Goblin was one of my top 3 reads of 2017. Read my full review here. The novel had a bit of a roller coaster year. It was originally published in May by Freight Books, who went into liquidation a few months later. Fortunately, Goblin was soon picked up by Saraband and re-issued in December, coincidentally just around the same time author Ever Dundas won the Scottish first book of the year at the Saltire literary awards.
The new Saraband edition has a slightly updated cover design, and also features a quote from my review inside! So I obviously had to pick up another copy.
John Wyndham is an author who I had never heard of until a couple of years ago, and who I’ve continued to stumble upon again and again in various must-read sci-fi lists ever since. Is he enjoying a resurgence, or have I just become more aware of his work? Anyway, I’d heard The Chrysalids – which is set in a post-nuclear holocaust world and features a cast of genetically mutated teens – is one of his best. So when I saw it was on 50% discount, I couldn’t resist purchasing. Love the artwork style of these Penguin Wyndham editions too. They remind me of low budget British sci-fi/horror TV shows from the 70s. Hope to tick this is off the TBR list soon.
From the reviews I’ve read, My Absolute Darling appears to be one of 2017’s most divisive reads. The novel centres on the disturbing relationship between 14-year-old Turtle and her troubled, end of the world believing, survivalist father. I was hoping to read this by the end of the year, but as the wave of hype seems to have died down a little now, it feels like I’ve missed out on the conversation. As this looks like quite an easy read (writing style wise, not thematically), might wait until summer until I get around to it.
This will be my first time reading Chekhov, who is regarded as one of the best short story writers ever. Thought I couldn’t go wrong with a carefully curated selection of his finest tales written across his entire career. This collection was super cheap – as are all Wordsworth editions – but was happy, nay relieved, to see Selected Stories features simple but decent cover artwork. Most Wordsworth covers tend to be Photoshop abominations that seemingly have a not-too-hidden agenda of devaluing literary masterworks to the level of schmaltzy mockbuster period dramas. As evidence, may the jury kindly examine exhibits A and B. I rest my case.
Another first for me. Saunders’ Man Booker prize winning debut novel Lincoln in the Bardo is high up on my TBR list. However, as that novel is quite an experimental piece of fiction, I thought I’d ease my way into Saunders’ writing style with one of his highly celebrated short story collections. I read Pastoralia over the Christmas holidays and thoroughly enjoyed it. Review will be posted soon.
I seem to be drawing up more and more reading lists to tackle – Literary Canon Classics, Around the World in 80 Books, Short Story collections etc. Another list I have concerns books that chronicle Black History in the US and UK. Penguin have two great introductory Black History reading lists, which you can find here and here, one of which features Citizen: An American Lyric. I rarely seek out poetry collections, but when Citizen was also mentioned in my favourite TV show from 2017 – Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It on Netflix – I ordered a copy pronto. It’s a book quite like no other. I consider it to be more a beautiful, powerful, thought-provoking, unsettling, inspiring art project rather than poetry. I am no poetry expert, but there is little that resembles what most people (myself included) would consider a poem in here. I guess prose-poems is more fitting, but even then I find that term contentious. More importantly than whether these writings fall under poetry or not, this truly powerful writing. You’ll find memories, testimony, analysis, snippets of conversation imbued with anger and hurt. There are moments that have a quiet power to knock you sideways with their portrayal of everyday acts of often casual, deep-rooted, almost instinctive prejudice and racism in America.
This is another classic on my ever extending African-American literature reading list. The Color Purple is perhaps best known for the Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film adaptation, however I have never seen it so have the opportunity to experience this classic in pure literary form. I am currently half-way through this novel, and have been really impressed with it. I knew little about it beforehand, besides its general themes, so was surprised to see it is entirely comprised of letters written by the protagonist Celie. It’s unflinching, uncompromising, and deeply moving. Will hopefully post a full review soon.
Two excellent Christmas presents from my brother. Love these World Cloud Classics editions of two of my favourite literary classics Moby-Dick and Dracula. They feature word cloud art of key words and quotes from the novels on the semi-hardcovers that have a rubbery feel to them.
I read both of these at uni and both were a complete revelation to me at the time. I remember at first being apprehensive at tackling what seemed like stuffy, tedious, antiquated reads, and was bowled over by how much I was gripped by the writing and stories of each. Moby-Dick in particular is a novel I still consider to be one of the absolute best novels of all time. It is a staggering work of genius. Both of these are definitely due a re-read soon.
Penguin Little Black Classics
These were a little Christmas shopping indulgence to add to my collection. Picked up Charles Dickens’ To Be Read at Dusk, Samuel Pepys’ The Great Fire of London, Mozart’s My Dearest Father, Shen Fu’s The Old Man of the Moon, and Sinbad the Sailor.
What are your December book haul highlights?
Have you read any of the books mentioned above?
Let us know in the comments section below.