I’ve done a couple of booksy posts here before, to less than overwhelming response. Your apathy does not deter me, people. I love books, possibly even more than clothes. Whoa! Did I just blow your mind a little bit? You might frequent this blog for outfit posts, but today what you’re getting is books. Books, books, books.
Rather than tell you about what I’m reading (which is currently Game of Thrones, and will continue to be until I finish book #5 approximately in November), I’m going to try something a little bit different. I’m going to take a shelf from my home library, and ramble on a bit about the books on it. Kind of like a closet tour, except with books. Ready?
I figured I’d start with a shelf I haven’t really looked at in a while. To be precise, this one:
I like to keep my favourite books handy, so as you might imagine, this shelf (not being at eye-level) is for what I think of as “the other stuff”. Let’s take a closer look.
I’m fairly certain that The 13 1/2 lives of Captain Bluebear was a bargain bin find from back in the days when I was really into satirical fantasy/sci-fi epics (see also Stanislaus Lem, Christopher Moore, Jasper Fforde). I’m also pretty sure I never finished it, but I probably should. It sounds funny.
A bluebear has twenty-seven lives. I shall recount thirteen and half of them in this book but keep quiet about the rest…
The Best Alternate History Stories of the Twentieth Century is a pretty self-explanatory title. This genre intrigues me, as a sometime history buff (I’m not super dedicated). OK, I’m lying; it mostly intrigues my inner 13-year old, who
dreamt is still dreaming about an alternate universe in which she runs away to Tuscany, or possibly Provence, with Crybaby-era Johnny Depp. (That 13-year old is currently horrified that Crybaby Johnny Depp got old and is now apparently the spokesmodel for Derelicte – all the more reason alternate worlds are awesome.) Anyway, personal fantasies aside, I find this genre really hit-and-miss; there are some fantastic stories out there, and a lot of really, really crappy ones – usually involving Nazis. One of my favourites in this compilation is Greg Bear’s “Through Road No Wither”, which – here’s a twist – features Nazis. But it’s actually a really great read, and has an ending that – I promise you – will haunt you for a long time.
The Wapshot Scandal was a freebie. I was fortunate to receive a dozen or so boxes of books from a former professor, who was downsizing his collection; I picked and chose what drew my attention, and gave the rest to my mom and friends. I probably kept this one because the title made it sound potentially juicy, but I never got around to reading it.
I’m embarrassed to say I also haven’t yet read Charlotte Gray. Maybe I should watch the movie? Would that count? Sort of? Ahem, moving on … I did read Veronika Decides to Die, but it was ages ago and I don’t remember
most any of it. I do think of it every time I look up Veronika’s Blushing (the blog). That’s from the department of random, by the way.
I liked Michael Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White (which I have, but on a different shelf), so I picked up The Courage Consort (short stories) from the bargain bin because, you know, same author. You do that too, right? I can’t remember if I read it or not. I don’t read a lot of short stories, unless they’re mystery/crime ones, or are written by Neil Gaiman. Which this one isn’t. Yeah, my questionable choices are not limited to clothes, obviously. (Not saying these stories are bad. They’re probably really, really good. Sorry, Michael Faber.)
Milan Kundera is one of my favourite writers, and I always feel compelled to buy all of my favourite writers’ works, which is why I have The Curtain. Haven’t read it, though. I’m a bad literature groupie. (Sorry, Milan Kundera. I will forever adore The Unbearable Lightness of Being.)
The Life of God (As Told by Himself) falls in the same satirical fantasy genre as Captain Bluebear; I was sure I read it, but on perusing the back cover, the plot summary rings zero bells, so I probably didn’t read it after all. At this point, you are probably wondering if I read any books at all, and I assure you that I do. Case in point: Summer At Tiffany. Which I wish I hadn’t bothered reading. It’s a loosely autobiographical story about a college student who, in the summer of 1945, moved to New York and started working at the famous Tiffany store. Breakfast at Tiffany this was not. Honestly, it was a bit of a snooze.
Under The Frog … was shortlisted for the 1993 Booker Prize, and that’s about all I can tell you about it. It’s about Hungary from 1944 to 1956, which is described as being “under a frog’s arse down a coal mine” (presumably not a good thing), hence the title. I am fascinated by post-WWII Eastern European history, so I really should get around to reading this, one of these days.
I am certain I read The Road to Wellville, or at least a substantial portion of it. On second thought, I may be confusing it with a non-fiction book about the real-life Dr. Kellogg (begetter of your morning cornflakes). I know the novel was made into a movie, which I am positively certain I did not see. It has a 41% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a truly random cast (Anthony Hopkins, Bridget Fonda, and Matthew Broderick? And Lara Flynn Boyle?! And John Cusack?!?!) that would make it perfect for 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon (is that still a thing, or is my 90s nostalgia showing?) but not for, you know, actual watching. But I digress.
Politics is described as “a novel of sexual etiquette, the Queen Mother, premature ejaculation, the moral life of Milan Kundera, threesomes, the fetishes of dictators, blow jobs, Truffaut’s Jules et Jim, breakups, Mandelstam’s infidelity, selfishness, Bollywood, shopping & pink fluffy handcuffs”. I swear, it says that right there on the front cover. You see why I had to buy it (from the bargain bin, again). I can’t remember now why I haven’t read it.
Lastly, there is The Debt to Pleasure, which appears to be about a guy who likes food, a lot. That should tell you whether I’ve read the book or not. (Not.)
Here is a sneak peek at the second half of the shelf:
There are at least 3 books there that I’ve actually read! I’ll tell you all about it next time.