Book Reviews

Sunday Salon: Stocking up the bookshelves


Celebrated the end of the week with some lucky finds which have not only enriched my bookshelves but saved me money.

Image Browsing in my local Red Cross shop, amongst the usual Grishams and Pattersons, I found a copy of White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. Adiga  won the 2008 Man Booker prize with her debut novel about India’s class struggle. I’ve had a good experience with Indian-based Booker winners recently so am hoping this one will not disappoint.

Also in the store was North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. I read Cranford by her a few weeks ago and wasn’t overly impressed but I’m told North and South is less frothy and more substantial. It was only £1.50 so was almost begging for me to buy it.

Then I happened to pop into the library and they were having a sale – £1 for as much as you could carry. I walked away with another Booker prize winner (The Sea by John Banville) plus Summertime by JM Coetzee. Coetzee is one of only two authors to have won the Booker prize twice. Coetzee won in 1983 with Life and Times of Michael K and then in 1999 with Disgrace (the novel also brought him the Nobel prize for literature four years later). I haven’t read either yet but was intrigued by Summertime which is a fictionalised autobiography about a writer finding his feet in South Africa.  I also snaffled an Iris Gower and a Joanna Trollope for my mother so quite a fruitful hour all round.

it’s been a good week on the reading front.

I finished one book from my ‘to be read’ list of Booker prize winners – Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald which I didn’t rate at all. It didn’t have a promising start and never got any better. I’m mid way through ImageMortal Engines by Phillip Reeve which is required reading for my children’s literature list but which I approached with a sense of dread because it’s science fiction and I really don’t do that genre. But I’m actually enjoying it, mostly I suspect because its an adventure story at heart and the science fiction bit isn’t that difficult to follow. And I’ve also started reading Made to Stick – a non-fiction book which looks at why some ideas endure (so why do people still talk about Nostradamu’s prophase 400 years later and why do urban legends persist). Early days yet but it has me thinking…..


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

10 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: Stocking up the bookshelves

  • Made to Stick sounds interesting. I love coming home with a great haul from the local bookstore. Happy reading!

    • I’m hoping it gives me some inspiration for my own communications efforts!

  • Excellent booky finds. I picked up White Tiger from a neighbourhood book swap. Haven’t read it yet but I’m looking forward to it.

  • Great haul at the shops! So many Booker reads … well done. And I’ll join you in finding Offshore less than satisfying.

    • Read your post – have to admit that I am easily distracted also!

  • I was part of a group that shadowed the Booker Judges the year White Tiger won. We also chose it but only because it was the book nobody really objected to and each of the others had both storng advocates and detractors. It was the least controversial book. I suspect that the official judges came to the same decision for the same reasons.

    • That sounds an interesting idea. Is the group planning the same activity this year? How much time elapses between short list and the award announcement?

      • The group was selected by the BBC that year to take part in the shadowing and they provided the books. I don’t know if there doing the same with other groups this year. There’s usually about six weeks between the short list announcement and the awards, which is just about time to do justice to the novels selected. A couple of years before that one of our librarians was chosen to be part of a group reading the long list to see if they chose the same six for the short list (they didn’t) and that was when the long list was nineteen books. She had twenty-one days in which to get through them. That was stupid.

        • Twenty one days for 19 books is stupid as you say. All you end up doing is skimming instead of enjoying.

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