Things I’m Reading Thursday #25: to read in 2011
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Suzanna Clarke
I really should have read this book before. It ticks all my usual boxes — I love magic realism, I love literary pastiche and I love anything that Neil Gaiman loves. However, this one kind of passed me by when it first appeared — I remember seeing it in the window of every Waterstones in the land, but I didn’t really pay attention. Happily, The Lovely Boyfriend not only informed me of its fabulousness, but was good enough to buy me a beautiful edition of it (black-edged pages, oh my goodness) for Christmas. I’m just trying to ignore the many times I’ve heard it referred to as “Harry Potter for grownups”.
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman
I’ve been excited to read this book since before it was published. No, I haven’t read the His Dark Materials books and yes, I know they’re freaking amazing and my life has been a waste thus far for not reading them. They too have been on the to-read list since forever, but… I just can’t get that wound up about them, to be honest. This book, on the other hand, is a totally different story. I waited very impatiently for it to come out in paperback (not that I don’t like hardbacks, you just can’t crease the spines as easily, and everyone knows I like a book to look lived in), and now I’m having to wait very impatiently to have the time to read it. If the bun-fight in this book’s Amazon reviews is anything to go by, it’s going to be very interesting indeed…
Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
If you’ve been here any length of time you’ll know that I am a massive Atwood fangirl, and have been for a long time (how big a fangirl I hear you ask? The other night I found myself defending the idea of, in the dim and distant future, potentially naming my first son Atwood. That big). I wrote my Higher English personal study paper on Lady Oracle, and my Advanced Higher English dissertation on The Blind Assassin. I am now writing a PhD thesis, the cornerstone of which is Atwood’s Negotiating With The Dead lectures. I really, really love me some Margaret Atwood. And I am a very lucky lady, because for Christmas this year I was gifted beautiful hardback editions of both these books — one of which was also signed and from a limited run of 1000 copies. Whether I can actually bring myself to pick these books up and sully their gorgeousness by reading them remains to be seen, but I have been wanting to read both for a very long time.
Hard Ground by Michael O’ Brien and Tom Waits
Cue more fangirling: there are not words for how much I love Tom Waits. When I heard he was bringing out a poetry collection, I immediately assumed it must be a lie — for years Waits has shunned the title “poet”, describing it as “a dangerous word” and refusing to acknowledge that tracks like the fantastic 9th and Hennepin are in fact, more spoken word than song. However, here it is — a book that contains poems written by Tom Waits. It’s not available until March, but naturally, my copy is already pre-ordered, and I am counting down the days. I’m very interested to see if the man is as much of a genius on paper as he is elsewhere…
Here Comes The Night by Alan Gillis
I had a really, really good Christmas on the books front, as you’ve probably already gathered. Also in my Christmas stocking this year was Alan Gillis’ latest collection, which looks even weirder and more wonderful than the last two. I’m possibly a tad biased here, because Alan is my PhD supervisor, but he’s also a fabulous poet and moreover, a fabulous bloke. His poems are genuinely unique — I have never come across anything quite like them. They’re also brilliant — so often reading Alan’s work I find myself thinking “I wish I’d thought of that first.” I’m a particular fan of his second collection, Hawks and Doves, which was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize a couple of years back, so I’m very excited to read this follow-up.
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women by Susan Faludi
Of late, I have become very, very interested in feminism. Writing a PhD about contemporary female writers will do that to you, it seems — I never wanted to write about feminist theory, but it kind of became necessary, and then after a while it became really, really interesting, and then before I knew it, it had kind of changed the entire direction of my thesis. I’m now an avid reader of numerous feminist blogs — which I generally prefer to books on the subject, as they’re more immediate and less absolute — including Shakesville (which you’ve doubtless seen me praise to the skies here before), Feminisnt and Tiger Beatdown (NB: all potentially NSFW), and it’s become a topic that I regularly trip out in order to bore people at house parties. Backlash is one of those books that’s still talked about and referred to constantly, in spite of its age — it really is a definitive text on the subject, it seems. I’ve managed to acquire a very beautiful shocking pink paperback edition and its violent pink and black cover yells at me every time I look at my bookshelf. Time to read it already, methinks.
Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism by Natasha Walter
A newer book, this, but one that’s already being touted as definitive and very important. Less a specifically feminist book and more a general social commentary (it seems), Walter is interested specifically in the way traditional female gender roles have been re-packaged in order to make women look empowered — the new ways in which women are pressured and pigeonholed and the repurcussions of this process on girls and young women. Having recently discovered and been blown away by Jean Kilbourne’s Killing Us Softly III: Advertising’s Image of Women lectures, I am very keen to read more on the subject. I know this book is hot property right now, so if anyone else has read it I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts!
What are you hoping to read in 2011?
Tags: 2011, advice for young writers, books, feminism, new year, non fiction, poetry, prose, publishing, reading, resources for young writers, Things I'm Reading Thursday, to read, to read list, young poets