Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Rabbit Reading

Quentin Blake, Matilda

As you all may know, books are a huge part of my life - both in terms of work and fun. Last week, I ordered all my reading for the Christmas holidays - the time of year, apart from holidays proper, when  I allow myself much more time than usual on reading for pleasure. (Last year, I finished Wicked in three days.) And they've all arrived, all crisp, pretty paperbacks. I'm not sure I can replace the feeling of stacking up shiny new books (and secondhand gems) with the immediacy but virtual nature of Kindle-books. I've been going back and forth on Kindles, and I still cannot decide! I love the physicality of books - this afternoon I was sat cross-legged on my sofa, with a cup of tea and a huge history hardback cropped on my knees. I felt a deep sense of contentment, just like Matilda (surely the best ode to reading ever, including Walter Benjamin's essay "Unpacking My Library").

I've agonised about it so much I wish I'd just been given one rather than having to commit to the purchase myself. I can't quite bring myself to buy one myself!

Anyway, this is all a bit of a tangent to what I'd intended to write about, which was a short run down of what I'm reading at the moment, and what turned up in my little Amazon order of joy.

Ranajit Guha, Dominance Without Hegemony: History and Power in Colonial India

I say currently reading, but it's actually waiting for me at the British Library to be read later in the week. And I say 'read' but I'm not sure anyone's ever read this book (or many of his Subaltern Studies colleagues' works) cover-to-cover. Still, it gives you an idea of the stuff I have to read for work.

John Marriott, Beyond the Tower: A History of East London

I'm reading this as background for a project I'm working on on diaspora, religious faith and East London - but it's so well-put together and fascinating that it scarcely feels like work!

William Goldman, The Princess Bride

Bedtime reading at my mum's when I'm staying there during the week for work. I've read this countless times, and I still laugh out loud at points, and am completely charmed by this cult novel. If you've not read it but seen the film, you MUST read the book. It's so much better, and I love the film.

Jonathon L. Howard, Johannes Cabal the Detective

Bedtime reading at my house. I'm coming to the end of this second novel in the series, and to be honest, I'm not sure I'll be ordering the third. But more of that in a proper review soon!

Awaiting me over the holidays are:

Ben Aaronovitch, Rivers of London and Moon over Soho

Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches (the one I'm most excited about I think - I mean, magical academia??? written for me!)

Carol Birch, Jamrach's Menagerie (came upon a report of the real menagerie this novel is based upon in my research the other day, and had to add this to my order - it counts as research, right?)

Safia Minney, Naked Fashion: The New Sustainable Fashion Revolution - from first glance, perhaps not as text-heavy as I'd hoped but I hope it'll be an interesting introduction to People Tree and to the world of sustainable fashion, which I'm getting interested in both in terms of my buying choices and possible projects.

So, that's a few of the books in my life and the moment, and coming up. I'll do a review of the fun books as and when I finish them - the Cabal novel should hopefully be up very soon! (I really want it finished and done with!)


  1. They sound like some interesting titles, especially Rivers of London and Johannes Cabal. I've also got about six books on the go, although I'm not really into any of them at the moment so the pace is a bit slow...

    I have a kindle, and while it doesn't exactly replace a real book, it can be an excellent solution depending on your lifestyle (real books emphatically do not work with mine). I try not to get too uptight about technological developments... a book is a book!

  2. What a timely post. I literally just dusted off my old copy of Matilda that has been nestled in the attic for 2 decades this evening and gave it to my book worm of a daughter! She's almost 7 and bound to fall in love with the girl.

    I feel the same about books. I enjoy the selecting, holding and stacking of them a little too much to switch to a kindle yet. I can't resist buying them at all. they have a real habit of falling into my Amazon basket whenever I'm buying anything!

    Look forward to reading your reviews.

    Loveaudrey xxx

  3. A Discovery Of Witches is DEFINITELY next on my reading list - so excited about the meeting of magic & Oxford!! Btw, have you read Shantaram? I'm reading it for my book club atm, I imagine it might be something you'd like.