Kate Davies' Book Selection for January 2024
As I write, Storm Gerrit is at full blow and the bookshop is doing it’s best to look cheery and warm. However, with the lights flickering, I’m going to type faster (none of your AI stuff here), starting with a look back over 2023, and some of my favourite books of the year. I make no apologies for repeating myself – these books are worth it!
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. Voted the Independent Bookshops’ Books are My Bag Readers’ Choice in 2023. Keeping with the quirky, a long train journey was greatly improved by my companion: The Dog of the North by Elizabeth McKenzie. Another modern take on a classic story is The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin; we’re discussing the book for our next Book Blether, so I won’t say more here, except to declare that I enjoyed it. It also gave me a good reason to re-read Silas Marner, which I also enjoyed: it was funnier, sharp and far more nuanced than my teenage brain remembered. My list of favourites could go on for some time, but I will content myself with just one more (for now) the BOOKMARK, Book of the Year 2023 winner: Paper Cup by Karen Campbell.
So to 2024, and some new, nearly new and classic books to call out. We start with a favourite BOOKMARK friend, Olga Wojtas and her new book: Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Gondola of Doom.I can also recommend Nature Tales for Winter Nights edited by Nancy Campbell.
While I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions, a new year book adventure is a different matter. This came about when someone asked me which Thomas Hardy novel to read next after Far From the Madding Crowd: The Mayor of Casterbridge was my suggestion, which covers all bases, and is not Jude the Obscure, which should be avoided at all costs! In return I was recommended William Makepeace Thackery’s The Luck of Barry Lyndon, which I’ve never read and sounds great fun! Still working on finding a nice edition, but I’m sure I will.
Finally, January of course rounds off with Burns Night. If, like me, your copy of Robert Burns’ poetry is looking a little overly loved, a possible replacement could be the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets edition of Burns which has many of his most famous poems. Our Burns Night always features newer poets as well, and this year I’m going to be exploring and including some poems from former Scottish Makar, Liz Lochhead: A Handsel: New & Collected Poems. A few lines from ‘Year 2K Email Epistle To Carol Anne Duffy’ sprang off the page as particularly appropriate for use on Burns Night:
… Time marches on. We’re history
By two thousand and something or other, A.D.
If forward though we canna see
We guess and fear,
We’ll live as though we don’t, OK?
From me – Happy New Year.
PS: The Adventure into Books Book Blether group meets at 7pm on the first Wednesday of the month, in the bookshop. On 3rd January, we’ll be blethering about The Storied Life of AJ Fikray by Gabrielle Zevin. Then on 7th February, we’ll be chatting about Paper Cup by Karen Campbell (see above). All are welcome.
For full synopsis of the above titles, please click here