Simon’s Bookish Bits #3

The first bookish bits of 2010 is a bit jam packed, I apologise though it will be worth it. There is a lot of help and recommendations needed today but as a thanks there is a chance of a winning some goodies (ooooh). One thing that there won’t be is any moaning reports on how difficult it is to not buy books as I am saving that for Monday I will be reporting back on that soon enough.

So first up was a bit of a request from one of your favourite non blogging people Granny Savidge Reads, or just Gran, who whilst on the phone the other day asked me if I could post something on the blog. She would love to hear some bookish thoughts from you all about ‘The Blue Flower’ by Penelope Fitzgerald. Now the message was a bit garbled as she was in the middle of stripping the kitchen but I gather that this was a choice at one of the many book groups that she is a member of which got cancelled. So she is now feeling slightly annoyed she can’t discuss it and as I hadn’t read it I couldn’t discuss it with her. If you have reviewed it on your blog leave a link as well as your thoughts and I think Gran will pop by. If they are rave reviews who knows it might go on my wish list.

It seems Gran has been rather snowed in, hence the book group cancellation and so no Blue Flower chat, as I showed you in a picture I am now going to show you again as it links to my next enquiry.

Books based in the snow! Yes, it’s been snowing in the UK if you have somehow managed to miss it. I was listening to the Guardian Books Podcast (this weeks favourite Podcast) was all about snow, when it wasn’t about the Costa winners including the amazing Brooklyn which is Costa Novel of the Year – it must be overall book of the year. Sorry I digressed back to snowy books… Overall I wasn’t too sure of their recommendations;

  • The Snow Tourist – David English
  • Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak
  • The Shipping News – Annie Proulx
  • Cherry: A Life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard – Sara Wheeler
  • A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
  • The Call of the Wild – Jack London
  • The Snowman – Raymond Briggs
  • Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow – Peter Hoeg
  • The People’s Act of Love – James Meek
  • The Dark is Rising – Susan Cooper

Though I had heard of some, and of course read The Snowman (though I am not after Christmassy tales) as a child, most I know little or nothing about and so wondered which snow filled books would you recommend to me, would any of the above be on the list? Mine would be ‘Child 44’ by Tom Rob Smith which has some murders in the snow or my most recent snow filled read, and one that I adored, ‘Legend of a Suicide’ by David Vann. Both I have realised are quite dark snow filled books.

Funnily enough this book ties in with a giveaway, the first two of three opportunities to win a copy this marvellous book from the very kind people of Penguin open to you internationally. If you pop a link or your thoughts on ‘The Blue Flower’ by Penelope Fitzgerald then you will be entered into one draw. Leave recommendations for snow filled reading then you will be entered into another draw for a copy. Do both and you double your chances, you have until the end of Tuesday… Good luck!

P.S I know you would have all joined in without prizes but I do love a good giveaway!

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67 Comments

Filed under David Vann, Dorothy Savidge, Give Away, Penelope Fitzgerald, Penguin Books, Simon's Bookish Bits, Tom Rob Smith

67 responses to “Simon’s Bookish Bits #3

  1. I have the David Vann, so don’t put me in the draw. Just thought of another couple of snowy novels – Stef Penney’s The Tenderness of Wolves, and Daniel Woodrell’s The Winter Bone which was one of my books of the decade.

    I haven’t read the Blue Flower yet, but do have it in the TBR pile. I will be interested to see the discussions, as Fitzgerald is one of the authors I plan to start reading this year (I hope).

  2. Ooh, i REALLY want to read this book, so do enter me in the draw. i haven’t read The blue flower, although I have read a lot of Fitzgerald books.

    My snowy reading would be Jo of the Chalet School – a school story set in the Alps with lots of skiing!

    • Do I take that as a small hint you would like to be in the draw Verity hahahaha, I shall add you in. Havent heard of the book you mention but if (and this is a big if) I go skiing in Feb I will let you know as I think you are possibly a fountain of snow lit knowledge.

  3. I REALLY want to read that too so please add me in!

    I can’t recommend Dr Zhivago enough, it’s one of my top ten of all time and it’s stunning. You can’t get through life without having read it, Simon – make now the time!

    I’m struggling to think of another…ooh…Lucy Gayheart. Very snowy. And fantastic!

    • I shall do indeed. My auties husband (who is very well read) was reading Dr Zhivago when I went to go and look after their twins and he said itw as good. I had a flick through and found it a slightly daunting doorstop of a book but you rating it means it must be good.

      Hav popped you in the draw of course.

  4. That book looks so beautiful! I’d love to be entered for the draw.

    From the list, I’d definitely recommend Call of the Wild, it was my favourite book for a long time. Blankets, a graphic novel by Craig Thompson is also a really good book.

    • I own the Call of the Wild in a Jack London collection and had forgotten about it thanks Michelle. In the draw you go. I really, really want that Blankets book it looks stunning.

  5. I’ve got and read the Vann so don’t need to go into the draw, but I’ll be blogging on The Blue Flower this week – read and loved it last year – thanks for the reminder. Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop is one of my all-time favourite reads.

    • Ooh do let me know when you put your review up and then I can send the link to my Gran! I have heard wonderful things about The Bookshop. That might have to go on the wish list.

  6. Please add me to the draw! (Although if I do happen to win then perhaps give me the book in person?!)

    I haven’t read The Blue Flower yet but intend to as have heard good things; that doesn’t help your Gran though! Sorry.

    Doctor Zhivago is a wonderfully sumptuous book and I heartily recommend it. Moominland Midwinter is a book I haven’t read but I think of snow because of its cover. I flicked through a copy of Blankets the other day in a shop and it is very snow-filled.

    • Oooh you cheeky thing!!! Hahaha for that comment I might not add you to the mix you minx! Hahaha I jest.

      This is not being sent by me (any spares at home are going to people I will see etc as have had some postal mares of late) Penguin are sending them out to the lucky winners.

      Another rave rating of Zhivago. Shame I don’t own the blinker… maybe on for the “snow in 2011″.

      • Didn’t mean to be cheeky to you! More a head-shaking/mouth agape at Royal nightmare Mail!

      • I know you didnt was having a giggle. Your comment made me chortle. Though naturally I am fuming with Royal Mail, I mean why again do I not have post sent from central London three days ago… you guessed it… snow! Even though the vans are bombing here there and everywhere. I ask you!!!

  7. Just a word for those of us across the pond, “Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow” is entitled “Smilla’s Sense of Snow” over here. Phenomenal book – high recommended. Another book that brings a chill to your bones is “Random Acts of Heroic Love”, as part of the story takes place in Siberia.

  8. Eva

    The only Fitzgerald I’ve read is The Bookshop, and I didn’t really like it, so I’m no help there!

    As for snow books, I enjoyed White Fang much more than Call of the Wild as far as Jack London goes…but I read them both when I was in elementary school, so you might want to take that with a grain of salt. ;) If you’re in the mood for some classical Japanese writing, there’s Snow Country by Yaunari Kawabata. I think I gravitate more towards books set in warm climates than cold ones, so that’s all I can think of off the top of my head! I really want to read Doctor Zhivago, though. So if you go with that, tell me, and we can do a read-a-long! ;)

    • Thanks Eva for your recommendations as ever. I don’t know if my collection has White Fang in it or not, I shall have a look, am hoping so.

      I don’t have Zhivago or would jump at the chance fo a read-a-long. Well that and no challenges this year. How about we plan on for 2011 (as I can even do it from Brazil then haha)?? Or is that too far off. I have popped you in the draw of course.

  9. lizzysiddal

    I highly recommend The Blue Flower, Tenderness of Wolves, The People’s Act of Love and White Fang! Also Georges Simenon’s Dirty Snow.

    And I’ve reviewed three of them on my blog. Should I give you the links? Alright then
    The Blue Flower

    The Tenderness of Wolves”>>The Tenderness of Wolves
    Dirty Snow

  10. Simon I reviewed it last August and here is my link: http://harrietdevine.typepad.com/harriet_devines_blog/2009/08/the-blue-flower.html
    I totally loved The Tenderness of Wolves. How about Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson (which I have not read though I hae always meant to as it is said to be very good).

  11. The Blue Flower has been on my ‘to read’ list for ages. I started The Bookshop once, and wasn’t in the right frame of mind for it. It was a DNF.

    As for winter books – How about The Solitude of Thomas Cave? I heard about it from Fleur Fisher’s blog and got it from the library last July. Shortly after starting, I realized that it was definitely a ‘winter’ book and returned it …. which reminds me that I should check it out again.

    • I have added The bookshop to my wishlist as I have to admit that I am really intrigued and looking up the premise of the book it sounds like it might be something I would love.

      I have heard of The Solitude of Thomas Cave but I can’t think why, it might be through Fleur Fisher too.

  12. Lu

    My favorite two snowy books that I read recently are Blankets by Craig Thompson (I feel like if I don’t stop talking about that book people are going to get seriously annoyed at me haha) and City of Thieves by David Benioff.

    http://regularrumination.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/blankets-touching-beautiful-perfect/

    http://regularrumination.wordpress.com/2009/11/10/review-city-of-thieves-by-david-benioff/

    I’ve never read the Blue Flower, but I’d like to!

    • I loved your review of Blankets and am desperate to get my mitts on a copy. However I am not spending on books this year and for over £20 I could by 50 books in my special book shop up the road. Its one to covet though.

  13. farmlanebooks

    Sorry – I haven’t read The Blue Flower, but I have recently finished Snow by Orhan Pamuk, which is the snowiest book I’ve ever read!

  14. The book that came to mind first for snow is A Gentle Axe by R.N. Morris – it’s a period mystery set in Russia and very well done. He’s getting ready to put out the third in the series.

    http://rogernmorris.co.uk/

    I’m going to be reading Call of the Wild and Doctor Zhivago this year (at least I think I will be if I stay on plan!). I’ve read Smilla twice — it has a really beautiful passage about all of the different native words for snow that I read once to an anthropology class.

  15. henrietta

    There is some great snow in “The Magician’s Assistant” by Ann Patchett. I heard that “Brooklyn” won the overall Costa Prize on Front Row (Radio 4) this week, and immediatly thought of you and how pleased you would be !

  16. Alas, I can’t offer any hard feedback on Fitzgerald as I haven’t read The Blue Flower, BUT (and I’m not sure if this is good enough to count for the giveaway) I do have a copy of that very book sitting on my shelf and I hope to tackle it this year… so soon enough I may have some thoughts to share with your Gran!

    As for snow-filled reading, I immediately thought of Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood, a novel which takes place in Toronto and in my mind always the winter of Toronto. There is one chilling scene (ha! see what I did there?) that involves an icy river… I seem to recall that you’re an Atwood fan. If so, I highly recommend you give this one a go. It’s one of my favourites by her.

    • Hahahah nice try Steph but merely owning it doesnt count sadly haha. I will pop you in for the drawer of the snow books though. I am desperate to read Cat’s Eye and am not sure why I still havent.

  17. I read several Jack London works as a kid, Simon, but I don’t imagine I would appreciate him as much as an adult. For an excellent nonfiction snowy read, I must suggest Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s The Worst Journey in the World, a harrowing account of Scott’s last expedition to the South Pole as written by a survivor of the expedition. It’s one of my favorite nonfiction works ever!

    • Hmm I wonder if because I have no idea what Jack London really entails I might like him even though I am not a kid (well mentally maybe). A biography of Cherry was raved about on the Guardian podcast, they didnt mention his own work weirdly.

  18. I would recommend Miss Smilas Feeling For Snow. We read that as one of our book club selections a couple of years ago and I remember enjoying it then – and if I remember correctly it also generated a lot of discussion which I think is always a good sign!

  19. thepygmygiant

    I’ve checked my shelves, and The Blue Flower is in Somerset… I really want to read it, though, and will do soooon…

  20. Doh, my housemate’s lack of logging-out on my computer strikes again!

  21. Ellen

    The Shipping News by Annie Proulx is one of my all-time favorites, especially because of the unlikely hero, a shambling loser who finds himself in Newfoundland. You do have to get used to her unusual use of language, but it’s well worth the trouble. That’s the one. And what location is better for exploring snow than mine, Canada?

  22. Bet

    One of my favorite snow stories is The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition by Caroline Alexander. The photos (by the expedition’s photographer, Frank Hurley) are breathtaking. Another favorite is The Long Walk by Slamovir Rawisz, about a group of prisoners who escape from Siberia.

  23. Marina

    Adalbert Stifter’s Rock Crystal is a beautiful fable, filled with snow, and perfect for shutting the world out on a snowy winter afternoon.

    I would also second a recommendation above for Yasunari Kawabata’s atmospheric Snow Country.

    I remember loving Susan Cooper’s The Dark Rising all those years ago, but I seem to have forgotten there was snow in them. Those books are due for a re-read I think

    • I love a good fable Marina. And I am also a fan of shoutting the world (and preferably the cold) out on a snowy afternoon so sounds a delight.

      I have never heard of Kawabata, that might have to go on the wish list, I also hadnt heard of The Dark Rising until I heard about it on the podcast.

  24. Mmmm..Haven’t read The Blue Flower, so can’t say anything on that.

    But snowy books…well…there’s loads out there but “Snow” by Orhan Pamuk and “City of Thieves” by David Benioff come to mind.

  25. I see someone has already mentioned ‘Snow’ by Orhan Pamuk, which is on my tbr shelf. Someone also mentioned ‘Snow Falling on Cedars’, which I have to admit I *tried* to read at least a decade ago and could never get through it.

    I always remember the cold, snowy scene in ‘A Little Princess’ (Frances Hodgson Burnett) when Sara finds the money and buys the hot rolls and then sees the little girl who is even more cold and hungry than she herself is and she gives the rolls (all but one, if memory serves) away.

    And, hey, if you’re wondering which Jodi Picoult to pick – ‘The Tenth Circle’ is, at times, snowy!

  26. Loretta

    The first thought I had was Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney, which is a good read. Also, maybe the short story by Jack London, To Build a Fire. This story will make you happy you are snug in your house.

    But it seems that on a snowy day it would be fun to read something that can be finished in one day (while you are snowed in) and that has nothing to do with snow. There is a book on my TBR pile, Pilgrim Hawk by Glenway Wescott that would do the trick. Or one of Willa Cather’s novellas.

    Sadly, I have not read The Blue Flower.

  27. Pingback: Legend of a Suicide Winners… « Savidge Reads

  28. Poor Gran may have had her fill of The Blue Flower by now but I have posted my thoughts on it after a reader’s request. Don’t miss The People’s Act of Love – James Meek, The Call of the Wild – Jack London, or Smilla’s Sense of Snow – Peter Hoeg (as they call it here).

    http://freshinkbooks.blogspot.com/2010/01/blue-flower-by-penelope-lively.html

    • Thanks Sandra I shall send that link to my Gran shortly. Its funny you should mention the Peoples Act of Love that is the book my Gran has just picked up from the library for her next book group!

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