December To Be ReadHello! It’s the first of December and time to report on the state of my TBR. I also have some book confessions, a MYSTERY and a note about NaNoWriMo, so we’ve got a lot to get through this month. Let’s get started …

Well, the TBR is not looking bad (confession – I added two books to the end of the shelf after I took this pic. BUT they slotted in the gap at the end, so it’s still only one shelf long.

Oct 2014 1Yes, that’s right – only one shelf long still. I’ve been carefully Not Buying Books because it’s Christmas (and Not So Secret) season – I’m in three Not So Secret Santa schemes this year, two booky, one not specifically booky, plus I have a lot of booky friends, so I’ve had to be good just in case duplicates ensued. See below for a slight slip off the non-buying wagon, but I have done OK with that on the whole. I did acquire one Persephone during November,  but I was in charge of the Big Persephone Trip this year, so I just made sure I didn’t buy it for myself from anyone!

Dec 2014 next to readI currently have “Merchant Adventurers” on the go – I’ve just got them sailing off in their three new ships to find the North-East Passage. I’m reading this for the Shiny New Books Newsletter, coming out in the new year, so I’ll point you towards the review when it’s out.

Coming up next, I’ve got a lovely book, “The Bookshop Book”, which my friend Ali has kindly loaned me – I suspect I’ll be buying copies for a few people in the near future. I loaned Ali “The Constant Nymph” for a Margaret Kennedy reading week but fancy re-reading it myself, so that might slot into this month or maybe my January of re-reading.

Book Confessions, including a Mystery

November 2014 3My friend Laura came to visit with her other half at the weekend. We’d promised them the delights of Kings Heath’s charity shops and had a good old rummage. I was mainly shopping for my two booky Not So Secret Santa gifts, but I couldn’t resist these two. I’m not sure anyone else is going to spring on Tony Benn’s diaries for me in the next couple of months – in fact we ran into the person who would be most likely to do that on the day, so I carefully showed it to her. And “Estates” is a book I have on my Kindle, so a weird buying of the print version of something I have electronically, but more importantly, it’s not on my wish list!

November 2014 2Now to the mystery. I found this copy of Iris Murdoch’s “Henry and Cato” in one charity shop. That pic is to show the spine colour, as there has been some confusion over whether it’s a first edition – one known first I’ve seen pictured has a yellow spine where mine is red, but I can’t see from their pic if it’s faded.

November 2014 2aThis one has the known first edition cover, and the back of the title page seems to suggest that it is one, so I’m going to put it on my small shelf of firsts. Oh, and also, in case anyone’s wondering, I’ve already popped back to the charity shop and give them an extra donation, because it’s worth more than I paid for it and that seems fair.

November 2014 2bBut here’s the mystery – on the title page, it has this round sticker that reads “Presented by Britain” with a crest.

It’s really hard to Google that, or the book title and presented by Britain. So I’m hoping a blog reader might know what this signifies! Do comment if you know or can point me to a resource.

On losing NaNoWriMo

So, finally, congratulations to my readers who wrote their 50,000 words in November and “won” NaNoWriMo. Hooray! I’m so pleased for you – it’s a big commitment and achievement. I started doing NaNoWriMo, convinced that I was going to write up my Iris Murdoch research. I’ve been working on this for years, first reporting at the Iris Murdoch Society Conference in 2012 on my scheme to read all of her novels with a group of friends, then getting 24 book groups to read “The Bell” and answer a questionnaire on various aspects including what they knew of Murdoch and whether they thought “The Bell” was a good book group read.

I was planning to write up A Book of some sort. I’d considered the possibility of registering for a PhD, but I know only too well what that entails, and it didn’t work with my life. I am used to writing and I’m OK with self-publishing, although I had had a very, very, very preliminary chat with a publisher about submitting a synopsis etc. I started off, put all of the text I had already in place, zeroed my word count and started adding words.

A few days in and it became patently, blindingly obvious that I do not have the ability to understand, synthesise and apply literary theory to my work. And to produce a work that’s academically relevant, I would need to. Oh dear. Tears ensued. Discussions ensued. Lovely people offered their kind help.

But when it comes down to it, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to write up my research in a much shorter form (and yes, patient book group members, I will produce something by the end of the year (this year: 2014) reporting on my work with you). I’ll add the chronological read to the book group research, fill in the background, draw conclusions and include a tiny bit of theoretical background. It won’t be a PhD, it won’t be a full-length book, it won’t be publishable by a publishing house, but I’ll probably make it available electronically. My hard work will be recorded and I will have produced something, just not what I thought I was going to produce.

I’m glad I started NaNoWriMo because I found out what was going to happen to my research a lot sooner than I would have otherwise. So I’m glad I “lost” NaNoWriMo!

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Whew, a long post – did you make it to the end? Any thoughts on any of this will be eagerly read, and I hope you all have a lovely December reading time!