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Six books the library nabbed for me (and why I’m reading them)

I must have gone a bit mad a couple of weeks ago. While I don’t remember it, proof of this flaky episode was a series of library notifications delivered to my inbox last week alerting me that a(nother) book I’d requested was waiting for collection – six in total! I felt a bit overwhelmed after the visit to the library; I could only just carry all the books home.

Here’s a run-down of the six books I’ve now added to my (literally) towering book pile and why they’re there.

1. Where the Rekohu Bone Sings

By Tina Makereti

Why I’m reading it:  I came across a super article called ‘Why Aren’t You Reading Brown?‘, from the Academy of New Zealand Literature, suggesting 21 books by Maori and Pasifika writers. There’s a great range of books on this list, but I loved the idea of historical transference promised in Where the Rekohu Bone Sings – ‘From the Chatham Islands/Rekohu to London, from 1835 to the 21st century, this quietly powerful and compelling novel confronts the complexity of being Moriori, Maori and Pakeha‘. I’m halfway through this book, and I’m really loving it. Keep an eye out for the review to follow…

2. The Secret History of Wonder Woman

by Jill Lepore

Why I’m reading it: I watched the film Wonder Woman a few weeks ago after hearing so many amazing things about it (including from a 19 year old male checkout operator in Coles who told me he’d cried while watching it). Oh my, the film was brilliant; feminist and funny, entertaining and empowering. And whilst I did use to dress up as Wonder Woman with stars stapled to my undies (several decades ago mind you), I don’t know anything about the history of Wonder Women or her back story.

This book’s blurb makes me want to read it NOW: ‘Wonder Woman, Lepore argues, is the missing link in the history of the struggle for women’s rights – a chain of events that beings with the women’s suffrage campaigns of the early 1900s and ends with the troubled place of feminism a century later’. Whoa.

3. A Tale For The Time Being

by Ruth Ozeki

Why I’m reading it: I requested this book from the library straight after reading BookerTalk’s review, in which Karen said this was one of the best books she’d read so far this year. Ozeki also wrote My Year of Meat, which I read years ago at around the time I became vegetarian, and the book had a profound impact on me. All signs point to A Tale For The Time Being being a great read.

4. Last Rituals

by Yrsa Sigurdardòttir

and

5. Shadow District

by Arnaldur Indriðason

Why I’m reading these: Every morning I wake up to an daily alert from Literary Hub, which comes packed with author interviews, book news and literary tidbits. It recently included the article ‘Crime and the City: A Sleepy Little Murdertown Called Reykjavik‘, which introduced me to Yrsa Sigurdardòttir and Arnaldur Indriðason – two of the biggest crime writers in Iceland.

  Last Rituals is Sigurdardòttir’s first adult fiction, having already written many successful children’s books.  The blurb: ‘when a young man is found brutally murdered, his eyes gouged out and a strange symbol carved on his body, young attorney Thora is hired by his family to find out the truth. She has the help – and hindrance – of abrasive ex-policeman Mathew Reich’. It sounds a bit hackneyed, but apparently she infuses this with humour and quirkiness. I’m drawn even more to her writing after having read this in an interview, ‘Where six degrees of separation applies to most of the world’s inhabitants, in Iceland it is probably only one degree of separation. Or zero. This provides a great tool for crime and thriller writing…’.

Shadow District was published in English this year and in Indriðason’s own words it is about ‘a young girl found murdered behind the National Theatre in Reykjavík in 1944, during the Second World War in Iceland when we were occupied by the British and American forces…. It was at that time that Iceland became part of world politics and the isolation of the island was broken for good’.  There was a point in time where 7 of out 10 most popular book borrowed from Icelandic libraries were written by Indriðason, so he must be doing something right.

6. Sleeping On Jupiter

by Anuradha Roy

Why I’m reading this: This book offers a wonderful opportunity to bring my past and present book friends together. Glasgow Women’s Library has started a digital book club to complement their real life one (which I was a member of for 10 years), and in August they’re reading Sleeping On Jupiter.  One of my Melbourne book clubs has agreed to read this at the same time to see if we can get some trans-global chat happening. For that reason, and because this book was longlisted for the 2015 Booker Prize and also because I love Indian literature, I reckon this is going to be a winner.

As I finish this post, I’ve been advised that I have another two books awaiting my collection: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (who’s appearing at the Melbourne Writers Festival this month) and The Power by Naomi Alderman (which won the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction this year).

Help me! Which book should I read next?  How on earth do I prioritise which ones to read first in case they’re suddenly recalled?

This is a site about books and about tea, and how we should read more books and drink more tea. Sometimes, it's hard to know what books to read and what tea to drink. This is where I can help out.

18 Comments

  1. Indradason’s books are great – I read several of the Detective Erlendur series – so I recommend that one!

  2. Ive read only one each by Yrsa Sigurdardòttir and Arnaldur Indriðason but enjoyed them both. But of course you know which title I would recommend – the Ozeki

  3. Can you tell that any of them will be much faster to read than the others? Sometimes that’s how I do it, and then the sense of accomplishment helps give me momentum for the rest.

    I’ve had the Ozeki, Roy, and Lepore on my own list for a while, and now you’ve made me add the other three as well. They all sound excellent.

  4. Great haul! I really want to read some Yrsa Sigurdardòttir, I hear so many good things. I look forward to your review 🙂

  5. I’ve read the Ozaki and enjoyed it, but I liked Pachinko more. Sigurdardottir has been on my wishlist for ages. Since the Erlandur series by Indradason finished and I craved more Icelandic crime. I’ll keep an eye out for your review. The Wonder Woman sounds great, too.

    I’m not helping am I?

    • So far, I’ve been able to renew all the books, so I’m on a winning streak. I just finished Sigurdardottir, I really enjoyed it as a light read. Refreshingly, it wasn’t a raped woman as the centrepiece. I’m looking at Pachinko and the size of it has me slightly intimidated, so thank you for the plug!

      • Pachinko was eye-opening for me. Whenever we’ve visited Osaka, I’ve struggled to understand it as a city. Pachinko gave me a way in to its culture and history. It’s an incredible book.

        • I’ve spent all my time in Japan in Tokyo, so know very little about Osaka, apart from Yakuza mythologies. That’s a huge selling point.

  6. I really want to read Ozeki’s work soon. I found My Year of Meats at a used bookstore, but it’s still sitting on my shelf, unread 🙁

    • I read My Year of Meat in my 20s and I found it genuinely transformative. I would highly recommend it, even after 20 years!

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