I had so much fun delving into my shelves of unread books that I’m going to continue with the Sample Sunday feature this year. Last year I went through the shelves alphabetically by author surname.
This year I’ll inspect the books alphabetically by title. Which of course means that the three books selected this week all begin with the letter A.
After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell
This is Maggie O’Farrell’s debut novel, marking the start of an illustrious career. The synopsis tells me that the plot concerns a woman who travels from London to Scotland to visit her family but when she gets to Scotland she witnesses something so shocking that she insists on returning to London immediately. A few hours later, she lies in a coma after an accident that may or may not have been a suicide attempt. As her family wait at her bedside, long-buried tensions emerge.
The Verdict: Keep. No doubt about this really because I’ve enjoyed all of O’Farrell’s novels. Her most recent one Hamnet was one of my favourite novels from 2020
All This I Will Give To You by Dolores Redondo
I bought this in 2019 after a few aborted efforts to read something by a Spanish author. The plot begins when author Manuel Ortigosa discovers that his husband has been killed in a car crash. Ortigosa travels to Galicia, the scene of the accident, to discover that there were many aspects of the dead man’s life of which he’d been unaware. As he tries to unravel the truth behind his husband’s double life, he uncovers a web of corruption and deception linked to one of Spain’s most powerful families.
The Verdict: The few pages I’ve sampled read well. I’m edging towards keeping this purely on the basis that some Goodread reviewers have described this as more of a character study than a mystery story.
Aranyak: Of the Forest by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay
A left over from my Asymptote subscription in 2018, this semi autobiographical novel is by a writer described as one of the greatest in modern Bengali literature. It looks to be an episodic narrative about a young graduate in 1920s Calcutta, who, unable to find a job in the city, takes up the post of a ‘manager’ of a vast tract of forested land. There, Satyacharan feels conflicted because the task he is paid to complete — clearing the land for cultivation — means the loss of ancient trees he has come to love and the loss of an ancient way of life for people living within the forest.
The Verdict: Keep. I enjoyed the few pages I sampled.
So all three books have earned their right to stay on my shelves. How long it will take me to get around to reading them is another issue entirely.
Sample Sunday is when I take a look at all the unread books on my shelves and decide which to keep and which to let free. The goal isn’t to shrink the TBR as such, but rather it’s about making sure my shelves have only books I do want to read.What do you think of the decisions I’ve reached? If you’ve read any of these books I’d love to hear from you.