Sunday Salon

A place in the case: cast your vote

I’m off on holiday to the Basque region of northern Spain next week and, as usual, the biggest challenge is not deciding what clothes to take, but what books will accompany me on the trip. I’m certainly not short of choices. Although my TBR mountain has shrunk a little, I still have well over 100 novels and non fiction books yet to read.

I started thinking about my holiday reading last night and came to a fairly rapid decision that Javier Marías’ murder mystery The Infatuations would certainly go in the case. I  like to read something by an author from the country I’m visiting and the Guardian’s description of this as “an instant Spanish classic” sold it for me. I just need one other ‘real’ book (I’m taking my Kindle so I can finish Niall Williams’ History of the Rain) but I’ve changed my mind four times already. Just when I thought I’d come close to making the decision (Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters, or  Angel’s Game, the follow up to Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon), I found a copy of The Observations by Jane Harris at the back of the shelf. I wasn’t as wowed by her earlier novel Gillespie & I as many other readers seemed to be so I always meant to give her another chance. Onto the pile she went. But which to remove??

The Observations
Does she deserve a place in my suitcase?

Decisions, decisions, always too many of these. Am I just being ultra indecisive or is this a common issue with book lovers??

I thought about leaving all the shortlisted books together in a dark room overnight so they could fight it out amongst themselves. But then I decided a better idea would be to get you to vote. So can you help me decide which to take:

The Observations by Jane Harris OR

Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters OR

Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon OR

The Infatuations by Javier Marías

The good news is that while I’ve been procrastinating I was able to do a bit of a purge of the TBR. Gone to a good home (i.e., my mum) is Victoria Hislop’s The Thread which was a Christmas present from maybe 4 years ago. Her first novel The Island was ok but 20 pages into this one and I just couldn’t get interested. Out has also gone Dublinesque by Enrique Villa Matas which I started reading in March but stopped at around page 100. Quite a number of people commented when they heard I was struggling that they really enjoyed it so I kept it intending to give it another go. But it’s still not calling to me so off to the charity shop it’s gone. Small chinks I know but it’s a start….




What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

22 thoughts on “A place in the case: cast your vote

  • Not read the Spanish ones, but I enjoyed The Observations, but then I also liked Gillespie and I. Love Elizabeth Gaskell.

    I only read a bit of Victoria Hyslop’s first novel as I just couldn’t get into it, and as a result haven’t read anything else of hers. Interesting how we “take” to some authors but not others.

    • I also find it interesting when it happens in reverse Judy. In other words yiu love everything an author has written and then the next book isn’t so good and the one after that appeals even less. That’s been my experience with Sebastian Faulks

  • I liked Gillespie and I, but I have tried twice to read The Observations and put it back on the shelf, so I wouldn’t take that. I’ve also started both Angel’s Game and Wives and Daughters in the past and not finished them, but I’d like to try both again. I’m not much help, except you could take the free Kindle book of Wives and Daughters as well as The Infatuations, which sounds good! Angel’s Game would still be there after your holiday.

    • I forgot that Gaskell would be available via Gutenburg. Good thinking – it’s a heavy book to carry around

  • I haven’t read any of these but I think Angel’s Game might be apt considering it’s also from a Spanish author. Happy holidays!

  • The Infatuations and Wives and Daughters both look appealing to me.

    Have a great trip!

  • The only one I have read is the Gaskell, a long time ago but I know I loved it.

  • Carol S

    I was disappointed by most of these so I’d go for the Gaskell, though I’d persist with Dublinesque. So glad you have your kindle!
    As for the reader coming to the UK I find most visitors don’t know how cheap books are here, all the 3 for the price of 2 piles and our great second hand book shops, not to mention supermarket and train station shop promotions. And yes I’d second our classics – Hardy, Dickens, Eliot, Trollope etc. Zadie Smith’s White Teeth for fairly contemporary London perhaps or Brick Lane… a-a-a-a so many good ones.

  • I can’t get to grips with MarÍas, so he would vanish immediately and I was bitterly disappointed by ‘Angel’s Game’. So if you’re taking two I would go for the Harris and the Gaskell. Have a good break.

    • I was hesitating about Angels Game because follow ups can be so disappointing. What didn’t you like re Marias?

      • The style is wrong for me. A lot of readers I respect really like him.

  • joyweesemoll

    I haven’t read any of these, but I’d probably go with the two Spanish authors.

    I’ve already decided on books for our trip to England. The Dooms Day Book by Connie Willis and Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, both thick paperbacks to last me through a long holiday. I’ll also have several ebooks on my phone, just in case.

    • I’ve not heard of either of these. I think if I were trying to find something reflective of Britain I’d choose Hardy (for the rural setting) and Dickens for the city

  • I think the indecision comes as a result of knowing that we will be guaranteed to have good books to read and wanting to pack the suitcase with more than we can possibly read just in case.

    I’ll vote for the Gaskell.

    • I am always over ambitious and think I’ll have loads more time to read than I actually do.

    • I dont do purges very often because I always have this feeling that the minute I give a book away,someone will tell me how wonderful it is


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