May Book Haul

May is my birthday month, so I justify everything I buy during that month as “I’m older therefore closer to death, therefore I should spend money.” I accumulated a few books, mostly secondhand, and others I was gifted for my birthday, so.

These are all secondhand. And they were all impulse buys of the highest order. Naipul’s book is called In a Free State in English. I’m glad I was able to snatch up both the Turgenev and the Woolf in Oxford World Classics editions — they are annotated, which I greatly appreciate when reading this type of novel. I always feel like there’s something I’m not quite getting if I don’t have some sort of context or explanation for certain details. I’m most excited for Between the Acts — I’m a big fan of Woolf, but I’ve only read her in translation so far.

R. gave me the Miéville as a birthday gift — which I had also pestered him for, of course — and I am suuuuper excited to get to it. It’s the final book in Bas Lag trilogy — the first two being Perdido Street Station and The Scar. I love this series. It’s a mix between fantasy, sci-fi, weird stuff and steampunk. It’s engrossing, has a great world you can get lost in, and the writing is superb. I became an instant fan of Miéville after reading 40 pages or so, and he’s now one of my favourite authors. I am slowly making my way through his entire work. Seriously, the books are so good, and I think even someone who isn’t typically into sci-fi or fantasy would enjoy them. There really is something for everyone there.

And speaking of favourite authors, I placed a wee order for two of Byatt’s books — Angels and Insects, pictured here, and On Histories and Stories, which hasn’t arrived yet. I’ve only read two of Byatt’s other novels, Possession and The Children’s Book. I especially love the second one of those, but ugh. Byatt is such a talented writer; she can weave in an out of stories, in and out of time. She is masterful with her words — her novels are luxurious and long, but she never lingers on stuff she doesn’t need to, and every word is put to good use. Angels and Insects isn’t actually a novel — it features two novellas, both set in Victorian England, I believe — but I’ve read the first few couple of pages and felt like underlining the whole thing.

Lastly, Kenneth Henshal’s A History of Japan — a gift from my parents — is exactly what it says on the tin. In April I kind of went on a History kick and started reading up on all sorts of subjects. I’m reading The Penguing History of the World, and thought it would be interesting to actually read more in depth about certain countries or historical events. I also have a nifty little collection of Oxford’s A Very Short Introductions (these focus on one single topic, like the Celts, or the British empire, and they’re only about 100 pages long), and decided to supplement those with a little bit of Japanese history. This is only a very, very short primer, but since I know nothing about Japanese history, I think it’s a good starting point.

As always, you can snoop what I’m reading at my Goodreads account.