Big Pile of Books

12:37 PM

I was on a used bookstore shopping spree recently so I have a lot of books I plan to read this Fall. Or at least that I plan to carry around with me when I'm going for a chai latte at Starbucks.

This post is part of The Broke and Bookish Top Ten Tuesday meme. Today is Top 10 Books on my Fall TBR list.

First off are books I started in the summer and wasn't able to finish for a couple different reasons.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: Everybody was talking about this book a couple of years ago and I loved Donna Tart's debut novel Secret History (though I'm not sure I'd recommend it) so I thought I'd give this a try. Even though it is a 700+ page book, it was a quick read up until about page 168. The deal breaker was this one very unrealistic event (Theo befriending Welty - what?). Will try and push through though.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky: Every summer I have this tradition of reading a very sad novel, because if I wait until winter I find it's too much to handle. I read The Idiot and Brothers Karamazov years ago, so I picked up Dostoevsky's most famous work. I'm on page 112 and already had 3 nightmares. The letter from his mother, the episode with the horse, the kafkaesque scene at the police station. Shouldn't this be called: "Crime, Punishment and excruciating misery"? For the sake of my sanity, I had to take a break from it, but I have to finish it by Fall or wait until next summer.

If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino: Speaking of books making you lose your mind, this one is getting on my nerves. Italo Calvino was one of my favorite authors growing up, so I was excited when my bookclub chose this. I had to miss the book club meeting because I got stuck on page 104. The premise is very interesting, but reading it is exhausting.

Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky: This is super short and it sounds very interesting. Maybe with this book I can cross at least one Dostoevsky book off my list.

Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck: I recently finished reading The Sisters Brothers which takes place during the California Gold Rush and ever since I've been dying to visit California. Perhaps this will change my mind?

Nine Stories by J. D. Salinger: This was an impulse buy at Goodwill, specially considering I've been on record saying I'm not a big Salinger fan. But I'm interested in reading his short stories.

Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene: I felt the need for a little fun, so I bought this. It was made into a movie, so it's gotta be entertaining. To the extent Graham Greene can be entertaining (ooh, burn)

Sense & Sensibility Screenplay Diaries by Emma Thompson: I found this little treasure at a library book fair and it cost me $1.50. It has stills from the movie and entries from Emma Thompson's diary. It's the type of book I'd never really buy unless it was this cheap, but I'm so happy I have it. I may be hugging it right now.

Mozart the Golden Years by H. G. Robbins Landon: This was bought on the same book fair for a very cheap price. Ever since watching Amadeus (definitely don't recommend that movie) I wanted to learn more about Mozart. How can I resist anything with Golden Years in the title?

Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell: Lastly, my Mozart kick made me buy anything with Mozart in the title. Plus, the cover is an Ingres painting... This will be my first  historic fiction novel (if you can call it that), but the cover says it's "filled with musical politics, love, loss and chocolate". One guilty pleasure book never hurt anyone, right?

What are you reading this Fall?

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15 comments

  1. I have that Sense & Sensibility book too, and I bought it used as well. I *try* to resist buying all the used books, but I'm not very successful.

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    1. It's so difficult, isn't it? Paperbacks are so cheap sometimes it's hard to resist.
      * High five for finding this amazing book and paying used price for it *

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  2. oh my goodness! I had that Sense & Sensibility book in college haha! Love it! My TTT

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    1. I guess that book is more popular than I'd thought! Checking out your list now :)

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  3. Allrighty...I'll check back once I begin C&P, and see if you don't need a nudge.
    I loved If On A Winter's Night a Traveler....though that is not precisely the title you listed. I wonder, if you have a translation that put it that way? It is a unique and challenging read.
    I doubt Grapes of Wrath will make you want to visit California...but it's a bit different today.
    Not a huge fan of Salinger either (having read all of one book...the book, by Salinger). But I plan to get around to Nine Stories one of these days. Enjoy your fall reads.

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    1. Even though I'm reading the book in English, I used to have a Portuguese translation that read as "If a traveler on a winter's night". It's strange but I think that reads a little better than the English (and original) version, specially without commas. Thanks for pointing that out though. Hope you enjoy your Fall reads as well!

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    2. Now see, the original title (I'll trust you on that), is what first drew me to this unusual book. I would concede that the other way round, is a bit more grammatically tidy, but I found...If on a Winter's Night a Traveler...more mysterious and romantic. I barely caught the difference btw, but I figured it could easily be a translation difference.

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    3. Oh...and I'll stop after this...gotta love the author's name.

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    4. The title is very mysterious and definitely evocative either way. Calvino is incredibly imaginative.

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  4. I loved The Goldfinch, though I kind of agree with you about coincidences, etc. I thought it was one of the best written books I'd read in years and very engrossing. I think if something is sufficiently well written I can forgive some unlikely coincidences!

    I kind of agree with you about The Secret History. It was good in some ways, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it (for many reasons) and actually I found it surprisingly predictable. But I wonder if that's because it's been imitated since.

    I am reading one of the books in Karl Ove Knausgaard's series My Struggle. I love these books but I don't think they are for everyone. You have to be into the whole "exploring consciousness" thing. They vary from banal to funny to annoying to deeply profound, but I find them addictive. If you are interested I would start with Book 1, A Death in the Family, and give it a go for the first fifty pages anyway. If you hate it at that point, these books are probably not for you.

    I recently read John Le Carre's A Perfect Spy for the first time and that was predictably great. I need to read his biography (by Adam Sisman) and his new autobiography, The Pigeon Tunnel, soon!

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    1. Donna Tartt's prose is amazing, which is what kept me going both in The Goldfinch and The Secret History. In The Goldfinch I was just taken aback because it seemed like such a realistic story up until that point. But I might have to overlook that.

      I've heard so much about Knausgaard's My Struggle series. It's so unusual for a non-famous person to write such a long autobiography, but at the same time isn't that exactly what people who write journals and are interesting in self-exploration doing?

      John Le Carre's autobiography, on the other hand, sounds very exciting considering he worked at the MI6 in the 50's. I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

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  5. Great picks! And those used book finds?! Wonderful.

    Crime and Punishment is one of my favourite novels, although I haven't read it recently. I'm almost afraid to revisit it. I feel like Notes from the Underground would be more depressing despite the length, but maybe that's just me.

    No love for Amadeus? I was fascinated by the petty, solipsistic Salieri.

    Hope you enjoy reading these, if enjoy is the right word when it comes to Dostoyevsky and Steinbeck.

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    1. I can totally understand liking Crime and Punishment and not wanting to read it again.

      I wasn't expecting to have such a strong reaction to Crime and Punishment. Brothers Karamazov is one of my favorite books and even though it's centered in a murder, it's way less dark. Plus, it's more moving and with characters I cared for.

      Not to sound too negative, but I'm not crazy about Amadeus. There are things to like, (like you mentioned, Salieri's scheming character), but overall it does Mozart a disservice, if that makes sense. A lot of people say that the film was fiction and not intended to be taken as a documentary, but still.

      Hope you enjoy your books as well!

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  6. Some solid book recommendations here.

    I'm intrigued of your tradition of reading a sad novel in the summer. Conversely does that mean you save the sunny beach-reads for the winter? Also, reading about Mozart is a guilty read?!

    Dostoevsky's books stay with me for years, even though they take me some effort to get through. I read the Goldfinch a couple of years ago and was a little disappointed by it, probably because someone I respected compared it to Dickens, and so my expectations were high.

    I just finished At the Existentialist Cafe, which was an accessible overview of the ideas and personalities of some influential existentialists. I'm now in the midst of the Jonny Carson bio by Henry Bushkin, which is enjoyable enough.

    Haven't made it to Graham Greene yet, I'm a little embarrassed to say, but I hope to get to Our Man in Havana soon. Thanks for the recommendations.



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    1. At the Existentialist Cafe sounds very interesting, specially because it covers several philosophers. I like Camus a lot, so I tend to focus on him and don't know that much about other existentialists.

      It was Stephen King that compared The Goldfinch to Dickens, wasn't it? Maybe one of the issues with this book was all the hype, something that didn't happen with her previous novels.

      And yes, during winter I try to read books that are more upbeat (P. G. Woodehouse, Shakespeare comedies, non-fiction). To me, the Mozart books are a little bit of a guilty read because I have several books to read for work and because they aren't technically classic literature, I feel as if I'm reading something completely off topic, just for fun.

      Enjoy your Fall books!

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