BOOKLOVE: First Quarter of 2015

For four months now, I have never updated the BOOKLOVE feature of my blog. There’s no reason for excuses because it was mostly laziness that held me off from writing regularly. However, I don’t just want to let this feature die so, in order to catch-up, I’m going to write an extended version of BOOKLOVE that will feature some of the notable acquisitions that I’ve had for the past four months.

January

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  • Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra – One of the surprises that I have had from last year was Zambra’s debut novella, Bonsai, a dream-like love story. The novella was enough to convince me to buy his other works and I chose Ways of Going Home because it was part of the longlist for the 2015 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
  • Suspended Sentences: Three Novellas by Patrick Modiano – Patrick Modiano is the 2014 Nobel Laureate for Literature to the surprise of everyone outside of France including mine. However, in my case, surprise turned into genuine admiration after reading Modiano’s novel, Missing Person, which was said to be the definitive work in his oeuvre. Naturally, I looked for another work of his to read next and Suspended Sentences seemed to be the logical choice since it has three works in one.
  • The Nine: Inside The Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin – I’ve long been reading the works of Toobin, particularly about the US Supreme Court, in the pages of the New Yorker and, lately, I’ve been extra interested in the US Supreme Court so buying this book, a general history of one of the most important institutions in America, was necessary after I saw it.
  • Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre – I’ve never read a full-length work by Sartre but I did read excerpts of his work when I took an Existentialism and Phenomenology course in college. Although it wasn’t a strictly required class, it was still one of the best classes that I took and it started me on my interest in existentialists which keeps me on the lookout for works that has an existential theme such as this novel by Sartre who famously declined the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964.
  • The War Against Cliche: Essays and Reviews 1971 – 2000 by Martin Amis – Amis the Younger is famous for his novels particularly Time’s Arrow which I’ve read (and loved) a few months back. However, he is also known for his essays and this particular volume collects a large chunk of his nonfiction writing.

February

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  • The Alienist by Machado de Assis – I’ve grown to love Melville House’s The Art of The Novella series and this Latin American classic is the latest addition to my collection.
  • On Death by John Donne – This slim book is a collection of some of John Donne’s sermons on death that he gave when he was the Dean of St. Paul’s. What compelled me to buy this was my love and admiration for Donne’s metaphysical poetry particularly Holy Sonnet X which also dealt with the topic of death.
  • A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz – This autobiographical novel about growing up in the early days of the state of Israel was the book that I picked by a chance when I entered into a sort-of book lottery that was organized by my book club.
  • Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag – I’ve read some of Sontag’s essays online but my impetus in buying this was primarily due to the admiration for Sontag when I watched snippets of her in Scorsese’s documentary on the New York Review of Books, The 50-Year Argument.
  • The Housekeeper and The Professor by Yoko Agawa – The only reason that I bought this book was because of the Paul Auster blurb.
  • The New York Review Abroad: Fifty Years of International Reportage edited by Robert B. Silvers – I’ve always loved articles that are published by The New York Review of Books and this volume which collects some of their best writing from outside the US is essential to my library.

March

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  •  The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum by Heinrich Böll – Böll is an author that I want to read since I’ve made a decision to read at least one book each from all of the Nobel Laureates of Literature and this slim volume may be a good starting point.
  • A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes – Aside from being one of the Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels, this novel about a group of children on a voyage with pirates is also part of the NYRB Classics imprint which makes this an automatic buy.
  • Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link – A collection of short stories written in a magical realist style and I don’t know much about the author or the book itself but comparisons to Gabriel Garcia Marquez should not be ignored.
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood – The first volume of Atwood’s MaddAddam series about a world ravaged by plague. I’ve loved Atwood’s The Blind Assassin and some of her stories so getting my hands on her works is one of my priorities, hoarding-wise.
  • V. by Thomas Pynchon – Pynchon is often mentioned whenever debates about who America’s greatest living author is so there is a degree of intrigue whenever I come across his works and such intrigue often transitions into a purchase.

April

April is when I got crazy because there’s this pile of NYRBs:

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Then some of the books that I got that are non-NYRBs:

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  • The Art of Hunger by Paul Auster – Any Auster that I do not have yet is an automatic buy once I see it in a secondhand bookstore.
  • The Man Without Qualities: Volume 1 by Robert Musil – “Tonka”, the short story by Musil which is part of the Jeffrey Eugenides-edited short story anthology, My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead, is one of the most masterful stories that I’ve ever read. So I hope that such craft is still present in the longer works of Robert Musil particularly this book which is being favorably compared to Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past and James Joyce’s Ulysses.
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – Even though I have already read The Remains of the Day, I still bought this lovely Everyman’s Library edition of Ishiguro’s opus so that I can get it signed by Ishiguro himself.
  • The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth – Another book that I know by reputation mainly due to its inclusion in The LA Times’ 61 Essential Postmodern Reads. Also, aside from being a postmodernist classic, it is also partly set in the State of Maryland where I currently reside.
  • The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins – My interest in Higgins was ignited after watching Andre Dominik’s Killing Them Softly, an amazing interpretation of another novel by Higgins, Cogan’s Trade. This one, aside from being hailed as a landmark crime novel, has also been adapted into a movie which has made its way into the Criterion Collection (a recent obsession).
  •  We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Phillip Gourevitch – Aside from one of the most compelling titles ever, the book’s subject matter is very interesting as it is about the Rwandan Genocide, a truly horrible period in our history.
  • All The President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward – How can I ignore one of the world’s most famous account of investigative journalism if it’s being sold at half the price?
  • May It Please The Court: The First Amendment edited by Peter Irons – A collected volume of transcripts from some of the most important cases in the US Supreme Court regarding the First Amendment. The sections on New York Times v. United States and Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell is already worth the price of admission.

Also, on a somewhat related note, I’ve been adding movies from the Criterion Collection into my, well, collection. I have already accumulated 16 movies and I want to show them off here:

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That’s all for now!

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Comments
6 Responses to “BOOKLOVE: First Quarter of 2015”
  1. Kristel says:

    Musil is an interesting writer chronicling a fascinating time (the last gasp of the Hapsburg Dynasty) but reading volume 1 of The Man Without Qualities almost killed me dead. I loved Boll’s Billiards at Half Past Nine, he was doing some interesting shifted time perspective in that title. I haven’t tried another book of his though.

    • Musil’s writing, as I’ve read him in his short story ‘Tonka’, seems to be sublime. However, The Man Without Qualities seems daunting.

      Glad to hear that about Boll. I hope his writing is consistent in quality,

  2. BookerTalk says:

    That’s a pretty big collection even if you don’t buy anything for the rest of the year. Do you plan to read them all this year?

  3. Monique says:

    I’d love to read The Nine! 🙂

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