Three years now I’ve been at this, so here is the annual commemorative post. As well as being the day I decided to start blogging in earnest, April 15 is also Tax Day. That’s not fun so here are four people who were born this day in history:

1452: Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 15 (Old Style) and the world still stands in awe. Incidentally, until it was stolen by Vincenzo Peruggia in 1911 (subsequently earning plenty of publicity) the Mona Lisa was not actually all that famous or well-known.


The Washington Post dutifully reported the theft.


1843: Henry James was born. A powerhouse man of letters from an intellectual family, James is considered in some circles one of the greatest writers in English – in others merely an anemic waste of space. Among many other works, he wrote The Turn of the Screw (1898), one of the greatest skin-crawling ghost stories ever made and certainly the most ambiguous.

1916: Helene Hanff was born. She went on to write a series of letters to a British bookseller which, when published as 84 Charing Cross Road (1970), earned her an adoring audience. To connect with a stranger through a shared affection for the written word is doubtless a dream held by many book lovers as the slim volume of correspondence is still widely read today.

1960: Susanne Bier was born. A notable Danish filmmaker whose titles include After the Wedding (2006) and In a Better World (2010). Of the two, In a Better World won the Oscar. While it was a deeply disturbing film about parental weakness, violence among children and the “friend” mentality, it was also a melodrama with a falsely positive ending whereas the earlier After the Wedding did all it could to subvert the expectations of melodrama and came across to me as the more mature work.

after the wedding

There you go! That’s your April 15 trivia for this year.

So here are the books I am currently on file to review:

Last Words from Montmartre by Qiu Miaojin
The Balkan Trilogy & The Levant Trilogy by Olivia Manning
An African in Greenland by Tete-Michel Kpomassie
The Assault by Harry Mulisch

And here are ten books somewhere near the top of my to-be-read pile:

Suspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano
The Three Leaps of Wang Lun by Alfred Doblin
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
The Symposium by Plato
Essays, Civil and Moral by Francis Bacon
Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin
The Tragedy of Fidel Castro by Joao Cerqueira
Georgian Poetry edited by Lyn Coffin
Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys

girl reading