, I think.

Rating: BACKLIST

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.

Monday, March 18, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?



Last week I finished the remarkable How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, by Mohsin Hamid, which I will review this week, and decided to pass for now on the Yehoshua novel about the filmmakers. I may come back to it, or I may not. The Hamid book caught my eye after it got a starred review in Kirkus and I was not disappointed by this lovely, luminous and smart novel. Bittersweet and beautiful, it's another winner. I borrowed my copy from the store (a nice job perk) and I loved it so much I want to buy it. That doesn't always happen!


I'm still reading The Rage, by Gene Kerrigan, which I hope to finish this week, and Wave, by Sonali Deraniyagala. I'm also planning to start Jeanine Cummins' new novel, The Crooked Branch. Her first novel, The Outside Boy, was a favorite of mine (still is) and I'm excited for her second book. I hope to attend her event tonight at Brookline Booksmith and meet her in the flesh. We've been Twitter buddies for a while now so I'm looking forward to it!

What are you reading today? See more at Bookjourney.wordpress.com.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Crafturday: A Passport Wallet

I made a passport wallet for my upcoming trip to Ireland, based on a pattern I figured out myself. The button came from a vintage store near my home and I used a regular hair elastic to close it. Here's the inside:

These pictures aren't the best, but what I have is two horizontal pockets on the left that can either fit two more passports or boarding passes and/or other paperwork, and one vertical pocket on the right for a passport or what-have-you. This is the third one I made; like Goldilocks, the first was too small by just a smidge, the second was too big and the third is just right!

I'm thinking of adding this to my Etsy shop as a custom-only item since they take a little more time than average for me to make, and lots of elements can be customized like the exact fabric choices and placement and the buttons of course. I'm planning to make a change purse and tissue holder to complete my purse accessories from the same fabric which I'm sad to say I'm running out of. I need to find more, I love it!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Review: HAPPY ENDING, by Francesca Duranti

Happy Ending, by Francesca Duranti. Published 1992 by Random House. Literary Fiction. Translation.

Happy Ending is a lovely, art-house movie of a book. Set on a Tuscan estate during a summer gathering of a wealthy Italian family, Happy Ending documents the end of an era and the beginning of another. Matriarch Violante is getting on in years and wants to pass her legacy onto her daughter-in-law Lavinia, widow of her beloved son and mother to her only grandchild Nicola. The family also includes Violante's other son Leopoldo and his American wife Cynthia, childless and estranged, and Aldo, a family friend and artist hopelessly in love with Lavinia, whose life has consisted of one bad boyfriend after the other since her husband's death.

Aldo narrates about half of the book. His chapters alternate with third-person chapters focusing on Cynthia and Leopoldo's or Lavinia's perspectives and private thoughts. Violante is the undisputed grande dame, a lady of the old school who writes cookbooks when she isn't managing her estate. She has always treated Lavinia like an overgrown child, even mothering Nicola in Lavinia's place. Aldo describes Violante:
...a tough customer, I'd venture, even for a real writer. So limited and yet so Olympian. And not a bit picturesque. A perfect house, a famous table, her cookbooks translated all over the world. Not to mention the garden. And the way she keeps a tight rein on everything, disregarding all that remains outside her pale. The time lapse between action and reaction must be short, the possibility of intereference from outside factors must be foreseeable, if not exactly controllable. And when things don't go as planned- aphids eat her roses, her favorite son stages a tragedy and concludes it with his abrupt death- she doesn't blame anybody, doesn't tear her hair out. Instead she cuts of the nibbled stems, buries her son, and gets back to work. 
The family gathering is disrupted somewhat with the arrival of a friend of Nicola's who leaves his mark on Lavinia and Aldo and on Cynthia and Leopoldo. Happy Endings is all about the choices we make for ourselves, how we make our lives and with whom, and why. The torch will get passed in this family, but for once Violante will not get her way, because this time her way isn't what's best for the family, for her heir apparent or for her even. Someone else will take his place at the table, make the best of things, and create a truly happy ending for this troubled but loyal clan. I love this passage from Aldo about accepting the life you've made:
I can imagine a wealthy pharmacist [Aldo's parents wanted him to be a pharmacist] with his own little villa on what was once millionaires' row-wife, two children, a false antique bed covered with a handwoven, spun-silk bedspread, a VCR, a Rotary Club card, a passion for organized tours (China, Seychelles, Las Vegas, the Arctic Circle) and slides, a vicuna overcoat: the point of intersection between what could have been and what has come true. That mythical piece of clothing serves me as a metaphorical bridge between the two existences. Without regrets, I leave the pharmacist in his little world and turn toward the image of myself as I really am, as I have chosen to be, solitary and eccentric on top of a tower, behind binoculars.
This is the kind of book I can see being made into one of those candlelit movies where everyone sits around a big picnic table with hurricane lamps and plates and wine glasses overflowing. Love is discovered, rediscovered and even regretted a little. It's a perfect little charmer of a story, and only a little bittersweet too.

Rating: BEACH

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.

Monday, March 11, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Well, I finished Role Models, by John Waters, and enjoyed it; my next bedside read, which I'll start tonight, will be Sarah Bakewell's How to Live, her biography of Montaigne. This book is one I've meant to get to for a long time, so I dug it out and now it's ready to go.

I also finished Gerbrand Bakker's Ten White Geese, which was OK but one I have to think about a bit before I review it.

I'm still reading Gene  Kerrigan's The Rage, a crime novel set in present day, post-boom Dublin. I'm enjoying it but I feel like I should be enjoying it more. I'll keep going and see where it leads. I've also started Sonali Deraniyagala's Wave, her memoir of the devastating tsunami that hit the Pacific several years ago. It's really incredible so far. It's a short book but I think it will have a big impact, and with blurbs by Abraham Verghese and Michael Ondaatje, I couldn't really pass it up. Then last night I also started A.B. Yehoshua's The Retrospective, about an Israeli filmmaker and his star at the end of their careers. I'm only just at the beginning but I think this is a novel I'm going to enjoy.

What are you reading? Check out BookJourney.wordpress.com for more.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Review: MY TRAITOR'S HEART, by Rian Malan

My Traitor's Heart: A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe and His Conscience, by Rian Malan. Published 2000 by Grove Press. Nonfiction.

I've been kind of putting off reviewing this book because I know this is going to be a difficult review to write, but I think the time has come. My Traitor's Heart is a combination memoir and true-crime narrative, about the life and growth of the writer, South African journalist and dissident Rian Malan, and a series of murders that took place in the last 30 years or so in South Africa, which Malan believes demonstrate the toll of the apartheid system, still in place when the book was written.

Malan himself is a descendant of one of the original architects of the formal apartheid system. His relationship to apartheid therefore feels deeply personal, and while he's opposed to it, his feelings about race relations are deeply ambivalent and unclear even to himself.
What would you have me say? That I think apartheid is stupid and vicious? I do. That I'm sorry? I am, I am. That I'm not like the rest of them? If you'd met me a few years ago, in a bar in London or New York, I would have told you that...You would probably have believed me. I almost believed myself, you see, but in truth I was always one of them. I am a white man born in Africa, an all else flows from there.
That's just the introduction. What flows from here is a searing, difficult to read, impossible to ignore narrative of injustice, violence and death. Alongside his own struggles,  Malan recounts several notorious murder cases- white on black, black on black and black on white- all meant to illustrate the profound psychological affects of apartheid on whites and blacks alike. He travels from the horrific torture and death of a black man at the hands of whites at a barbecue, to a serial killer who preyed on affluent white couples, to a man killed in a diamond mine to the rather sad tale of Neil and Creina Alcock, a white couple who tried to live in a particularly economically disadvantaged and historically abused area, Msinga.

He documents his own journey, from smart-mouth journalist to alienated ex-pat to confused and conflicted prodigal son. What did he learn from all this?
So I dunno, my friend, I dunno what to say anymore. When I came home to face my demons, I heard a song called "Reggae Vibes Is Cool," sung by Bernoldus Neimand, 'Bernard Nobody,' the world's first exponent of Boer New Wave rock and roll. His song was a Boer reggae song, the music of black suffering sung in the vernacular of white supremacy, and its chorus had a line that broke my heart. It ran 'How do I live in this strange place?' That seemed a very valid question to me. I had never learned how to live in my own country. I ran away because it was too strange to bear, and when I came home, it was stranger than ever. Everyone had blood on their hands.
What I learned from Malan's memoir is how little I know about South Africa. Malan has a new book of essays out, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, which brings us up to date on South Africa. I haven't read it yet but I plan to, and I strongly encourage anyone at all to read both or either book. I think My Traitor's Heart is required reading, and maybe his new book is, too. It's extraordinary, unforgettable and gave me a real education in the background of this troubled country that continues to exercise a strong pull on the imagination and the world stage. I'm constantly impressed by the quality of literature that comes out of this country, and that's why I'm so interested in reading about it in a nonfictional context too, and I urge you to do the same.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review: THE DINNER, by Herman Koch

The Dinner, by Herman Koch. Published 2013 by Hogarth Press. Literary Fiction. Translation.

It's been a while since I read something as messed up as The Dinner, recently published by the Random House imprint Hogarth. I'm big fan of Hogarth; two of the books they published last year ended up among my favorites for the year (The Watch by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya and The Forgiven by Lawrence Osborne.) This one was blurbed by no less a personage in the world of thrillers than Gillian Flynn, and the premise- two couples meet for dinner, an explosive secret between them- intrigued me.

I can't say I was disappointed. The book delivers when it comes to the shocks, the twists and turns. Paul and his wife Claire meet his brother Serge and Serge's wife Babette at a chic eatery in the Netherlands. Serge is a politician about to run for (and likely win) the office of Prime Minister. Paul and Claire are the first to arrive. When Serge and Babette get there, it's obvious Babette has been crying. Why?

Little by little, Herman Koch teases out the knotted threads that bind these four people. The book is divided into sections representing the courses of the meal and facts are dished out with the languor of a luxury meal. We learn, among other things, that Paul is quintessentially unreliable, unstable and worse. We learn what his son and Serge's son did, what they may still be doing. And we learn what one of the party is willing to do to make sure no one ever finds out.

This was a tough, tough read, and even if it doesn't show up on the year's favorites, it will be one of the year's most memorable books for sure. If you thought Gone Girl had some psychos, you ain't seen nuthin' yet. At this point I really don't want to think much more about this book, because it was that disturbing, like a bad nightmare, but one you can't turn away from. I think it's masterfully written, so drawn out and slow yet the impressions it leaves are indelible, like a stain you can't get out. I've heard some people say the book has no sympathetic characters and I don't agree. There is one person who tries to do the right thing. The problem is that Paul has us hating that person. Paul ridicules this individual but we are seeing him through Paul's eyes, and remember what I said about Paul. I had a great deal of sympathy for this character, particularly by the horrible end.

Take it on if you're up for a challenge, but don't mistake this for an easy read.

Rating: BUY but buyer beware!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Hogarth.

Monday, March 4, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


Another Monday, another update. Last week I finished The Dinner by Herman Koch, a very disturbing book that I'm going to find difficult to review. I will review it, though. This year has so far been filled with a lot of books I'm having trouble digging up the willpower to review, but this one is a challenge not because it's boring but because it's just so... unsettling.

I started reading Ten White Geese, by Gerbrand Bakker this weekend. If you read Therese Bohman's Drowned you will feel like you are in familiar territory. It's a moody, slow-moving character study of a woman who's hiding from her husband after having an affair. I like it so far but I want something to happen soon!

My bedside book is still Role Models, by John Waters. I'm still loving it. I'm also dipping into Half Empty, by David Rakoff.  His essays are intelligent and funny. I heard him on NPR shortly after he died, and remembered thinking, "where have you been all my life?" So that's why I'm reading his book now.

What are you reading? Head over to Bookjourney.wordpress.com for more.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday Salon: February's Reading, March's Goals

I have been so busy lately! It's really nice to be able to relax today- anyway, that's the plan after work today!

I take back everything I said about 2013 not being a flashy reading year. There are so many books I'm excited about now. Simon Van Booy has a new one (I saw the galley at work the other day), and I have more books than I know what to do with to read in March.

What about February? I made some progress on my goals last month, but I still have a long way to go. Having goals makes me pay attention to different parts of my TBR piles and I'm finding some great buried treasures. The theme for February was short books and surprisingly I did not read more books than I did in January but that's OK. Sometimes short books actually take more concentration, oddly enough.
  • One Europa Editions book per month for a total of at least 12 for the year. Probably I'll read more; I tend to! Check! I read two.
  • Six books by author Angela Thirkell for the year. Angela Thirkell's books are largely out of print but I've been able to amass a nice collection of her delightful English country tales nonetheless. Time to make a point of digging in! I read Coronation Summer this month, and it was delightful so 1/6 completed.
  • One audiobook on the iPod at all times; one nonfiction book on the nightstand at all times. The audiobook-listening helps me squeeze in extra books without having them take up space!  I'm listening to Let's Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell.
  • One book in each of the following series: Factory Series by Derek Raymond; Mollison Town Quartet by Tim Davys; World Noir series from Europa Editions. Nope. But I read one of the Kemal Kayankaya series by Jakob Arjouni, which was great.
  • Six Booker Prize winners for the year. Nope.
  • Three NYRB Classics by June. One this month- The Murderess by Alexandros Papadiamantis.
  • One graphic novel per month. 
In March I'll be reading 2013 releases only. So far I'm enjoying The Dinner by Herman Koch and I hope to start The Rage by Gene Kerrigan soon. I also love the looks of Ten White Geese by Gerbrand Bakker, The Woman Who Wouldn't Die by Colin Cotterill, and The Tooth Tattoo by Peter Lovesey. Lovesey is coming to the bookstore this spring- I'm so excited!

What are you up to today? How did your February reading go? Any plans for March?

More Sunday Salon on Facebook.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

What's New On the Shelf

I've been back to my book-buying ways this past week. Here's what I added to the shelf!

Christopher Castellani read to a packed house at the bookstore a couple of weeks ago. I missed the event but couldn't pass on All This Talk of Love, an Italian-American family story. Sold!

During the recent snowstorm I cuddled up with the movie version of Diana Wynn Jones' classic children's fantasy Howl's Moving Castle. One of my coworkers at the store loves this book, so I decided to give it a try.

Finally, I've always wanted to read Lust for Life, Irving Stone's fictional biography of Vincent Van Gogh. One of my coworkers chose it as her staff pick for February and we have a nice edition of it, so I couldn't resist.

I love it when booksellers and customers sell me on books. The best part of working in a bookstore is the community and sharing great books with each other!