The top 7 books
I plan to read in August 2021
Click on the covers to know more
📚 History in English Words, by Owen Barfield
Published in 1926
Reading for The Classics Club – this was my latest spin…
I’m totally enjoying each line, connecting back to my early love of linguistics and philology.
“This popular book provides a brief, brilliant history of those who have spoken the Indo-European tongues. It is illustrated throughout by current English words—whose derivation from other languages, whose history in use and changes of meaning—record and unlock the larger history.”
📚 Looking for the Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic, by Alice Kaplan
Published in 2016
I got this free book at BEA 2016 and never took time to read it!!
“The Stranger is a rite of passage for readers around the world. Since its publication in France in 1942, Camus’s novel has been translated into sixty languages and sold more than six million copies. It’s the rare novel that’s as at likely to be found in a teen’s backpack as in a graduate philosophy seminar. If the twentieth century produced a novel that could be called ubiquitous, The Stranger is it.
How did a young man in his twenties who had never written a novel turn out a masterpiece that still grips readers more than seventy years later? With Looking for “The Stranger”, Alice Kaplan tells that story. In the process, she reveals Camus’s achievement to have been even more impressive—and more unlikely—than even his most devoted readers knew.
Born in poverty in colonial Algeria, Camus started out as a journalist covering the criminal courts. The murder trials he attended, Kaplan shows, would be a major influence on the development and themes of The Stranger. She follows Camus to France, and, making deft use of his diaries and letters, re-creates his lonely struggle with the novel in Montmartre, where he finally hit upon the unforgettable first-person voice that enabled him to break through and complete The Stranger.
Even then, the book’s publication was far from certain. France was straining under German occupation, Camus’s closest mentor was unsure of the book’s merit, and Camus himself was suffering from near-fatal tuberculosis. Yet the book did appear, thanks in part to a resourceful publisher, Gaston Gallimard, who was undeterred by paper shortages and Nazi censorship.
The initial critical reception of The Stranger was mixed, and it wasn’t until after liberation that The Stranger began its meteoric rise. As France and the rest of the world began to move out of the shadow of war, Kaplan shows, Camus’s book— with the help of an aggressive marketing campaign by Knopf for their 1946 publication of the first English translation—became a critical and commercial success, and Camus found himself one of the most famous writers in the world. Suddenly, his seemingly modest tale of alienation was being seen for what it really was: a powerful parable of the absurd, an existentialist masterpiece.
Few books inspire devotion and excitement the way The Stranger does. And it couldn’t have a better biographer than Alice Kaplan, whose books about twentieth-century French culture and history have won her legions of fans. No reader of Camus will want to miss this brilliant exploration.”
📚 Midaq Alley, by Naguib Mahfouz
Published in 1947 – will read for The Classics Club and the Books in Translation Challenge
“Never has Nobel Prize-winner Naguib Mahfouz’s talent for rich and luxurious storytelling been more evident than in Midaq Alley, which centers around the residents of one of the hustling, teeming back alleys of Cairo. From Zaita the cripple-maker to Kirsha the café owner with a taste for young boys and drugs, to Abbas the barber who mistakes greed for love, to Hamida who sells her soul to escape the alley, these characters vividly evoke the sights, sounds and smells of Cairo. Long after one finishes reading, the smell of fresh bread lingers, as does the image of the men gathering at the café for their nightly ritual. The universality and timelessness of this book cannot be denied.”
📚 Bomber’s Moon (Joe Gunther #30), by Archer Mayor
Published in 2019
I usually refrain from reading a book in the middle of a series. I have never read any book by this author, but they say it could be the best in the series, and I won it, so I’ll give it a try.
“The murder of a small-time drug dealer snowballs into the most complex case ever faced by Joe Gunther and his VBI team.
It is said a bright and clear bomber’s moon is the best asset to finding one’s target. But beware what you wish for: What you can see at night can also see you. Often with dire consequences.
Bomber’s Moon is Archer Mayor’s latest entry in the Joe Gunther series and it may just be his best yet.
Two young women form the heart of this tale. One, an investigative reporter, the other a private investigator. Uneasy allies from completely different walks of life, they work together–around and sometimes against Joe Gunther and his VBI cops–in an attempt to connect the murders of a small town drug dealer, a smart, engaging, fatally flawed thief, and the tangled, political, increasingly dark goings on at a prestigious prep school.
While Gunther and the VBI set about solving the two murders, Sally Kravitz and Rachel Reiling combine their talents and resources to go where the police cannot, from working undercover at Thorndike Academy, to having clandestine meetings with criminals for their insider’s knowledge of Vermont’s unexpectedly illicit underbelly.
But there is a third element at work. A malevolent force, the common link in all this death and chaos, is hard at work sowing mayhem to protect its ancient, vicious, very dark roots.”
📚 A Fine Line, by Dan Burns
Published in 2017
I have met local author Dan Burns a few times at Chicago literary events, and I have enjoyed his No Turning Back.
“A Fine Line is a story about Sebastian Drake, a struggling writer working out of a dilapidated apartment in the city and trying to come up with his next story idea. Drake receives an unexpected visit from a man interested in hiring him for a project and who thinks he has just the solution to Drake’s writing challenges. He also thinks that Drake’s past and secret life with a shadow government organization is a valuable asset.
His proposition to Drake is simple: become a hired agent to investigate a cold murder case involving one of Chicago’s most powerful political families. The job comes with a decent paycheck, all the support he might need, and the types of real life experiences that can form the basis for great fiction stories.
This is a story about a man with a new lease on life, a man who leads a dual existence. By day, he is an aspiring author. By night, he is a rogue undercover and unknown vigilante. His biggest challenge is keeping intact the fine line of reality and fiction.”
CURRENT AND NEXT AUDIOBOOKS
📚 The Labors of Hercules (Hercule Poirot #27) by Agatha Christie
Published in 1947 – Part of my project to listen to all of HP, for The Classics Club
I am really enjoying this one. Poirot realizes the origin of his name, reconnects with mythology, and decides to finish his career with 12 cases that will parallel the 12 labors of Hercules. The connection between the case and the myth can be hilarious, like in the first story – what connection could there be between a lion and a Pekinese dog?
📚 The Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories, by Agatha Christie
Published in 1948 – Part of my project to listen to all of HP, for The Classics Club
This is an American collection, so it doesn’t follow the official number order in the series, but I will listen to this one as I follow the chronological order of publication
“The Witness for the Prosecution
1920s London. A murder, brutal and bloodthirsty, has stained the plush carpets of a handsome London townhouse. The victim is the glamorous and enormously rich Emily French. All the evidence points to Leonard Vole, a young chancer to whom the heiress left her vast fortune and who ruthlessly took her life. At least, this is the story that Emily’s dedicated housekeeper Janet Mackenzie stands by in court. Leonard however, is adamant that his partner, the enigmatic chorus girl Romaine, can prove his innocence.”
📚 I will probably also listen to 3 other books with Hercule Poirot. If I can listen to 4/month, I’ll be done by the end of 2021.
📚And if I have time, I’ll be listening to some French book, not sure yet which one
List of books I can swap with yours
PLANS FOR AUGUST
- Participate in #BoutofBooks, August 16-22
- Work more on my #20booksofsummer21
- Hopefully write 5 reviews for books received for review and read last year
HAVE YOU READ
OR ARE YOU PLANNING TO READ
ANY OF THESE?
WHAT ARE YOUR READING PLANS FOR AUGUST?
I love Albert Camus so I should probably “Look for the Stranger”, as well. Also, I have read four books by Naguib Mahfouz and loved them all, will have to put “Midaq Alley” on my wishlist.
Yes, definitely a must for you! Thanks for the nice feedback for Mahfouz, looks like it’s high time I discover him!
I have already ordered it. I don’t want to add too many books to my TBR pile but since I’m really “working on it” hard, I grant myself a wish from time to time. He is definitely a great auhtor, I think the first African to get the Nobel Prize. I don’t often think of Egypt as African but they are definitely on that continent.
I was intrigued, so I checked. Actually Wole Soyinka (Nigeria) won the Nobel Prize in Literature two years before Mahfouz, so in 1986. And now I’m curious, because I had never even heard of Wole Soyinka!! So thanks for your comment that sent me to research on this.
Technically, you could also count Albert Camus in 1957, French but born in Algeria and Claude Simon (French, but born in Madagascar) in 1985.
I checked again, either I read or heard it somewhere and it was wrong or I mixed it up. He is to date the only Arab writer, maybe that’s what I rememberd. But thanks for letting me know. No, I haven’t heard of Wole Soyinka, either. He is mainly a poet and a playright but he has written a couple of novels, will have to see whether I can find one.
And Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio has both French and Mauritian nationality and he writes a lot about Africa.
Yes, Le Clézio is an interesting author as well.
I was impressed by Soyinka’s huge literary production, in so many genres
Le Clézio should be an interesting author with his background. And he is.
Soyinka, true. That is probably one of the reasons he was awarded the prize. I’m not much into reading plays and poetry and have read a few of the latter recently, so will see that I’ll find one of the novels.
Let mw know
Might take a while but I’ve made a note.
I’ve commented twice but they’re disappearing- trying again…
So I don’t know what m doing wrong. That comment went through but when I use the WordPress app it disappears! Any advice??
I just saw one in the Spam, I’m going to recover them. Not sure why it would think this is spam. Not sure what’s going on. I notice that for this very comment, it shows your ID as “journey%20destination.org”. The one where you wrote “I’ve commented twice but they’re disappearing- trying again…”, it shows as journeydestination.org.
Not sure why the difference.
NB: I don’t auto-approve the comments, but you should get the message when you leave one, that approval is pending. And I don’t check my comments every day
Your reading tastes are so varied. I love the fact that you go from the very literary and erudite (Camus) to the very popular (Christie)
Thanks. Just different facets of smart-ness
I think it was at BEA 2016 that I met you in person, Emma. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts about the Camus book.
Indeed it was at BEA 2016, the only one I went to
Looking for the Stranger sounds so interesting, but obviously I need to read the Camus book first. Last year, I read The Myth of Sisyphus, which I found interesting, but really difficult to read. So I need a bit of a break, before I pick up another Camus.
The Stranger is much much easier! And it’s short.
Looking for the Stranger is getting more and more fascinating. I love how she highlights elements n Camus’s life that led him to write this book
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi Emma! I’ve just posted my Library Card aka what to read in August and was browsing a bit. Then I came upon your post and yea! So sorry I haven’t stopped by as much lately….
I’ve just completed your form to read and review In another Life for you. The WWII also sounds good, but I won’t be able to add even more to my TBR for August.
Believe it or not, I haven’t read any of the two Agatha Christies you have on your TBR! Hope you enjoy all our August reads.
Have a good weekend!
Thanks for requesting the book. There was a question of format, so will get back to you this coming week but I hear more from the author. By the way, there’s no deadline tp review the books you request now through France Book Tours. You get an extra point if you review it within two months, but you can review it later as well.
Ooh yes, Labors of Hercules was pretty good! I remember Googling the 12 labors of Greek/ Roman hero Hercules afterwards to draw the parallels. It was a very unique theme.
I bet Christie had a lot of fun putting this collection together
LikeLiked by 1 person