What to read – the bibliophile’s dilemma
Haruki Murakami’s new novel 1Q84 will be released in the US in five days. I’ve had it pre-ordered for months. I know that as soon as it lands on my Kindle I will be torn between tearing into it right away and barreling through as fast as I can, or delaying the pleasure (and the subsequent pain of finishing). But before I get there I have five days of reading time to fill.
I actually meant to write this post last week, when The Marriage Plot downloaded to my Kindle. It’s been 10 years since Jeffery Eugenides’ last novel (the brilliant and Pulitzer Prize-winning Middlesex). I didn’t read it right away because I was completely entranced by A.S. Byatt’s 2009 novel The Children’s Book. Being on a Dame Antonia high, I ordered her series of 4 novels in paperback. Paperback! Anticipating a winter’s worth of brilliant writing I figured I would stay in Byattworld for quite a while.
But then I finished The Children’s Book and The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower and A Whistling Woman hadn’t arrived yet. So… did I dare dive into the new Eugenides? What would happen if I wasn’t done with it by the time the Murakmi released? The dude took ten years to write it; I didn’t want to give him short shrift by rushing through it.
Maybe I could read something else in the meantime. Then, wham! I was hit by a bunch of other new releases or books from favorite authors that I’d missed.
The Lady of the Rivers appeared on my Kindle. Third in the Cousins War series by Philippa Gregory and a prequel that tells the story of the witchy mother of the White Queen. But diving into a historical novel takes a certain frame of mind.
Then again I had Jeanne Kalogridis’ new one on the Kindle too: The Scarlet Contessa, which is about Caterina Sforza. You may mock historical fiction if you want to, but on my travels overseas for business I have oftentimes been the only person among my coworkers who has known jack about the history of the place, and most of this knowledge comes from historical fiction. Example: in Milan for a video game tournament we visited Sforza Castle. I knew the history of the Sforza thanks to reading Leonardo’s Swans by Karen Essex.
So I read a few pages of The Scarlet Contessa and wasn’t quite in the mood for war. So I just peeked into The Marriage Plot to see if it grabbed me. It did. It’s now in the “read” pile and I still have five days til Murakami-san graces my Kindle.
Listening to an interview with Amitav Ghosh on local radio the other day (He has a new novel River of Smoke which is second in his series about the opium trade) reminded me that I have Sea of Poppies on my Kindle to read. I definitely want to read it before River of Smoke and I REALLY want to read River of Smoke. So… that’s another possibility.
And then I discovered that somehow I’d missed the July release of A Death in Summer by Benjamin Black. (Black is the pseudonym for John Banville who writes literary novels as brilliant as any you’ll find. I’m a particular fan of The Infinities). As Benjamin Black, he writes a series about a Dublin medical examiner named Quirk who solves mysteries. They’re dark, rainy, booze-soaked books and I loved the first three.
But then if I was going to veer away from literary fiction into crime/thriller territory I may as well consider going back to the well of Jo Nesbo, Hakan Nesser, and Lars Kepler. Though on further investigation I’ve already read the only Kepler available in English. (The Hypnotist – gory and beautifully fucked-up)
I’ve got Jo Nesbo’s Nemesis on the Kindle already so I should probably read that before I go download another Nesser, right? But by that logic I should read my Kindle backlog before taking on new releases, and I think it would take me far longer than five days to read these:
- The Botticelli Secret by Marina Fiorato
- Bleak House by Charles Dickens (the formatting is fucked up on this one)
- Mile 81 by Stephen King (got scared and had to put it in the freezer)
- The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie (Tommy and Tuppence annoy me)
- To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway (couldn’t take the N-word)
- The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta (got distracted by another book)
- The Echo Man by Richard Montanari (I love the detectives in this series)
- Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow (His book The Last Witchfinder is a favorite)
- “A” is for Alibi by Sue Grafton (I can’t remember which letter I read last so figured I’d start over)
- Ice Cold and The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen
- Gilbert and Gubar’s The Madwoman in the Attic after Thirty Years
- Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion by Janet Reitman
- Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance by Sara Poole
- Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
- Syndrome by Thomas Hoover
- SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life by Julie Morgenstern (lol)
- The Scourge of God by William Dietrich
- The Harry Bosch Novels by Michael Connelly
- The Wild Trees by Richard Preston (he once replied to a fan email I wrote him about The Cobra Event)
- Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King by Antonia Fraser
- The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
- Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs (Fourth in the Mercy Thompson series. Got distracted)
- The Unremembered by Peter Orullian (Not a fantasy fan at all, but my friend wrote it. I bought two copies)
- Elizabeth I by Margaret George (I loved her books on Cleopatra and Helen of Troy)
- Kleopatra and Pharoah by Karen Essex
- The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind was one of the only fantasy novels I’ve ever enjoyed)
- The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire by Matt Taibbi
- A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
- The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs (I loved The Year of Living Bibically and Know It All)
- The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie (one of my favorite living writers)
- The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan (brilliant writer by the missing child subject matter is too hard atm for this mommy)
Holy shit that’s a backlog. And that doesn’t even include Kindle Singles or samples. I’m especially interested in the sample for The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. So much so I’m afraid to read the sample, get sucked in and have another option to deal with.
So yeah. Five days and an embarrassment of reading riches. What to read?!