Thursday, January 2, 2014

Christmas Books!


This gorgeous picture of a blooming artichoke is one of 365 plates  in The Flower Garden -- based on original hand-colored copper plate engravings in the Hortus Eystettensis (ca. 1620,) one of the great treasures of botanical literature.

I love this book -- a veritable feast of flowers!

Also on my wish list were some books by Barbara Pym. 

Pym is a 20th century Jane Austen and one of the standards I turn to for a comfort read. These four books did not disappoint with their quietly witty studies of ordinary people leading quiet lives.
 
One of my students asked me what I thought about The Silent Wife.  She said:

To be very frank, I thought it was weird.  It does not follow the guidelines that you and others provide for writing a murder novel.  The murder does not take place until the very end of the book.  ...  Nor did it contain more action than narrative.  In fact, the majority of the book is narrative, such as the constant musing of the two main characters, particularly the female.  The actions of the two main characters seem completely contradictory to what we are told about their personalities and their life together. 

All of which is true...but I really enjoyed the book and read far into the night to find out what happened.  It's not at all your standard murder mystery  -- it's  more of an in depth character study of two people, told from alternating points of view. I'd classify this one as literary.

And this last book -- a Young Adult ( translated from the Italian)  -- is the story of a young girl living in Venice whose fiercely independent grandmother slowly turns into a tortoise. 

It's complicated... but strangely charming.

Did you get books for the holidays? Tell us about them!
 
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14 comments:

katy gilmore said...

OOh goodness! What a fate for a granny!

Ms. A said...

Not a single gift around here. We cancelled Christmas until further notice.

Happy New Year, Vicki!

Merisi said...

Love "it's complicated" - very tempting, an invitation to read, at least for people like me who like to read "complicated" stories (a reflection of my own character?). ;-)

I have a stack of books that I gave to myself during the last few weeks of the old year:

"All That Is" - James Salter (so very happy he wrote another book, his "Light Years" is one of my favorite books ever, read it at least 6 times, then I lost count, love his writing style)
"Sweet Tooth" - Ian McEwan (read most of what he published so far, this one is supposed to be on the lighter side - a 100 or so pages in, I find it sweetly amusing, great read)
"Balthasar & Blimunda" - Jose' Saramago (a 130 pages so far, fascinating, but I need to be fully alert to appreciate it, not a bedtime read)
"Cheating at Canasta" - William Trevor (short stories, one of the few books I have not read yet by this writer, another favorite of mine)
3 books by Antonio Lobo Antunes (have read a few of his books, his "Handbook of the Inquisitors" another one of the "read more than 5 times" books - interestingly, I happened to read that one in German and have had difficulty adjusting to the English translations, a couple of English editions wasting away on my shelf. Hoping for the best with these German editions
"The Crime of Padre Amaro" - can't recall the author, a Portoguese classic, recommended by a friend (he's also fond of the Mexican film of the same title).
A few German books that have not been translated into English, Mirko Bonne', Ilse Helbich, Martin Walser.
I think I am set for the coming months! ;-)

Brian Miller said...

nice...i will check out the silent wife...i am intrigued....

over break i read jeffrey abbott's sam copra series....it is enjoyable, fast paced, action driven...compelling story...a worthy distraction

i read patterson's Zoo...the story was ok...like world war Z but with animals...environmental message....not as well written as his other stuff...

also starting some octavia butler

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

Just finished Sena Jeter Naslund's latest...can't remember title this early in the morning. It disappointed in comparison to Ahab's Wife, but left me with images that won't evaporate, characters and scenes that were painted indelibly and appropriately with words. One woman is a writer, one is a painter.

Thérèse said...

I would definitively choose the "Garden Book."

Jim Egerton said...

I am currently reading IN A DARK SEASON. My last Vicki Lane book.
Have read a lot of Robert Parker mysteries as the dialog is fast clipped and very cleaver. Characters are wonderful. One of my favorite authors is le Carre. I can't describe the feeling his books give me but it is definitely the dark and lonely side of the human soul. Character flaws abound

Jim Egerton said...

I am currently reading IN A DARK SEASON. My last Vicki Lane book.
Have read a lot of Robert Parker mysteries as the dialog is fast clipped and very cleaver. Characters are wonderful. One of my favorite authors is le Carre. I can't describe the feeling his books give me but it is definitely the dark and lonely side of the human soul. Character flaws abound

Novice Naturalist said...


From one of my daughters: The Complete Odes of Neruda (but Ode to My Socks is not in it. How is that possible?) And just bought myself Poet in New York by Lorca--led there by the connection between his Little Viennese Waltz poem on Leonard Cohen's Take this Waltz. Maybe it will be a poetry year for me?! Hope so.
And I love "literary" murder! In fact, I like genre smashups, as a rule.
Happy New Year! and good reading.

Carol Bryner said...

So glad you mentioned Barbara Pym. She's one of my favorite authors. I think I have read all her books at least twice, and laughed through many of them at her subtle, witty humor.

Darla said...

YAY! Books! Always enjoyable to read what other people recommend. Since the semester ended, I've been on a mad dash through fiction…finished Elizabeth Gilbert's "Signature of All Things" and then became completely captivated by Maria Doria Russell's books starting with "The Sparrow", then "Children of God", followed by "Doc" with her other two waiting on my shelf, though I'm now taking a quick break from MDR to read "The Mermaid Chair" by Sue Monk Kidd. Happy New Books Year!

Vagabonde said...

The flower book must be one you can look at many times and not get bored. I bought some Barbara Pym at the last book sale but have not read them yet. I did receive some books for Christmas, but they are still in the bag we brought back from Nashville. I’ll get them out and show them on my next post. I have too many books, too many I have not read, but I love getting new books – a Christmas without books would be sad indeed.

Vicki Lane said...

I love hearing what you all are reading . . . so many great books out there.

Star said...

I love Barbara Pym too Vicki. She was a favourite of Miss Read so I knew she'd be good.