Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!
I’ve had a spending spree this week as I finally spent some of my birthday book vouchers! My birthday was back in January but I have a thing where I like to keep vouchers for a while so I can have a splurge a bit later on in the year!
These are the print & eBooks I bought:
Christodora by Tim Murphy
I’ve had this book on my wish list ever since I heard about it last year. It was published this year so I had to get it! I’m really looking forward to reading this but I’d like to save it for when I have time to read it in big chunks. It won’t be on my TBR for long though.
In this vivid and compelling novel, Tim Murphy follows a diverse set of characters whose fates intertwine in an iconic building in Manhattan’s East Village, the Christodora. The Christodora is home to Milly and Jared, a privileged young couple with artistic ambitions. Their neighbour, Hector, a Puerto Rican gay man who was once a celebrated AIDS activist but is now a lonely addict, becomes connected to Milly’s and Jared’s lives in ways none of them can anticipate. Meanwhile, the couple’s adopted son, Mateo, grows to appreciate the opportunities for both self-realization and oblivion that New York offers.
As the junkies and protestors of the 1980s give way to the hipsters of the 2000s and they, in turn, to the wealthy residents of the crowded, glass-towered city of the 2020s, enormous changes rock the personal lives of Milly and Jared and the constellation of people around them. Moving kaleidoscopically from the Tompkins Square Riots and attempts by activists to galvanize a response to the AIDS epidemic, to the New York City of the future, Christodora recounts the heartbreak wrought by AIDS, illustrates the allure and destructive power of hard drugs, and brings to life the ever-changing city itself.
Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne Valente
I heard about this on a youtube channel and it sounded like a book I had to read. I’m intrigued by the comparisons to Station Eleven as I adored that book. I’m always a bit wary of novels about school shootings as it needs to be handled very carefully and sensitively but I’ve heard really good things about this book. I hope to read this very soon.
The lives of four teenagers are capsized by a shocking school shooting and its aftermath in this powerful debut novel, a coming-of-age story with the haunting power of Station Eleven and the bittersweet poignancy of Everything I Never Told You.
As members of the yearbook committee, Nick, Zola, Matt, and Christina are eager to capture all the memorable moments of their junior year at Lewis and Clark High School—the plays and football games, dances and fund-drives, teachers and classes that are the epicenter of their teenage lives. But how do you document a horrific tragedy—a deadly school shooting by a classmate?
Struggling to comprehend this cataclysmic event—and propelled by a sense of responsibility to the town, their parents, and their school—these four “lucky” survivors vow to honor the memories of those lost, and also, the memories forgotten in the shadow of violence. But the shooting is only the first inexplicable trauma to rock their small suburban St. Louis town. A series of mysterious house fires have hit the families of the victims one by one, pushing the grieving town to the edge.
Nick, the son of the lead detective investigating the events, plunges into the case on his own, scouring the Internet to uncover what could cause a fire with no evident starting point. As their friend pulls farther away, Matt and Christina battle to save damaged relationships, while Zola fights to keep herself together.
New World Fairy Tales by Cassandra Parkin
I’ve been trying to read more short story collections in recent times and this is one I heard about recently and thought it sounded wonderful. I’m excited to read this so will be starting it very soon. (on a side note, I have a fear of dolls though so this cover is terrifying for me…eeek!)
In contemporary America, an un-named college student sets out on an obsessive journey of discovery to collect and record the life-stories of total strangers. The interviews that follow have echoes of another, far more famous literary journey, undertaken long ago and in another world.Drawing on the original, unexpurgated tales collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, six of their most famous works are re-imagined in the rich and endlessly varied landscapes of contemporary America.From the glass towers of Manhattan to the remoteness of the Blue Ridge mountains; from the swamps of Louisiana to the jaded glamour of Hollywood, New World Fairy Tales reclaims the fairy tale for the modern adult audience. A haunting blend of romance and realism, these stripped-back narratives of human experience are the perfect read for anyone who has read their child a bedtime fairy story, and wondered who ever said these were stories meant for children.
First Love by Gwendoline Riley
I’ve been hearing about this book everywhere at the moment and have found myself swept up in the hype and wanting to read it. It’s a short novel that I think I’ll want to read in one sitting so I’ll be starting this in the next few days.
Neve is a writer in her mid-30s married to an older man, Edwyn. For now they are in a place of relative peace, but their past battles have left scars. As Neve recalls the decisions that led her to this marriage, she tells of other loves and other debts, from her bullying father and her self-involved mother to a musician who played her and a series of lonely flights from place to place.
Drawing the reader into the battleground of her relationship, Neve spins a story of helplessness and hostility, an ongoing conflict in which both husband and wife have played a part. But is this, nonetheless, also a story of love?
Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada
This is another book that I’ve had my eye on for a while. It sounds like it could be a heartbreaking and harrowing read at times but also a beautiful read. And look at the cover – isn’t it stunning? I’ll need to be in the right frame of mind to read this one but I definitely want to get to it soon.
Someone tickled me behind my ears, under my arms. I curled up, became a full moon, and rolled on the floor. I may also have emitted a few hoarse shrieks. Then I lifted my rump to the sky and tucked my head beneath my belly: Now I was a sickle moon, still too young to imagine any danger. Innocent, I opened my anus to the cosmos and felt it in my bowels.
A bear, born and raised in captivity, is devastated by the loss of his keeper; another finds herself performing in the circus; a third sits down one day and pens a memoir which becomes an international sensation, and causes her to flee her home.
Through the stories of these three bears, Tawada reflects on our own humanity, the ways in which we belong to one another and the ways in which we are formed. Delicate and surreal, Memoirs of a Polar Bear takes the reader into foreign bodies and foreign climes, and immerses us in what the New Yorker has called ‘Yoko Tawada’s magnificent strangeness’.
How to Survive a Plague: The Story of Activists and Scientists by David France
I saw this book was on the shortlist for the Wellcome prize and knew I had to read it. I’ve found previous picks of theirs to be fascinating reads and I’m sure this will be too. This is a long book so it might be one that I start soon and then read on and off as and when my brain is up to serious non-fiction.
How to Survive a Plague by David France is the riveting, powerful and profoundly moving story of the AIDS epidemic and the grass-roots movement of activists, many of them facing their own life-or-death struggles, who grabbed the reins of scientific research to help develop the drugs that turned HIV from a mostly fatal infection to a manageable disease. Around the globe, the 15.8 million people taking anti-AIDS drugs today are alive thanks to their efforts.
Not since the publication of Randy Shilts’s now classic And the Band Played On in 1987 has a book sought to measure the AIDS plague in such brutally human, intimate, and soaring terms.
Weaving together the stories of dozens of individuals, this is an insider’s account of a pivotal moment in our history and one that changed the way that medical science is practised worldwide.
Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
I’ve heard so many good things about this book so when I spotted it in a Kindle Daily Deal for 99p last weekend I snapped it up. This is only a short book so I hope to find a free afternoon soon where I can sit and read this in one sitting.
It is March 30th 1924.
It is Mothering Sunday.
How will Jane Fairchild, orphan and housemaid, occupy her time when she has no mother to visit? How, shaped by the events of this never to be forgotten day, will her future unfold?
Beginning with an intimate assignation and opening to embrace decades, Mothering Sundayhas at its heart both the story of a life and the life that stories can magically contain. Constantly surprising, joyously sensual and deeply moving, it is Graham Swift at his thrilling best.
Now We Are 40 by Tiffanie Darke
I’ve been wanting to read this book so badly so I decided to treat myself seeing as I had the vouchers, and I started reading it straight away. I’m not quite 40 yet but I’m a Generation X-er (just!), and my husband is in his mid-40s so he definitely is, so this book is bringing back memories.
What happened to Generation X? Millenials dominate our Facebook feeds and people bang on about the baby boomers – but what about us? The lost generation, the middle youth, the middle child of today. Are we still cool?
Generation X? Remember them? The kids who believed they’d never grow up. The generation Douglas Coupland immortalised in his novel of the same name. The wry, knowing navel-gazers obsessed with cool and being cool who today are sandwiched between the boomers of the 60s and the millennials.
Gen X’ers came of age against a backdrop of Britpop and the Spice Girls, Tarantino and Pulp Fiction, Madchester and the Stone Roses, acid house and rave, super clubs, Ministry and Cream. They holidayed in Ibiza high on hooch and E and never ever believed there’d be a comedown.
So whatever happened to them?
We turned 40. And as Tiffanie Darke points out in this witty exploration of the generation who defied generalisation, we’re not handling it all that well…
Where once we wore floaty skirts and Doc Martins, now we’re sporting Scandi fashion and ‘interesting’ trainers. We still party in Ibiza but now bodyboard in Cornwall. Where once mixtapes were the ultimate mating call, now we take selfies and swap Spotify playlists – all the while conspicuously wearing large Dr Beats headphones and casually leaving old packets of Kingsize Rizla lying round our open plan kitchens.
This week I received one ARC:
Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett
I was thrilled to get approved for this on NetGalley as it sounds like such a good read and I’m really looking forward to starting it.
Cass Wheeler – a British singer-songwriter, hugely successful since the early 70s, whose sudden disappearance from the music world three decades later has been the subject of intense speculation among her fans – is in the studio that adjoins her home, taking a journey back into her past. Her task is to choose sixteen songs from among the hundreds she has written since her early teens, for a uniquely personal Greatest Hits record, describing the arc of her life through song.
It has been over a decade since Cass last put out an album; ten years since a tragedy catapulted her into a breakdown. In the course of this one day – both ordinary and extraordinary – each song Cass plays sets off a chain of memories, leading us deep into her past, and into the creative impulse that has underpinned her work.
This is the story of a life – the highs and lows, love and separation, success and failure. Of what it is to live a fulfilled life, and how to make peace with our mistakes.
So, that’s all of my new books from the past week. Have you bought any new books recently? Tell me all in the comments below, or if you have a stacking the shelves post on your blog feel free to post the link below too.
My weekly wrap up post will be on my blog tomorrow so please look out for that.