Recently in Book Talk Category



I'm very careful with books lent to me by friends. I will make sure that I don't put unnecessary pressure on the spine, I turn the pages with care.

But almost all of my books - my prized books, my beautiful trove of books, my small but well-loved collection of books - are somewhat tattered.

It's not because I don't care about them. It's not because I actually like the dog-eared pages or slightly creased covers. I think it's because they live with me as I'm reading them.

My books follow me everywhere. I read on the métro. I read as I walk to and from the métro. I read in the park. I read at lunch. I read in the car. I read in the bath. I read in bed. I read when I stir custard.

I read when I'm eating spaghetti bolognaise and quite a large number of my books have tiny red spots on the pages. I read when I'm eating a giant bowl of phô and sometimes the noodles make splashes. I dropped a book in the park the other day when I was trying to juggle my falafel and read at the same time. It landed in a pile of leaves and narrowly missed a puddle. I've dropped a book in the bathtub. I was so upset because it really couldn't be saved and I went out and bought another copy.

My books are everywhere. There are books on the couch, on the table, on the kitchen bench, on the floor beside the bed, on a shelf in the bathroom. There are books on the steps of the staircase. My bookcases are overflowing and the books are piled up precariously on top of them.

It's no wonder my books are tattered. They're loved. They're read over and over and over again. They're lent to practically anyone who shows even a passing interest. I find myself shoving my books into the hands of friends and I say "you must read it. you must".

I would like to have bookshelves full of books in pristine condition, but it's never going to happen. This is just the way I am.

I recently went to a reading with a pile of books to be signed and was a little embarrassed to pass over my stack of well-thumbed novels to the author. He just patted them, and said, "this is good - they're loved".

I'm drawn to other people who love to read and I once thought I could never marry someone who doesn't enjoy reading as much as I do. But I find it doesn't bother me very much at all that Sylvain doesn't read beyond scientific papers and the occasional comic book. He is incredibly enthusiastic about my reading, and certainly doesn't begrudge my habit of dragging home a couple of new books a week. It's actually a good thing that he doesn't read.

Cos there wouldn't be room for his books if he did.


The Good Fairies of New York

I walked up the hill, book in hand. I strained to make out the words in the street lights.

There were twenty pages to go.

I couldn't wait five more minutes to get home, so I stopped, on the corner, and finished my book in the light of the supermarket.


I walked home, hoping to spy a drunken fairy under a hedge.

But I didn't.

Doesn't mean I won't keep looking, though.

Return to Narnia


Excited about the release of the first movie, I'm currently re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia - for the first time in over ten years. Someone gave me a complete set a couple of years ago, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I just finished the Magicians Nephew, and I am a few chapters into The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Narnia is a magical place, and I am totally enchanted by it once again. The only problem is that I'm reading it so fast and I am getting through them too quickly - I want to savour them - so I need to slow down and only read a few chapters a week.

It's interesting to read these books now, with the knowledge that I have - there are so many things that I didn't see when I was younger, particuarly the parallels to Christianity, that it makes them a fascinating read on a number of different levels. I wonder how I'll look at it when I read them again ten years from now, and in twenty years, and in thirty years...

Time out


This weekend I had the pleasure of reading as much as I wanted, whilst my entourage stayed inside and had their siesta's in front of the Tour de France. I stretched out on a lounge chair in the garden, under the shade of a tree. I went in well armed, with 4 books stuffed in my overnight bag. I came back with 5 ;)

On the TGV, I finished Linda Fairstein's Entombed. I love a good crime novel, crime fiction being one of my favourite genres - I don't need to think about it when I'm reading it, the stories usually have a strict beginning, middle and end. Nice and brainless.

Then I got stuck into The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason. Fabulous, intriguing, it felt very Da Vinci Code-ish to me, and I devoured it in a matter of hours. I think (without leaving any spoilers) the events at the end could have been explored in more detail, which would have rounded the storyline out a little more, but in all, an excellent read.

My next book was The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I was a little reluctant to read it, having heard quite a bit of hype about it for months, but it was only 6 euros at the Abbey Bookshop and I couldn't resist. Thus I was plunged into a magical storyline and didn't surface until the last page. It made me laugh, it made me catch my breath, it made me cringe - it's not often that I find a novel which makes me experience such a range of emotions. A stunning novel, beautifully written, one of the rare books that I wanted to reread immediately. It made me want to run back to my tutorial room at Uni and analyse it, discuss it. It was that good.

We made a wee trip to fnac on Friday, and I picked up a copy of Arthur et les Minimoys (it has been translated into English also). I opened it up and, again, was totally engulfed by the story. It strongly reminded me of the Artemis Fowl series, and I was surprised to find myself racing through the book at top speed. It's rare for me to enjoy reading in French, but this book really had me in it's grip from the opening sentence. I can't wait to see the movie, but I'll have to get hold of the other Tomes and get through them too! ;)

There is nothing that makes me happier, nothing that feels more decadent, than relaxing with a book.

The question now presents itself : what to read next?

Each to his own


Since joining the American Library in Paris in January, I've been literally devouring books. I come home from the library once a fortnight with a heavy bookbag containing five or six books, sometimes even more.

I generally just browse my way along the bookshelves, and pick whatever takes my fancy. Genre doesn't matter, I read anything, and more often than not, I fall upon some surprising gems. After the reading drought that I've experienced since my arrival here (reading in French doesn't relax me), not to mention the self-inflicted mini-drought that I experienced during my university years, prior to arriving in France, I just want to read, read, read.

I feel like the Very Hungry Caterpillar, not working my way through different foods, but through different books, one by one. I wonder if I'll emerge from this as a beautiful, knowledgable butterfly?

I often find myself saying to Sylvain, "if you liked reading, this is one book that I would make you read". It's usually in relation to books such as the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy or the Artemis Fowl series.

Both of my parents love to read, and passed this passion on to me. I always thought that I would marry a man who loved to read as much as I, but alas, Sylvain prefers to bury his nose in an car engine or inside a computer rather than in the pages of a well-written book. I love to curl up in bed and read before I go to sleep at night, and I always imagined that my life-partner would do the same. But Sylvain is more content to curl up in bed with his Gameboy (or more recently, the Wifi-connected laptop).

Life takes strange and unexpected turns sometimes, but I wouldn't want him to be any different (... and not just because, whilst I have my nose in a book, he can fix the car / computer / toaster / whatever-electrical-appliance-has-blown-a-fuse).



Newsflash just in my email inbox :

Thursday 24 February, 7:00pm-8:00pm Exceptional Event!!
Jeudi le 24 février, 19h-20h Evénement exceptionnel !!
The Abbey Bookshop/La Librairie Canadienne
29, rue de la Parcheminerie, 75005 Paris,
M St Michel, Cluny la Sorbonne

The Abbey Bookshop welcomes Internationally acclaimed author Margaret Atwood for the launch of the French Edition of her latest novel Oryx and Crake (French title : Le dernier homme (Editions Laffont).

Wow Wow Wow. I'm so there.

Neverwhere and Therapy


I'm always left with a funny feeling whenever I finish a good book - like as if I've said goodbye to a good friend.

Last night I finished Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, and I put it down, feeling satisfied, yet with that funny feeling in my stomach - I'm going to miss the characters and the storyline. Sometimes I wish these books would never end.

I am not a fan of comic books, so I'm not sure whether I should have a look at the Sandman series or not, but he's just such a good writer that it is somewhat tempting nonetheless.

Last week I read Therapy by Jonathan Kellerman. I did enjoy it, but it didn't feel as strong as his other books. The ending was a little abrupt, as if he wasn't sure where he was going. I was glad to have Neverwhere to pick up when that ended.

A new category

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Earlier this week at the Abbey Bookshop, I picked up a copy of American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.

I don't know what drew me to the book, other than it was in one of the enormous pile of books that is littered around the shop. I devoured it in less than 48 hours, doing my usual reading-while-walking-to-the-station trick (while-occasionally-glancing-at-the-footpath-to-avoid-the-piles-of-dog-poop! I have the technique down pat).

I enjoyed it so much that I went back to the bookstore yesterday (Brian gave me a lovely cup of coffee with maple syrup in it whilst I browsed), and got two more of his books. Smoke and Mirrors is a series of short stories, and Stardust is just pure magic. I literally have to slow myself down as I go and put the book down at the end of a section, because they're such a wonderful read, and I'm going through them so fast!

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