1. Torn apart: The Life of Ian Curtis – Mick Middles & Lindsay Reade
Seen Anton Corbijn’s film Control, about Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis? Here’s a chance to dive deeper into this unhappy man’s life, and, when you’re in your forties, like me, to remember the happy adolescent years you spent in the company of Joy Division, New Order, Wire, The Cure and the like.
2. Forest Mage – Robin Hobb
After a walk through fallen leaves in the woods nothing will warm your cheeks more than this second book – now out in paperback – in the trilogy from the author of the Tawny Man and Farseer trilogies. Following on from the bestselling Shaman’s Crossing, it’s about a soldier, Nevare Burvelle, condemned to death by his fellow villagers, who survives the killing and becomes a hero.
3. Baumgartner’s Bombay – Anita Desai
Desai is a superb observer of the human race. She shows off this talent in this daring and colorful novel, in which we follow Baumgartner, from his agonizing childhood in pre-war Berlin, through his spell in business in India. Baumgartner is a wandering Jew. Too dark for Hitler’s Germany, too fair for India, he remains a foreigner wherever he goes.
Without Anita Desai, we wouldn’t have had last year’s Booker Prize-winner, Kiran Desai’s “The Inheritance of Loss”. (Which she dedicated to her mom, obviously!) So take your time, wrap a huge pashmina shawl around you and read Hugo Baumgartener’s story. After that, you can always come to one of our stores to pick up a copy of Kiran Desai’s bestseller.
4. The Roses: The Complete Plates – Pierre-Joseph Redouté
I just love the bobbing last blooms of my New Dawn and Paul’s Scarlet Climber roses. Every morning I go out into my garden and just stand there, smelling and admiring them. If you’re a roses person too, or if you know just such a person, I recommend poring over these pages, full of beautifully engraved and large as life-roses. Redouté was a French artist of the late 18th and early 19th century. He mastered the unusual technique of stipple engraving: using tiny dots, rather than lines. This led to the subtle variations in coloring for which his work is known.
5. Selected Poems – John Ashbery
One of my heroes, Pulitzer Prize-winning Ashbery, has made a varied selection from the whole range of his lifetime’s work. This beautiful edition of daring, gifted and eloquent poetry would make a lovely gift!
5. (Sneak-In): District and Circle – Seamus Heaney
In the autumn of his life, Heaney presents us with this wonderful collection of poems. “They re-energize the language and by doing so, they serve to quicken the reader’s soul”, The Economist says. Well, rightly so. Nothing more to add, I’d say – see you next week with a new choice of must-reads.