Friday, February 01, 2019

February 2019 in Books: What We'll Be Reading Next

"2019 in books: what you'll be reading this year"
The Guardian,
Saturday, January 5, 2019

John Ruskin, the Victorian art theorist, entered the world on February 8, 1819, but I confess I likely will not be reading any of his essays.
"John Ruskin" (1853/4)
by John Everett Millais
Oil on canvas, in the Ashmolean Museum
via Wikimedia Commons

TO CROSS into the American realm of letters, I've been pleased that James Baldwin has had a posthumous renaissance these past few years, or that perhaps he's never faded from view. A New Yorker originally, a public figure, black, gay — his writings, and his perspective on racism and his debates with people like the conservative William F. Buckley, are much-quoted even now. He lived and wrote at the height of the American civil rights movement, born in Harlem in 1924 and dying at the age of 63 in southern France — the country he had moved to after the Second World War.

He was, perhaps, not a raging optimist. Here's a Friday quotation, taken from Another Country (quoted in Goodreads here):
"People don't have any mercy. They tear you limb from limb, in the name of love. Then, when you're dead, when they've killed you by what they made you go through, they say you didn't have any character. They weep big, bitter tears - not for you. For themselves, because they've lost their toy."
Baldwin's book If Beale Street Could Talk has just been adapted into a film, which was released in the US last year by Barry Jenkins. (It appears in the Guardian's article because in Britain the film is coming out later, on February 8.)

"James Baldwin" [Wikipedia]

From the first edition, via Wikimedia Commons

On February 5th, I'm looking forward to Angie Thomas's — she is an American, too, but Mississippian and born in 1988 — book On the Come Up. It's apparently the story of a teenager who wants to become a rapper. Thomas's last book The Hate U Give — the winner of many prizes and the basis of a Hollywood film — has a tense and immediate prose that can appeal to an adult reader just as much as to a younger millennial, which is why I think I might like On the Come Up.

“On the Come Up by Angie Thomas review – another YA hit”
Patrice Lawrence (January 30, 2019) [Guardian, online]

On February 21st, Penguin UK is coming out with a collection of Toni Morrison's essays and speeches, including her eulogy of James Baldwin, and it's called Mouth Full of Blood. (Demosthenes' stones seem more comfortable to me, where filling mouths is concerned.)


RETURNING to children's literature, Penguin UK is publishing an illustrated digest of Charles Darwin's important work On the Origin of Species, on February 19th. Designed in serene, bright saffron-yellow, greens, pale turquoise and senna by Sabina Radeva, the flora and fauna are presented in familiar and soothing forms.

via C.H. Beck

LASTLY, the German publisher C.H. Beck is printing Alexander von Humboldt's accounts of his expedition to Russia in the year 1829 — fifteen years after the Napoleonic Wars.

Von Humboldt's accounts of travelling along the Amazon in the early 19th century were a pleasant read. So I am looking forward to Die Russland-Expedition: Von der Newa bis zum Altai.
[Note: C.H. Beck released it last week, so it does not count as a February book, properly speaking.]


WHAT I WILL ACTUALLY READ: Lincoln in the Bardo is finished, Structure and Evolution of the Stars and Aristotle's Politics and Cavafis's poems are still works in progress, and I am reading an e-Book version of British writer Reni Eddo-Lodge's Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People About Race (in this case, nomen non est omen).

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