Wednesday, 24 October 2007

What are you reading? Is it good?

My birthday is in November and then it's Christmas, so it is present time (yes, presents, and plenty of fuss please). But I don't get to bookstores that often these days - fairly thin on the ground in rural Devon, and Waterstones in Exeter lacks inspiration (I think it's the layout and the too neatly proffered stock), so browsing for delights is a very rare thing indeed. Amazon is amazing but you can't pick stuff up and see if page 22 will have you giggling or groaning.
So, I am after your book recommendations - what should I be sticking on my wish list?
I don't have a love affair with short stories - all too wham bam thank you mam. I don't much care for biography or history unless wrapped in a fictional format. Sci fi and crime don't hit the spot.
I want novels: contemporary and classic; pithy and rambling; elegant and coarse; witty and woeful; poetic and prosy.
There are a heap of authors I despise, but otherwise I am open to all suggestions. Oh, and hardbacks aren't great - I like to read in bed and the corners poke uncomfortably into my chest - but I can always wait til next birthday when they are out in paperback.

19 comments:

GeraniumCat said...

Not a novel but Traveller's Prelude by Freya Stark is a joy - the story of her childhood in Devon and Italy and work during WWI. Not enough Devon for me, but beautifully written and hard to put down.

If you want lots of words then The Forsyte Saga is pretty good, and is apparently coming out in separate volumes. And last, have you read Victoria Clayton? Her novels are all set in the 70s, focus on country houses, food and gardening, and are intelligent, witty and utterly absorbing.

Flowerpot said...

Have you read anything by Elizabeth Berg? I think she's great. Currently reading We ARe All Welcome Here and finished Never Change.

Flowerpot said...

PS She's into animals and food so there are two things in common!

Totty Teabag said...

I turned around in my chair and looked at the wall of books behind me for inspiration. Once I had eliminated Crime and Sci-Fi from the mix, I realised that the remainder were mainly purchased in the '70s and 80's, but have been read and re-read. Mary Wesley, Hugh Walpole, Rosamund Pilcher, Mary Stewart, Mazo de la Roche, Robert Goddard, Jane Duncan, RF Delderfield, Mave Binchey and EE Benson to name some that are there in multiples.

PS I'm surprised by how many people say they don't read Science Fiction. The range is so wide and varied in style and content that it is almost like saying that you don't read novels. (Grin)

Mopsa said...

GCat - I will put the Stark and Clayton on my list - my shelves already groan with the Galsworthy volumes. Thank you!

FP - Berg is new to me too - I am enjoying this, should have asked the question ages ago!

Totty T - lots of newbies here too: Stewart, de la Roche, Goddard, Duncan, and Delderfield all go on the browse list. Thank you too!

paula said...

Love is a Many Splendored Thing by Han Suyin – Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden - books I devoured in hormone drenched years and still evoke ghosts. Oh yes Wide Sagasso Sea by Jean Rhys. Kafka on the Shore and Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, The Book of Proper Names by Amelie Northomb, We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver, A Round-Heeled Woman – Jane Juska…I’ll stop, I’ll stop. Each time I put down one I think of another 500…Oh and of course Cold Comfort Farm for your present predicament – though I think it’s now been ‘tellied’ and may have lost its charm – and what’s that one I found chilling but compelling - Never Let me Go – Ishiguro. I’ll stop!

lady thinker said...

Mopsa - I can't believe you live in Devon and not read any Delderfield? His cottage is in Sidmouth balanced precariously on a cliff edge - for now. I so agree with totty teabag. All of Mary Stewart great stories but especially Crystal Cave and the sequel.(I'm having an age related moment; forget it's title)

I was going to suggest Flora Thompson's Lark Rise to Candleford. A perfect trilogy on life, people, agriculture,domestic details of women and their families -living in 1880's in an Oxfordshire hamlet.Semi autobiographical - a real classic. In fact if Flora was alive today she'd have a blog just like yours.

Loz said...

The Stonor Eagles and The Skallagrig both by Graham Horwood, and A Boy's Life by Robert McCammon all highly recommended :)

Winchester whisperer said...

I'm really enjoying Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb. It was written in 1937 and is a fascinating novel. My favourite 20th cwntury classic is The Leopard by Lampedusa. Happy birthday!

Mopsa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mopsa said...

Paula - the Rhys, Shriver, Juska and Gibbons are all old faves, but altho I've read much of Ishiguro and Kafka your recs are new as are the others...thank you! And please DO go on - I devour stuff so fast that I like a really good pile by the bed, and I am down to two at the moment (Sarah Water and Philip Roth).

Lady T - yes, I know the Thompson - how lovely to think she might have blogged! I hang my head in shame re: Delderfield!

Loz - all new recs to go on the list - fab!

WW - I HAVE an old copy of The Leopard (inherited from in-laws) but have yet to read it - I will dig it out today. Szerb is new too.

This is brilliant! Please keep them coming.

mountainear said...

There's plenty of Isabel Allende to read through - she seems to fit your criteria.

In complete contrast, George Ewart Evans books about a bygone agricultural age - 'Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay'is probably the most well known - are fascinating glimpses into practises now only remembered by very very elderly countryfolk, and before mechanisation changed farming.

Mopsa said...

M'ear - it's rather thrilling that there are so many resonances with my bookshelves - yup - lots of Allende, and Mr Evans' work sat by the downstairs loo for the summer months!

Sally Lomax said...

It's technically a children's book, but I read it recently and loved it...

Corma Boy...

Winchester whisperer said...

By the way, Mopsa, I noticed the Chagall painting on your blog. Have you seen his stained-glass window in Chichester Cathedral?

Mopsa said...

Sally - thank you - do you mean Coram Boy by Jamila Gavin?

WW - I have never been to Chichester - I just had a look on their website but their enlarged image of the Chagall window is very poor, sadly.

Flowerpot said...

yes Mopsa my post today was becasue of your post - thoght I'd mentioned it but evidently not!

Sean Jeating said...

Mylady,
stumbled about your problmes at James'.
It is late in the night, and my pillow is calling, but before falling int the feathers I do promise:
During the weekend you will get some recommendations.
That is, if then you still wish some. :)
The Peace of the Night.

Rob Clack said...

I'm loving "Animal's People" by Indra Sinha right now.