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23rd July
written by Steph

[N.B. The somewhat patriotic motif in the title would have made more sense if I had been able to post this on the July 4th weekend, when I originally drafted this up.  But as you know, life and the wedding got in the way so now the title is more puzzling than it is cute.  I've not changed the text below, so any prospective references to wedding planning and the like can be ignored.  Just transport yourself back three weeks in time, and you'll be in the right mindset! 😉 ] One of the great things about keeping a blog is that I get to keep track of the frequency of our book buying binges.  On average it would appear that I am able to stay away from the bookstore for about 3 weeks before I finally cave and have to stalk its aisles once more.  As I mentioned in my last post in which I solicited recommendations for my summer/honeymoon reading (be sure to suggest a southern and/or summery classic if you haven’t already!), I’ve sort of been jonesing for particular reads that I feel our home library is lacking, so I suppose I just wanted to get out there and see what I could find.  The book I’m currently reading (hopefully I can finish it and get a review up before things really swing into wedding mode next week) makes frequent reference to Herman Melville and Moby Dick in particular, so my interest was piqued and I thought I might like to try to read that massive epic.  It was off to McKay’s to see if I could find a copy… I didn’t (not entirely true: they had several, but the minimum price was $8, and I just didn’t feel like shelling out that kind of cash for a book I wasn’t certain I would love), but we did wind up with a few other books.
Findley, Urrea, Robbins

Findley, Urrea, Robbins

  • Not Wanted On the Voyage by Timothy Findley – I’ve read this one before, though didn’t have my own copy, but I thought it would be something Tony might enjoy (and if not, I enjoyed it, and will likely want to read it again one of these days).  This is a fictional retelling of the story of Noah and the Arc, complete with talking animals.  It’s very dark but reeeeeeally good.  Findley is a Canadian author, and I always get a kick out of finding books by my fellow countrymen and women here in Nashville.
  • The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea – My good friend Laura recommended this to me a while back, saying she read and enjoyed this while teaching in Japan.  I’ve read some other good things about Urrea from fellow bloggers, and as I’ve found that I tend to enjoy Spanish-language authors a good deal, I finally decided to give this one a try.
  • Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins – If you’re ever in the mood for something slightly off the wall but still thoughtful and provoking, Tom Robbins is your man.  This makes the fourth Robbins we’re adding to our home library… with only one of those novels read by both of us.  So I think I’ll be revisiting him in the near future!
Voltaire, Zola, & Twain

Voltaire, Zola, & Twain

  • Candide by Voltaire – So, we actually already own a copy of Candide at home, but the thing is, I CANNOT RESIST Deluxe Editions of Penguin Classics when I stumble upon them in the bookstore.  I covet them because I love their design aesthetic so very much.  The cartoon covers crack me up and I love how they make the classics seem fun. The one for Candide is particularly hilarious as it gives a very short synopsis of the events of the novel in comic strip format.  Had to buy this one, and we’ll trade in our old copy on our next inevitable visit.
  • Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola – I picked this up on a whim and kind of forgot that this was in our basket when we checked out.  I was struck by the urge to finally read some Zola, and of the titles they had on the shelf, this was the one that I recognized.
  • Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain – I read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn last year and LOVED it, so I’ve been wanting to read more Twain since then.  I loved his writing style, his wit, his dry humor, and thought it might be nice to read his reflections on living in the South.  I thought this might actually be a nice pick for reading on the Honeymoon since well be in the Deep South.
  • Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – Following from above, having loved Huck Finn, I thought it might be nice to read Tom Sawyer (which I don’t expect to love as much, but that’s ok).  I also love Everyman Library hardbound editions, so this seemed like the best of both worlds.
Saramago & Winton

Saramago & Winton

  • The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, The Stone Raft, & The Cave by Jose Saramago – I clumped all three of these titles together because my sole motivation for picking them all up is that I read All the Names last year and really liked Saramago’s style and prose and the clever premises he explores, so I just want to read more of him because I find him so rewarding.  I’ve only heard of The Cave previously… have any of you read any of these? (Also: Claire, I’m sorry!  I know how jealous you must be, because I know you too are always on the lookout for more Saramago titles to add to your library!)  I will have to read something by him soon, because we now own 6 books by him, and I’ve only read one…
  • The Riders & Breath by Tim Winton – I think I’ve mentioned in passing either here or on others’ blogs that I want to read more international fiction, and in particular, I’m really interested in exploring more Australian fiction.  I’ve read one Tim Winton novel previously, Cloudstreet, and enjoyed it, so when I saw these two titles, I decided to buy them as well.  I believe Breath is Winton’s most recent novel, and The Riders intrigued me because it actually is billed as a psychological thriller, which we all know is one of my literary vices.
So, we wound up getting 12 books and because we had a voucher, these wound up setting us back just 11 real dollars.  Not too shabby!  I’m thinking several of these might make good honeymoon reading, so I’ll have to start making some tough choices soon (thankfully we’re driving, so I can pack as many book as I like! 😉 ).  Have you read any of these?  Where would you start?


  1. 07/23/2009

    Well you are right, I’m so jealous! Why do I never find used Saramagos ever, here? I should just resort to the Vintage Classics on The Book Depository, ha ha. (One day.) I’ve never read Huckleberry Finn, not sure if I’d like it, but as you do I think I also might 😀

  2. Kay

    I’ve been wanting to read “Not wanted on the Voyage” for so long, but it’s never at the bookstore, or the library, or the used bookstore. *sigh* I’ve read Thérèse Raquin when in college and loved it. It’s dark and slow – as most Zola is – but I really enjoy his writing.

  3. I’m so jealous of all your Saramago books too! I have never found any. I really must buy them at some point, as I don’t think I’ll ever find them.

    I’m half way through Cloudstreet and am really enjoying it. I have Dirt Riders – is that the same as Riders? Here waiting to be read too. I think he is an author I will love and will be looking out for all his other books in the future. Breath is his latest. It has just won the Miles Franklin award – his 4th time winning!

    Enjoy your new books!

  4. 07/28/2009

    I have a copy of The Hummingbird’s Daughter and Not Wanted on the Voyage, but haven’t read them yet. I also have a couple by Saramago, but not the ones you mentioned. I am really curious about Breath, so I would probably start there. I think I will wait until I read your review to see what you think before I pick up a copy. Happy reading!

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