My reading year has gotten off to a cracking start. Let me share with you some of the books I’ve really enjoyed:
A Strange Beautiful Excitement: Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington 1888 – 1903 by Redmer Yska. I thought I knew a lot about New Zealand’s greatest writer and I even some years ago recorded a CD for a British recording company on Mansfield’s life and writings (you can buy my CD Finding Katherine Mansfield here), but this book was a real eye-opener.
Yska writes in a very compelling way, gives an all too vivid picture of the sanitary conditions in Wellington, and tells of his own discovery of a previously unknown Mansfield story in some archives – that was just thrilling. A fresh, original, beautifully produced book that was an enthralling read from start to finish.
Footsteps by The New York Times. This fabulous book came to me via people who had house-swapped with my Dad, and I am very grateful to them for making me aware of it. A gem of a book, with a wonderful variety of essays from writers for The New York Times about following in the footsteps of famous writers. Some were extremely familiar to me – L.M. Montgomery on Prince Edward Island, for example, but others were writers of whom I knew little and it was a joy to follow Orhan Pamuk in Istanbul, Elena Ferrante in Naples, and Dashiell Hammett in San Francisco. I have walked in Mark Twain’s footsteps in Connecticut, but never in Hawaii – another wonderful essay. I loved this book!
Stealing the Scream: The Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece by Edward Dolnick. In February 1994 a man climbed a ladder outside the National Gallery in Oslo, smashed a window and stole Munch’s famous painting ‘The Scream’ from the wall. A minute later he was down the ladder and gone, while the security guard in the basement ignored it all as a false alarm. This book is about getting the painting back, a job handed to an extraordinary man called Charlie Hill who has retrieved several famous art works. The book tells the amazing tale of getting back the Munch, but also takes you on a journey through the murky world of art theft. I found it fascinating.
I can recommend all three of the above. I just hope the rest of my reading this year proves half as good.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
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