Can You Ever Have Too Many Books?
If you’ve ever watched the tv series Absolutely Fabulous, you might remember Patsy’s one piece of fashion advice: “You can never have enough hats, gloves and shoes”.
I feel the same way about books. Three hundred books in the house, as yet unread. But who can resist the temptation to acquire yet more? This week saw more than the normal number of new acquisitions, some which were purchases, others library loans and one title I won in a give away.
Starting at the top we have Educating Alice by Alice Steinbach. I loved her earlier book Without Reservations which documented a year she spent in Europe, travelling without any plan from Paris, where she found a Japanese soul mate; to Oxford and Milan, where she befriended a young woman about to be married. It was a warm and witty, account of how she learned to be an independent woman. Educating Alice sees her leave her job as a journalist with the Baltimore Sun and head off once more, but with the plan this time of taking courses in each destination. She learns French cooking in Paris, Border collie training in Scotland, traditional Japanese arts in Kyoto, and architecture and art in Havana. Sadly this is the last book by the Pulitzer Prize author – Alice Steinbach died in 2012.
Next we have Bound by Vanda Symon which is the fourth and latest in her crime detective series set in the environs of Dunedin in New Zealand. I was lucky enough to win this in a giveaway organised by her UK publishers, Orenda Books. I enjoyed the first in the series – Overkill – and I’m told by my dad who has read books two and three, that they are just as good. I have some catching up to do before I can get to Bound.
Emmet and Me is the second book by Welsh author Sara Gethin. My copy came via the Welsh independent press, Honno, in readiness for the book tour to mark the launch in May . Sara’s debut novel, Not Thomas, was set firmly in Wales with a disturbing story told through the eyes of a five year old boy. Her new novel also has a young protagonist but is set largely across the water in Ireland.
Continuing down the pile we have The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett which is the next book club selection. I hadn’t heard of this novel until it appeared on the Women’s Prize For Fiction shortlist this year. It sounds like its very much an “issues” novel, featuring twin sisters who run away from a small black community in one of the southern states of the USA. Though physically separated as adults, their fates and those of their daughters are inter-twined.
And finally two books I had on reservation at the library that I was able to collect today. Our Lady of The Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga is her debut novel and the first of her books to be published in the UK. I was blown away by a later novel of hers – The Barefoot Woman – which was written as a tribute to her mother, a victim of the violence and genocide in Rwanda. Our Lady Of The Nile foreshadows those events with an account of tensions at a school for privileged girls in Rwanda.
The last book in the list is one that’s a bit of a punt. Bullet Train by Kotaro Isaka was a best seller in Japan and will likely sell even more copies internationally one the film version starring Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock is released (possibly later this year). I don’t normally read best sellers (usually find they fail to live up to the hype) but I’ve never read any Japanese crime fiction to put this on hold out of curiosity. Bullet Train is about five assassins – Satoshi, Kim, Nanao, Tangerine and Lemon – who find themselves on a bullet train to Tokyo competing for a suitcase full of money. The question is which of them will be alive when the train reaches its destination.
This little collection should keep me occupied for many weeks, especially at my current slow pace. I’m delighted to see it has a strong international flavour with authors from New Zealand, Wales, Japan, North America and Rwanda. Is there anything here that takes your fancy or, if you’ve read any of these titles, which would you recommend?
18 thoughts on “Can You Ever Have Too Many Books?”
Definitely intrigued by Bullet Train. looking forward to what you think
Started reading it last night. Not sure it will be one I continue with though.
I loved The Vanishing Half, I thought it was really well done, warm and inclusive, and not a clunky issues book at all. I really rated it.
Great to know that it’s not going to be a clunky one.
The answer to your title is obvious: No! Though I am torn between acquiring new books and reading all the old books in mine and my father’s collections that fill the house. Now I’m 70 it’s getting less and less likely that I’ll ever read them all.
Bullet Train sounds the sort of thing I like to read as a digression from my usual fare, but I’m still trying very hard to whittle down books I already have and restricting book buying to absolute must-haves. So far this year think I’ve only picked up half a dozen books new-to-me—the upside of lockdown (if that’s not too flippant) is that I’ve had no choice over browsing in bookshops, it’s simply not been possible!
Yes it’s very much a digression for me Chris. I haven’t bought very many this year either, though there are at least two books coming every month. One for book club and one from a book subscription.
I’m the same. I’ll likely never read all the unread ones in the house, but that doesn’t stop me acquiring them…
The day you stop buying books every publisher in the land will be howling…..
All of these look like worthy additons to me. My answer to your question would, of course, be ‘no’ although I was brought up short a while back when a blogger – can’t remember who – proclaimed that they din’t think they’d have enough time left to read all the unread books they owned. Didn’t stop me, though.
The older you get the more you realise that there are only so many years left when you can read all these books. It’s made me more choosy in what I read and more likely to stop reading something I’m not enjoying.
I just bought a copy of Bullet Train too! I didn’t know a movie was in the works, I’ll have to make sure and read it first.
I don’t know when the film is coming out since all the production schedules have been shot to pieces. I’m going to start reading it soon though just to be on the safe side..
Look forward to hearing what you think.
I adored Alice Steinbach. I was very sad when she died. Bullet Train sounds fun but hate American remakes of books. Would rather see a Japanese cast. I’d like to read The Vanishing Half. It has been very popular in Australia.
At first I wasn’t sure she had died because when I did an internet search I kept seeing bios which talked about where she was now working. Rather unfortunate I thought when I did get the confirmation, that these bios (some by publishers) hadn’t been updated
Vanishing Half has sone thought provoking themes!
It does – I just hope they are handled well. sometimes the issue gets in the way of the story