An Embarrassment of Riches

This was the week where my reading life went out of control.

newbooksI’ve been doing reasonably well with my attempt to read more from the books I already own this year, and consequently buy less. But the plan started to go south when I wandered into the library on Monday where they had a sale and found a reasonably good copy of Ruth Ozeki’s Booker shortlisted A Tale for the Time Being which was a novel I meant to read when it was shortlisted but never got around to. Only one purchase – not disastrous by any means but a few minutes later as I was passing a Pound store  I remembered Karen at Kaggsy’sBookishRamblings had uncovered a few choice books among the acres of cheap shampoo and bathroom cleaner, there might be a few books).  It had frankly never occurred to me this kind of shop might offer any intellectual stimulation so it was a surprise to find two gems.

The first one, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller was much talked about when it was published in 2011 but I wasn’t sure I was that interested in a novel set around the time of the Trojan War. But having been following a Coursera module on Greek and Roman myths for the past few weeks, my interest level as increased – so of course how could I resist a pristine copy at £1???  And then another much-discussed novel Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood – this was even more of a bargain since it’s a never-opened hardback. Not sure its worth adding Poundstretcher to my regular shopping haunts but a peek every few months might be in order.

So Monday came and went with three new books added to the shelf. I knew I wouldn’t be reading these for a while since I’m still trying to finish the #20booksofsummer reading and get to read a few Viragos for All August/AllVirago month.

By Tuesday that plan was thrown a bit off course when the library called to say two of my reserved items were now available. I’d even forgotten about one of them (Don Delillo’s Zero K) since the waiting list was so long and when I looked at the blurb I was mystified when I’d even requested this. Science-based stories are not usually my thing so why had I reserved a novel about a remote and secret compound where death is exquisitely controlled and bodies are preserved until a future time when biomedical advances and new technologies can return them to a life of transcendent promise. In a spirit of generosity to other readers who do enjoy those kinds of stories, it was returned immediately.

Which left me with the ManBooker 2016 long listed novel All That Man Is by David Szalay. I have no intention of trying to read all 13 long listed novels before the Man Booker judges announce the shortlist on September 13. But I do like to read samples of them and read a few in full just to get a flavour of what’s in contention. This one picqued my interest because its essentially the story of nine separate individuals so can be read as a short story collection or as a novel.

Wednesday’s post brought another Man Booker title – The Many by Wyl Menmuir which is one I really, really wanted to read but couldn’t get my hands on a copy anywhere. The publishers Salt had printed only 1,000 copies initially so were rather overhwhelmed by the interest when the longlist was announced. A new print run was rushed through to satisfy the hungry appetites of readers like me….

If you’re keeping track so far you’ll have seen that it’s just midweek and already I have 5 new titles all demanding my attention. Some rapid re-thinking of the reading plan for the next few weeks ensued.

But like all the best laid plans, that too got thrown in the bin when NetGalley sent a batch of emails telling me I’d been approved for two other Man Booker Prize long listed titles: The Schooldays of Jesus by J. M Coetzee  and Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh. Now I absolutely do want to read the Coetzee since the two novels I’ve read by him previously have been outstanding but having seen a review of Eileen on the Readers’ Room blog earlier today I’m not as convinced I will get on well with this.

Do Not DisturbSeven new acquisitions in four days is going some for me. But that wasn’t the end of the story because yesterday a box arrived from some kind colleagues in the USA containing – guess what? Books!

Am I complaining? No not a bit of it. I just have to get my head down and start reading through this stack and all the ones piling up on the e-reader including another of the Man Booker long listed titles Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project. Expect me to be a bit quiet for a few weeks………Shhh

About BookerTalk

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

Posted on August 21, 2016, in #20books of summer, Sunday Salon and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. Couple of months ago I decided to stop reading books on my Kindle and concentrate on my shelves a bit. Just as I managed to read three books (or was it four) I went to a second hand book market and came home with eleven books..
    It got even worst (if this is the right word). A week ago I went back. Came with another eleven..
    But, I love it. It’s time will come.

    • I put a pause on e books for a while too mainly because I use the e reader when I’m travelling and I haven’t don’t much if any of that since April. I also stopped requesting books for a while from net galley but then went into overdrive when the Booker longlist came out. So it’s back to the Kindle for the next few weeks

  2. Those were some excellent £1 finds! I loved A Tale for the Time Being and Mrs Hemingway.

    I’m similarly inundated with NetGalley copies of the Booker longlist. I think I’ll read Eileen next. For now I’m halfway through His Bloody Project and enjoying it very much indeed.

  3. What fun acquisitions! Library sales are always selling books for just good prices, I don’t know that I’d be able to leave with just one book. I find library sales particularly hard to resist!

  4. Hidden gems are always the best! Happy reading

  5. I have also been adding to my bookshelves recently too. I am well impressed you got The Song of Achilles for a pound! 🙂

  6. It’s funny when they all come in a burst like that. And what a terrific list you have ahead of you. Enjoy!

  7. They have some hidden gems in pound shops I all ways look

  8. Lots of reading choices. Working at a library, I can relate. Sometimes I don’t know where to start.

  9. Eileen made my Best-of-Year list. yes it’s dark but I loved it.

  10. Library book sales always do me in, but I have yet to find a good book at a dollar store here (perhaps the equivalent of your pound store?). I am working my way through a few Man Booker long listed books too, and The Many was so good. I look forward to reading your review. Eileen was OK, but would not put it at the top of the list.
    So many books, so little time…

    • Yes the dollar store would be the same concept as the pound shop. I know I’m not going to get that many Booker titles read before the shortlist but I will at least try to read The Many and as many Sami,Es from the others as I can

  11. My kind of week, although my “stack” usually grows without ever leaving my house, as I tend to “click to buy” e-books. I tell myself that they don’t really count as adding to the stack, since they are hidden…LOL.

    Actually, this past week, I got three books in my mailbox: actual print books. Nonfiction, and one of them was from a favorite author from the 60s.

    Mrs. Hemingway looks like a book I would enjoy. Have fun with your toppling stack. The dog atop the stack is a nice touch.

  12. Wow. Happy reading. I really fancy reading The Many too – on my wishlist I hadn’t realised it was hard to get hold of.

  13. A good binge can be just what is needed! I’ll be interested to hear what you think of “The Song of Achilles.” Sounds like the timing is right for that one. I just finished it and found it intriguing.

  14. 😀 Glad you had such brilliant finds! The Pound shops are a surprising source of books, and very random – but when the books turn up they’re often very good. Happy reading!

  15. Ha ha! Best laid plans, and all that…. 😉

  16. what a nice selection you have! I don’t think Eileen is a book you would love based on my reading of your blog and the books you typically enjoy. I’ve read 9 of the longlist books (trying to read them all before the shortlist) and this year have found them to be surprisingly strong with a few exceptions. Last year I enjoyed about half of them. This year I’ve like most of them. I haven’t read the ones you’ve mentioned yet. With any luck I’ll receive my copy of the Coetzee book from the UK in the next few days. I too am really looking forward to that one.

  17. Sounds like an excellent week to me. Happy reading!

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