10 Books I Can’t Believe I Got Rid Of!

I’ve been blogging for nearly 10 years now and over the years I’ve accumulated a LOT of books, but I’ve also gotten rid of a lot of books – probably in the range of 500 or so. Now, I didn’t buy all of those books full price. There used to be a great used bookstore in town, and I used to get lots of books at library sales or through buy/sell sites, and sometimes through publishers as well. Lately I’ve been getting into rereading a lot more and there are some books that I would LOVE to reread and wish I still had my original copy! Others, I might have put down and never thought of again and now I might be wishing to give them a second chance. At any rate, here are the ten books that I wish I had never gotten rid of!

1. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

This is one of those books that I had started reading YEARS ago but never actually finished. This book is a historical fiction about World War II. The interesting thing is that Nemirovsky herself was a Jew and was arrested in 1942 and sent to Auschwitz – she died a month later at 39 years old. Two years before her arrest she had been writing what would become Suite Francaise – the first two parts of a planned 5-part story. This current books contains those first two parts which was published 64 years later. Now, when I read this, I had no idea about this backstory. I had really enjoyed what I had read of this book, which was only the first part, but then it got put in a donation box at some point and it left the house. I would love to get another copy of this book so I could reread the first part and finish the story which is, from what I remember, a beautiful human drama.

2. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Just like Suite Francaise, this is another book that I was really enjoying while I was reading it, but then it got put aside and eventually donated. This was a huge book – I had the hardback version of it, which was heavy to read, but the story was very good. It was one of those stories that was slower moving, but very full of a dark atmosphere. It’s also a historical fiction, which beautifully weaves together the past and present (historical present) and is the story of the legend of Vlad the Impaler. I was really enjoying this book as I was reading it and I’m really sad that it eventually got donated. I mean, obviously it was my choice to donate it, but I think that at the time where I got rid of it, I wasn’t into reading big books. I recall being very much into shorter fiction that provided quick satisfaction. I would love to pick this one up again and read it to the end. A lot of my bookish friends on Goodreads have given it wonderful reviews so I think it will be well worth it!

3. Q&A by Vikas Swarup

Slumdog Millionaire is probably one of the first book-to-movie adaptations I can remember watching as a book blogger. I read the book and completely adored it, but the movie was so disappointing. This is one of those books that I constantly pushed on people who had seen the movie because it was reminiscent of works by Khaled Hosseini or Lawrence Hill. It had a drive to it and was completely addiction. These days, I’ve been wanting to reread this one and can’t believe I got rid of my paperback copy. This book was so well written and when I recently saw that Swarup had a new book coming out, this one was bumped up even higher on my reread list. I think it’s time to hit the book sales to find myself a copy!

4. The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling

I remember when this book came out. It was the hottest book on the market, what with it being the first book written by Rowling after Harry Potter. I had been so excited to read it but once I got a copy and dug in, I wasn’t enjoying it. Actually, that’s not fair to say. I think I was enjoying it, but again I was at that point of my reading where I wanted instant gratification and this book was very slow moving. These days, after watching shows like Broadchurch and also getting into Agatha Christie, I would love a book like this. Unfortunately, I gave away my copy – well, unfortunate for me, but I think the person I gave it to enjoyed it! I actually forgot the title of this book and bought a copy of the first Robert Galbraith book instead of this one, last year, thinking that this was the book I wanted to reread. It looks like this one will be another one for my book sale list!

5. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

This Wilkie Collins classic is one of two books on this list that I haven’t actually read! I remember buying it while my husband and I were in Victoria years ago. We stayed at a little hotel that was just a few blocks from a bookstore and on one afternoon of our vacation, my husband was taking a nap so I took a walk to the beautiful two-story bookstore (and maybe stopped at the Rogers chocolate shop, too) and bought this book and a couple others. I never actually did try to read it, but it got put in a donation box – I believe one I donated to the local prison – before I even considered getting back into the classics again. Now I would love to have a copy so I can dive in, but I’m definitely holding out for a Penguin Classics version or one of those beautiful clothbound ones to go with my tiny collection.

6. The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia

It has been so long since I’ve read this book and I recall it being recommended to me by a favourite singer friend of mine, Terami Hirsch. She actually has a song that reminds me of this book and I think when I had originally read this I didn’t totally get it. It’s one of those books that reads like a classic, almost magical realism. I recall loving it when I had read it bur would love to reread it now that I have found my reading tastes have changed. I don’t think I really knew what I liked to read back then and a revisit is definitely in order. (On a side note, I think I read this the year I read my first Kurt Vonnegut, Galapagos, another book I want to reread but thankfully own a copy of.) I honestly don’t even know what I did with my copy of this book, either, because I remember reading it while laying out on the deck in the summer, and the dog came running up next to me, all muddy, and stepped on one of the pages. It was definitely the most unique book on my shelf for the longest time because of this!

7. Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro

Another book I had read way back when I had started book blogging! I think I had bought this one because of the gorgeous cover. I always loved books that incorporated music, too, and I just had to get this one just because it had “music” in the title (at the same time, I think I bought Prodigy by Nancy Huston, another music book). I recall really enjoying the stories and adored Ishiguro’s writing. I can’t believe that I didn’t dive into more of his books back then because I think he might have turned into a favourite author of mine had I kept reading. I wish I had this book to reread because I would love to revisit Ishiguro’s writing now that I’m into more classic and adult literature, whereas when I read this, I feel like my reading palate wasn’t quite where it could be.

8. The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

The Lottery is one of those stories that I remember reading in high school or university. It’s one of those stories that starts off normal enough and then literally ends with a bang. Since I owned this book, I decided to read the rest of the stories in the collection and enjoyed them. Prior to this, I had read The Haunting of Hill House and thought it was okay, but even then, I hadn’t been in the mind to read classics and I didn’t appreciate a slower-moving book like I do now. I also didn’t realize the joy in reading a horror story that isn’t like the ones we read these days, by authors like Stephen King or Chuck Palahniuk. There’s just something in a story that you can read on a rainy or snowy evening that has that subtle creepiness to it and I do think that Shirley Jackson has it. I actually bought two of her books last year – We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House, both gorgeous hardback copies – but I would love to buy another copy of this short story collection for a reread. I think I would enjoy it more reading it now than when I did years ago.

9. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

Just like the Shirley Jackson books I read years ago, Revolutionary Road is one that I read way back in 2009 and didn’t like very much. Looking at my review of this book (which is full of spoilers, since I didn’t quite know the definition of “review” back then) I called the book boring – actually, I said that both the movie and the book were boring. Like I mentioned, these days I love a well-written, slow-moving story, because it’s something that you can really settle deep into and enjoy. There’s something to enjoy in fast-paced novels, but I feel like a drama, especially a drama like this, has to move slowly. I actually said that maybe I had to live back in the 1960’s to really appreciate this book because I just couldn’t stand it. Again, I’d love to reread this now, take my time, and really enjoy it. A lot of people love this book and I think it deserves a second chance!

10. Mercy Among The Children by David Adams Richards

As with The Woman in White, this is another book that I haven’t actually read. I think I originally bought this one because of a Sarah Slean post. If you don’t know, Sarah Slean is a Canadian singer-songwriter and she used to have a section on her website called “vitamins” where she’d talk about books she’d read, movies she’d seen, or music she’d listened to. This was one of those books that she had raved about and so I bought a copy at a secondhand shop but never got around to reading it. I think it was my first book cull where I donated this book, though I’m still always convinced that I own a copy, which I’ve yet to find anywhere. I would love to get another copy of this to read because I’ve heard it’s a Canadian classic. People I love on Goodreads have given it rave reviews and so I think it’s about time that I’ve finally read it.

And there you have it! These are the 10 books which I used to own but have since gotten rid of – which I would love to own again! You can definitely bet that these will go on my list of books to buy in 2019 from book sales. It’s lists like these that make me rethink giving books away too quickly. As it is, I tend to put books that I think I’ll want to get rid of away in a closet or box and then leave them for a while. If a year or so goes by and I still haven’t thought of that book, then maybe I’ll get rid of it. But even then, you never know! As you can see, years have gone by for some of these and just now I would love to revisit them.

Have you ever gotten rid of a book that you wish you had nowadays? What’s on your list of books to buy that you loved years ago but don’t own? Have you read any of the books on my list? 

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BOOK REVIEW: Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall, by Kazuo Ishiguro

Released: May 5, 2009 (Knopf Canada)
Author Links: GOODREADS / FACEBOOK
Source: Purchased
Buy Now From: Amazon

In this sublime story cycle, Kazuo Ishiguro explores love, music and the passage of time. This quintet ranges from Italian piazzas to the Malvern Hills, a London flat to the “hush-hush floor” of an exclusive Hollywood hotel. Along the way we meet young dreamers, café musicians and faded stars, all at some moment of reckoning. 

Gentle, intimate and witty, Nocturnes is underscored by a haunting theme: the struggle to restoke life’s romance, even as relationships flounder and youthful hopes recede.

My Thoughts

Nocturnes, by Kazuo Ishiguro, was a book I felt compelled to read after reading a review from Heather’s blog over at Book Addict. She mentioned Ishiguro’s beautiful writing and the fact that she read the small book of 5 short stories over a period of two days. Being a book about music and nightfall, I figured it would be a perfect read.

Just by viewing the cover, the book looked very romantic – this is also evoked by the words “music and nightfall.”

Being a musician myself, I found myself relating to a few of the characters – in Malvern Hills, especially, the main character is seen by his sister and her husband as someone who doesn’t work, despite the fact that he’s working on his music (too many times I feel like I’m seen as being a non-worker – but music truly is something one has to work at).

I’ve always seen music as something that brings people together – different cultures may speak different languages but music is universal. In Nocturnes, music does indeed bring people together – in Come Rain or Come Shine, the two main characters were once schoolmates who loved talking about the jazz classics, something another character knows nothing about, and it brings them together despite the fact there are other issues floating around; in Crooner, two characters are brought together over the love of one of the character’s music, and; in Nocturne, the main character is undergoing surgery (in the hopes that it will help make him a star with his music) and while at his recovery spot he befriends an actor who claims he is a great saxophone player.

But while music brings these people together, it is also something that tears them apart – in Crooner, the Gardners are seen as having a perfect holiday, while in the end Tony sings to his wife as a farewell as this is their last holiday before they separate for good, and; in Malvern Hills, the young songwriter is drawn towards a Swedish couple who used to perform on the stage together, but are now drifting apart as their differences come forth a little too prominently as they recount their time together.

All of these stories are beautiful, yet tragic. There is a light about them – in the writing and in the gentle way Ishiguro uses his words – but then there is also darkness when the reader sees that maybe a relationship wasn’t as it seemed. Each story contains romance, but a sad romance – couples breaking apart, mostly. The only story that is different from this theme is Cellists – a story of a young cello player who finds his mentor in a woman who claims to be a virtuoso, but has never really learned the craft of playing.

It was hard to finish the book and actually feel complete. The stories never did come full circle and I felt a bit of an emptiness when I finished. Maybe I had just hoped for something happier. While Ishiguro has a wonderful way with words, he could have written a story about the beauty of music bringing people together, rather than it being a force that pulls people apart. But maybe that’s just me. I had never read anything by Kazuo Ishiguro before and didn’t know what to expect. The book definitely exceeded my expectations, but in the end I wanted something more.