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Sample Sunday: the peasant, the author and the mother

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

While attempting to bring some order to my bookshelves earlier this week, I pulled out three more candidates for Sample Sunday. They all have titles beginning with the letter R.

Raised From The Ground by José Saramango

This early work by the Portuguese author José Saramango is described as a “multigenerational family saga which paints a sweeping portrait of twentieth-century Portugal.” He’s one of the many Nobel Laureates I’ve never read though I own two of his books — this one and the later novel “Blindness”.

The Verdict:  Having just read Ursula le Guin’s review in The Guardian, I’m inclined to keep this.

The Real Jane Austen by Paula Byrne

This one had fallen down the back of the book case but that isn’t the reason I’ve not yet read Byrne’s biography. I’ve I’ve picked it off the shelf a few times but after a couple of pages have always returned it to its slot.

The content isn’t the issue — it’s the size of text in my edition that is offputting, It’s tiny, just as Austen’s own writing was. Byrne eschews the traditional biography birth to death format in favour of revealing Austen’s life and character through a series of objects. Examples include a vellum notebook; a topaz cross; a writing box and a bathing machine, each of them connected with a key moment in Austen’s life.

The Verdict: I like the idea of conveying someone’s life through personal objects. Far more engaging than just dates and places and names. So I think I’ll keep this and remember to read it under a strong light.

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

It’s a mystery why I haven’t got around to reading this because it sounds the kind of book I would find engrossing. Set in 1955, the  book  focuses on the hopes and aspirations of a married couple living in a Connecticut suburb. They are dissatisfied with the dreariness of their lives, believing that they were destined for something more. An unplanned pregnancy is the catalyst for marital discord.

The Verdict: Definitely keeping this one and though I don’t like to plan my reading, I’m making a mental note to read it soon.

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. So 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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