Merry Booksmas! Books I’m gifting to me this year.

Nice stack.

Let’s face it: no one knows which books I want at the holidays. Used to be I owned thousands and no one could tell what I didn’t already have. Now that my library’s so small, it’s what haven’t you already read...

Plus, I only exchange gifts with my kids, so there’s that. They figure I pick up anything I really want, anyway. Mostly, they’re right.

There were so, so many books I wanted to buy, but unfortunately there are annoying bills like rent and food to be paid. 2017 was not cheap, not that I’m saying I regret a penny. I just don’t have an awful lot of disposable income right now to feel comfortable splashing out.

But it’s Christmas, right?

Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses? Are there no new books to crack open and smell?

Oh, there are:

Elmet by Fiona Mozley

I didn’t pay much attention to this year’s Man Bookers. Usually I’m all over it like orange on Trump, but this year I was pre-occupied and hardly noticed the long or short lists. I’ll admit I was a bit surprised when I heard an American had won it for the second year in a row. But I won’t go into the politics of that and how irksome I find it. I’ve had enough politics this year to last me the rest of my life, thanks very much.

Elmet sounds delicious:

The family thought the little house they had made themselves in Elmet, a corner of Yorkshire, was theirs, that their peaceful, self-sufficient life was safe. Cathy and Daniel roamed the woods freely, occasionally visiting a local woman for some schooling, living outside all conventions. Their father built things and hunted, working with his hands; sometimes he would disappear, forced to do secret, brutal work for money, but to them he was a gentle protector.

The Power by Naomi Alderman

You have been taught that you are unclean, that you are not holy, that your body is impure and could never harbour the divine. You have been taught to despise everything you are and to long only to be a man. But you have been taught lies. ‘

– The Power

 

 

 

This year’s Baileys Women’s Prize winner has huge praise from Margaret Atwood emblazoned on the cover. Margaret. Atwood.

Oh please, like I wasn’t buying this one.

Incidentally, did you catch The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu? I watched all but the last episode in Scotland; I’m pissed as hell I had to leave and missed the ending. I may have to subscribe for the free trial just to see that.

Mrs Osmond by John Banville

John Banville writes like an angel, and this book extends the story of Isabel Archer from Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady. I may need to re-read Portrait, as well. Do I re-read it before, or after?

A quandary.

Read before, I may be too critical of Banville. After. Definitely after.

I don’t always get along with sequels and prequels and riffs on classic literature. But John Banville. Exceptions are made to all my rules.

Miss Jane by Brad Watson

The potency and implacable cruelty of nature, as well as its beauty, is a trademark of Watson’s fiction. In Miss Jane, the author brings to life a hard, unromantic past that is tinged with the sadness of unattainable loves, yet shot through with a transcendent beauty.

Yep.

Huuuuge buzz surrounded this novel, which doesn’t always mean much, but when it’s a proven writer like Brad Watson, it kinda does.

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

Several people said this novel should have taken the Booker Prize this year. Yeah, even when I’m not paying attention, I’m paying attention.

When it comes to books.

Midwinter in an English village. A teenage girl has gone missing. Everyone is called upon to join the search. The villagers fan out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on what is usually a place of peace. Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed.

As the seasons unfold and the search for the missing girl goes on, there are those who leave the village and those who are pulled back; those who come together and those who break apart. There are births and deaths; secrets kept and exposed; livelihoods made and lost; small kindnesses and unanticipated betrayals. An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, Reservoir 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a tragedy refuse to subside.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Never read any Ng, but I follow her on Twitter and she’s very likable. She tweeted a lot as she was writing this book, enough that I started wondering why I’m following her if I haven’t read her books.

Let’s remedy that.

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

I had this book in my hand so many times at Barnes & Noble. I didn’t buy it previously for no other reason than I’m not buying a lot of books this year, especially expensive new ones. And especially not when I can go a-begging and get them for free.

I was in an indie bookshop, saw it sitting there, and thought oh, okay, what the hell. It’ll be a fast and probably fairly forgettable book, but entertaining nonetheless. Plus, I was helping out a local indie.

Win/win.

As I was posting this, I remembered one work of NF I’d wanted very badly and hadn’t managed to snag from the publisher. If Amazon’s still promising pre-Christmas delivery…

Well.

We’ll see.

I’m being very good to myself this year. I think I deserve it. But then, I think I do every year. Never let it be said I’ve hidden my preference for myself under a bushel. After all, if you don’t look out for yourself, no one else will.

True words.

I’m hoping to get off (be good) at least one more post before year’s end, on the topic of my 2018 plans. Mostly reading, but if I’m in the right mood I’ll talk about other stuff, too. Safest to stay with reading, but when am I ever safe.

Anyway. Get out there and buy yourselves some books! Chop, chop. Time’s a-wasting.

A little book therapy goes a long way.

I miss the good old days when I had me a rich husband to pay for my subscription to the Sunday New York Times. There’s nothing on earth like a thick slab of newsprint slamming onto your driveway once a week, leaving a rectangle-shaped imprint in the asphalt. Even once I peeled off the sections I didn’t give a crap about, there was still enough reading material to keep me busy more than half the week.

Spoiler: It’s the Book Review section I lusted for most.

The lousy bastards keep sending me tempting half-price offers, and good lord I yearn, but post-Scotland my coffers are a whole lot emptier thanks to something called no income. I’ve been cutting costs across the board. My home is furnished with mostly thrifted stuff – high quality thrift, mind, I have a reputation to uphold – and I don’t even have TV service. My cell phone plan’s the lowest available, as is my internet. No no no, don’t say “in that case, you have extra money sitting around…”

I was kind of thinking that, then I remembered something: there are libraries. Libraries subscribe to newspapers.

Libraries are free.

Well, paid for via property taxes, which I don’t pay directly since I’m renting. But, you know.

I was sorely disappointed with the last two weeks’ NYTimes Books section. Usually satisfying for this lusty wench, it just wasn’t doing it for me.  But then, the attention span isn’t there, either.

SEE: disaster, recent.

If I’d read the entire Sunday paper, the slick adverts would have gotten my full attention. Lately, most days find me sitting here on the sofa, eyes wide from hours spent scrolling through Pinterest for hacks on rental-friendly, sexy fixes for all the ugly bits in my house, empty water bottles littering the faux wood (SEE: Fake) floor beside me.

I’m ridiculously focused on decor. When I’m not out relentlessly hunting for something to throw on my walls, I’m home staring at things other people have. It’s a sickness, but mostly a safe one. And it’s a whole lot cheaper than drugs. But dear god don’t bring up the subject around me or I’ll tell you how much I spent on every, single fecking square inch of my house.

Everything above the bookshelves, FORTY-FIVE DOLLARS!

I had better luck with the most recent Bookmarks Magazine. If you don’t know it, you need to look it up. While not comprehensive, it does a damn good job gathering newly published and soon-to-be released titles, gives brief blurbs, and assembles excerpts from some major review venues. They give a star rating – 1-5 – based on how positive the reviews are.

I likes it.

And I found me a few titles to beg for, I mean check out:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to go a-whoring.

It’s not a bad idea forcing myself to crawl to the library and read the Sunday New York Times. Gets me out of the house, and gives me a reason to get dressed and brush my hair. It has the added benefit of being where people are, sitting amidst others riffling through pages and drinking coffee. The sound of pages turning is soothing to me.

Hey, is there an app for that?

If I get restless, there’s always the decorating magazines. If I’ve had no luck soliciting publishers to get those books above, you know I hear libraries have those, too.

But I just may subscribe to Bookmarks. A girl needs something in her mailbox besides junk.

No, that’s not a euphemism.