It’s been a couple of months since my last book haul post, although I must admit I did cut my spending during November and December. Which is why most of the books below are second-hand, either bought from eBay or charity shops. Now all I have to do is find the time to read them…
First up, it’s some British fiction, pre-war and post-war. There’s a DH Lawrence Omnibus, which contains Sons and Lovers, The White Peacock, Lady Chatterley’s Lover (which I’ve read and in fact picked as one of my top five books of 2010 here), and four novellas – ‘St Mawr’, ‘The Fox’, ‘Love Among the Haystacks’ and ‘The Virgin and the Gypsy’. To the left are the first and fifth books of CP Snow’s ten-book Strangers and Brothers series, Time of Hope and The Masters. In the middle is the first book of Edward Upward’s The Spiral Ascent trilogy, In the Thirties (you can find some lovely signed limited editions of his works at Enitharmon Press here); and the third book of Stan Barstow’s A Kind of Loving trilogy, The Right True End (now I just need to finds books one and two). I reviewed the 1982 television adaptation of A Kind of Loving for Videovista here.
From old-ish to modern: I’ve been working my way through both David Mitchell’s and Kazuo Ishiguro’s oeuvres in the last year or two, hence The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet and The Unconsoled. I’ve always enjoyed Ursula Le Guin’s fiction, and Lavinia was shortlisted for the BSFA Award last year – but lost out to China Miéville’s The City & The City… which I thought very good and so bought Kraken. Finally, Genesis by Bernard Beckett is more a novella than a novel, but various approving noises were made about it last year.
Some non-fiction: Packing for Mars by Mary Roach, which I’ve heard is very good and sounds as though it will very much appeal. I’ll be posting a review on my Space Books blog once I’ve read it. Spreading My Wings is the autobiography of Diana Barnato Walker, who during World War II was one of the pilots of the ATA and later became the first British woman to fly an aircraft at greater than the speed of sound. I bought the book as research for a story, but Walker is a remarkable woman and the book should prove a fascinating read.
A few science fiction novels: Eric Brown’s latest, Guardians of the Phoenix; A Scientific Romance, Ronald Wright, about which I remember people talking back in the late 1990s; A Far Sunset, Edmund Cooper, which is another of my British SF Masterworks and a review will be posted here; and finally, This Island Earth by Raymond F Jones, because I wanted to know how close the 1955 film is to the source text.
These three books are by non-Anglophone writers. Death In Venice And Other Stories, a collection by Thomas Mann – I’ve seen the film, but found it a little too slow to enjoy. I’ve also seen the film adaptation of Alaa Al Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building, and thought it very good indeed. And Minaret is Leila Aboulela’s third novel; I’ve read her first, The Translator, which I thought quite good. Shame about Minaret‘s chick-lit cover, though.
Finally, some odds and sods… Regiment of Women by Thomas Berger is mainstream satire cast as science fiction, and I’ve no idea what it will be like. Gravity’s Angels is a collection by one of sf’s best short story writers, Michael Swanwick. Oasis: The Middle East Anthology of Poetry from the Forces is the first chapbook published during WWII by the Salamander Group in Cairo. It’s very hard to find in good condition. Last of all, the latest in Cinebook English translations of the adventures of Blake and Mortimer, The Voronov Plot. These are fun, but a little variable in execution. For one thing, they have a tendency to use text blocks which explain what can be seen happening in each panel. The characters were invented by Edgar P Jacobs, but the ones by other hands have proven slightly better stories.