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AnnaBookBel's Christmas Wishlist

Here are five new books I'd really love to receive this Christmas... <a href="https://www.bookwitty.com/reading_list/new/">Holiday reading list contest</a> - My entry.

    The Evenings

    'I work in an office. I take cards out of a file. Once I have taken them out, I put them back in again. That is it.' Twenty-three-year-old Frits - office worker, daydreamer, teller of inappropriate jokes - finds life absurd and inexplicable. He lives with his parents, who drive him mad. He has terrible, disturbing dreams of death and destruction. Sometimes he talks to a toy rabbit. This is the story of ten evenings in Frits's life at the end of December, as he drinks, smokes, sees friends, aimlessly wanders the gloomy city streets and tries to make sense of the minutes, hours and days that stretch before him. Darkly funny and mesmerising, The Evenings takes the tiny, quotidian triumphs and heartbreaks of our everyday lives and turns them into a work of brilliant wit and profound beauty."The funniest, most exhilarating novel about boredom ever written. If The Evenings had appeared in English in the 1950s, it would have become every bit as much a classic asOn the Road and The Catcher in the Rye." Herman Koch, author of The Dinner"Unlike John Williams, Gerard Reve's work was critically acclaimed and sold exceptionally well during his lifetime. But, just like Stoner, The Evenings is brilliantly written, and has a maximum impact on the reader's soul." Oscar van Gelderen, the Dutch publisher who rediscovered John Williams's Stoner"Very funny and strange... Reve is a writer who may yet 'catch on' in the Anglophone world" Lydia Davis, winner of the Man Booker International PrizeGerard Reve (1923-2006) is considered one of the greatest post-war Dutch authors, and was also the first openly gay writer in the country's history. A complicated and controversial character, Reve is also hugely popular and critically acclaimed- his 1947 debut The Evenings was chosen as one of the nation's 10 favourite books by the readers of a leading Dutch newspaper while the Society of Dutch Literature ranked it as the Netherlands' best novel of all time.

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    A Gentleman in Moscow

    On 21 June 1922 Count Alexander Rostov - recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt - is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol. But instead of being taken to his usual suite, he is led to an attic room with a window the size of a chessboard. Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely. While Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval, the Count, stripped of the trappings that defined his life, is forced to question what makes us who we are. And with the assistance of a glamorous actress, a cantankerous chef and a very serious child, Rostov unexpectedly discovers a new understanding of both pleasure and purpose. HE CAN'T LEAVE. YOU WON'T WANT TO.

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    SWING TIME

    Two brown girls dream of being dancers—but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It's a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either. Tracey makes it to the chorus line but struggles with adult life, while her friend leaves the old neighborhood behind, traveling the world as an assistant to a famous singer, Aimee, observing close up how the one percent live. But when Aimee develops grand philanthropic ambitions, the story moves from London to West Africa, where diaspora tourists travel back in time to find their roots, young men risk their lives to escape into a different future, the women dance just like Tracey—the same twists, the same shakes—and the origins of a profound inequality are not a matter of distant history, but a present dance to the music of time.

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    I'm Not with the Band

    Shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award 2016.This is a three-decade survivor's tale ... a scenic search for elusive human happiness through music, magazines, silly jokes, stupid shoes, useless blokes, hopeless homes, booze, drugs, love, loss, A&E, death, disillusion and hope - while trying to make Prince laugh, startle Beyonce, cheer Eminem up, annoy Madonna, drink with Shaun Ryder and finish off Westlife forever (with varying degrees of success).In 1986, Sylvia Patterson boarded a train to London armed with a tea-chest full of vinyl records, a peroxide quiff and a dream: to write about music, for ever. She got her wish.Escaping a troubled home, Sylvia embarks on a lifelong quest to discover The Meaning of It All. The problem is she's mostly hanging out with flaky pop stars, rock 'n' roll heroes and unreliable hip-hop legends. As she encounters music's biggest names, she is confronted by glamour and tragedy; wisdom and lunacy; drink, drugs and disaster. And Bros.Here is Madonna in her Earth Mother phase, flinging her hands up in horror at one of Sylv's Very Stupid Questions. Prince compliments her shoes while Eminem threatens to kill her. She shares fruit with Johnny Cash, make-up with Amy Winehouse and several pints with the Manics' lost soul-man Richey Edwards. She finds the Beckhams fragrant in LA, a Gallagher madferrit in her living room and Shaun Ryder and Bez as you'd expect, in Jamaica.From the 80s to the present day, I'm Not with the Band is a funny, barmy, utterly gripping chronicle of the last thirty years in music and beyond. It is also the story of one woman's wayward search for love, peace and a wonderful life. And whether, or not, she found them.

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    The Lauras

    I didn't realise my mother was a person until I was thirteen years old and she pulled me out of bed, put me in the back of her car, and we left home and my dad with no explanations. I thought that Ma was all that she was and all that she had ever wanted to be. I was wrong. As we made our way from Virginia to California, returning to the places where she'd lived as a child in foster care and as a teenager on the run, repaying debts and keeping promises, I learned who she was in her life-before-me and the secrets she had kept - even from herself. But when life on the road began to feel normal I couldn't forget the home we'd left behind, couldn't deny that, just like my mother, I too had unfinished business. This enigmatic pilgrimage takes them back to various stages of Alex's mother's life, each new state prompting stories and secrets. Together they trace back through a life of struggle and adventure to put to rest unfinished business, to heal old wounds and to search out lost friends. This is an extraordinary story of a life; a stunning exploration of identity and an authentic study of the relationship between a mother and her child. The Lauras is the new novel from the exceptionally gifted author of The Shore, which was long listed for the Baileys Women's Fiction Prize and shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year.

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    BOOKLOVER, lifelong reader and Co-founder/ Fiction Ed of Shiny New Books. I'm also a Mum, materials scientist and school Lab Tech living near Oxford.

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