Why is that when you ruthlessly cull your book collection down to:
A) Read, loved and likely to re-read books, and
B) Yet to read books,
That the sight of half-empty bookshelves make you feel like you’ve abandoned a puppy? When all you’ve actually done is donated books to a good cause that will soon find a new home with an appreciative owner.
Every time I pass the emptier bookshelves they catch my eye with this doleful look that whimpers ‘what have you done to me? ‘Tis my purpose in life to hold things yet there’s virtually nothing here!’ They tug on my senses until I finally give in and find myself in a bookshop where I proceed to go on a teeny tiny book buying binge.
So here’s what I’ve bought recently:
Publisher synopsis: Praised by Barack Obama and an Oprah Book Club Pick, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is a National Book Award 2016 Finalist.
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North.
Winner Prix Médicis, Prix des Prix, 2013
Publisher synopsis: The French title of Men plays on a quote by Marguerite Duras: ‘We have to love men a lot. A lot, a lot. Love them a lot in order to love them. Otherwise it’s impossible, we couldn’t bear them.’
With her characteristic intensity, edginess and humour, Marie Darrieussecq explores female desire, what it means to be a woman. Solange was a provincial teenager in All the Way; now in her thirties, she’s not a great mother, is a mediocre actress, but in Hollywood she falls for a charismatic actor, Kouhouesso, who wants to direct a movie of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness—in Africa. He’s black; she’s white—what’s the difference when it comes to love, she wonders?
Personal and political, passionate and engaged, Men is a novel that will make you see things differently.
Publisher synopsis: Aaliya Saleh lives alone in her Beirut apartment, surrounded by stockpiles of books. Godless, fatherless, childless, and divorced, Aaliya is her family’s ‘unnecessary appendage’. Every year, she translates a new favourite book into Arabic, then stows it away. The thirty-seven books that Aaliya has translated over her lifetime have never been read – by anyone.
This breathtaking portrait of a reclusive woman follows Aaliya’s digressive mind as it ricochets across visions of past and present Beirut. Colourful musings on literature, philosophy, and art are invaded by memories of the Lebanese Civil War and Aaliya’s own volatile past. As she tries to overcome her ageing body and spontaneous emotional upwellings, Aaliya is faced with an unthinkable disaster that threatens to shatter the little life she has left.
A love letter to literature and its power to define who we are, the prodigiously gifted Rabih Alameddine has given us a magnificent rendering of one woman’s life in the Middle East.
Publisher synopsis: First published in 1927, Men Without Women represents some of Hemingway’s most important and compelling early writing. In these fourteen stories, Hemingway begins to examine the themes that would occupy his later works: the casualties of war, the often uneasy relationship between men and women, sport and sportsmanship.
Modified: GMOs and the Threat to Our Food Our Land And Our Future by Caitlin Shetterly: Read an extract on the Penguin website
Publisher synopsis: A disquieting and meditative look at the issue that started the biggest food fight of our time–GMOs. From a journalist and mother who learned that genetically modified corn was the culprit behind what was making her and her child sick, a must-read book for anyone trying to parse the incendiary discussion about genetically modified foods.
GMO products are among the most consumed and the least understood substances in the United States today. They appear not only in the food we eat, but in everything from the interior coating of paper coffee cups and medicines to diapers and toothpaste. We are often completely unaware of their presence.
Caitlin Shetterly discovered the importance of GMOs the hard way. Shortly after she learned that her son had an alarming sensitivity to GMO corn, she was told that she had the same condition, and her family’s daily existence changed forever.
So that’s my new additions to my bookshelves, what are yours? Have you heard of, bought or read any of the above?