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11th October
written by Steph

Yay! Books!

My parents were in town this weekend, and you know what that means: shopping! In a freak twist of happenstance, I have somehow managed to never take them to McKay's during their various visits to Nashville, but Tony and I decided that this oversight clearly needed to be rectified this time around. While my mom was perusing the extensive recipe book collection, my brother was trawling the discount cd section, and my dad was perusing travel books as well as manuals on how to improve his poker game, I made a beeline to my favorite haunt: fiction. Perhaps because it's been a while since we've traipsed through the hallowed aisles of McKay's, but this time the shelves were just overflowing with books that I very much needed to own. Check them out in detail after the jump!

  • On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction
    by Karl Lagnemma - Despite its rather esoteric name, this is actually a collection of short stories. Which I realize I tend to not really enjoy, but ever since reading On Love by Alain de Botton a while back, I've really been intrigued by literary pieces that approach love from an academic/philosophical direction... this one even involves equations!
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Girl of Slender Means, The Driver's Seat, and The Only Problem by Muriel Spark - The only Spark I've read is The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which I thought was fine but didn't set my world on fire. I've since wondered if maybe I didn't take the time to fully appreciate it, or if it might be one of those books that is simply better upon a second more thorough/careful reading. Also, I've read several great reviews of Spark over at Paperback Reader and Nonsuch Book which made me think that I should try some other works by Spark even if Jean Brodie didn't do it for me. Also: pretty Everyman's Library copy! How could I resist?
  • Paradise by Toni Morrison - You know that I'm slowly collecting Toni Morrison's entire catalogue, so this one (at $1.50 no less) was  ano brainer! At this point I just need copies of The Bluest Eye, Sula, and Tar Baby and I'll have got them all!
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - I actually have the very pretty Pevear and Volokhonsky translation back home in Toronto which I love, but Tony's never read Anna K and you know we're addicted to Everyman's Library editions, so we decided it couldn't hurt to have another copy.
  • After Dark by Haruki Murakami - Having just read my first Murakami earlier this year, he's an author I definitely want to read more of, so whenever I find his books at reasonable prices (in this case, $2.50), I pick them up. Very excited for this one, in part because the cover has shiny silver dots all over it...
  • Ghostwritten by David Mitchell - After finally reading and really enjoying Cloud Atlas a few months ago, I decided I really wanted to read the rest of Mitchell's back catalogue. I pretty much never find his books at McKay's, but Saturday was my lucky day as this was in the bargain section for just $1!
  • The Unfinished Clue
    by Georgette Heyer - Heyer is an author I've heard so much about in the blogging world, but is one I've never read. I know most people tend to read her romance novels, but I figured it couldn't hurt to try out one of her detective novels since that's what was available. I'm very excited to finally read something by her! I hope I'm about to discover a new favorite!
  • The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud - I remember this book getting a ton of good press when it came out in 2006, but I actually don't know much about it. It was in the bargain section for just $1, so it was a total impulsive purchase... I've since flipped through it a bit, and it looks a bit experimental but in a way that I think I'll enjoy. I'm actually pretty psyched about this one!
  • Shopgirl by Steve Martin - I had heard that Martin's Shopgirl was actually a very charming and engaging novella, but I had never really felt compelled to read it. But, I recently read his newest novel An Object of Beauty for BookPage (look for my review in the December issue!) and I really loved it. When I saw this in the bargain section for a whopping 50¢, I knew I had to finally buy it and give it a whirl.
  • Consequences and The Photograph by Penelope Lively - Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively was one of the most exhilarating books I have read this year, so I definitely want to read more by her. She's so clever and provocative, and I'm really looking forward to trying out some of her other works.
  • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys - This isn't a book that's ever really appealed to me, but after reading Jane Eyre last year and loving it, I thought this might be fun to finally try. It was only 10¢ (no that's not a typo!) so I figure that even if I don't love it, it's not a big deal!
So there you have the latest books that have entered S&TI! headquarters! All in all, a very successful trip, I would say! Not only did I get to expand our home library, we also picked up many Christmas and birthday presents for my parents and my brother (we paid for all of their purchases as well). While I probably don't need any more books (ok, I definitely don't need any more), it actually feels so good to be doing one of these posts again. Have you read any of these books or are any of these on your TBR list? Where would you start?


  1. 10/11/2010

    I really liked Wide Sargasso Sea – as long as I didn’t try to connect it with Jane Eyre at all. The Rochester character is completely different in personality, so the idea of him being the same person was so silly and ridiculous that I couldn’t do it. Once I stopped thinking about it as a retelling and instead as its own story, I loved it!

  2. 10/11/2010

    The only ones I’ve read from your pile were The Prime…, Wide Sargasso Sea (meh, but many people think it’s pure beauty) and Ghostwritten (which I really liked).

    You got me wondering about On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction – looking forward to your review. I’m curious, how long is your TBR pile?

  3. Great haul! I’m really pleased that you are continuing to try David Mitchell. Ghostwritten is very similar in style to Cloud Atlas, so if you enjoyed one then I’m sure you’ll like the other.

    I have a copy of Wide Sargasso Sea and it has nearly made the top of my TBR pile a few times. I hope you read it soon so that you can let me know what it is like.

    Enjoy your new books 🙂

  4. 10/11/2010

    Steph, you picked out some great books! I’m so glad you picked up Jean Rhys, because I love her work! She is one of my favorite writers and Wide Sargasso Sea was such a fantastic book – so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! And After Dark is an awesome Murakami book – I loved it! I’ve only read Cloud Atlas, but I’ve heard such amazing things about Ghostwritten, so I’m excited to read your post of it. Enjoy all your new books!!

  5. 10/11/2010

    @ Amanda: Hopefully enough time has passed since my reading of Jane Eyre that I won’t feel Rhys’s Rochester is so jarring! I will keep the tip in mind, however, of thinking of it as its own book that can stand on its own feet.
    @ Alex: I think at this point GoodReads has my TBR list at well over 300 books! I don’t think I own that many books, however! I do probably have at least 100 – 150 in the apartment that need to be read, which makes me feel guilty, but then again, I feel books are one of the best investments I can make!
    @ Jackie: Since I really do like stories that interconnect and relate to one another, I think I will like Ghostwritten a good deal. Plus, I think it might be a bit spooky which seems right for this time of year!
    @ Nadia: Glad you approve of my book selection! I’m sure I’ll pick up the Rhys soon, as it’s slim and I see no reason to wait!
    @ Karen: Well, according to Amanda, it may be best to not re-read Jane Eyre right beforehand! Perhaps it might be better to read Sargasso and then read Jane Eyre? It is a bit of a prequel in a way!
    @ Thomas: I’m really curious to check out more Spark; I think I am maybe better prepared intellectually to enjoy her books, and I must admit that many of the other synopses for her novels intrigue me just a bit more than Jean Brodie did.
    Sorry to hear, though, that you found the Messud so disappointing. I found the reviews on GoodReads really polarizing when I added it to my TBR shelf, so I’m a bit nervous. I guess I am glad I only paid $1, because maybe I won’t love it after all!
    @ Frances: I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by Martin’s new book at all! I was really surprised and impressed by it… I kind of thought I might not like it at all, but I must say Martin has great chops when it comes to writing!

  6. 10/11/2010

    I’m living vicariously through your book buying spree!! I’m interested in reading Wide Sargasso Sea but I really want to to re-read Jane Eyre before I do – not sure if this is the right way to do things or not??

  7. 10/11/2010

    I want to go to a store that has books for 50 cents. I don’t think either Consequences or The Photograph are as complex as Moon Tiger. Probably as a result of that I found them much more readable than MT. Consequences was the first Lively I ever read and it remains my favorite. Out of the Spark, I would read The Driver’s Seat next. It is a little out there and disturbing. Out of the 10 or so Spark titles I have read I think The Only Problem might be my least favorite. But I love her so even a least favorite Spark is worth a go.

    Finally, I am glad you only paid $1 for the Claire Messud. In general I like her writing, and I certainly liked parts of The Emperor’s Children, but overall I found the book pretty disappointing and more than a little annoying. It wasn’t the book I wanted it to be, and frankly, I don’t think it was the book Messud wanted it to be. I think she wanted it to be something it isn’t. But that is just conjecture on my part.

    Good haul!

  8. 10/11/2010

    Nothing quite like a great book shopping trip! And that Spark collection looks wonderful. I have been dipping into the new Spark bio for a while and she was a fascinating woman who controlled the circumstances of her own life as tightly as she controlled her prose. And Yay! for Shopgirl too. Can’t wait to read his new one too!

  9. 10/11/2010

    Very nice stacks of books! I’m hoping to read more Spark soon, and more David Mitchell sounds great. I loved Cloud Atlas, and am curious about his other books. I read and enjoyed The Emperor’s Children, but I don’t really remember it being experimental — not in any big way, at least. I hope you enjoy your new books!

  10. JoV

    That would have easily look like my pile of books! After Dark and Ghostwritten is great! I’ll probably like you and end up reading all of Mitchell’s backlist. I started with Ghostwritten and would like to work onwards from the old to the new.

    Wide Sargasso Sea, Toni Morrison’s novels, and Everyman’s Library binding are all stuff on your list that made me oogle!

    Besides myself, I haven’t known anyone who could get books cheaper than myself (LOL, e.g. 10p for a withdrawn library copy, 50p to £1 for used books), so you beat me to it! I’m coming over to live in Nashville! 😀

  11. 10/12/2010

    Nice haul! And at such attractive prices! I really liked ‘Ghostwritten’ which I read before Mitchell became so famous. ‘After Dark’ isn’t my favourite Murakami but you really get his sense of alienation which permeates his other novels.

  12. 10/12/2010

    I actually have not read any of these books, and the only one I have on my shelf is Anna Karinina. That is perfectly alright though, because after reading your thoughts on your new arrivals, I just may have to go book shopping myself! Enjoy all your new arrivals!

  13. 10/12/2010

    Nice loot! 😉 I haven’t read a one, though…unless 1/3 of AK counts.

  14. 10/13/2010

    @ Dorothy: I think my conclusion that Emperor’s Children was experimental had to do with the different voices that appear to be used throughout it, and the unusual chapter headers/breaks. I suppose I’ll have a better/more substantive take on the book once I’ve actually read it!
    @ JoV: McKay’s is my one lifeline here in Nashville. If not for it, I think I’d go crazy here! Don’t leave England! 😀
    @ chasing bawa: Yes, the only thing better than buying loads of books, is doing so for not very much money! I’m glad to hear so many good things about Ghostwritten… I have a feeling I’ll be dipping into it soon!
    @ zibilee: It’s always the right time to book shop in my opinion! But of course my complete lack of self control is why I have to physically avoid McKay’s as much as possible!
    @ softdrink: I think reading 1/3 of AK counts for 1/3 of a point… that seems fair, right? 😉

  15. 10/13/2010

    Great haul! I’ve only read Anna Karenina and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie from your pile but enjoyed both a lot. My library just acquired a Muriel Spark omnibus, might be a sign that I need to read more of her works 🙂

    And 10c, really? I need to move to your place 🙂

  16. 10/13/2010

    I have read Wide Sargasso Sea because I haven’t read anything by Rhys. After Dark and Ghostwritten are both great, and now I’m to my second Murakami and Mitchell. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle has many recurring themes that appear in After Dark. I think Murakami is my new favorite author. I also have paradise and Love by Toni Morrison on the list.

  17. kay

    I really loved Shopgirl, I hope you will too. I had no idea Steve Martin had another one coming soon, I have to add it to my wishlist!

  18. 10/14/2010

    @ Bina: Not all the books are so cheap as that, but they are rarely more than $1.50, which is why I love McKay’s so very much! But that’s one of the very few good things about Nashville!
    @ Matt: I wonder if I should read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle before reading After Dark? And I’m very excited for Ghostwritten!
    @ kay: You will be so in love with Martin’s new book – it’s all about art!

  19. 10/14/2010

    I really want to read Wide Sragasso Sea at some point. As well as many of the other books on your pile. I wish I lived near a shop like that, it sounds wonderful.

  20. The Driver’s Seat is utter genius.

    I consider Wide Sargasso Sea as one of my favourite books and, yes, a thing of beauty. I studied it but return to it because I find it sublime. Have you read The Awakening by Kate Chopin? I think there is a lot to compare them and link them together because of the caged bird metaphor in both; Coco the parrot is a favourite animal character of mine.

    After Dark: very good.

    I haven’t read Paradise yet (one of the three Morrison novels remaining) but you know my deep affection for her work.

  21. 10/15/2010

    @ Iris: It’s so funny – if it hadn’t been so cheap, I probably wouldn’t have picked up Wide Sargasso Sea. But now I’m really excited for it!
    @ Claire: So glad you have enjoyed so many of the books I picked up! I haven’t read The Awakening, but I actually have a copy of it and want to read it soon! I wouldn’t have thought to pair it with Wide Sargasso Sea, so thanks for the tip!

  22. 10/15/2010

    I thought the The Emperor’s Children was very good when I read it. I’m very fond of Wide Sargasso Sea, too.

  23. 10/17/2010

    Shopgirl is the one that grabs me instantly that I haven’t read. I’ve read some of the Spark in your omnibus, but not all – but I loved all those I read, so hope you do too. I’m a sucker for nice editions too – the Everyman ones are great!

  24. 10/17/2010

    @ Nicola: Oh, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed The Emperor’s Children. Apparently responses on this one are mixed, so I’m curious to see how I feel about it!
    @ Annabel: Yes, I love the Everyman editions – especially when they have the nice ribbon bookmark! Even though I didn’t LOVE Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, the Everyman edition sealed the deal! I’m really looking forward to Shopgirl, too!

  25. 10/19/2010

    Yay for McKay’s! Paradise is my last Morrison to be read.. my copy was from bookmooch, hardcover. 🙂 Love the rest of your pile but especially happy to see you picked up Shopgirl! I think it’ll speak to you.. missing you.. but I’ll be visiting constantly. xo

  26. 10/20/2010

    I too am addicted to Everyman’s edition. So beautiful! love your pretty “new” books!

  27. 10/20/2010

    @ claire: I miss you! Really looking forward to Shopgirl! I know you recommended it to me a while back, so I’ll certainly think of you when I read it! 😀
    @ Rebecca: I’d probably even buy a book I didn’t like if it was in a pretty Everyman’s edition! I just can’t resist them!

  28. 10/23/2010

    You always make these book-buying sprees sound so exciting, Steph! I think I need to try something by Muriel Spark before too long. Also want to pick up at least three Everyman’s Library titles–two collections by Cormac McCarthy and Naguib Mahfouz and a standalone autobio by Nabokov. Not sure I can hold out too much longer (well, I can but I don’t want to, ha ha). Enjoy your books!

  29. What an awesome stack. I’ve got Ghostwritten and After Dark on my to-read pile (Ghostwritten is the only Mitchell I’m still to read, so I’m quite excited about it), and I’m just introducing myself to the wonderful world of Toni Morrison, so I guess it’s only a matter of time before I seek out Paradise.

    Oh, and Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is the next Spark on my wishlist, but I’ve read two of her books this year, so I’m procrastinating on that… Yay procrastination!

    And yay new books! Hope you enjoy them all 🙂

  30. 10/26/2010

    @ Richard: I think I enjoy few things more than book buying sprees! Hence why I must normally avoid book stores! Your three picks for Everyman acquisitions sound wonderful (haven’t read anything by Mahfouz, but have been meaning to!), and hopefully with the holidays on their way you’ll find several of them coming your way! 😀 I always say books are the very best present!
    @ anothercookiecrumbles: I’m really looking forward to Ghostwritten after finally learning to love Mitchell… I still have a ways to go before I’ve read all his stuff though! And I’m so glad to hear you’ve recently encountered Toni Morrison, who is one of my literary loves!
    I definitely need to read more Spark. I might just not have been ready for her when I first gave her a whirl… I really want to give her another chance! Hurrah for books!

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