Saturday, September 30, 2023

My Husband's Books from the 2023 Book Sale

Below are a few of the books that my husband found at the annual Planned Parenthood Book Sale this year.  The sale lasts about 10 days; the first few days and the last few days are the busiest; we went five times this year. Mainly, he focuses on photography, architecture, and performing arts; books about history; then fiction, including mysteries and science fiction.

Under the Greenwood Tree (1872) by Thomas Hardy

My husband's comments on this book:

I recently read A Month in the Country and liked it for its quiet tone and nostalgic mood. 

The introduction to the edition I read mentioned Thomas Hardy's short novel Under the Greenwood Tree as very similar in tone and mood so I made a point of looking for the Hardy work at the book sale. 

And I was very happy to find it.

The Whalebone Theatre (2022) by Joanna Quinn

Summary on the book cover:

One blustery night in 1928, a whale washes up on the shores of the English Channel. By law, it belongs to the King, but twelve-year-old orphan Cristabel Seagrave has other plans. She and the rest of the household—her sister, Flossie; her brother, Digby, long-awaited heir to Chilcombe manor; Maudie Kitcat, kitchen maid; Taras, visiting artist—build a theatre from the beast’s skeletal rib cage. Within the Whalebone Theatre, Cristabel can escape her feckless stepparents and brisk governesses, and her imagination comes to life.

As Cristabel grows into a headstrong young woman, World War II rears its head. She and Digby become British secret agents on separate missions in Nazi-occupied France—a more dangerous kind of playacting, it turns out, and one that threatens to tear the family apart.

Ten Years in the Tub (2013) by Nick Hornby

Back in 2003, Nick Hornby started writing a monthly column for The Believer, "Stuff I’ve Been Reading.” Ten Years in the Tub includes all of the columns Hornby had written through June 2013. Each month he lists the books he bought, the books he read, and talks about the books he read and other miscellaneous topics. I read some of the earlier columns years ago, and enjoyed them.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy (2015) by Karen Abbott

The subtitle of this book is: "Four Women Undercover in the Civil War."

This is a nonfiction book about four women who were spies during the Civil War. Two of them worked for the Confederate side, two worked for the Union. 

The following details are from the publisher's website:

After shooting a Union soldier in her front hall with a pocket pistol, Belle Boyd became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds cut off her hair and assumed the identity of a man to enlist as a Union private, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The beautiful widow, Rose O’Neale Greenhow, engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians to gather intelligence for the Confederacy, and used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring, right under the noses of suspicious rebel detectives.

Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, Spy, Airman, Gangster, Kill or Die (2019) by Giles Milton

The subtitle of this book is: "How the Allies Won on D-Day." My husband just started reading this book yesterday. If he likes it, I will be reading it too. 

Book details from the publisher's website:

A ground-breaking account of the first 24 hours of the D-Day invasion told by a symphony of incredible accounts of unknown and unheralded members of the Allied – and Axis – forces.


Giles Milton’s bold new history narrates the events of June 6th, 1944 through the tales of survivors from all sides: the teenage Allied conscript, the crack German defender, the French resistance fighter. From the military architects at Supreme Headquarters to the young schoolboy in the Wehrmacht’s bunkers, Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, Spy, Airman, Gangster, Kill or Die lays bare the absolute terror of those trapped in the front line of Operation Overlord. It also gives voice to those who have hitherto remained unheard – the French butcher’s daughter, the Panzer Commander’s wife, the chauffeur to the General Staff.

Atlantic (2010) by Simon Winchester

The subtitle of this book is: "Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories." 

From the description on the book dust jacket:

Atlantic is a biography of a tremendous space that has been central to the ambitions of explorers, scientists, and warriors, and continues profoundly to affect our character, attitudes, and dreams.....

Spanning the ocean's story from its geological origins to the age of exploration, from World War II battles to today's struggles with pollution and overfishing, his narrative is epic, intimate, and awe inspiring.....

Atlantic is the summation of Winchester's years of research and travel—from the rocky outcrops of the Faroes to the effervescent ports of Argentina and Brazil to the slave castles of West Africa and the seaside villages of Ireland. More than a mere history, this is an unforgettable journey of unprecedented scope by one of the most gifted writers in the English language.

Have you had any experience with these books or these authors? We would love to hear about it, if you have.


pattinase (abbott) said...

A very nice haul. I have read some of the Hornby pieces from The Believer. And some of his fiction.

TracyK said...

Same here, Patti. I read About a Boy and I have two others on my shelves. We are looking into getting a digital subscription to The Believer.

CLM said...

I really enjoyed The Whalebone Theatre earlier this year. I didn't always like what the author did with her characters but I was always eager to find out what would happen next! I will be interested to hear what your husband thinks of it and I think you will end up reading it too.

Kathy's Corner said...

Hi Tracy,

I read Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge for last year's Victober. It was brilliant, a classic in every sense of the word but it is depressing. And so after reading Hardy maybe Nick Hornby would be a good idea. I have read some of his reviews and he writes very well and he can be very funny.

TracyK said...

I think I will want to read The Whalebone Theatre also, Constance. The format of the book sounds good, I have high hopes that I will like it.

I will let you know what Glen thinks of it.

TracyK said...

Kathy, I read some books by Thomas Hardy when I was in college. Don't remember much except I liked them. I have been thinking I should read something by him now. I will see what Glen thinks of this one.

Cath said...

Tell Glen that Atlantic was one of my books of the year the year I read it. I thought it was absolutely brilliant, so interesting. I have Winchester's Pacific to read too and a couple of others on my Kindle. I can recommend his 'Krakatoa' as well. Great haul!

Margot Kinberg said...

Your husband chose such interesting books, Tracy! I'm especially intrigued by Ten Years in the Tub. I like learning about new-to-me books and people's perspectives on them. Under the Greenwood Tree appeals to me, too. I've read some Hardy, but not that one.

TracyK said...

Cath, I do remember that you read Atlantic, and I am glad to hear that it was one of your favorites. The topics it covers sounded overwhelming to me, but I may want to give a try someday myself. Glen got Krakatoa at the last book sale, but has not read it yet.

TracyK said...

Margot, Ten Years in the Tub is probably the top of this list for me, especially since I read some of his earlier columns years ago and remember enjoying Hornsby's writing about books.

I had not heard of Under the Greenwood Tree until recently but it sounds like a good read and it is a shortish book too.

Lark said...

I like the sound of The Whalebone Theatre! I've never read it but it sounds like one I would like. And also Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, Spy. Lots of interesting finds at the booksale. :D

TracyK said...

Lark, I had not heard of The Whalebone Theatre until Constance reviewed it, and Glen found it independently, so I am glad he got it. It is about 550 pages and you know how I feel about very long books, but I am sure I will read it.

I am definitely going to read Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, Spy... because I have a strong interest in D-Day. I read The Longest Day a long time ago so a refresher will be good.

Sam said...

Your husband found some really interesting titles in that sale. Congrats to him. The only book of the group I've read is the Hornby one, which I did enjoy quite a bit even though Hornby "lost" me a couple of times. That Civil War spy book is one I'm going to try to learn more about. It's an interesting topic because I've done so much reading in that period. I've always imagined it would have been very easy for southern women to spy for the Confederacy since the South was occupied territory for most of the war...a little more difficult for northern women to get theirselves in place to do the job, I would think.

Todd Mason said...

Hornby and Hardy are the only writers I've read among the assembled here, and not these works (unless the Hornby essays also appeared in the likes of anthologies...I've picked up a few issues of THE BELIEVER, but not many and don't remember his column there). The oceanography of THE ATLANTIC might hook me more than the naval history, and the Joanna Quinn sounds, as they say, cheeky and might well be fun, and the Abbott (presumably no relation) interesting at least.

Sounds like a fine book-sale, beyond its benefits to PP (which I also support).

TracyK said...

Sam, I wasn't sure if I would like Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy and will wait and see what Glen thinks of it. It would be a good way to learn more about the Civil War though, and I am sadly lacking in that area. I will definitely read some of the articles in the Nick Hornby book.

TracyK said...

Todd, I am sure I would enjoy reading Hornby's columns and I plan to, but the size and heft of the book is daunting. There are smaller sets of the column published earlier, and I would rather find one of those someday.

As far as I know, there is no relation, but Megan Abbott did have a blurb on the back cover, which surprised me.