A Two-Part TBR for the Remainder of 2021 – Part 2, Books I Own

My youngest daughter (nearly 15) has taken to walking into the room and yelling READ at me, because my books have taken over the living space. So here’s the pile I need to get through by the end of the year. Maybe I should shred them if I don’t manage it – or H will no doubt shred them for me, gladly!

From bottom to top they are:

  1. An embarrassing (but oh-so-gripping) celebrity exposé of Paula Yates and Michael Hutchence’s relationship in the 90s. Probably erm won’t write a review of this one.
  2. Ghosts of Afghanistan by Jonathan Steele – I’m planning to focus on Afghanistan on the blog in February, and this is a potted modern history.
  3. The Infatuations by Javier Maras: my first read by the Spanish author, described by The Guardian reviewer as a “haunting murder mystery, embracing all the big questions about life, love and death” and “an instant Spanish classic”.
  4. In Love with Hell by William Palmer, a new release, focusing on the often tortuous relationship legendary writers have had with booze.
  5. Contemporary African Art by Sidney Littlefield Kasfir – an up to date overview.
  6. The Sewing Circles of Herat by Christina Lamb: personal stories of life under Taliban rule, by the well-respected journalist and Afghanistan expert.
  7. Dancing in the Mosque by Homeira Qaderi: a memoir of “one mother’s unimaginable choice in the face of oppression and abuse in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan” says Amazon.
  8. The Sleeping Buddha by Hamida Ghafour: Amazon says “an evocative family memoir and unique portrait of Afghanistan from a young Afghan journalist. Hamida Ghafour’s family fled Kabul after the Russian invasion. In 2003, she was sent back by the Telegraph to cover the country’s reconstruction. She finds a place changed utterly from the world her parents had described and her grandmother – an Afghan Virginia Woolf – had written about.”
  9. One Day I Will Write About This Place by Binyavanga Wainaina: a preconception-challenging memoir of a middle-class Kenyan childhood.
  10. The Matter of Desire by Edmundo Paz Soldan – my first read from a Bolivian author.
  11. My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk: Goodreads says “At once a fiendishly devious mystery, a beguiling love story, and a brilliant symposium on the power of art, My Name Is Red is a transporting tale set amid the splendor and religious intrigue of sixteenth-century Istanbul, from one of the most prominent contemporary Turkish writers.” Oooh, sounds good, doesn’t it!
  12. Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk – a memoir and love letter to Istanbul by the legendary Turkish writer.
  13. Istanbul, Istanbul by Burhan Sonmez – continuing the Turkish theme- “Below the ancient streets of Istanbul, four prisoners sit, awaiting their turn at the hands of their wardens. When they are not subject to unimaginable violence, the condemned tell one another stories about the city, shaded with love and humour, to pass the time.” Sounds a bit gruelling this one.
  14. The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa: I meant to read this at the beginning of year, but I’m dedicating much of January to reviews of Japanese culture so I’ll finally get to it. Japanese dystopia! From Goodreads: “On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses—until things become much more serious. Most of the island’s inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few imbued with the power to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police…”
  15. Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima: reading this for Novellas in November, designated by co-host Cathy as a group read for literature in translation week. Goodreads says this is a “luminous story of a young woman, living alone in Tokyo with her three-year-old daughter.”
  16. A Personal Matter by Kenzaburo Oe: a book by a Japanese Nobel Prize winner, dubbed his “most personal”. Bird is “a frustrated intellectual in a failing marriage whose utopian dream is shattered when his wife gives birth to a brain-damaged child” (blurb from Goodreads).
  17. An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine: until I saw an article on Rabih Alameddine in The Economist, for some reason I had assumed he was a female writer. This novel from the Lebanese heavyweight is “a heartrending novel that celebrates the singular life of an obsessive introvert, revealing Beirut’s beauties and horrors along the way” (Goodreads).
  18. Their Brilliant Careers by Ryan O’Neill: recommended to me a long time ago by my friend David, this is “a hilarious novel in the guise of sixteen biographies of (invented) Australian writers” (Goodreads).
  19. The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway: the classic novel about a mental breakdown.
  20. The Spell by Alan Hollinghurst: I love Hollinghurst’s novels, usually a beguiling mix of decadence and profundity.

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