147. Books Bought & Read, August 2016…

31 Aug
147. Books Bought & Read, August 2016…


So my plan to spend a few weeks catching up on the past year of blogging didn’t quite work. On the contrary, when I finally sat down this morning, killing time before a flight to Colorado, (to visit my in-laws and, I presume, learn how to ski), I discovered that not only had I not made a dent in the missing months, but three more had passed in the meantime.

Here, at least, is August’s reading tally.

(Admittedly there are 14 hours of August left, but I will do my best not to finish any books between now and midnight; since the two which made the cut for this trip are both dense, 400-page history books, (on the life of Alexander Hamilton and John D.Rockefeller, Jr, respectively), even I should be in little danger of falsifying this month’s total.)

Whilst still awaiting my US visa, I had enough free time to read 22 books.

Awkwardly, I am now spending two of my free seven days a week volunteering at an incredible bookshop, (or ‘bookstore,’ as I still refuse to call it), which I will be writing about MUCH more in a later blog.

This is the equivalent of allowing Cookie Monster to work in the Oreo warehouse, and I am therefore getting fat on books and, since I get a frankly ridiculous volunteer discount, this volunteer job is costing me a fortune.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.


That’s how come I took home 61 books this month.

A few new trends emerged, from converting my nighttime, bed-bound reading from US history books to comics/graphic novels, (discovering the beautiful and disturbing work of Charles Burns and the minimalistic hispter-chic of Daniel Clowes), to a passion for short, educational non-fiction, covering everything from the basics of modern science to a call to feminism, and including Chip Kidd’s manifesto of mystery, (the first and last of these three being from a TED Talks series, which I will have to hunt down until I’ve caught them all).

Dragging around giant history tomes, (the thickest of which, ‘Gotham,’ I finally finished this month, making my bag 1,200 pages lighter each day), led to me buying a variety of ‘classic’ paperbacks to read on the move or on trains. The sole criteria for them was that they be no more than around 130 pages long, and therefore not add to my backache.

Many were authors I vaguely knew and never gotten around to reading, (the wonderfully creepy Doris Lessing, the fairly dull Eudora Welty), whilst one or two were names I had never heard of, but were recommended by prizes, (mainly the Nobel), title content, (in the case of one completely misleading football reference), or simply their slimness.

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Vintage International and Farrar, Straus & Giroud proved to be a good furnishers of this size of book, (and I recognise that, when you have favourite publishers based on their dimensions, you are probably far too far down the rabbithole).

Lagerkvist’s ‘Barabbas‘ was simple and fascinating, reminiscent of  Colm Tóibín’s masterpiece ‘The Testament Of Mary,’ whereas Peter Handke’s ‘experimental‘ novel, despite cover comparisons to Camus’s ‘L’Étranger,’ was just frustrating.

One final drawback to working in a bookshop is that sometimes your dreams come true...and they’re not always cheap. I have a list of half a dozen lifetime goal books I wish to obtain at some point before I die, and I discovered one of them in our ‘Rare Books’ dungeon this month: the very first edition of McSweeney’s quarterly, an ultra rare find which completes my collection.



It was actually the second book on my list which I’d uncovered down there in consecutive months. ‘What was the other?’ I hear you cry.

You’ll have to drop by next blog to find out.



Recommended books in the ‘Books Read‘ section are in bold

Books Bought , August 2016

Ghost World (Daniel Clowes)

Hangsaman (Shirley Jackson)

The Italians (John Hooper)

Barabbas (Pär Lagerkvist)

Sag Harbor (Colson Whitehead)

Super Sad True Love Story (Gary Shteyngart)

Native Son (Richard Wright)

Cleopatra (Stacey Schiff)

The Optimist’s Daughter (Eudora Welty)

Judge This (Chip Kidd)

The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

Where The Wild Things Are -Russian version (Maurice Sendak)

McSweeney’s no.1 (various)

Building Stories (Chris Ware)

Under Wildwood (Colin Mely & Carson Ellis)

The Great Bridge: the epic story of the building of the brooklyn bridge  (David McCullough)

Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell)

Snow White (Donald Barthelme)

Leaving The Atocha Station (Ben Lerner)

Farenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)

The Odyssey (Homer)

The Iliad (Homer)

The Aeneid (Virgil)

Ethan Frome (Edith Wharton)

War And Peace (Leo Tolstoy)

The Fifth Child (Doris Lessing)

McSweeney’s no.31 (various)

The Laws Of Medicine (Siddhartha Mukherjee)

Collected Stories (Roald Dahl)

Flatland: a romance of many dimensions (Edwin Abbott)

How To Think Like An Entrepreneur (Philip Delves Broughton)

A Room Of One’s Own (Virginia Woolf)

Once Upon An Alphabet (Oliver Jeffers)

The Buck Stops Here: the presidents of the united states (Alice & Martin Provensen)

Dance, Dance, Dance (Haruki Murakami)

South Of The Border, West Of The Sun (Haruki Murakami)

Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World (Haruki Murakami)

Jason And The Argonauts (Apollonius of Rhodes)

We Should All Be Feminists (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

Buddha (Karen Armstrong)

On The Road (Jack Kerouac)

A Man Without A Country (Kurt Vonnegut)

The Double (José Saramago)

The Goalie’s Anxiety At The Penalty Kick (Peter Handke)

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl)

The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood) x2

Muhammad: prophet for our time (Karen Armstrong)

A Place Of Remembrance: official book of the 9/11 memorial

The Heart Goes Last (Margaret Atwood)

Persuasion (Jane Austen)

The Trial (Franz Kafka)

The Metamorphosis & Other Stories (Frank  Kafka)

The Last Interview And Other Conversations (Kurt Vonnegut)

The Secret History (Donna Tartt)

The Elephant Vanishes (Haruki Murakami)

McSweeney’s Presents Comedy By The Numbers: the 169 secrets of humor and popularity (Eric Hoffman & Gary Rudoren)

This Is Water: some thoughts, delivered on a significant occasion, about living a compassionate life (David Foster Wallace)

How To Age (Anne Karpf)

Johnny Got His Gun (Dalton Trumbo)

The Elements Of Music: melody, rhythm & harmony (Jason Martineau)


Books Read, August 2016

13 Days: a memoir of the cuban missile crisis (Robert Kennedy)

Black Hole (Charles Burns)

Ghost World (Daniel Clowes)

Barabbas (Pär Lagerkvist)

Judge This (Chip Kidd)

The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: black dossier (Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill)

The Laws Of Medicine (Siddhartha Mukherjee)

The Optimist’s Daughter (Eudora Welty)

Palestine (Joe Sacco)

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

Safe Area Goražde: the war in eastern bosnia, 1992-95 (Joe Sacco)

We Should All Be Feminists (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

How To Think Like An Entrepreneur (Philip Delves Broughton)

The Fifth Child (Doris Lessing)

The Ladybird Book Of Mindfulness (Jason Hazeley & Joel Morris)

A User’s Guide To Neglectful Parenting (Guy Delisle)

Redshirt’s Little Book Of Doom (Robb Pearlman & Anna-Maria Jung)

The Goalie’s Anxiety At The Penalty Kick (Peter Handke)

Lost New York In Old Postcards (Rod Kennedy Jr.)

Mastermind: how to think like sherlock homles (Maria Konnikova)

The Last Interview And Other Conversations (Kurt Vonnegut)

This Is Water: some thoughts, delivered on a significant occasion, about living a compassionate life (David Foster Wallace)


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Posted by on August 31, 2016 in BOOKS


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