Winstons first secondhand book buys of 2015

Well a change today from  my  usual book choices sees me only buying just  one translated book today , that said it gets hard to find books I’ve not read in the local charity shops as most books in translation that tend to be given are the popular ones that I’ve read or haven’t an interested in reading any way to the first three books of 2015 .So whilst waiting to meet Amanda after work in town I did managed to get round all the shops in town .



First there  was these  two books from Oxfam’s sale .At swim two birds by Flann O’Brein ,I am going try and buy a number more books from Ireland for a project later this year or even next to bump up my books from Ireland , which is rather small and as it is the place I was born and my family comes from that is rather sad , so I’m wanting to put that right .The second book is closely observed trains by Bohumil Hrabil , I have this on dvd so want read and compare to the film .


The third book was from save the children is a collected box set of a collection Finbar’s hotel and Ladies night at Finbar’s hotel , it looks like this collection came out about fifteen years ago and had a collection of the best of Irish writing at the time names such as Colm Tobin and jenifer Johnston both of which seem to be favourites of Kim over at reading matters who actually reviewed a book by Tobin today .

what are your first book buys of 2015 ?

That was the month that was January 2013 – a quarter million milestone

snowy treeWell the nights are starting to lighten its been a busy month here at Winston’s tower ,some how shocked how I managed to get 14 books read this month but a number where rather short .I had a number of night shifts and was off for the last five days of the month .I managed to have a little more time than normal to read .Any way favourite book of the month Train to Budapest by Dacia Marani ,which I shall review early next month ,other honorable mentions go to The eleven by Pierre Michon and the two Donald Antrim reissues I read .A good book finding month as many of you may know I tend to have tight book finances ,when it comes to what is available to spend sad to say I had to return to Amazon after nearly a year just because of cost and availability of the books I want for three books ,I hope in summer trips out to cities with Amanda will mean I can buy books in shops I want .But the other side of this is I am a huge second-hand buyer and this month saw me hit gold with a number of penguins a Roman Gary ,Andre Gide ,Henrich Boll and a Samuel Beckett novel .Which eased my conscious re using amazon as some of  these books  are out of print and will be reviewed on here which I hope will get people to find them all out as they are   all writers I feel the need to read and think other people should these are the ones that explain modern literature in France and Germany as they tend to inspire or have been read by most modern writers in these countries .So the month ahead well here at Winston towers two dates spring to mind ,the first is valentines day as a romantic at heart I’ve my book ready for the day and will be spending time myself with the darling Amanda .The other date in my diary is Amanda’s birthday which may not be so bookish as she isn’t a huge reader but sure we will have a lovely time and I ll get her some great gifts .For the blog I sit on the verge of a quarter million views in my stats sometime today or tomorrow I will pass that total so thanks to every one who visits on a regular or just once all welcome  great that you all come and visit the blog .The picture at the top was taken in the middle of the month out with Winston in the middle of the snow .

What was your favourite book last month ?

Plans for next ?


what give a book the X FACTOR !

Well call me shallow I ve used the fact it is the X FACTOR final tonight to do a book related post I hate the show it is a meaningless money-making venture for mr Cowell and doesn’t high light real talent which would be writing the songs they sing as a lover of sing /songwriters  a show that focused on that talent and help people establish a realistic career rather than a Warhol  15 mins of fame !

Well to the point what makes the X factor of A book I ve Pick 8 from the last year that on cover and style would make me buy them above others on the shelves .


The books are from top left clockwise –

The Whitsun wedding by Philip Larkin ,I love Larkin this is from Faber’s Poetry first collection the book reminds me a little of a ladybird books from my youth if a little large and with lovely end papers inside .

The last brother by Nathacha Appanah ,Now I think Maclehose always do wonderful covers this cover sums up this book tropical but sorrowful and would always catch my eye on the shelf .

Senselessness by H C Moya ,this is a wonderfully produced book from New directions ,and like last brother catches the spirit of this book a blood soaked report being read during the book .

The thousand autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell ,this is a tactile book ,but evokes its setting Japan also love the fact it goes all round the book so both front and back cover are beautiful wonderful foil detail make it glisten in the light .

Beside the sea by Veonique Olmi ,what more can I say I m a huge fan of all thing Peirene the cover ,font and flaps all perfect make reading these little gems a pleasure .

A year in the woods by Colin Elford ,the simple drawing throughout this book and eye pleasing font size made it a lovely book to read and own .But most of all a gift from my lovely wife made it special to me .

Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher ,I ve yet to get to this but read few Arabic books in summer so will get to this early next year I love the raised effect on this cover making it very tactile in your hand ,this was the arabic booker winner .



Intimate stranger by Breyten Breytenbach ,this is one of the lovely books published by non-profit publisher Archipelago books in the us I ve three from them and will get more next year there books are truly wonderful and quirky square print on heavy paper with unusual cover art .




Winstons books

Been a while since I got any books but last week had a splurge at Nottingham where that is a large waterstones and at local Oxfam .

The books –

The wild ass’s skin by Honore de Balzac ,choose this at oxfam due to its 70’s cover will read it for pink sheep cafes bad cover challenge next year ,plus my good friend linda is enjoy Balzac at moment and thought I d read another of his read one in twenties this will make two ,still loads of his to read .

Fear of De Sade by Bernardo Carvalho ,A Brazilian writer this book set in 19th century France is considered one of the best writers in Brazil at moment so really looking forward to this one .

Embers by Sandor Marai ,this is for my Hungarian week that means I ve four books now for that week next year ,this is set in Carpathians so expecting a dark tale and loads of suspence .

Kye by Lukas Tomin ,this is a twisted spoon book a book from 80’s a autobiographical novel set in london where Tomin lived at the time it is about identity .

The Tartar steppe by Dino Buzzati ,a book written just before the war follows a man that is post to a remote fort where he spends the rest of his life as he is forgotten considered Italian classic ,I loved the poem strip when I read it and want to see how two so different books could have come from the same pen .

Solibo Magnificent by Patrick Chamoiseau ,I jump for joy when I got this in oxfam as it is from Martinique a unusal police procedural ,written in french and creole .

The discovery of heaven by Harry Mulisch ,his recent death made me want to read his opus ,considered the best Dutch book ever ,I read another of his books a few years ago but this looks awesome .a book following a quest  and a couple onno and max .

Winter -a dance to the music of time by Anthony Powell ,this mean I ve books 4,5,6, 10.11and 12 I ve read the first two and have book three from library so this  is for when I get this far which will be a way of yet but was a bargain for two pound .




I ve add this post to the story siren mailbox post .have you read any of these books ?

Winstons books new and old

Some recent arrivals at Winston’s towers –

second-hand book sale –

The rendezvous and other stories by Daphne Du Maurier I ve read a couple of her novels Rebecca being my favourite ,saw this collection of haunting stories and thought they’d make perfect winter evening reading stories focus on husbands breaking loose ,a married women committing suicide and a steamer being saved by a mysterious ship ,sounds wonderful .

Agents and Patients by Anthony Powell –

Now this book is from his dance to the music of time cycle ,it flows another young man Blore-smith from Oxford via paris and Berlin in the thirties with a large chunk of humour ,should be interesting Simon at inside books recently reviewed another Powell here and found his humour had dated slightly ,so be interested to see if this is still fresh .

Clochemerle by Gabriel Chevaller

This is a satire from a french writer ,has been reprint a number of times last time 2004 ,this is a 50’s penguin thou my main reason for buying it as I love the old orange and white covers ,set in a french village follows the struggle as they try to build public toilets in the village ,sounds funny .

Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb –

A real find a Pushkin press book ,from a Hungarian writer ,it is the story of follow Milahy on his honeymoon in Italy as he struggles with his past and marriage  considered on of the best novels from Hungary .


from Annabel at Gaskell ,the Balkan Trilogy by Olivia Manning ,I was reading about this after remember the tv series a few weeks ago and had marked it down as a book to get the a few day later Annabel was want to get rid of some books and this was one ,I was lucky to be sent it thank her greatly ,the books follow Guy and Harriet a couple through the Balkans during the second world war .

received for review –

Urn Burial by SIR Thomas Browne

Thomas Browne was a writer ,Physician among other things ,a look at Kevin’s site aquarium of vulcan will tell you loads about him ,this slim volume a new edition by New Directions in the pearl series ,is a discussion musing on the discovery of roman urns in the 17th century and to mans experience on this mortal coil and struggle with mortality ,there is a forward by W G Sebald from rings of saturn were he talks about Browne and seeing his skull .

winstons books

well not had many books at winston towers last week or so but have got few new additions to the ever growing pile .

First off is this bitter leaf it is by Chioma Okereke she is originally from Nigeria ,and has nearly won to competitions for unpublished novels ,this is her debut novel published by virago ,it was sent to me by the lovely Sarah at bookrabbit ,the book revolves round life in a village called mannobe and the people who live there ,their loves ,loss and being a parent .Sounds really good .

the second is from library a book been waiting few weeks for it is Christos tsiolkas ‘s the slap a wonderful book from australia ,the book centres on a bbq in a suburb and the out fall of a man slapping a unruly youngster ,the book is told from 8 points of view .I heard Tsiolkas interview and discovered that it was partly based on a real incident .it will also count to global reading challenge I entered 🙂 . This may be on booker list as well .

now this was from my local book sale Brink is a writer I am not very familiar with and on this edition there isn’t a lot of info about this book ,I now he was very influential  in the anti apartheid movement ,so it be a voyage of discovery .

I read beautiful screaming of pigs earlier in year ,so want to read more Galgut as I enjoyed that so much this book follows the death of a minister and the murderer assumes his identity and is found out and pursued by a captain of police across the veld .This was also from book sale ,can feel a small challenge for myself got three nice books from south africa so may read them all together and compare and see what they all sat about south african writing .



Here are some of the latest books i have got or been sent –

Santa Evita and The Tango Singer by Tomas Eloy Martinez ,now been wanting to read Martinez for a while ,the tango singer his last book follows one man’s journey through Buenos Aires in search of a famous tango singer that has never been recorded this leads to numerous interesting encounters en – route i got this in Sheffield on friday then today saturday was at book sale and got Santa Evita a telling of Eva Peron story I m hoping this is less saccharin than the musical and I get to find out more about this famous woman .

Dirty Havana Trilogy by Pablo Juan Gutierrez set in Havana’s consider a dirty realism classic in this book we experience the underbelly of this city it vices ,sex and drugs .

The land of Ulro by Czeslaw Milosz ,Milosz won the nobel in 1980 this is a prose piece about Poland and Lithuania the instytut ksiazki describes it as a intellectual and literary autobiography .this was a book sale bargain

Death in  Bordeaux by Alain Massie ,this is from Quartet ,the first of a trilogy we join inspector Lannes in the second world war Bordeaux france in the grips of the Vichy regime a homosexual man is found dead ,then another Lannes has to tread carefully to find the killer

winstons books

  First up are two for review from new publisher Peirene ,they are stones in a landslide by Maria Barbel a modern classic from catalan it follows a life of a Conxa  through her life and touches the spanish civil war and lost loves .The second is beside the sea a french novel by Veronique Olmi that follows a mother visit to the seaside with her two kids and what happens there .Now both these have got good reviews so far on different blogs going to have to work on something special for these ,many thanks to Meike and peirene for sending me these great to support a new publisher of translated books ,also believe Meike looking for other books that are short to be translated .

next are three great finds at my local Oxfam ,they are –

The engineer of human souls by Josef Skvorecky ,this is a thick book from the acclaimed czech writer it follows Danny an exile from a police state and follows some of Josef own story ,now this is going to one side for my 2011 challenge .

The sorrows of war by Bao NInh ,this novel tells the story of a north Vietnamese solider during the Vietnam war ,be interesting to see the other side of the coin in regards to the Vietnam war ,this also won the Independent foreign fiction prize .

One day of life Manlio Argueta ,now this is really exciting to me ,Argueta is a el Salvadoran writer this book was in the top ten latin american novels of 20th century by modern library ,it follows a day in the life of a pheasant farmer in El Salvador .

Has any one read any of these ?

winstons books

a quick round up of some books this week at winstons towers –

for arabic challenge

Cities of salt Abdelrahman Munif ,the Jordanian’s book is part of my arabic reading challenge and is highly contervisal in the arab world it follows the growth of the oil industry in the arab peninsular and the effect of this on the villagers of the area ,banned in a number of countries i m looking forward to this book i love stories of change .

For bread alone by Mohamed Choukri follows Mohamed’s struggle for survival ,the family travel to Tangiers for a better life along the way 8 of his siblings die of neglect and malnutrition ,this book is consider a true classic and is translated by Paul Bowles best known for his novel sheltering sky also set in north africa .

for amy's challenge

Burma boy by Biyi Bandele this is a book for amy reads Nigeria month ,the book follows a 14 Burmese  boy during the second world war fighting the japanese ,Biyi Bandele grew up in the north of Nigeria and his father fought in second world war in Burma and inspired this story .

new from telegram

three sisters by bi feiyu ,the book follows three sister and there different approaches to the changes in china post Mao ,Feiyu is a highly respect writer having won the chinese booker (lu xun ) ,the book comes out in July from telegram books .

new arrivals at winstons tower

we had a few new books come Winston and I ,two from reviews I ve read on other blogs and one from a publisher

they are –

more books dad !

skylark  byDezsö Kosztolányi which i read about on trevors blog the mooske and the gripes also nyrb had a poscast with a reading from the book .it follows skylark a young girl in a small hungarian town in 1900 .

The book of things by Ilhan Berk from salt publishing Ilhan was turkeys leading modernist poet this is a group of three volumes brought together in a single work translated by George Messo ,these are wonderfully set out and look amazing and is the start of some translated poetry on the Winstonsdad

The libary at night by Alberto Manguelo – which considered my recent wobble on blogging may jump up the pile ,Manguel is so passionate about books and reading i read about this on emily janes  blog although have read a couple of his other books over the years his stevenson under the palms i loved .

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March 2023


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