This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is “Forgotten Backlist Titles” — books that aren’t talked about much anymore. I’ve modified this to talk about books I’ve read that never really got the attention I think they deserve.
Links in the titles will take you to my review (where I’ve managed to write one).
An Exquisite Sense of What is Beautiful by J David Simons
The spirit of Japanese culture and the subtleties of its language and landscape are brought to life in this tale of a world-famous author who makes a return visit to the inn which inspired his best-known novel.
Ti Amo by Hanne Ørstavik
A short fictional account based on the author’s own experience. Ørstavik captures the complex emotions of a woman conscious that illness will soon separate her from her beloved husband.
Drift by Caryl Lewis
It would be remiss of me not to include a Welsh author in my list. Drift is the first English language novel by poet and scriptwriter Caryl Lewis. It’s a haunting tale of a reclusive girl who lives in a remote Welsh coastal village, and a Syrian mapmaker held as a prisoner at an army camp.
Mr Mac and Me by Emma Freud
A delightfully atmospheric coming of age novel set on the Suffolk coast at the start of World War 1. The real joy however comes from the insight into the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife.
White Hunger by Aki Ollikainen
Not the most cheerful of the books on my list but still well worth reading because it’s based on a real event — a a horrendous famine in the 1860s in Finland. Ollikainen’s version of this is seen through the eyes of a woman who walks mile after mile through waist-high snow to prevent her children from starving to death.
West by Carys Davies
The second Welsh author to make my list, this is the debut novel by Carys Davies (she had previously written short stories). This is a touching tale of. a father who sets out on a trek across the American to find the truth behind a newspaper report of prehistoric bones.
The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
From Vietnam comes this sweeping tale of one family against a background of the famine, war and idealogical conflict that mars their country’s history.
Shell by Kristina Olsson
I have my blogging friends in Australia to thank for recommending this to me a few years ago. The construction of the (then controversial) Sydney Opera House forms a background to the novel about the fragile lives of two people.
No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy by Mark Hodkinson
An honest memoir of a bibliophile, one who grew up in a working class family where there was just one book in the house. Today he owns more than 3,000. In the book Hodkinson traces the story of how he became such an avid reader he would take 12 books with him on a one-week holiday.
Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach
Journalist Alice Steinbach reflects on the journey of self discovery that took her to Paris, Oxford and Milan. She wanted to understand what defined her — her family, children, job, friends. This is a wonderful memoir vastly superior to Eat, Pray, Love and beautifully illustrated with postcards Steinbach wrote home to herself to preserve her spontaneous impressions. I read this more than 20 years ago but it had such an impression that when I lost my copy (loaned to a friend!) I bought a replacement.
Have I tempted you to try any of these lesser-known gems?