July No-Buy Report (aka Free Books!)

My bookshelves welcomed some new additions this month. As I mentioned here, my brother got me Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Making. I also acquired two more free books after.

There’s still a week left of July, but I have no intentions of getting more books – free or otherwise. In fact, I’ve imposed a suspension on book acquisition for the rest of July and all throughout August. Why? First, I know I will buy a lot of books in September so I’m trying to balance the spending starting now. Worse, I’m running out of space to store my books.

I have so many books – plenty of them unread. I think I will exile myself from bookshops until September. I’ll shop my own shelves instead. When I did a cursory check this afternoon, I found unread, unloved novels I had forgotten about. Poor books.

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I seem to do more navel-gazing than book blogging. Onwards. After all, the post title promises a look at some books, not my personal bibliophile dilemmas.

L-R: The Last Emperor by Edward Behr, The Book of Spices by Frederic Rosengarten

The books look ancient because they belonged to my dear grandfather, forever a reading enthusiast. He is kinder to his eyes these days and so everything in his collection is now at my disposal. What joy!

He had finished rereading The Last Emperor, a biography on the last emperor of China, just last week and offered to relinquish ownership, to which I happily accepted. The next book I’m going to read is Jung Chang’s biography of Empress Dowager Cixi aka the infamous Dragon Lady, so this is a nice tie-in. Interestingly, Chang’s biography seems revisionist, while Behr described Cixi as “extravagant, cruel, corrupt, and xenophobic.” It will be quite a juxtaposition to compare both biographies!

I found The Book of Spices hiding in the recesses of my grandfather’s bookshelf and ohmygosh I was so delighted. I mentioned in my July Desires post that I kept dithering on whether to buy Nathaniel’s Nutmeg by Giles Milton or not. I love the history of spices but wasn’t sure if Nathaniel’s Nutmeg would cover the topics that fascinate me – Nutmeg seems more focused on the antics of some traders.

The Book of Spices, on the other hand, contains an overview of the spice trade, maps of trade routes, along with an individual chapter for each spice, ranging alphabetically from allspice to vanilla. Bonus! There are recipes for every spice. Already I’m itching to bake the blackberry clove cake and the blondies with cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.

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A final note and some words: If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a pretty sporadic poster. But I do feel bad for not reading and commenting on other blogs. People have been kind enough to like and comment on this blog but I’ve been silent. And not only do I feel bad, I really miss interacting with bloggers I enjoy and admire.

Someone said that working for a startup is like taking on a year’s workload in one quarter and it sure feels that way the past couple of weeks. I’ll try to read my favorite blogs during my commute starting Monday, but whether it translates to thoughtful comments on my part remains to be seen.

Also, I have books to review! Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troops) by Andrea Hirata, The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham, and The Vegetarian by Han Kang. I’ve pretty much abandoned my personal writing lately as I lack the energy for it post-work. But I’ve been reading quite a bit. It’s a great way to unwind! I’m going to try and rustle up some reviews soon. Fingers crossed.

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8 thoughts on “July No-Buy Report (aka Free Books!)

  1. How lovely that you can connect with your grandfathers interest this way… I have The Dowager book too though it’s likely to be a long time before I get to read it.

    Like

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