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2nd April
written by Steph
Surprise!  Not.

Suprise! Not.

In honor of April’s showers (of which we have thankfully seen none… yet!), Tony and I celebrated the abundance this month brings by purchasing a ton of books.  If only I had posted this yesterday, y’all might have thought this was an April Fools prank… but no!  We really did buy all of these books… I guess when I fall off the wagon, I fall hard. And repeatedly.

Break down of our bounty after the jump!
  • When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro – I said in my last book-buying post that ever since I read the phenomenal The Remains of the Day that I’ve been desperate to get my hands on more Ishiguro.  This is what McKay’s had on offering during our visit, thus, I grabbed it.

    Ishiguro, Highsmith, Conan Doyle, Pancake, Dahl, Camus, & Melville

  • Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith – I read some pretty compelling reviews on Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mr. Ripley (such as this one written by Richard) a few weeks back and they really piqued my interest.  I am always looking for creepy novels that are done well, so I’m looking forward to reading my first Highsmith (incidentally, this was the inspiration for the Hitchcock movie of the same name!).
  • The Complete Sherlock Holmes Vol II. By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – We picked up Volume I many moons ago, so it feels good to finally complete our collection! And yes, we will be watching the recent movie version starring RDJ in the near future!
  • The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake by Breece D’J Pancake – Tony found this one and felt very passionately about buying it.  I know nothing about it except that the authors name is very funny, and I hope this is indicative that he wrote some very good stories.
  • The Umbrella Man and other stories by Roald Dahl – I loved Roald Dahl as a little girl, but I’ve never tried any of his fiction for grown-ups.  I hope I love it!
  • The Plague by Albert Camus – Tony picked this one up, because I guess he wants to try some Camus.  I read most of L’Étranger in my highschool French class (so yes, I did read it en français!), so if I ever tackle Camus again, I’d like to be pretentious and try it in French again, but we’ll see how Tony fares in English!
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville – So, I think this was a joint decision, in that I picked the book up, but Tony is the one who insisted we buy it.  I personally am terrified of such a long book, but people like Claire and Eva love it, so maybe I will too. I suspect Tony will read this one well before I do!
  • Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susane Jane Gilman – Essentially, this pile begins the “travel writing” portion of our book buying spree.  Tony and I have had crazy wanderlust of late, so I’m trying to sate our desire to see the world through less expensive means, namely books.  I’ve seen this one on tons of blogs, and everyone pretty much loves it, so I am really looking forward to this foray into China… and mental illness!

    Gilman, Grann, Bryson, Mayes, & Lessing

  • The Lost City of Z by David Grann – Total spontaneous grab.  It’s about an explorer who is looking for a potentially mythical city in the Amazon who disappears.  It sounded spooky, so that was enough for me!
  • Neither Here Nor There, I’m A Stranger Here Myself, In A Sunburned Country, and Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson – I really headed to the travel section hoping to find some Bryson books, and I really hit the jackpot!  I’m really looking forward to reading his travel essays, especially because he’s visited many places that I’ve also traveled, so I’m hoping he conjures up fond memories for me!
  • A Year in the World by Frances Mayes – Another random purchase.  I was drawn to this one because Mayes spent a year traveling, which is something Tony and I would like to do some day, and also she hits up various places that we are also interested in visiting.
  • Going Home by Doris Lessing – I’ve become really interested in South Africa lately, and so I felt it was pretty felicitous when I found this book in which Lessing returns to her homeland.
  • Jazz by Toni Morrison – I’m always looking to expand my Morrison collection, but am trying to make sure I only purchase pretty copies of her books.  This was a book I was less interested in, but Rebecca recently wrote about her experiences reading it and I realized that I need to read it too!

    Morrison, Smith, Roy, Zoetzee, Alvarez, & Roberts

  • Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith – Sometimes I really want to read fast-paced but thoughtful thrillers, and I’ve read some very good reviews of this one (including reviews by Jill and Jackie).  Suddenly I became convinced that I had to read it, much to Tony’s surprise (since “Soviet Russia” is not exactly what one might call a great passion of mine…).
  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy – Another book that I’ve heard great things about over the years, and I finally decided it was time that I found out what all the fuss is about.  I’d like to read more Indian authors, but they tend to write such long books!  Not so here, so I’m sure I’ll be reading this one soon!
  • Elizabeth Costello by J.M. Coetzee – Another case of me trying to read up an author’s back catalog.  Ever since I read Disgrace last year, I’ve been on fire to read more Coetzee.  He’s such a brilliant author.
  • In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez – In my recent discussion of Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits I talked a little bit of how it reminded me of this novel.  I read this back in highschool (when I should have been working on my algebra homework), and really loved it, so I’m looking forward to revisiting it.
  • Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – Remember how I was just saying that Indian books are long?  And yes, I realize that Roberts is actually Australian, but the book is about India, so I feel like it proves my point anyway! 😉  I’ve only heard great things about this one, so I’m looking forward to bolstering my courage and diving into its seemingly endless pages…
My goodness!  Typing all of that out was exhausting… thank goodness the weather is light and lovely – perfect for reading – as I’ve got plenty of it to do!  Any thoughts on our latest harvest?  Have you read any of these, or did we pick up any books that have been on your TBR list?  Also, Happy Easter everyone!  I hope the Easter bunny brings you lots of good reading (because that's what he does, right?!?)!


  1. 04/02/2010

    What beautiful piles of books!!

  2. 04/02/2010

    I blinked. And then I laughed. That’s awesome, haha. Hope you enjoy them. Most of these, I haven’t read — and those that I have, well, they didn’t sit well with me. But I won’t be raining on your parade. ;p Have fun!

  3. I have a copy of Shantaram too. It looks wonderful, but its length is putting me off at the moment.

    I hope that you enjoy Child 44 – it is one of the best thrillers around, but I listened to it so am not sure if that was what made it extra special.

    I haven’t read any of the others, so look forward to reading your thoughts on them.

  4. 04/02/2010

    I LOVE Roald Dahl’s short stories for adults! They take his dark sense of humour to a whole other level 😀 I also loved Jazz, In The Time of Butterflies and The God of Small Things (one of my all-time favourites). Enjoy your new acquisitions!

  5. 04/02/2010

    Well if you are going to fall off the wagon you might as well do it in splendid fashion! You have a wonderful bunch of books. Your pictures are making me crave a book shopping excursion for myself!

  6. 04/02/2010

    @ Amanda: I only wish I had better photography skills to capture the beauty of these books! I’m learning, but I still have a ways to go…
    @ Sasha: I’d still love to know which of these you have read, even if you didn’t much care for them! It’s always interesting for me to hear what people do and don’t connect with in terms of what they’ve read!
    @ Jackie: I hope I enjoy Child 44 as much as you did, even though I’ll be the one doing the reading! And I’m excited about Shantaram, but yeah, with its length, I probably won’t tackle it soon!
    @ Nymeth: Glad to hear I made a good Dahl selection (is it possible to go wrong with him, though?)! I’m slowly starting work short-stories into my regular reading, so eventually I’ll get to him!
    @ Kathleen: Yes, go big or go home! I think book blogging has definitely made my book buying all the more addictive!

  7. 04/02/2010

    Now this is a lack of bookish self-restraint that I can relate to! Way to fall off the wagon!

    Love so much here especially that Roald Dahl. As a matter of fact, I think I might re-read it soon after seeing it here. And I do not know what it is about The Lost City of Z. Does not seem like my normal read but I soooo want to read it. So what impulse is driving us I wonder?? Happy reading!

  8. 04/02/2010

    Someone needs to tell the easter bunny that books are the best way to fill up an easter basket!

    I can totally relate to the travel books spree. I do that, too. I can go months without reading any, and then it’s all I want to read.

  9. kay

    Oh wow, what an amazing new selection of books!
    You know I just got “When we were orphans” recently, but haven’t read it yet. “Undress me in the temple of heaven” entered my home recently, too, but haven’t read it either (that’s the problem, with more book entering than what I’m actually able to read!)

    I recognize so many titles and authors I’ve been curious about on this list, I just can’t wait to see what you’ll read next and how you’ll enjoy it. Mainly “The Lost City of Z” and Shantaram, which have been recommended more than a few times to me. Happy reading to both of you! 🙂

  10. 04/02/2010

    Oh my lords and ladies…!! I am SO jealous. If only I too had a partner who loved books as much as I! How amazing it must be to come home with a stack and be greeted with excitement, and not quizzical amusement – even better to pick out a stack together. You are a lucky gal! 🙂

  11. 04/02/2010

    @ Frances: I haven’t heard much about Dahl’s adult fiction, so it’s nice to hear that you’ve enjoyed it yourself! And I hadn’t heard about The Lost City of Z at all, so it was a complete whim purchase, but it seems like many others have been coveting it! I may be bumping it up the queue!
    @ softdrink: I love to travel but haven’t actually read much travel writing, so this is a new thing for me, but I think it will be really rewarding! Really looking forward to the Brysons!
    @ kay: I can’t wait to hear what you think of the Ishiguro! And I’m so excited about Temple of Heaven that I almost started reading it today, but I’m going to wait a little bit longer…
    @ Sarah: Yes, I am a lucky lady since Tony never gets the slightest bit bothered by book obsessions. He’s quite the enabler, and it’s nice to have someone who understands my giddiness when I come across a book I’ve been coveting for a while!

  12. 04/03/2010

    Now this is one kind of rain I would not complain about. Undress Me In The Temple of Heaven is fabulous. Enjoy all your books.

  13. 04/03/2010

    You’ve got a beautiful pile and such a nice mixed bunch that you are not going to get bored or burnt out!!!! I just read Ishigura and found it wonderful and in fact did a review on The Remains of the Day. I did read Shantharam but found the book so big and Toni Morrison was good as well. Am saving your post as this looks a really good mix of books. Thanks

  14. 04/03/2010

    Unreliable narrator alert for When We Were Orphans, which is to me not as great a read as The remains of the Day. But I cannot complain about his writing. I’ve got The Lost City of Z at the airport bookstore because they didn’t have much of a selection but, to my surprise, I really enjoyed the story. The God of Small Things is one book that I still couldn’t finish after three tries. 🙂

  15. 04/04/2010

    Wow! Love the picture of your most recent purchases – must admit that I am a bit green with envy 🙂 I love the mix of books you bought – a little bit of everything! Bill Bryson is a hoot – I bought Notes From A Small Island before I moved to England for grad school and absolutely loved it! Just reading over your list is making me want to peruse my wish list on Amazon and order a few. Hmmm. 🙂 Enjoy your new bookish loot – I’m looking forward to reading your reviews on them! Cheers!

  16. 04/04/2010

    Very nice collection there! You got quite a few books I’d love to read myself. I’ve been known to come home with a stack like that, especially when it’s from a library sale of the sort where you can get a huge stack for, like, $20. Too hard to resist!

  17. 04/04/2010

    Good haul! I wonder if there is a 12-step recovery program for book addicts;-)

  18. 04/04/2010

    What a wonderful stack of books! Isn’t shopping for books one of the most fun things to do? A few of these books are ones that I have wanted to buy, but haven’t gotten the chance to yet. I have heard amazing things about The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake, and also have heard good things about The Lost City of Z. I actually picked up The Complete Sherlock Holmes Vol. 1 and 2 late last year on clearance. As of yet, they remain unread. I do remember that you had a great time with the first volume though, so I am glad that you got the second. I did read Shantaram a few years ago, and thought it was a very interesting book, but it was a bit melodramatic at times. I will also be excited to hear what you think of your second book by Coetzee. After reading your review, I bought a copy of Disgrace, and can’t wait to read it! I read The God of Small Things awhile back and thought it was a very dark read, good, but dark. All the others I am only marginally familiar with (except for Moby Dick). I hope that you enjoy each and every one, and look forward to hearing your thoughts on them. Happy Reading!

  19. 04/04/2010

    @ Nicole: Glad to hear you enjoyed Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven! I’m really looking forward to it!
    @ Mystica: Yes, I’m happy that we got a wide variety of books here, so hopefully I know have something for every mood… I loved Remains of the Day, so now I can’t wait to read more Ishiguro. I’ll be sure to check out your review!
    @ Matt: I doubt I’ll ever find another Ishiguro novel that I love as much as Remains, but I still want to read his back catalog as I think it will be rewarding. Glad to hear you enjoyed The Lost City of Z, though I’m surprised so many people have heard of it, since I hadn’t heard of it until I saw it!
    @ Nadia: I’m hoping that the Bryson helps me recapture some of the moments I felt while traveling about Europe back in 2005! I actually haven’t read any of his stuff before, but I’ve always heard he’s a great travel writer, so I hope I like him!
    @ Dorothy: Yes, when prices are cheap, I can’t resist books (obviously)! It’s not until I take a picture that I really realize just how many I’ve bought!
    @ Nicola: If you find out about any such program, I’d be the first to sign up! 😉
    @ zibilee: There are few things I love more than book shopping! Shoe shopping comes close, but it’s far more expensive!
    Tony is reading the Pancake right now, so hopefully he’ll have a review up in the next few weeks. I need to get back into the Sherlock Holmes, that’s for sure, but I have really enjoyed all of the stories that I’ve read at this point. I don’t think they’ll ever get old. And the Coetzee – SO excited! I’ve been trying to get some of his other books for ages now!

  20. taryn

    You have to start with the Bill Bryson!!
    I’m not sure why i don’t have more of his stuff myself, actually. I have his book about Australia, “Down Under”, which i vividly remember purchasing in Waterstone’s in London over the christmas holidays, good English books in France being a bit hard to come by. Anywho, i LOVED it and always meant to go back for more.
    Happy reading!

  21. Eva

    What fun! I COVET that edition of Moby Dick, and I’m so jealous of you. 🙂 Also, I’ve been curious about Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, so I hope you review that one.

    I really enjoyed Shantaram, but I read it so long ago (pre-book blogging), I can’t really tell you why. 🙂

  22. 04/05/2010

    @ taryn: Tony read Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything and really enjoyed it, but I haven’t read any of his stuff. I think I might start with the Australia book as it’s the most “foreign”, but we shall see!
    @ Eva: Yes, I think I remembered that you were enamored with this version of Moby Dick – it is very pretty! And I can see how Shantaram would be your thing since it’s so HUGE! 😉

  23. 04/06/2010

    Way to go, Steph and Tony! Hope you enjoy the mighty whale; it’s really worth all the fuss! (Although I also have a feeling Tony will like it more than you, Steph, heehee.) As you probably might’ve guessed, I loved Jazz. Also loved A God of Small Things.

    Also looking forward to When We Were Orphans. The rest of your loot I’m not very familiar with but want to read the Coetzee too! Enjoy your new lovies! 😀

  24. 04/06/2010

    what a great list! I liked Moby Dick too. And I hope you like JAZZ!

  25. 04/07/2010

    @ claire: Well, I do love the sea, so for that reason alone, I think I will need to read Moby Dick! I’m at least very glad that we got the pretty version of it! 😉
    @ Rebecca: I hope I like Jazz too! I think it will be the next new Morrison I read…

  26. 04/07/2010

    Wow, so many books, all at once 🙂 Just what I Love1
    I have just received Shantaram from The Easter Bunny 🙂 and I was sort of put off by the thickness of the two volumes… It will have to be read during a holiday, I suppose. As for Camus, he is my favourite writer, so go for it! Same goes for Ishiguro and sherlock Holmes. You’ve got great tastes in books!

  27. 04/08/2010

    @ Madalina: Thanks for commenting! Shantaram would probably be a great holiday read… it would certainly last, I would think!

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