Wishlist Wednesday : The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennet

Wishlist Wednesday is a meme hosted by Pen to Paper, where bloggers get the chance to show which books they’ve added to their wishlist this week. My book for this week is:

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This has been described as a deliciously funny novella which celebrates the pleasure of reading. It features the queen of England, Queen Elizabeth the second, who is the uncommon reader in the title. It begins one afternoon when the Queen is out walking with her dogs and she stumbles upon a mobile library.

She gets talking to the librarian about his books and she feels obliged to borrow one. The Queen has has never really been a reader. She has read a lot, but so much of it was required of her that she has never experienced reading for pleasure. This book is about her discovery of that experience.

I heard about this book on A Good Read on BBC Radio 4. The description of the book was enough to make me want to read it, but the conversation that followed was so interesting that by the end of it, I was absolutely panting to get my hands on this book.

I love books about books and reading. These tend to be non fiction, but here is a novel about reading and it features the Queen and her slow discovery of the pleasures of literature. That is such a wonderful premise.

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Wishlist Wednesday : Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut

Wishlist Wednesday is a meme hosted by Pen to Paper, where bloggers get the chance to show which books they’ve added to their wishlist this week.

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This is to some extent a biography of E M Foster, but the narrative is centered around the writing of A Passage to India, which is widely considered to be Foster’s greatest work. The title of this book is drawn form Foster’s last, unfinished novel.

Synopsis:

In 1912, the SS Birmingham approaches India. On board is Edward Morgan Forster, novelist and man of letters, who is embarking on a journey of discovery. As Morgan stands on deck, the promise of a strange new future begins to take shape before his eyes. The seeds of a story start to gather at the corner of his mind: a sense of impending menace, lust in close confines, under a hot, empty sky.

It will be another twelve years, and a second time spent in India, before A Passage to India, E. M. Forster’s great work of literature, is published. During these years, Morgan will come to a profound understanding of himself as a man, and of the infinite subtleties and complexity of human nature, bringing these great insights to bear in his remarkable novel.

Arctic Summer is a fictional exploration of the life and times of one of Britain’s finest novelists, his struggle to find a way of living and being, and a stunningly vivid evocation of the mysterious alchemy of the creative process.

I haven’t read A passage to India. I was unfortunate enough to encounter Foster in literature class. We read Howard’s End in my second year of college and I hated it. It was not the fault of the novel, it was just reading it in class that killed it for me (I had the same response to Emma. I couldn’t read it for years after I left college. It is still my least favourite Austen.)

Getting back to Arctic Summer, I heard an interview with Damon Galgut on the BBC and I was intrigued. I am drawn to biographies and memoirs anyway, but this one seems a bit special, because it is as much a biography of a book as it is of the man who wrote it.

 

 

Wishlist Wednesday :

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Wishlist Wednesday is a meme hosted by Pen to Paper, where bloggers get the chance to show which books they’ve added to their wishlist this week.

The book that I am currently eager to get my hands on, is Rereadings by Anne Fadiman:

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The book isn’t actually written by Fadiman. She is the editor and this is a collection of essays written by seventeen different writers, each talking about one book that they love to re-read.

Synopsis

Is a book the same book–or a reader the same reader–the second time around? The seventeen authors in this witty and poignant collection of essays all agree on the answer: Never.

The editor of Rereadings is Anne Fadiman, and readers of her bestselling book Ex Libris will find this volume especially satisfying. Her chosen authors include Sven Birkerts, Allegra Goodman, Vivian Gornick, Patricia Hampl, Phillip Lopate, and Luc Sante; the objects of their literary affections range from Pride and Prejudice to Sue Barton, Student Nurse.

These essays are not conventional literary criticism; they are about relationships. Rereadings reveals at least as much about the reader as about the book: each is a miniature memoir that focuses on that most interesting of topics, the protean nature of love. And as every bibliophile knows, no love is more life-changing than the love of a book.

I re-read my favourite books all the time. I don’t feel as if I have properly experienced a book that I like unless I read it a few times. So yeah, I can’t wait to read this book and to meet other folk who think like me.

Wishlist Wednesday: The Martian by Andy Weir

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Wishlist Wednesday is a meme hosted by Pen to Paper, where bloggers get the chance to show which books they’ve added to their wishlist this week.

This is another book that I heard about on  Books on the Nightstand  podcast. Also this is the second week in a row that I have chosen to put a work of fiction on my wishlist, which is perhaps odd, considering all my claims that I don’t usually read fiction. I don’t. But this book sounds so intriguing…

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Synopsis:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. 

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. 

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

I don’t know but I’d sure like to find out. I used to read a lot of science fiction as a kid. It’s been ages since I read any. It’ll be good to go back onto that genre for a bit. This book has been described as Apollo 13 meets Cast Away and Robinson Crusoe on Mars. But what got me about this book is something that Michael Kindness (one of the hosts of Books on the Nightstand) had to say about it.

He said (apart from the fact that the book is gripping and that it is wonderful read) that the science in this book is excellent. And that is one of the things that matters a lot to me. I cannot abide a science fiction book in which the science is questionable…

Wishlist Wednesday: The Aviator’s wife by Melanie Benjamin

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Wishlist Wednesday is a meme hosted by Pen to Paper, where bloggers get the chance to show which books they’ve added to their wishlist this week.

I heard about The Aviator’s wife on the Books on the Nightstand podcast last night and I cannot wait to buy it. This is a a book about Anne Morrow Lindbergh. It is a fictionalised biography, but mostly, it is the story of a rather complicated marriage.

Anne Morrow was a remarkable person. She was the first licensed female glider pilot in the US;  she was also an author and a journalist. But despite all this, she was perceived merely as the aviator’s wife. It was supposed to be a fairy-tale marriage. But it brought  heartbreak and hardships, ultimately pushing her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence, which to me, is a very familiar conflict.

I read Anne Morrow’s Gift from the sea years ago and I have read it many times since. The person who comes through those pages is warm and sensitive, intelligent and largely sensible, but inclined to dreaming nonetheless. That is a person that I would like to get to know better.