Home > Book Club, Personal Posts > Book Club 2014 – 2015 : new reading list

Book Club 2014 – 2015 : new reading list

book_club_2Our Book Club is currently reading Time After Time by Molly Keane and will be reading Anna Edes by Dezső Kosztolányi in July. Our new Book Club year starts in August and we’ve already picked the books for the coming year. We’ve chosen books from several countries, several genres, classics and recent ones and I think it will be an exciting reading year. I’ve never read most of the writers we’ve selected, and that’s a bonus. *drums* Here’s the list:

Book title in English

Book title in French




Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me Demain dans la bataille, pense à moi

Javier Marias



The Awakening Eveils

Gaïto Gazdanov



To Kill a Mocking Bird Ne tirez pas sur l’oiseau moqueur

Harper Lee



At Swim-Two-Birds Swim-Two-Birds

Flann O’Brien



The Good Soldier Le bon soldat

Ford Maddox Ford



On the Black Hill Les jumeaux de Black Hill

Bruce Chatwin



The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro La tête perdue de Damasceno Monteiro

Antonio Tabucchi



Not available in English De là on voit la mer

Philippe Besson



Fathers and Sons Pères et fils




Machine Man Non traduit en français

Max Barry



Labor Day Le grand-weekend

Joyce Maynard



Going to Meet the Man

Face à l’homme blanc

James Baldwin



By Marias, I’ve only read All Souls (Le roman d’Oxford in French) and I liked it but not enough to start another one. I’ve seen Marias praised a lot on other blogs, so I’m curious about my response to this one. In September, we’ll read The Awakening by Gaito Gazdanov. It is set in France, in Provence, even if Gazdanov is a Russian writer. So no promenades in sleight in this Russian novel but garigue expected. Then we’ll move to the USA. I suppose most of you have already read To Kill a Mocking Bird but we haven’t. I’m glad it’s on the list, I’ve wanted to read it for a long time. After that, we’ll fly back to Ireland and read At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien. He’s also a new writer to me and from the blurb of the book, I think that At Swim-Two-Birds should be right in my alley. Let’s hope the English isn’t too difficult or too full of Irish words I’ve never heard of.

According to Hemingway in A Moveable Feast, Ford Maddox Ford’s body odour was intolerable. That’s TMI to me, I’m not interested in writers’ bodily details unless they turn them into literature like Philip Roth. So I hope reading The Good Soldier will help me put Ford Maddox Ford back on his disembodied literary pedestal and that his prose will be so good it will erase any impression of him left by Hemingway.

Chatwin_Black_HillThen we’ll move our literary feast to Wales with On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin. The cover of its Penguin edition is consistent with my memories of Wales: lots of sheep. I’ve heard it’s an excellent book, so it should be a wonderful reading moment in January, the month made to read on the couch by a fire. Perhaps we’ll still be sitting there in February to read The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro by Antonio Tabucchi. Isn’t that an intriguing title? It’s a dark novel set in Porto. After reading a novel set in Portugal and written by an Italian writer, we’ll head to Italy with a French writer and discover De là on voit la mer by Philippe Besson. (From There, You See the Sea, not available in English, yet.) I’m happy to have a Besson on the list, I’ve loved to two ones I’ve read  (En l’absence des hommes and Un homme accidentel) and I highly recommend him. I find his prose addicting, it carries me away like a leaf in the autumn wind.

Then we’ll have something totally different with Fathers and Sons by Turgenev, another writer I’ve never read. Fathers and Sons is his masterpiece, I’m looking forward to it. After this classic, I’ll be delighted to meet with Max Barry again and read his Machine Man. Company, Syrup and Jennifer Government were fantastic, the kind of books you want to buy to your friends. I love Barry’s sense of humour and insight. We will finish our booking year with two American novels. We won’t read Labor Day by Joyce Maynard in September but in June, just before reading stories by James Baldwin.

I’m looking forward to this new reading year and of course, I’ll share my impressions of these books with you in future billets. Have you read any of these books?

  1. June 8, 2014 at 12:23 am

    Time After Time and Ana Edes are both excellent. As for the future, well I think you’ll enjoy the Turgenev and the Gazdanov too. I think you already know that The Good Soldier is one of my favourite books.


    • June 8, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      I think you gave me the idea of Time After Time.
      I’m looking forward to reading all these books.


  2. June 8, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    What a fascinating and varied selection, Emma. I love hearing about book group selections.


    • June 8, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      Thanks! I think we’ll have a great reading year.


  3. Brian Joseph
    June 8, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    That looks like such a great list. I hate to admit such predictability but I have only read “To Kill a Mocking Bird.”

    All the books look to be worthy reads but I have been wanting to read Fathers and Sons soon.


    • June 9, 2014 at 11:10 am

      Ah! Now I’m curious to see if every commenter here has read To Kill a Mocking Bird.
      Will you join us for Fathers and Sons?


      • June 9, 2014 at 12:22 pm

        Yes, I have … and my kids (in Australia) did it at school.


  4. June 8, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Such a wonderful reading list, Emma! Harper Lee, Bruce Chatwin, Antonio Tabucchi, Philippe Besson, Ivan Turgenev, James Baldwin – all so wonderful! From your list though, I have read only Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (though I have read other books / stories by Turgenev, Tabucchi and Baldwin). If you do get the chance, do try watching the movie version of Harper Lee’s book too. It is equally wonderful. Happy reading!


    • June 9, 2014 at 11:12 am

      Another reader of To Kill a Mocking Bird! Thanks for the film recommendation.


  5. June 8, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    I looked at Labor Day but then tried the film instead. I thought it a bit fanciful.


    • June 9, 2014 at 11:13 am

      It’s a short book, we’ll see.


  6. June 8, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    BTW I read a wonderful book: Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles Shields. I know you don’t care for author info much, but the book was much more than that as it delved into Lee’s relationship w/Capote and the rumours that HE wrote most of this book, not Harper. Really really fascinating & highly recommended if you feel so inclined.


    • June 9, 2014 at 11:15 am

      Why would he write the book and not claim it?
      I’ve started To Kill A Mocking Bird once and abandoned it. (the child narrator bothered me) I’ll see how it goes this time.


      • June 10, 2014 at 3:30 am

        It took Harper Lee years to write this, and she never published a second book. She grew up next door to Truman Capote & she helped him with his research into the murders of the Clutter family–this research became In Cold Blood. Rumours began that he’d ghostwritten his book, and according to the book I read, he didn’t exactly argue against those tales.


        • June 10, 2014 at 3:34 am

          BTW, I should add the author of the bio denied the possibility that Capote wrote or ‘helped’ Harper Lee in any way as she was basically under the guidance of an editor who saw the fragmented novel in the early stages and as it developed into the novel.


          • June 12, 2014 at 9:34 pm

            Thanks to this editor then. Is the book based upon real events?


        • June 12, 2014 at 9:33 pm

          I wonder why he let these rumours go.


  7. June 9, 2014 at 10:55 am

    I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird which became a favourite and On The Black Hill which is the only Chatwin I read that I can hardly remember. I think he’s better in his creative nonfiction but it’s not a bad book at all.


    • June 9, 2014 at 11:29 am

      Another reader of To Kill a Mocking Bird.
      What’s creative non-fiction?


      • June 9, 2014 at 1:34 pm

        Memoir, personal essays, even biography, depending on the style.


        • June 9, 2014 at 2:22 pm

          Yes but what’s the difference between non-fiction and creative non-fiction?


  8. June 9, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    I’ve seen the movie of To Kill, can’t recall if I’ve read it or not. It’s not bad. I saw a good theatrical production of it recently too.

    Otherwise, nice list. You have a better book group than most.


    • June 9, 2014 at 9:34 pm

      Thanks. We have similar tastes and pick books we all want to read. That helps.


    • June 9, 2014 at 9:31 pm

      One American reader who has not read To Kill a Mocking Bird, even in school!

      Thanks for the explanation about creative non-fiction. That’s what Promise at Dawn and White Dog are.


      • leroyhunter
        June 10, 2014 at 10:50 am

        Chatwin, on writing his most famous book:
        “”I once made the experiment of counting up the lies in the book I wrote about Patagonia”, Chatwin confessed, adding impishly; “It wasn’t in fact, too bad”.


        • June 12, 2014 at 9:35 pm

          ha ha. So creative non-fiction is like creative accounting: it’s all about cooking the books.


          • June 17, 2014 at 11:03 am

            As the popular saying goes, it looks like Chatwin didn’t let the truth get in the way of a good story 🙂 I didn’t know that Romain Gary also write creative nonfiction!


            • June 18, 2014 at 11:18 pm

              Don’t believe everything Gary wrote in Promise at Dawn.


              • June 21, 2014 at 7:16 am

                That is interesting 🙂 Next time I read a Gary memoir, I will keep that in mind. Maybe treat it like fiction.


  9. June 9, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    I do not seem to have closed that tag. I will try to close it here, just in case. Sorry!


    • June 9, 2014 at 9:33 pm

      No worries, it was closed.


  10. June 10, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Quite an enviable list – maybe I should abandon what I’m reading and read what you’re reading (by the way, Damasceno Monteiro is set in Porto, not Lisboa, which does not detract in any way from its being a novel well worth reading).


    • June 12, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      You can hop on our reading train anytime you want.

      Thanks for telling me about Lisboa/Porto, I’ll update the billet.


  11. June 13, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    I’m another American who never read “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I think I once had a Tequila Mockingbird (tequila, crème de menthe, lime). The only book on that list I’ve read is “At Swim-Two-Birds,” which is delightful. I don’t think you’ll have trouble with his English.


    • June 13, 2014 at 11:26 pm

      Right, so two of you haven’t read Harper Lee.
      Creme de menthe? Do you say it in French or has the English language imported French words?


  12. June 14, 2014 at 2:57 am

    French words do get imported into English, often with English pronunciation. “Crème de menthe” is often pronounced with the English th. One of the odder borrowings is “chaise longue,” which becomes “chaise lounge.”


    • June 14, 2014 at 7:30 am

      So crème de menthe it is (I have to confess I’ve never seen any bottle of this here but I’m not very knowledgeable in alcohol) Do you use crème de cassis too?

      I knew about chaise lounge. We’ve got ” Frenchised” English words too.


  13. June 14, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Yes, crème de cassis stays untranslated. I recently translated some French cocktail recipes from the 1890s, and had to leave some of those liqueurs in the original.


    • June 14, 2014 at 7:44 pm

      I figured it stayed untranslated, like Kir Royal I suppose. So are 19thC cocktails very different from today’s ones?


  14. June 14, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    Well, some of the recipes are different. They’re often sweeter; and some use eggs, which you don’t see much these days.


    • June 18, 2014 at 11:19 pm

      Raw eggs are a bit off limits this century.


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