Monday, September 10, 2007

Penguin Great Loves and Books Awaiting Purchase

The bookstore recently received the Penguin Great Loves series: 20 titles -- novellas, excerpts or short stories by famous authors that centre on love. You have Thomas Hardy, Anais Nin, D.H. Lawrence, Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov -- and surprise, surprise, Sigmund Freud.

I was attracted to the covers, but will probably pass on most of them. I would prefer the story in its entirety, rather than the excerpts packaged with a pretty cover. I'm picking up two of the Russian novellas for my A Year of Russian Reading challenge next year though.

Incidentally, while I was picking through the titles on what to buy, Boo came along and picked out Stendhal's Cures for Love. She waved it at me, and remarked how it reminded her of blood cultures or something you find under the micro-scope.

I was highly amused, especially with the title -- Cures For Love.

"Do you think we can be innoculated?" I asked. Falling in love has caused me a few unpleasant pains through the years. Somehow an innoculation against love seems like a good idea.

Boo and I chortled. The truth is, neither of us are the cynics that we would like people to believe. Only someone who believes in idealised love can grow cynical about love; it's impossible to disappoint someone who never had hope in the first place.

And a collection of great love stories is a dangerous collection indeed, for failed romantics like myself (or Boo.)

So, I'm a sucker for the Penguin Great Loves afterall. I'm picking up two of the titles, which I will purchase when I receive my next paycheck. (When one has limited income, one has to stagger the purchases, and try to keep below the budget -- in case of any last minute expenses.) Just for fun, these are the books I have lined up for purchase for the month of September:

  1. First Love (Penguin Great Loves)
    By Ivan Turgenev
    Translated by Isaiah Berlin

  2. The Kreutzer Sonata (Penguin Great Loves)
    By Leo Tolstoy
    Translated by David McDuff

  3. The Summer in Paris
    By Abha Dawesar

  4. I read Abha Dawesar's debut novel, Babyji last year and I found a smart young writer whose wit sparkled on the page. I had my eye on this book when it first came out in hardcover last year. I wanted to see if she has developed as a writer since Babyji. Now, it's finally available in a more affordable paperback.

  5. The Book of Air and Shadows
    By Michael Gruber

  6. I've read some of Michael Gruber's earlier supernatural thriller. He's good at creating suspense and developing some really memorable characters. Book of Air and Shadows is a conspiracy thriller about a possible lost Shakespearean manuscript.

  7. Three Bags Full
    By Leonie Swann
  8. This one is really fun: A shepherd is murdered and his sheep -- these are intelligent sheep, mind you. One of them is even named Miss Maple (get it?) -- set out to solve his murder. Everything through the point-of-view of the sheep. It's so absurd I need to read it.


Melwyk said...

It's funny you should mention an inoculation for love... I've been fixated on the 3 Day Novel contest for the past few weeks, and one of the previous winners was a book called "Love Block", about just such a thing. (I haven't read it yet, the reference just reminded me of it)

Imani said...

I haven't been to the book stores in a while so I'll be interested in seeing if this series has made its way to our shelves yet. The books you've highlighted are interested but Penguin's decision to publish novel excerpts bemuses me.

Rebecca H. said...

I wouldn't want excerpts either -- no way. But novellas and stories -- those sound interesting.

Anonymous said...

I read The Book of Air and Shadows for summer mystery challenge. Maybe I blinked and didn't pay attention, I didn't quite follow the events. The building up of suspense was very luring at the beginning.

What lovely covers Penguin has come up for the series! I'm battling the thought of buying the entire series. The Kreutzer Sonata has been out-of-print for a while so it's about time. A Russian Affair is one of my favorites. I'll have to venture out to the bookstore before and check them out, might as well pick up A Seducer's Diary. :)

I usually keep my finger crossed when it comes to buying a hardback, especially if I'm not familiar with the author.

darkorpheus said...

Melanie Hee. Love Block? This 3 Day Novel thing - I'm guessing you write a novel in 3 days?

Imani I suspect this Penguin Great Loves will be like the Penguin Great Journeys series - pocket-size, less than 100 pages -- some are just one chapter from a book. Right now they have only released the Great Loves series for the UK/Commonwealth market.

Dorothy The question is, would you cough up GBP4.99 for a 100 page excerpt when you can buy the full book for about twice that amount? No matter how pretty the cover?

Matt Is The Kreutzer Sonata out of print? This one is a McDuff translation though. Not sure if he's any good.

The series may not be available in the US yet. I'll give it about half a year before it reaches American shores. Unless you travel to places with Commonwealth rights.

Damn - so, I'm going to be disappointed with Book of Air and Shadows? He was so good in Tropic Night.

Anonymous said...

ah... those covers look very cool!

how do penguin keep on doing it?! i was thinking about that the other day when i looked at how ugly the oxford classics covers have looked. why can't they get it right like penguin...?

Anonymous said...

The Penguin series looks interesting an fun. My husband read Summer in Paris and loved it. It's on my stack of lunch time reads but I won't be able to get to it until after the RIP challenge is done.

Imani said...

Hey, guess what? Remember that article you read in Smart Set in which the writer stated that no one read the Homer epics on one's own volition? I sent her an e-mail to correct her assumptions and guess what -- I'm getting that food prize after all. :p

darkorpheus said...

Stefanie I've been reading bits of "Summer in Paris" at my desk when I'm bored (or waiting for my heavy emails to download) -- it looks fun. Imagine if the author had stayed at her bank job instead of writing.

Say, are you also getting free food for reading Homer? ;p

Imani She finally replied? Yay! How is she going to send it over though? So exciting!

Anonymous said...

Actually, Alexia replied to my email just this past weekend. She apologized for taking so long to reply and offered to send me baklava! I deferred on the baklava since I can't count on it being vegan, but thanked her very much for her email :)

darkorpheus said...

Stefanie Woohooo! She really replied? I bet you she's happy she wrote that Smart Set piece. Such a responsive readership. *grin*

darkorpheus said...

Jean Pierre Okay, you kind of work for Oxford, so hmm...:)

But the problem with Oxford as a publisher -- in my opinion as both a reader and a bookseller for 7 years -- they never made the proper transition from academic publisher to trade. Penguin started off as a business -- to sell books, to make money. They understood things like marketing -- and packaging.

Oxford is the name to trust when you want a dictionary (Yay?) But those Oxford World Classics with the pale covers and the red/blue bands? Boring.

But the irony is -- OWC has the entire D'Artagnan series by Alexandre Dumas, Penguin does not. OWC also keep some obscure backlist classics that Penguin does not have on their backlist.

It's a matter of give and take.

Anonymous said...

i totally agree with your comments about the transition thing.

its still disgraceful. those covers make you want to throw the book away - not buy it!

yeah - as a dictionary oup are cool, but those oxford classics are horrid.

it is cool that they publish some things others don't, though...