On My Bookshelf (12)

In this feature I showcase books that remain on my shelf, unread and impatiently waiting to be picked up.

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It’s been a while since I did one of these, but unfortunately the number of unread books on my bookshelf hasn’t really gone down. This isn’t because I haven’t been reading but because, in spite of all my best efforts, I keep buying new books! The book I’m showcasing you this time is one that, like so many, has been taking up shelf space for quite some time now, and gives me a sense of guilt ever time I glance at it in passing. I’ve heard so many great things about it, which is why I don’t really understand why I keep putting off reading this book. It’s Possession by A.S. Byatt. I’ve not read any of her work yet but like I said, I’ve heard a lot of great things about her writing so it should be good!

Synopsis
“Literary critics make natural detectives,” says Maud Bailey, heroine of a mystery where the clues lurk in university libraries, old letters, and dusty journals. Together with Roland Michell, a fellow academic and accidental sleuth, Maud discovers a love affair between the two Victorian writers the pair has dedicated their lives to studying: Randolph Ash, a literary great long assumed to be a devoted and faithful husband, and Christabel La Motte, a lesser-known “fairy poetess” and chaste spinster. At first, Roland and Maud’s discovery threatens only to alter the direction of their research, but as they unearth the truth about the long-forgotten romance, their involvement becomes increasingly urgent and personal. Desperately concealing their purpose from competing researchers, they embark on a journey that pulls each of them from solitude and loneliness, challenges the most basic assumptions they hold about themselves, and uncovers their unique entitlement to the secret of Ash and La Motte’s passion.(Goodreads)

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On My Bookshelf (11)

In this feature I showcase books that remain on my shelf, unread and impatiently waiting to be picked up.

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I’ve got a problem, and it’s one that will be familiar to many book lovers and especially book bloggers. I’m a book hoarder, and the more books I own, the more I want to buy. This condition has resulted in me running out of space for my books, and having to resort to taking up loads of my parents’ shelves, as well as keeping stacks of books on my bedroom floor. The fact that I’ve got a staggering 520 books listed as “to read” on Goodreads doesn’t really help either. So it’s no surprise that I’ve still got a lot of unread books lying around.

This time I’ve chosen A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir. It’s no secret that I love historical fiction, and Alison Weir is one of my favourite writers of the genre. The fact that she’s an historian and publishes historical non-fiction as well, gives her works of fiction just that little bit extra, and one thing you can be sure of is that the novels will be as historically accurate as possible. In addition to this I think her style of writing is very pleasant to read, so I’m sure that once I get to it I will enjoy reading it.

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Synopsis
England’s Tower of London was the terrifying last stop for generations of English political prisoners. A Dangerous Inheritance weaves together the lives and fates of four of its youngest and most blameless: Lady Katherine Grey, Lady Jane’s younger sister; Kate Plantagenet, an English princess who lived nearly a century before her; and Edward and Richard, the boy princes imprisoned by their ruthless uncle, Richard III, never to be heard from again. Across the years, these four young royals shared the same small rooms in their dark prison, as all four shared the unfortunate role of being perceived as threats to the reigning monarch. (Goodreads)

On My Bookshelf (10)

In this feature I showcase books that remain on my shelf, unread and impatiently waiting to be picked up.

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This time I’ve chosen 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith, the first in a series of books that goes by the same name. I absolutely adore McCall Smith’s series about The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, and I’m really looking forward to reading some of his other work as well. What makes it more interesting for me at this particular moment in my life is that the books are set in Edinburgh, which is where I’m living at the moment, so I’m assuming that this will really bring the story to life for me once I start reading it. I really hope I’ll have time to start on this series soon!

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Synopsis
Welcome to 44 Scotland Street, home to some of Edinburgh’s most colourful characters. There’s Pat, a twenty-year-old who has recently moved into a flat with Bruce, an athletic young man with a keen awareness of his own appearance. Their neighbour, Domenica, is an eccentric and insightful widow. In the flat below are Irene and her appealing son Bertie, who is the victim of his mother’s desire for him to learn the saxophone and Italian all at the tender age of five.

Love triangles, a lost painting, intriguing new friends, and an encounter with a famous Scottish crime writer are just a few of the ingredients that add to this delightful and witty portrait of Edinburgh society, which was first published as a serial in The Scotsman newspaper. (Goodreads)

On My Bookshelf (9)

In this weekly meme I will highlight a book that remains on my shelf, unread and impatiently waiting to be picked up.

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Well I guess I can no longer call this a weekly meme, since my last OMB was back in April (oops). But it’s back now, and I do intend to show off my unread books more regularly from now on.

This week’s pick is The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. I’ve wanted to read this book for quite some time now, mainly of course because of all the commotion that surrounded its initial release back in 1988 (the year I was born). I want to see for myself what all the fuss was about which resulted in a fatwa being issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, ordering the death of Rushdie. The title of the book refers to the so-called “satanic verses” that were once part of the Quran, and allowed the worship of three pagan Meccan goddesses.

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Synopsis
No book in modern times has matched the uproar sparked by Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, which earned its author a death sentence. Furor aside, it is a marvelously erudite study of good and evil, a feast of language served up by a writer at the height of his powers, and a rollicking comic fable. The book begins with two Indians, Gibreel Farishta (“for fifteen years the biggest star in the history of the Indian movies”) and Saladin Chamcha, a Bombay expatriate returning from his first visit to his homeland in 15 years, plummeting from the sky after the explosion of their jetliner, and proceeds through a series of metamorphoses, dreams and revelations. Rushdie’s powers of invention are astonishing in this Whitbread Prize winner.

 

On My Bookshelf (8)

In this weekly meme I will highlight a book that remains on my shelf, unread and impatiently waiting to be picked up.

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This week’s pick is The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk. I bought this book back in December, and I think the main reason why I haven’t read it yet is because it looks big and intimidating. I own the hardcover and it really is a massive book. But I guess I’ll need to bite the bullet soon and start reading it, because I really want to read more by Orhan Pamuk. I absolutely adored My Name is Red which I read last summer and I just fell in love with his style of writing. It’s so beautiful and poetic and unlike anything I’ve read before.

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Synopsis
It is 1975, a perfect spring in Istanbul. Kemal and Sibel, children of two prominent families, are about to become engaged. But when Kemal encounters Fusun, a beautiful shopgirl and a distant relation, he becomes enthralled. And once they violate the code of virginity, a rift begins to open between Kemal and the world of the Westernized Istanbul bourgeoisie. In his pursuit of Fusun over the next eight years, Kemal becomes a compulsive collector of objects that chronicle his lovelorn progress–amassing a museum that is both a map of a society and of his heart. Orhan Pamuk’s first novel since winning the Nobel Prize is a stirring exploration of the nature of romance.

On My Bookshelf (7)

In this weekly meme I will highlight a book that remains on my shelf, unread and impatiently waiting to be picked up.

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This week’s book is Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore. I got this book last year at WH Smith at Heathrow Airport when my flight was delayed. That’s what I do when I need to pass the time at an airport, I buy books. I think Jerusalem is such a fascinating city and it’s very high on my list of places that I want to visit, so I’m pretty sure that this will be a fantastic read once I get to it. I already know quite a bit about Jersualem and its long and rich history, but as this book spans a time period of about 3,000 years I’m sure I’ll discover so much more about the city that I didn’t know about before. I have every intention of reading it sometime this year, so let’s hope it’ll actually happen!

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Synopsis:
Jerusalem is the universal city, the capital of two peoples, the shrine of three faiths; it is the prize of empires, the site of Judgement Day and the battlefield of today’s clash of civilizations. From King David to Barack Obama, from the birth of Judaism, Christianity and Islam to the Israel–Palestine conflict, this is the epic history of 3,000 years of faith, slaughter, fanaticism and coexistence.

How did this small, remote town become the Holy City, the ‘centre of the world’ and now the key to peace in the Middle East? In a dazzling narrative, Simon Sebag Montefiore reveals this ever-changing city in its many incarnations, bringing every epoch and character blazingly to life. Jerusalem’s biography is told through the wars, love affairs and revelations of the men and women – kings, empresses, prophets, poets, saints, conquerors and whores – who created, destroyed, chronicled and believed in Jerusalem. As well as the many ordinary Jerusalemites who have left their mark on the city, its cast varies from Solomon, Saladin and Suleiman the Magnificent to Cleopatra, Caligula and Churchill; from Abraham to Jesus and Muhammad; from the ancient city of Jezebel, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod and Nero to the modern times of the Kaiser, Disraeli, Mark Twain, Rasputin and Lawrence of Arabia.

Drawing on new archives, current scholarship, his own family papers and a lifetime’s study, Montefiore illuminates the essence of sanctity and mysticism, identity and empire in a unique chronicle of the city that is believed will be the setting for the Apocalypse. This is how Jerusalem became Jerusalem, and the only city that exists twice – in heaven and on earth.

On My Bookshelf (6)

In this weekly meme I will highlight a book that remains on my shelf, unread and impatiently waiting to be picked up. 

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My pick this time is anything but a serious book. It’s Brideshead Abbreviated: The Digested Read of the Twentieth Century by John Crace. I actually bought this book at the airport while I was waiting for my flight, and I had intended to read it on the plane. But in the end I got distracted by another book that I had brought with me from home, and the book remained unread. During my vacation I didn’t have time to read it, so when I came home it ended up on my shelf and, 1.5 years later, it’s still there! It’s a shame that I still haven’t read it though, because when I skimmed through it quickly it seemed like such a fun book.

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Synopsis:
John Crace’s ‘Digested Read’ column in the Guardian has rightly acquired a cult following. Each week fans avidly devour his latest razor-sharp literary assassination, while authors turn tremblingly to the appropriate page of the review section, fearful that it may be their turn to be mercilessly sent up.

Now he turns his critical eye on the classics of the last century, offering bite-sized pastiches of everything from Mrs Dalloway to Trainspottingvia Lolita and The Great GatsbyThose who have never quite got around to reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man will be delighted to find its essence distilled into a handful of paragraphs. Those who have never really enjoyed Lord of the Flies will be pleased to find it hilariously parodied in an easily swallowable 982 words. And those who find all such works a little highbrow will be relieved to discover, between the covers of this book, John Crace’s take on the likes of Ian Fleming, P. G. Wodehouse and the Highway Code.

Witty and sharp, this is essential reading both for those who genuinely love literature and for those who merely want to appear ridiculously well read.

On My Bookshelf (5)

In this weekly meme I will highlight a book that remains on my shelf, unread and impatiently waiting to be picked up. 

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This time it’s a book that I haven’t read yet not because I’ve been putting it off, but because I’m waiting for my mum to finish it and she tends to read a lot slower than I do. The book I’m referring to is The Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea. Back when we got the book I read a few pages of it to see what it was like, and it seemed really interesting so I can’t wait to actually start reading it. I’m going to try and read it sometime this year so it can contribute towards my goal of reading 11-15 books for the woman author challenge.

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Synopsis:
A bold new voice from Saudi Arabia spins a fascinating Scheherazade-like tale of four young women attempting to navigate the narrow straits between love, desire, fulfillment, and Islamic tradition-for the first time, the hidden world of today’s upper-class Saudi women is revealed by an insider. (Goodreads)

Gamrah’s faith in her new husband is not exactly returned …

Sadeem is a little too willing to please her fiancé …

Michelle is half-American and the wrong class for her boyfriend’s family …

While Lamees works hard with little time for love.

The girls of Riyadh are young, attractive and living by Saudi Arabia’s strict cultural traditions. Well, not quite. In-between sneaking out behind their parents’ backs, dating, shopping, watching American TV and having fun, they’re still trying to be good little Muslim girls. That is, pleasing their families and their men.

But can you be a twenty-first century girl and a Saudi girl? (Amazon)

 

 

On My Bookshelf (4)

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In this weekly meme I will highlight a book that remains on my shelf, unread and impatiently waiting to be picked up. 

This week’s pick is The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. I’ve had this book for at least 3 years, and if I’m honest I’m not even sure why I’ve never read it. My initial reason for taking it off the shelf at Waterstone’s is because I really liked the cover. When I read the synopsis I thought it sounded interesting, so I decided to buy it. Since then it’s been on my bookshelf, and has moved house with me 3 times in as many years, but I still haven’t read it. Considering that I’ve set myself the task to read as many of the books that I own this year, and that I’m trying to buy as few books as possible, I should definitely give this one a go sometime this year. The fact that I’m participating in the woman author challenge this year gives me another reason to read it.

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Synopsis:
A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, and a mystery. The Forgotten Garden is a captivating, atmospheric and compulsively readable story of the past, secrets, family and memory from the international best-selling author Kate Morton.

Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace – the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century – Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.

image (1)As you can see, no room left!

On My Bookshelf (3)

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In this weekly meme I will highlight a book that remains on my shelf, unread and impatiently waiting to be picked up. 

This week’s book is A Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. I usually don’t read a lot of biographies or autobiographies, I only pick up those that I think are really interesting and worth reading. Not everyone’s life is equally interesting to read about, and I think that nowadays we are suffering an overkill of people penning their memoirs, regardless of whether they have lead a sufficiently interesting life, or have lived long enough at all to write a couple hundres pages describing their life.

This one, I think, is one of the autobiographies that matter. Nelson Mandela is one of the world’s living legends, and his life and the battles he has fought are so terribly important that I think everyone should be made aware of that.

For now this book remains on my bookshelf, but I am definitely going to try and read it sometime this year.

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Synopsis:
Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Since his triumphant release in 1990 from more than a quarter-century of imprisonment, Mandela has been at the center of the most compelling and inspiring political drama in the world. As president of the African National Congress and head of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, he was instrumental in moving the nation toward multiracial government and majority rule. He is revered everywhere as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality. The foster son of a Thembu chief, Mandela was raised in the traditional, tribal culture of his ancestors, but at an early age learned the modern, inescapable reality of what came to be called apartheid, one of the most powerful and effective systems of oppression ever conceived. In classically elegant and engrossing prose, he tells of his early years as an impoverished student and law clerk in Johannesburg, of his slow political awakening, and of his pivotal role in the rebirth of a stagnant ANC and the formation of its Youth League in the 1950s. He describes the struggle to reconcile his political activity with his devotion to his family, the anguished breakup of his first marriage, and the painful separations from his children. He brings vividly to life the escalating political warfare in the fifties between the ANC and the government, culminating in his dramatic escapades as an underground leader and the notorious Rivonia Trial of 1964, at which he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Herecounts the surprisingly eventful twenty-seven years in prison and the complex, delicate negotiations that led both to his freedom and to the beginning of the end of apartheid. Finally he provides the ultimate inside account. (Goodreads)