Ten Books and Why I Acquired Them
This list is compiled In the spirit of Paul and Jade’s* lists of ten books but with a slightly different slant. As a reviewer I prioritise review copies to the extent that I find my personal TBR shelves fuller and fuller with books I want to read but can’t find the time to do so! I thought it might be fun to pluck ten books from those shelves that I want to read and detail the provenance and motivation for that desire.
*Reference to other Nudge compilers.
Paris - Edward Rutherfurd
My Mum loved Rutherfurd’s books. She read them all. She was a silver surfer who was signed up to his mailing list and for a while truly believed that he was emailing her personally to tell her when publication was imminent. She had received an email advising of New York’s publication and was excited about reading it. Sadly she died before that happened. So I bought a copy and read it for her and in her memory. it is my intention to continue to read his books for her. Paris is the next one on my list. My Mum read to me every single night the moment I was old enough to listen and I’ll never forget the books we shared together.
Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts
I received a hardback copy of The Mountain Shadow to review and I had to sign an affidavit that I would not disclose anything prior to publication! I enjoyed the book in all its glorious and wordy paradoxes. The person from the review body who facilitated my copy was an enthusiastic Roberts fan and cited Shantaram as one of her favourite books. I promised to read it and duly acquired a copy. I will keep that promise but I cannot say when.
we were liars - e. lockhart
I recently reviewed a copy of genuine fraud and loved the irony of the title. For if the writer had not acknowledged the immense debt to Patricia Highsmith at the end of the book I might have written a scathing review implying plagiarism of the Talented Mr. Ripley! I am so curious to read this earlier books of hers - just to see! So when I saw this in a charity shop I snaffled it up.
The Spencer Family - Charles Spencer
A good friend persuaded me to accompany her on a recent trip to Althorp. I knew nothing about the place except as the home and supposed last resting place of Princess Diana. I was pleasantly surprised at the rich and long history of the house. I was also surprised at how prolific a writer Charles Spencer is. So, as I exited through the gift shop, I bought myself a copy of this book together with one of those leather bookmarks you used to get in all the gift shops but are quite rare nowadays. I have loads of them, it’s where books and history fuse for me!
The Farrers of Budge Row - Harriet Martineau
Budge Row was a street in London. It ran almost parallel with Cannon Street and was a kind of extension of Watling Street. I’ve studied the history of it as much as I can. Richard III traveled down the street one time! Why the interest? My Mum lived there as a child at number 26 until it took a direct hit in the Blitz. The street no longer exists in name but the recent Bloomberg Development has acknowledged its existence with Watling Street and created a walkway through the complex that follows the original path. The completed development has recently opened and I can’t wait to visit. My cousin found out about this book and I managed to track down a copy. It’s a reproduction of an original copy which was located in the library at Harvard. It’s fictional but as you might expect from Martineau there’s much social theory and some politics.
Ed. note: The development is complete but the site of Budge row, although not named, is honoured by the walkway. I've been there a couple of times with family to revisit parents' childhoods. The experience was palpable.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood - Charles Dickens
I think Dickens was my first taste of the ‘classics’. I was a kid and I watched David Lean’s Great Expectations on TV. Abel Magwitch scared the crap out of me and I found the only way to deal with that was to read the book. I must have been ten or eleven and my teacher at the time made some kind of comment which made me feel both praised and chastised at the same time! But it began a life long love affair with Dickens. However I’ve yet to read this final novel.
Melmoth - Sarah Perry
Desperate to read this after reading The Essex Serpent. I read an amazing review of it which made me want to read it all the more. In fact I think I may even sweep aside current review proofs, throw cautions to the wind with all the deadlines and just immerse myself in this gothic tome.
The Poison Bed - Elizabeth Fremantle
I love Elizabeth Fremantle's books. I remember receiving her first book as a proof and I was bowled over by the quality of the writing and her approach to the subject. She's one of those writers who I have blind faith in and I'll read all her books unconditionally.
My Life in France - Julia Childs
I watched the film Julie and Julia. I loved it. Meryl Streep is one of my favourite actresses. So this book is a mystery because I’m not sure if I'm gong to enjoy it. Irrationally I’m expecting Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci and I know I’m not going to get them! I’m going to get Julia Childs. So I’m intrigued to start reading it.
The Queen’s Necklace - Frances Mossiker
I'm a history nerd. Not just English history either. Marie Antoinette is one of my heroines. A political pawn and a victim of bad PR. It wasn’t called trolling in her day but that’s what she suffered. And so much of what was said about her was believed. ‘Let them eat cake (brioche)’ was attributed to her but the phrase first appeared in print when she was but six years old. This book is about an incident during her reign that suggested she was involved in a crime to defraud the crown jewellers of a diamond necklace. However it seems likely the the queen was innocent of the convoluted plot and the victim of ‘offline’ fraud and identity theft! I’ll be interested to see what this writer’s take on the affair is.
Again I think it'll be interesting to revisit this post in another year's time and see how many I've managed to read!!