102. Books Bought & Read, January 2014…

05 Feb
102. Books Bought & Read, January 2014…

Books Bought, January 2014

Our Ancestors,’ Italo Calvino 

Writing Home,’ Alan Bennett  

The Brothers Karamazov,’ Fyodor Dostoevsky  

Oeuvres,’ Antoine de St.Exupéry  

Voo Nocturno,’ (Vol De Nuit), Antoine de St.Exupéry   

Figuras E Figurações,’ Octavio Paz & Marie José Paz  

A Viagem Do Elefante,’ (The Elephant’s Journey), José Saramago  

Small Memories,’ José Saramago  

O Pátio Maldito,’ (The Damned Yard), Ivo Andrić  


Books Read, January 2014

Cartas Da Inglaterra, (Letters From England), Eça de Queirós

Small Memories,’ José Saramago  

A Viagem Do Elefante,’ (The Elephant’s Journey), José Saramago  

The Cloven Viscount,’ Italo Calvino 

Baron In The Trees,’ Italo Calvino 

The Nonexistent Knight,’ Italo Calvino 

The Ayn Rand Reader,’ ed.Gary Hull  

Introducing Lévi-Strauss,’ Boris Wiseman & Judy Groves  

Beatrice And Virgil,’ Yann Martell  

Quartéis De Inverno’, (Winter Quarters), Osvaldo Soriano

‘Sobre A Republica,’ (On The Republic),  Fernando Pessoa

De Port Said A Suez,’ (From Port Said To Suez), Eça de Queirós

The Comfort Of Strangers,’ Ian McEwan

Gilbert And Sullivan: the story of the partnership,’ Hesketh Pearson


In my life, I have somehow never lost my house keys, a wallet, or a notebook, all of which is kind of astonishing.

Until now.

Whilst out on a work-based evening team building exercise, (i.e. visiting some bars in downtown Lisbon with some co-workers), I took out my faithful Lego-edition Moleskine notebook to take down some ideas…and when it came to writing this monthly Books Bought & Read blog entry, there it was: gone.

There it was...gone.

There it was…gone.

The first time in my life I have ever lost a notebook, and it was full with book ideas, notes on the history of Lisbon and Portugal, and a million other things from the past year or so of my life, from song ideas to my beloved ‘To Do’ lists.

I am taking it Stoically, Buddhistly, and as Zen as possible. I recently discovered a new a new place to get my notebook fix, and this gives me a chance to start using them: handmade, Japanese-influenced notebooks crafted by some nice young folk here in Lisboa. Best of all, they are named after the Portuguese who invaded in the 16th century, ‘Namban‘ or ‘Southern Barbarians’, also the name of my favourite band in Japan.


Handmade notebooks…


…made in Portugal, inspired by Japan.

All of this blatant advertising, (for my favourite brands of notebook and my friend’s band), is by way of explaining that this month’s totals of books purchased and devoured is being recorded largely by memory, and may not be 100% accurate.

Six of this month’s 14 books read were either Portuguese books, or in Portuguese, or both: I got through two Saramagosone of which was bought at the museum dedicated to him in central Lisbon and featuring the cutest cover I’ve seen on a book for a while, (see the book cover collage below); the other was the slightly underwhelming ‘The Elephant’s Voyage.’ 

In a newly-discovered second-hand bookshop here, I picked up a sweet trilogy of Italo Calvino fables, (bought as one book, but listed in the ‘Books Read’ section as three. Because I’m the boss), my favourite being the fairytale earliest one, ‘The Cloven Viscount,’ (about a fighter who is blown in half by a cannonball, his evil half returning to his home town to cause trouble, before the purely selfless, and kind of annoying, better half comes back to face his ‘other half’).

I learned a lot about anthropology and Ayn Rand’s fairly terrifying libertarian philosophy from books read at the recently stumbled-upon (and reviewed), Pois Café; read an Argentinian author in Portuguese, (and was disappointed by it); and most fun of all, honoured the memory of my grandfather who, years ago, had me as a five-year old singing along to 19th century comic opera, and I thoroughly enjoyed the history of Gilbert & Sullivan which I unearthed in a gorgeous old 1935 Penguin edition. It features not only the most 1930’s English name you could want from an author, but an author’s photo to match on the back jacket:


Hesketh Pearson: enough said!


I leave you with Namban Notebook’s promotional video, and the traditional monthly cover collage of books read.

Happy February to you all!


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Posted by on February 5, 2014 in BOOKS


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6 responses to “102. Books Bought & Read, January 2014…

  1. nycavri

    February 5, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    I need to track down that G&S book (and get around to reading some McEwan . . .)

    Books read in January:
    Blood on the Mink – Robert Silverberg
    False Negative – Joe Koenig
    Fantastic Mister Fox – Roald Dahl
    Little Tramp – Gil Brewer
    They Don’t Dance Much – James Ross
    Wee Free Men – Terry Pratchett
    Willing To Be Lucky – Maris Kreizman
    The Sky Is Filled With Ships – Richard C. Meredith
    The Twenty Year Death – Ariel S. Winter

    First time in years that I’ve read a new (to me) Pratchett and I’m not sure why I’ve been away so long.

    Similarly, this was the first time I’ve read Fantastic Mister Fox since I was a kid – it was my favorite Dahl back when – and I didn’t recall how *short* it is! Still wonderful, though.

    The Sky Is Filled With Ships is another Singularity & Co. “rescued” novel, this time from the late 60s, and like last month’s book it was excellent. They really have been chosen and edited with care, and I’m looking forward to reading many more. For whatever reason, SciFi has not been my go to genre since I was a teen, but when I come across a good one, I often enjoy it more than good books in other genres.

    Lots of good Hard Case Crime this month, and a less impressive pulp from Prologue Books – again, a case of good curating?

    Need to pick up some non-fic this month. I miss it.

    • doronklemer

      February 6, 2014 at 9:05 am

      You can track it down in my bedroom next time you’re home, I’ll be bringing it back next week! Along with a bunch of McEwan I have…

      I’m not sure I ever read Fantastic Mr.Fox when I was a kid…I got addicted to one or two of the other Dahl’s (mainly Charlie, The BFG and The Twits, if I remember rightly), and some may have passed me by.

      Do you remember the only cassette we had growing up was a 4-pack of Roald Dahl reading Charlie which I used to listen to every morning in the shower?!


  2. Miguel St. Orberose

    February 5, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    So you read Portuguese? Where did you learn it?

    • doronklemer

      February 6, 2014 at 9:03 am

      Pretty much: although I’m English, I love languages, and speak French as a second language and later learned Italian and Spanish, which makes reading Portuguese not too difficult!

      I moved to Lisboa two months ago just to learn Portuguese, which I mainly do by…reading!

      Today, I’m reading Saramago’s ‘Cuadernos de Lanzarote’, and then moving on to some more Pessoa poetry!

      Any advice on similar Portuguese authors? I’ve also been recommended Gonçalo M Tavares, who looks fascinating, and Antonio Lubo Antunes…

      • Miguel St. Orberose

        February 6, 2014 at 3:55 pm

        Regarding prose fiction, I’d recommend Eça de Queiroz, Miguel Torga, José Cardoso Pires and Camilo Castelo Branco.

        But I think our best writers are poets; so I also recommend reading Jorge de Sena, Sophia de Mello Breyner, Alexandre O’Neill, Nuno Júdice, Ruy Belo, Natália Correia, Adília Lopes. Any poet in Assírio & Alvim is worth it.

        But since you’re in Portugal and can read Portuguese, you shouldn’t limit yourself to our literature. There’s also lots of Portuguese-language African writers available: my favourite is Pepetela, from Angola, but there’s also Ondjaki, Mia Couto, José Eduardo Agualusa. On the whole they’re all solid storytellers.

      • doronklemer

        February 6, 2014 at 11:27 pm

        I started with Eça as soon as I got here, and loved the first thing I read so much I went straight home and wrote a blog on it!

        I plan to start on Os Maias soon.

        I have been drawn to Mia Couto since I first heard about him, (maybe because, according to one story I read, he was invited to give a talk on black, female literature…because someone somewhere mistakenly thought he was a black female writer!!).and also because I have some Mozambican friends here, and spent a few weeks there in 2010.

        I haven’t heard of the others, but will definitely keep an eye out for them, thanks!

        I started Saramago’s Lanzarote diary tonight, loving it already!


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