Last night I impulsively downloaded Dr Zhivago. I'd been curious to read it for a long time and the film was on TV, so... There were a number of translations on offer. I suppose I should have looked online to see if there were any recommended ones, but what's the point of impulse if you then think about it? I bought the one which, to be honest, took up the least space on my iPad, then did a bit of reading about the author, Boris Pasternak, and learned that his childhood home was filled with famous composers, such as Rachmaninoff and Scriabin and authors such as Tolstoy, who was a personal friend of the family. His Dad was a painter, his Mum a concert pianist. So there was this very Bohemian flavour about the place, although they were a rich family.
He was a poet and translator - that saved his life when Stalin was doing purges later in his life - he'd translated some poems by a favourite of Stalin's and that lovely dictator had his name crossed off the list.
But he wasn't appreciated too much in the USSR till long after his death. When he won the Nobel Prize for Dr Zhivago, he was pressured into turning it down. I believe his son collected it many years later, well after his death.
Another thing : the novel is semi-autobiographical. I've only read the first couple of pages, but that will make it all the more fascinating for me.
I've also bought 1066 Turned Upside Down, an anthology of stories about what if things had gone differently when William the Conqueror came to England. I read a bit about it on the English Historical Writers blog and it sounded interesting - as you probably know from my ramblings, I simply adore alternative history. And it was very reasonably priced. I've only read the first story so far. Still, it should be good.
The Hypnotist, a YA novel by Laurence Anholt, was in a box of books that was delivered to my school by the lovely Sun Bookshop for display. It's set in the 60s in the South and has issues of racism. I didn't want to take it home when it didn't belong to me, so I bought the ebook. I think this will be a very readable book.
Another book in the box was The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon, an Australian book set in a refugee detention centre. I try to read as much local stuff as I can, anyway, and this one may well end up on the CBCA Notables or even short list. It's a good idea to read them before the short list hovers on the horizon and not have to catch up in the last minute on a pile of books you haven't read.
So, that's my recent reading pile. What's yours?