Reading for Late Summer Days

It’s the time of les vacances in Brussels. The streets are quiet. The parks are deserted, especially during the week. This summer tourists have taken the warnings of their home countries to heart and have mostly stayed away. I have the city to myself. So I take a book to a park, sit on the grass and read. (It’s a rare luxury in these parts, a fact demonstrated by the distinct lack of outdoor scenery in my picture. It started raining just when I had time for a photography session.)

books summer recommendations

The question then becomes what book to pick. A romance, a detective novel or a great classic? Walt Whitman once commented that the only reason he didn’t become overwhelmed by a steady diet of Sophocles, Homer, Aeschylus, and Dante was “likely because I read them… in the full presence of Nature, under the sun, with the far-spreading landscape and vistas, or the sea rolling in.” My selection is less lofty–simply some of my new and old favorites.

Agota Kristof The Illiterate

It’s fitting that I discovered the work of a Hungarian writing in French while reading a book by an American author writing in Italian. In her explorations of self and language, In Other Words (see my review), Jhumpa Lahiri mentioned being touched by Kristof’s experience. Kristof was born in Hungary and moved to Switzerland in 1956 as a refugee, and while she gained safety, she ended up in a social desert as she lost her language. The Illiterate is a series of stories about her love of reading, her family, her writing. They are tragic but also hopeful, and I related to them. I didn’t cross a frontier as an infant and didn’t have to work at a Swiss watch factory while writing poetry in my spare minutes, but having left the place where I was born, relatives, friends, and the familiar language(s), I can understand the anguish.

Kristof’s novel The Notebook, which won a number of European awards, is probably the most logical start, but L’analphabète (The Illiterate) is a gem. Lucid and honest.

Isaac Babel The Odessa Tales

Perhaps, one could start off one’s vacation with lighter reading than a collection of stories about the brutality of war, so I will save the discussion of Babel’s Red Cavalry for another time and showcase The Odessa Tales today. To be sure, for all of their wit and irony, The Odessa Tales aren’t light reading either. There are no good guys. There are no happy endings. On the other hand, few other writers are capable of capturing human nature and the absurdity and beauty of life as well as Babel, and for this reason his portrait of Odessa, a port city on the southern coast of Ukraine, and its Jewish neighborhood of Moldovanka is vivid and powerful.

William Dalrymple The City of Djinns

Delhi was the first place I visited in India more than 10 years ago, and it was where I got to know my future husband. My recollections of it from that visit, the tall charming lad notwithstanding, were mostly negative–crowds, heat, the stench of sewers. I now understand that the problem was with me, more so than with Delhi. If I would have let go of my expectations, I might have discovered some of the most beautiful architecture in the world, taste some of the most interesting foods and smell jasmine so heady and rich it would make all other flowers seem wan. I have since returned to Delhi and found its various layers, fragrant and noxious. One of the books that helped along the way was The City of Djinns by Dalrymple. Highly recommended for all, including arm chair travelers.

Rabindranath Tagore The Home and The World

Ezra Pound and W.B. Yeats first extolled Rabindranath Tagore as the great spiritual mystic of India and then, just as dramatically, renounced him as an out of touch guru. The tendency in the West to see all of India in spiritual terms is nothing new, but Tagore’s work is much more complex to be so pigeonholed. A contemporary of Gandhi, he was a prolific writer and social thinker. He was an advocate of education for all and established a school in Shantiniketan (the Nobel prize winner Amartya Sen is an alumnus.)

Tagore’s Bengali poetry is versatile and touches on a multitude of topics. His essays on patriotism, sectarian conflicts, modernity and education are still relevant. I love his novels for their sensitivity and observations on society and traditions, and also for his remarkable female characters. For instance, Bimala of The Home and The World is headstrong and has convictions that are different from those of her husband. She’s not afraid to state her opinions and cross the boundaries of what was appropriate for a woman of her time.

Marina Tsvetayeva, Boris Pasternak and Rainer Maria Rilke Letters

“Boris, this is not a real letter. The real ones are never committed to paper. Today, for instance, while pushing Mursik’s carriage along an unfamiliar road–roads–turning here, turning there, seeing things for the first time, enjoying the bliss of being on hard ground at last (sand, sea), stroking some prickly flowering plants in passing as one strokes a strange dog, I talked to you all the time.” Marina Tsvetayeva to Boris Pasternak

“What to say: all my words (as though they had been in your letter, as if facing a staged scene), all my words want to go out to you at the same time; none of them lets another pass.” Rainer Maria Rilke to Marina Tsvetayeva

“How happy I am to be writing to you. In your company I become more pure, more tranquil. Basically you and I think alike, You misunderstood my jocular fear of ‘falling in love.'” Boris Pasternak to Marina Tsvetayeva

The year is 1926 and three poets are exchanging letters. It’s a love triangle, but it’s unfulfilled. The words that touched me–no, hit me, engulfed me and left me feeling out of breath–are those of Tsetayeva. Pasternak and Rilke can barely keep up with her.

The New York Review of Books published a new collection in 2001, which includes letters only recently discovered in the archives. If you read Russian, look for the most recent publications, since they will be the most complete. There are lots of letters that are still being discovered and published, so the story is ongoing.

tale of Genji Hiroshige

Murasaki Shikibu The Tale of Genji

The Tale of Genji is sometimes called the world’s first modern novel. Completed around 1010 CE, it has an intricate plot, well-drawn characters, emotional depth and lyrical writing. The translation I liked the most is by Royall Tyler. It avoids the archaisms that pass for 11th century Japanese prose, and the style is elegant and crisp. If you’ve read Sei Shonagon’s The Pillow Book and enjoyed her biting remarks, here is your chance to meet her chief rival and another literary grand dame, Murasaki Shikibu. The two writers, like their books, are very different.

The Tale of Genji was written to entertain the court women, for whom books were the main source of entertainment. It follows the romantic adventures of Genji, an emperor’s son, but who is demoted to a commoner to remove him from the line of succession. There is love, betrayal, passion, reflection, and lots of poetry. For an afternoon, imagine yourself as a lady-in-waiting whose most urgent pursuit is to pen a poem to her lover and select the proper shade of wisteria for her kimono lining–and enjoy Lady Murasaki’s stories.

Alberto Manguel A History of Reading

Reading about reading? Yes, why not, especially if you have an erudite and engaging companion like Alberto Manguel. Manguel was a teenager when he became a reader to the writer Jorge Luis Borges (Borges went blind when he was only 55 years old.) Manguel noted Borges’s commentaries and views, including his least favorite lines in literature, such as Keats’s “The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold.” This experience changed Manguel’s relationship to a book, and besides his translation, fiction and editing work, he has produced a body of interesting essays on reading.

In A History of Reading, Manguel takes you from the plains of ancient Syria to the American southern plantations as he explores how reading as an activity and intellectual pursuit took shape. You meet saints, scribes, censors, poets, emperors, slaves, sages, and of course, writers and readers, along the way. (And discover in passing that Rilke liked the Houbigant lotion.) Manguel’s focus is mostly on Europe, but he’s sensitive to different influences. He also has a separate chapter dedicated to The Pillow Book and The Tale of Genji, which already made him a writer (and reader) after my heart.

What are you reading now? What has been on your summer reading list?

1st image: photography by Bois de Jasmin, all rights reserved. 2nd image: Hiroshige ukiyo-e, (1852), a scene from The Tale of Genji, via Wiki-images, some rights reserved.

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146 Comments

  • Annette: What a beautiful post! You make me curious to read Tsvetayeva’s letters exchanged with Pasternak. I was moved by the excerpt posted. I read Doctor Zhivago but his poetry. August 8, 2016 at 8:43am Reply

    • Annette: But *not* his poetry! August 8, 2016 at 8:44am Reply

      • Victoria: I should add that I prefer his poetry, although there is always the issue of translation. August 8, 2016 at 12:31pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Annette! August 8, 2016 at 12:29pm Reply

  • Erri: I’m preparing for my prelims this summer. Meaning lots of technical lit on my reading list. But I read Stoner and it was my reading-summer-highlight. I also read Yanagihara’s A Little Life and I’m still shell-shocked. I can’t decide if I liked or hated it. Anyone else read it? Thoughts? August 8, 2016 at 8:53am Reply

    • Annikky: I plan to read it starting next week (have been a coward for too long) – I thought her The People in the Trees was genius. August 8, 2016 at 10:32am Reply

      • Victoria: I would love to hear what you liked about The People in the Trees? (Admittedly, “liked” is a bland word to use when talking about this book. 🙂 I haven’t read it yet, mostly because I’ve been doing the archival work on the 1930s and 40s in Eastern Europe, and I think that I have immersed myself into as much suffering as it’s possible to take. But I know that many describe Yanagihara’s writing as incredibly moving, jolting. August 8, 2016 at 12:48pm Reply

        • Annikky: You are right, ‘like’ is no the right word for it, especially considering the difficult topics it tackles. I’m not sure I’m up to the task of analysing it properly, but a few things: first of all, I think she is just a very good writer – not so much in the sense of being a great stylist, but having an ability to capture the meaning and nuances of life. Second, the number of themes she brings together – from colonialism to family dynamics to the allowences we make for ‘important’ people – in what is in a way a simple, linear story is impressive. Third (and this is what I believe upsets people) is her way of conveying moral complexities. It will be tough reading for people who think describing something, or even letting characters to get away with something, means approval or endorsement. I didn’t think it was without fault, I in fact found the main narrative device that many people praise unconvincing and artificial, but that wasn’t the point for me anyway. I’m still thinking about the book occasionally and I don’t remember reading many contemporary authors and thinking: she really is a special talent. August 8, 2016 at 1:36pm Reply

          • Victoria: Thank you. The last point you made recalls Babel, especially Red Cavalry. Clearly, it would upset people who want for there to be good and bad guys. For good guys to be victorious and for the bad ones to be punished. August 8, 2016 at 2:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: I will start Stoner once I finish my current novel (Orhan Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence), but as for A Little Life, no, I haven’t read it yet. August 8, 2016 at 12:32pm Reply

      • Annikky: How is Pamuk? I have it somewhere, I’m pretty certain… August 8, 2016 at 1:37pm Reply

        • Victoria: I like his style (as far as my French translation captures it) and his way of examining the minute details of an emotional state. At the same time, this can also make the novel grindingly slow. But whenever I put it down, I soon start thinking about it again. I also like that he uses Istanbul of the 70s almost as a protagonist, rather than a simple backdrop. August 8, 2016 at 2:23pm Reply

  • Esme: Last summer I read Miklos Banffy’s Transylavian Trilogy which was absolutely engrossing. He is known as the Tolstoy of Hungary.

    This summer I am reading some Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. I just finished “Sapiens” by Yuval Harari. August 8, 2016 at 10:01am Reply

    • Victoria: I read Banffy a few years ago, and I enjoyed it. I suppose that those who like books like the Forsyte Saga will find a good read in Banffy’s Transylavian Trilogy.

      I’ve been watching the Sherlock Holmes series with Benedict Cumberbatch. August 8, 2016 at 12:36pm Reply

  • Sylvia: Hi Victoria, I saw William Dalrymple and Kamila Shamsie in conversation with the differences between India & Pakistan, at Borris, a very interesting evening!
    For Summer time reading, try Dirty Love by Andre Dubus, or for more domestic dramas, anything by Richard Yates : Revolutionary Road.

    Great blog! By the way, love Une fleur de cassie, can you recommend other fragrances… Thanks! August 8, 2016 at 10:29am Reply

    • Victoria: I heard Dalrymple speak before, and judging by the poignant themes Shamsie isn’t afraid to raise in her novels, I can just imagine what a fascinating discussion it must have been. Shamsie’s A God in Every Stone is brilliant, by the way.

      Thank you, Sylvia. Are you looking for another mimosa perfume or just something with a similar feel? August 8, 2016 at 12:44pm Reply

      • Sylvia: Ah…great question … I’m not so sure, Une fleur took it 3 samples before I fell in love with it….I love the dirty beginning & then how it smells so powdery as it dries down… I also adore Chanel No 22, there are similarities, Carnal Flower is perhaps only for nights…it’s a bit overpowering.

        Perhaps something with a similar feel…any recommendations would be helpful!

        I’ll check out A God in Every Stone, Shamsie is a fiesty opponent! August 8, 2016 at 1:31pm Reply

        • Karen A: A suggestion for a similar feel to UFdC, 24 Faulborg by Hermes. Recently I received a sample (thanks Notturno7), and my initial thought was that it and UFdC seemed like glamorous (rich) cousins. August 8, 2016 at 2:26pm Reply

          • Sylvia: Wonderful Karen! Many thanks for that recommendation… I look forward to checking that out! I love the ‘glamorous’ aspect…cannot wait till I make a trip to the city!

            Thanks Victoria also for the Jo Malone suggestion; I recall that scent…but perhaps I felt it was a bit linear at the time… I must try it out again August 8, 2016 at 3:19pm Reply

            • Victoria: In that case, it may not be the best option. I was originally going to mention Yves Saint Laurent Cinema, but it might be discontinued. Another perfume that comes to mind for a glamorous character (but airy, radiant) is Hermessence Cuir d’Ange. August 8, 2016 at 3:28pm Reply

              • Sylvia: Victoria, sounds like a great suggestion & I just checked out your review of it… The violet notes sound delightful..much appreciated, hopefully the silage won’t disappoint! August 8, 2016 at 4:28pm Reply

                • Victoria: I should amend the review, because I find that even when I stop smelling it, others can perceive it. I’ve been receiving more compliments on it than any other perfume lately. August 9, 2016 at 4:22am Reply

                  • Sylvia: Wow, so maybe the star rating will change too…! Thanks for the update. August 9, 2016 at 5:08am Reply

                    • Victoria: Still might be a four star perfume, as I don’t have the same rush from it as from some others to which I gave a 5. But it’s very good! August 9, 2016 at 12:28pm

        • Victoria: I agree with Karen’s recommendation, and I also suggest trying Jo Malone Mimosa & Cardamom for a light, cologne-like perfume that also has mimosa. August 8, 2016 at 2:49pm Reply

          • Kari: Seconded. It’s light but not weak, if that makes sense-I catch wafts of mimosa as if I’m passing by real flowers. I love to layer this fragrance with Jo Malone Nutmeg and Ginger. August 9, 2016 at 9:50pm Reply

            • Victoria: I love this idea, and I’d like to try it. August 10, 2016 at 12:07pm Reply

              • Kari: It’s a delicious combination. The cardamom is beautiful but fleeting, so adding the nutmeg and ginger keeps the spice and mimosa going a bit longer, which is what I love. The Jo Malone rep at Nordstrom who sold the fragrances to me had me try them layered after testing each one separately, and I loved the effect. August 10, 2016 at 9:56pm Reply

                • Victoria: It makes me wish for a truffle scented with mimosa and cardamom. August 12, 2016 at 9:14am Reply

  • Annikky: A beautiful list. I very much want to read In Other Words and Dalrymple has been on my list for ages…

    I spent a big part of July reading the Mitford-Waugh letters (so slow!), but the highlights were in fact no-fiction: Tamin Ansary Destiny Disrupted and Richard Holmes The Age of Wonder. Reading non-fiction at the moment, too – The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee. I’m on page 20, but I already feel it’s going to be magnificent.

    I’ll also steel myself and will get to A Little Life later in August. August 8, 2016 at 10:39am Reply

    • Victoria: Reading correspondence is never like reading a novel, and the Mitford-Waugh letters, fascinating as they were, occasionally made me exasperated. Waugh clearly wants to dazzle and impress, and sometimes the effect is strained. But, oh boy, those are a dynamic duo.

      I’m off to check out The Age of Wonder! August 8, 2016 at 12:52pm Reply

      • Victoria: P.S. I also liked Ansary’s Destiny Disrupted. He does a good job explaining the unexplainably complex events and presenting a different vantage point. August 8, 2016 at 12:53pm Reply

        • Annikky: I hesitated to mention it, as I thought that for you it’s too much of a beginner’s book. But there might be others who are interested in the history of Islam and it is a great introduction. Plus useful for people who might be familiar with the events, but from a more conventionally Western viewpoint. August 8, 2016 at 1:41pm Reply

      • Annikky: Exactly. And I think Mitford-Waugh letters are even more complicated to read because they are such gosspis. So if you want to diligently follow every sentence, it can get pretty demanding.

        I think you might enjoy The Age of Wonder, if you get the chance to read it. The idea that science and art, research and wonder are closely linked, not opposites, is likely close to your heart as well. Holmes is a great biographer and I liked that it’s a collection of smaller life stories with a theme, rather than a story of one person. Also, I think you’d appreciate Caroline Herschel! August 8, 2016 at 1:47pm Reply

        • Victoria: I took advantage of a gift certificate my mom gave me, so I ordered The Age of Wonder. Yes, you’re right, it sounds exactly like the book I’d like. August 8, 2016 at 3:16pm Reply

  • Eric: Funny, I could not finest Royall Tyler’s translation as the yearly promotions of the cast confused me every chapter. I did love the web of footnotes though, something that when I finally finished it (Seidensticker’s) I knew I had only brushed the surface. To be fair, Tyler is the most faithful translator, and he did a wonder with the poetry as well, but the roundabout nature of the writing made it very hard for me to continue. Though even when I finally finished it I realized I did not enjoy it! One day I’ll try again.

    I picked up a book of 20 translated Noh plays from translator Arthur Waley that I found at a used book store that I’ve been eagerly dipping my toes into, but this summer I’ve had class so my reading time has been curtailed. August 8, 2016 at 10:48am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a fair criticism. I think that all three English translations I’ve read (Waley, Seidensticker, Tyler) have their flaws, but then again, the last time I read the other two was at the university. Perhaps, my opinion will change if I actually compare them side by side. Waley’s style is probably the most beautiful of the three, although he embellished a lot and omitted some chapters.

      I ended up ordering a copy of Waley’s translation of Noh plays thanks to your comment. Thank you very much, Eric! August 8, 2016 at 1:01pm Reply

      • Eric: Waley has a wonderful way with words but from what I heard it isn’t quite a faithful translation. In that regard I find Seidenstiker to be a happy middle ground. Let us know how you enjoy the Noh play translations! August 11, 2016 at 12:22am Reply

        • Victoria: Some chapters read like he made up his own stories. 🙂 But his writing style is the liveliest. August 12, 2016 at 9:15am Reply

  • Bonnie: The Expected One by Kathleen McGowan is first of a trilogy about a woman uncovering heretofore hidden gospels. It was an intriguing look into the Languedoc region of France and the miserable end to the Cathar people. Now I’m on the second in the series, The Book of Love. The writing is a little over-romantic but the subject matter of long-lost writings and thoughts is very consuming. August 8, 2016 at 10:56am Reply

    • Victoria: The topic by itself sounds fascinating! August 8, 2016 at 1:02pm Reply

  • Elisa: I’ve been on a translation kick. I read two novels by Javier Marias (especially loved A Heart So White!) and just finished a rather disturbing Slovenian novel called The Succubus. August 8, 2016 at 11:08am Reply

    • Victoria: Who is the author of The Succubus? August 8, 2016 at 1:03pm Reply

      • Elisa: Vlado Zabot. August 8, 2016 at 1:35pm Reply

        • Elisa: I’m adding Agota Kristof to my library list! August 8, 2016 at 1:41pm Reply

          • Victoria: One of my favorite discoveries this year. August 8, 2016 at 3:00pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you. When I googled the title alone lots of graphic novels came up, but I suspected that you read something else. August 8, 2016 at 2:50pm Reply

  • Sandra: I can’t remember the last time I picked up a book for pleasure. Its been all kids books these day (which brings me a lot of pleasure)
    I will take note of you recommendations.

    I do read everyday, but its the WSJ we get delivered, and lots of magazines, Time & The New Yorker..

    On an unrelated topic, I ordered the Kate liquid eyeliner off amazon that you talked about a long time ago. I was waiting to finish what I had, the delivery will take a long time but I hope its worth it! August 8, 2016 at 12:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: What are your reading to your little one? I had such a great time reading to my friend’s daughter this summer. It made me realize how many wonderful children’s books there are out there.

      I hope that you enjoy Kate eyeliner. Funny that you mentioned it, because I’ve just fired off an email to a friend visiting Tokyo to buy a few extra pens for me. August 8, 2016 at 1:06pm Reply

    • Gabriela: What are your favorite children´s books? August 8, 2016 at 1:17pm Reply

      • spe: Charlotte’s Web. August 9, 2016 at 9:31am Reply

    • Sandra: What children’s books did you read to your friends daughter? I can really use some ideas these days.. August 8, 2016 at 1:26pm Reply

      • Victoria: I read to her Pushkin’s fairy tales, Winnie the Pooh, and Moominsummer Madness. August 8, 2016 at 2:48pm Reply

    • Sandra: I read a lot of winnie the pooh as well, disney stories, my brother in law lives in Holland so we read a lot of Miffy and Jip & Jannake books that they bring from there. August 9, 2016 at 5:52am Reply

      • rainboweyes: What age is your little one, if you don’t mind my asking? August 9, 2016 at 3:31pm Reply

        • Sandra: 20 months and 6 months August 11, 2016 at 6:41am Reply

  • Figuier: What a wonderful list! With intriguing new authors for me on it (Kristof and Babel) that are now on my own ‘to read’ list.

    I also love that you mention both Dalrymple – I think my favorite book of his is White Mughals, but City of Djinns is great too – and Manguel’s History of Reading.I first encountered the latter at the age of 21. I found it so exhilarating that I agonized over starting each new chapter, dreading approaching end of the book’s delights.

    I’m currently mostly reading for work, but am managing to fit in some poetry as well, including re-readings of Rimbaud’s Illuminations and, in a spirit of valediction, my favourite Geoffrey Hill collection, Scenes from Comus. August 8, 2016 at 12:54pm Reply

    • Figuier: *the* end August 8, 2016 at 12:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: I have a feeling that many people who enjoy reading would find Manguel to be a special discovery. The chapter on writing The History of Reading (as opposed A History of Reading) alone is worth a trip to the library.

      Babel’s writing is poetic and brutally honest, not to mention complex and nuanced (but the style is pared down). Of course, if you can, read Red Cavalry too. One of my favorite lines in literature is “Over the town roamed the homeless moon. And I went along with her, warming up in my heart impossible dreams and discordant songs.” It’s from Red Cavalry. August 8, 2016 at 1:17pm Reply

      • Figuier: Beautiful! Thanks for the taster. I look forward to discovering more. August 10, 2016 at 4:28pm Reply

  • Alicia: What a superb list! I envy you, since I have been writing a prologue on Virgil in the Spanish Renaissance, which I haven’t finished yet, and preparing material for the influence of Dante’s episode of Paolo and Francesca (Dante’s inferno) upon two Argentine writers.Because of the latter I read a charming crime novel (not exactly detective type) which you might enjoy, Marco Denevi, Rosa at ten o’clock. I also reread The invention of Morel, by Adolfo Bioy Casares, Borges’s best friend. Another short novel is Ernesto Sábato, The Tunnel, which Camus and Malraux admired. Otherwise it has been mostly scholarly material, and more will be coming, since soon I’ll move to Berkeley for further research. How I would like to read again The Tale of Genji instead of so much arid material! That History of Reading will come to my hands pretty soon; it’s just too tempting. You tempt me with so many things, perfumes, of course, soaps, food (I bought some rose jam), and now books. Thank you, Victoria. August 8, 2016 at 1:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: How can you be envious when you’re working on such a fascinating topic! By the way, I found Manguel’s description of Dante’s effect on him moving. And I just started reading Silvina Ocampo’s stories. They’re beautiful. It all makes me wish that I too had more time in my day for reading. This summer it was a little bit easier, since I spent so much time on the road. Writing during a bumpy bus ride is complicated, but reading is possible.

      I’ve added The invention of Morel and The Tunnel to my list. I also love your recommendations. August 8, 2016 at 2:46pm Reply

      • Alicia: I am delighted that you like Silvina Ocampo’s stories. She was the wife of Bioy Casares. Borges went every week to dine at their home.It was well known that she was an awful cook (and stingy with her servings), but for many years Borges went faithfully there. Very likely he decided that an immensely witty conversation was pleasure enough, even with an empty stomach. Bioy Casares was one of the most handsome men in the city, and a fervent womanizer, but he admired Silvina, who knew that he always returned to her. August 8, 2016 at 8:13pm Reply

        • Victoria: Her writing is poetic and sharp, a brilliant combination. Like many talented women who lived with talented men, she ended up overshadowed by Bioy Casares, but I hope that the NYRB reissue of her stories will bring her writing more into the public eye. Thank you for sharing this story. I can imagine Borges leaving hungry and intellectually satisfied. 🙂 Manguel also shares a terrific story about overhearing his mother at the book store scolding Borges for studying Anglo-Saxon, whereas he should have learned “something more useful like Greek or Latin.” August 9, 2016 at 4:26am Reply

          • Alicia: My friend, Silvina was not overshadowed by Bioy but by her phenomenal sister, Victoria Ocampo, a woman who was at the axis of the Argentine intellectual life. She internationalized it, inviting to her home philosophers like Ortega y Gasset, poets like Tagore and Juan Ramón Jiménez…By the way, Victoria was the first woman to drive a car in Buenos Aires. The Ocampo family was extremely wealthy, even more than Bioy Casares, who also belonged to a landowning family. Silvina was much more timid and introverted than her spectacular sister. She was also more complex and original than Victoria. Nevertheless Silvina is much admired and increasingly so. A large part of Victoria’s prestige was due to SUR, the literary journal she founded and directed, where Borges, Bioy, Sabato, Cortazar together with international luminaries published, some of them for the first time. In short, Victoria became an icon in Latin American letters. Now that together with her the visits of intellectual celebrities and Sur itself are gone, Silvina is shining on her own. Sometimes it seems to me that Victoria was a comet, and Silvina is a star. August 9, 2016 at 8:13am Reply

            • Victoria: I think that both of them have been overshadowed. At least, in the North America and Europe. So little get translated in English anyway, and there are many biases, especially against female writers. I’m glad, however, that Silvina Ocampo’s work is getting its much delayed recognition. August 9, 2016 at 9:05am Reply

  • Gabriela: I have just finisehd two wonderful books.
    On parole by Yoshimura and Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. August 8, 2016 at 1:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: These are new to me, so I’m noting them down. August 8, 2016 at 2:47pm Reply

    • claire: This winter I read The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout. It concerns immigrants, cultural misunderstandings, family disfunction and is very contemporary. I found the conclusion too pat, but her writing style and observations were brilliant. I look forward to reading My Name is Lucy Barton. I was put off by the series made based on Olive Kitteridge, but should probably read the book! August 9, 2016 at 11:43pm Reply

  • Neva: It’s always a pleasure to see your reading lists Victoria. I haven’t read anything you mentioned so I’ll take it as a guide for future reading.
    I’m on holidays and I usually go for authors I already know and love. This year it’s John Irving and I’ve read Last Night in Twisted River and A Widow for One Year. The first one is an absolute masterpiece. I took with me one book from my dear German author Tanja Kinkel – The Seduction. I’m looking forward to reading it during the next days at sea… August 8, 2016 at 1:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: Enjoy your sea vacation! Swimming in the Black Sea is something I finally done this summer, and it was wonderful. There was also some beach reading. 🙂

      I haven’t read Last Night in Twisted River, so that’s another novel to explore. August 8, 2016 at 3:26pm Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: Here a not quite so lofty book. I just read Ian McDonalds’s novel „Luna: New Moon“ and am still reeling from the relentlessneess and ruthlessness: “gold-rush” on the moon. As in all really good SciFi it relates to the here and now of our own age: like the scramble of Asian nations for the domination of the South China Sea, or perhaps the exploitation of the Arctics; like the rise and fall of entrepreneurial families and their business empires (all with fully-fledged feudal ambitions!); as well as the everyday quest of average men and women to make a living, and sometimes to bring a little bit of beauty and pleasure to their lives. Excellent! August 8, 2016 at 1:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: This is a great mini-review! 🙂 Thank you. August 8, 2016 at 3:26pm Reply

  • Claire: This is just what I needed. A great list! I have been forcing myself to finish several books I am not really loving, but I know I would enjoy the Dalrymple, I adore Rilke, the Tagore has been on one of my my reading lists (if not at the top), and would love to revisit The Tale of Genji. Indeed, traveling gives us the less interrupted time and space that is now more precious than ever as we are constantly bombarded with news feeds and tidbits. August 8, 2016 at 8:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: Not finishing books has always been a bug of mine, but I’m starting to be more decisive in giving up reading something I don’t find interesting. Of course, it’s not the same story if you have to read it for work, school, etc.

      Tagore’s Chokher Bali or A Grain of Sand is another novel with a strong female character. Also highly recommended. August 9, 2016 at 4:30am Reply

      • Kari: I had an instructor in college who made a New Year’s resolution to quit reading 2 books guilt free per year. I’ve always loved that idea, for those of us who feel like we HAVE to finish.

        I tend to be a non-monogamous reader anyway. I typically am in the middle of at least a couple of fiction and nonfiction books depending on what I’m in the mood for. August 9, 2016 at 9:55pm Reply

        • Karen A: Nowadays I stop reading a book if it doesn’t “work” for me or if it’s got disturbing stuff that is going to bounce around in my head too much – (usually gratuitous violence), thanks I’ve got plenty of that in my brain already…. To me it’s like bad food, you would not keep eating something that was going to make you feel awful or ill, just since you started it.

          Challenging books may not resonate at a certain time, but that’s a different case. August 10, 2016 at 6:49am Reply

        • Victoria: I still feel guilty time to time, but increasingly less so, especially since there are so many other marvelous books to explore.

          Like you, I also read several books at the time. If I’m in a mood for Persian history, then nothing else will do. 🙂 August 10, 2016 at 12:10pm Reply

      • claire: In reading difficult books (or books I find difficult for one reason or another), I often think that if I just give it a just little more time, my experience might improve, and it will become a worthwhile experience, but with age, time feels more and more precious, and if I really love a book or article, it is generally not an effort but a pleasure! Sometimes it’s really not about the book, but whether it’s right book at the right time. I will look into the other Tagore Books. I love culling reading lists from The NYTimes Book review, By the Book, wherein authors discuss their favorite writers, books on their nightstand, etc.: always a wonderful and insightful resource regardless of your relationship with the author’s work. August 9, 2016 at 11:12pm Reply

        • Karen A: I was just going to write that I use By the Book and BdJ as my reading guides, too! It’s the first thing I read in the Sunday NYT, isn’t it fun! Honestly, I am frequently at a loss as to what to read so having a starting point such as By the Book is really helpful.

          Just finished Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida, and just starting The Geneva Trap by Stella Rimington – who was the first woman Director General of MI5 and is thought to be the model for Judi Dench as M in the James Bond movies. Both authors were recently mentioned in By the Book. August 10, 2016 at 6:02am Reply

          • Claire: Agreed. BtB is such a pleasure! It is also one of the first sections I pull out of the Sunday NYT. August 10, 2016 at 10:28am Reply

            • Karen A: It also gives me some insight in to an author’s books. Plus it’s fun to think about the three writers you’d invite for dinner! August 10, 2016 at 12:15pm Reply

        • Victoria: I also like this feature, even if there are many writers whose work I haven’t read, but I still find their choices interesting. Of course, if I come across a favorite author discussing his/her reading preferences, it’s a treat. August 10, 2016 at 12:13pm Reply

  • Toni: The peacefulness and quiet you describe in the park makes me want to reach for Walt Whitman.

    This is a wonderful list. I share your background in political science and seem drawn to non fiction (or historical novels). Right now I am enjoying anthropology with The World Until Yesterday. August 8, 2016 at 10:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m interested in the way other people, in different times and places live. An endlessly fascinating topic that can be explored from all angles. August 9, 2016 at 4:38am Reply

  • rainboweyes: A wonderful list, as usual. My summer holiday has just started, which means plenty of time for reading! I’ve just finished Jardi vora el mar by Merce Rodareda, one of the most renowned authors of Catalan literature. The Garden Above the Sea is a small, atmospheric novel describing the summer vacations of the young upper class in pre-Franco Catalunya. It is, so to say, the Spanish version of The Great Gatsby.
    Today, I’m going to start reading Heretics by Leonardo Padura – a multifaceted novel about the Holocaust, contemporary Cuba and art. August 9, 2016 at 3:09am Reply

    • Victoria: Your list also sounds great. I haven’t read none of these authors, so I’ll write them down. August 9, 2016 at 4:40am Reply

    • Hamamelis: Have a great holiday Rainboweyes! August 9, 2016 at 11:32am Reply

      • rainboweyes: I will, thank you 😎 August 9, 2016 at 3:32pm Reply

  • Noemí: “Días de menta y canela,” by Carmen Santos. The experience of a modern Spanish woman, her memories of a childhood in Germany as the daughter of Valencian emigrants, all surrounded by a mysterious death in Düsseldorf. August 9, 2016 at 5:08am Reply

    • Victoria: Is it fiction or a memoir? August 9, 2016 at 12:28pm Reply

      • Noemí: I guess is both, Victoria. The mystery part is most probably fiction, but I have see similar images of that childhood in other writers. August 9, 2016 at 12:36pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’ll have to check it out! August 9, 2016 at 12:47pm Reply

  • Therése: Oh, that Marina Tsvetaeva book sounds fascinating!

    At the beginnning of summer I read a great post-apocalyptic novel, Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel, that I enjoyed very much. I went on to read The Girls at The Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine, Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now, and Renee Knight’s Disclaimer, all three good reads. Irvin D Yalom’s The Gift of Therapy was enlightening. And lately I started reading the classic Swedish crime novels of Sjövall Wahlöö.
    It’s been quite a good summer for reading! August 9, 2016 at 5:48am Reply

    • Victoria: Another fantastic and inspring reading list!

      Now I’m curious about Wahlöö. August 9, 2016 at 12:27pm Reply

      • Therése Mellby: Sjövall/Wahlöö were two writers who met when they were working at the same publishing house in the 1960’s. They both thought that the genre of crime fiction in Sweden wasn’t realistic enough and decided to write ten crime novels together, based on true police work. In ten years they wrote ten novels, following their main character Martin Beck and incorporating references to actual real life events and crimes and a critical eye on Sweden. They were also a couple and had two children. Per Wahlöö died in 1975, just barely finishing their last novel in the series.
        I’ve read the two first in the series and I really liked them. August 9, 2016 at 1:53pm Reply

        • Victoria: I need to see if these are translated. Sounds totally up my alley. August 10, 2016 at 12:06pm Reply

  • Alicia: In Latin American and Spanish letters, during her life, no one overshadowed Victoria. Not even in the USA where she was the Vicepresident of the PEN Club.She was an early feminist, very courageous politically, since for her antifascist stand she ended in jail, for a short time. Her essays though are bound by her era, while Silvina’s writings, including her poems are timeless. The only person who now overshadows all of them, Victoria, Silvina,and Bioy is Borges. Still, you might be right. The international fame of writers depends on translations. For what you tell me, Silvina was fortunate with her translator. That’s good, very good indeed. August 9, 2016 at 9:45am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m talking about today. The vast repertoire of Silvina Ocampo’s work still remains untranslated in English. August 9, 2016 at 12:15pm Reply

  • Hamamelis: I really enjoyed Rainboweyes’ earlier book recommendation Old Filth (Jane Gardam) very much. I made a dent in The Sunne in Splendour (Sharon Peman) and intend to finish it. In non fiction am still reading the Silk Roads, and my husband read a more modern version: Connectography by Parag Khanna. August 9, 2016 at 11:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Which book on the Silk Roads are you reading? August 9, 2016 at 12:25pm Reply

      • Hamamelis: A new history of the world, I think Annikky recommended it on her blog. It is important reading I think, because it puts current conflicts in a context that doesn’t make them less painful and horrific, but it takes out the ‘it has never been so bad in the world’ sentiment that some people suffer (and I used to before reading this) unnecessarily. The other one is also very educational on global developments. Warm wishes to you Victoria! August 9, 2016 at 12:36pm Reply

        • Hamamelis: PS and I liked very much to read it besides the Lost Enlightenment one you recommended, both ofcourse provide a much needed antidote to Western superiority and world centredness. August 9, 2016 at 12:40pm Reply

          • Victoria: I was thinking of it as a good complement. Very glad that you find it interesting. August 9, 2016 at 12:48pm Reply

        • Victoria: I read it too, and I found the premise ambitious. Overall, I liked it, although for a book who promises to tell history from the perspective of the countries on the Silk Road, it shortshrifts the whole Central Asia. I understand that it may be hard to do otherwise and not end up with a 10 volume book. I appreciated his examples and a broadened perspective, which as you say, an important corrective to the myths Europeans and Americans hold about history. August 9, 2016 at 12:47pm Reply

  • paola: A Reading Challenge is going on at my local library : 12 books from june to september taken from 12 given categories ( ex: a thriller, a biography, a graphic novel, etc.). I’m quite busy reading… August 9, 2016 at 1:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, that’s a great challenge! August 10, 2016 at 12:06pm Reply

  • parker scout: This summer my readings have been Sandor Marai, and Sue Grafton and Petros Markaris (because noire can be sometimes so very relaxing. It is easy to concentrate on and enjoy if it is well written without too much emotional commitment). Nexts will be “Train to Pakistan” (Khushwant Singh) and “Suite franćaise”. Like many of yours reading lists! so I will add a few to my autum one. August 9, 2016 at 6:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: Singh’s novel has been on my list for a long time. Would love to hear what you think when you start reading it. August 10, 2016 at 12:07pm Reply

  • Kari: I haven’t read as much as I’d have liked to this summer as I started a new job a couple months ago and had been studying for a professional exam. As I mentioned on the Facebook thread, since discovering Bois de Jasmin I’ve found that the blog and its readers not only have greatly expanded my fragrance repertoire, but my bookshelf as well. I’ve always loved books that give me a vivid window into someone else’s life and culture.

    A few that I enjoyed:

    Eli Brown’s Cinnamon and Gunpowder-saying that it’s about a gourmet chef who is captured by a lady pirate captain makes it sound like a bodice ripper. It’s not, and it’s an incredibly fun read. What WOULD a rather snobbish chef make if he were forced to prepare gourmet meals on board a pirate ship, using only ingredients on hand?

    Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman, following the epic race around the world by Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland. I was compelled to read this after seeing a very fun musical based on Bly’s life several years ago.

    Last summer I sought out a collection of Isak Dinesen stories specifically because I wanted to re-read Babette’s Feast, which I studied and enjoyed in college.

    Joy K. Lintelman’s I Go To America, an autobiography of a Swedish young woman who emigrated to America-really, it’s more of an annotated companion to Mina Anderson’s memoir.

    Herman Wouk The Winds of War-a historical novel following a US Navy family through World War II. August 9, 2016 at 10:14pm Reply

    • claire: Isak Dinesen’s stories are so wonderful! So many only know about her from Out of Africa. I highly recommend “Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller by Judith Thurman”. A favorite, exquisitely written, at once tragic and inspiring.

      Which reminds me of another inspiring Biography: “A Life: Georgia O’Keeffe” by Roxana Robinson August 9, 2016 at 11:30pm Reply

      • Kari: Fantastic! I love O’Keeffe. My earliest introduction to her paintings was leading through my grandma’s beautiful art book as a child, and later, visiting the Georgia O’Keeffe museum in Santa Fe.

        One book I’ve meant to read is Kate Braid’s Inward to the Bones. ” An imaginary journal that American painter Georgia O’Keeffe might have kept if she and British Columbia, Canada painter Emily Carr, had ever taken a trip together, to New Mexico and to British Columbia.”
        Emily Carr is another artist whose paintings and writings I studied, and who I then learned meant a lot to my grandmother. August 9, 2016 at 11:49pm Reply

        • claire: Thank you. I will make note of Kate Braid’s book. As with Judith Thurman’s bio of Dinesen, O Keeffe’s determination and discipline to maintain her artistic life is well detailed in the biography I mentioned. I found it very inspiring, as an artist, and at the time I was not particularly appreciative of her work. The biography gave me more insight and appreciation, so it was effective in that regard as well! Another book comes to mind, also a fictional account of Whistler’s life and his court battles with Ruskin. I wish I could remember the name or author! It included many wonderful descriptions of his painting process, with a great depth of understanding. August 10, 2016 at 2:48pm Reply

          • Clair: Ha! I found it, another artist’s bio, but this is a actually a fictional autobiography for anyone who is interested:
            I, James McNeill Whistler by Lawrence Williams
            From Goodreads site: “Rarely have subject and style been so entertainingly fused as in this portrait of the incomparable, indomitable painter James McNeill Whistler.” “…this remarkably salty “autobiography” is as flamboyant and bigorous as the life of the legendary James McNeill Whistler himself. ” It is very entertaining and also extremely informative and educational. August 11, 2016 at 2:02am Reply

            • Victoria: That does sound intriguing! August 12, 2016 at 9:16am Reply

      • Victoria: I really need to take a look at Isak Dinesen’s stories. August 10, 2016 at 12:13pm Reply

        • claire: Sorry, I meant my reply to be shared. I am sometimes technically challenged.

          Isak Dinesen is truly a master storyteller, creating worlds within worlds. She possessed a highly inventive imagination.
          I found Judith Thurman’s biography especially interesting because of her sensitivity in addressing the many challenging life choices and sacrifices made by female artists for art, love, survival… August 10, 2016 at 2:37pm Reply

          • Victoria: You’re talking to someone who managed to break a stove and a phone with a span of 2 hours, so no worries. Your comment shows up now.

            Reading your comment, I realize how many authors there are out they that I must read. I haven’t even heard of Isak Dinesen before. But it’s exciting to know how much there is to discover. August 10, 2016 at 2:47pm Reply

            • claire: I REALLY think you would like her. Strange, fairytale-like, strange worlds, but also rather precise. She is in control of the narrative. It has been sometime since I’ve read them, but at one time I was smitten.

              The bio is wonderfully romantic, but tragic. Judith Thurman also wrote a bio on Colette, which I have not read. August 10, 2016 at 2:52pm Reply

              • Kari: Claire, those biographies sound fascinating. I’ve added them all to my list! Thank you. August 11, 2016 at 10:11am Reply

              • Victoria: Someone else mentioned Thurman’s bio on Colette in the comments not long ago, but I didn’t take a look at it yet. August 12, 2016 at 9:12am Reply

    • Karen A: Years ago I read a collection of short stories by Isak Dinesen – it was such a wonderful antidote to some dreadfully depressing short stories I had started, but threw down (can’t remember the author now)… And Cinnamon and Gunpowder sounds great! August 10, 2016 at 6:12am Reply

      • Kari: It’s a very imaginative premise. My sister borrowed my copy, and now my mom has it, so I’m due for a re-read. It delighted me last summer. August 11, 2016 at 10:13am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for these terrific mini-reviews. Your list is very interesting! I love a photograph of your BdJ book pile that you posted on the Bois de Jasmin Facebook page, by the way. August 10, 2016 at 12:12pm Reply

      • Kari: You’re most welcome! I am glad you enjoyed the photo. I have been thrilled with all of the additions to my reading list since I started reading your blog-And even more pleased to find such a delightful literary community here. August 11, 2016 at 10:15am Reply

  • Kari: Also, on my lunch break at work, a public radio program on recommended books discussed Helen DeWitt’s The Last Samurai. I was intrigued and have added it to my list. August 9, 2016 at 11:41pm Reply

  • Nora Szekely: Hi Victoria and perfume lovers,

    So far my most memorable summer read was “We were liars” by E. Lockhart. It is more of a young adult book, I tend to check out that genre as I found many novels appealing for more experienced readers too. The author’s writing is poetic and the story is gripping, I read it in one sitting. It is about a rich family whose members are spending their holidays on the granddad’s private island. One summer something happens to one of the teenage girls and she has to figure out the truth on her own. This book stayed with me for a long time, it’s about family, love, pretending and seeking the truth, the complexity of human relationships.
    A book I reread last week is “Twenties girl” by Sophie Kinsella : I always enjoy this writer’s books but the plot of this one did not entice me at first. A girl meets her great-aunt’s ghost who has unfinished business. I expected a clichéd ghost story but what I got was a moving tale of unfulfilled dreams, second chances, ageing, love and friendship. The novel has such a cathartic ending. I’m not saying it’s Tolstoy but it’s a beautiful story and it moves me every time I read it. A warning: after reading it, you may be inclined to put on twenties clothes and dance the Charleston! And to wear perfumes from the 1920s of course 😉
    I’m looking forward to read “Eligible” by Curtis Sittenfeld, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice and “Reader, I married him”, a collection of short stories by Tracy Chevalier and others evolving around the story of Jane Eyre. August 10, 2016 at 6:20am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for sharing such a diverse and interesting list. I like what you say about Kinsella, and I agree with you. I haven’t read this particular book, though. August 10, 2016 at 12:16pm Reply

    • maja: I am definitely going to check out your recs, Nora. Your Magda Szabo suggestion was truly wonderful.
      Thank you for that one.

      I have been a bit slow this summer, read only three books in the past weeks, one being When Nietzsche wept. I wasn’t that impressed although some parts of the protagonists’ conversation were excellent thoughts about (mid-life) crisis, concept of personal freedom and responsibilities. I did expect more though. A book I started yesterday is A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. A bit of popular science never hurted anyone. Another book I’ve been carrying around is Fashion by George Simmel, a century old article, apparently still very relevant. Looking forward to it.

      Victoria, thanks for the recommendations, I trust your taste in books as much as the one in perfumes. ♥ August 10, 2016 at 6:42pm Reply

      • maja: ps. Agota Kristoff will always have a special place in my heart. My best friend ( a book worm) and I refer to her Yesterday as “the saddest book on Earth”. Her writing is just incredible. August 10, 2016 at 6:46pm Reply

        • Victoria: It really is.

          Who was the Serbian author you recommended to me not long ago? I can’t find the page where I wrote down his name. August 12, 2016 at 9:14am Reply

          • maja: Danilo Kiš and his collection of short stories The Encyclopedia of the Dead. 🙂 He was also a great translator and his translation of Queneau’s Exercises in Style are even better than the original, imo.

            If I may, I’d like to recommmend a book by an Italian noire author Massimo Carlotto called “Le Irregolari. Buenos Aires Horror Tour”, a non-fiction novel about Argentina’s desaparecidos. Impressive and extremely moving. I wish it was translated in English some day. August 12, 2016 at 6:44pm Reply

            • Victoria: Here is what I found in translation: The Attic, Garden Ashes, The Encyclopedia of the Dead, Tomb for Boris Davidovich, Hourglass.

              Tijana also recommended some authors, including Ivo Andrić. I found The Bridge on the Drina in translation. August 14, 2016 at 9:34am Reply

              • maja: Garden, Ashes and Hourglass are a part of a sort of trilogy (together with Early Sorrows) so I’d start first with The Encyclopedia of the Dead. 🙂 Regarding Andrić, The Bridge is most definitely an epic masterpiece and depicts Bosnian reality and mentality over centuries. Highly recommended. Speaking of rivers, our authors seem obsessed with them, and there is a beautiful novel (?) written by a young Bosnian author Faruk Šehić. It has been (somewhat unluckily) translated recently in English as Quiet Flows The Una but there is nothing epical about it. Rather a fantastic, lyrical, oniric personal story about the latest war. It won the European prize for literature 2 yrs ago. Not an easy read but the language is so poetic. (Šehić is primarily a poet and was criticised that his book isn’t actually a novel). It’s one of those books you want to re-read and leaves a permanent mark in the heart. August 16, 2016 at 12:00pm Reply

  • Aurora: I’m writing down titles from you list which is so welcome at this stage of the summer! I hope you keep on enjoying an empty Bruxelles. Marina Tsvetayeva letters in particular appeal greatly, I read an essay on her life by a French writer whose name escapes me but I’ll check back and add it in case you are interested. She seemed such an unusual character. August 10, 2016 at 6:26am Reply

    • Victoria: I’d love to know whom you’ve read. My grandmother and my mother have gathered pretty much all they could find on Tsvetayeva (in Russian), and I grew up with her being referred simply as Marina in our family. I don’t read as much of her poetry as I used to when I was a teenager, but I was recently re-reading her prose and admiring her sharp, edgy and yet lyrical style. These letters are a good example of what makes Tsvetayeva a genius. August 10, 2016 at 12:19pm Reply

      • Aurora: Hello Victoria: here it is, the essay is in a book called Sept Femmes, by Lydie Salvayre, I’m grateful that it made me discover Tsvetaeva but it is rather bleak reading: the other essays are on Emily Bronte, Virginia Woolf, Colette, Sylvia Plath, Ingeborg Bachmann and Djuna Barnes. August 11, 2016 at 12:33pm Reply

        • Victoria: Her life was very hard, and the end is even more heartbreaking. At least she didn’t live to know that her beloved son would be killed and that her daughter would be imprisoned for 16 years in the Soviet concentration camps. August 12, 2016 at 9:33am Reply

  • Aisha: Fantastic list!

    I’ve been on a crime fiction kick lately but also add a classic every month. I’m currently reading both The Woman in Cabin 10, and Sense and Sensibility. 🙂 August 11, 2016 at 9:35pm Reply

    • Nora Szekely: I’m rereading a few Agatha Christie novels every summer ( leave them in our summer house). So far for me nobody could beat her stories, even when I know who the culprit is, I just love her characters and the depiction of English life in the countryside. August 12, 2016 at 5:47am Reply

    • Victoria: Crime fiction and detective genre in general always feature somewhere in my reading list, although I haven’t picked up anything new recently. August 12, 2016 at 9:45am Reply

  • Alice: During this summer I’m reading World without end from Ken Follet.The sequel of The pillars of the earth. Travel in another time and world! August 18, 2016 at 5:47am Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t read it, so I will take a look at it. August 18, 2016 at 1:01pm Reply

      • Alice: Ken Follet is the only one author that makes me miss my metro stop August 19, 2016 at 6:28am Reply

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