Friday, March 1, 2013

Homage to Hornby: Books Bought, Books Read

Lately I've been reading Nick Hornby's collected essays from his Believer column (Housekeeping vs. the Dirt, The Polysyllabic Spree, and More Baths, Less Talking. The format goes like this: at the beginning of each essay, he lists the books he's purchased and the books he's read for that month. Like most bibliophiles, those two lists rarely match up.

While I'm still experimenting with the best way to structure this blog, I'm going to steal a page from Hornby's amusing and smart books and present you with my lists (the links will take you to the Goodreads profile or to my reviews):

Books bought in February:
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (Nook)
A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge (Zones of Thought #2)
The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge (Zones of Thought #3)
The Fiction Writer's Handbook by Shelly Lowenkopf (Nook)
Zig Zag: The Incredible Wartime Exploits Of Double Agent Eddie Chapman by Nicholas Booth
Hunk for the Holidays by Katie Lane (Nook: don't judge - he has whiskey-colored eyes! I love whiskey!)
A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel
Black Sheep by Georgette Heyer
Frederica by Georgette Heyer
The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer
A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer
Revenge: A Story of Hope by Laura Blumenfeld
Pulphead: Essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan
I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination by Francis Spufford

I swear I don't normally buy so many books in a should see my library hold list for an indication of my more frugal self. This list is the result of some late-night buying at, where it's all so cheap, and shipping was only $4 for everything from Zippy down!

Books read in February:
Jane Austen: A Life by Clair Tomalin
Going Postal by Terry Pratchett (Discworld series; re-read)
The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
Nonfiction Readers' Advisory ed. Robert Burgin
A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge (Zones of Thought #1)
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick (audiobook)

In progress:
The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente
A Few Good Books: Using Contemporary Readers' Advisory Strategies to Connect Readers With Books by Stephanie L. Maatta

The one wrinkle I'll add is that I downloaded a HUGE number of books from the fantastic Project Gutenberg this month--far too many to list in one entry, or even ten.

So instead I'll give you a teaser of the obscure (and not so obscure!) classics that I'm excited to read about, and the reasons for my enthusiasm (links will take you to free copies via Project Gutenberg):

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy (1905)
A swashbuckling adventure story along the lines of The Three Musketeers, this is the story of a Frenchwoman named Marguerite who marries a handsome fop, Sir Percy Blakeney, at the start of the French Revolution. Their love is meant to be, but a terrible misunderstanding estranges them as the Terror begins in France, where a mysterious hero who calls himself the Scarlet Pimpernel is smuggling French aristocrats out of the country.

For movie fans, the 1934 adaptation starring Leslie Howard will make you forget all about the limp Ashley Wilkes (Gone With the Wind). Not to get sidetracked or anything, but the actor Leslie Howard died in 1943 when his plane was shot down by Nazis. He may have been acting for British Intelligence at the time, though the official story is that he was doing anti-Nazi propaganda. So Howard was a bona fide spy, playing a fictional spy! He was a talented actor whose life was tragically cut short, and the rest of his filmography is worth checking out, too.

I'll stop here for now, but there are so many fantastic books available for FREE through Gutenberg that I'm sure you'll be hearing more from me on the subject in posts tagged Three Free Books.

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