Looking Forward to June



Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday--Bookshop Mountain is Open!

Welcome to Saturday at Bookshop Mountain. In what I hope will be a semi-regular Saturday event, I will share my past week(s)' book finds, which I've added to the tumbling heaps of books all over the house. Not a picturesque description, but there it is. The titles I discuss will be a few of those I've gathered from the libraries I'm fond of haunting, bookstores (online and not), friends, and one or two titles I dig out of Bookshop Mountain's gaping crevasses.

[Note: This space is supposed to present a lovely bookshop photo, but I'm unable to upload it because Blogger's new image upload function no longer provides a way to upload a photo directly from one's computer. If you use Blogger, have you noticed this abrupt and unwelcome change?]

Novel In Translation:
This Saturday I'm literally sinking into the cushions of my green couch, browsing through Crandall Library's copy of The Hunger Angel by Herta Müller, which was first published in Germany in 2009 as Atemschauckel. It's the story of a teenaged boy who is deported in January 1945 to a Soviet labor camp, where he remains for the next five years. Müller, who was born in Romania and who as an adult defied Ceausescu's secret police, now lives in Berlin. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2009. (I'm sitting here trying to fathom how I managed to miss this fact.) The Hunger Angel was translated by Philip Boehm.

Nonfiction Pick: Paleoanthropology anyone?
Book: Lone Survivors: How We Came to Be the Only Humans on Earth by Chris Stringer. First U.S. Edition 2012. (First published in the U.K. in 2011 as The Origin of Our Species. (I bought it last summer as a hardcover.)     Intriguing interview in the NY Times
I've confessed my passion for the history of human origins before. I suppose I love the mystery of it all, the dueling theories, the annual archaeological "finds" that can be interpreted many different ways, and the fact that the whole truth will never be known in my lifetime, if ever. The appeal of this volume is Stringer's well-supported conviction that homo sapiens did not originate in a single region of Africa as most modern theorists have assumed. He makes the case, based on new findings, that humans evolved in regions all over Africa, mixing their genes with homo erectus and other hominids. I'll leave you with one quote from a review in Nature, "Combining the thrill of a novel with a remarkable depth of perspective, the book offers a panorama of recent developments in paleoanthropology....Refreshingly politically incorrect."

Mystery/Crime:
Why haven't I gotten around to reading the Canadian writer Louise Penny's Still Life? I have a number of friends who love her books, but I've noticed that their most exalted exclamations of praise are reserved for her recent titles. I confess I read the first chapter or two quite a while back as a Nook book. I was able to get it for 99 cents, because it's the first in her Armand Gamache series, set in the province of Quebec. Similarly, I was able to buy Dana Stabenow's first Kate Shugak mystery A Cold Day for Murder for free, I think. (I loved it, and also wonder why I haven't read more in the series.) I bought it a while ago, when Nook Color first came out, so I'll bet they've increased the price by now.  Ken thought a great deal of A Trick of the Light, one of Penny's recent books. He says it's not at all necessary to read the series in order. However, I can't bear not to.

4 comments:

  1. What a fun post Judith! I read Still Life and didn't love it enough to want to continue the series (I'm quite picky about mysteries), but that's good to know your friends prefer the later books. I'll have to give one of them a go one of these days.

    Lone Survivors sounds like good intellectual fun! :D Have you read The Invisible Sex? It's about the role of women in prehistory & looks at how anthro theories have been affected by gender biases.

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    1. Eva,
      I'm relieved to read that Still Life didn't grab you either. If I read another Louise Penny, I'll go for the recently published titles that friends have recommended.

      Yes, I love a solid, intellectual nonfiction read each month or so. And I haven't read The Invisible Sex! I will definitely look it up. I taught a women's studies course last fall, but I don't know this title. Looking forward!

      Thanks so much for visiting,
      Judith

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  2. It's always awkward when you don't love a book that so many other rave about, isn't it? There are so many mystery series that are super popular in the blogosphere that I simply can't get into. Oh well, I've found a few I love & at least mystery series tend to go on for ages! ;)

    The Invisible Sex is more popular nonfic than solid, uber-theoretical, but it was still quite interesting & fun!

    I'm in the middle of another excellent nonfiction book now that I bet you'd enjoy since you're a nature lover: Crow Planet. Or perhaps you've already read it? It's about the author's decision to try to embrace her love of nature while living in a city & become a kind of amateur urban naturalist.

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    1. Eva,
      I am fascinated by the idea of Crow Planet and will check all my libraries and the Nook and Kindle bookstores. I used to live right outside Boston, so I'm used to the pleasures and tribulations of investigating nature in an urban setting. But, most of all, I'm very keen on the nature memoir genre.

      Thanks so much for telling me about it. I'm going to check it out now.

      Judith

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