Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Book Diary 2017

It's here!

A brand new book diary for 2017. How exciting!

You can read 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2012 too.

So, what are we starting with?

Tribute to Freud, H.D (new): everyone knows how much I love H.D and this tribute is no exception. Her imagist prose is so beautifully precise.

Been dipping into lots of Martha Gellhorn's journalism.

Nights at the Circus, Angela Carter (re read): I lost all my Angela Carters in the move. So I've re-bought some and my god this is ecstatic writing. And the feminist and class politics! Love it.

The Magic Toyshop, Angela Carter (re read): I can't believe I read this when I was 13!

Wise Children, Angela Carter (re read): It's wonderful. What a joy it is to dance and sing!

The Gate of Angels, Penelope Fitzgerald (new): My friend Caroline urged me to read Fitzgerald and I am sure to be reading more of her...

On Photography, Susan Sontag (new): Oh my goodness she is expanding my mind! What a brain she has! What wisdom! What insight!

Miss Buncle's Book, D E Stephenson (new): the delights you expect from a Persephone book

Nightwood, Djuna Barnes (re read): It was overdue. I love this book.

Heartthrobs: A history of women and desire, Carol Dyhouse (new): I read this feast of a book in one sitting. Lots to think about re constructions of female desire, archetypes and stereotypes

Dodge and Burn, Seraphina Madsen (new): this is a very strange, very uncanny book with a lot of layers of reality and shifting realities. Intriguing.

Suite for Barbara Loden, Nathalie Leger, trans Natasha Lehrer and Cecile Menon (re read): I re read this for my Unsung Letter contribution and it really is as extraordinary as I remembered.

Point of No Return, Martha Gellhorn (new): Gellhorn brings her journalistic experience of the front line to this devastating novel about a young soldier's experience of the end of the war. I love her.

First Love, Gwendoline Riley (new): I read this, enthralled, in one sitting. 

Justine and Balthazar from the Alexandria Quartet, Lawrence Durrell (new): I told a friend I needed a good meaty novel and this quartet was the suggestion. I have many thoughts! Chiefly on how Justine is constructed through the male gaze. 'Pure as a theorem' - what a line. Taking a break before reading the last two.

Frederica, Georgette Heyer (new): Oh this one is going up the list to one of my faves.

Under the net, Iris Murdoch (new): I started this last night and oh my what was I doing waiting 32 years to read her. This is fabulous, what style she has!

When I hit you, Meena Kandasamy (new): this is one of the best books ever written about domestic abuse, and every single woman and man needs to read it.

Birdcage Walk, Helen Dunmore (new): Dunmore's new novel is pitch perfect, about women's freedom and male violence and revolution. It is stunning and it made me cry.

Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen (re read): it's so funny, every time.

Persuasion, Jane Austen (re read): everyone who knows Austen knows it doesn't get better than this.

Book of Mutter, Kate Zambreno (new): this is a hard book, a vital book, a rich book. Very intense and difficult and it will stay with me and haunt me for a while.

The Things I Would Tell You, ed Sabrina Mahfouz (new): reviewing this for OD 50:50, it's brilliant! And so so needed.

The Sleeping Beauty, Elizabeth Taylor (new): I really enjoy her novels, she's so great at middle-class, middle-aged middle century.

The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood (re read): I just can't help myself.

The end we start from, Megan Hunter (new): I read this in one sitting on a train and it's extraordinary, I urge you to read it.

Mountolive (Alexandria Quartet), Lawrence Durrell (new): my adventure in the series continues. I find his writing delightfully soporific.

Arabella, Georgette Heyer (re read): I feel a binge is coming on

Three Daughters of Eve, Elif Shafak (new): I enjoyed this and I'm really looking forward to chairing her event at Emerald Street Literature Festival.

The Last Wave, Gillian Best (new): It's wonderful. A beautiful novel, about family and ageing, about loss and change. It's so so good, read it!

Sylvester, Georgette Heyer (re read)
The Nonesuch, Georgette Heyer (re read) - I had a bit of a Heyer binge

The Lesser Bohemians, Eimear McBride (new): Oh my god it's wonderful. It's like nothing else. It's ecstatic and beautiful and sexy and wonderful.

Pond, Claire-Louise Bennett (re read): I wanted to inhabit her wonderful world again.

When I lived in modern times, Linda Grant (re read): this is such a great novel.

A wreath of roses, Elizabeth Taylor (new): this was such a dark and frightening novel, I found it so upsetting and disturbing to read.

Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney (new): There's a lot to like here and I think there were things that were very well observed, from where they tallied with my own 21 year old experience.

Zennor in darkness, Helen Dunmore (new): Was so saddened to hear of Helen Dunmore's death, and read her first novel in memory.

Hot Milk, Deborah Levy (new): I loved this. The heat swelled from the pages.

The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing (re read): every time I read this, it is a different experience. And that's why it is such a joy to come back to, again and again.

Night and Day, Virginia Woolf (re read): One of her less experimental novels but it is perfect in so many ways.

The Comforters, Muriel Spark (new): I re-arrranged all my bookshelves to make room and look what I found! What an unmitigated delight!

At Mrs Lippincote's, Elizabeth Taylor (new): She's always a pleasure to read with the darkness simmering underneath.

The view from flyover country, Sarah Kendzior (new): dipping into this - Sarah is such a great writer, and it's shocking how what was happening in the States 3/4 years ago is increasingly normal here too.

Flesh of the peach, Helen McClory (new): I love Helen's experimental, twisty, heated prose.

The girls of slender means, Muriel Spark (re read from student days): her exquisite blend of funny and dark.

Struggling to read again. This happens when I am on 'output' mode - ie. doing lots of novel work.

However I read:

The museum of unconditional surrender, Dubravka Ugresic (new) which was haunting, exciting, experimental and exceptional.

Been dipping into Rebecca Solnit's Hope in the Dark (new)

Re reading Everybody's Autobiography by Gertrude Stein. I've been feeling a real need for Gertrude lately.

My bedtime book has been Chance Acquaintances, one of my favourite Colette novellas.

The High Places, Fiona McFarlane (new): you can read my review here

Europe in Sepia, Dubravka Ugresic, trans David Williams (new): I am reading everything of hers I can get my hands on

Baba Yaga laid an egg, Dubrevka Ugresic trans by Celia Hawkesworth, Ellen Elias-Bursac, Mark Thompson (new): it's really extraordinary

Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann (re read): I can't help myself

Les Miserables, Victor Hugo, trans Isabel F Hapgood (new): I'm reading this at the moment and it's good, I mean, obviously, it's Les Miserables!

The question remains though: why does Marius love Cosette and not Eponine?

The death scene of the little boy is unbearably sad.

Europe in Sepia, Dubravka Ugresic trans by David Williams (new): This was great in some parts, a bit patchy in others

Ghosts of my life, Mark Fisher (new): I enjoyed this, made me think a lot about music and my relationship to it

Intimacy, Ziyad Marar (new): A book I think will be worth re reading and revisiting

Capitalist Realism, Mark Fisher (new): One of those interesting books to read now, when so much has changed since it was written.

The Neapolitan Novels, Elena Ferrante (re read): I went to Greece and I read them all in one gulp and it was simply marvellous.

What Happened, Hillary Rodham Clinton (new): I cried at least 20 times. I mean, I cried constantly. Constantly.

Palladian, Elizabeth Taylor (new): I read this when I was poorly so not sure I fully engaged.

Honour, Elif Shafak (new): I'm binge reading Elif right now.

The Bastard of Istanbul, Elif Shafak (new): Utterly superb

Adults in the Room, Yanis Varoufakis (new): I'm trying to educate myself about all the news I missed during a certain time of my life.

Heroines, Kate Zambreno (re read): I re read Heroines because I was angry about the mad wives of modernism

The Militant Muse, Whitney Chadwick (new): I'm reviewing this for Little Atoms

Looking to London, Cynthia Cockburn (new): I reviewed this for Prospect UK

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