Books by the Bedside #3

I am at my mothers this weekend after a rather bonkers week and so I thought rather than go silent I would let you all know what I have on my reading periphery and then hopefully you can all let me know what you are reading, mainly because I am nosey.

Currently my bedside table looks like this…

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The next of the Manchester Book Club titles is ‘The Master & Margarita’ by Mikhail Bulgakov as chosen by fellow member Alex. I have to say I am oddly excited (whilst being slightly daunted) by this novel, I know it’s meant to be quite bonkers and brilliant but also it’s my first real foray into Russian literature, mainly because I have always been worried I am not clever enough for it – we will see.

Next up is ‘Absolution’ by Patrick Flanery which I have been meaning to read for ages. When I visited Atlantic Books HQ earlier in the year everyone was saying how good it was and I do want to read more novels set in South Africa.

Finally are two novels which I am both reading for The Readers, though aren’t part of the Summer Book Club. This is because, and I feel there should be a drum roll here, on Wednesday coming myself and Gavin will be interviewing Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter for an hour long special of the podcast. Gavin is so excited, I am now seriously Pratchett prepping. I will also be interviewing Carlos Ruiz Zafon this week and so I’m getting ready for that too by reading his latest.

Oh and I should mention the books I have taken away with me! I packed ‘Wyrd Sisters’, which lots of you said I should read as my way into Discworld, and I also packed ‘Filthy Lucre’ which is the shortest of Beryl Bainbridge’s novels (apparently she wrote it as a child) as next week it’s Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week over at Gaskella! I plan on picking another Bainbridge up too if I have time as Annabel kindly introduced me to her with ‘The Bottle Factory Outing’.

Phew, that’s a lot of bookish bedside chatter, though not quite enough… I would love your thoughts on what I’m reading and about to read PLUS find out what you are reading right now/next, as I said I’m very nosey and besides I can never hear enough about books. Over to you…

25 Comments

Filed under Books By The Bedside

25 responses to “Books by the Bedside #3

  1. Interviewing Carlos Ruiz Zafon? Good god I’m jealous!😛 I am very jealous you have an early copy too!! Dying to know what it’s like… though a little disappointed that it looks so short in comparison to his others😦

    • Yes I interviewed him and then interviewed Terry Pratchett, it was a bonkers day. It is quite a slim volume, but there is a reason, and book four (the last of the Shadow series) should be out in 2014. I am a huge fan of his and now him as he was utterly lovely!

  2. The book by my bedside is an old Penguin by Geraint Goodwin titled The Heyday in the Blood, in which it appears that he aimed to capture almost every detail of Welsh rural life in the 1930s. It is just wonderful: one of those random books which you stumble upon and marvel that they are not better known.

  3. I can’t believe you only have FOUR books on your bedside table – I’d envisaged a mountain of books!! You beat me though as I only have 3… ‘Anne of Green Gables’, ‘Proof of Love’ and Lucy Wood’s ‘Diving Belles’ after having read your review🙂

    • Aha, well you see now I have to admit something… in my lovely new abode I now have at the end of a bed a ‘TBR immenantly’ shelf and soon will also have several boxes of TBR books. So its a slight naughty bending of the truth… a mirage maybe?!?

      Is Proof of Love by Catherine Hall? I met her on Wednesday and got a bit star struck hahaha.

  4. david73277

    I found Absolution quite hard going. That does not mean it is not any good, of course. There is often an inverse relationship between enjoyment and true literary quality.

    To satisfy your curiosity, I am currently finishing Brigton Belle, the first in a series of 1950s mysteries featuring amateur sleuth Mirabelle Bevan by Sara Sheridan. I have a hardback copy from the library, but the paperback is out in a few weeks. Yesterday, I bought two paperbacks by different authors sharing the surname of Miller. There’s this bloke on a podcast I listen to who has been raving about one of them, while the other is on the list of summer reads being promoted by the same podcast. I’m struggling to remember the podcast guy’s name, though I do recall his sidekick is called Gavin. (I jest.)

  5. David

    I thought ‘Absolution’ was really good, if perhaps it owed a tad too much to Coetzee and Galgut (in fairness the debt to Coetzee is clearly acknowledged in the story), but the way it is constructed and plays with ideas of Truth & Reconciliation is very clever. And the character of Claire, the ageing author, is brilliant. I have seen some criticism of the novel for not getting the portrayal of South Africa quite right, especially Johannesburg – oddly the Jo’burg sections reminded me very much of the descriptions in Christopher Hope’s ‘My Mother’s Lovers’, yet Hope is one of the reviewers who has questioned Flanery’s portrayal.

    I’ve never felt the need to read Terry Pratchett so you’ll have to really rave about it to convince me to try him. I just have the idea fixed in my head that he writes for sixth formers, maybe because I knew quite a few people at that age who devoured his stuff and whenever I see people reading his books on the bus or in bookshops they all seem to be about 17 or 18. Probably this is a hugely inaccurate idea of him (and his readers)!

    To satisfy your nosiness about my current reads, I am currently racing through ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’ by Marie Semple. The cover is brash, the description sounds shallow, and I bought it online on a whim whilst ordering some books for birthday presents. But I started reading it yesterday afternoon and have hardly put it down since and should finish it later today. It is an absolute joy, wonderful bits of social satire and very perceptive about quashed and frustrated creativity. The characters are great and its funny too.
    I’m also in the middle of ‘Mad Hope’, a collection of short stories by the Canadian author Heather Birrell, which is also very good.

    • I think that any emerging South African set novel/novelist is going to get the comparisons you mention. I have to say so far I can’t say if it is true or not as I have been on a reading tangent that didn’t involve it but it is still very much on the bedside table.

      I have never heard of the Marie Semple book. I will have to look it up.

      • David

        I don’t know that I agree with that, Simon. Although I haven’t read very much South African fiction (very little of it seems to make it to the UK – just look at all the titles Jacana and Kwela publish!) of those I have read I’d compare very few to Coetzee. I was thinking more of how ‘Absolution’ uses the idea of an author writing a fictionalised version of their own life, in the way Coetzee has notably done, plus ‘Absolution’ specifically mentions ‘Dusklands’ (and by extension Coetzee, though I don’t think he was namechecked) within the story as an influence.

        PS: I should have written MariA Semple, not MariE! Having finished it, it wasn’t perfect, but it was one of the most fun and purely enjoyable books I’ve read in ages.

      • I dunno David maybe its the lazy reviews that I have read but it seems to be the general concenus. Like any new male gay author being the new Alan Hollinghurst.

        I didn’t realise you meant in terms of prose structure though, oops. That does sound like its similar.

  6. Sarah Cubitt

    Yay you’re still alive!😉 hope you’re having a lovely week. Carlos Ruiz Zafon interview sounds great, I heard him interviewed for BBC world book club & Shadow Of The Wind has been in my tbr list ever since.
    Master & margarita is supposed to be good – look forward to hearing about it. Also up for expanding my horizons following you summer book club choices!
    I’m still on Ready Player One as I went back to work this week, so had less time. Planning on finishing it today as <100 pages left. Got the next 2 books out from the library already.
    Last weekend I was sorting through my grandparents' house as it's up for sale & found an Agatha Raisin book – I took it after you praised Agatha so highly!!

    • Hahahaha yes Dr Cubitt I am alive and kicking indeed. I was at the World Book Club recording that you mention – weirdly. I didn’t dare ask a question though. On Wednesday I got to ask loads.

      You are so good to be reading all the Summer Book Club Books, I am just about to start Now You See Me.

      I love the fact me and your grandparents have the same taste in some books, that has made me laugh and laugh. Best medicine that.

      • Sarah Cubitt

        Haha glad you found it funny! I’d be too intimidated to ask a question at world book club too – Harriet Gilbert is pretty serious! It always makes me laugh when she goes all out with her pronunciation of the world callers’ names. Now You See Me is sooo good, I’m totally addicted, it’s such a fast pace (& I have a book crush on one of the characters – do other people get that?!). I’m loving the book club – 1st cause it’s my first book club and second cause it’s great to push my reading boundaries & not to have to decide what to pick from my TBr next! Only one I haven’t read is Mary Roach, as all library copies are on loan. Looking forward to next podcast🙂

  7. I am envious of you meeting Carlos Ruiz Zafon, I can’t wait to read his new book. I’ve loved all the others.
    I’m reading Dracula at the moment as I’ve shamefully never read it before, really enjoying it. I’m also halfway through the third George RR Martin book, and about to start The Song of Achilles after reading your reviews.

  8. gaskella

    It’s Beryl Bainbridge all the way for me – concentrating on the less famous/popular ones. Thanks for the mention. After that I’ll be reading The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus, and Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter for my book group.

  9. carolee888

    At my bedside is Brandy Purdy’s “Queen’s Pleasure”(ARC) and e-book that was a book written in 1920, “Patchwork, A Story of Plain People”. That one is a delight about an eleven year old. She is so very funny and I will miss her when the book ends.

    Hope this week is much better.

  10. Laura Caldwell

    I am reading Ready Player One, three chapters read so far, and I love it! Hope it stays this good.

    • Sarah Cubitt

      It stays this good! I’m on chapter 34 & it’s twisted & turned, but stayed brilliant! Glad to hear you’re enjoying it too.

  11. Bennett’s Grand Babylon Hotel is by my bedside and The Lonely Polygamist is in the other room. Both books have a humorous streak which is a nice change of pace. I have Absolution high on the list to read and I am interested in what you think about the third Zafon. I loved the first and thought the second was middling.

  12. Amy C

    On my bedside table is Bring Up the Bodies (Hilary Mantel) — I am getting closer to the end and loving it. Also just finished The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, also very good, that reminds me I need to return it to the library instead of leaving it by the bed! I’ve never read any Terry Pratchett so will be interested to hear what you have to say about your first one.

  13. That is SO exciting that you both will be interviewing Terry Pratchett. I’m already looking forward to the podcast!

  14. I have had Master and Margarita on my TBR for years. Will look out for what you have to say about it. And I am still jealous of you getting to interview Zafon. I am currently reading The Jump Artist by Austin Ratner, to be followed by The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov (probably, I’m not very good at sticking to a reading plan).

  15. I went to see Carlos Ruiz Zafon at Waterstones on Wednesday and he was great. Really engaging …

    Up until Wednesday I was thinking I probably wasn’t clever enough/didn’t have the attention span for Bulgakov, though I’ve settled into it now and am much more into it. Though it’s freaking me out just an ickle bit.

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