It’s the time of the year for lists of ‘what I read in 2017’ and ‘what I’m looking forward to in 2018’, but here at Dog Eared Reads a slightly different tradition seems to have found its footing. The end of the year had me once again at Barter Books, even cosier than usual with a Christmas Tree made of books and people milling about in the festive spirit.
Now before I travelled back North for the Christmas season I had been VERY busy. My sisters partner is an architect and after a visit to my flat he admitted to being slightly worried about my abode being structurally unsound now due to the weight of books I’ve brought in there. I knew I’d be going to Barter Books soon so I would have been having a quick glance over my shelves to see if there were any books that were now read but didn’t warrant holding a permanent spot on the bookcase. Some kind of fever must have hit me as I did something rash, something unplanned, something…pretty stupid. I pulled ALL the books off the shelves in my flat, ALL OF THEM. As soon as I’d done it I wanted to weep. I’d made the decision to re-shelve in some new kind of order. Two weeks it took, two whole weeks of not being able to walk across my living room floor due to piles of book blocking my every step. This is a photo of the scene when I was beginning to feel hope as I was nearly finished…
So you can pop round to my flat now and basically have a guided tour of the different book sections, sad to some but immensely pleasing to me. The other result of this is an IKEA bag filled with 200 odd books to take to Barter. I’ll be taking them bit by bit for a while as they don’t allow you to turn up with such an absurd number, quite sensibly. So with two bulging carrier bags in hand is how I found myself arriving there this week.
As usual I filled a shopping basket with too many books and had to settle down on one of the many comfy landing spots in the shop to work out what I could sensibly afford. So here they are, ready to travel South with me and move into their new home!
‘Peter Schlemihl’ is published by One World Classics and as I always enjoy their chosen stories and translations I decided to have a look at this one. The blurb informs me that this sees the character for whom the book is named entering into a pact with the Devil, swapping his shadow for the everlasting riches from the purse of Fortunatus. Have you ever heard of a pact with the Devil working out well? Exactly! Combine this dark story with the fact that it was actually written as a cautionary tale for the children of the authors patron and, kerching, sold. The Grimms through to Dahl, I’m always here for authors who are disapproved of by the grown ups for being that bit too scary for children.
Barbara Pym is an absolute treasure, taking the everyday and sardonically pointing out the absurdities that go hand in hand with it. Constantly charming but never saccharine, the wit within her pages will always have me coming back.
Some Russian short stories and essays to be had here, as my love affair with all things Ruski continues (always there but definitely inflamed by the glorious Teffi – read her!) this is a collection translated into English for the first time which explores the tumultuous 20th century had by the country.
There is no real depth to my answer to ‘Why did you choose this read?’ simply, I already own a novella by Antal Szerb which is as of yet unread but looks fantastic, and I spotted this novel and fancied this too. A very simply blurb is given of a young man on honeymoon in Italy being forced to confront his past as his life begins to crumble around him. Published by Pushkin Press, one of my all time favourite publishing houses, I know I’m in good hands.
‘Ruby’ made the shortlist for the Baileys Prize in 2016 and also made for a lot of differing of opinion amongst my book loving friends, some loved, some loathed. Well, it really is about time I made up my own mind and head over to East Texas to uncover the story of Ephram Jennings and Ruby Bell.
I’ve ended up collecting these little Penguin Popular Classics when I find them, usually part hidden due to their size, in a charity shop. I haven’t actually read The Scarlett Letter and thought that as well as a nice addition to my previous finds, the pocket friendly edition means it will be perfect for reading on the flight back to Bath. A little drink to have along side goes perfectly, oui?!
I was introduced to David Sedaris and his wicked sense of humour when I started working at Mr B’s. I’ve always wanted to read this collection so when I saw it on the Barter shelves it was a definite to take home. With my mam getting a Fitbit this Christmas I had to show her his often quoted piece on what happens when you become a bit too keen on meeting your daily step goal, read it by clicking here and if you like his style you can’t go wrong with any of his books.
Oh Daphne, Daphne how I love thee, let me count the ways. Another collection I am amassing are these specific editions of her novels and short stories. It’s so exciting finding a new title, as ‘Rebecca’ and ‘My Cousin Rachel’ steel all the thunder it means I come to them knowing very little, a gothic turn full of surprises will always be a book I’ll curl up with.
Another author I was introduced to at Mr B’s, by my friend and colleague Kate, who is a huge fan of ‘Orkney’ by Amy Sackville. This beautiful cover immediately grabbed my attention (and although I know it is very exciting for a novel to be chosen for ‘Book at Bedtime’ PLEASE STOP PUTTING STICKERS ON MY BOOKS!!) and a quote from Francis Spufford on the back about Sackville saying
If Virginia Woolf had had a younger sister with a passionate interest in icebergs, she might have written something like this beautiful, unearthly novel
These three things combined would always result in me buying this copy once it had found its way to me.
Again another book grabbed with little knowledge of the contents, purely on the basis of loving what publishers ‘and Other Stories’ do (click here and scroll down to the Deborah Levy book to read all about them) and never having read a collection of short stories by Czech women writers at the Fin de Siecle, deciding it was time to do so! I shall report back.
I am not a huge football fan, I am a follower of the egg chasers, but I love the idea of this collection of stories and poems all inspired and written by those who were involved with the Homeless World Cup in Glasgow. Sport can bring people together like nothing else and the chance for those who can be so brutally and cruelly ignored by society to take centre stage and join together in a team can only be a positive it seems to me. Another I will come back to on here once read.
Regular readers may notice I have not given the usual price details for each edition this time, but with all of the books being second hand and many of them having been published some time ago the information would all be a bit hodge podge if you were trying to find the exact edition featured, so I would suggest the best thing to do would be to ask your local, friendly independent in person or online if it can be sourced using the authors name and title.
Did you get books this Christmas? What did you find under your tree? As usual you can leave a comment below or tweet over on @dogeared_reads If you would like to receive an email letting you know when there is a new post on this site, simply get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Subscribe’ in the subject line and you’re done! Don’t worry, no tiresome spam from us! So until next time…