Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Book Haul feat. Ralph Ellison

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Another month, another exciting set of books added to my shelves. In February, I went secondhand book shopping, picked a few new titles from Faber's catalogue and was lent a book by one of my good friends. 

A lot of the following titles have ended up on my imminent 'to be read' shelf so you may be seeing more of them in the near future! If there is a particular title you'd love me to read first, or PDQ, then get in touch.


book haul blog the lesser bohemians eimear mcbride vivatramp

Upon her arrival in London, an 18-year-old Irish girl begins anew as a drama student, with all the hopes of any young actress searching for the fame she’s always dreamed of. She struggles to fit in—she’s young and unexotic, a naive new girl—but soon she forges friendships and finds a place for herself in the big city. Then she meets an attractive older man. He’s an established actor, 20 years older, and the inevitable clamorous relationship that ensues is one that will change her forever.

Eimear McBride won the Baileys prize a few years ago with her debut novel, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, so naturally I'm belatedly hopping on the hype train a novel late! I've noticed that I seem to be gravitating towards books that focus on relationships lately, particularly those that are dysfunctional, so make of that what you will. It'll be interesting to see how McBride tackles the intimacy of a seemingly unbalanced relationship, especially with a writing style that is very much stream of consciousness. 

invisible man ralph ellison book blog vivatramp

Defeated and embittered by a country which treats him as a non-being, the 'invisible man' retreats into an underground cell, where he smokes, drinks, listens to jazz and recounts his search for identity in white society: as an optimistic student in the Deep South, in the north with the black activist group the Brotherhood, and in the Harlem race riots. And explains how he came to be living underground . . .

Ah, the age old tale of the Bee who was only intimidated by one thing, Big Books. Invisible Man has been sat patiently, albeit in a different edition, on my to buy list for years so when I was unexpectedly confronted by it in a secondhand bookshop I decided to pull my britches up and just buy it. I'm afraid of big books, you see. Call it laziness. Call it a severe lack of concentration. Call it post-academic trauma. I just am. This, however, sounds like a treasure that I would be entirely stupid to miss just because I have been too scared to give it a chance. Invisible Man is a critically-acclaimed classic and I'm really excited to finally lift this tome off my shelf and give it the time it most probably deserves. 

book haul blog stranger baby emily berry book blog

The powerful new collection from award-winning poet Emily Berry. Emily Berry's Dear Boy was described as a 'blazing debut' [...] Stranger, Baby, its follow-up, is marked by the same sense of fantasy and play, estrangement and edgy humour for which she has become known. But these poems delve deeper again, in their off-kilter and often painful encounter with childhood loss. This is a book of mourning, recrimination, exhilaration and 'oceanic feeling'.

I read one of Berry's poems, and annotated it to death, in one of those Salt 'Best Poems of...' anthologies a few years ago now and was completely enamored by it. And so, when I saw Jen Campbell devote a video to Berry's collection recently I knew I had to read it. Stranger, Baby is marked by Berry's childhood loss of her mother and the poems seek to explore what it means to lose someone, experience grief in its many guises and live beyond those moments. I have actually already read this collection from beginning to end so expect to see it in a book reviews post next week. 

In this first novel, we are introduced to suave, handsome Tom Ripley: a young striver, newly arrived in the heady world of Manhattan in the 1950s. A product of a broken home, branded a "sissy" by his dismissive Aunt Dottie, Ripley becomes enamored of the moneyed world of his new friend, Dickie Greenleaf. This fondness turns obsessive when Ripley is sent to Italy to bring back his libertine pal but grows enraged by Dickie's ambivalent feelings for Marge, a charming American dilettante. 

I am steadily growing a collection of Highsmith's books (Ripley, Carol and This Sweet Sickness) it would seem! I spotted a small selection of her novels in a secondhand bookshop whilst in York and decided that I'd add another to my shelves whilst promising myself that I'd read at least two of them this year. I don't know much about Mr Ripley, having never seen the film adaptation, but I love me a thriller every now and again and I have every faith in Highsmith. 


conversations with friends sally rooney book bloggers vivatramp book blog

Conversations with Friends is about Frances, Bobbi, Nick and Melissa, four characters who ask each other endless questions. As their relationships unfold, in person and online, they discuss sex and friendship, art and literature, politics and gender, and, of course, one another. Twenty-one-year-old Frances is at the heart of it all, bringing us this tale of a complex menage-a-quatre and her affair with Nick, an older married man. You can read Conversations with Friends as a romantic comedy, or you can read it as a feminist text. You can read it as a book about infidelity, about the pleasures and difficulties of intimacy, or about how our minds think about our bodies. However you choose to read it, it is an unforgettable novel about the possibility of love.

Conversations with Friends was put on my radar by the wonderful Alice following the Faber showcase. As I said earlier, I'm really warming towards fiction that focuses on relationships and this, again, scratches that particular itch. I have no idea what to expect from this but, for some reason, it screams Summer to me so I think I'll pick it up in the warmer months. 

grief is the things with feathers max porter book haul book bloggers in the uk vivatramp

In a London flat, two young boys face the unbearable sadness of their mother's sudden death. Their father, a Ted Hughes scholar and scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness. In this moment of despair they are visited by Crow - antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter. This self-described sentimental bird is attracted to the grieving family and threatens to stay until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months and physical pain of loss gives way to memories, this little unit of three begin to heal.

Browsing the shelves of The Little Apple Bookshop whilst waiting for breakfast one morning, I came across this little novella hybrid that everyone and their dog had been raving about and decided to take it home with me. There's a fine line, for me, where magical realism is concerned as to whether I will enjoy it but this seemed like it struck the right balance for my tastes. I read this, a week or so ago, by lamplight in the early hours so that's another book to look out for in next week's book reviews post. Spoiler: I loved it.

Set mostly in lush, heady Colombia but even in a jungle-like New York City, they yoke together the fates of guerrilla soldiers, rich kids, rabbits, hostages, bourgeois expats, and drug dealers. Interconnected yet fractured in places, the result is a narrative jigsaw puzzle with some of the pieces missing, or a kaleidoscope where different characters spin into focus as they take turns to come into focus. Her characters' voices are completely haunting - and Pachico's playfulness with language and mastery of consciousness create a mesmerising collective atmosphere in this collection.

This was another request from Faber's catalogue inspired by book-maven Alice off Twitter and her evening at the Faber showcase. I don't think I've read a collection of interconnected stories before, or at least not for a long time, so this should offer up a new and interesting reading experience for me. I'm all for experimental lit and being playful with language so, hopefully, Pachico and I will get along just fine. 

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Deep in the Niger Delta, officer Chike Ameobi deserts the army and sets out on the road to Lagos. He is soon joined by a wayward private, a naive militant, a vulnerable young woman and a runaway middle-class wife. The shared goals of this unlikely group: freedom and new life. As they strive to find their places in the city, they become embroiled in a political scandal. Ahmed Bakare, editor of the failing Nigerian Journal, is determined to report the truth. Yet government minister Chief Sandayo will do anything to maintain his position. Trapped between the two, they are forced to make a life-changing decision.


Welcome to Lagos is a book that I had been anticipating for quite some time, after hearing about it on the grapevine, so when I saw it in the Faber catalogue I had to see if I could make it mine. I am all for strange groups of people coming together, no matter how unlikely, with a shared motive and this one, with its political scandals, sounds spectacular! This is definitely going on the imminent to be read pile. Moment of silence for the excellent cover, please...

book haul blog stories of your life ted chiang arrival book

Collected here for the first time, Ted Chiang's award-winning stories--recipients of the Nebula, Sturgeon, Campbell, and Asimov awards--offer a feast of science, speculation, humanity, and lyricism. Standouts include "Tower of Babylon," in which a miner ascends the fabled tower in order to break through the vault of heaven; "Division by Zero," a precise and heartbreaking examination of the disintegration of hope and love; and "Story of Your Life," in which a linguist learns an alien language that reshapes her view of the world. Chiang has the gift that lies at the heart of good science fiction: a human story, beautifully told, in which the science is an expression of the deeper issues that the characters must confront. 

I love having friends that are also readers because you get to have sprawling conversations about recent reads and then get to lend one another books that will, in turn, inspire other bookish discussions in the near future. When I last saw him, my friend Joe told me about this exciting collection of science fiction short stories that he had just finished and enjoyed so I told him to send the book on to me. I've not really delved into sci-fi short stories before, or at least I don't think I have, so it'll be interesting to see how Chiang writes within a genre that is usually so looming in its scope and world building. Story of My Life, the titular story, was actually the basis for the recent film 'Arrival' so this is quite timely! Thanks, Joe!

book blog in the uk vivatramp creative lifestyle bloggers book haul

TEN DEAD COMEDIANS BY FRED VAN LENTE*
Fred Van Lente’s brilliant debut is both an homage to the Golden Age of Mystery and a thoroughly contemporary show-business satire. As the story opens, nine comedians of various acclaim are summoned to the island retreat of legendary Hollywood funnyman Dustin Walker. The group includes a former late-night TV host, a washed-up improv instructor, a ridiculously wealthy “blue collar” comic, and a past-her-prime Vegas icon. All nine arrive via boat to find that every building on the island is completely deserted. Marooned without cell phone service or wifi signals, they soon find themselves being murdered one by one. But who is doing the killing, and why? 

 This was an unsolicited review copy, so I didn't request or okay it, but the premise is actually something that I'm pretty interested in so I'm not too aggrieved by its surprise arrival from Quirk Books. If you read my Things To Do in Devon post, you may remember that I have a thing for Agatha Christie and this book seems to be a little bit of a send up of her infamous novel And Then There Were None. If I'm looking for something a little lighter, I may reach for this. 

As far as his father, an accomplished poet, is concerned, Richard will never amount to anything, and so he decides to take his fate into his own hands in a moment of crisis. But at the last moment, he is saved by a passing stranger, Jake, who appeals to Richard not to waste his life. The two men, both at turning points, and on a whim set out for adventure, jumping aboard the first ship they see, cementing a passionate friendship. Their journeys take them to Norway and across Europe, become firm friends. But it is in bohemian Paris, where Richard meets Hesta, a captivating music student, who enables him to fulfill his own artistic promise. 


I stumbled across a neat little du Maurier section burrowed away in the Minster Gate bookshop and ended up taking one of the titles home with me. Of course I did! I'll Never Be Young Again was her second novel, following The Loving Spirit, and prior to spying it in the bookshop I'd never actually heard of it. It seems to have the classic undertones of du Maurier's other novels, with the unfulfilled characters and the sea as some sort of exciting vessel to otherness, so I'm looking forward to seeing what those common motifs looked like at the start of her writing career. 

I started the year off with a short story collection from du Maurier, The Rendezvous, but I've still got another four of her works that are sat on my shelves unread (The Birds, The House on the Strand, The King's General and, now, I'll Never Be Young Again) so I'm going to make sure I pick up one or two before the year is out. She is one of my favourite authors, after all! 

And that's my book haul for the month of February 2017. Sometimes there's nothing better for my reading than adding some new books to my shelves. If you're feeling chatty, do let me know if you've read any of the aforementioned books. Otherwise, fill me in on what you've been reading or adding to your libraries recently. If you'd like to scroll through all of my book blog posts then you can. Or, alternatively, you could just flick through my book hauls instead. What a time to be alive.

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*I REQUESTED A SELECTION OF TITLES FROM FABER'S CATALOGUE BUT ALL OPINIONS ON SAID TITLES ARE MY OWN. I ALSO RECEIVED  AN UNSOLICITED REVIEW COPY OF TEN DEAD COMEDIANS from QUIRK BOOKS. AGAIN, OPINIONS OF SAID TITLE ARE MY OWN. DISCLAIMERS ARE BORING, AREN'T THEY?!


This post features affiliate links.If you buy the books through the links I've provided I'll receive a 5% commission to put back into the blog.
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5 comments

  1. Some of these sound so good that I had to save them on goodreads :)

    franalibi.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  2. Patricia Highsmith is an author whose work I only explored for myself last year, but like you, my collection of her novels is steadily growing.

    I hope you enjoy all of these titles. Happy reading!

    ReplyDelete
  3. What an awesome book haul 😍 They all have really intriguing covers too - I know, I know, you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes I just can't help it!

    http://www.thesmalladventurer.blogspot.com.au/

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  4. These all look really good, especially The Less Bohemians and Stranger, Baby. I haven't read Grief Is A Thing With Feathers yet, though I did buy it, because I want to read Ted Hughes' Crow first. Will you be reading the inspiration for it first or have you already?

    Astrid
    http://www.astridkaniele.com/

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  5. Can I just say how fab your photos are! The cover for Welcome to Lagos looks incredible, and the plot sounds really intriguing. I'd love to read The Lesser Bohemians, Ten Dead Comedians and Stranger, Baby.

    Angi www.twodifferentworlds.com

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