When is a book haul not a Britney Spears-style “Oops, I Did It Again” splurge but a plan for the future? Let’s call it Christmas shopping.
Behold my treats in store for family and friends (= excuses to run amok in Waterstones):
For my husband: The Dream Songs by John Berryman – this has been referenced by the Hold Steady and Nick Cave among others (music is to my husband as books are to me) and seems to be essential poetry. White Rage sheds light on the state of American politics which will interest him, especially at the moment.
For Mum: Hot Milk is beautifully written, poetic and evocative – I can still feel the arid sun of Spain after reading it – and has a mother-daughter relationship. It portrays the mother as a troubled hypochondriac so that might be awkward? Mum also loves Salley Vickers so Cousins is my back-up plan.
For Dad: The Devotion of Suspect X is new to me this year – I love the easy style and the idea of crime as a maths problem and the detective, physicist and mathematician sparring with each other – this should appeal to Dad, who is an engineer and crime fan. Black and Blue with Ian Rankin’s dry humour and Edinburgh setting also fits the bill, or the latest in the Rebus series Rather be the Devil.
I Contain Multitudes ticks the science box. Ed Yong is wonderfully erudite and curious and writes like a dream – this inspired me to eat widely, open the windows and clean the bathroom less.
For our god-daughter (aged 12): Murder Most Unladylike recommended by Adventures with Words. She likes funny books and this sounds like a good feisty heroine. Girl Up is an important book for future fesity heroines: funny, accessible and inspiring advice from Laura Bates of the Everyday Sexism project.
For my friend: The Door – her family is Hungarian so this will resonate, with the backdrop of post-war Budapest, but it’s also a rich story about female friendship with a singular older woman. We read it for London Book Club and there was much discussion about our treatment of older people and how the story was uncomfortable but rang true.
For the Adelaide Book Club: the new Famous Five series – including Five Give Up the Booze. I could not resist!
For me: The Master and Margarita has long been on my TBR. Vintage are reissuing the Russian classics with gorgeous covers designed by Suzanne Dean, so I’m adding this to my wish list. Shelter has a more contemporary but beautiful cover and sounds like a dysfunctional family par excellence. Absolutely on Music is a gift to myself – I love Murakami’s deceptively simple writing and deep knowledge of music. This (following Do Not Say We Have Nothing) will kickstart my classical music listening for 2017.
Also on my wish list:
Music and Freedom by the super-talented Zoe Morrison, which won the 2016 Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction.
The Good People by Hannah Kent.
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon, winner of the Books Are My Bag award for breakthrough author, in a strong list.
And to give: $1 can buy one local language book for a child in a developing country, via Room to Read. And for those in the United States, #GiveABook sounds like a great initiative to provide books to children in need.
London Book Club: We each bring a book to Christmas dinner, as a gift from Secret Santa. What to choose?
I’ll need another trip to the bookstore…..