State of the TBR – May 2022

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Oh, the shame of my TBR shelf! For there is … a PILE! How could there be? But there is. It’s down to the amazing haul of books I scored from the Oxfam Bookshop Moseley in the month (see here for details). And I have (at least) managed to get it into the run of books, albeit sideways and in a pile, because I have taken several off the shelves since last month (I’ve realised I’ve included my big stash of Three Investigators novels in the pic – I normally move them aside and they play no part in my stats (OK?!)).

I managed to finish a grand total of TWENTY books in April, which I was really pleased with (helped by being near the end of a couple at the turnover of the month and finishing one of my readalongs with Emma). I managed to finish and review eight out of the nine e-books I intended to read, including the two non-fiction books published in March that I’d not got to that month, and only missing “The Go-Between” (not that one), which was published in January and adding in one more that I’m half-way through “True Biz”. (“The Love Songs of W.E.B. Dubois” is resisting me but I will get to it.). I have two books finished in April whose reviews are written but will be published next week).

I started my new quarter of TBR challenge books and managed to complete five of them, so not brilliant but not hopeless, with 36 left to go.

Shiny New Books

I reviewed “This Woman’s Work: Essays on Music” edited by Sinéad Gleeson and Kim Gordon for Shiny New Books – an excellent and diverse collection of essays on women in music by women, which really had something for everyone.

Incomings

In print books, it looks like I was quite restrained until we remember the nine books from earlier in the month.

The publisher Michael Walmer offered me a choice of backlist books after I reviewed “Letters on Shetland” and I chose “Foula: Island West of the Sun”, a memoir by Sheila Gear about farming on a tiny remote island. Natalie Morris’ “Mixed/Other” was a book that Past Me had pre-ordered in paperback; it’s a book about multiraciality in Britain today. And I popped up to Oxfam Books to pick up two more Virago Travellers for Kaggsy and it’s therefore entirely her fault I spotted Robert MacFarlane’s “Landmarks” in the window (actually, it was Matthew who pointed it out to me …) and had to buy it.

I bought several e-books for Kindle this month:

Because I’d won Christie Barlow‘s newest Love Heart Lane novel from NetGalley, I felt I needed to fill in books 4-6 (“Starcross Manor”, “Primrose Park” and “The Lake House”) so I could get all the back story filled in. Simon at Stuck-in-A-Book heartily recommended E. Nesbit’s “The Red House” and I found a cheap copy, and David Harewood’s memoir “Maybe I Don’t Belong Here” on race and his breakdown, and John Barnes’ “The Uncomfortable Truth About Racism” were both on my wishlist and both in the Kindle sale.

I won a lot of NetGalley books this month again:

Lucy Dickens’ “The Holiday Bookshop” (published in July) sees the heroine running a bookshop in the Maldives, a bit different there, Josie Lloyd’s “Lifesaving for Beginners” (July) is an ensemble piece about female friendship and sea swimming and Camille Baker’s “The Moment we Met” (July) pits a busy Black woman against a dating app. Emily Henry’s “Book Lovers” (May) is an enemies-to-lovers light read set in the world of book editors and agents, “Daisy’s French Farmhouse” by Lorraine Wilson (May) was offered to me by the publisher and has the heroine find a new life in France and Christie Barlow’s “The New Doctor at Peony Practice” (May) is the newest Love Heart Lane novel set in Scotland. In non-fiction, “Birdgirl” by Mya-Rose Craig (June) is the memoir of a young woman committed to birdwatching and environmentalism, “Inside Qatar” by John McManus (Sep) looks at the rise of this tiny, rich and troubled country, and “The Ponies at the Edge of the World” by Catherine Munro (May) continues my interest in Shetland. “Why We Read” edited by Josephine Greywoode interrogates 70 writers on why they read non-fiction.

So that was 20 read and, along with the 9 of the Oxfam haul, 28 coming in in April – oops!

Currently reading

I’m currently reading Katherine MacInnes’ amazing “Snow Widows” about the wives of Scott of the Antarctic et al. and Jude Rogers’ super “The Sound of Being Human” (started in pdf but I wanted to get the book) for Shiny New Books. “Cut from the Same Cloth?” is my current read with Emma (got off to a very theoretical start but looks like a good mix of essays by British women who wear the hijab) and my e-book novel is “True Biz” by Sara Novic, a novel set in a school for deaf people in the US which is fascinating.

Coming up next, my print TBR that I must read …

I want to get my teeth into “Foula” and I need to read those two British Library Women Writers novels, Rose Macaulay’s “Keeping up Appearances” and Maud Cairnes’ “Strange Journey”. It’s Real LIves month in the LibraryThing Virago Readers group so time to tackle this substantial “Virago Book of Women Travellers” and it’s Heaven-Ali’s Daphne du Maurier Week this month and she kindly loaned me “The Scapegoat to read for it … and there’s also of course my Larry McMurtry.

My NetGalley TBR for May is fairly full, and because it includes that Love Heart Lane book, I need to read books 1-6 of that series first (I have the first three as a cheapy omnibus e-book).

So from those incomings above, I have “Why We Read”, “Daisy’s French Farmhouse”, “Book Lovers”, “The Ponies at the End of the World” and “The New Doctor at Peony Practice”, then I have Sara Cox’s novel of community and pottery, “Thrown”, Susanna Abse’s therapists’ tales, “Tell me the Truth About Love”, Akwaeke Emezi’s “You Made a Fool of Death with your Beauty” (I hear this novel opens with a shocking scene so hope I can deal with it!) and Clare Pooley’s new community-based novel, “The People on Platform 5”.

With the ones I’m currently reading (not including my readalong which will take a while), that’s 21 books I think I’m going to read this month, and that’s not including getting a few more off the print TBR, too! I do have a weekend away with two longish train journeys coming up this month at least …


How was your April reading? What are you reading this month? Have you read or picked up any of my selection?

State of the TBR – April 2022

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Looking at my TBR shelf I notice that it’s about as full as it was last month (though with more review books) so at least it hasn’t got any worse, has it …

I read 13 books in in March, which I was pretty disappointed with, although I was having a very busy time at work in the first couple of weeks, and it’s still not too bad (note that there are a few more books in than out last month, however!) I only managed to finish and review seven of the eleven NetGalley ebooks I intended to read, although I have since finished two more (“The Love Songs of W.E.B. Dubois” is STILL proving hard to get into but I will persist). I have two reads from March left to review which is fine as I like to be reviewing in advance in case I don’t have time during the week. One of these was the Maya Angelou poems that finishes my set and I read my Larry McMurtry 2022 book for the month. The Angelou was number 13 out of 53 in the second quarter of my TBR Project, so I have 40 books left to read of that (I’m reading one at the moment) in six months, which makes 6.66 books per month and means I need to get on with that! I read two books for Reading Wales 2022, both by Richard King, “Brittle with Relics” and “The Lark Ascending” and bought another.

Shiny New Books

I reviewed “Brittle With Relics” for Shiny New Books as well as on here (see link above) with a less emotional and more “professional” review.

Incomings

In print books, you would think I have NOT been restrained this month as I was last month. But actually it’s all down to review copies coming in (thank you!), books being pushed on me and Unbound books getting published, oh, and needing to buy the second book in a series when I won the third one on NetGalley. So really, I only slipped up with Ted Edwards’ “Fight the Wild Island: A Solo Walk Across Iceland” which I suddenly found at a good second-hand price (so that hardly counts, either!).

I was kindly sent “Snow Widows” by Katherine MacInnes (the story of the widows of Scott of the Antarctic and his expedition mates and what happened next: how cool is that?), “This Woman’s Work”, edited by Kim Gordon and Sinead Gleeson, about women and music; Rob Cowan’s poetry book, “The Heeding” (OK, the publicist sent this to me in error but I peeked at it and was drawn in, it came in Feb, actually); and Maud Carnes’ “Strange Journey” and Rose Macaulay’s “Keeping up Appearances” which are the two latest in the British Library Women Writers reprints series.

Then “100 Voices” ed Miranda Roszkowski is an Unbound book I subscribed to, showcasing 100 women and their stories of achievement; my friend Meg pressed “Detransition Baby” by Torrey Peters onto me, saying I had to read it; and I had to buy Nicola May’s “Starry Skies in Ferry Lane Market” because I have book 1 already and won book 3 on NetGalley.

I bought two e-books this month: Malala Yousafzai’s “We are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls” and Charlotte William’s “Sugar and Slate”, a memoir of growing up Black and Welsh which was the readalong for Reading Wales this year – I was holding out for a print copy but none was to be found that was affordable and I won’t leave it till next March!

I won a lot of NetGalley books this month (but not toooooo many are published in April, thank goodness):

“Tell Me the Truth About Love” by Susanna Abse (published in May) is tales from a therapist on love and relationships; Sara Cox’s “Thrown” (May) is a novel about community and, yes, pottery; Osman Yousefzada’s “The Go-Between” (Jan) is a coming-of-age story set in 1980s and 1990s Birmingham where the author crosses two worlds and cultures; Nicola May’s “Rainbows End in Ferry Lane Market” (Apr) is third in a series about a small community; Salma El-Wardany’s “These Impossible Things” (Jun) charts the lives of three British Muslim women over the years; Sara Novic’s “True Biz” (May) is set in a school for the D/deaf and examines both the pupils and the head as it struggles for survival; in “You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty” by Akwaeke Emezi (May) a Nigerian woman struggling with grief goes to the Caribbean and finds love and friendship; and Candice Carty-Williams’ “People Person” (Apr) has a woman in South London finding she has five half-siblings …

So that was 13 read and 18 coming in in March – oops!

Currently reading

I’m currently reading Sairish Hussain’s “The Family Tree”, a multigenerational saga set in a Muslim family in the UK, because I had to take something from my standard print TBR. When I took this picture earlier today, I was reading Warsan Shire’s “Bless the Daughter Raised by A Voice in Her Head” but I’ve finished this amazing hook of poetry already, as it was both short and powerful.

Coming up next, my print TBR that I must read …

… includes the review books already mentioned, TWO Larry McMurtry’s (they are short ones) to finish the Duane/Thalia series, and that middle Ferry Market novel. I would ideally like to get something else from the normal print TBR, too.

My NetGalley TBR for April isn’t too bad:

So from those incomings above, I have “The Go Between” by Osman Yousefzada, “People Person” by Candice Carty-Williams and the two Ferry Lane Market books (books 1 and 3). I also have Julie Shackman’s “A Scottish Highland Surprise”, which the publisher kindly offered me via NetGalley, and Bonnie Garmus’ exciting looking “Lessons in Chemistry”. Elizabeth Fair’s “The Native Heath” was sent to me by Dean Street Press ages ago and somehow got overlooked: it fits in with Kaggsy and Simon’s 1954 Challenge so out if comes! I do also have “Shadowlands” and “The Ship Asunder” left over from my March NetGalley TBR, however I notice that all but one of the April ones are novels, which should help me get through them relatively rapidly, I hope …

That’s 15 books to read this month, which I hope I can manage, but hopefully I’ll get a few more off the print TBR, too!


How was your March reading? What are you reading this month? Have you read or picked up any of my selection?

State of the TBR – March 2022

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It’s the second month with my new TBR shelf, and it has been marvellous being able to see what I’ve got, as well as being easier to move around when I take books off it (not that that happened much this month!). For example, I was able to grab “Anna and Her Daughters” off the bottom shelf when Ali read it and I just had to follow suit.

I read 15 books in February, which I was quite pleased about given that I started slowly, including all the NetGalley ebooks I intended to read and one more I acquired during the month (“The Love Songs of W.E.B. Dubois” is proving hard to get into but I will persist). Three of my reads I have yet to publish reviews for, and one was published in Shiny New Books (more below). My Maya Angelou fitted into our monthly Virago challenge and I read my Larry McMurtry 2022 book for the month even if I was a bit late with my review. I have not done that well with ReadIndies, having read five (two to review) and I’ve read book 10 out of 53 in the second quarter of my TBR Project (I have got book six and eleven in the respective challenges off the shelf to read).

Shiny New Books

I read “No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy” by Mark Hodkinson for Shiny New Books and my review is out today! I really enjoyed reading about his journey from a working-class household with one book to his discovery of the world of books and progress to being an editor and publisher. I also showcased “Brown Girls” and “Black Cake” there in a double review highlighting these two great debut novels.

Incomings

In print books, I have been very lucky and also very restrained. I bought a second-hand copy of Christina Hardyment’s “Arthur Ransome and Capt. Flint’s Trunk” after seeing this book about the locations of the Swallows and Amazons series on someone’s blog (help – whose?). Then lovely Verity sent me Katherine May’s “The Electricity of Every Living Thing” about a woman’s self-healing through walking (and what a beautiful cover) and while she thought she’d sent it late, it arrived on just the most perfect day to get a surprise book in the post, and the publisher Michael Walmer has very kindly added me to his list and sent me Peter Jamieson’s “Letters on Shetland” which I can’t wait to get stuck into very soon, as I love reading about Shetland and its history.

I had a bit of a NetGalley influx this last month, although even though there was one more than this (Kate Weston’s “Must Do Better”, reviewing tomorrow), there were 13 books in and 15 read in the month, so that’s a victory of sorts, right?

Matthew Green’s “Shadowlands” (out in March) is an enticing book about lost villages and the like in Britain (I know at least two people who will also be tempted by this one!). Anne Booth’s “Small Miracles” (August) is a heart-warming, positive novel offered to me by the publisher. Télé-Michel Kpomassie’s “Michel the Giant: An African in Greenland” (February) is a travel book I’ve been looking for for ages (you know how I am obsessed with Greenland and love books about different cultures encountering one another) and I discovered had been republished by Penguin. Julie Shackman’s “A Scottish Highland Surprise” (April) is another light novel offered to me by the publisher: wedding shop, mysterious tea sets and small community life: yes please. Charlotte Mendelson is an author I’ve enjoyed before and “The Exhibitionist” (March) is another perceptive family story. Margaret Atwood’s “Burning Questions” (today!) is her new book of essays. “The Ship Asunder” by Tom Nancollas (March) (yes, I have yet to read his lighthouse one) looks at British maritime history in bits of eleven ships and boats combined in one imaginary one. Erika L. Sanchez’ “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” (March) is a coming of age novel about a Mexican American young woman. And last in the picture but first in my TBR (probably), finally I’ve got my hands on a copy of Anne Tyler’s “French Braid” (March) although I’m still hoping for my ARC from the publisher, too. At last I’ll finish my Anne Tyler project (for now).

Coming up next

I am only reading one main book right now, and that’s Richard King’s “Brittle With Relics: A History of Wales 1962-1987”. It’s such an amazing work of oral history that I’m really savouring it and reading it slowly, and even though I provided administrative support on the book, it’s so beautifully put together it’s like everything is new to my eyes. I’m reviewing it for Shiny New Books but will write about it here, too. As well as Maya Angelou’s “And Still I Rise” book of poetry, which I’ve started to dip into but neglected to photograph, I have Larry McMurtry’s “Duane’s Depressed” and then Damian Hall’s “In it For the Long Run”, published by Vertebrate so another ReadIndie book, about ultra running. I haven’t read a running book for ages, it feels.

My NetGalley TBR for March is pretty horrendous:

So from those incomings above, I have “Shadowlands”, the Atwood and Anne Tyler, “An African in Greenland”, “I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter”, “The Ship Asunder” and “The Exhibitionist”. In addition, I have Kasim Ali’s “Good Intentions” (novel about a mixed heritage secret relationship), Symeon Brown’s exploration of influencer culture, “Get Rich or Lie Trying”, Lizzie Damilola Blackburn’s “Yinka, Where is Your Huzband” (life as a Nigerian British woman who’s as yet unmarried), and Warsan Shire’s “Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head” (poetry by an award-winning Somali British woman).

That’s 15 books to read this month, which I can manage, but hopefully I’ll get a few more off the print TBR!


How was your February reading? What are you reading this month? Have you read or picked up any of my selection?

State of the TBR – February 2022

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Well today you get to see something exciting … the new iteration of my TBR shelf! After so many years (literally 20 years) sharing this shelf with my husband’s books, my books just got too much, the piles I was making were perilous, and (with his permission) I’ve moved all of his books to be gone through in my study and have taken over THE WHOLE BOOKSHELF. Positives: I can see all the books. Negatives: I can see ALL THE BOOKS. There are a lot of them.

I read 17 books in January, including all the NetGalley ebooks I intended to read (“The Love Songs of W.E.B. Dubois” is going to be a long read and I did skim Johann Hari’s “Stolen Focus” but it wasn’t much new, he seemed to state things as new that weren’t and he’s the guy there was a huge plagiarism scandal over, so I decided not to review the book here), as well as most of Richard Osman’s “The Man Who Died Twice” which I’m reading along with Matthew (and seems never-ending, I have to say!). In print books, I finished my on-going readalong with Emma and read one book for our monthly Virago challenge as well as my Larry McMurtry 2022 book for the month. I’ve done really well with my NordicFINDS challenge (scroll down my January TBR post for the books) – the challenge continues until the end of 6 February and I’ve already read and reviewed five of them, I’ve read two now out of the Jon Kalman Stefansson trilogy and will review them together soon, I have a short book of short stories to go and I’ve made some progress in my massive saga book. In addition, nine of the ten count towards my TBR Project!

Incomings

In print books, I shared a parcel from Australia and an Unbound book and my birthday incomings already, and just one more has come in since then, Eileen Jones’ “How parkrun changed our lives”. My friend Rachel kindly picked up a copy at the Running Show and had Eileen sign it for me, and I actually met Eileen that day as she came to our Oaklands parkrun first! Given it at the next parkrun, what could I do but photograph it there?

I was quite restrained with NetGalley requests (or they were quite restrained with what they gave me?) in January and ended up with these

Sofi Thanhauser’s “Worn” I have read already and reviewed it here. Tomi Obaro’s “Dele Weds Destiny” (published in June) follows three Nigerian women friends over 30 years, one moves to America, the other two stay behind. Alecia McKenzie takes an artist back to his mother’s homeland of Jamaica, where he heals and learns amidst family in “A Million Aunties” (Feb). Clare Pooley wrote the lovely “The Authenticity Project” and her publisher kindly offered me “The People on Platform 5” (May): what will happen when the commuters start talking to one another? Georgia Hill’s “The Great Summer Street Party” (Feb) looks at a community commemorating D-Day 75 years on (it’s one of those books split into three: will I get hold of the others?), and A. J. Clementine is a trans woman TikTok star who tells her story of pain and acceptance in “Girl, Transcending” (Feb), one of those books you can only read on the Shelf App.

Currently reading and coming up first

I’m currently reading Richard Osman’s “The Man Who Died Twice” from NetGalley (truth be told, I finished it this morning, after Matthew reported what chapter he’d got up to on the audio book on his walk and I wickedly carried on); Jon Kalman Stefansson’s “The Heart of Man”, the final part of his “Heaven and Hell” trilogy, being read for Annabel’s NordicFINDS challenge, and Maya Angelou’s “Mom & Me & Mom”, the last prose book Ali, Meg and I are reading before we finish our readalong with a volume of poetry (or will we all read the essays, too?) and fortuitously a Virago book by a North American writer which fits the LibraryThing Virago Group’s monthly challenge. I hope to read a book of Reykjavik-based short stories which will complete my NordicFINDS nine, and will continue with my saga book. And my Larry McMurtry for the month is “Texasville”, the sequel to “The Last Picture Show”. I’ve also got “No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy” by Mark Hodkinson, the memoir of a working-class reader, and just in, one more exciting book I can’t wait to read and review …

Coming up next

The main focus of my print reading this month will be on the ReadIndies challenge run by Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings and Lizzy’s Literary Life. I’ve made a lovely pile for it just out of the first part of my TBR (also cunningly forming part of my TBR Project, too!).

I won’t go through descriptions etc. of them in case I don’t get round to them all, just note I have a metaphorical pile (as they’re all back in (visible) place on my TBR shelf), but all of these are published by independent publishers, from Profile Books to Unbound via Dean Street Press, and I’ll link to their publishers as I review them.

My NetGalley TBR for February is quite big but also fairly fiction and memoir-heavy so I have hopes of getting them read. As well as “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois” and “The Man Who Died Twice” rumbling along in the background, I have these eight that are all published this month.

Shellee Marie’s “Influenced Love” is a light romance about social media influencers, Kodo Nishimura should be inspiring in “This Monk Wears Heels”; Monia Ali’s “Love Marriage” is the first new book by the author for a while; “Small Town Girl” is Donna McLean’s memoir of being involved in the Spy Cops scandal (read about in novel form in “Skylark“); “Girl, Transcending”, “A Million Aunties” and “The Great Summer Street Party” I’ve described above and Charmaine Wilkerson’s “Black Cake” is a family story of a matriarch of a Black American family forcing her children to come to terms with one another through the medium of cake.

That’s 19 books to read this month, I can do it, can’t I?


How was your January reading? What are you reading this month? Have you read or picked up any of my selection?

State of the TBR – January 2022

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It’s time to share the state of my TBR after the addition of my December incomings (which were many and various). After sharing incomings paper and e-book, I’ll talk about the reading challenges I’m working on this month. There’s a report on what I’m reading now and next and I’m also going to share the position of my special TBR 2021-2022 project, to read all the pre-05 October 2021 books by 05 October 2022 at the end of the post.

First, the horror …

I read 20 books in December, which was really quite pleasing, including all of the print books and all but 2.5 of the ebooks I planned to read (I added an e-book and started one of my two Dean Street Press books out on 06 January; Matthew has only just got to “The Man Who Died Twice” so I’m starting it today. However, all the incomings are now on the shelf and yes, that is a pile at the front and three piles at the back plus some vertical books. I think that might be the worst it’s ever been! (now I’ve removed a pile of books to read for challenges, the front shelf is all vertical again, like that makes it any better). There are some small additional piles with those books in series etc, but they have gone down a lot.

Incomings

I shared my interim incomings part way through the month after a lovely, generous BookCrossing Not So Secret Santa, a super parcel from the lovely Bookish Beck and various naughty purchases. Of course several of my lovely friends provided books for me to open on Christmas Day, too (as well as some book tokens for mid-summer joy!).

From the top, Tessa Wardley’s “Mindful Thoughts for Runners” which is quite a comprehensive look at mindfulness and being in the moment when running which I had somehow never encountered but Meg cleverly found. Margery Sharp’s “Fanfare for Tin Trumpets” (a boarding house novel), Stella Gibbons’ “The Swiss Summer” (a 1950s trip to the Alps) and D. E. Stevenson’s “Smouldering Fire” (Scottish man lets his home, romance and mystery ensue), plus Jokha Alharthi’s “Celestial Bodies” as the story of three Omani sisters, adds a new country to my list and is a Woman in Translation month candidate, too – all from Ali. Emma kindly sent me two Molly Claverings, “Near Neighbours” (cheerful tale of an older woman liberated to enjoy life) and “Dear Hugo” (woman moves into small Scottish village, becomes one of the community) – I came to love this gentle Scottish writer last year, and five of those last six books are Dean Street Press ones, hooray! And Sian found me [Susie] “Dent’s Modern Tribes”, about the specialised language used by experts in various fields.

In ebooks, I both went a bit naughty in the sales on Kindle (and the free e-book I get every month with our house Amazon Prime account), and also requested and won a good few NetGalley reads. Oopsie. First the NetGalleys …

Symeon Brown’s “Get Rich or Lie Trying” March) is about the Influencer economy online and how it works. In Bonnie Garmus’ novel, “Lessons in Chemistry” (April) a woman teaches America to cook in the 1960s but teaches women more, too. Honoree Fanonne Jeffers’ “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois” (November 2021) is an epic tale of a Black US family from slavery to now (it’s massive, too!). Jane Linfoot’s “Tea For Two at the Little Cornish Kitchen” (Jan) returns us to St Aidan’s in Cornwall for gentle reading. Donna McLean’s “Small Town Girl” (Feb) tells the real life behind the spy cops scandal I read about in “Skylark“, and Warsan Shire’s “Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head” (Mar) is poems by a British Somali woman.

… and then the Kindle books. Chandra Blumberg’s “Digging Up Love” was the free one through Amazon Prime and has an American woman moving cities to work in a bakery and meeting a palaeontologist (I do love that cover); Sue Cheung’s “Chinglish” was on special offer and is an illustrated “almost entirely true” memoir about growing up in Britain with Chinese heritage. I’ve already read Louise Lennox’s “Merry Kiss Me” and ordered a boxset of the first three “Love Heart Lane” novels after enjoying Christie Barlow’s “Heartcross Castle“.

Currently reading and coming up first

I am hoping to get through a few books this month, especially as I have a week off work around my birthday (I was going to go somewhere but I’m now going to do more local fun things and see friends individually). I’m currently still reading Afua Hirsch’s “Brit(ish)” with Emma, but we’re nearly done so will start another one this month. The next Maya Angelou is “Mom & Me & Mom” and will be read this month. Thomas Harding’s “White Debt” is a book on slavery legacies to read for Shiny New Books, and Larry McMurtry’s “The Last Picture Show” is my first read in my Larry McMurtry 2022 project (I will be reading “Lonesome Dove” but want to fit this in first).

Coming up next

My main print reading this coming month will be for Annabookbel’s Nordic FINDS challenge, although I’m going slightly off-piste and interpreting it in my own way – I’ve pulled all the Nordic or part-Nordic books off my shelf, including the huge “Sagas of Icelanders” books, and will try to read and review them all in the month. So I have Jon Kallan Stefansson’s “Heaven and Hell” trilogy (Iceland), Christine Ritter’s “A Woman in the Polar Night” (Svalbard, thus Norway), A. Kendra Green’s “The Museum of Whales I will Never See” (Iceland), “The Book of Reykjavik” (short stories, Iceland), Sara Wheeler’s “The Magnetic North” (Svalbard and Lapland, not sure whose bit), Kari Gislason’s “The Promise of Iceland” (Iceland) and Cat Jarman’s “River Kings” (Vikings, so various bits).

I will also have a few NetGalley out this month to read, plus “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois which seems to be out this month but NG says November last year):

So there’s Nikki May’s “Wahala” (Nigerian English women in London face a threat from a fourth friend), Johann Hari’s “Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention”, Daphne Palasi Andreades’ “Brown Girls” (a group of young women of colour growing up in Queen’s, New York, should be a good comparison piece to “Wahala”) and the “Little Cornish Kitchen.

So that’s 19 books in total: which is doable, right?!

TBR 2021-2022 challenge report

A quick update on my TBR Challenge, I have got the numbers all wonky so I’m calling it Quarter 2 with 53 books to read. Here they are:

Far fewer than in the original picture and I’ll count down from 53 and hope it works this time. Several of the ones above are from this category, so I should be able to keep on track (at least 6 per month to get done by 05 October).


How was your December reading? What are you reading this month? Have you read or picked up any of my selection?

State of the TBR – December 2021

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It’s time to share the state of my TBR and report on all those November reading challenges. And at the very end of the post, an announcement of my 2022 reading challenge!

I read 26 books in November, which was probably an all-time record, at least since I lived alone in London in the 1990s (one was for Shiny New Books and one for my other blog, so haven’t appeared on here yet). It was down to a) doing Novellas in November, so 15 of the books were under 200 pages, b) not having a huge work schedule so time to read in the daytime, and c) having the Terrible Cold which gave me 2 weeks of milling around feeling a bit rubbish and not spending time running. I’m thrilled to report I’ve taken a total of 23 books off the TBR for my TBR project 2021-22 (one DNF, the others read) so I only have 62/85 left to read (this may be a bit wonky: I will reassess when they’ve gone down a bit more) and am ahead of target (in fact a month ahead of target). I read 16 titles (two in one volume) for Novellas in November and really enjoyed doing that project, and 15 for Nonfiction November, as well as doing all five NonFicNov prompts (one to come out on Friday), and two for AusReading Month. Phew! I read four of my planned NetGalley reads for the month, I didn’t get round to “Unleash the Girls” and didn’t finish “Carefree Black Girls” (it was a valuable read for the author’s experiences but so rooted in a cultural milieu of American contemporary and older TV programmes and musicians etc. that I was having to look up more than I read).

Incomings

Some incomings first. So many incomings. From the woman who doesn’t buy books in Oct/Nov/Dec in case other people buy them for her (to be fair, only one of these was on my wishlist …

In print incomings, first of all I saw mention of Sam Selvon’s “The Housing Lark”, a sequel to his marvellous “Lonely Londoners” on Ten Million Hardbacks’ blog and had to order it, and at the same time, there was mention in “Saga Land” of Kari Gislason’s own book about his search for his Icelandic father, “The Promise of Iceland”, so an order went off to Hive. Then, I went to Oxfam Books to buy presents for a Not So Secret Santa recipient and found they had some brand new social justice type books I couldn’t leave behind – “Rife” ed Nikesh Shukla, which is a 2019 collection of memoir pieces by young people, Kehinde Andrews’ “The New Age of Empire” about the effect of empire around the world, “This is Why I Resist: Don’t Define my Black Identity” by Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu which is a rallying call for anti-racism, and Remi Adekoya’s look at multi-heritage people and their place and experience in the UK, “Biracial Britain”. Then I saw mention of Amrit Wilson’s “Finding a Voice” on The Market Gardener Reader’s My Year in Nonfiction post and realised this classic of oral history / sociology with Asian women in Britain had been updated, and Lenny Henry has edited “Black British Lives Matter” with essays by leading Black British writers, so that was a must-buy, too (more ordering from Hive).

In ebooks, first of all I was so lucky to be sent two lovely D.E. Stevenson novels by Dean Street Press, “Five Windows” and “The Fair Miss Fortune”. They’re out very early next year so I’ll be reading them soon. Then I got a bit tempted by Kindle offers and picked all these up for 99p each – Elizabeth Acevado’s “The Poet X”, a coming of age story told in free verse about a young woman of Dominican descent in New York, Farhad J. Dadyburjor’s “The Other Man” about a closeted gay man in Mumbai dealing with a doomed arranged marriage, British Malaysian comedian Phil Wang’s memoir, “Sidesplitter” and Elise Downing’s run around the British coast in “Coasting”.

I got a bit excited on NetGalley this month: as well as winning several books I’d requested a while ago, I went a-clicking on the main website (I do try not to do this!). Kodo Nishimura’s “Ths Monk Wears Heels” is an inspiring book by a Japanese monk who featured on Queer Eye (out Feb); Christine Barlow’s “Heartcross Castle” is a Christmas reawd about a woman inheriting a crumbling castle (Dec); Janet Pywell’s “Someone Else’s Dream” has the heroine having to take over the cafe her (soon ex-) girlfriend dreamed of running, and finding support in the community (end Nov; reading now); Emily Kerr’s “Meet Me Under the Northern Lights” is a Christmas novel (Dec); Shellee Marie’s “Influenced Love” has an online influencer finding that world is not all it’s made out to be (Feb); Monica Ali has a new one out, “Love Marriage” is apparently a gripping tale of what happens when people from two cultures try to blend their families (Feb); Kasim Ali’s “Good Intentions” has a similar theme (Mar); Daphne Palasi Andreades’ “Brown Girls” is another New York coming of age novel and a love letter to women of colour everywhere (Jan); and Celia Laskey’s “Under the Rainbow” has a group of LGBTQIA activists descend on a US town that has been declared the homophobia capital of the US (Dec).

Currently reading

I’m currently reading Tristan Gooley’s “How to Read Water”, which is about different forms of water, their clues and patterns, apparently not prioritising the organic over the inorganic in talking about things around the water that help shape it. I’m not very far in yet but it’s very interesting. I’ve also started the NetGalley read “Someone Else’s Dream”, which is pretty enticing so far.

Coming up next

I’ve got quite the variety in paper books to get read this month. Two Christmas novels (Sophie Pembroke’s “The Wedding on Mistletoe Island” and Jenny Colgan’s “An Island Christmas”, both parts of series and hopefully that won’t matter) that have lingered since last year and a Christmas bird book originally given to Matthew which is languishing on the TBR, Stephen Moss’ “The Twelve Birds of Christmas”. Then there’s my last Anne Tyler, “Redhead by the Side of the Road”, which is a really short one, another volume of Maya Angelou, “A Song Flung up to Heaven”, one last British Library Women Writers book, Winifred Boggs’ “Sally on the Rocks” (women fight over a man in a village), and then as we’ve been watching Strictly Come Dancing this year, Craig Revel Horwood’s “In Strictest Confidence” felt appropriate to pick up!

I will also have a few NetGalley and other books on the go. I think I’ll just keep the Kindle on the go for downstairs reading this month and get these read and hopefully a few more.

So I have a good few of my November acquisitions on here, plus “The Arctic Curry Club” by Dani Redd (more light Christmas novel reading), Matthew finally has a space for Richard Osman’s “The Man Who Died Twice” in his audiobook schedule coming up so I’ll read the equivalent of an hour’s worth of audio a day on that at some point, and then I have those lovely D.E. Stevensons.

One last, very important thing … my 2022 Reading Challenge!

I’ve chosen my reading challenge for 2022 (this year it was Anne Tyler, last year Paul Magrs, before that, Iris Murdoch (again)) … and it is … Larry McMurtry. Click on the link for details and how to take part. Fancy joining me?


How was your November reading? What are you reading this month? Have you read or picked up any of my selection? And thank you for bearing with me while I posted and posted and posted – it should be a bit quieter in December!

State of the TBR – November 2021

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Well I completed 15 books in October, not as good as other months but still OK. Two I haven’t yet mentioned here because I was reading them for Shiny New Books and one I have yet to review (coming out on Wednesday, I think). I’m really pleased to say I’ve taken 8 books off the TBR for my TBR project 2021-22 (one DNF, the others read) so I only have 77/85 left to read and am nicely on target, especially given my Novellas in November project coming up.

Incomings

Some incomings first.

In print incomings, first I’ve had another lovely book from the British Library Women Writers series – Theodora Benson’s “Which Way”, then I had to get Dave Grohl’s “The Storyteller” as he’s such a favourite musician and person (and getting that triggered my TBR project – oh-oh!) and “King City” about the independent music scene in Birmingham arrived from Unbound. Jon Mills’ “Utility Furniture” is a catalogue of Utility furniture from 1943 with a long introduction – I have a much-loved Utility tallboy, which can indeed be found in the catalogue. Ali passed me Jane Rule’s “Desert of the Heart”, a lesbian classic novel, I had to buy Alex Haley’s “Queen” (915 pages!!) after reading “Roots” and I couldn’t resist “My Hair is Pink Under this Veil” by Rabina Khan – essays by a British woman who wears a hijab. “Make Mine a Double” by Ed Hodge is the story of St Johnstone FC’s double cup win in Scottish football, an odd choice for me until you know I did the transcriptions for it (and am thanked in the acknowledgements!) and Fannie Flagg’s “The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop” was a gift from my lovely friend Cari after a difficult weekend.

In e-books, I bought two from Amazon – Natalie Morris’ “Mixed/Other” is about the struggles of being dual-heritage in the UK and Kajal Odedra’s “Do Something: Activism for Everyone” is to help my continued search for how I can best support marginalised communities. Moving over to NetGalley, Zoe Playden’s “The Hidden Case of Ewan Forbes” (published November) is the story of a 1960s court case involving a transgender person and his inheritance, Johann Hari’s “Stolen Focus” (January) looks at why we can’t pay attention and what to do about it, Zeba Blay’s “Carefree Black Girls” (October, whoops, should have read it in October!) is a collection of essays about Black women in pop culture, and Lizzie Damilola Blackburn’s “Yinka, Where is your Huzband?” (March 2022) is a fun-looking novel about a South London woman with Nigerian heritage fighting against the Aunties’ expectations.

Currently reading

I’m currently working my way through Layla F. Saad’s “Me and White Supremacy” which is a challenging and interesting read but I am having to view it through the lens of my own way of operating in the world (e.g. I just don’t shout anyone down or tone-police anyone; I can of course see a lot of familiarity in other aspects of the book); Emma and I are enjoying Afua Hirsch’s “Brit(ish)” and her lovely readable way of writing as our readalong book. I’ve picked up Richard Fidler and Kari Gislason’s “Saga Land” to start off my Australian Reading Month (and because taking it off the TBR made room for some acquisitions) and I’m part way through the delicious “The Love Child” by Edith Olivier, which I’m reading for The British Library Women Writers’ series blog tour (review due out on Friday).

Coming up next – Reading challenges galore!

I’m taking part in three challenges this month. Nonfiction November sees us all reading non-fiction and talking about it on Mondays (first warning there are going to be lots of posts from me this month!). I don’t have a specific pile for this, as my two piles for the other two challenges include plenty of nonfiction, but I’ll be joining in with the prompts and adding some more if I have room.

Novellas in November is run by 746 Books and Bookish Beck and encourages people to focus on books (fiction or nonfiction, hooray!) that are under 200 pages. And without even trying or saving stuff up, I’ve got FIFTEEN! Ten are nonfiction, and all but two are included in my TBR project, so all good! I won’t list them all, but you’ll hopefully see reviews for all of them this month!

And finally, for AusReading Month, hosted by Brona at This Reading Life, I have two books (both nonfiction) to read (two!). “Saga Land” counts because Richard Fidler is Australian, even though he’s writing about a country on the other side of the globe to his home (thank you to Brona for spotting this on my TBR and letting me know). Sven Lindqvist’s “Terra Nullius” is an exploration of Indigenous Australian peoples and their treatment at the hands of White settlers and now, and will be a hard but important read.

Image of books

I will also have a few NetGalley books on the go but only the six … (mind you, I had three to read last month and read two of them)!

I will also have two review books to read (Annie Nightingale’s “Hey Hi Hello” and Theodora Benson’s “Which Way”, and my two Anne Tylers. But so many of the books are small, I’m bound to manage them all, right?!


How was your October reading? What are you reading this month? Have you read or picked up any of my selection? And important question: would you prefer to see lots of posts, each about one book, or fewer posts gathering a few books at a time from me, this month?

State of the TBR – October 2021

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Row of books on a shelf, filling the shelf

Well, I finished EIGHTEEN books in September, which must be some sort of a record (when I lived alone in London and didn’t know many people, wasn’t running or volunteering and had a long-distance partner, I read more than that, but not in (vaguely) normal times). Eight of those were NetGalley books so I did almost reach the target I set myself at the start of the month (I have started reading one of those and one is left to read; I didn’t read “Sugar” by Bernice L McFadden in the end as the opening scene was so horrific, I couldn’t read on). I also finished two books to review for Shiny New Books, the reviews for which I’ll share when they’re out) and read “Roots” (I did it!) which I’ll be reviewing for 1976 Week in the second week of October. I have a bit of a review lag so you will read about four of these books in due course!

I have taken a few off the beginning of the shelf late in the month, which I am now currently reading. Well, I took Michael Chabon’s “Telegraph Avenue” down to read, which I’ve been looking forward to for aaaages, then realised when having a flick through that I really didn’t like the style (too masculine or something) and put it aside!

I thought I’d do my incomings first today as then it gets less repetitive with the “coming up” section. So …

Incomings

Four print books, all spelled out in the text below.

Well this looks very good on the print incomings until you recall that I fell into the Oxfam Books shop earlier in the month, which I talked about here. Paul Magrs’ “The Panda, the Cat and the Dreadful Teddy” came out yesterday and my copy from Hive.co.uk arrived a few days early so that’s already read and reviewed. Ali passed me “The Snow and the Works on the Northern Line” by Ruth Thomas, a novel about palaeontologists in London, and I couldn’t resist picking Adam Nicolson’s new one “The Sea Is Not Made of Water” which is about life between the coastal tides. Then Nova Reid’s “The Good Ally: A Guided Anti-Racism Journey from Bystander to Changemaker” arrived upon publication, ordered ages ago by Past Me.

I’m also thrilled to report that two new books in the British Library Women Writers series have also arrived (thank you, Thomas) – Winifred Bogg’s “Sally on the Rocks” features a village love triangle and in Edith Olivier’s “The Love Child”, for which I’m part of the blog tour, reviewing in early November, a woman’s childhood imaginary friend appears to come to life and needs explaining. There are two more of these coming out soon; these two are available now from the British Library Shop and other book retailers.

In NetGalley wins, I feel I’ve been quite restrained this month. I’m managing to retain my over-80% reviewed status and only a few of them are published in October. Charmaine Wilkerson’s “Black Cake” (published 3 February 2022) features a dead mother who moved in a hurry from a Caribbean island to California trying to reunite her estranged children through post-funeral instructions to share an old cake recipe. “Toufah” by Toufah Jallow (October) documents the life so far of the woman who founded the African #MeToo movement. “Skylark” (November) is the new Alice O’Keefe; I enjoyed her multiracial London novel “On the Up” and this is a fictionalisation of the police infiltration of activist groups, so a bit different. Lisa Z. Lindahl’s “Unleash the Girls” (published in August 2018 but on NetGalley now) is the story of the invention of the sports bra, and Kelle Sandman-Hurley’s “The Adult Side of Dyslexia” (also November) looks at adults’ experiences and advice on the condition.

Currently reading

I’ve just picked Thurston Clarke’s “Islomania” off my physical TBR yesterday – it looks at a series of islands around the world based on different categories and seems good so far. I’m very much enjoying “Of This Our Country”, which is a set of essays by 24 Nigerian writers about Nigeria, whether that’s the land, the diaspora or both.

Coming up next

Four print books, descriptions in text.

In print, up next of course I have my two Anne Tylers for the month, “The Beginner’s Goodbye” and “A Spool of Blue Thread” – the latter I remember quite well as I only read it about five years ago. One more to go after these and I’ll be onto my two as-yet-unread ones. Best friend Emma and I finished our Together Read, “The Salt Path”, last night, and we went through and selected our next four or five books in the week; we’ve decided to start with Afua Hirsch’s “Brit(ish)”, which I’m really looking forward to reading. I’m going to try to work my way through Layla F. Saad’s “Me and White Supremacy” this coming month, too, with a notebook.

As well as these, I’ll be reading Annie Nightingale’s “Hey Hi Hello” about her music journalism on the radio, and Jeevan Vasagar’s “Lion City” on Singapore, for Shiny New Books. I wasn’t able to review James Aldred’s “Goshawk Summer” as there were too many grim animal death scenes in it, unfortunately (Beck stepped in to fill the review slot and it’s a good book just not for me).

In NetGalley reads, I just have “The End of Bias” by Jessicca Nordell, left over from September (I really want to read another book on bias I have before I do it!) and Toufah Jallow’s book as detailed above. I also have Christine Pride and Jo Piazza’s fascinating looking novel “We Are Not Like Them” which looks at what happens when a neighbourhood racial divide hits a multiracial friendship. I will try to slot the sports bra book in as well, I think, so it doesn’t get forgotten.

That makes nine to read and two to finish in the month, so I reckon I’ll be able to slip some off the normal TBR, too …

To choose from next

My five oldest books, once you discount ones I’m saving for Novellas in November or to read with Emma in good time (I don’t worry to save things for Non-fiction November as I have such a lot of that anyway), I have two books set in Iceland, on horses and saga locations, one on how to read different kinds of water, a hefty academic tome on white privilege and Nimsdai Purja’s memoir of climbing all 14 8,000m mountains in record time. In the newest ones I have David Lodge’s diaries, a Cathy Kelly Novel and the Northern Line novel from above, Stacey Dooley’s book on women who fight back and “The Good Ally”.


How was your September reading? What are you reading this month? Have you read or picked up any of my selection?

State of the TBR September 2021

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It’s State of the TBR time again and things are … pretty much where they were at the start of August but with definitely a smaller bottom part of the Pile (three Angela Thirkells and a Maya Angelou gone) and some shuffling on the main part as I took off two D.E. Stevensons and a Persephone book.

I finished reading 13 books in August (two you haven’t seen reviewed here because I read them for Shiny New Books and the reviews aren’t out yet). That’s a bit down from my May, June and July totals but I had two weeks of very long work hours which cut into my reading time! I finished my 20 Books of Summer hosted by Cathy from 246 Books with a day to spare.

Currently reading

I’m still currently reading Raynor Winn’s “The Salt Path” as my readalong with Emma, and we’re about half-way through. I’m also reading Richard Osman’s “The Thursday Murder Club”, partly because I went for and won the sequel on NetGalley, partly because Matthew wanted to do a readalong. I like that it’s not too explicit as I’m not keen on that sort of thing and it is amusingly written. I don’t think we’ll get to the sequel in September as I don’t think Matthew will want to read them sequentially. “Sugar” I’ve not really got into yet as the Kindle edition went weird and I had to mess around raising it on NetGalley Shelf but it’s a story of race and the American South. “Black Joy” is another NetGalley read and is so far a rewarding read by and for Black British people about the joy that doesn’t have to be predicated on adversity but can be there for itself. I need to be careful to keep reading these books for the blog so I have something to tell you about, alongside review reads for Shiny!

Up next

My most important reads up next are my books to review for Shiny New Books. I’m not sure I’ve checked all these in as incomings below, so I have Jeevan Vasagar’s “Lion City” which is about the city of Singapore and the rise of modern Asia, memoirs by Anita Rani and Annie Nightingale, James Aldred’s “Goshawk Summer” about the first summer lockdown and the nature of the New Forest, and Lev Parikian’s “Light Rains Sometimes Fall”. Thank you to their publishers for all of these – I will talk about them and link to their Shiny Reviews on this blog in the fullness of time.

In NetGalley reads, this is the set I have published in September. A history of a bit of books, sociology, psychology, inspiring sport, Black joy and a refugee’s journey. Not sure I’ll get to all of them, but I’ll give it a go! “The Transgender Issue” will be for Shiny New Books though I will probably post a full review on here, too, and I think I’ve promised them to read “Children of Ash and Elm”, too, which is recently out in paperback. So some of these will drop off (I’ve already picked up “Black Joy” to start).

I also have the next in my Maya Angelou readalong with Ali and Meg and then of course I have my two Anne Tylers for the month: “Digging to America” and “Noah’s Compass” (both of which I sort of remember) and then Alex Haley’s “Roots” which I’m going to be reading alongside blogger Buried In Print for Kaggsy and Simon’s 1976 Club in October (pre-event post here). Does anyone else fancy reading “Roots” with us?

I’d better get reading, hadn’t I!

Books in (many, many books in, again!)

I’ll divide this into print and e-book incomings.

I’ve won some great books from NetGalley in August. Christine Pride & Jo Piazza’s “We are Not Like Them”, published in October, is a novel based around two old friends, one Black, one White when a racially charged incident threatens their friendship and community. “Wahala” by Nikki May looks at three Nigerian British friends in London, is apparently a biting satire and is published in January 2022. Hassan Akkad’s “Hope not Fear” is his memoir of his journey from refugee to NHS worker, film-maker and activist. Shon Faye’s “The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice” looks to be the trans version of the amazing “Invisible Women” and I’ll be reviewing that for Shiny New Books as well. Those two are both published in September. And in “Of This Our Country” by various authors, also published at the end of the month, writers of Nigeria talk about their home, identity and culture. I mentioned winning Richard Osman’s “The Man Who Died Twice” earlier as I’m reading the first book now, and in late additions I won yesterday “The Arctic Curry Club” by Dani Redd, a romance set in the Arctic (ooh!) published in December (phew) and Michaela Cole’s “Misfits”, a personal agenda to encourage people not to fit in (published this month, too).

In print, as well as some of the review copies shown above, Lucy Delap’s “Feminisms: A Global History” has arrived on publication from my Waterstones order (thank you, Sian) and what a lovely Pelican edition it is. Mark Atkinson’s “Ducking Long Way” arrived from the publisher and I’ve already read and reviewed it. “Roots” I’ve already mentioned above, being used for the 1976 Club, and Sue Anstiss’ “Game On: The Unstoppable Rise of Women’s Sport” is another Unbound campaign I contributed to. “Black London” by Avril Nanton and Jody Burton is a guide to public art, places and history in London which I might have left in my Amazon basket when I was buying something else and bought slightly by mistake (I try not to buy books from Amazon). But it will be a good one for Emma and me to look at when I visit her next. In addition, I might just have picked up Heaven-Ali’s copy of Paula Byrne’s “The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym” when I was helping her sort out the books in her new flat …

What are your reading plans for September? Have you read any of these lovelies? Are you joining me for some Anne Tyler? Or perhaps reading “Roots” through the month?

State of the TBR August 2021

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It’s State of the TBR time again (a bit late in the day because the whole day keeps getting away from me, and because I keep putting off posting about incomings, I end up doing lots of weird mosaics etc in one go. So here we go.

So it’s slightly “fuller” than at the start of July but not tooo bad, not right along the shelf at least. The wonky pile to the right is review books publishers have kindly sent me, and most of those will come up for reading this month, but you might not hear about them for a little bit, until the reviews have come out. I finished 15 books in July again – that’s the same number three months running, which is pleasing. Quite a few have come in, though: see below. I read all but two of my 20 Books of Summer (but have altered my list!) and five of my seven NetGalley reads (one left to review) plus one ebook I was reviewing for Shiny New Books, and I finished my readalong with Emma book. I wasn’t too disappointed with that.

Currently reading

I’m currently reading Raynor Winn’s “The Salt Path” as my new read with Emma, certainly an easier read (though a more emotional one) than “London Underground”! Then Armistead Maupin’s “Logical Family” is my new Book 13 in my 20 Books of Summer (see notes below), and Maya Angelou’s “Singin’ & Swingin’ & Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas” is both Book 14 and next in my Maya Angelou readalong with Ali and Meg.

Up next

I’m still working my way through my 20 Books of Summer hosted by Cathy from 246 Books with her sign-up post here. My first two months were all about people’s lives that are different from mine, but I felt that I was burning myself out reading so many Black autobiography and allyship (or not!) books in a row, and also burning my readers out. I had Afua Hirsch’s “Brit(ish)” and Jeffrey Boake’s “Black, Listed” on the list and I’ve swapped them out (don’t worry: I will come to them, read them and review them when I’m back working through my TBR in order) for, respectively, the Armistead Maupin (LGTBQIA+ lives) and the second D.E. Stevenson above, which adds one book to my All Virago (and Dean Street Press and Persephone) / All August themed final month of 20 Books of Summer. I needed some fiction and I needed some lighter reads, and this felt like the right thing to do.

So I have Maya Angelou, who I’m already reading, then Dorothy Whipple’s “Random Commentary” which is her notes on her writing of the novels Persphone also publishes. Then the two D.E. Stevensons, “Music in the Hills and Winter and Rough Weather” are the two loose sequels to the wonderful “Vittoria Cottage” and the three Angela Thirkells, “The Headmistress”, “Miss Bunting” and “Peace Breaks Out” finally bring her Barsetshire series to a close (I’ve spent a while getting round to these).

In NetGalley reads, this is the set I have published in August (“The Reading List is a July book I don’t want to miss):

“The Reading List” by Sara Nisha Adams is an intergenerational story on the power of reading, “Sugar” by Bernice L. McFadden is a reprint of a book set in a small town in the American South, and Naomi Shragai’s “The Man Who Mistook his Job for his Life” is about the effect your real life has on your work life.

I do have a couple of other June/July stragglers but these are the books I really want to read this month. don’t want to overload myself, either!

Books in (many, many books in, again!)

I’ll divide this into print and e-book incomings. I did trip up and buy two bargains on Kindle. The print books are a mix of gifts and review copies, sorry to have mixed them all up but I took the photos as they came in

First those slightly naughty Kindle books. Emmanuel Acho’s “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man” has been on my watch list for a while, and looks at how he has had to discuss various matters with White colleagues and friends. “Kiley Dunbar’s “The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday” was a recommendation I had to snap up. I need to find another ebook source as am becoming more and more disillusioned with Amazon (“thank you to my customers and staff for sending me to space” – eugh).

I’ve not done too badly this month as in I haven’t “won” a million NetGalley books … There’s the aforementioned “The Man Who Mistook his Job for His Life by Naomi Shragai, out this month, then Bobby Duffy’s “Generations”, which looks at boomers, Gen Xers, etc, Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff’s (ed.) “Black Joy” – stories of Black joy which are important to read as well as stories of pain. Then Dennis Duncan’s “Index, a History of the” (great title) and finally Richard Osman’s “The Man Who Died Twice”, of course the sequel to “The Thursday Murder Club” which I’ve had to pick up (cheap from The Works).

OK, here we go with this mishmash (sorry!). Rob Deering’s “Running Tracks” is an Unbound book I subscribed to about running and music (hooray!). Jane Setter’s “Your Voice Speaks Volumes” is a review copy and looks at accents in English. Carola Oman’s “Nothing to Report” and “Somewhere in England” are two Dean Street Press books I bought with my Book Token Splurge. Paul from HalfManHalfBook kindly sent me Nicholas Royle’s “White Spines: Confessions of a Book Collector” and Karen from KaggsysBookishRamblings also kindly sent me “Dancing on Ropes” by Anna Aslanyan which is about interpretation and translation. Ali from HeavenAli gave me “I Am Not Your Baby Mother”. “Goshawk Summer” by James Aldridge was a lovely surprise from Elliott & Thompson, who thought I might like it, and I have “Lion City: Singapore and the Invention of Modern Asia” by Jeevan Vasagar to review, too. Thank you to the publishers for the review copies!

Of course I have my two Anne Tylers for the month: “Back When we were Grownups” and “An Amateur Marriage”. That makes a few books on the TBR for August, but I think I can do it …

What are your reading plans for August? Are you joining me for some Anne Tyler?

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