24 October, 2012

If there's one book you must read... Week #29: The Vogue Edit

First of all I'd like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who follows my blog, I've finally reached 100 followers on Google Friend Connect & am so excited for you all to see the giveaway that I've been planning, more on that to follow...

Anyway, back to business with this week's suggestion(s), yes, I'm trying yet another way to branch out & diversify this list by selecting books that are recommended in November's issue of Vogue (who said you can't be a fashion addict and an intellectual?)

So I recently discovered Vogue's 'Books Round-up' which I was pleasantly surprised by (I'm an Elle girl all the way, I happened to buy Vogue as it was on special offer in Tesco but that's another story!) The feature rounds up the hottest 19 books on the shelves right now, my favourites from the list were:

01. Colm Tóibín -- The Testament of Mary

I'd read some of Tóibín's essays on W.B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, & the Abbey Theatre recently I really enjoyed what he had to say so I was instantly drawn to his newest book.

What Vogue says: 'In powerful, spare prose, the Irish writer reimagines the Virgin Mary as she moves through savage grief to moral rectitude in this short study of exquisite humanity.'

Amazon blurb: 'In a voice that is both tender and filled with rage, The Testament of Mary tells the story of a cataclysmic event which led to an overpowering grief. For Mary, her son has been lost to the world, and now, living in exile and in fear, she tries to piece together the memories of the events that led to her son's brutal death. To her he was a vulnerable figure, surrounded by men who could not be trusted, living in a time of turmoil and change.
As her life and her suffering begin to acquire the resonance of myth, Mary struggles to break the silence surrounding what she knows to have happened. In her effort to tell the truth in all its gnarled complexity, she slowly emerges as a figure of immense moral stature as well as a woman from history rendered now as fully human.' 

Buy The Testament of Mary from Amazon.

02. J.K. Rowling -- The Casual Vacancy 

There's not much that hasn't already been said about this author & having been a huge fan of the Harry Potter series I'm really intrigued to see what her new work is like.

What Vogue says: 'The literary sorceress conjures her first grown-up drama in Pagford, a town riven with quotidian drama over a battle for a seat on the parish council. Wizards are not welcome here.'

Amazon blurb: 'When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty facade is a town at war.
Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils... Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.'

Buy The Casual Vacancy from Amazon.

03. Joseph O'Connor -- Where Have You Been?

O'Connor is another author who I have mentioned repeatedly on here (Star of the Sea, you little beauty!) He has finally released a new collection of short stories which will certainly be on my Christmas list (and did you know he's Sinead O'Connor's brother? Ooohhh!)

What Vogue says: 'In his first collection of short stories for more than 20 years, O'Connor's deftly poignant prose unites tales of old New York, the ghosts of the Celtic Tiger and yuppy London.'

Amazon blurb: 'Where Have You Been? is award-winning novelist Joseph O'Connor's first collection of short stories in more than twenty years. Ranging from urgently contemporary London and Dublin to New York's Lower East Side in the nineteenth century, from dark comedy to poignancy, from the wryly provocative to the quietly beautiful, these stories offer a gathering of dreamers and lost souls who contend with the confusions of living. Here are men without women, children parenting parents, residents of the uncertain country that is post-boom Ireland, emigrants, travellers, cheats and lovers, families, friends and foes. The focus is on those moments of the everyday when possibility seems to appear. A football match becomes an occasion of hard-won acceptances. An old acquaintance re-encountered plays mind-games in a bar. A fling between people who have almost nothing in common alters their lives forever. In Dublin, a desperately ill woman meets a tour guide in a hotel. A civil servant drives his father into Wicklow to say a final goodbye. A boy comes of age in a seaside town where everything is about to change. Where Have You Been? is a powerfully moving, entertaining and life-affirming read, from the internationally acclaimed author of Star of the Sea, Redemption Falls and Ghost Light.

Buy from Where Have You Been? Amazon.

The second half of Vogue's 'Books Round-up' includes nominations from well-known, nice people of their literary highlights of the year & there were two that I felt I had to include: one because I think think the "recommender" is hilariously brilliant, and the second because it's one of my favourite books & an absolute classic in more than one sense of the word.

01. Columnist & author Caitlin Moran recommends:
My Animals and Other Family by Clare Balding, 'whose brilliant Olympics coverage alone will surely see her made a dame in the New Years Honours. Her wry, geeky memoir charts her journey from posh, no-nonesense rider of the Queen's horse to national treasure.'
Buy Clare's book from Amazon.

02. Author David Nicholls nominates the brilliant Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (Nicholls has written the screenplay for the upcoming film adaptation)
What David says: 'Read a book at a certain age, and it will stay with you for a life. For me, it was only ever Great Expectations. How, I wondered, did someone writing in the mid-nineteenth century know exactly how I'd feel in a small south coast town in 1980? Of course, loving a book isn't necessarily the best reason to adapt it - with only 120 minutes of screen time, some painful surgery has been involved - but I wanted our film to act as a corrective for those who think Dickensian means sledgehammer satire, grotesque caricature, absurd coincidence, sentimentality. Great Expectations is a lean, tough, passionate book. It has one of the great plots - if you see the first twist coming, you won't see the second. It is dark and thrilling, tense and violent. It is psychologically subtle and strange, and contains some of the most vivid characters in literature. It's a love story. Most of all, it's an intensely moving story; Joe Gargery's disastrous trip to London, Pip's final words to Magwitch, Miss Havisham's confession... These are wonderful, emotional scenes. Dickens was writing with all his heart and at the peak of his powers. I hope we can do him justice.'
Buy Great Expectations from Amazon.

So, there it is, Vogue's recommendations of the best reads about at the moment. Like I said, I was pleasantly surprised by such a large feature dedicated to literature in such a fashion dominant magazine but it's actually made me want to buy it regularly. Who knows what they might recommend next?

Have you read any of these books or have any thoughts on Vogue's other recommendations this month? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!


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