Back from holiday (& Book Buying 2013 part 6)

So I’m back from holiday and we had a great time. We saw a lot of animals in various zoos, visited an amusement park, the beach, a glass museum and more. We enjoyed hanging out, just the four of us. The cottage we had rented, was beautiful and it was so peaceful to sit outside it and read. So all in all, a lovely holiday. And tomorrow – it’s back to work for me. The girls and my boyfriend have two weeks more so the next couple of weeks will be rather relaxing as well.

9780141184272As for reading, I did manage to finish Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. It is a magnificent piece of literature. I am impressed with how Virginia Woolf both manages to create a love letter to Vita Sackville-West and comment on the normal male-fixated Western history, on biography and how absurd it is in some ways, on time, gender and so much more – and still make it readable. Now, when I say readable, I mean that I enjoyed it s much – but even though the book is short of 300 pages, it does take rather a lot of time and effort to read it.

waste-landsMy next read, on the other hand, was the third volume in Stephen King’s magna opus The Dark Tower. The Waste Lands is my favorite so far in the series and I just flew through it. It was such a thrill to read and I couldn’t help sit and compare how different the reading experiences was in these two novels. I enjoyed them both and I love how you can get so many experiences, feelings, challenges and more from sitting quietly with a book.

Proper reviews will follow later – very positive reviews.

So two books read (almost) and … well … two books bought…


Yes, well. We went to my second favorite book store in Denmark and I had to buy two books. I bought Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Ubervilles which is on my list of books for The Classics Club. I’ve read many positive reviews of it so I’m excited to read it. I’ve never read anything from Thomas Hardy so I’m curious to explore him and this book. And I love this Penguin English Library series with it’s beautiful covers!


And I bought a Hilary Mantel. I have only read Wolf Hall and was more impressed by it than loving it. I rated it 4 stars but I need to read it again to fully get it. I’m guilty of not knowing who Thomas Cromwell was before reading this book. I had a long talk with the woman behind the counter who was a huge Mantel fan. Don’t you just love it when you meet people in shops who actually know what they are talking about. I would love to live in the city where this store is…

So two great books brought home with me. And a great holiday spend with my boyfriend and our two beautiful girls. I love summer!

17026_413852478709121_1163712783_nOh and I might have bought another book earlier that I forgot to mention and I guess now is as good as time as any to mention it. Of course I bought Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane as soon as I spotted it in a book store. I have been so excited about this book ever since I first heard about it. It sounds amazing and the cover is gorgeous so I got it immediately. Only sorry that they didn’t have the hardcover.

Man Booker winner 2012: Hilary Mantel

So who saw that coming? Hilary Mantel won again! She is now the third author to have won the Booker twice – the other two are J.M. Coetzee and Peter Carey. So three authors have won the Booker prize twice and that’s pretty impressive. However, Hilary Mantel is the first to have won for the two first books in a trilogy. She’s the first to have won for a sequel. She’s the first woman to have won the award twice. She’s even the first British writer to have won the award twice! I can’t believe what pressure that much put on her when she sits down to write the third one!


Anyway, Hilary Mantel has now won for both Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, the first two books in her trilogy about Thomas Cromwell. Wolf Hall is about Thomas Cromwell’s rise to fame and succeeding in getting Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn married. In Bring up the Bodies, Anne has overstayed her welcome and now Thomas Cromwell has to orchestrate her fall from grace.

It’s interesting to hear that Man Booker judge Amanda Foreman says that until the very last day, the judges hadn’t yet decided on who was going to win. She says the focus was on the novels, not the novelist. All in all, there was 145 entries – 30 of these were of former winners and finalists. Apparently, if you have won the Booker or have been on the shortlist, your next books also gets a chance to win it. The rest of the entries had to be nominated by their publishers.

I think this way of deciding who’s in the competition, rather interesting. If you are on the shortlist, you get another go – if not, it’s the publisher that nominate you. Not book stores, sales numbers or the public. But out of these 145 books, the judges’ task is to find the best book. And according to the judges, that book is Bring up the Bodies:

It was getting towards 3pm when Stothard held up his hand and declared it was apparent that Hilary Mantel was the winner. It was not that we were tired of deliberating, or that there was nothing more to be said about the books. But the strain of our discussions had become clear. Mantel had achieved an insurmountable measure of excellence that we all recognised and applauded. Only later did we take a step back to consider her great achievement as the first woman and first Briton to win the Man Booker twice. For us, our satisfaction is the knowledge that this feat was never a consideration.

Source:  Amanda Foreman: We were choosing the best novel of the year for the Telegraph

The big question now of course is: Will Hilary Mantel win again in 2015 for The Mirror and the Light, the third book in the trilogy?

Related posts:

The Man Booker prize 2012 shortlist

Each year, I wish I had the time to read the Man Booker longlist when it comes out and then be able to form my own opinion about which book is the best one and then complain about the judges if they don’t get it right. However, so far this year – like every year! – I haven’t even read a single page of any of them… But there’s always next year…!

And now the shortlist is out. And even though I haven’t read any of these, I’m still going to talk about the list:

  • Jeet Thayil: Nacropolis. This debut novel about drugs, sex, perversion, death and more, starts in Bombay in the 70s as it’s main protagonist arrives from New York and soon discovers opium dens, brothels and other entertainment the city has to offer.
  • Deborah Levy: Swimming Home. Taking place over just one week, this novel explores the effect depression can have on otherwise stable people. This could be a really interesting read!
  • Hilary Mantel: Bring Up the Bodies. The second book about Thomas Cromwell. This one focuses on his dealing with Anne Boleyn after she has lost the king’s favor after failing to give him a son. Can Mantel win again? Only two authors have won the award twice, J.M. Coetzee and Peter Carey. Only time will tell…
  • Alison Moore: The Lighthouse. A middle-aged man looks past on his childhood and something he neglected to do that now seems to have repercussions in the present.
  • Will Self: The Umbrella. In his attempt to understand the nature of the modern world, Umbrella follows the story of feminist Audrey Death who falls victim to the encephalitis lethargic epidemic and her doctor.
  • Tan Twan Eng: The Garden of Evening Mists. A young girl is apprenticed to the owner of a Japanese garden so she can design a garden dedicated to the memory of her sister.


I’m a bit sad that Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry didn’t make it to the shortlist since it was one of the books I really wanted to read. On the shortlist, I’m most interested in Swimming HomeThe Lighthouse and Umbrella. And I’ll definitely read Bring Up the Bodies to see if I like it better – or is better able to appreciate it – than I was Wolf Hall.

6 books are left to battle it out. Of these, I have read … exactly none. But I have read books by two of the authors, Will Self and Hilary Mantel. I’ve read How the Dead Live and Wolf Hall. While feeling both were intelligent, clever books, I didn’t love any of them. I have no idea who will win this year – I can hardly think that Mantel will take home another one, however, I don’t think the Booker takes that into account, nor that it gives out the award to the person who deserves it after many years of ‘faithful service’, as the Oscar does.

Apparently, at this point, the judges have read the longlisted books at least twice. These six remaining from the long list are simply the six best books, according to the judges. Now, of course, we have to wait and see which one book will emerge from this group as this year’s winner.

Looking forward to October 16th!

Read more on the official Man Booker site.

Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall (Review)

Sometimes, when you read a novel, you become acutely aware of huge gaps in your knowledge. Off the top of my head, I can easily remember a few times. Salman Rushdie The Satanic Verses is definitely one where I really felt I needed something to even get the novel at all. Tolstoy’s War and Peace also made me wish I had used some time studying Napoleon, his war on Russia and more. I still got and loved that one though but my reading experience would have been enhanced by a deeper knowledge of this period in history. The same with this novel. This is an amazing novel. There’s no doubt about it. But I didn’t get as much from it as I had hoped. I know something of English history, I know something about Henry VIII and Cromwell and all the wives because this period has always fascinated me. But I don’t know a lot. In fact, I didn’t know there was both an Oliver Cromwell and a Thomas Cromwell. Hilary Mantel knows. She knows this and lots lots more. She spent years researching this and she knows it all. And she doesn’t talk down to anybody. She expects something from her reader. Sadly, I can’t quite live up to this.
This is the story of Thomas Cromwell and his rise to fame in Henry VII’s court. It details his time with Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (whom I had never heard of before) and how he managed to not be drawn down with the Cardinal when he lost the King’s favor. Cromwell was also responsible for getting the King divorced from his queen, Catherine of Aragon, and ensured his marriage to Anne of Boleyn.
Not only does this book has all the political things going on at the time – with the battle against the Vatican to try to the Pope grant the King a divorce the most interesting – it also details Cromwell’s personal life. From his childhood beatings at the hands of his father to the loss of parts of his family as well as his relationships with men like Thomas More.
But it also shows what life was in those days. And not only in the ruling classes. Cromwell has dealings with people from all classes for various reasons. In some instances, only in relation to their subsequent execution. And allow me to say, these executions back then were nasty business. Not only did they burn people frequently for various reasons (and when you’re being burned, you are apparently hoping that it’s not a windy day because the wind blows the flames away from you), they also cut people to pieces while still alive as well as other horrendous things – naturally after a decent round of torture to make sure they had the right culprit.
My only complaint is that I didn’t connect emotionally with any of the characters. Even though Cromwell suffers some tragic losses, I didn’t really feel the connection. I didn’t feel his pain. I connected the most emotionally with the victims of several of the execution scenes that were so unpleasant to read. I know that Mantel has to invent everything about Cromwell’s personal life and I do think she solves it splendidly all in all – this is just a minor quibble.
So not only does it tell Mantel’s version of Cromwell’s life as well as life in England from 1500 to 1535, in particular life at Henry VIII’s court, it’s also an extremely well-written historical fiction novel that demands some historical knowledge from it’s reader. You can’t pick it up as you go. And that’s not a bad thing. However, I do recommend familiarizing yourself with this period of British history before picking this book up.

  • Title: Wolf Hall
  • Author: Hilary Mantel
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate
  • Year: 2009
  • Pages: 652 pages
  • Stars: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize for fiction

NB: I read this book in 2011 – I’m just a bit late in writing the review.

Something to be excited about in 2012

Edited December 30th – because I find out something HUUUUUGE. John Irving is publishing a new novel already! YAY! So that’s definitely something to look forward in 2012! And – the next one is coming in 2015 so we don’t have to wait too long for the next one either!!! The new novel is called ‘In One Person’. It’s about a 60-year-old man and is written in first person – Irving’s first novel in first person since Owen Meany. I can’t wait… Bu tI have to wait till June 2012…

This also means that my list now contains 12 books I’m looking forward to in 2012 – very fitting!!

So I’ve been doing a bit of research and I’ve realized that there’s a lot of really interesting books scheduled for publishing in 2012. I’ve compiled a list here of some of these – the ones, I’m most interested in reading.

  • Donna Tartt. I don’t know the title of this book yet but I’m so excited. Donna Tartt has so far written two books, I’ve read and loved one of these. I plan on reading her first novel next year and hopefully also the new one. The Little Friend, her second novel, was really a great book so I have high hopes for both these reads.
  • Joyce Carol Oates: Mudwoman. I love Joyce Carol Oates. She’s an amazing writer and I hope to make it through all her novels one day – a pretty hard task since she has written so many and keeps writing at least one a year. This one has been compared to Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier so how can it be anything but great?
  • Stephen King: The Wind Through the Keyhole. King is one of my favorite authors – he’s a master story teller. This book is an installment in his Dark Tower series, a series that I unfortunately haven’t started yet but I’m looking forward to it. I hope to start reading Dark Tower next year – just as soon as I’ve finished 11.22.63 …
  • Hilary Mantel: Bring up the Bodies. I’ve read Mantel’s Booker Prize winning novel Wolf Hall and liked it. I felt like my knowledge of English history was seriously lacking and that got a bit in the way of my enjoyment. Mantel is an excellent author, the writing is superb – but just as with The Satanic Verses and War and Peace, it helps if you know something about the subject before reading the novel.
  • China Mieville: Railsea. Mieville is one of those authors who has the potential to be one of my favorite authors. I’ve only read UnLundun which I really liked, but it’s a ya novel so it’s not necessarily a good one to compare the rest of his work to. So next year, I plan on reading at least one other Mieville novel (The City and The City) and maybe this one as well. Or Kraken. I’ve been meaning to read that one for a while.
  • Terry Pratchett: The Long Earth. This is a sci-fi series from Pratchett that he had written a lot of before Discworld took off – and because of that, The Long Earth was abandoned. So this is something completely different. I’m definitely looking forward to this!
  • Michael Chabon: Telegraph Avenue. Chabon is another author who has the potential to become a favorite (btw – a third author who has this potential is Jonathan Franzen!). Anyway, I’ve read a couple of novels by Chabon (Wonder Boys and The Final Solution) and I’ve liked them but they haven’t lived completely up to my expectations. Still, I definitely want to read more by Chabon so this one made the list as well.
  • Anne Rice: The Wolf Gift. It’s Anne Rice. It’s werewolves. What’s not to like??? Actually, I’m not that big a fan of werewolves and I haven’t read that much by Rice but still – it has potential!
  • Freda Warrington: Grail of the Summer Stars. This is the third novel in the Aetherial Tales series. I’ve read the first and loved it. It was new and refreshing so of course this one made it on the list.
  • Carlos Ruis Zafon: The Prisoner of Heaven. I’ve read The Shadow of the Wind and it was amazing. This is the third in that series so really looking forward to moving on to the second and third installment in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series.
  • Adrian Tchaikovsky: The Air War. This is the 8th installment in the Shadows of the Apt series. I’ve made it through the fourth first novels and they are really interesting and fascinating so until I finish this entire series, I’m looking forward to each new novel.

Hm – I think this list really shows that I need to get a lot of reading done in 2012. There’s a lot of books and series that I want to read and books I look forward to but where I need to read some other books before I can read them… I need to organize my reading better in 2012! More on that later!