Book review – Joe and the Race to Rescue

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Book cover - Victoria Eveleigh - Joe and the Race to RescueThis is the third (and final?) instalment in the Joe … series by Victoria Eveleigh (read my reviews of Joe and the Hidden Horseshoe and Joe and the Lightning Pony). It picks up pretty well right after the last book, with Joe having moved on from his pony club champion, Lightning to new pony, Fortune. He begins to realise what a good teacher Lightning was as he struggles to forge a meaningful relationship with Fortune, who is of a very high quality but doesn’t seem to have engaged with him.

Meanwhile, Joe’s finally found a horsey world where girls, pink and sparkles do not rule: the world of the heavy horse. Introduced to Malcolm by Chris, the farrier, Joe’s soon learning all he can about driving and ploughing, taking out subscriptions and learning to care for – and even ride – these gentle giants. This is an area that I don’t think I’ve seen covered in a modern pony book before – there is driving in historical novels, of course, but not up to date ones, and we meet a pony who does equally well being driven and ridden, too.

It’s not all about Joe and his horses – his friendships, especially with Martin and Caroline, continue to deepen, and Sensei Radford makes a brief but profound appearance. I do love the range of role models that Joe has, not forgetting neighbour Nellie, who gives Joe a few pointers along the way. And there’s plot and excitement aplenty, of course: who is going to be picked for the England team in the international pony club games, and what exactly does the watery picture on the front signify. There are some lovely touches and echoes, especially in a ploughing scene near to the end of the book.

Once again, Victoria Eveleigh has got it just right, with modern touches (Facebook pages are updated with new pony pictures and text messages are important) but a good old-fashioned story without magic and silliness, lessons to learn about heavy horses and a good solid underpinning about family, friendship and care for the animals. It’s a shame if this is the last we’re going to see of Joe – maybe he can develop an interest in Exmoors next …

This book was kindly sent to me by the publisher – thank you, Orion.

Read this and pass it on …

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mature_frontI don’t do chain letters and blog award things very often, but I’ve been nominated in this writers’ one, and as I have my new books out at the moment (“Who are you Calling Mature?” and the Business Omnibus), I thought it would be a nice one to do. The person who nominated me is Chris Longden, aka Funnylass, a novelist who’s a friend of a friend; she writes satirical novels that are funny and make you think, and she’s been generous in sharing three nominations in her post.

So, the idea is that you accept the nomination, answer four questions, then pass it on and nominate two more writers. I’m glad that the writers can be fiction, non-fiction writers or even Plain English writers and editors like my friend and fellow-nominee, Laura Ripper (here’s her post from today, too) and here I go with my answers …

What are you working on?

I’ve just published my new business book, “Who are you Calling Mature? Running a Successful Business after the Start-up Phase”, and so what I’m mainly working on is building its visibility, collecting some reviews (including sending out a few review copies) and then talking about it. I’ve done this one in print and e-book versions simultaneously (exciting!) after producing a print version of my first business book, “Going it Alone at 40”. I’ve been working on climbing up the steep learning curve with that: I’ll admit to having 10 copies in my possession which are formatted a little oddly – for that reason, I’m going to give them away via BookCrossing. I can assure any potential buyers that the copies now available on print-on-demand will be formatted just fine!

So I’m working on building my profile as an author; I’m always looking at different ways to share knowledge, and I’m contemplating putting myself out there as a speaker locally, although that’s only in the thinking stage at the moment!

How does your writing differ from others in its genre?

I like to think that I have two Unique Selling points in the business how-to genre …

  1. I have a relaxed and approachable style, encouraging rather than instructing, and happy to admit my own mistakes and learning points. I like to be a bit light-hearted, friendly and sometimes funny, which is something I do in my blog posts and something I take across to my books. My first book talks about what a homeworker wears, and my second one takes you on journeys through the real ways in which social media can help you – all trying to tell it how it is while encouraging my readers to take those first and subsequent steps. I hope that I come across as caring, too.
  2. I give all of the information people need. I give a lot of information away on my blogs, and this, again, carries over into my books. I get really frustrated when people don’t tell you exactly how they did things, or you have to even buy an expensive downloadable or course in order to find out the nitty-gritty details. I share exactly how I’ve done what I’ve done, in detail, with examples from my own life. The books don’t have many images in them, but they have links to FREE material on my blogs which has screen shots and all sorts of extra explanations. I have vowed never to make my readers pay extra to access that material: it is important to me not to do that. They can buy the next book, or the other book, of course …!

Why do you write what you do?

I am passionate about encouraging people to believe that they can set up and run a successful business – on their own terms. I started writing my Word tips on my business blog when I didn’t know how to do something and wanted to make a note of it. That built into a successful series, then when I went full-time with my self-employment, I decided to blog about my experience, sharing exactly how I did it and what happened. That became the raw material for my first book, and my next year of blog posts formed the nucleus (although again much enhanced) of the second one.

I started writing with a how-to guide on lowering your cholesterol without drugs, which is still my biggest seller, and I added one on transcription as a career when I realised that I was getting a lot of searches on that topic reaching my business blog. All of what I do is basically to share what I’ve learned along the way, and to encourage other people by sharing my own experience and real-life examples. If I can inspire somebody to take the plunge and start their own business – and enjoy it – then I’m very happy.

How does the writing process work for you?

The kernel of my books comes from my blog. But it’s not just a question of copying and pasting a load of blog posts into a Word document – there’s a lot of editing and fiddling around, re-ordering, putting into context and new writing to be done.

Typically, I will collect together posts on a topic or number of topics, pop them in a Word document in a vague order, work out what else I need to write, and write that. Once I have a document – oh, and this is all done in the spare time I have in between doing jobs for my regular clients – I send it off to Catherine, my editor, and Chrys, my beta reader, who go over it for typos, errors, things that don’t make sense, things that need more explaining, repetition, etc., etc. Then I edit it again, and out it goes. It can be a long process – obviously the shorter books take less time, but I’ve put out one full-length book a year for the past two years.

Nominations

Now it’s nomination time, I’m pleased to nominate my friend and children’s / teens’ author Leila Rasheed as my first colleague. Leila has written a variety of books, and she also teaches and lectures in creative writing. Leila’s blog post is here.  My second nomination is Fiona Joseph. She’s a fellow non-fiction writer who’s produced some lovely books about figures from Birmingham’s history; she also writes short stories and has a novel coming out this year. Again, there’s lots of interesting stuff on her website and blog, and you can read her post, too!  Over to you, ladies!

The right book at the wrong time …

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Mar 2014 4

I hope these will be the right books at the right time!

I picked up these two books at the BookCrossing Birmingham meetup yesterday. We both want to read the Junot Diaz book, so that will accompany us on a short break next month. The Jennifer Chiaverini is the 16th in a series of which I’m up to Number 10, so I’m going to put it on my small pile of “books where I need to read another one in the series first” and then it will be the right time for that one.

I took a few print copies of my book, “Going it Alone at 40” to the meetup because there’s a slight printing error in them which means I’m unwilling to sell them (all of the content is there, and the book is print-on-demand and I’ve updated the file, so this won’t happen again) and one person there was about to leave his job, so that was definitely the right book at the right time for him.

But … I picked up a book to read that I bought in August 2013. It looked right up my street, small-town America setting, etc. I started to read and enjoy it. I read it on the way to the meetup, and I was looking forward to getting to know the characters and enjoy the story. Then the central character was diagnosed with a health condition that a [friend or family member] is battling at the moment. No details for privacy’s sake, they should be OK, but it’s not something I want to be reading about right now, especially as I flicked to the end and the outcome for the character in the book is NOT good. Hm.

Now, you could say that this is a case of confirmation bias, like when you get a new car and everyone in the world suddenly has that make and model and colour of car, or whenever you hear about a new thing, you immediately read about it in the Saturday papers, or everyone seems to be getting their hair cut on the same day. I genuinely don’t recall a central character in a book I’ve read, at least in the last few years, suffering from that exact health condition. Weird.

And, very much, the right book at the wrong time, so I have had to set it aside.

It’s great when the right book hits you at just the right time, and we’ve all experienced that. There are many books that are the wrong book at a good reading time or at the worst time possible (let’s not go into the animal upset things in books, please!) Have you had the right book at the wrong time, though: a book you’d normally enjoy but oh dear me no: this is NOT the time to be reading it?

Book reviews – Xenophobe’s Guide to the Icelanders, Virago is 40 and Sunlight on a Broken Column

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Mar tbrWell I’ve got three books here, but it’s two very small ones and a Virago so it seemed sensible to do them together. Also some news of several new acquisitions below … But first two small books, read on my journey to London to have a day out with my friend Emma last week. I had cheap tickets on the fast train; good for getting more time in London, not so good for reading time, but I still managed to finish these two, and in fact, start the Virago Modern Classic, too. “Sunlight on a Broken Column” turned into a readalong with two booky friends, so do click through to have a look at their reviews, too!

Various – “Virago is 40: A Celebration”

(10 August 2013, Any Amount of Books, Charing Cross Road)

I picked up this print version of a book I already had in e-book format on one of my other wanderings through London (this time, although I went to the Charing Cross Road, I managed not to buy ANY books …) and it was perfect for a train journey read. A collection of Virago authors were asked to write a short piece on the theme of “40”, and this is the result: pieces about Virago publishing itself, about the authors’ own lives, about other writers at 40, short stories, poems, and a clever list of excerpts from books featuring the numbers one to forty. A very varied collection indeed – nothing to really get your teeth into, but, as I said, perfect for travelling.

Richard Sale – “Xenophobe’s Guide to the Icelanders”

(7 March 2014)

Touted as “frank and funny”, this is more the kind of book that makes an insider chuckle, perhaps – I certainly wouldn’t have got that much out of it if I hadn’t known a bit about Iceland and its inhabitants already, which is not really why I bought this book! It’s a bit too silly, when it comes to it – yes, the title does make that clear, I suppose, but I still hoped for more cultural information than perhaps I got out of it, although there were some useful titbits buried among the jokes. I’m glad that I’m supplementing this with some other books about Iceland (see below: I’m certainly doing that …)

Attia Hosain – “Sunlight on a Broken Column”

(19 August 2013 – Oxfam in Oxford)

This was bought on my last trip to Oxford, and it’s exciting to be among those buys now (and out of July’s ones!). This was a very interesting read: a novel published in 1961 by a woman living in England who had left India in 1947, around the time of Independence. Anita Desai’s Introduction brings out the fact that the author’s life was very like that which she describes in the book, and it is a very intimate portrayal of a largely vanished way of life which could only have been written from the inside.

The novel centres around a traditional family in Lucknow in the 1930s who are working out slowly how to exist in a world where the colonisers are being edged out at the same time as the patriarchal head of the family is dying, politics is becoming more important than looking back at history, but history is in the making. But still the eternal patterns of family life and sacrifice, illicit love, children rebelling and mothers not understanding persist.

In a rich prose that is almost Modernist at times, Hosain describes many different types of character, from distant patriarchal figures to enchanting women who become all-too-human, basing the book in a rather fascinating way around the houses in which they live (as the women’s lives are very internal in terms of housing and emotions), with a particularly powerful last section viewing events during and since Partition through the lens of the deserted family house. All of this is observed by Laila, one of the daughters of the house but with a tenuous position in adolescence and adulthood owing to her lack of family and then bid for freedom, who learns to think for herself almost against the odds.

A powerful and moving book that gives a different perspective on the events I’ve read about so many times before..

Heaven-Ali and Kaggsy have both been reading this book at the same time – read Ali’s review here, and Karen’s too.

More confessions

Mar 2014 2So, we’re going to Iceland for our (delayed so that we go when the buses are running) honeymoon, and I’m using that as an excuse to top up my collection of books on the country and its people. Bank of Matthew paid for these lovelies (Bank of Matthew is a scheme whereby Matthew puts aside money for me for Christmas and Birthday, and I can then claim treats as I want them as I go along through the year) and I’ve decided that instead of a Month of Re-Reading in July this year, I’m going to have a Month of Reading About Iceland in May. So watch this space for some reviews of these in but a couple of months!

“Iceland Defrosted” is an apparently self-published book collecting this Icelandophile’s (is that a word) magazine columns and other writings about his experiences in the country. It looks well written and amusing but detailed and long enough to give me lots of information about the places and people of modern Iceland.

Mar 2014 3These three lovelies are a memoir, a novel and a collection of translations of the saga. “Names for the Sea” follows the author as she moves to Iceland and lives in Reykjavik with her family for a year, working at the university. I could NOT work out what the little things were on the cover at first: they turned out to be people bobbing in the thermal waters of the Blue Lagoon. “The Tricking of Freya” is a novel about a North American woman of Icelandic ancestry returning to the island to discover some family secrets – a rare example of fiction about Iceland that isn’t of the Scand-noir genre. “The Sagas of the Icelanders”, with a Foreword by Jane Smiley, who wrote a saga-like novel about Greenland that I haven’t actually read yet, brings together a collection of translations of well- and little-known sagas, in a lovely Penguin Classics Special Edition with deckled edges, no less (wavy, hand-made looking page edges to you and me).

I’m really looking forward to reading these, and they’ve joined Halldor Laxness on a special pile on my TBR, which I will no doubt share with you at the beginning of April.

Have you read any of these? What are you reading at the moment? Do you have any monthly theme reads coming up?

Book reviews – Waterlog and The Double Life of Jane Austen

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Mar tbrFinally I’ve finished those two books I was so bogged down in. In fact, I finished them on the same day, as I thought I had loads to go on the Jane Austen then discovered wodges of plot synopses in the back (this only usually happens to me with Kindle books, where you get to about 95% and it suddenly ends – or is that just me?)

Anyway, I was pleased to finish these as it was all getting a bit wading-through-mud – and then, of course, I had a day trip to London on Wednesday and finished two more little ones, so watch this space for more reviews on Sunday! But here are two non-fiction books, both the products of their author’s enthusiastic more-than-just-a-hobby, but both frustrating in their ways, too.

Roger Deakin – “Waterlog”

(16 July 2013 – British Heart Foundation, Penrith)

Yes, I’m still on those Northern Odyssey books, but not for much longer: I’ve finally got to the ones purchased in August 2013 in London now! This is a somewhat famous book in which the author wild swims around the UK – although I have to admit that I was a bit bothered that he didn’t do it in order, but darted here, there and everywhere, taking a piecemeal approach which I suppose had to fit around his other activities, but made the book a little disjointed (I could have done with a map, too).

It is however worth reading for the beautiful descriptions of the seas, rivers, lidos, streams, pools, reaches, tarns, lakes, canals, swimming pools and moat, well-known and hidden, that he explores during his series of journeys. There was an exciting (to me) excursion to the Oasis rooftop swimming pool at the end of our old street in Covent Garden (do you get all excited when a book pitches up at somewhere you know well, not set there in its entirety like my obsession with books set in Birmingham, but just a flash of a place you know?). The main plus point about the book for me was the detailed, respectful and accurate descriptions of the flora and fauna he meets along the way – the people come second, in my view.

Deakin was obviously an eccentric chap, addicted to the pleasures of swimming au naturel (and telling us about it), and delighting in having ‘brisk’ discussions with those in authority who are not keen for him to dip in their waters – a real maverick who likes a good ruck. And that makes for a good read, too, of course.

Points, too, for his mention of Iris Murdoch, famously an enthusiastic wild swimmer herself, and, of course, given our recent storms and freak tides, for recording places that quite frankly probably aren’t there any more now. The only problem I had with this book was that it took SO LONG to read. The style (which had some odd quirks which had me hurriedly muting the protestations of my editor’s brain) was quite long-winded; swimming is not something I know much about, so I had to concentrate on working out what he was doing; and there was an indefinable something about the book that meant that, however much I was enjoying reading it, and however alert I was when I picked it up, I would invariably find myself dropping off to sleep after a mere half hour in its company!

Jane Aiken Hodge – “The Double Life of Jane Austen”

(15 July 2013 – Beckside Books, Penrith)

As an espouser of the ‘Death of the Author’ theory (the author has nothing to do with your reading experience; you react to the book yourself and it doesn’t matter what they meant, it’s what you read that counts, in brief), I do tend to be wary of books matching an author’s life to their works. There’s always the danger of finding out that beloved author was a bit of a monster, and I know a few of my readers have come across biographies like that recently. And you can easily love a book but know nothing about why the author wrote this or that, the context of the times, etc., etc.

Having said that, this does do a meticulous job of taking contemporary and just-posthumous sources on Austen – letters, in the main, and recollections and the Life issued by her close relatives – and relating them to the times at which she was writing her books, family and historical events, and something of the writing and publishing environment of the time. Except we don’t really know when Austen wrote her books – especially not the early versions of them – and we don’t have many surviving drafts and notes; add to that the big gaps in her correspondence caused by her sister’s enthusiastic excising of the record after Jane’s death, and while it’s a fair enough point that they were private letters that might hurt family members if they were to be published, we’re left with a lot of spaces to fill.

Aiken Hodge fills these spaces with a fair amount of speculation. She does flag this up both in the introduction and at the point at which she leaves the safety of the sources and paddles into murkier waters, but it is a bit annoying, to be honest. Bad enough to have to relate the books to their author without having to do guessing anyway!

Another quibble is that the introduction states clearly that it’s a reader’s book, not a critic’s book. So critical assessment of the novels is done with regard to character patterns and the relation to Austen’s own life, which is fine, but it does rely on the reader knowing the plots and characters of the novels in intimate detail (yes, there are those synopses, but they are chunks of text which you would have to scan through for character names), and there are many, many asides which throw in a character name and expect you to know immediately who it is, which book they inhabit, and their relevance to the point at hand.

So, a frustrating book on a number of points, but it is good at what it does, and there are some interesting insights.

And yes, if you were wondering, too, she was apparently the older sister of the children’s writer Joan Aiken Hodge, and she wrote a biography of Georgette Heyer that I read and reviewed a few years ago.

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Well, I sound a bit grumpy there, don’t I: sorry! I did enjoy both of these books, I just got a bit frustrated at how stuck I was getting. Next up, two short books for review, and then I have to admit that I’ve started reading “Sunlight on a Broken Column”, which I’d threatened to read later in the month but which fitted in my handbag when I went to London the other day. So, Ali and Karen, if you want to read along, I haven’t got very far yet! What’s everyone else reading?

Book review – The Odd Women

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Mar tbrYou know that I normally like to review books in pairs, right? Well, I’ve been waiting to review this one that I read in February for AGES, and I am not hugely close to finishing either of the current reads, which are both enjoyable but rather slow-going, so I’ve decided just to go for this one. I’m not hugely happy that my March reading is going to slowly already, but I hope to get in some more reading time and make some more progress, even though  I will be fiddling around with the order in which I read my TBR (I know, shocking!) in order to promote a) books on Iceland and b) a book by an author whose event I’m going to next week. I do have a trip to London next week, although it’s on the fast train rather than the slower train or the still-slower coach, so some reading will get done then. In the meantime, one review of a slightly odd book …

George Gissing – “The Odd Women” (Virago)

(16 July 2013, Oxfam, Penrith)

A lovely Original Green Virago, this is yet another in the series of books I seem accidentally to have read on the problem of the ‘extra’ (or here, ‘odd’) women who will remain single throughout their lives, in contrast with the New Woman of the late nineteenth century. This one looks at the problems of a set of sisters, the two oldest, Alice and Virginia, unattractive and worn out by their working lives (the reason being that they were not adequately prepared for such lives) and the younger, Monica, grasping some faint attraction to men and therefore consciously embarking upon a plan to get married and escape the drudgery of her sisters’ lives. We also encounter Rhoda Nunn and her employer Mary Barfoot, who are campaigning to fit such women for more lucrative careers and, in Rhoda’s case, actively to promote the single life over the married one.

There’s an interestingly drawn sub-plot where Rhoda meets a cousin of Mary’s and finds her principles being challenged – but can she use their growing attraction as a method to shore up her own principles and show the men what’s what while remaining a role model for the particular kind of women they are trying to educate (Rhoda has strict and moralistic rules on who she will help, which brings her into conflict with the more flexible Mary). Meanwhile, Monica is drawn into the kind of subterfuge and scandal peculiar to times before ours, where being seen visiting a man unaccompanied could bring terrible punishment.

It’s an interesting novel of ideas, although pretty harsh and brutal. The lack of a conventionally attractive (in any sense) hero or heroine is noteworthy, and the characters and their relationships are drawn precisely, sometimes unbearably so. The plot does jump between the different characters in a slightly dislocating way. There are some flashes of immense charm, however, such as when Rhoda, decrying the unachievable ideals that are placed in women’s psyches (while holding just such a rigid set of principles herself) opines that all novelists should be strangled and thrown into the sea, and startlingly perceptive descriptions, such as that of a young man, seemingly a masculine hero, who actually trembles like a woman when the need to act positively is thrust upon him. Rhoda despises weakness and Gissing seems to, too, and there are no easy or happy endings, with immorality being punished (by the author or society? I’m not sure) and society and its mores shown up under the harsh light of his examination.

So, an uncomfortable read but an interesting one, and it does hold the interest; even at the bleakest moments, I would not have stopped reading for the world, and I did become addicted to the psychological detail and precise delineation of events, places and reactions that Gissing achieves.

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Xenophobe's Guide to the IcelandersNew book in – another book on Iceland (for a holiday, so these Do Not Count), and a little one which slipped through the letterbox yesterday. Billed as a light-hearted guide to “what makes the Icelanders Icelandic”, this slim volume does seem to cover the basics of how society works, attitudes to all sorts of things, etc., and will be read with interest but a pinch of salt.

So, I’m STILL currently reading “The Double Life of Jane Austen” (which pushes against my ‘death of the author’ espousal like MAD and assumes a knowledge of Austen that does leave me racking my brains for the book in which someone appears but is good on the whole) and “Waterlog” (which is still making me sleepy but again, is enjoyable). Up next will be Charlie Hill’s “The Space Between Things”, as I’m going to an event in Birmingham next week where he’ll be talking about his books and hopefully reading from his new one, “Books”, which I will then buy. “The Space Between Things” is set in early-1990s Moseley in Birmingham, somewhere I spent time at that time, and just flicking through the first few pages, I can see so much great observation and recognisable places and types, so I’m really looking forward to that. And then possibly the Laxness – has no one who reads this blog read any Laxness? I did put out a shout-out to see if anyone can shed light on why he’s so revered, from personal experience. Do let me know!

State of the TBR March 2014

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Mar tbrWell, I am pleased to say that I have made inroads into the terrible State of the TBR at the beginning of February – hopefully you can see from the picture that the blue book about two-thirds of the way along the shelf is the end of the front shelf.  I appear to have only acquired three books this month – two from a trip to New Mills early in February (one of which is a guide to Iceland and one of which went straight on the shelf, bypassing the TBR shelf, as it’s a copy for myself of a book I’ve just read on loan from a friend), and one more set in Iceland, in preparation for our holiday there in June.

Feb 2014 2Halldor Laxness is one of the most famous Icelandic writers, and the fabulous Jane Smiley has said this was the best book written in the 20th century. It’s also a novel set in Iceland that isn’t full of murders and Unpleasantnesses, so it’s hopefully going to be a good one. I’ve had a flick through and there do appear to be some animal sadnesses, as befits, I suppose, a book about the struggles of an Icelandic sheep-farmer, but it also seems to be saga-like in its strong story, family relationships and simplicity, and I am going to have a good go at it. Although this has gone at the end of the TBR shelf, unless the very unlikely happens and I get through all these books by May, it will be pulled out and read earlier. Incidentally, I ordered this from Hive, which is a more ethical alternative to Amazon, and gives a percentage of all sales to local independent bookshops (you can have your order delivered to an independent bookshop; if there’s not one near you or you haven’t chosen a favourite, Hive apportions the percentage to the nearest one to you). Prices are competitive and delivery is fast and good.

Jane Austen and WaterlogI’m currently reading two books bought in July in Penrith: “The Double Life of Jane Austen”, by Jane Aiken Hodge, which claims to be a popular rather than literary book (but does assume a close knowledge of Austen’s novels) and looks for clues to her life and outlook in her novels and letters; and “Waterlog” by Roger Deakin, which is a narrative of his travels around the UK (sadly in a rather disjointed fashion rather than around the country in systematic order) swimming in lakes, the sea, lidos, spas, rivers, streams, canals, tarns and the like. I would never do wild swimming, but it’s a beautiful evocation of the nature around these watery places, and you have to like someone who enjoys a good tussle with a recalcitrant landowner over rights of way. The only problem with this book is that it’s somewhat somnolent – I can pretty well guarantee that I’ll be dropping off within half an hour of opening it, so I’m not getting through it that quickly!

Mar 2014 coming up 1Coming up next on the TBR I’ve got a right old mixed bag. Well, there are two Viragoes in there, but one is the “Virago at 40” celebration volume with short pieces by many authors, and the other is a novel set in India. Then I have a history of protest songs, a small-town America novel, John Major’s autobiography (this is supposed to be one of the best political autobiographies there is, but of course includes one slightly squeamy episode for anyone around and cogent at the time!), Iris Murdoch on Sartre, and another George Eliot, “Adam Bede”. Is this destined to join “Middlemarch” and “Daniel Deronda” in my all-time favourites list? This little set of books does actually reflect my reading tastes rather well, although it lacks books on travel and language, but it’s pretty representative, which I like.

Mar 2014 coming up 2I also have this nice little pile waiting to be flicked through – I really do want to read some war poetry this year, and I have a few books on Iceland and some vocab to brush up on! So it looks like I’m in for a varied reading month in March!

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What are your reading plans for March? I’d be particularly interested to know if you’ve read any Laxness, but of course do comment on anything that takes your fancy, anything from these pics that you’ve read and enjoyed (or hated).