So these arrived today from two different sources. Yes, I’m buying a lot of books. I think it’s a desperate attempt to make up for the fallow years. I will slow down eventually, but when the prices are this good and I find things I’ve been wanting, eh… it’s one of my last surviving comforts.
First off, The Barrytown Trilogy by Roddy Doyle. For some reason I never imagined it would be this big even though I knew it was a collection of three novels. It’s one of those doorstop books, something you could also use if a robber broke in and tried to steal your books. You could hit him with it. “Stealing books? Okay HERE! HERE HAVE THIS ONE, YOU JACKASS!!” *sounds of book striking human head, whimpering (not mine)* Somehow I think Doyle might approve of that scenario.
The novels here are loosely connected by being stories of the Rabbitte family of Dublin. All have been adapted for film, though I’ve only seen The Commitments and The Snapper. I enjoyed them both and always wanted to read the novels they’re based on, so now I’m going to do it! Of course I’ll report on them as I do.
Next up is a collection of Grantchester mysteries. In case you watch the PBS series (I do, I love it) and don’t know, what you’re seeing is based on a number of short stories by James Runcie. I’ve read the first collection, and had been thinking fondly of getting more. The start of the new season propelled me in that direction.
The stories are set in the post-war years, and revolve around an unofficial partnership between Sidney Chambers, an Anglican vicar, and Detective Inspector Geordie Keating. The characters have a lot of depth, don’t always do the right thing (This week on the TV series, something happened that made me gnash my teeth and growl, “No! You’re both better than that!” Which is silly because they’re just human beings after all.) And the mysteries are solid and intriguing. If you’re a mystery fan I really recommend them.
Then there’s the wholly unknown quantity of 2 A. M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino According to the blurb it’s the story of a nine-year-old aspiring jazz singer. How could I not want to read that?
Well okay, it could be horrible in spite of all the superlatives that were used in the blurb I read. Or it could be not to my taste. But I figure we have to take chances sometimes, right?
And then, briefly, there’s The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck which arrived yesterday via my local library hold. I stopped re-reading American Gods to start this (about which, more in a sec) and so far it’s hella good. I’m not sure where it’s going, but that’s also good. I hate predictability in my reading.
So about American Gods… yeah. Yesterday I decided to cancel my Audible membership. It costs $15 a month and I could really stand not to have to pay that all the time. I had some credits and had to use them up before cancellation, so I picked up the audiobook of American Gods, and as soon as I finish the Eddie Izzard, I’m going to give it a listen. Why? Because I have learned to love the complimentary quality of different media interpretations. I love this book, and I love the TV series. I’m anxious to see what I’m going to get out of the audio version. Because I will get something different from it. The only thing that I’m not thrilled about is that Neil doesn’t narrate a version of this. Granted it’s George Guildall and I like his work, but still, all Neil is good Neil.
Also purchased with credits: Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle by Thor Hansen. Hansen wrote Seeds which I loved, and yes I realize this makes me look like Queen Nerd, but tough.
Hunger, by Roxane Gay, because I’ve been wanting to read Gay for a while now, though I don’t quite feel up to Bad Feminist. And then, if you know me, you’ll know I have some body issues. Okay, I’m fat. If you feel the desperate urge to stop here and say rude things, don’t bother. I no longer care what you think, k? And that’s why I want to know how Roxane Gay deals with the same issues.
Dubliners by James Joyce was a choice I made a bit ago, when I posted a quote from The Dead for Bloomsday. Many years ago I read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and though I remember little about it, Joyce’s work has always called to me even though I now find it difficult to read. (Don’t get me started on Ulysses.) But because I’ve found that many things become more accessible via audiobook, I decided to give this a shot. If it works, I may attempt Ulysses again.
And the last audiobook was The Modern Scholar: Unearthing the Past: Paleontology and the History of Life, by Dr. Jeffrey W. Martz. This year has brought me to a new curiosity about paleontology, and this book got some excellent reviews. I’m looking forward to it.
The punch line to this whole thing is that once you hit “Cancel” on Audible, they give you the option of putting your account on hold for a few months. You still get all the perks, but you don’t pay a monthly fee. I’m curious to find out how many times I can put it on hold before they say “‘ang on sec, you can’t do that!”
And the last book I want to talk about is Don’t Knock the Corners Off, by Caroline Glyn. It’s no longer in print, so I had to search for it, and found it via Biblio.com.
This is a book I owned for years. I discovered it either late in my grade school years, or early in high school. Either way it spoke to me because it was about a girl who didn’t fit it. Yeah, that’s the classic YA trope, isn’t it? I’m not like everyone else. But we all seek the characters who we feel are most like us, and I found that in Antonia Rutherford.
One day, a few years ago, a friend told me about a little girl she knew who was being bullied at school. I don’t even really recall the circumstances, but I was moved to write to her and tell her that she’d survive it (I had) and I sent my copy of the book to her figuring it might have been a comfort as it had been to me.
No, I don’t actually know what happened to her, I never got a response, but then I didn’t expect one, so it’s not a big deal. Sometimes you put things out into the world just because you need to, right? You pay it forward.
So cut to a few weeks ago, and something, don’t recall what, reminded me of this book. I went looking for it and found that most of the copies out there were priced out of my range. Like WAY out of my range. But I found one that would cost me $10 delivered and I thought that it was worth it to me to have this back on my shelf. I’d just snagged a copy of The Day I Became an Auto-Didact, another one of those hang-on-to-it-forever volumes, and I thought I’d like to put a shelf of those books together to help shepherd me into my dotage. So this just arrived:
Yes, Caroline Glyn wrote this when she was 15. It made her an instant sensation (though the fact that she was Elinor Glyn’s granddaughter was probably a factor.) At 20, Caroline became a Poor Clare. She was dead by the age of 32.
The physical copy of this book is the sort I love. Ex-library, often read, well-loved, a bit grimy, with supple pages. Old books are wonderful; really so much better than brand new ones. Sometimes they fall open on their own to the most interesting passages.
Anyway, it’s been a good couple of days for book hauls, and I really wanted to share the love. There’s so much to know, to learn, to absorb, to enjoy. Thank you, brain, for giving all that back to me.
Kirkus Review of Don’t Knock the Corners Off
Caroline Glyn tribute by an old boyfriend
Elinor Glyn – Wikipedia
The Barrytown Trilogy – Wikipedia
The Grantchester Mysteries – Wikipedia