Monday, 28 July 2014

Reading a lot of books...

I'm on the opposite of Reader's Block now, where I'm starting lots of books and liking them, but going into overdrive. I love starting books, and can't resist picking up more before I've finished the ones I'm on with. Although I have finished two or three books in the past week, I was getting the sense that things were getting out of hand, and gathered together all the books I hadn't finished, but had read some of in the past few weeks. And it turns out there are eleven. I usually have 6-8 on the go, so this is definitely Too Many.  Let's have a quick overview, from the bottom...

The Silkworm - Robert Galbraith
This is a Shiny New Books review copy, but I've actually just given up (and will pass it on to someone else to see if they can do better). It was gorier than I'm happy with, but I actually gave up out of boredom, which really surprised me as I love the Harry Potter books. And they're anything but boring.

The Liar in Your Life - Robert Feldman
I was hoping this would be in the Quirkology line of books, but it's a bit less gripping... still, I'll probably finish.

The Literary Conference - Cesar Aira
I took this to the literary conference I was at last week, as the idea amused me! Very short, so I'll probably finish it soon.

One Writer's Beginnings - Eudora Welty
I bought this in the Lake District and read half of it on the train on the way home, but was very tired and don't remember much of it, so might need to start again.

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant - Anne Tyler
A book group book I didn't quite finish for last month's meeting, and have dipped into since - I need that final push! I didn't love it was much as I'd hoped I'd love Anne Tyler. I found it just ok.

Red Sky at Morning - Margaret Kennedy
I'll pick this up again for Margaret Kennedy Reading Week later in the year!

Sons and Lovers - D.H. Lawrence
Another book group book I didn't finish on time... I can't decide how I feel about this one. I love Lawrence's writing, but I wish he had a sense of humour.

Crome Yellow - Aldous Huxley
Only started this yesterday, and going well so far!

Seeing Voices - Oliver Sacks
I do love some Sacks. Not been reading this one long.

Pigeon Pie - Nancy Mitford
I got chatting to another Mitford enthusiast at the conference, and it made me dig this out.

Among You Taking Notes - Naomi Mitchison
I always have letters/diaries on the go, and this is my current one!

Phew! Yes, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by them all. Do you read lots in one go, or one at a time?

Friday, 25 July 2014

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Many things Milne

Issue 3 of Shiny New Books had not one, not two, but three posts about A.A. Milne & family - and I'd really encourage you to go and read them all.

Curiously enough, none of them are actually reviews of books by A.A. Milne himself (as in the books weren't by him... neither were the reviews, but that is perhaps less surprising.)

I reviewed a long-term favourite, which I re-read as Bello have just reprinted it - Ann Thwaite's brilliant, award-winning biography A.A. Milne: His Life. Review here.

Another long-term favourite is Christopher (Robin) Milne's The Path Through the Trees, the middle of his autobiographical trilogy - so it's not so much about being Christopher Robin as it is about fighting in WW2 and opening a bookshop, but I love it. Claire (The Captive Reader) reviewed Bello's reprint here.

And then I put together Five Fascinating Facts about A.A. Milne.

Let me know which Milne books you've read, or would like to read!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Glow by Ned Beauman

I don't often read new novels... but, when I do, they're by authors on Granta's Best Young Authors list. In Issue 1 of Shiny New Books I reviewed and interviewed Helen Oyeyemi; in Issue 2, I have done the same with Ned Beauman.

Following on from loving his first two novels (Boxer, Beetle and The Teleportation Accident), I also really liked his third, Glow; review over at Shiny New Books. As before, you wouldn't have thought I'd enjoy the book by looking at its ingredients - sex, drugs, and clubbing, basically, but with virtual reality twists - but Beauman is such an imaginative and inventive writer that it works.

He kindly agreed to do a quick Q&A too. Do go and have a look!

Saturday, 19 July 2014


Sorry for an unannounced disappearance! I've been in London since Thursday attending The Space Between conference, which was absolutely wonderful (albeit extremely hot - I had to make a lunchtime trip to buy t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops as I couldn't face the idea of wearing conference clothes in the evenings). Such lovely, fascinating people, and easily my favourite bit of academia - and the bit I can cling onto!

I gave a paper called 'Let Other Pens Treat of Sex': Metamorphosis, Marriage, and the Middlebrow, talking about David Garnett's Lady Into Fox and Ronald Fraser's Flower Phantoms in relation to changing ideas about women's sexuality in 1920s marriage - and it was very well received, I'm pleased to say.

I also bought a fair few books... will report back on those soon!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

One of the best books I've read this year is My Salinger Year, Joanna Rakoff's memoir of working in a literary agency in the 1990s. I was sold by the description when Bloomsbury emailed me (thanks for the review copy, Bloomsbury!) but it might have languished on my shelves unread if Victoria, my Shiny New Books co-editor hadn't enthused about it.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I have not one, not two, but three My Salinger Year links!

1.) I've reviewed it over at Vulpes Libris today.

2.) Victoria reviewed it at Shiny New Books.

3.) Best for last - Victoria interview Joanna Rakoff for Shiny New Books, and I think it's the best thing we've had there yet. Great questions, thoughtful answers - definitely go and read it!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Listener by Tove Jansson

It's no secret that I love Tove Jansson, and I was pleased to get the chance to read the latest collection of her work from Sort Of Books; a new translation (by Thomas Teal) of her first collection for adults, The Listener (1971).

I read it for Shiny New Books; my review is here. You can also win a copy - along with the other editors' favourites from their sections - by entering the competition on the homepage. And then have a browse!

It feels a bit lazy to be pointing to my reviews elsewhere, but then I remember that I still spent time writing them... probably more time, as I do more double-checking etc. for SNB reviews! And I hope that regular SIAB readers still have fun looking at those reviews.