My week in books

My reading rate has slowed down considerably over the last few weeks, which is fine. It means I’ve been re-engaging with the world some more. There’s still been plenty of bookish comings and goings.

This week I’ve received more than my fair share of books from publishers; it’s a part of my job that I’ll never stop feeling grateful about, the chance to see books early and find ones my colleagues and I love to highlight and talk about. Arriving on my desk this week were two great looking paperbacks: The Woolgrower’s Companion by Joy Rhoades and The Tyranny of Lost Things by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett. There was also an intriguing looking sampler for The Life and Times of a Very British Man by Kamal Ahmed.

The end of the week saw a huge parcel arrive from HQ Stories (part of HarperCollins), containing a wealth of goodies. The new vegan cookbook, BOSH!, is packed full of delicious and relatively easy recipes. I’ve been vegetarian for nigh-on 30 years and am considering going vegan-ish; this book might help me in that direction. I cooked my first meal from it this evening, linguine puttanesca, it was easy and delicious.

There were also a little stack of fiction titles, including the much anticipated Vox by Christina Dalcher. This is a feminist dystopian tour de force that I can’t recommend highly enough. In this near future America, women are restricted to 100 words a day, a policy enforced by the wearing of tags that emit electric shocks for every word over that count. It’s frighteningly believable and ever so good. Definitely one to watch out for in August. There’s also an Adele Parks novel. I’ve read two of her novels before, The State We’re In and Spare Brides. I loved them both.

Onto goings… my cull of my non-fiction collection continues. Another half a dozen boxes were whittled down to just under one. This batch wasn’t too hard as there were a lot of textbook style books on medieval history that I used for undergrad study but didn’t feel emotionally attached to. I did find a biography of Josephine Bonaparte that I wanted to keep in amongst them and all my old Time Team books – they’re safely boxed up in the keep pile. And thanks to my sister’s eagle eye, my copy of Anthony Bourdain’s Typhoid Mary was saved in the nick of time. I’d paused over it but thought I could easily replace it, but that turned out not to be the case (it’s currently print on demand). The news of his death on Friday was terrible and I shall pay a small homage by re-reading this brilliant book.

The good news is that as well as stocking up several charity shops, we’ve so far raised around £400 towards Big Niece’s trip to the World Scout Jamboree in West Virginia next year (my sister is comically surprised that any of my old history books are worth good money). Participants have a hefty total to achieve to be able to go and I feel happy that my clear out will contribute to CJ having a once in a lifetime experience.

I have also done a little reading. The Beautiful Summer by Cesare Pavese came highly recommended by a colleague (and we have a taster chapter on Foyles blog – here – that whetted my appetite). It’s part of Penguin’s new European Writer’s series and is beautifully presented. It’s a short read full of coming of age emotion, desire and uncertainty. It reminded me how much I enjoy Italian literature and that I should seek out more of it to read.

I’ve also read  The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry (published end of August from Canongate) – who is actually husband and wife team Christopher Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman. It’s set in mid-19th century Edinburgh amongst doctors, debt collectors and death. Right in my reading zone sweet spot! I am predictably completely enamoured of it, it’s a good curl up in a chair and read the afternoon away kind of book. Lastly, I’m halfway through The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison, a thought-provoking book of essays that I hope to finish in time for Empathy Day on 12th June.

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Before I go, I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone that got in touch after my last post, it was hugely appreciated. And I really am on the mend; this weekend has been lovely, I’ve been to the ballet, eaten out, cooked, shopped and all at a level of contentment and enjoyment far beyond just getting by. I’m feeling grateful that life has so much to offer again.

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