Monday, 30 October 2017

№ 12 reading list ... from the Land of Ideas

№ 12 reading list | Ayobami Adebayo, Peter Hedges, Isambard Wilkinson  · Lisa Hjalt

My № 12 reading list was supposed to appear on the blog in September - that stack of books looks good, doesn't it? - but I got busy packing. As in moving, to Germany. Ich bin ein Bremer! Not quite a declaration carrying the weight of Kennedy's Ich bin ein Berliner ... except for us, the family. We are settling in our new home and exploring our surroundings. My first task was arranging the books and creating a reading nook, and then, to feel more at home, setting up the kitchen and making the first Friday pizzas. Bremen has many cafés and restaurants and everywhere I have been the atmosphere has been the way I like it, relaxed and unpretentious. I have already visited two bookshops in the centre but no library, yet. Because of the move the time for reading has been somewhat limited, but I have finished the first two works on the list and I'm well into a few others. Three publishers provided books for the list, for which I'm grateful: Canongate [1], Eland Books [2] and Fox, Finch & Tepper [3]. I will be reviewing these three books on the blog later.

№ 12 reading list:
· South and West: From a Notebook  by Joan Didion
· Stay with Me  by Ayobami Adebayo [1]
· Travels in a Dervish Cloak  by Isambard Wilkinson [2]
· What's Eating Gilbert Grape  by Peter Hedges [3]
· The Unwomanly Face of War  by Svetlana Alexievich
· Autumn  by Ali Smith
· Hitch-22: A Memoir  by Christopher Hitchens
· How Fiction Works  by James Wood
· Against Interpretation and Other Essays  by Susan Sontag

Usually there are a few library books on my reading lists but this time the books are all mine. A dear friend in Iceland gave me a generous Waterstones gift card on my birthday, which I used to purchase the works of Didion, Sontag, Wood and Alexievich (if you're following on Instagram you may have noticed). Later I was viewing the works of the late Christopher Hitchens in a bookshop when I spotted his memoir, which had escaped me - so glad I bought it. Reading Autumn by Smith felt right this autumn and something tells me I will be reading her new one, Winter, this coming winter. I also have my eyes on some new Icelandic titles that I would like to feature on the blog. And then there is a new publication this autumn that I'm very excited about: Patti Smith's latest, Devotion. She is such a wonderful writer.
№ 12 reading list | Ayobami Adebayo, Peter Hedges, Isambard Wilkinson  · Lisa Hjalt

The three works to be reviewed later:

The 'fiercely independent' Canongate is the publisher of Stay with Me, the debut novel of Ayobami Adebayo, a young Nigerian author who I can only hope is working on another fiction. Without giving away the plot the synopsis reads: 'Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything - arduous pilgrimages, medical consultations, appeals to God. But when her relatives insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. It will lead to jealousy, betrayal and despair.' The book was shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.

The focus of Fox, Finch & Tepper is to publish 'literary fiction titles with a strong sense of place that have already been published and that deserve resurrection.' What's Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges is a perfect example. I had only seen and enjoyed the film, starring Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio and Juliette Lewis, but how wonderful it feels to read the book. Hedges's writing style is pure delight.

Eland Books - 'keeping the best of travel writing alive' - recently published Travels in a Dervish Cloak by Isambard Wilkinson. He first visited Pakistan as a teenager and during the War on Terror he worked there as a foreign correspondent. I waited for a proper Wi-fi connection in our new home before starting this book because I wanted to be able to look up things and places. That is what good travel writing makes you want to do. I believe Wilkinson will teach me a lot about Pakistan and its culture.

Bis bald!


  1. So good to hear again from you, I was missing you.
    Hopefully you survived your move to Bremen?
    You have made a great list.
    Stay with me and Autumn are already on my wish list, the rest I haven’t heard of. I will have a look
    With warm wishes Manon

    1. Thank you, Manon. Yes, I survived but sometimes I feel like I may need one week of undisturbed sleep.

      It is a good list, isn't it? I ended up saving a few books for later, which I'm also very excited to read. I haven't finished 'Autumn' but I can recommend 'Stay with Me'.

  2. I can advice you ‘ do not say we have nothing’ of Madeleine Thiem
    Is an absolute great read!!

    1. The name of the author rang a bell, even though I have never read any of her works. When I looked it up I remembered having noted down that particular title when it was shortlisted for the Man Booker last year. It's now on my TBR, thanks.


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