Books By The Bedside #1

So not so long ago I asked you all if you liked the idea of me doing a regular feature on the blog where I share a picture of my bedside table and the books frequenting it. This was a slightly mean ask as frankly I was thinking of doing it anyway, but it was nice to get your thoughts on it as it is with all things. Anyway without further ado and further waffle here is what is on my bedside table and the reasons why…

First up is a very recent addition, yesterday in fact, in the form of Lucy Wood’s debut short story collections ‘Diving Belles’ which I have been really eager to read. The tales were inspired by the flotsam and jetsam of a Cornish beach and theses magical tales of straying husbands, creaking houses, whispering magpies and trees that grant wishes sound wonderful, I do love an adult fairytale after all, I meant to try one yesterday and suddenly two hours had gone and I was ¾ of the way through. I will be telling you all about this very soon. I had meant to start on Angela Carter’s ‘Burning Your Boats; Collected Stories’ this week after it arrived in the post (this seemed odd as I was in a bookshop with a nice chap last week who bought the book, it then arrived here the next day, spooky) and I love her fairytale like short stories. It is a rather massive collection so expect this to become a regular offender in these posts, speaking of which…

Two old offenders follow as I have been reading Marieke Hardy’s essay collection ‘You’ll Be Sorry When I Am Dead’ and Chris Womersley’s novel ‘Bereft’ for so long that I am worried by the time I write of them you will be bored to death. I think I need to focus on ‘Bereft’ more now, as whilst initially languishing over it was working I am beginning to feel it actually might not be doing this book any favours (and it has been lugged about so much by me over weeks it is looking a real state) oops. In fact it looks rather like the battered 1971 Fontana edition of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple mystery ‘The Moving Finger’ which I am going to read as a cleanser soon I think.

As for the rest of this loot, well really these are all the books that I am pondering over. I have been unbelievably excited that Hammer Horror and Random House have gone into partnership for some ghost stories new and old. While I await Jeanette Winterson’s fictional account of the Pendle Witches (sounds amazing) I have just received Helen Dunmore’s ghost story ‘The Greatcoat’ all starting on a cold night in Yorkshire and a hand knocking on a window. Oh goody. In fact Andrew Miller’s ‘Pure’ links into this as its said to be a gothic tale of cemeteries, grisly possibly but fascinating I am sure. It’s been the talk of the town with the Costa Book Awards and reminded me I really wanted to read it.

The TV Book Club has inspired me to push ‘Girl Reading’ by Katie Ward onto the bedside table. I started this then decided it was so good I might never finish ‘Bereft’ and so it’s on hold and it may have to stay on hold a while as we may have Essie Fox joining us on The Readers and so I must read ‘The Somnambulist’ asap, hence its appearance.

Finally to books that I have been recommended and am keeping at the top of my reading periphery, as it were. I already fancied reading Rachel Joyce’s debut novel ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ when I fell across a very advanced review, then its inclusion in the ‘Waterstones 11’ made it shoot up my TBR pile. Several recommendations for Kevin Brockmeier’s ‘The Illumination’ have come from The Readers listeners who have voted for it in the International Readers Book Award’s so when that arrived early this week (it’s out in paperback in February) I instantly popped it here, as I did ‘All Is Song’ by Samantha Harvey which William of Just Williams Luck reviewed and sold to me straight away. I may not comment on blogs as much as I should but I am very much reading them.

So that’s the state of my bedside table, and my reading brain too I guess. What are you reading and have got lined up to read? What is just tickling your fancy (I love that expression) right now books wise?


Filed under Book Thoughts, Books By The Bedside

30 responses to “Books By The Bedside #1

  1. I’m interested to know more about Jeanette Winterson’s book about the Pendle witches. I’ve just been given a book which gives an account of the trials from the time. It’s not a subject I know much about, but it sounds fascinating.

    • Thats not a book called Mist Over Pendle is it? I have had that in mount TBR for quite sometime and dusted it off the other day as it is the 400 year anniversary. I went to Pendle Hill not long ago and took lots of pics, will have to share on here soon.

      • No, it’s called ‘The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in the County of Lancaster’ It’s described as Thomas Pott’s original account modernised and introduced by Robert Poole.

  2. I am currently reading Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, which is fantastic so far. I had some crackers drop through the door this morning though, in the form of Care of Wooden Floors and Shelter. Both are on the Waterstones 11 list, so these have jumped to the top of the TBR.

    • I have been mulling over the Jonathan Safran Foer for a while since I saw the movie trailer. Only issue is that it looks like it might have a slightly saccharine edge, that’s what the film trailer implies but having read JSF before, Everything is Illuminated was bizarre but brilliant, I’m hoping that’s not the case. I’m amazed it didn’t cause more furore with the subject natter!

      We shoulda done a joint read. I think I still have it, I hope I do!

  3. tigtigs

    Absolutely love the books by the bedside…………I wish more people would do it, a snapshot of heaven!!

  4. David

    Ah-ha, when you mentioned a book of short stories you had just received and were devouring I instantly thought of the Lucy Wood. I’ve got to pop into town on Monday morning so I shall be having a look for that one.
    ‘Pure’ was one of my favourite novels of last year and is one of those books that has both lingered and grown in memory – so many vivid images from it are lodged in my mind (the pistachio green suit, the cemetery, the surreal never-ending corridors…). A superb novel and a worthy Costa winner.
    I read ‘All is Song’ a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it – definitely a book to mull over long after you’ve finished it, with its Christ-like central character and themes of duty, culpability, and what constitutes sin. I hadn’t read Harvey’s first book so didn’t know what to expect but thought her writing was wonderful.

    At the moment I’m reading another Australian novel that has been sitting on my shelves unread for years – ‘Careless’ by Deborah Robertson. I’m enjoying it a great deal.
    And in the mornings I’m reading stories from Claire Keegan’s ‘Walk the Blue Fields’, a collection that seems almost universally praised but which for some reason I’m finding it difficult to connect with. I’ve read four of the stories so far – one was beautiful yet chilling and has stayed in my thoughts; a second one was quite good and nicely left things unsaid; but the other two, despite being nicely written, did nothing for me at all. Three stories left to read, two of them quite long, and I’m hoping they hold more appeal for me. At the moment I’m not rushing out to buy anything else by her.

    • I heard that ‘All is Song’ is based on Socrates but you don’t need to know anything about him, which is good as I don’t but don’t let my mother know she’s a classicist. Very excited about Pure now.

      I just spotted you on Goodreads and checked what your reading out. Sound interesting. I’m gonna crack on with Bereft today it’s lingering. Then that lovely ‘which novel next’ feeling!

      Btw, did you get my email?

      • David

        I read that about Socrates too, but like you know little about him beyond looking him up on Wikipedia! Certainly William, one of the two brothers in the novel uses the Socratic Method. But given the number of religious references in the novel, it seemed to me that Harvey wanted us to see William as a Christ-like figure. Indeed, one of the central plot points of the book revolves around William’s philosophical questioning of the nature of sin and whether it exists or if doing wrong is just a result of fear and ignorance, which essentially amounts to “forgive them for they know not what they do”. One of those books that asks a lot of questions and really gets you thinking!
        I’m getting ready for that “which novel next” feeling too, as I’ve nearly finished ‘Careless’. I’m trying to read a few novels I’ve had on my shelves for ages at the moment, before all the lovely new ones start coming out. Claire Messud’s “The Last Life” and James Hopkin’s “Winter Under Water” are both appealing to me at the moment…

        I did get your email (thanks) – I’m just useless at getting around to replying to them! I will do though 🙂

  5. FleurFisher

    What a wonderful selection of books. I was utterly bedazzled by Diving Belles, which really does capture the heart and soul of Cornwall. I loved The Sonambulist, I’m intrigued by The Greatcoat, and I’m currently caught up in some dark Victoriana, courtesy of The Pleasures of Men by Kate Williams.

    • Ooooh I really, really, really want to read The Pleasures of Men. I’ve not read a good Victorian mystery for ages!

      Diving Belles is beyond brilliant. How the hell I’m going to review it I do not know. I think The Somnambulist might be next up.

  6. Carol N Wong (@Carolee888)

    I am reading ‘Uncompromised’ by Nada Prouty. Really enjoying this non fiction book. Coming up is ‘Power Concedes Nothing’. I noticed that there are no reviews for it and want to be first in!

    Carol Wong

  7. Just finished Helen Dunmore’s The Siege, and really enjoyed it, so I’ll be interested to hear what The Greatcoat is like. Like many it seems, I’m keen to get my heads on some from the Waterstones 11 list – Grace McCleen’s The Land of Decoration most of all – and not just because she’s Welsh, like me. Picked up Jim Crace’s Quarantine the other day and very eager to get stuck into that – I’ve loved all of his that I’ve read so far.

    • Jim Crace is an author that I have always pondered over but not actually read anything by and I think I should. Maybe, where would be a good place to start?

      I’m wondering if this ghot story is the best place to start with Dunmore but stuff it. I love a good ghost story!

      • I started with The Pesthouse – I loved that and it got me itching for more so that’d be a decent place to start. Or Arcadia maybe. His use of language is so exquisite that you have to take time over every sentence – which is great, but it means there’s probably not an easy quick read I can point you to first. And subject matter varies so there’s not really a standard representative book of his. He’s written short stories if you do just want to dangle your toe, but I suggest jumping straight in with one of his novels!

      • I love the title of The Pesthouse so shall have to hunt that out at the library if I can. Thanks for getting back to me and letting me know.

  8. Pat

    I knew the Lucy Wood rang a bell, so as to speak … Diving Belles was mentioned on the radio yesterday. I think one of the stories is to be read on Radio 4 Extra next week

  9. Still working my way though “The Magic Mountain” which isn’t easy going (though I find it more approachable than Dr Faustus) and I have 1Q84 awaiting me in a very rare tbr pile of one (rather than my typical zero).

  10. Sharkell

    I have just finished reading The Hunger Trace which I ordered from the library after reading your review late last year and I really loved it. I keep thinking about it, which is the sign of a really good read. I am now reading The Happiest Refugee by Anh Doh which is a memoir written by a Vietnamese-Australia who came to Australia as a two year old on a leaky boat (the boat got them as far as Malaysia). I’ve just started it and I’m really enjoying it, some roll around on the ground funny sections and I rarely laugh out loud reading,

    • Oh I am so glad that you loved it, I will let Ed know too as we have become email pals with our shared Derbyshire-ness. Its always so nice to recommend a book and then hear that people liked it, and a slight relief too. Ha.

      Boats and me dont get on in books but this one sounds really interesting.

  11. gaskella

    I hope you enjoy ‘Pure’ – I loved it. It offers a fascinating portrait of Paris just before the revolution. Jim Crace is one of those hit and miss authors for me. I loved Arcadia, but didn’t get on with Quarantine, however I’ve not read ‘The Pesthouse’ yet.

    • I was going to read Pure next, but I have decided its time to read The Somnambulist next instead, partly as Essie will be on The Readers next week fingers crossed.

      I am aware I owe you an email, will send this afternoon promise.

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