My Fleeting Trip to Hay-on-Wye: The Books

Hay-on-Wye #book haul

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In a quick trip to Hay-on-Wye last week I managed to spend far too much on books. Hay-on-Wye is a small town on the border of England and Wales (it’s on the Welsh side, mostly) and is known for its many bookshops and its yearly literary festival. I’ll talk about the holiday side of the visit soon, now is the time to look at the books I bought.

The Caine Prize for African Writing 2013 – I like reading foreign fiction and this looked a good place to start with African writing as it features a lot from all over the continent. Interestingly, a lot is from Nigeria, where Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche are from (two African writers I’ve enjoyed in the past).

Reality, Reality by Jackie Kay – I was looking for Jackie Kay everywhere because I read Trumpet earlier this year and absolutely loved it. Luckily, I found her collection of short stories.

Soul Tourists by Bernardine Evaristo – This is an Evaristo I haven’t read yet. It involves a road-trip and it’s Evaristo so I’ll probably read it in a day or so.

The Virago Book of Love Poetry – I want to read more poetry and I think anthologies are a good way of exposing yourself to new writers. I also just like it when women aren’t solely the object of feelings of love, but have feelings themselves.

Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson – After reading The PowerBook and Sexing the Cherry I thought I’d read Winterson’s most famous book. It’s based on her life growing up as a lesbian under very religious parents.

The Matisse Stories by A.S. Byatt – I love Byatt and this looked interesting. Another book of short stories! These stories are each inspired by a Matisse painting. I may read this next.

The Memory Wars by Frederick Crews – These essays published in the ‘90s undermine a lot of Freud’s work. I read some Freud for my dissertation, and am interested in memory and how the brain works, so am intrigued by this.

The Penguin Book of Diaries – From what I’ve read so far I don’t care much for Ronald Blythe’s commentary but I like seeing what people have written in their diaries. I like seeing what they write about, the things that may occupy a person and stay in their mind.

I feel like I bought too many books, but, also, I could have bought a lot more. If I were a lot richer I would have walked away with a rather nice first edition of The Remains of the Day. But what would be the point of that, really, when I would never read it (or even touch it)? There are some wonderful bookshops in Hay-on-Wye, but there are also some which I suspect wouldn’t survive in a non-bookish town. I’d like to revisit in a few years.

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