Tag Archives: Francois Lelord

May’s Incomings…

If you don’t like blog posts about lots of books arriving look away now… However if like me you love them you are in luck. So without further ado here are the books that have arrived throughout the month of May at Savidge Reads HQ. First up are the paperbacks which have come from the lovely people at Oxford University Press, Quercus, Vintage, Atlantic, Pan MacMillan, Serpents Tail, Peirene Press, Capuchin Classics, Beautiful Books, Faber, Gallic, Penguin and Myriad Editions…

  • Cranford – Elizabeth Gaskell (unsolicited proof, this one came at a very fortuitous time as they are discussing this on The Archers for their village book group, love the new cover OUP have done)
  • The Crossing Places – Elly Griffiths (the first of a crime series which has been getting lots of buzz, I like to start at the beginning)
  • The Upright Piano Player – David Abbot (I have been wanting to read this since I saw it on the World Book Night debut novelists Culture Show special)
  • Loaded – Christos Tsiolkas (unsolicited proof, another book I whooped at, have wanted to read this for year since I saw the film, pre-The Slap fame – a book I realised I read twice last year for The Green Carnation Prize and never blogged bout, and it’s been reissued)
  • Tell-All – Chuck Palahnuick (unsolicited proof, another book I read last year as a Green Carnation submission, maybe I should dig out all my thoughts on those, what do you think?)
  • Mr Peanut – Adam Ross (unsolicited proof, another book I was sent in Hardback, this a reminder I still haven’t read it and heard lots of good things about it)
  • On Black Sisters Street – Chika Unigwe (I begged for this one after seeing a wonderful review of it here)
  • The Wolf/Taurus – Joseph Smith (unsolicited proof)
  • Silence – Jan Costin Wagner (unsolicited proof, and another scandi-crime)
  • Kamchatka – Marcelo Figueras (unsolicited proof)
  • Kraken – China Mieville (I saw him talk at the beginning of May in Manchester thanks to his publishers who then sent me this after my loving ‘Embassytown’)
  • Union Atlantic – Adam Haslett (unsolicited proof, another book read for The Green Carnation last year and never discussed)
  • Wish You Were Here – Travis Elborough (unsolicited proof)
  • Tomorrow Pamplona – Jan van Mersbergen (I love the Peirene Books, so am sure their fifth will be brilliant)
  • The Undiscovered Country – Julian Mitchell (TGCP2011 submission)
  • Role Models – John Waters (TGCP2011 submission)
  • The Observations – Jane Harris (will be discussing Gillespie and I tomorrow, this is one of my favourite books ever and am really excited as I have been asked to write the reading guides for book groups and libraries for both Jane’s books, eek – a re-read is coming)
  • Hector and the Secrets of Love – Francois Lelord (I was one of the very few people who loathed the first Hector book, lets see how this one does it came with the below book which I am desperate to read)
  • Monsieur Montespan – Jean Teule (really excited about this as I loved ‘The Suicide Shop’ and this is Teule’s 17th Century French romp)
  • In the Country of Men – Hisham Matar (loved ‘Anatomy of a Disappearance’ so have high hopes for this one)
  • Hurry Up and Wait – Isabel Ashdown (unsolicited proof, I have her debut ‘Glasshopper’ very high on the TBR so am hoping this is a new author to love)

Next up are the trade paperbacks and hardbacks from the publishers Persephone, Quercus, Pam MacMillan, Vintage, Picador, Bloomsbury, Doubleday, Penguin and Atlantic…

  • Mrs Buncles Book – D.E. Stevenson (this was actually the present Claire had sent me for my birthday but the sequel arrived and Persephone kindly sent this one and let me keep the other, a present that kept on giving)
  • Monsieur Linh and his Child – Philippe Claudel (we read ‘Brodeck’s Report’ for the first Not The TV Book Club and so I am very excited about this)
  • Phantoms on the Bookshelves – Jaques Bonnet (a book about books and bookshelves, too exciting)
  • The Ritual – Adam Nevill (unsolicited proof, I just recently read ‘Apartment 16’ which I will be discussing in the far distant future as its my next book group choice in like five turns, I changed my mind but everyone had bought it, oops)
  • The Winter of the Lions – Jan Costin Wagner (unsolicited proof)
  • Mr Fox – Helen Oyeyemi (unsolicited proof, but a very exciting one as I am really keen to read Oyeyemi’s work)
  • The Sickness  – Alberto Barrera Tyszka (a book I have heard a lot about, was drawn in by the cover, and want to read)
  • The Dubious Salvation of Jack V. – Jacques Strauss (I begged for this one after reading this review)
  • State of Wonder – Ann Patchett (unsolicited proof, though I have a feeling Patchett could become a new favourite author)
  • Before I Go To Sleep – S.J. Watson (any book that has Sophie Hannah, Val McDermid and Tess Gerritsen singing its praises has to be a book for me, this is also a submission for TGCP2011)
  • Do No Harm – Carol Topolski (another beg after seeing this review by Kim who loved it, I got ‘Monster Love’ from the library too)
  • Last Man in Tower – Aravind Adiga (unsolicited proof, very excited about this as I liked ‘The White Tiger’ a lot, must read his short story collection too)   

Finally are four books that I have bought/swapped in the last month…

  • The Memories of Six Reigns – Princess Marie Louise (this book is really hard to get hold of but I found it early in the month in a pub that sold books for charity for 50p, it’s a book Neil Bartlett recommended to me,and you, last summer, I might have whooped when I saw this, ok I did)
  • The Ice Princess/The Preacher – Camilla Lackberg (I managed to swap these at the Book Exchange early in the month, I have heard a lot of praise for this author and the fact she is one of the female scandi-crime writers intrigues me)
  • The Hypnotist – Lars Kelper (I bought this with some birthday vouchers from Gran, its yet more scandi-crime but with a difference having been written by a couple and being a thriller meets horror, interesting, and a book I have been more and more desperate to read)

That’s the lot, and it is a lot I have noted, that have come in this month. I think its time for a clear out of the book boxes and mount TBR again isn’t it? Eek! That always fills me with dread. Anyways because I love getting books, and I know you do too I have teamed up with Headline to give away some books to all of you, you’ll have to pop here to find out how. It’s a good book though, one of my favourites of the month just passed.

So which of these would you like to hear more about and see me reading, on a whim of course, and which books or authors have you read and what did you think?

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Hector and the Search for Happiness – Francois Lelord

There was a rather large amount of buzz of ‘Hector and the Search for Happiness’ when it was published back in April (interestingly when I got it out from the library after seeing it advertised in almost every tube station – its only taken me 4 months to read it) and the more I heard about it the less I instantly wanted to read it. You know how it can be; you hear lots about a book you want to read it but maybe not until the chatter dies down a little. The more I did hear though the more I couldn’t work out if it was meant to be a self help book or fiction and that could very much be a make or break with me as you might have seen when I read ‘The Alchemist’.

You can pretty much guess what the premise of Francois Lelord’s novel is going to be from its title ‘Hector and the Search for Happiness’. Hector is a rather successful psychiatrist treating both clients in hospitals and people privately. Yet the more and more he works the more he realises there is dissatisfaction in the world and the less her really believes he can help people. So he decides to travel the world in search for what makes people from here there and everywhere happy and see what he can find out.

From the opening line ‘Once upon a time there was a young psychiatrist called Hector…’ I thought this might be some rather marvellous modern fable and fairy tale. As the book continued in the same narrative, rather like you are a child being read to, I began to feel more and more patronised and slightly riled. Lines such as ‘Roger believed that the good lord talked to him constantly, what they call hearing voices’ and ‘the airline had overbooked the part of the plane where Hector was supposed to be sitting, and she was giving him a seat in the part of the plane where you normally had to pay a lot more. That part of the plane is called business class’ had me inwardly groaning and I was getting more and more annoyed. And I haven’t even mentioned the lessons Hector learns along the way yet…

Lesson number 6: Happiness is a long walk in the mountains.
Lesson number 12: It’s harder to be happy in a country run by bad people.
Lesson number 18: Happiness could be the freedom to love more than one woman at the same time.
Lesson number 22: Women care more than men about making others happy.

So why didn’t I just put the book down and walk away? Well ‘over 2 million copies sold worldwide’ was why. I wanted to see what it was that made that many people by it. By the end I admit I was despairing that so many people had bought it or that it had indeed been published, to me it was a positive it was short. I know I am one in a very small minority but then maybe this is a lesson for Hector, lesson number 24: happiness can be being the odd one out of 2 million plus! Too be fair though I did read the whole thing, just with slightly gritted teeth.

A book that will: either enlighten and entertain you or possibly drive you crazy enough to need to see a psychiatrist yourself. 2/10

It’s very, very unlike me to be negative about a book. I think in all honestly being on of the judges of The Green Carnation Prize is going to be of great benefit because I am reading some corkers that have hardly received any attention whilst books like this get pushed into the mainstream and heavily promoted. It irked me. I do feel a bit bad posting this but I am using it to highlight something I think is important. I also don’t think anything I say will stop this being a best seller and good luck to it too. I also know those of you who read this blog are intelligent enough to want to try books out yourselves regardless of my thoughts. There, I feel much better.

Maybe this is the start of a new leaf in Savidge Reads? Or maybe this was a book that just had a profound effect on me that I couldn’t help but post my thoughts no matter how negative they might be or make me seem. I am a very happy person, honest! Who else has read this book? What did you think? What are your thoughts on ‘self help fiction’? What are your thoughts on negative reviews?

(Sorry to Gallic books as you publish some gems it’s not personal it just made me a bit cross when it should have made me happy!)

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The Long and Short Listing of It…

Over the next few weeks, and realistically probably months, things might be a little bit different at Savidge Reads. So I thought that instead of doing one of my ‘Bookish Bits’ I would instead have a natter with you about some possible forthcoming changes to service with the blog and also to ask you for some recommendations of a certain kind of reading material, because you are all always very good with helping me out.

 As you may or may not know I have helped co-found (and am now a judge of) a new book award ‘The Green Carnation Prize’ and yesterday the deadline for submissions closed. I can’t tell you exactly how many we have had as until they all arrive in the next few days I won’t be 100% sure, I can say it’s more than 20 and less than 125. We have been really surprised, and I think if we admit it out loud even a little shocked, at the response that we have had to this, people are really getting behind it, in fact we have already had already had lots of books arrive before the submissions deadline closed…

Sorry about the green shroud (which is actually one of my favourite t-shirts – no expense spared here at Savidge Reads as you can tell) but myself and the other judges have all agreed that until the winner is announced we won’t comment on any of the books that come in for the prize, even after the long list, short list and winner are announced. Whilst this is great for scheduling posts while I am in Brazil for a few months it could mean things change a bit on Savidge Reads as firstly I will be lost in a mass of books which I can’t blog about and also I am going to be dedicating much more time to reading and less to blogging. There may be some radio silence now and again too.

I do want to read some books in between submissions though and as judges we were all talking about what we might fit in. I think Lesley was going to read some crime along the way, Paul might be reading some Dr Who and his treasured Crossroads books – both of them will also be working on new books, Nick is going to be reading kids and YA fiction. I am plumping for short books, novellas, guilty pleasures and short story collections. In fact I sorted out a possible pile of them for the bedside…

  • The Only Problem by Muriel Spark (the Queen of shorter books which pack twists and punches, my Mum lent me this out of print gem)
  • The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen (looks big but I will be so gripped in one of my favourite guilt free guilty pleasure it can get done and dusted in mere hours)
  • Agatha Raisin & The Love From Hell by M.C. Beaton (what can I say an Agatha Raisin mystery is always two hours of pure murder, mayhem and laughter)
  • The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie (apparently this is like a collection of short Miss Marple tales, perfect)
  • In Between The Sheets by Ian McEwan (another short book my mother lent me, I know nothing about this McEwan at all)
  • The Comforters by Muriel Spark (another Spark that’s due back at the library quite soon)
  • A Bit of Singing & Dancing by Susan Hill (I love Susan Hill’s work but have never tried her short stories)
  • Between Us Girls by Joe Orton (another library book I picked up purely because it was by Orton, looks delightfully caustic and is also massive print so that will be a quick treat)
  • Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd (always meant to read it, now I shall try)
  • Heartburn by Norah Ephron (I was at a meeting and someone else was reading this and raving about it, plus I remember seeing some buzz about it last year or the year before on the blogosphere)
  • In Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote (he’s a genius and I would like the spirit of Capote with me while I try and whittle down the submissions, he would be my dream 6th judge – well it would be a tie with him and Oscar Wilde)
  • Dancing Girls by Margaret Atwood (tried and loved her shorts in Good Bones, want to read more and couldn’t locate my copy of ‘Bluebeards Egg’)
  • Hector and the Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord (have renewed this far too many times from the library need to get it read)
  • The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (this arrived in the post the other day and seemed to be great timing, never read her – or heard of her before this showed up)
  • 13.55 Eastern Standard Time by Nick Alexander (my friend Dom raved and raved about this and lent me a copy so must see if its as good as Dom said – could be awkward if not)
  • Dark Matter by Michelle Paver (I love a good ghost story now and again and this sounds like its going to be great from the early buzz its already getting – its not even out till October!)

I have just realised I didn’t include the third Peirene Press title and some Anne Tyler, drat. The latter in particular I really need to read more of as I have loved everything I have read of hers so far and have been telling myself to read for ages.

So what do you think of that possible selection of non Green Carnation reading? Are there any titles on there you would like me to get to first? Are there any you have read and what did you think? Can you think of any other short fiction or collections that I am missing out on and must try and squeeze in my reading over the next few months? What are your reading plans at the moment?

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Latest Library Loot

Did you all have a nice Easter? I do hope so. Mine was four days of doing very, very little. I have to say that I didnt do as well on the Easter reading that I had planned, I read a lot it just wasnt any of the books that I thought I would read or quite so much as I intended.

I did however do lots of relaxing. In particular film watching seemed to be the theme of the weekend which was nice. First up we went and saw ‘Clash of the Titans’ at the cinema in 3d which I thought was wonderful escapist fun (the film not the 3d effects which I think is an overated fan and will be a phase in cinema), we watched several DVD’s including the hilarious ‘Ugly Truth’ the epicly long and epicly rubbish ‘Australia’ and ‘The Hurt Locker’ which has left me with mixed feelings I need to work out. I also did manage to sneak a trip to the library with The Converted One in tow, I know wonders will never cease, and managed to get my hands on some rather delightful books…

Other People’s Daughters – Ruth Brandon (I thought this would be interesting in part because it covers the Victorian era, which a lot of my library loot was aimed specifically at after my call out for Victoriana based books, and also a fascinating insight into the lives of women of all walks of life in various periods in history)

Consuming Passions – Judith Flanders (its all about ‘leisure and pleasure’ in Victorian Britain, I was sent this by the publishers ages ago but it got lost in the post apparently)

Hector and the Search for Happiness – Francois Lelord (the only fiction book which I couldnt resist after hearing Simon T’s thoughts, will be a gooden for my ‘Lost in Translation’ unchallenging sort of challenge)

Ghost Hunters – Deborah Blum (recommended by Eva of A Striped Armchair and is not only about spiritualism and death in Victorian UK & USA and is one she rates very highly as her favoiurite non fiction book of last year)

Counting My Chickens – Deborah Devonshire (its a Mitford Memoir for one and Chatsworth is just down the road from my childhood home – and still residence of my Gran – Matlock in Derbyshire, am sure it will be a treat… do admit!)

So as you can see firstly a couple of you are to blame and secondly I am going to be having a detour from current modern fiction and heading of into the world of non fiction. I wonder how I will get on? I will actually be doing a post about Savidge Reads reading material and the contemporary-ness of it in the next day or so it just needs some more mulling over and fine tuning. So what are the latest books you have pilfered from the library? Or if you are not a library goer, what have you bought or been given of late? Have you read any of the above?

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