Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Library Loot

Hosted alternately by Eva at A Stripped Armchair  and by Marg, who has the Mr. Linky this week at The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader.

Library books completed in the last month:

45.Beatrice and Virgil****+ by Yann Martel  (Canada)

An allegory of the Holocaust involving a writer and a taxidermist. Original, if flawed and somewhat self-indulgent, therefore disliked by many professional critics. I appreciated what he was trying to do and enjoyed it and recommend it despite all that. (When in doubt, borrow from your public library first).

Marie at The Boston Bibliophile said it better than I can. "This is a book about understanding the Holocaust, not reliving it. Despite the many negative reviews I believe that in time Beatrice and Virgil will be 
appreciated for the important work that it is."

46.The Solitude of Prime Numbers****+ by Giordano Paolo  (Italy)

Two dysfunctional young people become friends and help each other get through the many difficult phases of their lives. The math is fun and interesting. I loved it. Highly recommended.


47.Tinkers***** by Paul Harding  (US Pulitzer Prize Winner 2010)

A dying man's thoughts and reminiscences of his life and that of his father, an itinerant tinker by trade. Wonderful story, well written. Highly recommended.


48.The Halfway House****+ by Guillermo Rosales (Cuba, 121 pages)

Story among mentally ill in a Miami, Florida halfway house. Insightful and very well written. I enjoyed it very much and recommend it. So does Marie at The Boston Bibliophile where I first heard of this book.

49.Our Horses in Egypt***** by Rosalind Belben (UK) James Tait Black Memorial Prize

We follow an Englishwoman's efforts to find and save horses used during World War I in North Africa and Palestine who managed to  survive. Most of course did not. Great historical fiction. I loved it. Highly recommended. Also reviewed and recommended by Lynne at dovegreyreader scribbles.

50.Man in the Dark**** by Paul Auster (US, 180 pages)

I've enjoyed ever book I've read by Auster, fiction or non fiction: City of Glass****, Ghosts****, The Locked Room****, (The New York Trilogy), The Music of Chance*****, The Invention of Solitude*****, The Art of Hunger*****, Invisible****+ 

51.Silk by Alessandro Baricco**** (Italy, 132 pages)

An unusual love story set in 19th century France and Japan. A French silkworm buyer takes several trips to Japan and falls in love. Enjoyable and recommended. Some sexual content. The first cover shown is magnificent. I'd buy this book for the cover. 

Also reviewed and recommended by kimbofo at Reading Matters and Isabel at Books and other Stuff. 

The second edition (the copy I got from the library) has a cover with the movie tie-in for the upcoming film adaptation of the book, which was originally written in Italian and set in 1860s France. Typically, it does not reflect the sense of the book's characters at all. Herve and Helene are closer to middle age, even as the story begins, and "(Helene) was a tall woman, she had long black hair that she never gathered onto her head..." (page 22).

51.blueyedboy****+ by Joanne Harris (410 pages) UK 2010

A man writes online stories about his life that suggest either a deeply disturbed family or a wildly imaginative young psycopath. Tightly wound psychological suspense from tip to tail, and original. A real departure for this author. I loved it and recommend it highly.


52.Major Petigrew's Last Stand*** by Helen Simonson (358 pages) UK 2010

Interracial middle-aged romance in England, light reading but very enjoyable.

53.Secrets of Eden****+ by Chris Bohjalian (370 pages) US 2010

A murder-suicide in an abusive family shocks a small town in Vermont, even more so when their respected pastor suddenly leaves town, and the church, immediately afterward. Very enjoyable story and well written as Bohjalian's books always are. Highly recommended.

I loved Double Bind***** and Skeletons at the Feast****+. Before You Know Kindness*** was not a great hit with me, but I'm working on this writer's backlist. He writes about interesting topics.

54.Afterimage by Helen Humphreys (250 pages) Canada 2009

Historical fiction, female photographer, her maid, and cartographer husband in 1860s England. Wonderful sense of time and place, details of first attempts in photography and 19th century mapmaking add greatly to the story. I loved it and recommend it highly. 

My thoughts on Coventry***** and Wild Dogs****+ by this author, who has never disappointed me.

55.Homer and Langley**** by E. L. Doctorow (210 pages)

Historical fiction based on real lives on two reclusive brothers in New York City. One is blind, both are eccentric and extreme hoarders. Interesting and enjoyable. Better opening and ending than many novels, smooth enough writing. This was my first experience of reading Doctorow. I can't say I'm keen to read more but it would depend on his subject. He's too big an author not to try more of.


56.No One Thinks of Greenland**** by John Griesemer (310 pages) US 2001

Highly original. American soldiers who were reported missing in action in Korea are being kept secretly in Greenland. Much more here than your average suspense. Well-developed characters make it very enjoyable. A first novel, I will watch for more from this author.

57.Hotel Iris**** by Yoko Ogawa (164 pages) Japan 2010

Sexual obsession between a very lonely teenager and older man in Japan. Very well written as her books usually are, but this will not be everyone's cup of tea. Some sado-masochistic content. 

My thoughts on The Housekeeper and the Professor***** which I loved. I will read The Diving Pool next.


58.Dog Boy***** by Eva Hornung (304 pages) Aus 2010

About one of Russia's abandoned and homeless children who grows up among stray dogs. Fascinating both historically and psychologically. Stunning, most highly recommended. And for once, a cover that perfectly reflects the story.


59.The Line***** by Olga Grushin (323 pages) US/Russia 2010

Also published as The Concert Ticket.

Rumours of concert tickets have people lining up at kiosks in 1950s Stalinist Moscow. As time goes by the lives of those waiting become intertwined. Very good. Highly recommended. 

60.In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White US non-fiction memoir 2010

Personal true account of a white collar criminal finding himself in prison on the grounds on a leper colony in Carville, Louisiana in the 1990s. Most highly recommended. Opening line and comments here. Don't miss this one.

Currently reading:

61.The Ghost Brush by Katherine Govier (Canada 2010)

Wonderful historical fiction about the 19th Japanese painter Hokusai and his daughter, who actually did much of his work. I  previously read Three Views of Chrystal Water****+ about pearl divers and absolutely loved it.

62.The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson (Finland 1982)

This is an internationally know childrens' writer who also wrote a few novels for adults. My public library has those for the young ones, still very popular years since her death. I convinced them to purchase this adult fiction. Given budget restraints, restrictions about not buying books more than two years old (!), and current tastes for the latest popular books, always makes me a happy camper. 

Speaking of Libraries...

This weeks' Great Wednesday Compare by John Mutford at The Book Mine Set  is Libraries VERSUS Bookstores. "If you had to choose one or the other, bookstores or libraries, which would you pick?" Do click through and tell us what you think by July 14. John has hosted the Canadian Book Challenge for four years now and always has fun things to say about literature, Canadian and otherwise.

So, which have you read, or do you plan to? What did you think? Leave me your links, I'd love to read them. Questions and reading recommendations of good literary fiction are always welcomed.


  1. You've been doing some amazing reading! I just finished Skeletons at the Feast and loved it.

  2. That's quite the list! I only read ONE book last month... had a bit of a slump :(. Doing better so far this month: four books read! Woo hoo!

    I haven't heard of quite a few of these books. I'll have to check some of them out! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I'm so impressed by the amount you all read!! You have such a good range! I thought I was a good reader, but have found that you all out-do me by a significant amount!!

    I have read 'The Seige' by Dunmore and really enjoyed it. But I havn't read 'Mourning Ruby' ~ so I'll have to look out for it in charity shops/library, and wait for your review!
    Enjoy :) X

  4. I keep meaning to pick up a copy of Beatrice and Virgil. Thanks for the recommendation. I had read BB's comments so this book was on my radar. Thanks for reminding me. :)

  5. We definitely have the same taste in books. I've enjoyed so many in this post!

  6. I'm glad you liked Beatrice and Virgil. I loved it, but have read a lot more negative than positive reviews.

  7. I want to read Beatrice and Virgil!

    I didn't enjoy The Solitude of Prime Numbers as much as I expected to.

    I have the movie Silk on my shelves, but haven't watched it yet. Maybe I should try and read the book first.

  8. Wow, what a list!

    I have Major Pettigrew's Last Stand here to read, and also Coventry by Helen Humphreys out from the library!

    Enjoy your loot!

  9. I am jealous, period!
    I dnt have a single book frm that list.. :(

  10. Your list is seriously good!!!

  11. I've got Beatrice and Virgil still waiting for me. All those bad reviews kind of made me put it lower on the list. Glad to know you recommend it despite that!

  12. That first cover of Silk looks magnificent!

  13. I really liked Life of Pi (though in Titanic fashion, we're all supposed to deny we did), and now I'm nervous to read Beatrice & Virgil. If it's as bad as as critics make it out to be, will it ruin my impression of Martel as a writer? Glad to see that you enjoyed it though. It eases my mind, at least.

  14. I don't think I've ever visited your blog without coming away with a list of bookks I want to read! This time around I'm adding Dog Boy and Afterimage to my list of future reads. Glad to hear you're in for the 4th!

  15. Hi Sandra, I'm a new follower. I am in awe of the wonderful range of books in your list here - so many of these spark my interest. I haven't read anything by Paul Auster or Helen Humphreys to date, but they're now on my wishlist based on your recommendation. The Line sounds wonderful too.

  16. I am absolutely in awe! I would do well to read this list of books in 6 months. Many are on my TBR list already, and several more I have added as a result of this post.

    I want to thank you for the encouraging comments regarding John Berger's books. I am now very anxious for them to become available at my library.

  17. Loads of fantastic books there. Enjoy!

  18. Guess I've been out of it too long--didn't even realize Yann Martel had a new book. :-/ What a gorgeous cover, though!

    Enjoy all the loot.

  19. I just finished Dog Boy- it was fascinating. No One Thinks of Greenland was another I read recently- that one was good too. And I really do want to read Our Horses in Egypt someday.

  20. I don't know why a lot of reviewers didn't like beatrice and virgil. I really liked it. It was a different way of introducing the topic. Glad you liked it too.

  21. Wow, i haven't read any of these books but they sound great!

  22. I liked Beatrice and Virgil quite a bit, but right after my review so many bloggers came out and slammed it that I actually thought that maybe I missed the boat and was completely off. After sitting on it a while I still feel that it is a very thought provoking book and I'd absolutely read another Martel book.



"25 Books That Caused A Commotion" (1) 4 1/2 stars (5) 4 stars (6) 5 stars (8) American literature (21) Asian American authors (1) Australian literature (3) book awards (10) book giveaways (23) book news (4) booking through thursday (3) Books Read This Week (2) Books TBR in 2009 (1) Burma (1) Cambodia (2) Canada (11) Canadian lit (3) Canadian literature (11) Columbian literature (1) Cover Attraction (3) doctors (1) education (1) elephants (1) England (3) English literature (5) environment (1) epistolary fiction (4) Ex-Cottagers in Love (1) family (3) fiction (2) five stars (2) forewords (1) four and a half stars (1) four stars (1) French literature (3) Friday Finds (6) Giller Prize (2) Giller Prize longlist (1) Giller Prize Winner 2008 (1) guest reviews (10) Hachette (2) haiku (4) Haiku Friday (5) historical fiction (6) humour (1) immigrants (1) Index of Books Reviewed (1) interview (1) Iraq (1) Israel (2) Israeli literature (1) It's Monday What are you reading this week? (2) Italian literature (1) Italy (1) Jerusalem (1) Jewish Book Month (3) Jewish Literature (6) Jewish Literature Challenge (2) Judaism (1) Latin American literature (1) Latin American Reading Challenge (1) library books (1) Library Loot (28) Library Loot July 22 (1) literary fiction (38) literature (20) literature in translation (1) love stories (2) Mailbox Monday (19) male friendship (1) marriage (1) medicine (1) memoir (1) music (1) Musing Mondays (2) My Favourite Reads (1) my work (1) mystery (1) Native Canadians (1) New Crayons (6) New Crayons July 5 (1) New England (1) New York (1) Nigeria (1) Nigerian literature (1) Nobel author (3) Nobel authors (1) Nobel Laureate (1) non-fiction (1) Norway (1) Norwegian literature (1) Nova Scotia (1) Orange Prize (2) ornithology (1) Orthodox Judaism (1) psychological fiction (3) Pulitzer Project (1) rating system (1) Read 'Em Yet? Wednesday (1) Read in 2008 (1) reading challenges (62) reading challenges 2010 (1) reviews (46) Russia (1) Russian literature (1) Salon Sunday (1) Scandinavian mystery (1) short stories (2) Show Me 5 Saturday (2) Spanish literature (2) Sunday Salon (3) The Complete Booker Reading Challenge (1) The Martel-Harper Challenge (1) The Sunday Salon (12) Thursday Tea (4) Toronto (1) translation (2) triplets (1) TSS (2) TSS June in Review (1) TSS March in Review (1) TSS May in Review (1) TSS Week in Review (2) Turkish literature (2) Venice (1) Waiting on Wednesday (8) Waiting on Wednesday July 15 (1) war stories (2) Weekly Geeks (11) What Are You Reading On Mondays? (10) What's On Your Nightstand? (8) winners (14) women writers (2) Wondrous Words (1) Wordless Wednesday (3) writers (1) WW II (2) Wyoming (1)


Blog Widget by LinkWithin