Friday, 9 December 2016

literary postcards | № 6 final 2016 reading list

'Give me books, fruit, French wine, fine weather and a little music.' These lines by John Keats are on a postcard in front of me. It's an Obvious State design, a creative studio that makes paper goods and items for the literary minded. Searching for a Christmas present for the book lover? Your search will end in their online shop that offers notebooks, bookmarks, tote bags and more. They are even offering a holiday discount. I received four postcards in the mail, a surprise gift for adding their #osfall tag to one of my bookish photos on Instagram, the one related to my early autumn reading list. Speaking of reading lists, it's time for the last one of 2016.

When you have like thousand books on your to-read and wish lists it's not easy to prioritise them, but I'm certain to find the first two on the list under the tree after dinner on Christmas Eve (that's when we open the presents; a Nordic tradition). I wanted to give a nod to some bookish blogger for recommending Carrión's book but I lost the link when my hard drive crashed some weeks ago. Carrión has written an extended essay about why bookshops matter and takes his reader on a journey around the world, visiting various bookshops such as Shakespeare & Company in Paris, Strand in NYC and Librairie des Colonnes in Tangier, just to name a few. James Wood is a staff writer and book critic at The New Yorker and his book is a blend of memoir and criticism. Here is my last list of 2016:

· Bookshops  by Jorge Carrión
· The Nearest Thing to Life  by James Wood
· The Makioka Sisters  by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki
· The Noise of Time  by Julian Barnes
· All We Shall Know  by Donal Ryan
· A Man in Love: My Struggle 2  by Karl Ove Knausgård
· Boyhood Island: My Struggle 3  by Karl Ove Knausgård
· The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between  by Hisham Matar

In my notebook I had started writing down ideas for a Japanese reading list to share later. Tanizaki's book has been on my list for so long and I just couldn't wait any longer when I realised I could order a copy at the library. I still haven't finished Zadie Smith's works from my last list but I'm already reading the books by Barnes and Ryan. The latter is an Irish author that I only discovered recently and I like his writing style. I cannot wait to continue reading Karl Ove Knausgård's autobiographical novels. When I finished his first My Struggle book I wanted to go straight to the library to borrow the next. All the good things that have been written and said about it turned out be true and I believe the next two will live up to my expectations. I'm looking forward to picking up The Return, a memoir by the Libyan novelist Hisham Matar. He was only nineteen when his father was kidnapped in Libya, then under the rule of Gaddafi, and probably died in prison in Tripoli. I read Matar's novel In the Country of Men many years ago. I no longer remember it in details but I remember being moved by it.

I enjoy connecting with my blog readers and it's always wonderful to receive an email from a perfect stranger who has been following the blog (some prefer emails to comments and that's fine), and perhaps loved a book I shared. Since I started sharing my reading lists I have received a few emails with questions like: Did you like this book? Will you write a review about this one? In my replies I have said that the reading lists are mainly there for my love of books; to give my blog readers ideas for reading. I have no intention of writing a review about every single book on my lists. Clearly, some readers are curious about or interested in knowing my thoughts so perhaps from now on I will write just a few lines in the comment section of each list when I'm done. Let me think about it.

With a few exceptions, I have enjoyed the books on my 2016 lists. Perhaps I will put those thoughts into words in a separate a post. Let me think about that as well.

And one reader asked what's my favourite reading spot. I have a few but these days I have been reading a lot in the dining room while enjoying long lunch. I snapped a photo recently of a common scenario: On that day it was pasta, today it was hummus and pitta bread.


  1. Thank you for these suggestions and especially the Japanese book! I'm taking note of it along with the Yoshimoto's book in one of your autumn posts (to which I wrote a comment, but some evil technologies swallowed it, I guess; in it, I was also raving about Jansson and Babette's Feast). After my trip to Japan, I've not really been reading their books, but rather watching films. So far, I especially enjoyed "Like Father, Like Son" about two young families whose babies had been switched at birth. Happy reading to you!

    1. My Tanizaki library copy should arrive soon and I'm eager to start reading it. I will probably share that Japanese list of mine in the new year so hopefully you will find something there of interest.

      I hope you like Yoshimoto. I have read three of her books and love her style.


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