Time we talked books again.
Not an autumn reading challenge, or anything remotely like, but the list that emerged from my plea for some good reads for Lesley-Ann a while back set me thinking, because as the list was growing your suggestions had me wandering around my own shelves, and with no problem, gathering together fifty or more books that I had been meaning to read for ages. Not even 'To Be Read' because these books had slipped into the cracks and were way off the radar. Some are by authors I know and love, others unknown to me, yet somehow they had all been set aside for another day.
The fifty or so books were then shelved by author gender and I decided that as I finished one from one shelf I would choose another from the other, thus always having one of the fifty on the go, and I would fill the gaps with more unreads. Not to read one a week, or race to get them done...just meandering through, choosing according to mood, and if I found a previously unread author who I enjoyed I would add in more of their books. If I have a fail I'm afraid it is straight off to the charity shop, no room for passengers.
Authors include Kate Atkinson, Richard Yates, Charles Palliser, Elizabeth Bowen, Jane Borodale, Lesley Glaister, Gail Jones, Kent Haruf, Sebastian Barry (many still unread) John McGahern (likewise) more by J.L.Carr and Larry Watson, finish that interrupted A.S.Byatt tetralogy (or is it quadrilogy), catch up with Tracy Chevalier's earlier novels, and Louise Erdrich, still some William(s) Maxwell and Trevor awaiting, a few Edith Whartons, plenty of Penelope Lively and more.
Well I can report that Fifty Books has been in progress for about six weeks and it has all been a great success so far...
My first read was The Bay of Noon by Shirley Hazzard (thoughts on that to follow) and as a result I have quickly added The Great Fire and The Transit of Venus to the Fifty Books shelf.
I have Eleven Kinds of Loneliness by Richard Yates on the go as a short story collection, having known since I read Easter Parade that there is far more to this writer than Revolutionary Road, and I am not disappointed.
Then I picked up Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. I have long wanted to appreciate the Endsleigh Salonistas fascination with all things Jackson Brodie...well now I get it. One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News and Started Early,Took My Dog have been sourced.
Stewart O'Nan is almost unknown here (to me anyway) so I had a great time reading up on him. Seemingly unpublished in the UK, books unavailable and I cannot for the life of me think why. Maybe UK publishers feel there is no appetite for a writer who observes American life in this way...
I sent out to the US for Last Night at the Lobster and a fine floppy little paperback arrived. That reminds me...another question... sorry to be Disgruntled of Devon but why do UK paperbacks have to be so impossibly stiff and starchy and unmanageable with one hand??
Anyway I made it my first post-festival read; books like this are meant for days spent languishing in the deckchair and I loved it....this from an interview with Belt Magazine
When time enough has passed for critics to start assessing how the Great Recession played out in American literature, it’s likely they’ll take a close look at Stewart O’Nan’s recent novels, especially 2007’s Last Night at the Lobster and 2011’s Emily, Alone. That’s partly because, dispiritingly enough, the shelf of novels that address the lower rungs of the middle class is a small one. But even in a crowded field, O’Nan’s books would stand out. In Lobster, O’Nan delivers both a close study of Manny, the manager of a soon-to-close Connecticut Red Lobster franchise, and of the workers and patrons who share their lives inside it during one day, captive to a brutal snowstorm. It’s early, but the novella is one of the most potent and sharpest portraits of work in the new century—few books in any era have done such a fine job of exploring how corporations stoke our loyalty, and how easily they betray it.
More about Last Night at the Lobster very soon, but it had me then sourcing every other book by Stewart O'Nan that I could find.
And it all has me wondering...
..if you too compiled a shelf of 'unreads', what might be on there?