A selection of pre-Book Jotter reads
This is my second post in the very occasional Books Before the Blog series, where I highlight a small selection of titles read and enjoyed at some point before publishing Book Jotter. Included are a mishmash of oddities: fiction and non-fiction, light and heavy, old and new, in effect, whatever I happen to espy on my shelves when I start writing.
The Modern Library by Carmen Callil and Colm Tóibín (Published 1999)
Because this book was published in 1999, some of the authors’ biographies are rather dated (several writers shown as living have since died), but I believe a more updated version is available. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed dipping into this eclectic guide to 200 of the ‘best’ novels written in English from 1950 to about 1998. While I have read many of the more famous or classic titles – or in some instances, I have intended to read them for some considerable time – my appetite was whetted for a selection of lesser known works suggested by the authors.
Greek Gods: The Iconoclast’s Guide by Maureen O’Sullivan (Published 1985)
I purchased my softback copy of The Greek Gods from a dingy little shop in the winding back-streets of Batsi on the island of Andros, and thoroughly enjoyed reading it while relaxing on a sandy Cycladean beach. I found it a light and amusing read, which also provided some background to the Gods of Olympus. Great fun!
Shop Talk: A Writer and His Colleagues and Their Work by Philip Roth (Published 2001)
Philip Roth talks literature with an assortment of international, predominantly male writers, and explores the importance of politics, homeland, religion and history to their work. My personal favourites are Primo Levi discussing Auschwitz and Edna O’Brien on Ireland, but there are many fascinating insights into the places and people behind a variety of written narratives.
Birds in a Cage by Derek Niemann (Published 2012)
To fully appreciate this book, you should ideally have an interest in ornithology (which I do), because the men in this moving story of surviving internment as PoWs during the second world war are obsessive birders. They spend their every waking hour compiling lists and recording the behaviour of each and every species that flits over the barbed wire or lands in the camp. This is how a select few prisoners survived hardship, hunger and boredom over five long years. It makes fascinating reading for anyone with an interest in wildlife or human endurance.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (Published 1898)
Finally, a thoroughly spine-tingling gothic novella from Henry James, which leaves more questions than answers in the reader’s disquieted mind. Ideal bedtime reading in the run up to Hallowe’en!
Please do let me know if you enjoyed this short feature so we can perhaps do it again!