Saturday, 24 September 2016

№ 4 early autumn 2016 reading list

Saturday morning, coffee and books. In the background on repeat, Cat Power performing her cover of Troubled Waters; I never tire of this song. It's time to share my early autumn reading list - yes, there will be a late-autumn one, I already have some works lined up. I wanted to include Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys on the list but it wasn't available at the library and my ordered copy hasn't arrived, yet. I loved Michael Douglas in the film (2000), directed by Curtis Hanson, who passed away last Tuesday. I have already finished two books on the list and one of them is The Little Book of Hygge, which I recently reviewed on the blog. At the moment I'm reading five books at once. Some are short story collections so I pick up the one I'm in the mood for. Here is the list:

· Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
· The Outsider by Albert Camus
· The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
· A Winter Book: Selected Stories by Tove Jansson
· Anecdotes of Destiny by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)
· In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
· Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
· The American by Henry James
· Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
· The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking

At the library I spotted Yoshimoto's Kitchen, her first book, and had to borrow it to read again. Japanese authors are so wonderfully different. Many years ago I worked in a bookshop with school and took the risk of recommending it to a customer, who struck me as a reader ready for something different. Sometimes it was tricky recommending books to customers, not everyone has the same taste (luckily) and I didn't want anyone to waste money on something they didn't enjoy. Well, this one came back to tell me that she had loved it, that it was 'different', and she went home with a stack of my favourite books.

Stéphane Audran as Babette in Babette's Feast (1987)

Two Nordic authors are on my list. You know already about my love for Karen Blixen. Many years ago I read her story Babette's Feast and have since treasured it. It's featured in the story collection on the list and I'm looking forward to reading it again. Have you seen the film (1987, original Danish title Babettes gæstebud)? It's one of my favourites. It won the Oscar in the category Best Foreign Language Film. The other Nordic author on my list is Tove Jansson, who became famous for her books about the Moomintrolls (see my recent post about The Moomin Shop in London). She also wrote fiction for adults and I don't understand why I hadn't read any of them before. I'm so enjoying the two on my list. The Summer Book, first published in 1972, is a beautifully written story about a six-year-old and her grandmother, who spend a summer on a tiny island in the Gulf of Finland (Jansson herself had a cabin on a tiny, remote island in the same Gulf). The story has no plot, it's about life and nature. Such a quiet and calm read.

Tove Jansson at her cabin on the Finnish island Klovharun

The other book on the list that I have also finished is Casino Royale, Ian Fleming's first book about James Bond. I was not impressed, which is the reason I didn't include it in my photo! Perhaps my expectations were too high because I enjoyed the film. The plot is interesting but I was simply bored during the reading. There were also sentences that I had to read twice to believe my own eyes ('the sweet tang of rape' (p. 201); it was published in different times, in 1953, but hello, misogynistic much?). One day I will probably give Fleming another chance and read From Russia with Love, which many consider his best. Just not yet.

1: image by me | 2: still via BFI · credit: Panorama Film A/S, Det Danske Filminstitut, Nordisk Film + Rungstedlundfonden · director + screenplay Gabriel Axel | 3: via Tove Jansson


  1. Always love seeing your current reads! Thank you for this list!

    1. Thank you, Alexandra, and thanks for visiting.

  2. Very happy to see your newest list. I took direction from a previous list of yours to read M Train and Just Kids, and was so glad I did. Both books gave such windows into her world - then and now. Looking forward to adding some of your Early Autumn Reads to my "To Be Read" list. Happy September!

    1. How wonderful to hear, Myda. Since I read Smith's books I have heard from a few who have read them and loved them, even people who weren't even interested in her as artist. I think it's her honesty and straightforwardness that reaches a wide audience.

  3. Thank you for pointing out Jansson's books, Lisa. I don't know why I haven't read any of them until now.
    I was doing research for a magazine article a few weeks back and watched a few food related films. Babette's Feast was one of them and it went right to my heart. Such a special film! I had intended to see it for such a long time and when I finally did it felt like it was worth the wait.

    1. Glad to hear you liked Babette's Feast. I really enjoyed reading the story again.

      About Jansson's book. Now that I have read both the books on my list I have to say that I enjoyed The Summer Book more than A Winter Book, I found it more readable and wittier. The latter is probably not for everyone.


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