Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Corner View - Books

The theme of this week's Corner View is Books. Paul Theroux wrote in one of my all-time favourite travel books, The Great Railway Bazaar, "I can never watch a train go by without wishing I was on it"; I, on the other hand, can never walk past a bookshop without wishing I was in it. I have had a love of books since my uncle first taught me to read. Yes, I can remember vividly the actual day I learned to read; when all of those confusing letters, dots and pattterns suddenly fell into place for me and conveyed meaning. From that day on I was hooked. By the age of twelve I had exhausted school books, and was working my way through the local library, where I embarked on reading the complete works of every great writer I had ever heard of, including my two favourites at that time : Graham Greene and John Steinbeck.

It was there in that small town library I first encountered the travel books which were to have such a great influence on the rest of my life, including what still remains my favourite book ( I have read it twelve times): As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee. I always feel sad when one of my favourite writers dies because it means he will never write another book, but I felt a particular sadness when Laurie Lee passed away because I always hoped that I would meet him one day and thank him for writing such wonderful books.

Here, in no particular order, is a selection of my favourite books:

McCarthy - All The Pretty Horses

Evelyn Waugh - Scoop

Barry Unsworth - Stone Virgin

Franz Kafka - The Castle

J L Carr - A Month in the Country

D H Lawrence - Sons and Lovers

Yann Martel - Life of Pi

Yann Queffelec - Les Noces Barbares

A S Byatt - Possession

Haruki Murakami - Kafka on the Shore

Kazuo Ishiguro - The Remains of the Day

Antony Beevor - Stalingrad

Patrick Leigh Fermor - A Time of Gifts

John Fowles - The Magus

Jorge Luis Borges - El Aleph

Paul Theroux - The Great Railway Bazaar

Laurie Lee - As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning

In the photos above you can see what I have been reading lately, and my kitten, Sid, who loves paper and looks like he has just sprung to life from the cover of Kafka on the Shore. I actually found him outside a supermarket pushing a ball of paper around, picked him up, took him home, and now we share a love of the printed page. Coincidentally, the uncle who taught me to read was also called Sid, but to be honest that's not the reason why we gave our kitten that name. For a long time we just couldn't think of a suitable name for him, but every time he did something naughty, my wife shouted something at him which sounded a bit like Sid. So, now that he has a name, instead of telling him, "You are sh@t, she can say, "You are Sid," which to my ear sounds much better.

Visit the other Corner view bloggers to find out what they've been reading:

jane, ladybug-zen, ian, bonnie, esti, sophie, cele, modsquad, caitlin, joyce, ani, kim, natsumi, epe, kaylovesvintage, trinsch, c.t., jeannette, outi, ritva, francesca, state of bliss, jennifer, dana, denise, cabrizette, bohemia girl, isabelle, amber, a girl in the yellow shoes, mister e, janis, kari, jgy, skymring, elizabeth, allison, lise, cate, crescent moon, erin, otli, ida, caroline, lisa, dorte, kimmie, la lune dans le ciel, nicola, malo, vanessa, britta, april, b, kyndale samantha, karen, kristina, goldensunfamily, sophie, janet, mcgillicutty, aimee, sunnymama, jenell, britta, juanita, pamela, inna, daan, myrtille, cris, ibb, jodi, gillian, travelingmama , athena, pienduzz, latisha, clairette, kelleyn, iris, demara, mus, ninja, guusje, di, sammi, theresa, cherry b, victoria, kathryn , lisa, liza, juliette, braja, mulot, anne, lucy, leonor, elizabeth, helene, dominique, shokoofeh, cole, jenna, podane, grey-lemon, line, nihal, urbaNiche, inner toddler, puna, lucylaine, adrienne, emily, lynn, skywriting, elian


  1. Sid is adorable too. Being the great writer that you are- didn't surprise me the love you have for books. A nice collection of books. Enjoy! xo

  2. I see Holy Cow in the pictures. I remember reading it, first with a growing sense of horror at what the author made of my country and then transformed into helpless hilarity.

  3. I love your post and I totally understand your love affair with books. I'm in the same boat.

    I am currently reading "Life of Pi" (among others). It's been on my list for a few years, and I finally saw it at the library and grabbed it. On page 48 as of tonight.

  4. I remember that funny pencil the librarian had with the stamp attached - did your librarian have those? (am I dating myself?) sid's adorable! i have decided our new stray is half duck - i swear she quacks - very verbal!

  5. You totally remind me of my Dad ! He's like you are with books ! I don't know anyone in the world who reads like my Dad ! SERIOUSLY ! He passed his love of books on to us children ... I'm glad ! It's a great thing to love ... reading !

    PS ... your little Sid is adorable ! And I laughed when I read how he got his name !!

  6. Well, you have something to look forward to there, Lisa, because Life of Pi has just about the best ending of any book I have ever read.

  7. I can feel your writer's heart shining through your post.
    Happy Reading!!
    PS I also mention Murakami and a train in this weeks c.v.:)))

  8. How wonderful to meet another book blogger who loves the Magus. I think it hasn't come up on any blogs yet. It's absolutely one of my favourites novels. From your list I also like Murakami, Waugh and Ishiguro. I have a Month in the Country on my wishlist too.

  9. I got a new list for my letter to Santa Claus ;) (may be Beevor, Unsworth, Fowles... I never read) and think we have a lot of books in common in our libraries...

    for your photos, Apollinaire wrote this short poem :

    Le chat

    Je souhaite dans ma maison :
    Une femme ayant sa raison,
    Un chat passant parmi les livres,
    Des amis en toute saison
    Sans lesquels je ne peux pas vivre.

  10. thanks for your selection ... I will try to pick in your list next time I will go to the library

  11. i feel like i know you a little better... i´m noting the ones i haven´t read yet. sid is just too adorable. i just told jorge yesterday that i thought we should get a kitten to keep coco company... he said "no way!"... but that´s what he said about coco...

  12. I have just read some of your selection. About travelling, Patagonian Express of Theroux, visiting Praghe after reading The Castle and Kafka´s diaries is an experience, also that Borges and should go to Murakamis Kafka. Thanks for the selection.

  13. Very good selection Ian !! I don't know all of those writers but I'll... Have a great day !

  14. I have read some of the books you listed above. Murakami is one of my favourite authors. And I like Mc Ewan's style of writting...

    Happy reading,

  15. What a great post! Many of your favorites are favorites of mine, too, and the story of Sid is priceless. Thanks for a wonderful Corner View.

  16. You sound passionate about reading! So am I! It really is something magical to be caught up in a great read.

  17. How wonderful to remember that very moment. I told my daughter when I was first trying to teach her how to read that once she began to read the world would be at her fingertips without even having to pack a bag!

  18. Glad to see _Kafka on the Shore_ made your list. I'm reading it now.

  19. great list of books.
    I remember learning how to read. It is truly a wonderful thing to be able to read.

  20. We have some books in common:) And your cat has a funny face!

  21. I think it's wonderful that you remember the moment that reading first made sense to you. I remember the book I first learned to read, but not that amazing "ah ha!" moment. Your kitten is very cute!

  22. Ian,
    Great list of selections...I'll have to investigate- I've read some of these authors, but not these particular books.
    I love your story about learning how to read...I was trying to remember when I first learned, but I can't. Shame.
    Sid is adorable.

  23. obviously, this is YOUR ideal cv theme, right?
    got a bit dizzy with the first pic but a few of those books are home (in a box, at the mo) waiting to be read. do you always read in english, by the way?

    'life of pi' is the best. not just the ending, the whole narrative and the world it immerses you in. very hemingway 'old man and the sea' at times. but much more than that.

    anyway, and answering your question, I am really enjoying 'the inheritance of loss'. the title and all it entails just blew me away and only analising the many layers of that statement is worth it (yes, I'm a bit like that, believe it or not; once a literature student, always a literature student.) I reckon being british, the whole india/colonialism bits of the storyline will have an even deeper impact.
    let me know what you think of it, yeah?

  24. I can only imagine the books you've read! Great selection!

    Happy Day, Ian!

  25. ian, i agree with modsquad!!!


  26. Yes ... great selection. One of my favourites too is the Magus.
    I remember too when I figured out how to read. The first thing I read for myself was one of those weekly Donald Dock magazines and it too me a week :-)

  27. With winter upon us, I really needed a good reading list. Nothing so cozy as reading by the fire on a winter afternoon. Thanks for the great offerings.

  28. p.s. ian- happy holidays and wishing you a new year full of health, joy, peace... and travel:)

  29. Happy New Year! I have just finished my first Kazuo Ishiguro ("When We Wee Orphans") and I am currently reading "The Book Thief". I'm going to add all of the rest of your books then to my to-be-read list, I think I already like your taste!


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