This month I’m working at a publishing house. So in an ode to the written words poured out into the books surrounding me in the office, I have decided to take a look at what books currently have me hooked.
‘So come up to the lab. And see what’s on the slab.
I see you shiver with antici… pation!’
1. Philip Pullman, Grimm Tales (Penguin)
You grow up listening to them, reading them, dreaming about them. Folk stories and Fairytales are an integral part of childhood and they linger on in our imaginations, in the dark wood of our memory, reminding us that childhood never truly ends. Philip Pullman has retold a selection of tales collected by the Grimm Brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm, and traced their provenance. Pullman reminds us that fairytales are not merely for the young but written for all ages; making it more socially acceptable for me to pull it out on the bus ride into work. Their short length also makes it an easy book to dip in and out of.
2. Lisa Moore, Open Stories (House of Anansi Press)
Recommended by a friend. Another dip-in-and-out book. I don’t think the short story is given enough credit. Lisa Moore is a Canadian writer who initially intended to work in the visual arts but now writes full time. This collection of short stories gained her critical acclaim, earning her a nomination for the Giller Prize.
3. Craig Harbison, The Art of the Northern Renaissance (Orion House)
This is left over from a university module but it’s a great overview of Northern Renaissance art and history. In anticipation of going to see Strange Beauty: Masters of the German Renaissance at the National Gallery, I thought I should give my brain a refresher.
4. Robert Harris, An Officer and a Spy (Hutchinson)
My favourite author. I am utterly in love with Harris’ style and intelligence. He takes historical fact and fiction to an entirely new level. Having been blown away by his first best seller ‘Fatherland’ (I cannot recommend this book more highly) I am working my way through his oeuvre. This latest thriller delves into 19th century France’s greatest scandal, the Dreyfus Affair. I’m totally hooked.
5. Black & BLUE, City
As an independent literary publication dedicated to showcasing first time and established writers, poets, dramatists and artists – Black & BLUE’s latest issue focuses on the metropolis. It’s a beautiful book filled with a diverse range of works. Each issue feels like a collectable item. Get yours.
6. Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (Penguin)
It’s a classic. Got to be read.
7. Walter Benjamin, The Writer of Modern Life
Benjamin is one of the most important theorists of the 20th century who encapsulated modernity in his essays by looking at the streets of Paris and the critic Charles Baudelaire. Not a light read but my brain needs a challenge.
8. Edwin A. Abbott, Flatland
This was a very cool book. Written by a school master in 1884, its narrator is a square who lives in a two dimensional world but encounters other dimensions when a stranger visits him; consequently his entire life falls into a flux. This is completely off the wall and therefore totally refreshing!