shelf by shelf : from Hemingway to Jansson

shelf (2)I don’t really have hard and fast rules about what I keep on my shelves. I know some people keep only books they have loved. Others only keep books they know they want to re-read. (Some don’t keep any, but they are just sick in the head.) This edition of Shelf by Shelf brings me to a situation where I weeded one unread book (The Finkler Question) because I decided it fell into the “life is too short to bother” category. The shelf also has an author (Hesse) who falls into the “life is too short and I want to read this author again as I approach the end of my life” category. Until I just wrote that, I didn’t even know I had that category. But it is amazing how true it is. There are some books I might re-read one day but I find Hesse so comforting and life affirming and full of universal truths. At least as Hermann and I see them.

Don't forget to click. Plenty of room to zoom.
Don’t forget to click. Plenty of room to zoom.


SHELF TWELVE: 48 books, 30 unread, 18 read, 37.5% completed

Hemingway, Ernest – The Sun Also Rises (completed)
Hemingway, Ernest – The Old Man and the Sea (completed)
Hemingway, Ernest – The Garden of Eden (completed)
Hemingway, Ernest – In Our Time
I think I may actually be a fan of Hemingway. If I had had to read The Old Man and the Sea in high school like my niece did, I am sure I would not have liked it. But as a 40-something I really liked it.

Hesse, Hermann – Klingsor’s Last Summer (completed)
Hesse, Hermann – Strange News from Another Star
Hesse, Hermann – Narcissus and Goldmund (completed)
Hesse, Hermann – Knulp (completed)
Hesse, Hermann – Peter Camenzind (completed)
Hesse, Hermann – Beneath the Wheel (completed)
For a while I thought that my Hermann Hesse obsession, spawned in high school, may have been a young gay boy’s affection for an author who seemed to have invented the bromance. But I have done a fair amount of re-reading in the past few years and I find I love him just as much now and for better, more substantive reasons.

Hocking, Mary – The Winter City (completed)
Hocking, Mary – Visitors to the Crescent 
Hocking, Mary – The Sparrow
Hocking, Mary – The Young Spaniard
Hocking, Mary – A Time of War
Hocking, Mary – Ask No Question
Hocking, Mary – Checkmate
Hocking, Mary – The Hopeful Traveller

Hocking, Mary – The Climbing Frame
Hocking, Mary – Indifferent Heroes
Hocking, Mary – Welcome Strangers
Hocking, Mary – Good Daughters
As I’ve written about recently, I bought all 12 of these reissues because I couldn’t resist. Even though I hadn’t read anything by the author. My first experience was good, but the jury is out on how much I will appreciate this author overall. I certainly have plenty to choose from.

Holtby, Winifred – Poor Caroline
Holtby, Winifred – South Riding

Holleran, Andrew – The Beauty of Men
I read a bunch of Holleran in my youth. I’ve been rereading gay fiction from my formative years and am finding with some of it that I am not impressed with it in terms of the limited point of view of gay authors in the 1980s. Definitely over represented by well to do, ivy league types living NYC lives. Blanket statement I know, but kind of true.

Homes, A.M. – May We Be Forgiven (completed)
I really enjoyed this novel. Funny and touching and a little nerve-wracking (in a good way). I have since read her short story collection The Safety of Objects and thought they were brilliant.

Hosain, Attia – Sunlight on a Broken Column

Houellebecq, Michel – Atomised

Household, Geoffrey – Rogue Male (completed)
I’ve written about his one many times. The hero of the book tries to assassinate the unnamed Hitler and spends the hole book on the run.

Howells, William Dean – The Landlord at Lion’s Head

Huxley, Aldous – Brave New World (completed)
Huxley, Aldous – Point Counter Point (completed)
Huxley, Aldous – Those Barren Leaves
Huxley, Aldous – Chrome Yellow (completed)
Aldous Huxley has a read able side and a more “Modern” side (with a capital M). I prefer the former. Brave New World is dystopian but highly readable. I believe Chrome Yellow is the novel that made Barbara Pym want to be a writer.

Hyland M.J. – How the Light Gets In
I bought this purely for the fact that the title is a line from a Leonard Cohen song that I love.

Isherwood, Christopher – Lions and Shadows
Isherwood, Christopher – A Meeting by the River (completed)
I really love A Meeting by the River. Not only my favorite Isherwood, but also makes my list of favorite books. Maybe.

Ishiguro, Kazuo – A Pale View of the Hills

Jackson, Shirley – We Have Always Lived at the Castle (completed)
I really enjoyed this rather spooky tale. The Haunting of Hill House, not so much. Didn’t like the premise, so I didn’t even finish it.

James, Henry – A London Life
James, Henry – The Europeans
Although I kind of liked The Portrait of a Lady, I find James a bit impenetrable. But not ready to totally write him off. (But it’s close.)

Jacobson, Howard – The Finkler Question
Since I took this picture a few months ago, I have weeded this book out and put it in the donate pile. A Booker-winner that I have never read. After listening to a bit of the audio book I decided I wouldn’t be upset if I never read it.

Jameson, Storm – None Turn Back

Jansson, Tove – Travelling Light (completed)
Jansson, Tove – Fair Play
Jansson, Tove – The True Deceiver
Jansson, Tove – The Summer Book (completed)
I loved the stories in Travelling Light, but was less enthusiastic about The Summer Book.

NEXT TIME: Jenkins to Koch

9 thoughts on “shelf by shelf : from Hemingway to Jansson

  1. MarinaSofia June 3, 2016 / 2:34 pm

    A nice shelf indeed, as well as being impressed with how tidy and organised it is. Huxley was such a comfort to me at a certain point in my life, plus I love Tove Jansson.


  2. Sarah C June 3, 2016 / 3:45 pm

    I have found that I love Hesse too, though I’ve only read ones that you don’t have here on this shelf.

    And I’ve made a remarkable turn-around in my feelings about Hemingway as an adult reader. Hated everything I’d read until a few years ago A Farewell to Arms just blew me away. Then last year I loved A Moveable Feast. I have that Garden of Eden (the exact same HB edition that you have here) on my shelf too, but I don’t know anything about it (that was one from a Little Free Library!). Care to share your thoughts on it?


  3. sharkell June 3, 2016 / 8:28 pm

    This is a great shelf! I have recently read my first Hemingway – The Old Man and the Sea – and loved it! I have Farewell to Arms on my tbr. I can highly recommend M J Hyland although I haven’t read the one you have on your shelves yet – its on my tbr. I also culled The Finkler Question without finishing it. I’ve not yet tried Hocking or Hesse but they are on my wishlist. Hesse seems to be a bit if a marmite author from what I can tell.


  4. Jennifer Dee June 5, 2016 / 2:34 am

    Many years ago I went through a phase of reading everything by Hemingway. I much prefer the writings of Martha Gelhorn who was married to Hemingway for awhile. I am also a great fan of Winifred Holtby and her dear friend Vera Brittain.


  5. Liz Dexter June 8, 2016 / 3:25 am

    Yay – your Impulse Hockings make an appearance! I have gone off Jakobson – I do have the one about table tennis but I might get rid of that, too.


  6. biggardenblog June 10, 2016 / 2:55 am

    [D] I also culled the Finkler Question at the end of p1 and a ‘flick’ through the rest of it. Got it from a charity shop for 10p, went back there!


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