Last week I handed in my final assignment for my undergraduate degree, which is absolutely terrifying.
At the weekend I removed most of the books from my shelves and I am now left with a select few pleasure reads I have been impatiently waiting to get my hands on. I thought I would share that list.
1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
I have already read 200 pages. Since reading War and Peace last year, I have been dying to read Anna Karenina. When Vintage brought out their new Russian classics collection, I had to get this edition and it has been sitting on my shelf since February.
Anna Karenina is a story about a married socialite woman and her affair with Count Vronsky. Vronsky instantly falls in love with Anna when he meets her and attempts to pursue her whenever she is out in society and wants her to leave her senior government official husband.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky described the novel as “flawless as a work of art” and from what I have read his statement is very true. I had watched the 2012 film when it was released but it took quite some time to get to the beginning of the film’s events in the novel. However, the chapters leading up to meeting Anna make sense to the story as multiple characters weave in and out of the novel to create a rich plot line like a grand tapestry.
2. Ross Poldark by Winston Graham.
I love the BBC series Poldark and my housemate was kind enough to buy me the books for Christmas. It feels like forever since I have read a series of books and I now have 12 Poldark books so it seems like a perfect time to make a start on the series. I am still debating whether to read ahead of the television series or watch the series first then the books they are based on because I have loved the surprises when watching the series and I am worried I will not like the series as much after reading the books.
The novel is set in Cornwall from 1783-1787. Ross Poldark returns from fighting in America to find his family life turned upside down and the woman he loves engaged to his cousin.
After studying the 18th century at university, I am really excited to read this and think about the historical context surrounding the novel’s events.
3. Golden Years by Ali Eskandarian.
I noticed this on the new fiction table in my local Waterstones and later picked it up during a student lock-in in February. The quote from the Observer says: ‘A scorching story powered by both politics and poetry, and seething with sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.’ Sounds like a great book.
The description on the back of the book is even more interesting as it reads:
In Brooklyn, New York, during November 2013, Ali Eskandarian was murdered alongside two members of his band, the Yellow Dogs.
I tried to do some research on this book and came back with very little. Excuse my ignorance, but from what I gather this is a true story with possible fictionalised aspects. If anyone has read it, please correct me. I’m looking forward to reviewing this as it was an impulse buy and I know little about it.
4. Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahattin Ali.
I saw this book in hardback last year and was intrigued. This year it was released in paperback and every time I was in a bookshop I would pick it up and sadly put it down. However, last month I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the book from Penguin as a thank you for completing a survey and I am so happy it is finally in my hands.
All I know is that the novel is about a Turkish man who falls in love with an artist in 1920s Berlin.
I misread this to be a modern historical novel which put me off but then I found out this has only recently been translated into English. Translated fiction, the 1920s, the art scene … I’m in.
5. Tarantula by Bob Dylan.
I listened to a lot of Bob Dylan when writing my dissertation and I was so happy to see him win the Noble Prize for Literature.
I was so happy to find this discounted in one of my favourite local bookshops as Tarantula has an interesting history.
The publication for Tarantula was constantly delayed and for years only bookleg copies were available. Written in 1966, Dylan captures the turbulent times of the decade in a mixture of poems and prose.
6. The Call of the Weird by Louis Theroux.
I would like to use this platform to thank Louis Theroux for getting me through third year of university. Happy? Watch a Louis Theroux documentary. Sad? Watch a Louis Theroux documentary. Procrastinating but want to feel like you are learning something? Watch a Louis Theroux documentary.
Weird Weekends is my favourite Louis Theroux series and in this book Louis returns to some of the people he met in the series and dedicates a chapter to them. I’m just excited; it is going to be great.
And that’s all the books I have with me in my university room. I’m not sure if I’ll get through them all before I leave because Anna Karenina is nearly 1000 pages long but I hope to read a few of them. My collection is not very diverse considering half of the books are set in America but I will be able to read a wider range of books when I am reunited with my books at home.
After Anna Karenina, I think I will read Louis Theroux’s book for a bit of nonfiction. If you have read any of these books, or think I should read one sooner, please let me know. I would love to hear your thoughts!