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146. Booklyn, New York!

It has been a long time since this was anything like a weekly blog, and even monthly went out the window a while ago, but starting from next week, I hope to change all that.

Writing my book took up most of 2015, and after it was published earlier this year studying the complete history of New York (and the USA) in order to start work shortly as a tour guide took up the rest of my time. Essentially, this blog has been book-blocked by the likes of this 1,300page monster:

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But I finally finished it last night, and to celebrate (along with a glass of whiskey), I am getting back into the blogging business, (different from any other kind of business in that I don’t actually make any money from it. Although someone once sent me a proof copy of their new book, which was nice).

This entry is also to tell you one of the many, many things I love about living in Brooklyn: people often leave unwanted books on the pavement, (or ‘sidewalk,’ as I’m now legally obliged to call it).

In ones or twos or a dozen, free-range or in cardboard boxes, and not (always) nonsense books: I’ve picked up a couple of Nobel Prize winners and some classics literally on the corner outside my apartment. Wednesday appears to be a particularly good day for stoop-surfing for books, apparently.

Why do people do this? I have no idea. But, obviously, I’m not complaining…

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Image courtesy of Diamond Valley College

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2016 in BOOKS

 

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145. Books Bought & Read, May 2016…

145. Books Bought & Read, May 2016…

Dear Book-Lovers,

I have been away for well over a year, working on other projects such as publishing my first book, moving to a new country and getting married.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading.

My ‘Little Princediary is full of my scribblings, recording the books which I have bought and read over the past eighteen months or so, to make sure that my mania for recording the details of my literary life don’t disappear into the ether. For the next few weeks I will be going back in time, month by month, to let you know what good stuff I have been imbibing.

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Beginning with last month, May 2016: 39 bought, 11 read, and that is not an untypical total seeing as I now live in New York, and have made friends with many of the marvellous second-hand bookshops which line the streets of this city. Indeed, once this monthly rundown is complete I will be bringing you a regular series on the best bookshops of New York, including the tale of how I came to have my own ‘dealer’ who is enabling my habit…

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With three months until I can legally work in this country, I have just about enough time to learn the complete history of this small, relatively new, historically dense place in order to begin giving walking tours in the summer. This explains the high proportion of American history books both bought and, to a lesser degree, read this month, (and in the months to come, which is to say, just gone).

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This historical book-binge, (my fourth, after my time guiding in Berlin, London and Lisbon), began with a Sarah Vowell marathon: I love her, (and her covers of miniaturised life), and her ability to take a single, dense subject, (the role of 19-year-old French posh boy, Lafayette, in the Revolutionary War, for instance, or the history of Hawai’i), and make fact-filled fun out of it.

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I revisited two YA favourites when I picked up new works by Daniel Handler and David Almond, neither of which were quite up to their previous standards, whilst finally giving another chance to an author I thought I disliked, (after a bad experience with a smug Paul Auster novel years ago), and finding myself enjoying the Borgesian literary labyrinths of his faux-detective ‘New York Trilogy.’ With the backlog of books I have literally looming over me, it’s not often I give an author a second chance.

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In an attempt to fill in the lacunae (or holes: not sure why I’d use an obscure Latin word with an even more obscure plural when I could just say holes; all of this reading must be getting to me…) in my knowledge of classic American fiction, I finally got around to reading Mark Twain’s weird and wonderful ‘Huckleberry Finn.‘ This was Hemingway’s favourite ever book, and many people’s vote for where American literature began, but as Hemingway points out the last few chapters get just silly: skip them. It brought back great memories of watching the TV series as a child on lazy weekend mornings

*NB: under a radical new classification system, in the BOOKS READ section below I will be highlighting any which I highly recommend, for all of those who browse this blog for recommendations but don’t have time to read the actual entry. You’re welcome.*

Books Bought, May 2016

The Care And Feeding Of An Independent Bookstore: three instructive essays (Ann Patchett)

Wise Children (Angela Carter)

In The Shadow Of Young Girls In Flower (Marcel Proust)

The Innocent (Ian McEwan)

Object Lessons: the paris review presents the art of the short story (various)

A People’s History Of The Supreme Court (Peter Irons)

Hermit In Paris: autobiographical writings (Italo Calvino)

The Clothes They Stood Up In & The Lady In The Van (Alan Bennett)

How To Read A Novelist (John Freeman)

The Numbers Game: why everything you know about soccer is wrong (Chris Anderson & David Sally)

Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)

Collected Fictions (Jorge Luis Borges)

The Big Oyster: history on the half shell (Mark Kurlansky)

The Last Bad Man (Miranda July)

Jim Henson: the biography (Brian Jay Jones)

Pippi Longstocking (Astrid Lindgren)

In Persuasion Nation (George Saunders)

The Analects (Confucius)

Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë)

Mody Dick (Herman Melville)

A Wild Sheep Chase (Haruki Murakami)

The Descent Of Man (Charles Darwin)

The Epic Of Gilgamesh (anonymous)

The Ramayama (anonymous)

The Twelve Caesars (Seutonis)

Jane Jacobs: the last interview & other conversations

There Was A Country (Chinua Achebe)

Revenge Of The Lawn/The Abortion/So The World Won’t Blow It All Away (Richard Brautigan)

The Watcher: and other stories (Italo Calvino)

Gotham: a history of new york city to 1898 (Edwin G.Borrows & Mike Wallace)

The Master Of Petersburg (J.M.Coetzee)

Headlong (Michael Frayn)

Revolting Revolutionaries (Elizabeth Levy)

Founding Fathers: the revolutionary generation (Joseph J.Ellis)

Swann’s Way (Marcel Proust)

Middlemarch (George Eliot)

Seven Nights (Jorge Luis Borges)

The Vinland Sagas (anonymous)

33 1/3: If You’re Feeling Sinister (Scott Plagenhoef)

 

Books Read, May 2016

The Care And Feeding Of An Independent Bookstore: three instructive essays (Ann Patchett)

City Of Glass (Paul Auster)

The Tightrope Walkers (Paul Almond)

Ghosts (Paul Auster)

The Locked Room (Paul Auster)

We Are Pirates! (Daniel Handler)

The Clothes They Stood Up In & The Lady In The Van (Alan Bennett)

Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)

Hermit In Paris: autobiographical writings (Italo Calvino)

The Epic Of New York City: a narrative history (Edward Robb Ellis)

The Partly Cloudy Patriot (Sarah Vowell)

 

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2016 in BOOKS

 

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Book-bound and Back to Blogging…

Book-bound and Back to Blogging…

Dear Readers,

Some of you may remember me as the guy who used to send out first weekly, and then monthly blogs informing you of good books I had read, fun bookshops I had discovered, or authors I had recently been stalking.

And then I decided to write a book, and it turned out that took up quite a lot of my time.

Well, that book is not only finished, but published, printed, and available for you to buy, in both real life old-fashioned paper format, or on various eReaders for your more modern cybertechno whizzkids.

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You can enlarge your knowledge, happiness, and bookshelf by picking up a copy at Amazon (US), Amazon (UK), Amazon (of your choice), The Book Depository, Barnes & Noble, and even in the Kindle store.

If you happen to be in the US, (where I now find myself), we can cut out the middle-man and I can get a signed copy to you if you get in touch through the COMMENTS section below.

How can you resist? It is currently the 102nd ranked book in Amazon’s general travel guides to Brazil!

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As someone who has been sharing the contents of his brain in written form for much of the past two decades, it’s fun to have an actual book out there in the world. I hope some of you will purchase a copy and enjoy the tales of my travels and adventures following sporting events and warm weather across the globe, learning languages and finding some bizarre and rewarding jobs.

About a third of it is about football/soccer, but if you’re not a fan don’t let that put you off, the rest of it makes up for the sports content with trivia about everything from Portuguese history to Brazilian sexuality, and lots of ruminating on the fascinating topic of the differences between languages.

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With that out the way, I am excited to return to (semi)-regular bookblog output: I have around 18months’ worth of Books Bought & Read lists to update you on, and since I have recently moved to the glorious, unknown pastures of Brooklyn, New York, I shall be bringing you news of literary goings ons here, including a guide to my favourite bookshops in the NY area.

It’s good to be back!

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Posted by on June 1, 2016 in BOOKS

 

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