Saturday, December 01, 2007

Spain Readings and Other Library Books

I know I've just returned from a holiday, and I should be well-rested. But my eyes are already scouting for possible travel destinations for 2008 (or 2009). Is it premature? Maybe. But the world is immense, and there will always be places we have not seen -- or might never see. (I would like to visit the Antarctica -- but everything I have read about it scares me. I guess there lies the appeal.)

One of my colleague is saving for her Spain trip next year. I am envious, as Spain is one of those places I want to visit.

Then I discovered something unusual on my library account yesterday: I had no books on loan -- AT ALL. I had returned all my library books because I wanted to avoid the overdue charges when I am on holiday, and I have not borrowed anything since.

Still: no books at all? That is something I felt I have to rectify. So, I sauntered down to the library last evening and bagged myself some books:

  • DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Spain - I usually go for the Lonely Planet guides when I'm planning a trip. DK guides tend to be more expensive and they are also heavier -- less handy to carry around. That said, I still I enjoy looking at the pictures inside the DK guides. They give me a sense of what I might want to see in that country. I wouldn't buy them unless they are on sale, but I love the library for making them available.

  • Don Fernando by W. Somerset Maugham - I find myself addicted to Maugham's writings. It also helps that the blurb at the back says Graham Greene (another of my literary favourite) considered Don Fernando to be Maugham's best work.
    Don Fernando is a collection of essays by Maugham on Spanish culture and civilisation. It begins with the tale of Loyola, and moves on to discuss the writing of St. Teresa, the paintings of El Greco and other Spanish artists and writers.

  • The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax - Jenclair first wrote about this book, then Sharon. It has been on my radar for a while. Last night at the library, a copy of The Spanish Bow was sitting in plain sight on the New Arrivals Highlights. Fate had decreed I read this book. I obey.

What else did I borrow? Edmund White's Hotel de Dream was sitting right next to The Spanish Bow, so I swiped it. I also picked up Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris and Re-readings because I thought it would be nice to re-read some of the essays.

I am a happy puppy this weekend.


Imani said...

I just finished Merce Rodoreda's book of short stories and I think she's pretty fuckin' awesome so you should try it. :) Graywolf has two of her other boks (novels, I think) out in English too. Not sure what's been released in your neck of the woods.

Iliana said...

Every time I come back from holiday I'm quickly planning the next trip :)
Spain is a beautiful country - it was my first European adventure. Did Barcelona, Sevilla, Granada, Cordoba and Madrid.
Hope you enjoy The Spanish Bow. It was a good one. Have you read The Shadow of the Wind? Another great book set in Spain.

jenclair said...

Oh, I do hope you enjoy The Spanish Bow! That's interesting about Graham Greene considering Don Fernando to be Maugham's best work. Let us know what you think, since you are a Maugham fan.

darkorpheus said...

Imani The name Merce Rodoreda is not familiar to me. Thanks for the recommendation. I'm going to check out her books. Along with the Graywolf backlist too :)

IlianaOh yes, I've read Shadow of the Wind. I enjoyed it. It really is a good read. In fact, I'm also enjoying The Spanish Bow right now.

Jenclair Oh, I am I definitely am enjoying The Spanish Bow. I am partial to the deep, earthy tone of the cello and I love the cene where Feliu first heard the cello played, the way it was described. I think I'm feeling the magic of this book.

Anonymous said...

I'm always thinking/planning future trips! I love Spain! And agree about the DK books. I can also recommend Merce Rodoreda.

darkorpheus said...

cafeshree The more I read up about Spain, the more I want to go there.

I really have to pick up Merce Rodoreda soon. Turns out the local library has 2 of her books, so I'm making a trip down this weekend. :)

jpderosnay said...

ah, thats a brilliant way to prepare for a trip to spain, and to whet your appetite for the country!

Sharon said...

So glad you are going to read The Spanish Bow! I hope you enjoy it. I'm reading Maugham right now, too - The Merry-Go-Round. I just love his characters, tortured as they are!

darkorpheus said...

Jean Pierre I always have to do research on a country -- just so I know what to look out for when I finally arrive on its soil.

I am so geek, aren't I? :)

Ex Libris "The Spanish Bow" is interesting, isn't it? I find myself going to the author's website and listening to the soundtracks. And just to get into the mood, I downloaded some cello music into my mpeg player to listen while I read. It's an amazing and evocative book.