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Sample Sunday: On Students, Activists and Authors

Sample Sunday is an opportunity to check all the books on my shelves and decide what to keep

From the 280+ owned-but-unread books on my bookshelves, I’m choosing three whose titles begin with the letter I. Unusually I’ve decided all three have earned their right to remain.

If Nobody Speaks Of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor

I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Jon McGregor so there’s not really much doubt that I want to keep this book about student life in a northern English city. It was his debut novel, nominated for the 2002 Booker Prize and was the winner of both the Betty Trask Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award in 2003.  I must be keen to read it because I seem to have two copies.

The Verdict: Keep.

Infidel by Ayaan Hirst Ali

This is the author’s life story, tracing her childhood in Somali and her flight to Holland at the age of 20 where she claimed refugee status to escape an arranged and marriage. She relinquished Islam, became a Dutch citizen and a member of Parliament. As a result of her outspoken criticism of the oppression of Muslim women, she needed police protection.

The Verdict: I’m tempted to keep.

Illustrado by Miguel Syjuco

The 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize panel of judges described this as”brilliantly conceived and stylishly executed . . .It is also ceaselessly entertaining, frequently raunchy, and effervescent with humour”

It begins with the death of an eminent Philippine author. His student sets out to investigate his death and the disappearance of the only manuscript of his final book. I’m intrigued to learn that this isn’t a straight forward mystery tale. Instead, the blurb tells me it is “a rich and dramatic family saga of four generations, tracing 150 years of Philippine history forged under the Spanish, the Americans, and the Filipinos themselves.”

The Verdict: Keep. It’s the historical aspect that interests me most

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.

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