Sunday, September 6, 2020

Autumn Books

In a very small example of how off this year feels I'm fundamentally failing to get excited about the majority of this autumns book releases - specifically the 600 that are meant to have come out on Thursday the 3rd of September. This might partly be because I don't have enough money coming in to buy books with any abandon, but I think it's more to do with finding it remarkably hard to spot the books I'd normally be enthusiastic about.

Leicester city centre has a small Waterstones, a decent branch of The Works, and a W.H. Smith's with a book section. It also has the main post office on the same floor which currently means a long queue to get into it, and makes book browsing feel really antisocial. Because it's a small Waterstones it's currently full of massive piles of the same dozen projected big titles that W H Smith would have if I had the heart to make the people who need to use the post office wait even longer to do so. They're the same books I could buy for half the price in any larger Tesco's, the same books that charity shops will be full of once they're accepting local donations again, and the same books that if I wanted them at all I would be waiting for the paperbacks.

Of the 600 books that came out on Thursday I had pre ordered the River Cottage Handbook on Fermentation (which I'm equally inspired and intimidated by) and which my little local Waterstones weirdly has not yet got in stock. Found that the review copy of Elizabeth Von Arnim's 'Father' from the British Library's women writer's series that came last weekend was a September 3rd book, and have spotted a memoir about diving on same amazing wrecks (the Oceanic, S.S Politician, and Armada boats) called Treasure Islands by Alex Crawford. It's published by Birlinn, and is hopefully making it's way towards me as I speak. I'm officially excited by 0.5% of Thursdays releases.

I think this might be a sort of common problem. Because publication dates were shifted back, and because there's just so much, I haven't seen the normal buzz I would expect around certain titles despite having quite a bookish twitter and Instagram feed. The 3 Angela Thirkell's that Virago released at the end of August are all well and good, but they were paperbacks finally making it into print after previously coming out on kindle. I'm pleased to have them, but not over excited. I'm pleased to have completed my Zola collection with the OWC edition of Doctor Pascal too, though I haven't read any Zola since getting monumentally fed up with The Sin Of Abbe Mouret, and must get back on track with him.

An email from Waterstones promising their picks of the month gave me 3 titles under food and drink, and more of the same big name books - which is exactly why those emails normally get deleted without me reading them. I am really looking forward to Caroline Eden's 'Red Sands' and Kate Young's 'The Little Library Christmas' coming out later this Autumn, and Mati Ventrillon's 'Knitting From Fair Isle' is another book I'm personally excited about.

Meanwhile the British Library's Crime Classics and Tales of the Weird series are going from strength to strength (I've read the 2 most recent crime classics this week and loved them, and am just getting stuck into some weird today). Handheld press have got collections of Women's weird and British Weird coming too look great, and Philip Hensher's anthology covering The Golden Age of  British Short Stories for Penguin looks tempting too (out on the 1st of October).

Still, it feels like oddly slim pickings so if there's anything you're particularly looking forward to, I've almost certainly missed it and would love to hear about it.


  1. I read more contemporary novels, so there was plenty for me to get excited about! I've just read Hari Kunzru's latest which combines 19thC philosophy/romantic poetry with modern viewpoints which was challenging but good. Will embark on Piranesi next after Sarah Moss. I also have Ingmar Bergman's daughter's latest which sounds wonderful, amongst several others published on Sept 3. Of those mega-hyped ones though, the Richard Osman was simply delightful and transcended the hype for me.

  2. I saw you liked the Richard Osman which tempted me but I'll wait for the paperback, same with Piranesi which is also sounding promising (I liked but didn't love Jonathon Strange). I've just been reminded about Ann Lingard's 'The Fresh and the Salt' which sounds good too - and I'm hardly short of books to read at the moment, but I'm missing the excitement I normally have at this time of year and the yard long wish list that goes with it.