Literary Abundance.

By Alison September 19, 2007 15 Comments 7 Min Read


One of the putteriest treats of all in my list for September was to get thee to a library and borrow as many books as they will allow you to take home and then pile them by your bed in anticipation of snuggly September evenings…

And because I am a woman who loves being told what to do, I did what I was told and spent the hour between steaming hot coffee and the end of nursery prowling around the teeny local library in search, I suppose, of paradise. And so my Darlings I hereby present you with the long list of books that will be taking root upon my bedside and leaving their mark forever in my mind over the next few nights. Sixteen in all, because I couldn’t carry anymore. Why don’t libraries have shopping baskets?

1) Arlington Park   by Rachel Cusk: Because Cusk is a writer of unique domestic insight (her tome on pregnancy and Motherhood is the only one that made any sense to me when I was carrying Finn) and this with it’s promising blurb.. "Arlington Park, a modern day English Suburb is a place devoted to the profitable ordinariness of life.", sounds like my kind of book.

2) Sunbathing In The Rain by Gwyneth Lewis:  Because depression is a subject too close to my heart and a book  promising  to be  "a cheerful book about depression", surely has something to teach all of us on even the palest blue of days.

3) Someone At A Distance by Dorothy Whipple: Because it has been chosen for re-print by Persephone. And though I know nothing about the story or indeed, really, the writer, being chosen for re-print by Persephone almost guarantees a story that will quietly sting my soul.

4)  I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron: Because lately I feel bad about my forehead and I want somebody to sympathise with.

5) A Bit Of Earth by Rebecca Smith: Because I liked the cover and Barbara Trapido describes Smith as "the pefect English miniaturist" and I really rather like Barbara Trapido.  (I never said there would be any rhyme nor reason to my choices now did I?)

6) What Do I Do When I Want To Do Everything? by Barbara Sher: Because me and self-help books go together like a matching set of Agent Provocoteur underwear and I simply couldn’t resist discovering whether I’m a scanner. Whatever one of those may be. (Bet ya I am one though).

7) + 8)  Soul Food by Neil Astley: Because Astley edits collections of poems that speak to who I am and 101 Poems That Could Save Your Life by  Daisy Goodwin, because no-one is working harder than Goodwin to make poetry accessible. Yey  for little books of poems!

9) Second Helpings of Roast Chicken by Simon Hopkinson: Because some recipe books become a part of your kitchen and if this is as good as the book it follows it  promises to be a sumptuous pairing of intelligent food writing  with recipes to die for.

10) The Real Mrs Miniver by Ysenda Maxtone Graham:  Because it is always astonishing to read the truth about authors upon whom we cannot help but to project the personalities of their most appealing charcters. That the woman who invented Mrs Miniver should be so very different to her, more complex, sensual, difficult,  shouldn’t be a surprise and yet somehow it is. I can’t wait.

11) Ellie Pride by Annie Groves. Because no visit to the library would be complete without one of my much adored Liverpool sagas. Love em, love em, love em. Like a trashy, cosy, comfy, literary meal of buttery mashed potato and chocolate pudding. Together.

12) You Drive Me Crazy- Love Poems For Real Life by Mary d. Esselman: Yes more poetry, because clearly it is a beautiful, worthy addiction I prefer to call therapy. So sue me.

13) 1001 Little Ways To Save Our Planet by Esme Floyd: Because I truly am trying to be greener, but nibble sized portions are the only way I can manage it. One day at a time. 1000 days to go.

14) The Small Pleasures of Life by Phillipe Delerme: Because  I adore this little ode to the ordinary. Because small pleasures matter and everytime I see this sitting on the shelf I am compelled to take it out and remind myself just why it is so very special all over again. Beg, borrow or steal a copy.

15) Led By The Nose by Jenny Joseph: Because literary gardening books are my latest bedtime crush and this, by a renowned British poet, describes the authors efforts to create a fragrant country garden.

16) The New English Kitchen by Rose Prince: Because I’ve been coveting this book for a Brocante lifetime and there it was minding it’s own business on the air and aviation shelf in the reading room.

So there you have it. Sixteen delectable books for the use of. But where to begin? Which one first? I  will no doubt dally with them all at first before  choosing my first victim…

What are you reading this Autumn? I’d love to know: there is nothing quite like  book recommendations from friends, virtual or otherwise and there is an entire, cosy, gorgeous Winter ahead of us… 


  1. lazy h says:

    Ooh, your books sound lovely!
    I'm going to reading lots of Isak Dinesen's short stories (Isak Dinesen is the pseudonym of Karen Blixen) – dreamy, melancholy, romantic, lots of travellers and storytelling and lovelorn countesses.
    And I'd recommend everyone to read Tove Jansson's Summer Book. It's about a grandmother and her grand-daughter, who spend their summers in a house on a little island. It's charming and very funny, but underpinned with sadness too. I can't do it justice. Do read it! x

  2. Junie Moon says:

    What a great book list–thank you for sharing. I must go now and wend my daring way to my own library with your book list in hand.

  3. So I'm still trying to figure you out a little bit. You write from England, yes? I think some of the books popular there are not as well-known here…I plan to take your reading list to our little California town's libraries and see if there are any available. I'll let you know.

  4. Yep, as I thought. The only one I can get at my library is the one title I recognized…Nora Ephron's. Jenny Joseph's sounds especially appealing to me.

  5. Susan says:

    As an American married to a Brit, I am just *crazy* for all things English, especially BOOKS! Have you read any by Lilian Harry? I devour her books as soon as I can get them… (off Ebay, or on a trip to Canada)- none seem to be published here in the US. I also LOVE Lesley Pearse, Judith Lennox, and many others. I especially love the books set in England during WW2. Oh, Elizabeth Elgin is another huge favorite! I just ordered a book from our local library by Elizabeth Berg – on your recommendation 🙂 Have not read any of her books –yet! Love your blog!!!! Susan

  6. Wendy says:

    Love your blog, would love to be in England as well, Mrs. Miniver is my absolut fave!!, and I am reading the French Leiutenet's Woman. I know it is not as old as some, but one that has drawn my interest. Would also like to know if you know the whereabouts of our dear Isabella in the 21st century? Found her from your site and she has recently fallen off the face of the earth. Do you know if she has changed her blog address? I would really love to know.

  7. kelly says:

    After reading your list I'm thinking of writing a book called: What Do I Read When I Want To Read Everything?!
    I am currently reading (and thoroughly enjoying) The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte. Next up – a non-fiction called The Historian as Detective.
    Thanks for the list!

  8. cd&m says:

    Love to see other peoples book lists, I'm reading The Scarlet Pimpernel at the moment, a lovely vintage edition published in the 50's.

  9. Ali says:

    I've been to the library and have returned empty handed. No Edith Wharton. I fancy The Bucanners and The Age of Innocence. What's worse, the librarian had never heard of her. I kid you not. I just fancy something weightier than chick lit.
    Anyone read Penny Vincenti? I've not read her yet and the novels look good. How about Joanne Trollope? I really enjoyed Marrying the Mistress.
    Ali x

  10. mimi says:

    Aaah, but our library does!But only to use in the library…and they are not a very pretty blue.
    If I may be so bold as to suggest a puttery treat that I shall be doing myself?
    I am going to find myself out a nice wicker basket that I shall use for my library trips proper (when I go to play, rather than work!) and in it I shall put enough pennies for a nice cup of tea out, and my little notebook of books to read, books I have read, authors I have heard on the radio and want to investigate, and so on….
    just an idea!

  11. Julie - an ex-librar says:

    I'm reading:
    Women Artists: An Illustrated History by Nancy G. Heller
    Fit for Real People: Sew Great Clothes Using ANY Pattern (Sewing for Real People series) by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto
    Fat Girl's Guide to Life by Wendy Shanker
    The Fiery Cross (the Outlander series) by Diana Gabaldon
    And don't forget — you can get books through interlibrary loan at your library–just ask!

  12. Sharon S says:

    You must have several weeks to keep library books. We only have two. I read so slow. Two weeks isn't enough to read one book if it's about an inch or more thick – like "An Old Fashioned Girl" by Louisa May Alcott. I'm always late bringing books back to the library.

  13. Denise says:

    Wow! I've been reading your blog for ages!!
    Love the book list!
    Here's some of mine:
    Eat, Pray Love
    Sushi For Beginners
    Into The Wild
    Water For Elephants (bookclub)
    The Kite Runner
    hmmmm…. Is that good for now?
    Cheers, Denise

  14. dianeinjapan says:

    I do love these book lists! I found a couple of lesser-known Edith Wharton books in a used bookshop–I plan to read both of those this Fall. I just started The Careful Use of Compliments (I love Alexander McCall Smith's Isabel Dalhousie series), and I'm about to begin Rebecca's Tale, by Sally Beauman (because I can never get enough of Manderley!).

  15. Lisa says:

    …y'know what, I'm a librarian at the most gorgeous library in a town called Ripon in North Yorkshire. I am constantly surrounded by the most gorgeous books and I barely have the time to read them!! Who'da thunk it!! I must must recommend Amy Tan "The Bonesetter's daughter" and also Arundhati Roy's "The God of Small Things", two of my favourite books. I don't know about anyone else but I tend to read several books at one time, only way to curb my wandering eye! At the moment I'm reading "Not buying it" by Judith Levine and A.A Gill's "The Angry Island" Both are really interesting! x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content