Book Reviews | December 2011 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Winter Reading List

One reason I look forward to Christmas is that I'll stock up on winter reading. Every year for the past few years, my mother-in-law graciously buys my "want list" of current fiction and non-fiction, wraps them beautifully, and presents them in a gorgeous bag (this year, a designer fabric bag by Stephanie Barnes). This is an amazing gift, because while I do buy "new" books throughout the year (binge at the Harvard Bookstore for my birthday in the spring), and I receive about two dozen books from publishers for review, I don't often splurge the time or money on bedside reading. So I've taken to keeping a list of books I know I want to read but can wait until Christmas to get.

This year, I asked for ten titles, and ten I did receive. As you'll see, books about books and literary fiction are my main genres. Some were recommended by others, some I learned about through reviews, and some are part of "collections" within my library.
In Non-fiction...

Well-Read Lives: How Books Inspired a Generation of American Women by Barbara Sicherman. This is a book about women's reading practices in the late 19th and early 20th century. It was published in 2010 (now sure how I missed it then), and I'm greatly looking forward to it. 

Dreaming In.jpgDreaming in Books: The Making of the Bibliographic Imagination in the Romantic Age by Andrew Piper. Put "Books," "Bibliographic," and "Romantic" in the title, and I'm sold. This one is from 2009.

Proust's Overcoat: The True Story of One Man's Passion for All Things Proust by Lorenza Foschini. I don't have a passion for all things Proust--I found Remembrance of Things Past impossible to read--but the story is about a man's lust for rare books and manuscripts related to Proust, and that sounds perfect. A slim book, published in the U.S. in 2010.

A History of the Book in America, volume 3: The Industrial Book, 1840-1880. I'm working toward a complete set of this series (I have vol. 1 & 2), and this particular volume covers the time period of most interest to me as a reader and collector. 

Young Romantics: The Tangled Lives of English Poetry's Greatest Generation by Daisy Hay. A newer book on the list by a young scholar. I like literary biography, and this one came recommended by no less than the head of reference at the Folger Shakespeare Library. 

PollyLaw.pngThe Word Project: Odd & Obscure Words Illustrated by Polly M. Law. Polly Law is a visual artist whose work I came to know when I bought a piece of her bricolage art at an auction earlier this year. She does very neat stuff with "found objects" like buttons, feathers, and letters. Very cool.

Howards End is on the Landing: A Year of Reading From Home by Susan Hill. This one has been out for a few years, but a memoir about reading is always of interest to me. 

And in fiction...

Nicholson Baker's House of Holes: A Book of Raunch. OK, I'm blushing, but I love Baker, and I have most of his other books, so I'll give it a try. 

Curiosity.jpgCuriosity by Joan Thomas. This is a newish historical novel about Mary Anning, the woman who discovered fossils and pursued evolutionary science long before Darwin made it famous.

Life & Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee. Certainly not a new novel, but one that's been on my want list for a while. Coetzee won the Booker twice and the Nobel; I can't go wrong here. 
Now, which to crack first ... What books did you get this holiday season, dear readers? Do tell, I'll be starting next year's list immediately! 
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