This Christmas, I had imagined, was going to be a relatively bookless one, and on Christmas Day my suspicions were confirmed by the fact that I only received one book (the D.E. Stevenson volume that my mother traditionally gets me as “safe reading”, in this case a sweet story about a grande dame and the property she leaves to her nephew, Celia’s House). Oh well, thought I; I’ve already sent loads of request emails to publishers and there’ll be plenty of pre-pub copies when I get back, plus the spreadsheet of releases throughout the year, and the Women’s Prize project. I’m sure I’ll stay busy.
Then, on Boxing Day, my father said, rather shrewdly, “You only got one book this year, yes?” I confirmed this. “Are you sad about that?” he inquired. I confirmed that I was, a bit. And my dad said, “Well, why don’t you write me a list.”
So I did, and he bought me three more. Then, when I returned to England, the Chaos presented me with my Christmas present: Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy in its entirety. Then we went to his parents’ place for the weekend and I bought more books. Not to mention that I already had seven pre-pubs piled up on the shelf.
2016 is going to be a great year, you guys.
The next few months:
American Housewife, a sharp, dark collection of short stories by Helen Ellis, is first up to be reviewed, shortly to be followed by Merritt Tierce’s story of small-town single mother and drug addict Marie, Love Me Back, and Shirley Barrett’s whaling love story Rush Oh! I’m also hoping to snag copies of The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee, The Outrun by Amy Liptrot, Dinosaurs On Other Planets by Danielle McLaughlin, and The Heart Is A Muscle the Size of a Fist, by Sunil Yapa. That gets me into at least February in new releases. *pauses to wipe sweat from brow*
The Women’s Prize for Fiction project:
At the moment, I’ve got copies of Larry’s Party by Carol Shields, A Crime In the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne, The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville, When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant, and The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. Most of these are from the ’90s and I’m excited to discover early work by writers who, like Shields and Grenville, are now very well known, but whom I didn’t come of age reading.
Aaaaall the rest:
Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie (reading the first one now). Birthday Letters, by Ted Hughes. Faber Selected Poems by Sylvia Plath. Collected Poems 1934-1953, Dylan Thomas. The Cutting Season, by Attica Locke (I read Black Water Rising on the plane back to the UK, on New Year’s Eve. I read the whole damn book in under six hours. It was that good.) Under the Udala Trees, by Chinelo Okparanta (“Nigerian lesbian coming-of-age story” on a blurb kind of does it for me). Celia’s House, by D.E. Stevenson (of course). A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki (at last). A Manual for Cleaning Women, by Lucia Berlin (awkwardly behind-the-times). And I still want to attack A Notable Woman, the Mass Observation diaries of Jean Lucey Pratt, despite having the volume in hardcover and it being about 900 pages long and weighing as much as a good-sized cat.
I also brought back two of my AP French lit texts (Candide and Maupassant’s Pierre et Jean), and bought Manon Lescaut and Lettres persanes while visiting the Progenitors Chaotic. (They aren’t chaotic, you understand…oh never mind.) I am hoping against hope that 2016 is the year I start reading in French again. It’s about time.