In the High Peaks

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Riches from the Library for December

Time for Advent Calendars--

On Thursday, I made a killing at Crandall Library, just before what I knew was going to be an unpleasant visit to the dentist.
I'd planned to pick up a couple of Christmas picture books on hold for me (thanks to Diane of Bibliophile by the Sea [see sidebar for link]), and an additional couple of thrillers for Ken, but by the time I left an hour later, I was struggling to carry two overflowing, very large bags full of books and 2 audiobooks out to my car. What fun! While the dentist drilled away minutes later, I shut my eyes and thought only about what was stored in my book bags. Dreamy!  Book Gluttony rules in December.

A few notable selections from the sacks--or, stacks.
My Struggle: Volume 6 by the Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard. It's well over a thousand pages, closer to 1100 pages, but many people are saying that this volume is one of the best in the series. I heard a New York Times Book Review critic who raved about it interviewed by Pamela Paul, the NYT Book Review editor for the NYT Book Review podcast. I was so intrigued by his enthusiasm for the book.
And I find that My Struggle: Volume 6  is a book that you can begin on page one and read straight through, or just flip open to any page anywhere and start reading. As you know, I'm a huge fan of memoir, and Knausgaard does it all in fascinating minutiae. Am I going to read the entire book? Probably not, but chunks of it, definitely yes.

Another book I was astonished to find on the New Books shelves at Crandall: Anniversaries: Volume 1, August 1967-April 1968: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl by the East German writer Uwe Johnson (1934-1984), recently translated into English by the American translator Damion Searls. This is a New York Review Books (NYRB) title, the translation edition published in 2018. Volume I was first published in Germany (East or West??) in 1970. It is over 900 pages long.  The book is organized into near-daily journal entries. I started reading it, but realized I need a very quiet mind to deal with the complexities of language. There are depths here, and I would really like to read it.

In Christmas Books:
Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan was wonderful right up to the last page. I wanted more! Five stars *****

And now I'm reading A Christmas Return, Anne Perry's Christmas (mystery) novel for 2017, which received a starred review last year from Publisher's Weekly. An hour ago I sat down and consumed the first 50 pages, which is more than a quarter of the book. I am enjoying it particularly because the main character is a woman who is well over eighty and has the gumption to go out of her way to help an old, though estranged, friend and sleuth her way about with this friend's grandson, to make a grievous wrong, committed 20 years before, right. At that time a young girl was kidnapped and murdered. This one is set in England when Queen Victoria was about 70 years of age--a mere child, according to Mariah, the protagonist. I love the period details.


  1. What a lovely way to get through an unpleasant dentist's apt!

    I've read a few of Anne Perry's Christmas books and enjoyed them all. And I have one on my library pile to read this year - A Christmas Secret. I don't think I've read A Christmas Return though.

    1. Hi Cath,
      I always read one Anne Perry Christmas mystery in November or December, but I don't necessarily read the one that has been most recently published.
      My favorite was A New York Christmas, not because of the setting, although Perry rendered it very well, but because of the plot. I do recommend it highly, and I think, based on what I know about your interests, that you would like it very much.

  2. I have read Anne Perry but not any of her Christmas books. That one sounds interesting. Wow, 2000 pages of non-fiction reading; that is daunting (for me at least).

    1. Believe me, Tracy, I borrowed them not to read them in their entirety, but to get a sense of them, to see perhaps which one I might read totally in the new year. Both fascinate.
      And about Anne Perry: I've only read her Christmas mysteries. The very best one, I think (and GoodReads agrees) is A Christmas in New York or A New York Christmas, set in, the late 1800s, as I recall. I really loved it. Warning: They're cozies.

  3. I love the picture at the top of your post, more my kind of thing at this time of the year. The non fiction books sound very heavy indeed. It sounds like you had a great time at the library.

    1. Hi Katrina,
      I've been collecting advent calendars since age 12, and I think this .jpg is a photo of one I came across last year or the year before.
      Yes, I am not reading either book in its entirety right now, but both are extremely interesting to leaf through. I would like to read the one by Uwe Johnson. The journal entries are written from a New York City setting, but they hearken back continuously to the 1930s, 40s, and 50s in Germany, and East Germany.

      And I did have a great time that day. I had just paid a huge fine on an extremely overdue book that I knew was in the house but had not been able to find until that morning, when eureka--I discovered that it had slipped down behind a huge pile of books to land on the distant side of a footstool behind the wastebasket. Who knew?
      So free and clear of debt once again, I made hay with lots of library loot.

  4. I also just read Christmas on the Island - not realizing until after I started that it was the third in a series. I couldn't stop once I had begun but luckily my library had the first book and I was able to rush over to get it from a library just a mile away. I am not familiar with Christmas in London but I appreciate the recommendation and have put it on reserve.

    1. Hi Constance,
      I'm so sorry that I somehow or other missed responding to your comment. I just found it today, a week later. Darn it.
      Isn't that interesting? I read Colgan's Christmas novel from last year, which was set in Cornwall. Christmas at the Little Beach Bakery, I believe?
      So I didn't know that there were two previous novels in the Island of Mure series. I will keep it in mind for the next year, and I will catch up, too!
      Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you!

  5. This plot appeals to me and hey, the protagonist is older than me, I don't find that so often. I like Anne Perry's Pitt mystery series.