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).