Thursday, February 26, 2009

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Alessandra in which they encourage bloggers to share the books they've checked out from the library. Now, I don't need much encouragement to share my enthusiasm for the library and the glorious stacks of books that I cart home from it on a regular basis. And this week was a particularly good one. Here's what I got and why:

J.L. Carr, A Month in the Country: A brief post at Books, Inq. pronouncing this novella "a minor masterpiece" sent me in search of it. Plus, I've yet to encounter a book published by NYRB not worth reading.

Barbara Caruso, A Painter's Journey: Volume II 1974-1979: Some of you may remember that volume one of Caruso's journals was one of my favourite reads of 2006 and I'm keen to continue through the rest of the 70s with her.

Nick Hornby, Housekeeping vs. The Dirt: It seems to me that this second collection of Hornby's "Adventures in Reading" columns from The Believer has been soundly panned by a number of my favourite bloggers. But I thoroughly enjoyed the first volume (The Polysyllabic Spree), so I'm giving it a go all the same.

Siri Hustvedt, The Sorrows of an American: I read a number of newspaper reviews of this one that piqued my interest when it first came out. And I recall that Litlove and Ms. Smithereens, each of whom has led me to many a fabulous book, have praised other Hustvedt novels highly. So, it seems time I acquainted myself with her work.

Dennis Lehane, The Given Day: I'm curious about the shift Lehane makes here from crime fiction to historical fiction. And, as a former resident of Boston, I'm partial to fiction set there. Plus it got a good review from Ragdoll, another discerning blogger whose recommendations I trust. I've got the audiobook version and will be relying on it to keep me occupied for many hours of subway riding to work and treadmill running at the gym.

Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon (translated from the German by Barbara Harshav): This one caught my attention when I read a description of it on a "best of 2008" list in a newspaper, I've forgotten which newspaper. Plus it will further my quest to read more fiction in translation. (I was going to say that it might be my first foray into Swiss literature, then I remembered Joanna Spyri's Heidi—a childhood favourite that I don't dare revisit as I fear it would come off as dreadfully moralistic to me now.)

Ali Smith, The First Person and Other Stories: Smith's The Whole Story and Other Stories is one of my all-time favourite short story collections, and her latest appears to be in a similar vein—stories about telling stories that nonetheless succeed as stories.

These should keep me occupied for a couple of weeks...


bloglily said...

I'm reading The Given Day -- so far, a little slow. But I do like him a lot and I'm not giving up. I love these library posts -- it's fun to see how much good stuff there is out there!

litlove said...

Lovely loot! I haven't read that particular Hustvedt and will be interested to know what you think. And I must read more Ali Smith. She is so prodigiously talented.

jenclair said...

I haven't read any of these, and each one sounds interesting. I loved The Polysyllabic Spree and intend to follow up with more Hornby, but haven't yet. Eager to read your opinions about all of these books.

Eva said...

I enjoyed the second Hornby, maybe not quite as much as The Polysyllabic Spree, but it still made me laugh! :)

samantha.1020 said...

I haven't read any of Hornby's books but plan on picking them up. It sounds like you picked up some great reads! Enjoy :)

Dorothy W. said...

I, too, would love to hear what you think of the new Hornby. I liked the first one and hope this new one is as good.

Danielle said...

I read A Month in the Country last year and loved it. It's a gorgeously written novella! And I'm very curious about the Mercier book. I've heard such varying things about it. It'll be interesting to hear what you think of it.

Kate S. said...


I'm finding The Given Day rather slow at the outset as well, which may be more of a problem for me with an audiobook than with an actual book. With an audiobook I drift off, whereas with a book book, I can speed up the pace for myself!


I will definitely report in on the Hustvedt when I've finished it. I've just picked up a collection of her essays as well, and it may be interesting to read them back to back.

jenclair, Eva, Samantha, and Dorothy,

I'm nearly finished the Hornby already (it's a slim volume) and my response to it is rather mixed. I will post about it soon!


It's good to hear your enthusiastic recommendation of A Month in the Country. I suspect that will be the one that I pick up off the stack next! The description of the Mercier book is most intriguing. I will definitely report in when I get to it.

ds said...

I'm reading Housekeeping vs. the Dirt also. So far, like it as much as Polysyllabic Spree. How many critics make one laugh?