What's a Common Reader -- and what is Uncommon Reading?

Virginia Woolf defined a common reader as someone who is not a scholar; not a critic. A common reader "reads for his own pleasure rather than to impart knowledge or correct the opinions of others. Above all, he is guided by an instinct to create for himself, out of whatever odds and ends he can come by, some kind of whole." By that definition, I'm definitely a common reader -- reading an uncommonly large and diverse collection of books.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Books I Can't Wait to Read...

Oh, the temptation...

Every so often, I get a peek at what's coming up in publisher's catalogs, and it's hard to avoid drooling outright. Here are a random selection of what has piqued my curiosity, in no particular order whatsoever (including, as you can tell, publication date or genre...

Mary Sharratt
Oct 9 2012
Why? Because it's about Hildegard of Bingen, a fascinating medieval woman -- a mystic, a nun and a composer of haunting music.

Eight Girls Taking Pictures
Whitney Otto
Nov. 6, 2012
Why? I wasn't that interested by her last novel, but the idea of a narrative linked by young women photographers is intriguing. Possibly a library book.

The Last Runaway
Tracey Chevalier
Jan. 8, 2013
Why? Chevalier switches her focus to North America.

A Possible Life
Sebastian Faulks
Dec. 11, 2012
Why? I liked his non-fiction book about English "heroes" who burned out early; it seems this linked narrative of five lives might be a fictional equivalent.

Chinese Whiskers
Aiyar Pallavi
Dec. 11, 2012
Why? The story of two cats in Beijing. Why not? I'm sure it will be whimsical, but that's just fine.

The Testament of Mary
Colm Toibin 
Nov. 13, 2012
Why? Written by a gay Irish Catholic, this is bound to be interesting -- and not a little controversial. And Toibin is such a fabulous prose stylist...

Hand for a Hand
Frank Muir
Nov. 13, 2012
Why? A new mystery series set in Scotland, published by one of my "most trusted" publishers. Hey, I'll take it on faith.

The Marlowe Papers
Ros Barber
Jan. 29, 2013
Why? Debut historical mystery -- yes, Christopher Marlowe -- getting good buzz from readers in the UK.

The Green Lady
Paul Johnston
Feb. 1, 2013
Why? Well, it's a birthday present -- the return of Alex Mavros, Greek/American detective, whose puzzles always seem to relate to Greece's bumpy and often violent political past.

The Forgetting Tree
Tatjana Soli
Sept. 4, 2012
Why? I really liked the author's first novel, set in wartime Vietnam, and while I'm not as curious about this one's background (California citrus ranching??), it's worth a shot.

Above All Things
Tanis Rideout
February 12, 2013
Why? Great buzz on this, so much so that I decided not to wait until the US publication date or even my next trip to Toronto. Order placed with Amazon.ca, so that I can read about Everest explorer George Mallory.

The Return of a King
William Dalrymple
April 2, 2013
Why? I simply love Dalrymple's writing and his keen eye for detail. This book focuses on Afghanistan's history.

The Heat of the Sun
David Rain
Nov. 13 2012
Why? I'm an opera fan; in Madame Butterfly, Pinkerton and Cio-Cio san had a baby son. This is his story. How could I resist?

Not My Blood
Barbara Cleverly
August 21, 2012
Why? Because it's the next in the Joe Sandilands series, of course, and I have a biblio-crush on Sandilands.

The Twelve Rooms of the Nile
Enid Shomer
August 21, 2012
Why? Gustave Flaubert and Florence Nightingale were in Egypt at the same time in the 19th century. Fact. What if...  Fiction -- but why not?

The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds
Alexander McCall Smith
Oct. 23 2012
Why? The Isabel Dalhousie series is the one of his that I'm still following; I'm always curious to see how the author applies applied philosophy and ethics to fictional situations.

The Marseille Caper
Peter Mayle
Nov. 6, 2012
 Why? Mayle's novels are uneven, but sometimes a lot of fun. Good brain candy or beach reading? We'll see.

Blessed Are Those Who Thirst
Anne Holt
Dec 18, 2012
Why? I loved 1222, the first Hanne Wilhelmsen mystery by this author to be released in the US. A new one is coming out in the UK in December, so of course it's on my hit list.

A Question of Identity
Susan Hill
Oct. 25, 2012
Why? Because it's the new Simon Serailler mystery, coming out in the UK -- and I can't wait until it's out here...

The Confidant
Helene Gremillon
Oct. 30 2012
Why? A debut French novel that has created some buzz there; the plot is a bit of an old chestnut (heroine explores mother's mysterious past after her death) but it might be fun.

The Casual Vacancy
JK Rowling
Sept. 27 2012
Why? If I need to spell it out, well, we're in trouble here!

Unless noted, all of the dates above are US/North American releases; in a few instances, I'll be ordering books from the UK (because I'm impatient...)


  1. Don't forget to order Blind Goddess, the first Hanne Wilhemsen novel by Anne Holt,if you haven't read it yet... read it a couple of weeks ago...very good!

  2. Ooh, I so want that Colm Toibin book early. I actually worship him (I don't say that about many authors), and what a fascinating premise!

  3. Anne, I actually have that one coming from the UK! Hopefully this week... Terzah -- St. Colm?? Well, that's an intriguing concept, though I have to agree with you that his writing merits it. Brilliant. I still have a few of his others to read before the new novel appears.