Summer Reading 2009

When does ‘regular reading’ end and ‘summer reading” begin?  Well this year it’s easy.  The gigantic used book sale I went to over the weekend and the loot I brought back make it official:  Let summer reading 2009 begin.

The treasures I found were trade paperbacks in like-new condition.  And because I had twenty, they cost me just one dollar each.  Right, that’s Canadian dollar, even a better bargain.  How I found them was an ordeal.  They were painstakingly selected under smoldering heat at a farmers’ market.  For two hours, I elbowed my way in to grab hold of my targets which I had to eye from a distance over heads and shoulders.  But it’s all worth it.

Here’s a picture and a list of the titles I brought back:

Used Book Sale Loot 1

  • The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • Simple Recipes by Madeleine Thien
  • Desperate Characters by Paula Fox
  • Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam (Giller Prize Winner)
  • The Sea by John Banville (Man Booker Prize Winner)
  • Saturday by Ian McEwan
  • Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth
  • Daisy Miller by Henry James
  • The Stories of Edith Wharton selected by Anita Brookner
  • The Mapmaker’s Opera by Béa Gonzalez
  • Always Now The Collected Poetry of Margaret Avison
  • Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler (Pulitzer Author)
  • The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (Booker Prize Winner)
  • Marginalia: A Cultural Reader by Mark Kingwell
  • Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
  • A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman
  • Lost Souls by Lisa Jackson
  • Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood
  • Exit Music by Ian Rankin

Some of these titles I’ve long wanted to read, like Goodbye, Columbus and Rebecca.   Some are just well known titles or authors that I think I should read, like Tolstoy, Franzen and Tyler.   Some are winners of book prizes that I usually enjoy, the Booker, Giller, Pulitzer.   Some are fine Canadian authors and one of my favorite poets.   And some I’m just curious about like A Natural History of the Senses.  But one stands out.  This time, I’m literally judging a book by its cover:

Front Cover Mapmaker's Opera

Back Cover Mapmaker's Opera

The above are the front and back cover of the book.  There’s no title, only on the spine.  It’s enjoyable just looking at it.  But the title is appealing too:  The Mapmaker’s Opera.

Together with the books I’m already reading, plus my long TBR list, I think I’m topped up till next summer.

For More Great Finds, Click Here.


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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

14 thoughts on “Summer Reading 2009”

  1. Wow, that looks like 20 bucks well spent! I love used book sales. 🙂

    Yes Shari, it’s an annual event for charity. This time I got a big harvest!


  2. Oh, Arti – this is splendid – the photo of your loot, your trip to the market to find said loot and then the cover of the Mapmaker’s Opera book! You have many on your list I know nothing about (am copying it right after this) and several that are also on my TBR stack, like THE CORRECTIONS and also an Ann Tyler (though mine goes back to one of her first THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST.) And I must have a look at Avison! Yes, I even turned my laptop on its side to look at the spines of each book! It’s rather lovely to be book-crazy, don’t you think? Looking forward to sharing “reviews” on our summer reads!


    Yes, it’ll be rewarding sharing reviews on books and movies over the summer. I saw The Accidental Tourist the movie years ago and found it quite unique, and have been thinking about reading Tyler all these years. Some of the titles I haven’t heard of either, but the cover art and the recommendations in them have convinced me that I should give them a try. Looking forward to more book talk in your future posts!


  3. Nothing better than a pile of new books. And your two hours was very well spent (easy for me to say).

    The titles I’ve read (and LOVED):
    Anna Karenina
    The English Patient

    I wonder if Daisy Miller is more approachable than The Ambassadors, which is taking me forever to plow through – though every time I sit with it I adore it. It’s just WORK. And usually my head is fried at the end of a work day.

    On another topic, thank you for your very thoughtful stop back about the movie “Happy-Go-Lucky.” I was touched that you watched it again, thinking maybe your opinion would change. I do understand how annoying Sally Hawkins’ character was. But in some way, for me, that was what drew me in, as if I had to force myself to get into her skin, and then I felt something surprising for her, and with her – like seeing the world through her eyes. It’s nice that we can share our diverse thoughts – and Vive la difference!


    1. Ruth,

      The Daisy Miller that I got is The Modern Library Classics edition, an edition which I love. I assume it’s quite approachable considering it has just 72 pages, with a Reading Group Guide. The English Patient I’ve read so it’s good to have a personal copy. I’ve read McEwan’s Atonement and really enjoyed it. Have written a review on it and the movie adaptation. Saturday I’ve long wished to read, so are the others. You can see I’m really excited about my summer reading!

      Re. Happy-Go-Lucky, thanks for your generosity and acceptance of diverse views. I hesitated for a while wondering whether I should leave my comment in your post. I think the major reason for my feeling is that Poppy has not reached me in an amiable way. It’s just me, I guess, considering the 93% RT rating. My major issue is: What’s wrong with being ‘unhappy’. I’m not siding with the driving instructor of course, but for the first scene with the guy in the bookstore… I think Poppy is intruding into the privacy of others and being too eager to ‘make happy converts’. Anyway, I’ve enjoyed these discussions with you and I look forward to more movie talks in the future.

      Also, thanks for introducing ‘Visions of Light’… that will be a must-see film for me, if only they show it here in Cowtown. Thanks again for sharing your view!


  4. What a wide selection of books, love the way you have them displayed on the shelf. Great pic and most of all, what a ‘Bargain’!

    Enjoy your summer reads, keep us posted.

    Molly Mavis,

    The books were placed in a lid from a box, on top of my dark brown colored dresser by the window. So, like Vermeer, I was using natural light and no flash. Glad you like it.



  5. Arti,

    I share everyone’s enthusiasm for your exceptional search skills.

    Some random thoughts:

    I have long loved Rebecca. Over the years so many books and publishers have promised to match it, but it remains without equal.

    Anne Tyler is wonderful and The Accidental Tourist is one of her finest. Although you’ve seen the film, reading the book will not disappoint, only enrich.
    Just thinking of it makes me want to reread it.

    Especially loved Anna Karenina and The English Patient. But feel the need to qualify on the latter. I was so moved by Anthony Minghella’s deftness in directing The English Patient, it was the first, and I believe the only, time I could recall ever having loved a movie as much as the book. A rarity to be sure.

    Edith Wharton has brought hours of endless pleasure as have some other titles — I envy you the discoveries.


    1. eÆsthete,

      I can’t agree with you more about The English Patient. Actually it’s one of the rare examples where I love the movie more than the book. In the DVD, Minghella has gone into great length to describe how he re-wrote the story almost for the screenplay. Interviews with the original writer Ondaatje and the actors also give me insights into how the book is adapted into film… something of particular interest to me on Ripple Effects. Currently I’m reading Ondaatje’s book The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film, Murch being the film editor of The English Patient. These are all really talented people. The untimely death of Minghella means we’ll never have the pleasure of viewing more of his work.

      Re. Edith Wharton, I’ve long appreciated the movie of her novel The Age of Innocence. So, I’m glad to find some short stories from her. Again, book into film, the creative process of both are just fascinating.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!


  6. That’s a great list! There are a bunch there I’m looking forward to reading, including the Ackerman book and the Banville one. I really liked The Corrections and also Desperate Characters. Those books should keep you busy for a while!


    Thanks for stopping by. Yes, I’m really excited about my loot. The Book Sale will end this weekend, I’m even thinking of going back there and do some more hunting. Am I too greedy?



  7. Arti,

    I’m so very glad I stopped back here and read your response to my thoughts on The English Patient et al. Let me begin by saying, the loss of Minghella is incalculable. I was lucky enough to have seen him in person at a forum on the film shortly after the movie had premiered. He was mesmerizing – thoughtful, articulate, philosophical.

    I have found that directors who are also writers enrich films in ways that a director alone cannot, similarly with a writer. Their sense of composition in both narrative and the cinematic ‘look & feel’ of a film, is, to my mind, enthralling to watch, listen to, learn from.

    I encountered another immense talent this past weekend who I paid little heed to in the past – John Patrick Shanley. Playwright, screenplay writer and Director of Doubt. Won the Pulitzer. He also won an Academy Award for writing the screenplay for Moonstruck. You might want to read up on his credits. Quite impressive.

    But Doubt is his story. Based on his own experiences as a boy growing up in Brooklyn and attending a Catholic school in the 60’s. It has been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a director’s commentary on a DVD release as much as I enjoyed his on Doubt. I feel sure you would appreciate it as much as I did and would strongly urge you to rent it for that reason alone.


    1. eÆsthete,

      Cherish your memory of Minghella’s talk… “mesmerizing, thoughtful, articulate, philosophical” these are apt descriptions indeed although I only have the chance to see that on the DVD and not as privileged as you listening to him in person. Ondaatje too I think is very generous in letting M. rewrite his story for the film version. His take on the whole venture is also captured on the DVD. Talent recognizing talent… reminds me of Sydney Pollack and Frank Gehry.

      As for Doubt, I’ve seen the movie. And yes, I’ve read the high acclaims John Patrick Shanley has garnered for his work. I think though, the play could be a truer representation of his talent, or simply reading it. I feel the medium of film in this case may not have fully reflected the nuances that maybe better captured in words. To be candid, I thought the movie left me with some ambiguity that may not be intended by the writer. Anyway, I’ve appreciated what you said about this being a Shanley’s personal experience as a boy. I suppose it’s this autobiographical element that makes the story so poignant. I regret that I missed the chance of seeing Doubt the play when it was performed in our city while the film was screening. But thanks for your comment, I must check out more about JPS.


  8. Arti,

    Perceptive as you are, you went right to the heart of Shanley’s own ambiguity in adapting a film version of Doubt after the success of the play. He specifically addresses that in his commentary on the DVD, discussing how they shot in the same neighborhood where he attended school and how he had to “open” the story up to include elements of his own life at that point in time in the early 60’s.

    I just can’t emphasize how much richer the whole experience of watching Doubt was after listening to Shanley’s commentary. I had seen the movie in the theater, but after seeing Shanley on Charlie Rose and learning more about him, I was interested in listening to his commentary. It is well worth the rental.

    And a resounding YES on the comparison to Pollack and Gehry. If I’m not mistaken, I believe Minghella and Pollack had a joint venture in a production company at the time of Minghella’s death. (I have already scheduled the rental on The English Patient.)

    On another note: Thank you so much for your very kind and thoughtful response to my modest little debut. It was positively wrenching to summon the courage or conviction to resort to such lengths, so I am most appreciative when anyone speaks to that. It’s curious and a bit bothersome to me how the youtube generation seeks out ‘self’ in the most obvious of ways, but you need look no further than the reality TV culture for its genesis.


    I must rent Doubt then… it’s always a privilege to gain access into the mind of the writer in the creative process. Thanks for your recommendation. And yes, Minghella and Pollack had a production company together, Mirage, and it’s just tragic that both of them met with untimely death just months apart. Regarding the revealing of self and your feeling about Facebook and other features, I share your sentiment. Privacy has become a valuable commodity indeed. But for some, sharing the persona and the disclosure of self is nothing short of courageous, and again, I applaud you for doing just that.



  9. Hi, Arti! Thank you for stopping by my blog. Yours is absolutely lovely.

    What a loot you have there, with so many exceptional titles. I’ve read (and loved) a few of those, and most of the rest are on my wishlist.

    I just came from a trip to the library book sale myself, today (as well as yesterday, a different branch), and was able to get some really good ones which I’ll be posting about very soon. 🙂


    I look forward to reading your loot list too. Enjoy your summer reading!



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