Do I Want To Read…?

I told you that this might be a sporadic series and it has indeed been a while since I last asked you about some books that crossed my path that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read or not. I have read one of them and it will be on the blog this week, so thank you for all your thoughts on that one as it lead to a reading. This time its three books that I know nothing about and had in fact never heard of until a certain website recommended that I read them and now I am in two minds, though the covers are calling me…


  • Evelina: Or the History of A Young Lady’s Entrance into the World – Frances Burney
  • Memoirs of Emma Courtney – Mary Hays
  • Cecilia: or Memoirs of an Heiress – Frances Burney

There was another one about two victorian sisters which looked ace as well but I cannot find that title for the life of me which is most vexing as it would be perfect for my victoriana research, oh well. As for these three as I said I know nothing about them but they do intrigue me and I have said I want to read more fiction that isn’t contemporary so these seem like they could be a treat! I haven’t even heard of the authors and I feel like I should have. So those of you who know the classics do please let me know if these are any good as they have stirred an interest from Savidge Reads and I would love your insights.

For those of you who are more into your contemporary, I am pleasing both parties to day I hope, I finally opened the parcels that I mentioned on Saturday’s post that had been awaiting me at the sorting office for a few days. They contained these delights…

  • The House of Special Purpose – John Boyne
  • Baba Yaga Laid an Egg – Dubravka Ugresic
  • The Sea’s – Samantha Hunt
  • The Oxford Book of Death
  • Glasshopper – Isabel Ashdown
  • The Einstein Girl – Philip Sington
  • The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas
  • Our Tragic Universe – Scarlett Thomas
  • The Lonely Polygamist – Brady Udall
  • Half Life – Roopa Farooki
  • A Preperation For Death – Greg Baxter
  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet – David Mitchell
  • The Clay Dreaming – Ed Hillyer
  • The Hand That First Held Mine – Maggie O’Farrell
  • The Shadows in the Streets – Susan Hill
  • The Swimmer – Roma Tearne
  • The Great Perhaps – Joe Meno

Let me know if you have heard good things about any of the titles or authors, if you have read any, any you are already sick of hearing about and any you would really like to hear more about, that would be marvellous.

That’s all from me, after a marvellous discussion round at mine for the latest NTTVBG and ‘Skin Lane’ by Neil Bartlett (which I think is an amazing book) I am quite, quite tired and have rather a lot of virtual tidying up to do, I am quite sad it was my last hosting session though. Right, I am off, thoughts on the above books please!


Filed under Book Thoughts, Do I Want To Read?

58 responses to “Do I Want To Read…?

  1. You’re branching into the earliest days of the novel, Simon! Good on you! Fanny Burney is very good and as one of the first female novelists she was a great influence on later writers such as Austen and the Brontes.

    If you haven’t read any 18th century novels before you’ll find them hard going to begin with – very long, very wordy, very colloquial – but they’re worth it. If you find you like Burney you should try Henry Fielding and Samuel Richardson – they are two of the earliest novelists in the English language and it’s wonderful to read them to see what the first novels consisted of and what people in the 18th century enjoyed reading. Their novels tend to be quite bawdy but it makes for fun reading!

    I hope you enjoy dipping your toes into the waters of the 18th century!

    • Well I am certainly thinking about it Rachel even if I havent quite gotten around to doing it yet but they are tempting me. I will have to see if I can get my hands on any of them from the library as you well know I am not actually allowed to buy any books (for me or anyone else) this year!

      I have read a few 18th century books in fact I think the one that will be on here on Thursday is one actually, and what a barmy little number it was too!

  2. I have read all these and I agree with booksnob, you may find them tough to start with. If I were you I’d start with Evelina as it is the shortest and probably the most accessible, and Burney is a good writer though not really all that much a favorite of mine. Emma Courtney is certainly an interesting book and quite thought-provoking. I hope you do read some of these as I’d love to hear what you make of them.

    • I like the idea of them all and I do like a challenge more often than not in my reading routine so it sounds like these could be really interesting. I will have to hope the library has them!

      I like the idea of short and accessible as a starting point.

  3. gaskella

    Lovely covers, but I know nothing about 18thC books!

    There are several that attract me in your pile above though, The great perhaps, Roma Tearne and Scarlett Thomas’ new ones, plus Baba Yaga laid an egg. I’d been trying to find a copy of this one from the Canongate myths at a reasonable price, but failed so I’m glad to see the paperback’s out.

    • they are gorgeous ocovers arent they, I think that (along with some of the subtitles) where what really caught my eye.

      I love the title fo Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, its grand. Am intrigued by the Thomas, I didnt get on with Mr Y and then left it on the tube so never tried again.

  4. I’ve had Evelina by Frances Burney on my shelf (will figuratively as it is actually at home in Glasgow) for years; it was suggested reading at uni and I never did read it. I’ve wanted to a little more as each year has passed and do intend to pick up Clarissa and Pamela by Samuel Richardson at some point too.

    From all those parcels not one of the books appeals – how odd! Maybe I’ll feel differently once you read and review them.

    • Good thing they didnt come to your door then hee hee. Have you read O’Farrell? I am suprised I haven’t raved about The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox to everyone at Book Group! Ha.

      I wish my mother would house some of my books I hers now she has two houses, well a house and a log cabin she might let me some space hee hee.

  5. Beautiful covers on the 18th Century novels. I haven’t read any of them though, so I’m less than qualified to make recommendations.

    I’ve been hearing good things about both The Slap and The Hand that First Held Mine, though I must admit that only The Hand that First Held Mine is on my TBR list. I loved O’Farrell’s The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox so I’m very excited to get my hands on her newest book.

    • They are lovely covers aren’t they. Maybe an 18th Century Season is called for later in the year, maybe for the summer hols.

      The Slap have heard marvellous things about indeed. I too loved The Vanishing Act… so am looking forward to O’Farrells latest.

  6. Lovely pile of books! I would definitely go with the David Mitchell book – Cloud Atlas was amazing! This new one should be great, too! And I’ve heard some really interesting things about The Slap. I think its so great that you are expanding your book tastes to include some contemporary fare – hope you enjoy them!! Cheers!

    • I wasn’t a fan of Cloud Atlas it has to be said Nadia, I am looking forward to this one although the hype around it is making me have a bit of a wobble about whether I want to read it soon or let it all die down first.

  7. You’ve got the new David Mitchell and the new Maggie O’Farrell! I am supremely jealous. Read the Maggie! Read the Maggie! By my own, personal theory of O’Farrell, it should be great. I think every other book of hers is fabulous, the ones in between not so much.

    1. After You’d Gone – AMAZING
    2. My Lover’s Lover – didn’t like it
    3. The Distance Between Us – loved it
    4. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox – didn’t like it.

    Thus, number five should be awesome.

  8. Beate

    Wow ! What a lovely pile of treasures you’ve got there ! To Make it short and quote Kirsty : “I’m really very supremely jealous !” 😉
    I’ve read Susan Hill and liked it, but wasn’t too thrilled by it. I’d expected a bit more….. Maybe I’m getting a bit picky. The problem with sequels of course is, that not every single one of them can be excellent, at least that’s what I think. And I’m going to read the next volume anyway, cause I have to know what’s going to happen with Simon and the lot.
    I’d love to read THE SLAP, actually I’m waiting for it to be published and I so love the titel THE HAND THAT FIRST HELD MINE that I’m going to read that as well.I know I’m stupid, but I have a weak spot for a) lovely covers and b) interesting titles.

    • I am looking forward to the Susan Hill though I might leave that a little while as I have some other crime series books that I really want to catch up with like Sophie Hannah (who has a new one out I am desperate for) but I am two behind with her. I haven’t read a Gerritsen in ages either.

  9. catharina

    From all the titles mentioned in this post – both classic and new – I read Samantha Hunt The Seas. Quite an original unusual voice I remember. Need to read more to find out what I think of her.

  10. I haven’t heard a squeak about any of the books you mentioned, unfortunately, but I find myself completely intrigued by the title, Baba Yaga Laid an Egg! Must investigate.

  11. What a wonderful pile of books to read. The only one which I have read is ‘The Slap’ by Christos Tsiolkas. My daughter brought it back from Australia for me in January. Apparently it was a much discussed book out there. I found it interesting, the basic premise was very good, but something about the lives of the characters seemed a little false….maybe its just because I don’t know enough about modern living in Melbourne. I thought it would be better as a TV drama than it was as a book.

    • Oooh thats interesting as thats the first slightly unfavourable review I have heard of The Slap, its one I have two copies of as someone brought me it from Australia and I held off from reading it too far in advance.

  12. I read and really enjoyed Evelina, BUT I’m a huge fan of Regency England. It was quite dramatic and I’m not sure Evelina was the smartest kid in class, but it was a good read, in my opinion 🙂

    Haven’t read the others.

    • Hahahah I love that review of Evelina, I now really, really want to read it. I have a new book on the TBR which is set in Regency England and will eb reading that soon so it might get me in the mood.

  13. I plan on reading something by Burney at some point and have heard good things.

    Now I’m off to look at that Oxford Book of Death!

    • I didn’t realise she was such an underground cult kind of author so I think I will have to give her a try.

      The Oxford Book of Death is one thats perfect for Highgate and was a lovely surprise. I am hoping that more books like that start turning up hee hee.

  14. I would go for Evelina first, I read it many years ago and loved it enough to start Cecilia which I remember liking but never finishing – it was long enough to outlast a week on a bus round Italy. Evelina is deffinatly the most accesable. You might like Maria Edgeworth as well – Castle Rackrent is short and funny… and then there’s Jane Austen!

    • Oh I do love the sound of Castle Rackrent just from the totle alone, thats one to look up and find out more about.

      Jane Austen and I have some adventures planned for late summer I think.

  15. I love the Mary Hays cover! 🙂

  16. Evelina is on my 50 Books You Must Read list, I think it’s great! I still haven’t read anything else by Burney, and was hoping to start Camilla soon (which is one you haven’t got listed… doh!)

  17. Haven’t read any of them

    But, here’s a review of The Slap, which I trust:

  18. I’m afraid I don’t know anything about your 18th C books, but I loved The Slap and The Great Perhaps – enjoy your new books!

  19. I am sorry to say that I haven’t heard anything about the three books you mention so I can’t make any recommendation there, but I do want to say that I read and loved Baba Yaga Laid an Egg earlier this year. Of course, Ugresic is a favorite of mine so how could I not have loved it!

  20. I LOVE Victorian novels but I haven’t read any of those 3 (in fact I haven’t even heard anout the middle one – off right now to check it out!).

    The one with 2 Victorian sisters you mentioned sounds like it could be The Odd Women by George Gissing.

  21. novelinsights

    Those covers are just luscious aren’t they?! Especially love the middle one. I haven’t read any Roma Tearne but I recently got a copy of Brixton Beach for my holiday in the summer, and I think that had great reviews.

  22. Sarah

    I thought Evalina was surprsingly good fun when I read it, funny and touching. In a fit of enthusiasm, I then bought Cecilia and Camilla, but haven’t got to them yet!

    The Slap has been a widely discussed and controversial book here, it’s a good but provoking read. I always find David Mitchell and Dubravka Ugresic interesting, and am coverting the new book by the very reliable Maggie OFfarrell, so would read any/all of those.

  23. I hear great things about the David Mitchell (I think Cornflower Books quoted from it a while ago as well and the wirting was lovely). Also Baba Yaga. I was not a fan of Roopa Farooki’s first book but maybe this one will be better (it just felt a bit tralala light for me and predictable). Hope this helps and love the classic covers by the way, very drool worthy.

    • Hahahaha tralala light – thats really tickled me!

      The classic covers are fab arent they, you can see why they caught my eye can’t you? I am hoping that David Mitchell wins me over with this one as Cloud Atlas fell flat for me but I love the ideas of all his previously published works.

  24. Evelina is actually very entertaining. Comedic, actually!

    As for Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, I’ve heard some very interesting things about this Croatian author. If you read it, let me know how you like it!

    Happy Reading,
    -Lydia @ The Literary Lollipop

    ps. I read your comments on Farm Lane Books. I am inclined to agree. 🙂

    • Evelina is sounding more and more like a book I am going to love if I can ever get my mitts on it.

      As for the farmlanebooks thing, hmmm, I dont want to really give it any more publicity or airtime than its had, I was really unsettled by it in lots of ways and its left me with lots to say its just now a question of if I should address it or not. Was a very weird situation all round. I found people saying ‘great post’ was what made me even more unsettled.

  25. I do not have good memories of Evelina, but then again, we might be able to blame that on the “forced to read for school” curse. I did it in a “pre-1832” fiction course, so as someone mentioned above, this really was early days for the novel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s