These Could Cheer Anyone Up

A big thank you for all the lovely comments yesterday and all your thoughts, it was really lovely to know that you were all out there giving me your support and condolances. I won’t be replying individually as I don’t really want to dwell on it and so today I thought ‘what would be a joyful post after yesterday’ and so I thought I would share with you what has been arriving through the post box over the last few weeks from publishers at Savidge Reads HQ. Who out there can say they can’t be cheered up by lots of books arriving? Plus what could be more appropriate on World Book Day?

I have decided to arrange them in sizes, so let’s kick it all off with the paperbacks…

The Castle of Otranto – Horace Walpole
Someone at OUP obviously read my first post of my ‘do I want to read’ series as sure enough it arrived along with two more gothic friends you can see below.
The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick
Obviously this is one of the TV Book Group choices and I wouldn’t have heard of this without it am sure. I am looking forward to it just from the title alone. Might try and fit this in before it’s discussed on the telly.
I’m Not Scared – Niccolo Ammaniti
This looks like it could be a very me book as it centres on a ‘dilapidated farmhouse’ and dark discovery. I like the mystery of it and the covers quite dark and yet inviting.
The Italian – Ann Radcliffe
An author I have had on my radar for quite some time and not dared to try as Udolpho is so huge (see below) this looks much more manageable and just as gothic.
The Crossroads – Niccolo Ammaniti
Canongate must think me and Ammaniti are going to get on like a house on fire as they sent this with ‘I’m Not Scared’. Reading the blurb he sounds like an Italian Mankell would that be correct?
Alone in Berlin – Hans Fallada
I have seen the posters for this everywhere and so my Savidge Reads Radar has been beeping regularly alerting me that there could be a wonderful book out there I don’t own… which now I do, hoorah!
The Mysteries of Udolpho – Ann Radcliffe
Some say this is the greatest novel every written. I am hoping I have as much fun with this as I did with East Lynne the mother of all sensation novels, we will see.

Now to the, what do you call these size books? I call them the middle/in between sized ones but am sure that’s not the official term…

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson
Winterson has been an author I have wanted to try for ages. I had this one already but the new 25th Anniversary edition is just gorgeous and so I will be delving into that very soon.
Once Again To Zelda – Marlene Wagman-Geller
A book I was alerted to thanks to the BBC’s Open Book. This is fifty stories behind fifty dedications in some of the world’s greatest books. With tales of why Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie, Oscar Wilde, Grace Metalious, J.K. Rowling and many more, dedicated  their books to the people they did.
Orphans of Eldorado – Milton Hatoum
The latest Canongate Myths book which is set in Brazil a country I want to read lots more about this year.
Where The Serpent Lives – Ruth Padel
Any book that has the settings of London, Devon and the jungles of India needs to be read frankly.
Bitter Leaf – Chioma Okereke
I have read some cracking African fiction in the last few months and want to read more so Virago must be psychic as this debut is ‘set in a world that is African but never geographically placed’ sounds intriguing. I have a hunch this might get an Orange mention… maybe.
Rupture – Simon Lelic
The blogosphere has been going crazy over this book of a teacher opening fire in a school assembly, in the last month or so. Will I be joining them in raving about it?

Finally the bigger books…

Homer & Langley – E.L. Doctorow
Another author I have always wanted to read and this book of two brothers who holed themselves up (like a male version of Grey Gardens in a way) from the world and lived alone in a dilapidated grand old building of New York. I have an inkling this will become a favourite of the year.
The Songwriter – Beatrice Colin
I utterly fell in love with Colin’s book ‘The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite’ last year am hoping this book captures the same spell on me.
A Little Folly – Jude Morgan
Another author I loved last year as I read ‘The Taste of Sorrow’ and was mortified it wasn’t in the Man Booker Longlist as it was superb. Instead of the lives of the Bronte sisters or any other famous authors we are now treated to a scandalous tale of Regency London. I cannot wait!
The Pacific – Hugh Ambrose
A slightly leftfield rogue sending from Canongate. This has been made into a ten part series by Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg I gather. It looks a bit hard hitting as it’s about the real men involved in the war. I am intrigued but wary all at once.

So have you read any of those titles or anything else by any of the authors? Are any on your TBR or radar? What have you had arrive lately by post, by shopping or by library loaning?

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50 Comments

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50 responses to “These Could Cheer Anyone Up

  1. Simon, you always find such great books and I end up adding them to my loooong wish list every time. I am interested in The Taste of Sorrow, since I am a huge Bronte fan. I am also interested in Once Again to Zelda. Thanks for sharing this!

    • I think the books seem to find me much more than I now find them. You can see why a book buying ban wasnt as hard as I thought it was going to be. I am thinking Once Again to Zelda is one I am going to read in dribs and drabs like I do short story collections.

  2. Book parcels are most definitely cheering 🙂

    I’ve read the Gothic reads and Oranges are not the Only Fruit (was not impressed with Winterson, I have to say) but all years ago so my memory is fuzzy!

    I’m intrigued by Once Again to Zelda (an F. Scott Fitzgerald dedication?) and Bitter Leaf.

    • Bitter Leaf I seem to have two copies of now so if you can wait until the next book group I can happily wing you the spare copy that I now have in the house? Let me know.

      I have heard mixed things about Winterston so am looking forward to giving that a go and seeing how I get on.

      Fitzgerald indeed, his story behind the dedication is very much present in the book.

  3. I am supremely jealous, there look like some really good reads in those piles. The one that stuck out for me was The Pacific – High Ambrose as I am very much looking forward to the television series. I watched Tom Hanks and Steven Spielbergs and the BBC’s Band of Brothers, which looked at the allies in fighting in Europe, amazing.

    I have 3 new books into my house. Got a Vintage copy of Jane Eyre, another ASDA bargain. Got Tom Rob Smith’s sequel The Secret Speech…oh so excited about that one in particularly. And I eventually remembered to bring home my Nan’s copy of Rebecca which I’m just about to start reading 🙂

    • The Pacific is oddly the one I am a little dubious about, I had a flick through this weekend and I cant seem to make out if its fiction or non fiction or a bit of both. I will give it a whirl though as I need to push my reaidng boundaries this year, its one of my big aims.

      Asda seem to be doing these wonderful books everywhere except the one near me… though thats quite possibly a good thing.

  4. Wow, that’s quite a few books, all of which intrigue me, for one reason or another. Am particularly looking forward to hearing what you think of Alone in Berlin and Once Again to Zelda. Might have to search out my own copy of The Pacific – I’m excited about the tv series but own up to knowing almost nothing about the war in the Pacific, aside from the fall of Hong Kong.

    It’s been years since I read The Mysteries of Udolpho and I have to admit that my memory is a bit hazy. I don’t remember loving it, but then it was read for school as part of a unit on gothic fiction and I’ve never been a huge gothic fan.

    • Alone in Berlin I know relatively little about there is just a huge buzz around it here there and everywhere so I am very much intrigued.

      I do wonder if we are destined to not like the books that we read at school. People only have to mention ‘A Room With A View’ and I start to get edgy.

  5. Goodness, that’ll keep you going for a while!
    My lovely brother got me Once Again to Zelda for Christmas.

  6. Dot

    I hope you enjoy Jeanette Winterson, I think her writing is so powerful, really leaves you with a lot to think about.

  7. Do let me know when you’re going to read “Alone in Berlin” – I have it too and would relish a joint German read.

    “I’m not Scared” is brilliant.
    http://lizzysiddal.wordpress.com/2008/12/11/im-not-scared-niccolo-ammaniti/
    The Crossroads is compulsive though not my favourite.
    http://lizzysiddal.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/the-crossroads-niccolo-ammaniti/
    And I wouldn’t compare Ammaniti to Mankell at all. You’ll see why once you’ve read him.

    • Thanks for the links Lizzy. I dont know why in my head these books will be like an Italian Wallander, its me making lazy assumptions again (as I did with July’s People) tut, tut.

      As for Alone in Berlin reading… am thinking after the NTTVBG has calmed down and maybe its a book that needs reading when there is much sunshine about maybe?

  8. Oh wow, I’m so jealous! Some great books there. I loved Mysteries of Udolpho when I read it years ago. I wonder what you’ll think of it.

  9. That’s a lot of books (yay). The Jeanette Winterson book is really good, probably a bit revolutionary in terms of structure at the time. Anxious to know how the Ruth Padel book is after she was involved in the scandal surrounding that top university poetry post.

  10. You have been in my thoughts for the last two days. I hope that life is going on for you and you continue to pick up the threads . I want to put in a plug for “Oranges are not the Only Fruit” This might be a very good read right now and some of the humor will certainly put a smile on your face. Winterson’s writing is mostly too frenetic for me but this one book is a top favorite.

    • Thank you very much Erika. I am doing ok, its been almost a week now so day by day it sinks in more and I get a bit more used to it… anyway moving on. Another plug for Winterson is firmly logged.

  11. Lovely, lovely books! I especially like the cover of Oranges are Not the Only Fruit.

  12. Deb

    I read I’m Not Scared last year and, although it was undoubtedly well-written, it involves danger and harm to a child which I find very difficult to read. Be prepared.

    Homer & Langley is based on the true story of New York’s Collyer brothers. I don’t know how closely Doctorow’s story hews to reality, but the Collyers began life as wealthy society men but gradually deteriorated into squalor. They were hoarders who never threw anything away and they had booby-trapped their apartment to keep away intruders. In the late 1940s, one of the brothers died–the victim of his own booby-trap–and the other brother, who was blind and handicapped and had relied on his brother for everything, starved to death. Their bodies weren’t found for a while.

    So, obviously, a bit of light reading there.

    • The idea of I’m Not Scared in the way you describe it makes me slightly concerned but, and dont take this wrongly, it won’t put me off because I do think fiction is sometimes there to challenge and occasionally we need to go to darker places.

      H&L I am really excited about. I have had to stop myself from picking that up twice in the last week.

  13. Loved the Winterson book – such a great read! Can’t wait to see what you thought of it.

    I’m also looking forward to finding out more about I’m Not Scared, which I have heard is brilliant.

    What a great haul, Simon!!

    • I know Nadia its been the perfect pick me up over the last few days! (Mind you a fair few of them arrived over the last few weeks – its not like this happens weekly, not that I would mind hahaha.)

  14. You’ve a Hans Fallada book I’ve never heard of. I must get that right away. I read The Drinker and Each Man Dies Alone last year and loved them both. I thought there was only one other available in English, What Now Little Man.

  15. You always have such enviable titles! I haven not read any of those but want to read The Castle of Otranto and The Mysteries of Udolpho!

  16. What excellent books! Love the new cover of Oranges and am envious of the OUP books 🙂

    • I do love how OUP have rebranded themselves in the subtlest of ways. I used to get them mixed up with Wordsworth Classics (no offense to either party meant) and now they are just so distinctive.

  17. Eva

    Those are some piles of cheer! 🙂 I have Mysteries of Udolpho patiently waiting for me on my shelves…perhaps you’ll inspire me to get to it. 🙂

    The only one of these I’ve read is I’m Not Scared; it wasn’t what I expected, but I ended up loving it!

    • Eva I am thinking of doing some group read or gothic season with Udolpho etc (especially as I have since received The Monk) later on in the year, so maybe you could join in with that if I work out the whens etc?

      I like the idea of a book being unexpected and yet loveable! Sounds very promising.

  18. That’s an awesome pile of books! I haven’t read any of those titles yet, but Bitter Leaf caught my attention for some reason.

    I hope you’re feeling better today Simon.

  19. Susan in TX

    Now “that’s” a stack of books! If I were to pluck one off the pile to start immediately, it would be Once Again Zelda. I love that sort of stuff. Happy Reading!

  20. I see some Gothic escapes in those glorious new piles. I would go that route. Maybe after that monster sized Sensation read from last year you will now be inspired to host A Gothic a Go Go! I would be first in line to participate.

  21. Once Again to Zelda sounds like one of the best ideas for a book that I’ve heard of in a long time!

    What a wonderful stack(s) of books! Hopefully they will keep you company during these harder times.

    • I heard about the Zelda book on the radio and was instantly intrigued, I have noticed a couple of dedications in my time and wondered about the stories behind them. One of my most favourite recently was Dan Rhodes dedication to ‘Wife features’ that made me laugh before I had even started the book.

  22. Rob

    Niccolo Ammaniti has fast become one of my fav contemporary authors. So I know you’re going to enjoy both of these titles Simon. Not overly important but I’d definitely read ‘I’m Not Scared’ before’ Crossroads’. Both are very different stories with ‘Crossroads’ definitely being the grittier.

    Thanks also for including the paperback edition of ‘Alone in Berlin’ in your shot. You’ve reminded me that the paperback edition is now out, and like you and Lizzy, I wasn’t lucky enough to get a review copy from Penguin – I’m slipping 🙂 Copy ordered!
    Best of luck with these Simon and may you get over your heartbreaking news as quickly and as comfortably as you can.
    Warmest
    Rob

    • Rob

      P.S. Why the hell am I calling you Mark, Simon? Apologies for that *blush*
      Warmest
      Rob

      • Hahahaha by some amazing magic (ok editing) you never have called me Mark… hee hee! I shouldnt worry I get called Stephen all the time so having an M at the start is quite refreshing!

        I wasdefinitely thinking of reading I’m Not Scared before Crossroads so thanks for reiterating that one to me as I doubtlessly would have forgotten and just gone for either.

  23. Mae

    I’ve had The Italian sitting on my shelves for the last few years so this might be the extra kick to read it. It’ll be fascinating to read Mysteries at Udolpho which was the sort of things Jane Austen read herself!

    And super jealous of all the books you’ve received. 🙂

    • I am thinking about some kind of Gothic season on the blog with a few read-a-longs on the way Mae so maybe you could join in with some of those. I keep forgetting I said I would do a Sherlock Season too.

  24. If you are interested in even more books, I am conducting a giveaway over at my blog. I apologize for this shameful promotional plug, but I thought, as a fellow book blogger, you (or your readers) may be interested in the chance to win free books (with a wide range of choices). You may have heard of the Tournament of Books, but, if not, you can read all about it over at my place.

    You have quite an interesting stack of books. I will be eagerly looking forward to reading your thoughts on them.

  25. You are right Kerry that is a shameless plug hahaha, but I can forgive you after all who could turn down the prospect of more books? Hee hee.

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