#MyDayInBooks part 1

10/10/18 in 5 books

Today is a day when many interesting books have crossed paths, and I thought I would share them.

Book 1: Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile by Alice Jolly


In the early hours, long after I had hoped to go to sleep, utterly gripped, I finished reading Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile.

I was part of a group with Alice at an event in Nottingham this weekend and in preparation, as I knew I wanted to read it I thought about buying the e-book but decided to wait until it was a little cheaper. However, as soon as I picked it up at the event and read a few sample snatches, I just had to buy the hardback. I am so glad I did. It will be one that stays with me, and on the shelves unless urgently pressed into the hands of visitors. I will come back to the book to do it justice in a review soon, but for now, I just want to say how much I loved it. And congratulations to Unbound for publishing such a compelling and beautiful novel. How lucky it is for all of us that they, and many other great independent publishers (see below) are doing the work they do to ensure that we are still able to read such books. Please read it. Quite stunning.

Book 2: Raising Sparks, by Ariel Kahn


For my next read, I selected from the pile Raising Sparks, published by Bluemoose books, who equally deserve immense gratitude that they continue to publish and champion books that may well have (unjustly) struggled in the mainstream. The good thing is how many awards seem to be slipping the way of the valiant indies (see: The Gallows Pole.)

Just as I was about to start it, in one of those small and pleasing sparkles of coincidence, I flipped through twitter and saw that just then, Ariel has followed me and others, today on the day of the book launch at Daunt Books. Good luck this evening, I hope it goes brilliantly well.

I have read the first two chapters and want to go to Jerusalem and bury myself in ancient books. This passage brought to mind my earnest childhood desires that the worlds of Earthsea and the ancient powers of The Dark is Rising be real:

‘Why would you want to learn something so dangerous?’

‘The hope that there might be something hidden beneath the surface of my life, like a secret map of dreams.’ He closed the volume gently.

Book 3: Arnold Schoenberg, by Bojan Bujić

Doing some research for my new book, in a passage about Schoenberg’s early exploration of musical structure, a system was described in which it sounded to me as if chords and repetitions were seen by the composer as impediments, like clots, and that Schoenberg’s desire was to write in clean lines so that chords were formed as though by parts coming together in brief moments of alignment.

Schoenberg would view the procession of melodic lines as a horizontal flow of strands which combine to produce harmonic (vertical) sonorities.

Visualising this quite suddenly gave me the structure for Beast, the book I am about to embark on. The early 20th century is a fascinating time and each dip into discovering this music that is new to me, adds continuously to my ‘must read/must listen’ pile. And finding a sudden, visually clear way of understanding the structure makes the unwritten book instantly more alive and more (to me) beguiling than ever. Can’t wait to start.

Book 4: Four Feet Under, by Tamsen Courtenay


It is World Homeless Day, so I will also begin Tamsen’s book of carefully, respectfully gathered stories that gives voice to the homeless people so often overlooked as we glide by, in a hurry, above their heads.

Book 5: Sealed, by Naomi Booth


It is time to vote for Not the Booker. This is the book I voted for, published by Dead Ink – you guessed it, another brilliant independent publisher.

Vote: Sealed by Naomi Booth. A book in which I got darkly lost. The idea is grotesque and disturbing. Claustrophobic. The book is vivid and enlivening, posing the question ‘what have we done?’ Great read.

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