State of the TBR March 2017

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TBR shelf March 2017Well, here are the shelves in their current state of play, with Greg Rutherford representing the end of the front shelf (this means that until I buy any new books and the back shelf shuffles forward, I will see his face on the back cover, staring at me as I walk into the room …) To be fair on me (maybe), I haven’t acquired any books by BUYING them since my little book token spree at the end of January (however, see below for acquisitions from publishers)

march-2017-currently-readingI’ve just finished “Adventures on the Wheels of Steel” and will be reviewing that next (tomorrow, if I get my act together). These, then, are the two books I’m reading currently. I started reading “Year of No Clutter” by Eve Schaub, which is another NetGalley book with a blog party thing happening on Monday, and much better than I expected, concentrating on her experiences of hoarding and clearing rather than lecturing her readers, on holiday, and the Diana Wynne Jones, “Dark Lord of Derkholm” on the plane – they are both excellent and enjoyable reads so I’m sort of alternating them at the moment.

march-2017-coming-up-in-printComing up, I have these lovely, mainly non-fiction, books mainly bought during my trips to Astley Book Farm and Cornwall. “The Innocents at Home” is a 1950s travel book about America, “The Modern Writer and His World” has a bit about Iris Murdoch, “Mrs Tim” is a light novel, “The Moon Stallion” is the frankly terrifying novelisation of a TV series that scared me witless as a child (so: hooray, although I’m informed the actual book is quite dull – I do hope so) and “Mail Obsession” is about one man’s journey to visit all the postcodes in the UK (just my sort of book!). Then we will make use of an entire tree by carving it into spoons, etc., run with the Kenyans, find out how exactly rock stars stone Mark Ellen’s life and dip into the world of classic school stories. I finished seven books in February, and given the items below, wonder how many of these will be featuring in my April State of the TBR post!

feb-2017I also have the lovely acquisition of a print copy of E. Nesbit’s “The Lark”, which has been kindly sent to me by the folks at Dean Street Press as one of their new Furrowed Middlebrow imprint titles for the spring (Scott from Furrowed Middlebrow has blogged about the upcoming titles here). Also pictured are two lovely, 198-page Rhodia A6 notebooks which just happened to fall into my Bureau Direct shopping basket (you know how it is. But do go and look at their delicious website). These arrived while I was in Iceland, unfortunately alerting Mr Liz to evidence (more evidence) of my rather terrible stationery habit.

mar-2017-kindleBut alas, the STATE OF THE KINDLE is a bit horrend, and I feel I will be clutching this more than a paper book for a good portion of the month. Why, oh why, did I not read these NetGalley books as they came in and schedule reviews? I have another one but I couldn’t make them come onto the same page – The Perils of “Privilege” by Phoebe Maltz Bovy. The non-NetGalley ones on here are the Collected Works of Frances Hodgson Burnett (tell me, please, how could I resist that collection??) and the Elizabeth Fair ebooks, which have all also come from the Furrowed Middlebrow imprint of Dean Street Press. I have explained to them that I’ll be reading these interspersed with other books, so don’t fear that I’ll be flooding you with them!

So what’s your TBR looking like and what will you be reading this month?

State of the TBR February 2017

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feb-2017-tbrWell, here it is in all its glory. Pretty well Maximum TBR. Oops. The orange Diana Wynne Jones marks the end of the front row, with too small a gap to allow the Pile to fit in. First there was Christmas, then there was my birthday, then there was the Spending of the Tokens, so it’s not surprising, really, is it? And there are worse things to be addicted to than buying and getting hold of books (OK, and running stuff), right?

feb-2017-currentI read eight books in January, at which rate it’s going to take me a while to get through all these, but then again, quite a few on the shelf are quite light reads which shouldn’t take me too long. As long as I can stay away from NetGalley – for, sure enough, one of the ones I’m currently reading is a review copy of the interesting “The Power of Meaning” by Emily Esfahani Smith, on the Kindle. The other current read is Joanna Cannan’s “High Table”, which is quite an old-fashioned novel that probably wouldn’t be published nowadays; I should be reviewing that in a couple of days. Coming up next is Adam Alter’s “Irresistable” which is about why we can’t stop checking Facebook and click-clicking and looking at our phones: I’m reviewing that for Shiny New Books and it does look intriguing.

feb-2017-coming-upOn the plus side of the Mammoth TBR, the Cannan and the chunk of books at the beginning of the shelf all date from my trip to the Astley Book Barn in September, so for once, I’m only about four months behind. On the other had, goodness me, I’ve acquired a lot of books in four months. I think I’ll stick with the former sentiment. Some lovely looking ones coming up there, anyway, although I note I do have some NetGalley books to read, too – “Year of No Clutter” by Eve Schaub, “The Perils of Privilege” by Phoebe Maltz Bovy and “Once in a Blue Moon Lodge” by Lorna Landvik. I’ll have to check the dates on those as you’re often asked to hold off reviewing until close to publication. Here’s hoping I have some time to fit them in!

So, which of these lovelies have you read and should I get excited about reading? How is YOUR TBR?

Top Ten Books of the Year 2016 (and reading report)

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jan-2016-tbrWell, the TBR started the year as above and (sneak preview) finished it like this, so that’s some progress, right?

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In 2016 I read 126 books in total (up from 115 in 2015): 77 of them were fiction (83 in 2015) and 49 non-fiction (32 in 2015) and I had 6 Did Not Finishes (3 in 2015). 84 of the books I read were by women and 42 by men (very tidy stats). As to diversity of location: not so much. 59 books where the location could be identified were set in England or the general UK, 24 in the US, 9 in Iceland, 4 in Switzerland, 3 in France, 2 each in India, Ireland and Scotland and one in Wales. Then there were 1 in Canada, Morocco, Japan, Spain and Europe in general. None in Eastern Europe, Russia or China? No South America or Africa as a whole? Hm. I re-read just five or six books, half for Woolfalong.

Top 10 books of 2016

So here are my top ten with links to their reviews.

Barbara Kingsolver – Flight Behaviour – community, nature, science, learning, wonderful novel.

George Eliot – The Mill on the Floss – just wonderful: these are classics for a reason, aren’t they!

Katharine d’Souza – No Place – set in a Birmingham that’s so recognisable and a fabulous story.

Lisa Jackson – Your Pace or Mine? – removed the last traces of shame at being a slow runner and the author even emailed me on marathon day.

David Kynaston – Modernity Britain – his volumes of social history always make my top ten.

Joan Russell Noble – Recollections of Virginia Woolf – such a special book of pieces by her contemporaries.

A.S. Byatt – Ragnarok – a good old-fashioned read and about the Norse mythology.

Simon Armitage – Walking Home – a bloomin good read about a long walk.

Bob Stanley – Yeah Yeah Yeah – the definitive history of pop and SO entertaining.

Virginia Woolf – To the Lighthouse – difficult to choose between this and some of her others.

Honourable mentions to:

The rest of Woolf

Margery Sharp – brilliant and just pipped to the post

Jo Pavey – This Mum Runs

I know you’ve all done your top 10s now but have you read any of these?

Challenges completed

I got on well with my own A Century of Reading and now have read or own 70 of the years.

I completed 20BooksofSummer this year!

I completed #Woolfalong, reading a book for every section and thoroughly enjoying the process.

I read all of Dorothy Richardson’s “Pilgrimage” series.

Happy reading for 2017!

Thanks to all my followers, readers and commenters; hope you have a great year of reading.

Coming up later: Christmas book pile (yay), state of the TBR and challenge plans for 2017 …

 

A Year in First Lines

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hand-writingLots of people have been doing this and so I thought I would, too. The idea is to take the first line of the first blog post of each month and put them all in one post. Because my actual first post of the month is always a State of the TBR one, I’ve included that for the picture of my waxing and waning (OK, waxing) TBR and then the first sentence of my first review post. So the month name links to the blog post and you get a photo of the TBR for that month (watch that big Kynaston book move up the list as the months wear on …).

January

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Two in the “popular non-fiction” genre to start the year off – both started last year, which was a bit untidy, but never mind.

February

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Two sets of rather contrasting books today – and also two from last month and two from this.

March

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Two books for two challenges today, although I will admit here that I heard about Reading Ireland Month, thought I didn’t have anything on the TBR for it, then looked down at the book I was reading at the time and caught the word “Waterford” and thought, “Oh, yes!”

April

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Well, it’s Mary Hocking Reading Week, hosted as usual by Heaven-Ali, and of course this year we have the excitement of the fact that Bello Books have been busy reissuing Hocking’s novels, half in February and out already and half to come in July (read more about that here).

May

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Two very unlike books today, I’m afraid – wanted to get the Woolf reviewed as near to the end of Heaven-Ali’s #Woolfalong Phase 2: Beginnings and Endings project as I could, and then I picked a tiny one off the beginning of the shelf to read in scraps of time.

June

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Two books, one about books, one about the alphabet – you can’t get more booky or a more appropriate start for me for my #20BooksofSummer project, can you?

July

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I seem to have been working, eating, sleeping and running and not really reading very much – argh!

August

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Today I’m thrilled to review an excellent new novel by Katharine d’Souza.

September

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On Saturday, I had a lovely trip to Astley Book Farm, near Bedworth, with three booky friends.

October

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This book was kindly sent to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

November

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Well, a novel and a book about novels – I’m already feeling twitchy enough about leaving my last October book hanging around until this far into November.

December

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Well, I have finished Dorothy Richardson’s “Pilgrimage” sequence and right on time, too. The 13 volumes have taken me 13 months to read, and I could not have done it without having the other lovely bloggers and LibraryThing Virago Group members to see me through.

I’m not sure how wholly illuminating this is, but it does show the TBR in all its glory and encapsulates the Woolfalong, 20 Books of Summer and Dorothy Richardson challenges I’ve been doing, plus the fact that sometimes people kindly send me books and sometimes I go on book-buying trips.

If you’ve done one of these posts or plan to, do link to it in the comments below: it does give quite a good snapshot, doesn’t it!

State of the TBR December 2016 (and a small confession)

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dec-2016-tbrDecember should be a time of clearing the decks and making sure I’ve got room on the bookshelf for lots of lovely books that usually appear for Christmas and then my birthday in January. Hm. Well, all those trips to bookshops and booky towns are going to take their toll, aren’t they. And I didn’t even stop today – I was busily trawling the local charity shops for goodies for Not So Secret Santas and presents for friends and managed to buy one for myself … Anyway, here’s the resulting TBR, not toooo bad, I think, and look at the lovely gap in the Pile now!

dec-2016-currentI’m currently reading some rather monochrome books … Yes, still reading “Yeah Yeah Yeah” – it’s REALLY good, but I need some proper long sit-down time with it, not just bits at mealtimes. Mollie Panter-Downes’ “London War Notes” came up on the TBR and seemed to work well as a bed read, though I hope it doesn’t get too graphic. It’s interesting at the moment to read the view of an outsider reporting back to the US. And of course it’s the start of a new month, so for the 13th – yes, the THIRTEENTH – month in a row, I’m going to be reading a volume of Dorothy Richardson’s “Pilgrimage” series. The last one. I basically have 105 pages to go. Watch out for a fun (maybe) competition to WIN the whole set of four when I’m done with them …

dec-2016-coming-upNot pictured is Virginia Woolf’s “The Waves” which I have got all prepared on the bedside table but forgot to photograph. That will fill in the last round of the excellent #Woolfalong. Maybe not one to read too close to the Richardson, though.

Coming up after those is the next set on the TBR – though I fear the first two will have to wait until one of the chunky ones is finished with. At least with everything from the Tove Jansson onwards, I’m up to the books bought at Astley Book Barn, which takes us up to September buys (amazingly – what was I doing between Christmas last year and then??). There are some good and varied ones here, anyway.

dec-2016-confessionAnd my confession. Well, as I mentioned above, I was trawling around the charity shops today, I spotted this one. It’s not on my Wish List, so not too much danger of someone already having bought it for me, and it falls under my Collection Development Policy, see? Language, publishing, books, AND by a descendent of Vita Sackville-West. I’ve read a lot of Nicolson’s works and in fact have his “Atlantic” there on the front of the TBR, so all good, honest!

What are you up to reading-wise in December? Are you expecting a lot of book-shaped parcels under the Christmas tree? And are you planning your book challenges for next year? I know Ali has eschewed them and, apart from 20 Books of Summer, I think I’m going to the same. I want to do Mrs Oliphant in 2018 so I think I’ll just try to get through some more lovely Trollope and that will be it. Freedom!

State of the TBR – November 2016

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nov-2016-tbrWell, considering October involved book-buying at the beginning and end of the month, I’m quite pleased with how the TBR is looking! Six out of the ten books I read last month were from the shelf, and I discarded one before I started reading it, so that’s going to have helped, and I did take quite a substantial one off the shelf yesterday, although I am already part-way through it, so that’s fine!

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Currently reading or about to start, I have the fun “The Novel Cure”, which prescribes novels to read for various ills and ailments on the go at the moment. “Footprints in Spain is being read for Shiny New Books, and of course there will be the PENULTIMATE volume of “Pilgrimage”!

Notwithstanding what’s coming up on the TBR main shelf (see just below!), I do want to read the second volume of Virginia Woolf’s “The Common Reader” and, if I have time, “A Writer’s Diary”, so I’ll be leaving the last bit of #Woolfalong for December (do I have a copy of “Jacob’s Room”, “The Waves” or “The Years”? I fear not …

I do appear to have 11 fiction and around 25 non-fiction books on the main TBR, so I’ll be introducing a few more Reykjavik Murder Mysteries into my reading, I’m sure.

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Coming up on the shelf are these lovelies. “London War Notes” was a Christmas 2015 present, then the next two were part of a 2-for-3 on 29 December (sounds like a book token spend) and then we leap forward a bit so I should stay caught up until I reach October 2017 … So a Persephone, a book about reading, a book about language, TWO books about music and one of Iris Murdoch’s letters – certainly they don’t cover all of my non-fiction tastes, but I’m looking forward to reading them!

What are your reading plans for November? Have you read any of these?

State of the TBR – October 2016

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oct-2016-tbrI’m going to say Ta-Da! Look! One shelf! How long has that taken me to get to?? There is even a little gap that would fit one book at the right-hand end of the shelf. Yes, there’s a pile, but it’s only one pile, right? So I’m calling that a win. I read 13 books in September, pretty well all from the physical TBR, and gave up on one, so that big wodge of lovely Viragoes is gone, for a start.

Unfortunately / fortunately, I’m going to be in at least two places this month with unexplored charity shops, and you know what I’m like with those. As I’m in a few Not So Secret Santas, this is my last blow-out with the wish list before I have to keep it under control, so who knows what I’ll find? (actually, if I’m ‘allowed’ to buy lots of books, I don’t tend to find things I want to buy, whereas if I’ve got a huge shelf to read, I find millions more. Why IS that???).

oct-2016-next-readsSo what have I got coming up? I neglected #Woolfalong in September, but now is the ideal opportunity to read “The Common Reader”, as I’ve been working on my Iris Murdoch research, which uses the concept of the ‘common reader’ (my participants prefer to be referred to as ‘ordinary readers’ but this is the background to it). I have read the books before but can’t find them (were they in the school library, maybe?) so I treated myself to these nice new editions, although they seem to have used an old print block. And the two Viragoes? Well, a new month means a new Dorothy Richardson volume (only short now, remember) and for Karen and Simon’s 1947 Club, I went all over-excited and bought a copy of E.H. Young’s “Chatterton Square”, which I’m really looking forward to reading.

oct-2016-coming-upComing up on the TBR after that is a bit of a mixed bag. Two bits of social history in “Stranger in the House” and “War Notes from London”, a weird Icelandic novel (my last one on the TBR!), Simon Armitage’s poetic travels, a book about working with J.D. Salinger, “The Novel Cure” which looks like a lot of fun, and another book about reading (which appears to be part of a three-for-two purchase-fest from just after Christmas last year – I must have had a book token!).

Have you read any of these? How many challenges are you doing in October? How’s your TBR doing? Do share!

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