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21st October
written by Steph

Is it still bad if most of these were free?

Is it still bad if most of these were free?

Now before y’all go calling me on the fact that I’ve fallen of the wagon yet AGAIN, I’m going to point out that this month, I’ve only gone book shopping at the shelves at work.  Which means I didn’t pay money for most of the books I’m showing you here today, so don’t get all up in arms! (I say “most” because Tony was away on business and bought a book or two as a gift for me/us, which doesn’t really count, does it?  I was hundreds of miles away and had nothing to do with it!!!)  While I admit that I still have a problem when it comes to acquiring books – seriously, I’m reading as fast as I can in an attempt to make a dent in our stacks - doing so when they’re free is far less worrisome than when they’re not, right? So, as we’re almost done with October, this meant that the September shelves at BookPage needed culling to make room for new stock (I believe I replenished those barren shelves with February books), and I nabbed two books from there, but my big jackpot this month was the “finished books” shelves down in the foyer, where we display all the books that are sent to us in finished form that were not reviewed in the magazine.  These are free for anyone to take and ultimately get donated to a library every few months.  Normally a steer clear of these as I have my arms laden down as it is, but I stopped to snag a copy of Long Past Stopping by Oran Canfield as a gift for a friend who was down visiting us this weekend (said friend is a fan of Augusten Burrows, and when I paged through LPS a few months ago I immediately thought of him, and her!).  Since I was already there at the shelves, I did a quick perusal and consequently managed to find another seven books to bring home…  Here’s how it all broke down:
  • Review Books & ARCs

    Review Books & ARCs

    Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus – Not really my speed, I realize (although I did read the original Nanny Diaries way back when), but this is my December assignment for BookPage, so home with me it came.
  • Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde – Now this is a book I can get behind!  True story: when I was stacking books for January a few weeks back, I literally squealed when I saw this one.  Given my enthusiasm, I was assigned this to cover for the Jan issue of BookPage, but of course I would have read it anyway!  I am SOOOO EXCITED for new Jasper Fforde!  Let’s just hope I can be impartial…
  • The Mere Future by Sarah Schulman – I impulse grabbed this off the September shelves while I was clearing them off.  I actually have no idea what it’s about except that it involves a dystopian New York City and, well, I like dystopian fiction, which seemed like enough of a reason at the time.
  • Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon – So, I have Chaon’s novel You Remind Me of Me sitting on my shelf, and it’s been that way for about four years now.  I should probably read that one before I read this one, but this one was getting so much buzz I felt I couldn’t pass it by.
  • Free finished books

    Free finished books

    Wake Up: A Life of the Buddha by Jack Kerouac – I’ve never read any Kerouac, and I secretly suspect that I will not like him at all, BUT I shouldn’t conclude that without giving him a try, and what is more non-threatening than an attempt that costs me zero dollars? Also, this Penguin edition is super cute! Apparently Kerouac when through a zen-Buddhism phase at some point and his foray into the scripture and the like prompted him to retell the story of the Buddha.
  • The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor – I actually read about this one a few weeks ago on Jackie’s blog, and thought it sounded interesting and she liked it a good deal.  There’s a flood and a small family manage to find a safe haven on a small island, where all is well until a mysterious stranger arrives…  And again, the cover was really visually appealing!
  • Alfred & Emily by Doris Lessing – I have one (unread) Lessing in the TBR stack already, The Fifth Child, but I remember reading about this one over at Shelf Love many moons ago and thought the premise sounded interesting.  Lessing does a fictional retelling of her parents’ lives, had they never met.  I’ve heard it’s nowhere near her best work, but I want to give it a shot.  The notion of it reminds me of J.M. Coetzee’s latest fictional offering, Summertime, which is a fictional autobiography of sorts, and you know how I feel about Mr. Coetzee.
  • The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster – I already have two unread Auster books here at home, but I just can’t shake the feeling that when I do read him, I will love him.  And as I’ve now accrued three of his books, I suspect the time is swiftly approaching when I will read him!
  • On the Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin – Normally there is not a lot of non-fiction in these here piles, and I wasn’t sure I should pick this one up, but then I thought it would be cool to have a copy of this important bit of science.  Plus, it’s undoubtedly going to disconcert some of our more, ahem, conservative minded Tennesseans.  Scandal!
  • Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy – Another book I snatched based on the name of the author alone.  I’ve never heard of this title, but I have at least read plenty of Tolstoy (whom I love); in fact, I actually completed a course in university devoted solely to reading his writing!
  • The Penguin Book of Classical Myths by Jenny March – I took a Classical Mythology course at university and really enjoyed it, but we actually don’t have a good book of mythology here at home and I thought it might be nice to have one.  I have no idea if this one is any good, but it is a Penguin, and again, free.
  • Scan pile of purchased books

    Scant pile of purchased books

    The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace – I have been wanting to read this book for AGES, but I can never find it at the used bookstore.  I haven’t read anything by DFW, least of all Infinite Jest, but a friend of mine had this book and raved about it, comparing it to Arrested Development (for which I have previously discussed my love), and I remember picking it up at her place once and really liking the first part that I read.  And now I have a copy because Tony saw it at a bookstore in Savannah while on business!  Huzzah!
  • Acts of Worship by Yukio Mishima – This was a joint gift, Tony says, because we both recently (ok, it is becoming less and less recent every time I mention it) read The Temple of the Golden Pavilion and were really impressed, and both want to read more. And now we can! Also, I promise we will write a joint review of that book very soon.
  • Lapham’s Quarterly: Medicine – Ok, not really a book, but a magazine (that looks at modern issues but from or within a historical context… maybe?) that Tony bought while away.  I include it here because a) it is bound like it might as well be a book, and b) it is as expensive as any other trade paperback book!
So there you have our damage for October.  Any of these appeal to you?  Where would you start?  Any bets on how long it is before we bring more books into our apartment?


  1. 10/21/2009

    Steph, I’m reading The Temple of the Golden Pavilion right now. So far, so good. 🙂

  2. 10/21/2009

    @ claire: Yes, I saw that on your page! I hope you like it – it’s very dark, but I thought the language and the psychological detail was incredibly rich and compelling.

  3. 10/21/2009

    Oh wow, some of these look so good! I would definitely start with the new FForde, but I am totally biased towards Fforde and would read anything he wrote, so don’t mind me. Almost none of the other titles sound really familiar to me, but I think that The Island at the End of the World sounds like something I’d be interested in. Enjoy your new acquisitions!

  4. 10/21/2009

    I want Shades of Grey! *whines*

  5. 10/21/2009

    Shades of Gray is out?? I didn’t know that! I”m going to have to be on the lookout, thanks!

    That’s awesome that you get free books from work, btw…

  6. 10/21/2009

    @ zibilee: I will have to read the Fforde soon since it’s for work, and I’ll need to get my review in by mid-November, so it’s definitely near the top of the pile. But as I just finished Nanny Returns today which is also for BookPage, I want a small break between the two! But I’m with you – I’ll read pretty much anything Fforde writes!
    @ Cara: Like I said, totally squealed and possibly jumped up and down when I saw this at work… I think my coworkers are glad I simply left my PDAs at that! 😉
    @ Amanda: Shades of Grey isn’t out until Jan – this is an ARC… I know it’s painful, but just over two months away now…
    And yes, free books are my favorite kind!

  7. 10/21/2009

    There are a couple in your stack I’ve been wanting to read (namely Island at the End of the World and Await Your Reply). I’ll be very interested to hear what you think of the Wallace. He’s got a great voice, even if Infinite Jest was more of it than I wanted. (I’ll get back to him one day, probably with an essay collection.) I do hope you like the Lessing more than I did. It is a great premise, and I think I’d like to read more by her.

  8. 10/21/2009

    mmmmm……Paul Auster. He is so weird and wonderful.

  9. quite a cerebral selection, amiga! i might have to start with the nanny diaries part deux and eeeaaassseeee my way into the literature!! but i’m a wimp like that. 🙂

  10. 10/21/2009

    I am thoroughly jealous of all the great books you have in your pile! I have Await Your Reply and I want to read another Paul Auster. I never quite get his books though.

  11. 10/22/2009

    @ Teresa: As you know, I’m not one of those people who is dying to read Infinite Jest (I might die FROM it, but that’s an entirely different issue!), but what I’ve read of this previously seemed very accessible, and I daresay, rather conventional. I think this was his first novel, so I think it will be a more straightforward read! At least I hope so!
    And I’m going to wait to read this Lessing, as I went back and reread your review and you said this would probably not be the best starting point for those unfamiliar with Lessing. If only I’d had that info re: Gaudy Night! 😉
    @ Elizabeth: Last night I decided enough was enough and started reading my pretty copy of The New York Trilogy… weird is about right!
    @ nat: Funny you should say that, because due to work commitments I did in fact have to start with the Nanny Diaries sequel first! Now I have to write about it!
    @ Nicole: I have no idea if I’ll *get* Auster either, but it’s worth a shot! And I am still torn as to whether to read Await Your Reply now, or to first try You Remind Me of Me.

  12. 10/21/2009

    i was so close to taking the Chaon, but refrained since I’d yet to read You Remind Me of Me (If I had been throwing them away I probably would have caved too!). You’ll have to let me know how it is. I am jealous of the reading you get done! Somehow my book time has completely disappeared.

  13. I’m so pleased that you’ve found a copy of Island at the End of the World. I hope that you enjoy it!

    I haven’t read any Auster either, but I have a feeling I’ll like him. I really should give him a try. That is a great pile of books!

  14. I am so, so, so, jealous about Shades of Grey! Colour me green,

    I read and reviewed The Island at the End of the World a couple of months ago and really enjoyed it; Sam Taylor then sent me a signed copy of The Amnesiac and I’m looking forward to reading it.

  15. 10/22/2009

    I’m most interested in the Lessing and the Darwin and Tolstoy because those are the ones I’ve heard of the authors! Enjoy whichever you decide to read first!

  16. 10/22/2009

    @ Trisha: I don’t think I would have been heartbroken if someone had snagged the Chaon before I got to purging the September shelves, but you’re right, when I was in the process, I got reckless and couldn’t toss it! My reading has been crazy this year, but I think that if I were inundated with all that literature like you are every single day, I would probably not get as much of it done, simply because there would be so much to go through!
    @ Jackie: I almost started The Island at the End of the World last night, but decided to hold off temporarily. But I hope I enjoy it too! It was so funny because when I was looking at the shelves, I was struck by the pretty cover, and then I was like, “Island at the End of the World? I think Jackie reviewed this one!” And so I took it!
    @ Claire: If I knew someone else in the book blogging world had Shades of Grey, I would certainly be a shade of green! 😉 I am really looking forward to it (though I also still need to read Book 5 in the Thursday Next series…).

    What a cool story about Sam Taylor sending you a copy of his other book! I hope I like Island as much as you and Jackie did!
    @ Rebecca: With a stack this good, I know there’s lots of fantastic reading ahead of me! I still have no idea what the Tolstoy is about – something about a murder and possibly a mistress left by the wayside? 😉

  17. 10/22/2009

    Okay, I can wait a couple months. I just kept hearing before that the publication date was pushed back again and again. I’d started to worry it wasn’t coming out at all! I should probably finish reading the other two Fforde series first…

  18. Kay

    I have read “Confessions of a Mask” by Yukio Mishima and I really liked it. I’ve been wanting to read more from the author ever since!

    This also reminds me that I have yet to read Jasper Fforde! I have always been intrigues by these books, and since I read your review of his latest book I’ve put it higher on my TBR list. I’m not sure when I’ll get to it, but I know I want to!

  19. 10/23/2009

    @ Kay: Jasper Fforde is so great! And so was Mishima! But in very different ways… Fforde is for when you’re in a frivolous/playful mood and feel like your brain can take the twists and turns.

  20. 10/28/2009

    “Is it still bad if most of these books were free?”

    Answer: Absolutely not. 😀

    But I AM curious…About how many books do you read in a week?

  21. 10/28/2009

    @ Trish: Probably one or two books per week… I probably average about 7 books per month. Definitely not one of those super speedy readers!

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