Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.
I realized that I’ve not been reading much non-fiction these past two months. And when browsing Nancy Pearl’s Book lust to go, so many interesting travel-related works of non-fiction jumped out at me.
The 8:55 to Baghdad – Andrew Eames
I love the idea of a London to Baghdad train ride. I haven’t read much Agatha Christie though. Maybe this will encourage more of that.
In 1928, Agatha Christie, the world’s most widely read author, was a thirty-something single mother. With her marriage to her first husband, Archie Christie, over, she decided to take a much-needed holiday; the Caribbean had been her intended destination, but a conversation at a dinner party with a couple who had just returned from Iraq changed her mind. Five days later she was off on a completely different trajectory.
Merging literary biography with travel adventure, and ancient history with contemporary world events, Andrew Eames tells a riveting tale and reveals fascinating and little-known details en route in this exotic chapter in the life of Agatha Christie. His own trip from London to Baghdad—a journey much more difficult to make in 2002 with the political unrest in the Middle East and the war in Iraq, than it was in 1928—becomes ineluctably intertwined with Agatha’s, and the people he meets could have stepped out of a mystery novel.
Fans of Agatha Christie will delight in Eames’ descriptions of the places and events that appeared in and influenced her fiction—and armchair travelers will thrill in the exotica of the journey itself.
Mirror of the World: A New History of Art – Julian Bell
With remarkable clarity, Julian Bell tells the story of how art has evolved through the millennia and across the world. He follows the changing trends in the making and significance of art in different cultures, and explains why the art of the day looked and functioned as it did. Key images and objects-some of them familiar works of art; others, less known but equally crucial to the story-act as landmarks on the journey, focal points around which the discussion always centers. Along the way, Bell answers fundamental questions such as “What is art and where does it start?” and “Why do humans make it and how does it serve them?”
Previous histories tended to focus only on the masterpieces of Western art, in the process excluding the work of women or non-Western artists, or else considering developments around the world as separate, unrelated phenomena. Bell’s achievement is to take a global perspective, bringing the distinct stories together in one convincing narrative. He draws insightful and inspired connections between different continents and cultures and across the millennia, which results in a rich and seamless introduction to the world of visual creativity.
Hundreds of carefully selected illustrations show how artists from different ages and societies often shared the same formal, technical, and aesthetic concerns, while others took divergent paths when their vision dictated it.
Julian Bell, himself a well-known painter, is the grandson of Vanessa and Clive Bell, key members of the celebrated Bloomsbury group of writers and artists. His books include What is Painting?
Monday Mornings – Sanjay Gupta
The husband and I have watched the first couple of episodes of this TV series, mostly because of Apollo (Jamie Bamber). It’s not such a great show though and I’m wondering how the book fares.
Every time surgeons operate, they’re betting their skills are better than the brain tumor, the faulty heart valve, the fractured femur. Sometimes, they’re wrong. At Chelsea General, surgeons answer for bad outcomes at the Morbidity and Mortality conference, known as M & M. This extraordinary peek behind the curtain into what is considered the most secretive meeting in all of medicine is the back drop for the entire book.
Monday Mornings, by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, follows the lives of five surgeons at Chelsea General as they push the limits of their abilities and confront their personal and professional failings, often in front of their peers at M & M. It is on Monday mornings that reflection and introspection occurs, usually in private. It is Monday Mornings that provides a unique look at the real method in which surgeons learn – through their mistakes. It is Monday Mornings when, if you’re lucky, you have a chance at redemption.
Sinister forces draw together a cast of desperate characters in this eerie and absorbing novel from Yoko Ogawa.
An aspiring writer moves into a new apartment and discovers that her landlady has murdered her husband. Years later, the writer’s stepson reflects upon his stepmother and the strange stories she used to tell him. Meanwhile, a surgeon’s lover vows to kill him if he does not leave his wife. Before she can follow-through on her crime of passion, though, the surgeon will cross paths with another remarkable woman, a cabaret singer whose heart beats delicately outside of her body. But when the surgeon promises to repair her condition, he sparks the jealousy of another man who would like to preserve the heart in a custom tailored bag. Murderers and mourners, mothers and children, lovers and innocent bystanders—their fates converge in a darkly beautiful web that they are each powerless to escape.
Macabre, fiendishly clever, and with a touch of the supernatural, Yoko Ogawa’s Revenge creates a haunting tapestry of death—and the afterlife of the living
Some great ebooks too:
A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) – Y.S. Lee
Eva mentioned this series in her last Library Loot post, and what attracted me was the fact that Lee is Singapore-born although she now lives in Canada.
(Ok so I looted this ebook earlier in the week and have already finished it!)
Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past.
Real World – Natsuo Kirino
Aha, my hold for this ebook finally came through. What is with all her book covers featuring an eye?
In a crowded residential suburb on the outskirts of Tokyo, four teenage girls indifferently wade their way through a hot, smoggy summer and endless “cram school” sessions meant to ensure entry into good colleges. There’s Toshi, the dependable one; Terauchi, the great student; Yuzan, the sad one, grieving over the death of her mother—and trying to hide her sexual orientation from her friends; and Kirarin, the sweet one, whose late nights and reckless behavior remain a secret from those around her. When Toshi’s next-door neighbor is found brutally murdered, the girls suspect the killer is the neighbor’s son, a high school boy they nickname Worm. But when he flees, taking Toshi’s bike and cell phone with him, the four girls get caught up in a tempest of dangers—dangers they never could have even imagined—that rises from within them as well as from the world around them.
Psychologically intricate and astute, dark and unflinching, Real World is a searing, eye-opening portrait of teenage life in Japan unlike any we have seen before.
The Thief is a seasoned pickpocket. Anonymous in his tailored suit, he weaves in and out of Tokyo crowds, stealing wallets from strangers so smoothly sometimes he doesn’t even remember the snatch. Most people are just a blur to him, nameless faces from whom he chooses his victims. He has no family, no friends, no connections…. But he does have a past, which finally catches up with him when Ishikawa, his first partner, reappears in his life, and offers him a job he can’t refuse. It’s an easy job: tie up an old rich man, steal the contents of the safe. No one gets hurt. Only the day after the job does he learn that the old man was a prominent politician, and that he was brutally killed after the robbery. And now the Thief is caught in a tangle even he might not be able to escape
Some books for wee reader (yup it’s toilet training time!)
Diapers are not forever – Elizabeth Verdick, illustrated by Marieka Heinlen
Uh oh! Gotta go! Potty tales from toddlers – Bob McGrath, illustrated by Shelley Dieterichs
What did you get from the library this week?