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131. Books Bought & Read, October 2014…

131. Books Bought & Read, October 2014…

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Don’t forget to check out and order my first ever published book, available here!

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October’s reading, (and purchasing), was brought to you courtesy of a three-week holiday (vacation) to the city that only sleeps when it’s tired, or has a job interview early the next morning, or because the bars have all closed at 2am: New York.

A long flight and metro journeys between my base of Brooklyn and the island once known by the natives as Mana-hatta, (amazing what you can learn on a walking tour…), allowed me to get through seventeen wonderful, and not always short books: The Strand and various lovely, (and cheap), book sellers on the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, allowed me to bring a further 26 home with me, (at least, the ones which weren’t left behind as presents).

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The Strand, the world’s largest bookshop…

One of them, Colson Whitehead’sThe Colossus Of New York‘ came to me in the opposite direction, a lovely and unexpected gift on my 17th 37th birthday, and the perfect jazz prose-poem for somebody wandering the streets of the city, for the first or fiftieth time. A new author for me to look out for, this slim and gorgeous time gets 9/10 on the Borges/Brown scale.

(I decided to abandon grading all of the books I read: my blog was almost impossible to even get to last month, so from this month I am just awarding the Borges mark of excellence to any book on the list which I highly recommend reading.)

Bill Bryson‘s story of a single topic (aviation) in a single year (1927) in American history is fascinating, thanks to not covering just one year or one topic but everything from Communism and Prohibition to baseball and murder cases, and I highly recommend it. Since I try to match my reading to my location, I also finally read Brooklyn-based Michael Chabon’s modern classic ‘The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay,’ a beautiful tale of World War II refugees, New York life, and comic books. Perfect.

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I was guilty of buying a book of which I already own two copies, but since my signed copies of Haruki Murakami’s latest offering is safe in The Cupboard in the UK, and the US version has a different, (and far more gorgeous) cover, I felt entirely justified. The book was everything I’ve come to expect from one of my favourite writers…although no more. Not underwhelming, just not as overwhelming as I’d hoped.

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After returning to Lisbon to continue life and work, I flew through a couple of comic books picked up at New York’s ComicCon, which were nowhere near as much fun as their animated originals, and got back to my latest love, Portuguese literature and especially a fascinating offering from Next Great Portuguese Thing, Gonçalo M.Tavares. If you can find him in translation, I recommend his experimental style highly.

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New York Comic Con…

If you like that sort of thing.

Which I do.

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Books Bought, October 2014

Burmese Days,’ George Orwell

Pastoralia,’ George Saunders

Civilwarland In Bad Decline,’ George Saunders

State By State: a panoramic portrait of america,’ ed. Matt Weiland & Sean Wilsey

The Fiddler In The Subway,’ Gene Weingarten

Manual Of Painting And Calligaphy,’ José Saramago

Adventure Time: trade paperback vol.2.

Regular Show: trade paperback vol.1.

The Graveyard Book,’ Neil Gaiman

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years Of Pilgrimage,‘ Haruki Murakami

Strong Opinions,’ Vladimir Nabakov

Stuff: compulsive hoarding and the meaning of things,’ Gail Steketee & Randy Frost

On The Map: why the world looks the way it does,’ Simon Garfield

Brief Interviews With Hideous Men,’ David Foster Wallace

Northern Lights,’ Philip Pullman

Anansi Boys,’ Neil Gaiman

Freedom Evolves,’ Daniel.C.Dennett

From Hell,’ Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell

Jerusalém,’ Gonçalo M. Tavares

Provavelmente Alegria,’ José Saramago

O Massacre Dos Judeus: lisboa, 19 de abril de 1506,’ Susana Mateus & Paulo Mendes Pinto

Antic Hay,’ Aldous Huxley

Chrome Yellow,’ Aldous Huxley

Mortal Coils,’ Aldous Huxley

Ballet,’ Arnold Haskell

Biografia De Lisboa,’ Magda Pinheiro

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Books Read, October 2014

One Summer: America, 1927: ,’ Bill Bryson borges

The Rachel Papers,’ Martin Amis

The Amazing Adventures Of  Kavalier And Clay,’ Michael Chabon borges

Salvador,’ Joan Didion

But Beautiful,’ Geoff Dyer

The Song Of Achilles,’ Madeline Miller

The Testament Of Mary,’ Colm Tóibín

Civilwarland In Bad Decline,’ George Saunders

The Colossus Of New York: a city in thirteen parts,’ Colson Whitehead borges

One More Thing: stories and other stories,’ B.J.Novak

Stuff: compulsive hoarding and the meaning of things,’ Gail Steketee & Randy Frost

Regular Show: trade paperback vol.1.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves,’ Karen Joy Fowler

Adventure Time: trade paperback vol.2.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years Of Pilgrimage,‘ Haruki Murakami

Jerusalém,’ Gonçalo M. Tavares borges

Provavelmente Alegria,’ José Saramago

borges = recommended book

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Posted by on December 9, 2014 in BOOKS

 

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128. Books Bought & Read, September 2014…

128. Books Bought & Read, September 2014…

Books Bought, August 2014read-this-next-cover-us

The Wake,’ Paul Kingsnorth  

Jude: Level 1,’ Julian Gough

The Cobra’s Heart,’ Ryszard Kapuściński 

The Shipwrecked Men,’ Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca

Seventeen Poisoned Englishmen,’ Gabriel García Márquez

Ender’s Game,’ Orson Scott Card

Read This Next,’ Howard Mittelmark & Sandra Newman 

1932416501Journey To The End Of The Night,’ Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Moominsummer Madness,’ Tove Jansson

Moominland Midwinter,’ Tove Jansson

Pop Charts,’ Paul Copperwaite

Vader’s Little Princess,’ Jeffrey Brown

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane,’ Neil Gaiman

Brooklyn,’ Colm Tóibín

We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves,’ Karen Joy Fowler

Le Petit Prince,’ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

God: a biography,‘ Jack Miles

Blindness,’ José Saramago

Here They Come,’ Yannick Murphyimgres

A Guided Tour Through The Museum Of Communism,’ Slovenka Drakulic

The Search For Signs Of Intelligent Life In The Universe,’ Jane Wagner

‘The Paris Review Interviews, Vols I-IV,’  ed. Philip Gourevitch

 

Books Read, August 2014

Scoop,’ Evelyn Waugh 

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Sous Le Soleil Jaguar,’ (‘Under The Jaguar Sky’), Italo Calvino

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Seventeen Poisoned Englishmen,’ Gabriel García Márquez

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Vader’s Little Princess,’ Jeffrey Brown

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Michael Rosen’s Sad Book,’ Michael Rosen & Quentin Blake

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Drown,’ Junot Díaz

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A Little Book Of Language,’ David Crystal

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The 2½ Pillars Of Wisdom,’ Alexander McCall Smith

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Moominsummer Madness,’ Tove Jansson

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Creating a World Without Poverty,’ Muhammad Yunus

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Moominland Midwinter,’ Tove Jansson

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Ender’s Game,’ Orson Scott Card

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The Fry Chronicles: an autobiography,’ Stephen Fry

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Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry,’ B.S.Johnson

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The Dog,’ Joseph O’Neil

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Jude: Level 1,’ Julian Gough

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The Doors Of Perception/Heaven And Hell,’ Aldous Huxley

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One Year: America, 2917,’ Bill Bryson

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A Movable Feast,’ Ernest Hemingway

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A Guided Tour Through The Museum Of Communism,’ Slovenka Drakulic

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25 bought, (mostly presents), 20 read: even for me, this was a busy month, fuelled by the time available on long-distance flights, some kids’ books (my first Moomins among them, which were simultaneously cute and unbelievably creepy), and a lot of time at my parents’ place working my way through my back-catalogue of signed books.

Some classics were finally ticked off, from Huxley’‘s The Doors-inspiring ‘The Doors Of Perception‘ to an Evelyn Waugh novel which wasn’t ‘Brideshead Revisited,’ but which was lots of fun. Most enjoyably, I finally got to read that staple of friends’ references, ‘A Moveable Feast‘ where Hemingway managed to make me dislike him less than I always have done – a memoir worthy of all the praise which is always being heaped on it.

A Moveable Feast from a Punchable Face. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

A Moveable Feast from a Punchable Face.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

 

I found Joseph O’Neill’s Booker Prize shortlisted ‘The Dog‘ to be underwhelming, but balanced it with Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus’s thought-provoking book on his (accidental) life’s work, creating micro-credit institutions, which was heart-warming stuff.

One ‘new’ author I read I enjoyed so much that I have already blogged on the work here, whilst in the other direction I finally got around to reading the first work by an author I thought I knew well, Junot Diaz.

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Most enjoyable of all, for someone who likes to read books about the places he is living in/visiting, was the ever-reliable Bill Bryson‘s giant work on a single, pivotal year in American history, (whilst also, of course, taking in decades before and after). Whilst ostensibly being about one man’s race to be the first to cross the Atlantic by sea, (although this isn’t even really factually correct, as Bryson explains in detail), we are treated to everything from Babe Ruth and the Yankees to Prohibition, anarchist executions to the history of sky-scrapers.

I loved it.

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1927: quite a year…

 

The eagle-eyed amongst you are probably wondering who operated on you in the middle of the night and replaced your regular eyeballs, which is a horrible feeling to wake up to. Everyone else with normal eyes has probably noticed a new feature this month: a few friends had requested that I include some sort of ‘marks out of ten’ system so that they know what they should read and what they shouldn’t waste their time on.

(These ‘friends’ were presumably too busy to actually read the blog to get this information).

Always happy to bow to peer group pressure, this month sees the first use of my patented* ‘Books Out Of 10’ scoring system: the more Borges the better, the more Dan Browns the worse.

*Not actually patented

 

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Let me know what you think…

 

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Posted by on October 27, 2014 in BOOKS

 

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80. Books Bought & Read, July 2013…

80. Books Bought & Read, July 2013…

Books Bought, July 2013

The Road To Wigan Pier,’ George Orwell

Made In America,’ Bill Bryson x2

The Complete Poems,’ Walt Whitman

The Consolations Of Philosophy,’ Alain de Botton

Poets On Poets,’ various, McSweeney’s compilation

One Hundred And Forty Five Short Stories In A Box,’ McSweeney’s box set: Dave Eggers, Deb Olin Unferth, Sarah Manguso

100 Selected Poems,’ e.e.cummings

Home Game,’ Michael Lewis

The Best American Essays Of The Century,’ ed.Joyce Carol Oates

The Night Circus,’ Erin Morgenstern

My Name Is Red,’ Orhan Pamuk

There’s Nothing In This Book That I Meant To Say,’ Paula Poundstone

The Time Machine,’ H.G.Wells 1992_1812_l

Authentic Libretti Of The Gilbert & Sullivan Operas,’ Sir Arthur Sullivan and W.S.Gilbert 

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles,’ Haruki Murakami

Slaughterhouse 5,’ Kurt Vonnegut

The Jungle,’ Upton Sinclair

Notes From Underground,’ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The Complete Works,’ M.C.Escher

Carrier Pigeon Magazine: issues 6,7 & 8′  

Collected New Fiction,’ Jorge Luis Borges

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Books Read, July 2013

Wolf Hall,’ Hillary Mantell

The Consolations Of Philosophy,’ Alain de Botton

The Crack In The Cosmic Egg: the constructs of mind and philosophy,’ J.C.Pearce

Comic Insights: the art of stand-up comedy,’ Franklyn Ajaye

Made In America,’ Bill Bryson

Home Game,’ Michael Lewis

Junky: 50th anniversary definitive edition,’ William.S.Burroughs

The Time Machine,’ H.G.Wells

There’s Nothing In This Book That I Meant To Say,’ Paula Poundstone

Slaughterhouse Five,’ Kurt Vonnegut

The Best American Essays Of The Century,’ ed.Joyce Carol Oates (18 of 55 essays, anyway)

The Road To Wigan Pier,’ George Orwell

In one of my very earliest blogs, (to be found here), I lamented the fact that with all the books I haven’t read, and all the ones they keep producing, I would never come close to reading all of the books that I want to. That is one of the reasons I so rarely re-read books, even my favourites, and that makes it all the stranger that a quarter of 9583301-buffalo-new-york-red-flag-pin-on-an-old-map-showing-travel-destination-300x200all the books I read this month were re-runs.

This month’s selection were consumed entirely in the much-maligned and much-misunderstood town of Buffalo, NY: not so much Manhattan’s forgotten big brother as Manhattan’s fairly alcoholic, occasionally stylish, often funny and living-far-away-from-its-younger-sibling-because-it-couldn’t-stop-borrowing-money-from-it brother.

They were also mostly purchased there, as Buffalo has an excellent mix of new and used bookshops, not to mention a never-ending schedule of garage sales and the joy of finding a cute, local library which had its entire second floor dedicated to books for sale, (and most of them not even grimy, used library books but proper book books!)

I arrived halfway through my chosen airport-book, the fantastically addictive Henry VIII history/thriller ‘Wolf Hall,’ and was soon picking up any vaguely interesting books which my hostess had laying around, from 1960’s beat and hippy tomes ‘Junky‘ by the honestly messed up William.S.Burroughs, (excellent), and ‘The Crack In The Cosmic Egg,’ (less excellent), to the fascinating interview and advice book on stand-up comedy, ‘Comic Insights,’ by Franklyn Ajaye, (who knew every third person in Buffalo is, was or will soon be a stand-up comic? I even trod the funny boards myself, briefly…)

Q. Is it coincidence that ‘comic’ and ‘cosmic’ are only a letter apart?

A. Yes.

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The one I bought – US cover

Anyway, as blogged recently here, I hunted down and read an old favourite, Bill Bryson‘s history of the American language through the history of American…well, history, and also picked up a copy of Alain de Botton’s (as-ever) wonderful down-to-earth philosophical musings, fooled into buying a book I’m fairly sure I own due to its different cover.

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The one I already own – UK cover

I found a day each amidst all the fun I was having to read economics specialist Michael Lewis‘s fun, slim scribblings on why being a parent often sucks; H.G.Wells‘s classic ‘The Time Machine,’ which I had never read before and am glad I finally did; and the worst of the many comic autobiographies I’ve read recently, by Paula Poundstone.

And then it was on to serious stuff, being unable to resist buying and (of course) reading a $2 used copy of Kurt Vonnegut‘s classic war critique and cheek-tonguing ‘Slaughterhouse Five,’ and continuing my attempt to work my way through Orwell‘s back-catalogue with a whizz through his 1930’s Socialist tract ‘The Road To Wigan Pier,‘ which I enjoyed more for the gritty descriptive journalism of its first part than the political preaching of its second.

Finally, for first time this month, I started a book I had no intentions of finishing: a toe-endangering slab of a volume of America’s best ever essays which the library was selling for $1, and which I left behind where I was staying. I only add it to this month’s list, (which should really only total eleven books read, and not twelve), as I read practically one-third of the essays presented, choosing only authors I already knew, or had heard good things of, or ones with particularly good titles, and being blown away but just about all of them. It has always been a point of pride with me that I never give up on a book, (or a movie, for that matter), no matter how bad, so I guess I can justify this anomaly by visiting Buffalo, and my book, sometime soon.

I leave you with this gratuitous attempt to introduce you to one of the driest, funniest, most English of comedians whom you may not know: Stewart Lee. It turns out I wasn’t the only one to discover Franklyn Ajaye, the author of the book I discovered on American comedians…although it also turns out I was the only one of us two to actually pay any attention to what he said…

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Posted by on September 1, 2013 in BOOKS

 

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