On My Book Table… 12 – moving into May with some potential chunksters!


For my end of the month post, I thought I’d revive an idea I’ve used in the past, where I share some potential reads perching on my dedicated book table. Goodness knows there are plenty of them, and they’ve spread a little… ๐Ÿ˜† More of that later, however; firstly, here’s a picture of the books I read during April:

Not picture – the Maigret, which was an e-book, and Margaret Atwood’s short story My Wicked Mother which was likewise!

As you can see it was a bumper month, much of which may be down to the fact that I had a fortnight off for the Easter break and was able to wallow in some wonderful (and longer!) books – I haven’t read so much, and so well, for a long time… There were a number for the #1954Club, including two volumes of “The Lord of the Rings”; but I’ve also ranged over poetry, non-fiction and essays too, as well as edging closer to the end of my Penguin Moderns box set. Some of these books are still to be reviewed – yes, I’m playing catch up again!

As for where I’ll go next with my reading, well that’s hard to know! I have a pile of review books, and also want to finish a book I’m halfway through for Stu’s Archipelago Reading fortnight. For now, let’s take a look at some of the books on the table:

First up we have some chunksters… And when I say chunksters I mean it as these are really big and heavy books!!! The Benjamin and the Penguin Modern Classics book were gifts at the end of last year, and I *have* been dipping – in particular into the PMC one, which is absolutely lovely but very, very bad for the wishlist… “Modernism” and the Barthes were purchases and again are both very dippable – I just wish I had more time sitting in my book chair to do that dipping!

Next up, here is a very interesting pile of review books from a variety of sources, and some of which are for Shiny New Books and others which will appear here. All of them look fascinating – it’s just a case of deciding which one should be the first to be read!

And here’s a few more review books, including a clutch from Michael Walmer Books; I really do want to get on to Rosalind Brackenbury soon as she sounds like a fascinating and very neglected author.

Truth be told, however, there are more books pending that would ever fit on the book table. In fact, as I hinted at the start of the post, they’re spreading madly; I’ve had to corral a batch of them on an old picnic table we have knocking around the house as you’ll see from this image:

British Library books, NYRB, Columbia University Press, Christmas gifts – so many potential joys waiting to be read. If there’s a zombie apocalypse I shall *definitely* be ok for books; but which one should I read next???

On My Book Table… 11 – regrouping!


Well – that was a week that was, as they say! The #1936Club was such a success, but very busy and I went off at a tangent reading books for it, when I really should have been dealing with some of the other lovely titles on Mount TBR. So as I haven’t shared what’s on the book table for a while, I thought it was time to take stock and regroup – as well as sharing some gratuitous book pictures! ๐Ÿ˜€

First of all, let’s take a look at the bookish arrivals so far this month. I *am* trying very hard, as usual, to be restrained – but it doesn’t always work, and these are a mixture of review books and purchases, with one gift!

The review books are the two BL titles and the Orwell (which you’ll obvs have seen me review last Sunday!) British Library books are always beautiful and I could happily spend a few weeks reading nothing but them. The du Maurier was one I came across in a recent book on Literary Paris in the first part of the 20th century; I’ll be reviewing the latter for Shiny New Books, but “I’ll Never Be Young Again” intrigued… Showa, Stepanova and Proust were purchases; and “The Guernsey Literary….” a gift from Mr. Kaggsy at Easter. I’m still amazed at how he manages to track down books I’ve not read…

Next up, review books:

Yes, there are a lot of them. No, that is by no means all of the review books I have in the house… Some are for Shiny New Books and some for the blog; all are very, very appealing. Which will I get to first? Who knows….?

Of course, a section of the Ramblings is devoted to the various Penguin challenges I have set myself, and I have a neat little pile of the next books to be read in each of the various categories:

Technically speaking, these are all short and should be easily read in one sitting. But my reading is driven by mood so I do need to decide where my whims are taking me next!

Talking of challenges, I am vaguely committed to a couple of external reading events over the next month or two, involving these:

On the left we have the first in the Chronicles of Carlingford sequence by Margaret Oliphant. There’s a read-along of these starting on the LibraryThing Virago Modern Classics group, and I’m going to try really hard to get onboard, as I’ve been meaning to read these stories for ages. On the right is a collection of stories by lovely Olga Zilberbourg, which she kindly sent me a while back. I keep getting sidetracked when I go to pick it up, but a Twitter readalong in May may well be helpful…

Finally, there’s this little pile:

“Fifty Sounds” is a review copy from Fitzcarraldo and I suspect it may be what I read next. The Arendt biography is also for review; and that whole pile is calling to me very, very strongly… Of course, not all of these piles are on the book table at the same time – it would collapse, frankly – but every one is so appealing and shouting for attention. As I’ve said before, so many books and so little time… Watch this space to find out which book wins the Battle of the Book Table!!! ;D

On My Book Table…9 – lurkers and newbies!


Although I have been reading up a storm lately, the heaps of volumes on the Book Table don’t seem to get any smaller… Some might say ‘self-inflicted wound’, as I *have* been buying a few (ahem!) books recently; and there have also been arrivals from lovely publishers. So I thought a good use of a Sunday morning would be to take stock, shuffle the piles and try to focus on what I should read next!

I have titled this post lurkers and newbies for good reasons! Many of the books on the table have been around for a while waiting for me to get to them, and I want to read them all but do get distracted. And it’s the shiny newbies which do the distracting so I really am my own worst enemy. Anyway, onward to the books!

First up are some of the review books lurking. The pile has gone down a little, but there *have* been incomings. All of these look rather wonderful and I could read any of them right now very happily. I’m pretty sure at least one will be coming off that pile soon! ๐Ÿ˜€

Next up, Irina Ratushinskaya. I have owned some of her books for a looooong time, though some are more recent finds. I was reminded of her recently after a Twitter convo, and really should read at least one of these soon. She had a dramatic and difficult life during the last days of the Soviet Union; but I’m vaguely worried about finding her experiences upsetting…

What’s in the Book Basket at the moment? you might ask… Four books which have been lurking for varying periods of time. The Larsen sounds marvellous, as does “East West Street” and I really *should* get onto these soon.

This pile is a mixture of Lurkers and Newbies – a fairly random and eclectic mix, but again all sounding marvellous. Some are quite slim, so I could probably make a dent in it fairly soon. There’s Bernhard and Sterne and a book about Solsbury Hill (cue Peter Gabriel) and a lovely Japanese translation – such riches!

Finally, a little pile of what I would describe as Heavyweights, either in size or content. “Baden-Baden” is calling strongly, as is the Bachelard and “Imaginary Cities” (which has been lurking unread for far too long). I could just ignore all the other piles and spend many happy days embroiled in any one of these. Maybe I will – or maybe I won’t!

To be truthful, I *do* know what I’m going to be reading next off these piles; although the actual review of it may not be for some weeks. Because, having been reading so much and relatively quickly recently, I have reviews stacked up for the next few weeks and posts will be coming quick and fast, I’m afraid! I hope you’ll enjoy what I’ve been reading, and do share your thoughts on any of the books which take your fancy – I love a bit of bookish chat! ๐Ÿ˜€

On My Book Table…6 – a bit of a shuffle!


The world is a little bit scarier than usual at the moment, as we’re all quite aware, and so I’m trying personally to balance keeping my awareness of what’s happening at a sensible level and trying to keep myself on an even keel. Books have always been my go-to in times of stress and frankly are being a little bit of a lifeline right now. Anyway, after all the recent excitement of the #fitzcarraldofortnight, plus a number of new arrivals, I thought it was time to take stock and reorganise a little. Reading from one publisher is a lovely experience, but as I have so many other books lurking I wanted to try to clarify what I planned to pick up next. Of course, I never stick to reading plans, but it’s always fun to spend time shuffling books, as well as being very therapeutic… ๐Ÿ˜€

After spending some time digging among the stacks and moving books about, I ended up with a few piles I currently want to focus on and here’s the first:

This rather chunky pile has some of the weightier books (intellectually and literally!) that are calling right now. Some of these were in my last book table post, but some have snuck in when I wasn’t looking. There’s a lot of French writing there and both the Existentialist Cafe and Left Bank books sound excellent. Barthes is of course still hanging about in the wings even though I haven’t added him to the pile. I could go for a Barthes fortnight (or longer…) quite easily, but that might a bit brain-straining. Some of the volumes *are* reasonably slim so I might be able to slip them into my reading between bigger books – we shall see! ๐Ÿ˜€

Next up, some of the review books I have pending:

These are only *some* of the review books lurking, but if I put them all in a pile it looks scary and I panic, so I thought a modest selection would do. There are some beauties from the British Library Crime Classics and Science Fiction Classics range, as well as Camus and a classic Russian play and Frankenstein! They all sound so marvellous….

And this is the pile of recent finds or other titles I really want to read at the moment:

More French writing. The top two are books about French authors – I’ve read the start of each and they’re marvellous. The Queneau is short but essential (and another play! I’m reading more drama!!), the Hitchens and the Christiansen arrived recently, as did the beautiful Persephone (which I think I might well pick up soon). And the Makioka Sisters is there because there’s a readalong going on. I doubt I’ll get to it – I’ve failed every one so far this year, getting nowhere near either Proust or Musil. But it’s there just in case.

However, there *is* another pile of interest lurking. Coming up in April, Simon and I will be hosting the #1920club, the next in our themed weeks of reading from a particular year. I’ve been thinking ahead about which books I’d like to spend time with, and there really are some wonderful titles from 1920. I always try to read from the stacks and a quick dig revealed I had these books on the shelves:

All of them are beautiful titles, and most of them would be re-reads – which is not really what I want to do with the reading clubs. I have another new title lurking digitally which I am definitely going to overcome my aversion to e-reading and get to; but with the re-reads I shall have to be picky so that I can perhaps focus on unread books. Though it *would* be nice just to spend the week re-reading Agatha, Virginia and Colette…

And of course, just after I had finished writing this post, a lovely collection of review books popped through the door looking like this:

There are some wonderfully exciting titles there, including a new Crime Classic from the British Library; two editions from their new imprint focusing on Women Writers (which is being curated by Simon – well done, that man!); and a fascinating book on Artemisia Gentileschi with an introduction by Susan Sontag – how timely!

So there we go. The state of the books at the moment. I have just finished reading Lennie Goodings’ wonderful book about her life in the book trade and with Virago which I will eventually get to reviewing (I’m very behind…) – I highly recommend it. And I confess to being unsure as to what I’ll pick up next, although it may have to be escapism in the form of Golden Age crime. As usual, watch this space! ๐Ÿ˜€

On My Book Table… 3 – an update!


After the flurry of excitement and reading from 1930 for our recent Club Week, I thought it was about time I took stock and had a look at exactly what was on the Book Table; I frankly need to get a bit realistic about what I’m reading next, and there have also been some new arrivals at the Ramblings… So once I’d put away all the 1930 possibles, there was a bit more room to have a shuffle and a reorganise and a think about forthcoming reading; and after all that, I was left with these on the Table!

Yes – there are indeed a few newbies in the pile, though in fairness a couple of these are from the library. I reserved a shedload of Thomas Bernhard and that’s the last one to arrive; and Brian Bilston’s “Diary of a Somebody” was a must after I recently finished his marvellous poetry collection – review of the latter to follow shortly! Binet and the Lighthouses (sounds like an indie band…) have both previously appeared, but there are in fact five new review copies which have snuck in. The Stella Benson and Marie Belloc Lowndes are from the lovely Michael Walmer, and I have several of his titles standing by to read and review – all sounding very, very interesting. “The Government Inspector” is a lovely new translation of Gogol’s famous play from Alma which is calling strongly. And there are two fascinating Penguins which I’ll be covering for Shiny New Books. Once again, choices, choices…

So only two of these are purchases, picked up at the weekend when browsing the charity shops with Eldest and Youngest Child (who came home for a flying visit). I know nothing about the Fitz-James O’Brien book apart from the fact that it apparently channels Poe (which has to be good)!ย  But the other find was a beautiful pristine Virago that I was pretty sure I didn’t already have – and I was right!

I own a number of Elizabeth von Arnim’s books already, and things weren’t helped by the fact that someone had donated several of them and I was trying to work out what I had and what I already had read. Anyway, I chose correctly and this is in lovely condition, so I was very happy to bring it home at a bargain price.

I’m currently actually reading a book on the pile – the lighthouses one, which is fascinating so far. However, perched on the top is this very slim story which I intend to get to soon:

As I’ve mentioned previously, this is a limited edition short work by M. John Harrison, and as it’s apparently a bit spooky we’re getting close to the right time of the year to read it!

So that’s what’s on the Book Table post-1930 Club! Hopefully I’ll be reading more than one of them soon! ๐Ÿ˜€


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