books · bookshelves

A slight growth of my library

Finally I have time enough to properly note down the books I acquired the previous month. On two occasions, while working on a particularly long and exhausting project, I took a refuge in a quiet walk and a book-browse. Twenty one new friend is the outcome.


  • Spotted Dog Running On Seashore/Cranes Fly Early. Chinghiz Aitmatov
  • The House of Insects. Ottó Tolnai
  • Season of Migration to the North. Tayeb Salih
  • Reeds and Mud. Vicente Blasco Ibáñez
  • The Ant Heap. Margit Kaffka
  • War with the Newts. Karel Čapek



Aitmatov is a recently discovered treasure trove. After it has been sitting on a shelf for who knows how long, I read Jamilia and was awe-stricken. Mesmerized by his writing, by Kyrgyzstan he describes, I proceeded to read the other two novellas in the collection I own (The First Teacher and The Red Scarf). Then I found an English translation of Spotted Dog Running On Seashore which just cemented my decision to seek out every book he ever wrote. My happiness was even greater when I learned that almost all of them were translated to Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian. Stumbling on Spotted Dog Running On Seashore and Cranes Fly Early was a bliss!

Tolnai I knew as a poet. Leafing through The House of Insects one could not fail to notice that it is an experimental novel, which got me interested. Seeing it contains an afterword titled A Novel as a Spiderweb I had no choice but to take it home.

Salih and Ibáñez I have never read. The afterwords (these books were published back in the days when there were no blurbs on the back covers) sounded interesting, so I put them in a bag. Back home I discovered I actually had Season of Migration to the North on my reading list. Great!

The Ant Heap was a pleasant surprise. I have read somewhere (on a blog, probably) about Margit Kaffka, but never read anything she wrote. Now that I have it near, I will not wait long to pick it up.

Čapek. I have been eyeing War with the Newts for nearly six months, and this time I decided to take it. Knowing his wit and humor, it can hardly be anything but wonderful.


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  • The Elements of Style. William Strunk Jr. and E.B White
  • Bambi. Felix Salten
  • The Voices of Marrakesh. Elias Canetti
  • Barabbas/The Sibyl/The Death of Ahasuerus. Pär Lagerkvist
  • The Loss of El Dorado. V.S. Naipaul



The Elements of Style and Bambi were found on a yard sale, hilariously cheap. Again, I haven’t read anything by E.B. White, but I knew something about his books which is why I was interested in finding out what he had to say about style. Bambi I bought mainly because it’s a classic. Maybe I shouldn’t have – I don’t know if I will ever read it again.

A trip to Marrakesh sounded particularly inviting, even more so when the one in charge was Elias Canetti. Looking forward to this one!

Pär Lagerkvist.. I cannot remember how long it has been since I read his novels, but I remember I read them eagerly – each and every single one that city library had.. Good to have my own copies – I will definitely be getting back to them at a certain point.

Spotted and immediately grabbed Naipaul. Another interesting trip to take!



  • Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen
  • The Lost Shore. Anna Langfus
  • Tears of the Giraffe. Alexander McCall Smith
  • The Wind in the Willows. Kenneth Grahame
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Carson McCullers



I do own it in translation, but since I can understand the original perfectly well and since it’s one of my favorite novels I had to have Sense and Sensibility in English!

Again, one of the books I found intriguing upon reading the blurb – The Lost Shore by Anna Langfus. Never heard of her before. Very interested to see what’s between the covers.

I am not sure why I bought Tears of the Giraffe. I suppose I intended it for those stressful, working days that call for an urgent escape in the form of ”light reading”. Another one from a yard sale, very cheap. As well as The Wind in the Willows – beloved children’s classic that I haven’t read yet. Time to do so.

Ever since I read it couple of years ago, I’ve been looking for a copy of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – amazing piece of literature that I have been telling about to anyone who was willing to listen. It’s translation, and the decision was to stop buying books translated from English, but…



  • Collected Short Stories. E.M. Forster
  • The Grandmother. Božena Němcová
  • Villette. Charlotte Brontë
  • Patterns of Childhood. Christa Wolf




The blurb seemed interesting, so I took Forster’s Collected Short Stories home. I am not sure why I’ve never read anything by Forster. I suspect something that Virginia Woolf wrote in one of her essays kept me away.

Božena Němcová I know only by name. Time to find out more, I think.

It’s funny with Villette – every time I am on a fair or at the book market or in a bookshop I can never remember whether I have it or not, so I never buy it. Couple of weeks ago I stood in front of my British literature shelf, internalizing the fact that there was no Villette on it. It worked. I knew I would find it at the market and here it is now, all mine.

Funny thing with Wolf as well – even though I read only Medea (of which I don’t remember a thing) I feel a strange compulsion to accumulate her books. Patterns of Childhood now gets to join its sisters Medea, Cassandra, No Place on Earth and Divided Heaven on a German shelf.


10 thoughts on “A slight growth of my library

  1. What wonderfully varied finds! Many authors new to me, and probably not available in translation, alas. I *have* read and loved “War with the Newts” and I too have more Christa Wolf novels on my shelves than I’ve read. She’s a wonderful but complex author.

    1. Aren’t they? I feel particularly satisfied with this bunch precisely because of its variety. There are couple of books I would like to start immediately – War with the Newts being one of them – but I have Palahniuk, for a book club, an then Rhys and Woolf, so this bunch is going to have to wait.

  2. What an interesting bunch of new friends you got there, although most of them are foreign to me! :p Love the cover of the Cesare Pavese….. I recall seeing ‘War With the Newts’ at the Big Bad Wolf sales but the content did not appeal very much to me (reminded me abit of Planet of the Apes, somehow) and so it didn’t go home with me. Thanks for reminding me that I have to read The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter soon! Have you ever watched the film, by the way? Long before I even knew that it was from a book, I have always loved the film’s music score (I never watched the film, though). My dad used to like collecting CDs of instrumental music, and since I was the only other person in the family who appreciates them as much as he did, I grew up being more familiar with the themes and scores of films, rather than the actual films themselves. :)
    Oh, glad your ‘internalizing’ strategy worked! (hahaha….)

    1. The effectiveness of the simplicity – that’s what the cover is. Beautiful.
      I haven’t watched the film. I see it has good reviews. One winter afternoon I pledge to devote to it. :)
      I love stories like this one about your dad, music and you; about family members connecting over a shared interest. The only soundtrack I used to listen to was Pan’s Labyrinth.
      I will have to use the strategy again because I keep forgetting which one of the (in my mind) similarly titled Lajos Zilahy’s novels I don’t own. Or maybe I could just write it down and let the list wait for Winter Book Fair…

      1. I will have to check out the soundtrack for Pan’s Labyrinth then. :)
        Just another note on how little I know about the films…. I was just checking out on Youtube both the scores for The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter and another one – the theme from ‘Bilitis’, because I tend to get the both of them mixed up, and I was shocked to discover that the film ‘Bilitis’ was actually described as being something of a French soft core pornography! :O
        Suddenly, it feels like the fond memories that I have associated with that piece of music have just taken on a different shade….. :p (hahahaha)
        When is the Winter Book Fair, by the way? :)

        1. Hahah Someone would argue that a great body of French cinematography is such. I haven’t seen it, but (based on the French films I have seen) I would argue it’s just nudity and intimacy that give that impression.
          Winter Book Fair is sometime in December, mid December.

          1. Guess I really don’t know enough about French cinematography to argue much about that. :p But from what I have glimpsed on the Youtube clips, it did seem to have a soft core porn feel to it. :p Maybe it all depends largely on the way the nudity and intimacy are being presented…..

  3. Ooo what a bunch of treats this is. I’ve only read The Wind in the Willows but it is a very enjoyable read and of course not knowing about books means that I anticipate your thoughts of them even more than usual…which is a lot.

    1. Yes, a great one! Imagine how happy it made me feel! All of them being very appealing.. But I will restrain from reading them for a while because I’ve been meaning to get back to Woolf, to read some of her novels I haven’t read before, and to reread some of her essays. This week is all about Jean Rhys. This all means that books from the bunch are going to wait for late October!

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