Today marks the start of the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop, hosted by Judith at Leeswammes' Blog. With nearly sixty participating blogs, there are sure to be a veritable mountain of literary goodies out there up for grabs. The giveaway runs until the end of Wednesday, 22nd February so please do stop by as many of the participating blogs as possible, enter the giveaways and check out the many wonderful book blogs of which I hope at least a few will be new to you. Assuming my computer skills are up to it (always a risky assumption to make), links to all the participants can be found at the bottom of this post.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I can hear you saying – cut to the chase, what’s up for grabs? Well, being possessed of a butterfly mind and also being generally in favour of choice, I’m going to give you lucky people a selection of books from which to choose. Listed below are ten books that are currently sitting on my shelves in the basement of Falaise Towers. All you have to do is to leave me a comment saying which one you would like. If you can’t choose or enjoy surprises, just leave a comment to that effect and, if you are the lucky winner, I will make a selection for you. And, as a final enticement, the poster with the best comment (as decided by me, in my sole, despotic opinion) will win a mystery book-related gift. That’s all there is to it (although do feel free to follow the blog as well!). The winner of the book will be chosen at random and, although I'm happy to send anywhere, if you are a long way away from the UK, the book may take a while to get there!
The rules we’ve been given are pretty relaxed. The giveaway has to be book-related and if it’s a book, it has to have some literary merit. No romance, supernatural or urban fiction or YA. Non-fiction and poetry are also fine, as are standard contemporary fiction books and well-written mysteries or thrillers.
So, as you can see, it’s a pretty big universe from which to choose. I’ve not tried to be clever and theme the books in my list. Equally, I’m not claiming that these comprise my favourites or that they have any particular quality over and above the required literary merit, something which I believe can exist in non-fiction books. The only link between the books in my list is that each of them is about to catch my eye as I now take a break to go downstairs on this wet and grey London afternoon and make my choices – feel free to go and make a cup of tea, I shan’t be long.............
...................OK, I’m back, with a list at least twice as long as I had intended – spending time amongst bookshelves can be dangerous. So here are your choices, get commenting!
1. The Sword of Honour Trilogy by Evelyn Waugh. I really believe that this trilogy ranks as some of Waugh’s best work but it doesn’t seem to get the same attention as books like Brideshead Revisited, Decline and Fall, Vile Bodies or Scoop. It is the partially-autobiographical, blackly humorous yet touching story of Guy Crouchback, a middle-aged officer in the British Army during the Second World War. It’s probably my favourite Waugh.
2. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. It’s February 2012 and so it only seems fair to include a Dickens in this giveaway and Oliver Twist is quintessential Dickens and a incredibly vivid portrayal of the underside of Victorian London. It’s simply fabulous and Mrs F and I often used to pass Nancy’s steps in Southwark on our weekend walks on the South Bank when we lived in Bermondsey.
3. Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best by P.G. Wodehouse. Given my near religious devotion to Plum, it was pretty unlikely that I would be able to resist the temptation to include him in this giveaway. This is the complete collection of Blandings short stories. All the gang are here: Lord Emsworth, Gally, the Empress of Blandings and the rest of them. If Blandings isn’t your Wodehousian cup of tea, then I offer you as an alternative either a classic Jeeves and Wooster story – The Code of the Woosters – or, for the adventurous amongst you, Uncle Fred in the Springtime, featuring the incorrigible Earl of Ickenham.
4. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne. I just love this one. The story of Phileas Fogg’s wager and race around the world pushes a lot of my hot buttons – travel, adventure, humour and Victorian clubland. Lovely and fun.
5. The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux. Another book about which I am quite evangelical and continuing the travel theme, Paul Theroux’s railway journey around the world is a true travel classic. If you’ve already read it, or would prefer a more contemporary account, you may instead choose Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, his recent revisiting of the journey.
6. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. Probably his most famous novel, this medieval-set mystery with a heavy seasoning of Sherlock Holmes has oodles of secret codes, hidden manuscripts, grotesque characters and, in William of Baskerville, a memorable hero. It is completely and utterly satisfying.
7. Stamboul Train by Graham Greene. Stamboul Train is one of Greene’s earlier novels and, I think, is unfairly overlooked these days. It’s really a collection of loosely linked vignettes or short stories about a motley cast of characters who have gathered together on the old Orient Express which comes together to form a coherent narrative. Lots of political and social comment as well as elements of travelogue.
8. The Dumas Club by Arturo Perez-Reverte. The protagonist, Lucas Corso, is a kind of literary detective, hired to authenticate a rare copy of The Three Musketeers and a 17th Century manual for summoning the Devil. The more he investigates, however, the more the texts appear to be linked. Opinion in the blogosphere on this mystery set in the world of antiquarian booksellers and rare manuscripts is divided – some love it, some loathe it. I’m in the former camp.
9. The Master of Go by Yasunari Kawabata. On the surface, this is the fictional chronicle of a Go match between a revered champion and a younger challenger. Underneath, it is a treatment of the 20th Century collision of values between Imperial Japan and the modern country. Kawabata was a Nobel prizewinner and it’s easy to see why. This book is both elegiac and suspenseful, almost peaceful in its style, whilsr dealing in deep emotions.
10. Documents Concerning Rubashov the Gambler by Carl-Johan Vallgren. So what would happen if one had immortality thrust upon oneself? Rubashov, a degenerate gambler finds out in this amazing picaresque novel, translated from the Swedish by Sarah Death. It is New Year’s Eve, 1899 and Rubashov challenges the Devil to a game of poker. He loses, naturally but, instead of sending him to Hell, the Devil gives him immortality. The novel follows him through 20th Century Europe and some of its best-known events.
So that’s your lot, I’m afraid. Tell me what you’d like and once you’ve done that, hop off and visit these other participants. Good luck!