Rather than a post on What I’m Reading Right Now, I thought I’d do a What I’m Not Reading Right Now.
Because I’m flat out like a lizard drinking Doing Other Things Right Now. (I am however currently immersed in the complex, layered and thoroughly enjoyable A.S. Byatt’s Possession, stringing it out, willing it not to end.)
Herewith, a collection of books picked up at secondhand bookshops, Savers and assorted op shops over the last couple of months, none of which I have yet managed to read.
Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah.
Picked up because I liked the cover. How shallow is that? Well also because it’s interesting reading about Asian cultures of which I have no experience whatsoever. (See also Amy Tan, the Wild Swans woman, etc).
The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates.
Because the BBC tv series all those years ago was such divine, lush viewing, featuring the nineteen year old Catherine Zeta-Jones. And it’s an English classic. And a line from one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Which sonnet? No cheating by looking it up … be first to tell me and win! (Note, no actual prize).
The Joy of Travel by Susan Kurosawa
I do like travel writing, and have always enjoyed Kurosawa’s columns in The Australian. This one sounds like perfect summer reading.
Snakecharmers in Texas by Clive James
More summer reading from The Great Wit himself. Greatly looking forward to this one. Excellent beach reading.
The Virago Book of Women Gardeners edited by Deborah Kelloway
Gardening. With women. Vita, Gertrude, Beth, Edna! What’s not to like? Can’t wait to dip into this, hopefully while reclining in a deck chair with a g&t close to hand and children frolicking nearby in the (carefully tended) shrubbery.
Charades by Janette Turner Hospital
I’ve not read any of Turner Hospital’s (why no hyphen? I have a hyphen; why can’t she?) books but they usually get good reviews so I picked it up when I saw it. I have no idea what it’s about and I’m too lazy to go look at the blurb. Oh hang on, that’s what Google’s for, isn’t it? Okay, I’m back. Wow it got great reviews – apparently it is about how we reinvent myths in the age of quantum mechanics (gosh), is about a provincial Australian girl, is a love story, is about a search for a lost father, includes revisionist theories on the Holocaust, the Heisenberg principle … clever, lyrical, superb. Well, clearly that is why I picked it up all those weeks ago. Silly me. (Also, she wrote Due Preparations for the Plague - Babelbabe, is that one of your collection of plague novels?)
Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding
Naff, but we can’t all be like Janette Turner Hyphen Hospital. Sometimes we need fluff. Fluff with Colin Firth, preferably.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Because it’s a classic and I’ve never read it. Nor seen the film. But Whoopi Goldberg made a wonderful Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. Does that count? (But I digress).
The Bone People by Keri Hulme
I grabbed this because it rang a bell. One of the women in my bookgroup is a New Zealander and she’s always banging on about how we should read some Kiwi lit. (So we read Cousins by Patricia Grace to appease her. It was good. The end). "The Bone People has themes of love, violence, national identity and social responsibility. The characters are both human and part of the complex symbolism that underpins the book and the post-colonial mixture of Maori and Pakeha culture." I’m not in a tearing hurry, but will get around to this one day.
A Small Place in Italy by Eric Newby
As I said, I adore travel writing. I was first introduced to the terribly British Newby when I read A Traveller’s Life which is a delightful book of extracts and short adventures with a great cover. I then went on to read A Short Walk Through the Hindu Kush, Slowly Down the Ganges, Round Ireland in Low Gear (this last one was a little dull I must say) and something about love in the Appenines.
The Memoirs of a Survivor by Doris Lessing
I read The Grass is Singing many moons ago in high school. I seem to recall it was, um, intense. Perhaps I just bought this to sit on my shelf and make me look clever?
Stupid White Men by Michael Moore
My children are horrified by the title. I haven’t seen any of Moore’s films (the shame, I know I know) so this will be my introduction. Ghastly cover.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Sounds scary but Alias Grace was mesmerising. Did anyone else see the one-woman show at The Malthouse last year?
As a Woman: Writing Women’s Lives by Jocelyn Scutt
Picked up because it sounded interesting. Not yet peeked at. Shoved on the Important Feminist Stuff shelf.
A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey
A classic I thought I should own.
The Alchemist by Paul Coelho
Ditto. Although I bought Mr Soup The Zahir last year and he hated it.
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Possibly purchased just for show if I'm being honest? I don’t feel strong enough to read Rushdie. Maybe when I’m 45.
Ruth Park’s ’Harp in the South’ novels in one big fat book.
Lovely! Have read Poor Man’s Orange and I recall devouring the television series so now I have all the books awaiting me in one wrist-straining edition. Good hammock-and-a-cup-of-tea reading.
An Accommodating Spouse by Elizabeth Jolley
I love Jolley’s entertaining style. Yum. Is she from Perth? I always think of Perth when I see her name.
Fortune’s Rocks and The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve
Pretty covers. Has anybody read her? Any good?
Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver
Because I read that one set in Africa that everybody reads and enjoys. Google reminds me that it’s The Poisonwood Bible. Yes that’s right. I thought it was fabulous – so rich and meaty and I could feel the sweat and the humidity and oh, the flies and the dust. And that father! Can someone assure me that I will get past the unfortunate title of this one and it will be equally as readable?
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
I believe this should be on everyone’s bookshelf. And um, be read one day.
Wonderboy by Stephen Cummings
Well, he’s a great singer, and an evocative lyricist. So perhaps he’s a decent novelist also? He’s terribly sexy, anyway. Be still my beating heart.
the first stone by Helen Garner
Another should-read. I still think The Last Days of Chez Nous is one of the most powerful and poignant books I’ve read (the film’s not too shabby either). Monkey Grip is an Australian classic, although depressing, and I’ve also read Cosmo Cosmolino (which incidentally is the name of the band Son #1’s violin teacher plays in) and The Children’s Bach, all of which are very accomplished. Plus she’s from Melbourne, as is Stephen Cummings, so you know, gotta support local authors. Even great big famous ones.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Yet another should-read. Although I did see this listed recently on someone’s Things That Are Overrated meme. Hmmm. I think it’s on the list for bookgroup next year anyway so I picked it up.
The Worry Box by Marion Halligan
The oh-so-delicious Marion Halligan. Has anyone else fallen in love with her children’s picture book The Midwife’s Daughters? I borrowed it from the library over and over (and over) when I was pregnant with Son #3 and read it to the older boys until they used to hide under the settee when they saw me approaching with it balanced on my enormous belly. If anyone ever sees this in a secondhand bookshop, please buy it. And send it to ME. And I will love you forever. Oh and there will be an actual prize for that.
As you can see, I’m very very busy not reading all these fine books. Oh, and these were just the books for me. There’s a whole other post in the selection of children’s books I found …