State of the TBR – February 2018


Oh, the terrible state of the TBR, post-Christmas and -birthday! In fact, it was worse than this, but I pulled a few books off it that were either BookCrossing registered or quick reads to take with me on a trip, so there is at least some wiggle room at the end … But The Pile has had to encroach onto husband Matthew’s shelf (shock, horror!).

I’m currently reading Veronica Chambers’ “Kickboxing Geishas: How Modern Japanese Women are Changing their Nation” and a book on at in Iceland, and you’ll see a review of Jenni Murray’s “A History of Britain in 21 Women” later today, otherwise I won’t get all my reviews in. I’m also getting on with Jaron Lanier’s “Dawn of the New Everything” for Shiny New Books (and I have a fab book on women’s suffrage activists to go for Shiny next; there’s a whole crop of these to celebrate the centenary of people like me being able to vote in the UK). Then coming up, I didn’t do a photo because it’s pretty well the same as last month, with seemingly just two books having left the shelf, so Bruce, Frazzled, The Hate U Give and the history of Rough Trade all jostling for attention. First to start after finishing any of the current ones will, however, be Iris Murdoch’s “The Bell”, this month’s #IMReadalong novel.

What are your February reading plans?

State of the TBR January 2018 and Best Books of 2017 PLUS my First Book of the Year


Welcome and Happy New Year! It’s a busy post today so let’s get on with it …

Best books of the year 2017 and reading round-up

I read 141 books in 2017 (up from 126 in 2016). 78 (77) were fiction and 63 (49) non-fiction and I didn’t finish 1 (6). 86 (84) were by women and 54 (42) by men, with 1 by both.  I didn’t record the locations this time round. So more reading, which was probably bumped up by my down-time in May, and possibly more non-fiction by men.

Here are my top ten reads from 2017 (in order of reading, not merit):

Anna Kessel – “Eat, Sweat, Play” – brilliant book about women and sport

E. Nesbit – “The Lark” – glorious, delightful novel about two sisters trying to set up home and business together

Kory Stamper – “Word by Word” – essays from a dictionary-maker

Jess Phillips – “Everywoman” – the wonderful Labour MP’s life story and life lessons for us all

Francis Brett Young – “White Ladies” – man falls in love with house

Nick Baker – “Rewild” – helps us reconnect with nature (link leads to a short review linked to my Shiny New Books review)

Amber Reeves – “A Lady and her Husband” – I loved this story of a woman’s re-animation at the advanced age of [my age] when she has a Project

Simon Armitage – “Walking Away” – in which he walks in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall

Elois Jarvis McGraw – “Greensleeves” – how I loved this re-printed coming of age tale!

Bill McKibben – “Radio Free Vermont” – unputdownable satirical tale with a big heart and a positive message

Did you read any of these and love them as much as I did? Five fiction, five non-fiction; the non-fiction modern, the fiction mid-20th-century, with a Persephone and a Furrowed Middlebrow reprint among them – sounds about right!

State of the TBR January 2018

You will have hopefully already seen my TBR snapshots from 2017. And the Christmas Acquisitions. Here’s the full horror (the Pile has moved down to Mr Liz’s section of the shelves; it remains the same as always):

Just to be clear, the Rough Trade one used to be the end of the front shelf, so everything right of that used to be on the back shelf and has moved forward to join the front to fit the Christmas Haul in. Oops.

I’ve just finished “Happiness for Humans” by P.J. Reizin, a NetGalley read published this week which was a wonderfully fun and exciting tale of AI beings messing with human beings’ lives, a real page-turner.

I’m currently reading Matthew Syed’s “Bounce”, which is about the role of practice rather than talent in a whole range of achievements, with a lot about sport, and David Goldblatt’s “The Games” which is a rather large history of the Olympics, and very readable and interesting.

Next up have to be these two, once Iris Murdoch’s “The Sandcastle” (see below and my preview post) as they are to be reviewed for Shiny New Books. I am looking forward to getting into Gordon Brown’s autobiography and finding out more about virtual reality.

After all those, I hope I’ll get to this little section of non-fiction fun and important fiction, from Springsteen’s bio through Sue Perkins’ to living Danishly and unfrazzledly (that’s a word, right), finding out about islands and going into the history of the iconic Rough Trade record label and shop. I really hope I’ll get through a few of these as they’ve been taunting me from the shelf for a while now.

I only have seven books on my NetGalley TBR at the moment, and none due out soon – six from last year and one publishing in April this year. So I think I can concentrate on print books, although I did download some other things onto the Kindle …

First book of the year

Sheila over at Book Journey does a fun post at the start of each year where she has people send in pics of themselves with their first book of the year (I’m taking this as the first book I’ll be starting). Can you spot me in her post?

What are you reading first this year? Did you come to a nice stop at the end of a book and the end of the year? I failed mightily in that one!

A year in first lines


I think I read about this first on Beyond Eden Rock: write a blog post composed of the first lines of the first blog post of each month. I think I did this last year in this way, too, sharing instead images of my waxing and waning (OK, waxing) TBR! Watch as books work their way to the top (front left) and disappear … very slowly! Links on the month names give you the actual posts and more detail.




TBR shelf March 2017


To be read April 2017










I thought this was quite fun: I hope you enjoyed it, too!

State of the TBR – December 2017 #amreading #books


Hm, a thing of beauty or a thing of horror? With Christmas and birthday coming up, as I said the other day, I like to get the TBR down a bit. Not sure that’s quite happened this year …

I’m currently reading these two biographies. The Angela Carter one is nearly done, and it has taken me a while, although it’s generally good. Mo’s is excellent but I’m not very far in yet. Anyone read these?

Next up of course will be my next Iris Murdoch – “The Flight from the Enchanter”, and the next portion of “Cartography for Girls” – I’m reading 17.5 pages of that a month alongside the IMReadalong. Read about Enchanter here and the project page is here: it’s never too late to join in!

The start of the TBR looks like this, however I’m really not sure how far I’m going to get into these this month! Oh dear! One of my friends has just read the Springsteen book and it’s apparently really good, and a fellow book blogger has been enticing me by reading “The Year of Living Danishly”. I might pick off that and the Perkins as a palate-cleanser between big hardbacks, I have to admit.

Anything here catch your eye? What are you up to reading-wise for December?

State of the TBR November 2017 #books #amreading


Well, I have to say that very weirdly, the TBR is looking almost exactly the same as it was last month: just “The Pie at Night” has gone from the very front. How did this happen, especially as there have been – ahem – a few book confessions this month? Well, basically, when we went on holiday at the beginning of October, I pulled BookCrossing books out of the TBR so I could leave them in our holiday cottage easily. The new books I’ve acquired fitted into those spaces, with just a couple moving around to the front row, or else are to be read very soon, (my current reads) so have joined the piles at the front. I read 12 books in October but obviously only one from the start of the TBR!

I finished Danzy Senna’s “New People” yesterday but have yet to review it – in fact, I’m not sure what I actually thought of i t – and this morning finished Robert Webb’s “How not to be a Boy” which Mr Liz enjoyed more than I did (he read the audio book).

I’m currently reading Coleen McCullogh’s “The Ladies of Missalonghi” for Brona’s Books’ Aus Reading Month. I’ve only read a little of it, but I’m enjoying the world that’s been created and the interesting characters, all trapped in their roles in an effectively one-family town.

Next up are these lovelies. I’ll be starting my Great Iris Murdoch Readalong with “Under the Net” (read about it here) and shhh, but Mr Liz might be reading it on audio book, too! I created a page for the project today, too. As part of the project, I’m going to read 1/26 of Carol Sommer’s amazing “Cartography for Girls“, which is a collection of things written about the consciousness of women in Murdoch’s novels, and I think I’m going to create my own random and invisible artwork by either reading it silently in a place where I am or reading it out loud to no one during each month. Well, one way to respond to a work of art is with more “art”, right? I’m going to do 17.5 pages a month and I think I’ll do them in order.

Next up next week is Angela Thirkell’s “The Headmistress”, for the Undervalued Women Novelists Facebook group’s reading week. I’m thrilled to say that I’ll be reading this alongside Ali – she’s blogged about it here and supplied my lovely new copy, reading her own elderly Penguin!

And coming up after those is pretty well the same stuff as last month – but this time I will read at least some of these. Very non-fiction based, but I have some novels from NetGalley and generally on the Kindle, as well as the fiction mentioned above, so should have a decent mix. I’m aware it’s Non-Fiction November but I just don’t have the time and resources to take part in everything – I’ll merely read the same amount of non-fic as usual, I’d imagine!

What are you planning on reading in November?

State of the TBR – October 2017 #amreading #bookconfessions


Well, here’s the state of the TBR, and you know what? I don’t think that’s too bad.

Of course we’re going to ignore the unopened Book of Running a Marathon, aren’t we …

I’m currently reading these two. Lynsey Hanley’s “Respectable” is a book about class, seen through the lens of her own life, born a few years after me and growing up on a council estate in Chelmsley Wood. It’s a hard read, both because you have to concentrate (it mixes background information, her life and sources to good effect, but it’s still quite dense) and because if you’re solidly middle-class, you can’t help feeling a bit guilty (even though she’s at pains to point out that all classes are bound by their edges, by traditions, etc.). And because I obviously need reminding what running a marathon is like, I’m reading a book by a man who’s run 25 of the things. I’ve done his first one with him now, so not that far in, and already I REALLY want to run London. Hm.

Up next are these lovelies, I think mainly from birthday and just afterwards – I remember buying Mo, Bounce and Springsteen at the end of January, and these actually seem to have got out of order, as apparently I picked up Stuart Maconie’s “The Pie At Night” on the same day, via BookCrossing, so it should hop past Angela Carter and “The Games” really.  Sue Perkins was picked up in The Works, I believe. These are all non-fiction, even if some of them are quite light, so I suspect I’ll be popping ahead in the TBR to grab some fiction, or reading that on the Kindle (more on the horror of NetGalley wins later).

Now for a few confessions. Matthew and I got really excited about reading this book together – Robert Webb’s autobiography but also musings on gender. I’ve enjoyed his pieces in the New Statesman on the topic and this is very readable – in fact I picked it up idly when it arrived and couldn’t put it down. Matthew’s going to read it on audiobook, read by Webb.

When I went to save this image in my Book Confessions folder, I thought, “Oh, gosh, the only book acquired this month, aren’t I good”. Then I thought to look at my NetGalley wins. Oops. So I should confess that the following all arrived this month:

Allison Pearson – “How Hard Can it Be” – I hadn’t realised this was the follow-up to “I Don’t Know How She Does It” until I read that on a blog, and even though I read that aeons ago and don’t remember any of the characters, I had to go for it.

Helen Thorpe – “The Newcomers” – non-fiction about a group of refugee girls at a school in Denver, charting their first year there.

Indu Balachandran – “The Writers’ Retreat” – three Indian writers go to a writing retreat on a Greek island – looks like a fun multicultural novel.

Bill McKibbon – “Radio Free Vermont” – a novel following a group of Vermont patriots who think their state might be better off independent.

Connie Glynn – “Undercover Princess” – YA novel about swapped identities which looks quite fun.

I’ve also won this one from LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Susan Ryan – “The King of Lavender Square” – a group of disparate folk, from African mother and son to an advertising whizz-kid live in a Dublin Square – what will bring them together into a community?

Well, there we go, a smaller physical TBR and a bigger electronic one (I’m slightly gutted that I just won the Allison Pearson because I was at 79% reviewed on NetGalley and they recommend 80% and give you a BADGE) but not too bad. Have you read any of my upcoming print or ebooks? What have you got to confess and how’s your TBR looking?

State of the TBR – September 2017


Well the TBR is as large as ever but I have made progress on it since August – it’s shuffled up a lot but a few have joined at the end. I did pull out the Persephones for All Virago / All August and #20BooksofSummer but I’ve also read quite a lot in August – hooray (11 books, which is quite high for me these days)

I’m currently reading Gladys Huntingdon’s “Madame Solario” which is set in Cadenabbia on Lake Como, a place I have actually stayed. It’s very absorbing and gossipy, like being in a hotel and watching the other residents. This is Book 20 in my #20BooksOfSummer project – you can see my progress here and even though I am not actually taking it away with me to the Iris Murdoch Society Conference (too bulky – I’ve popped Alexei Sayle’s “Stalin Ate My Homework” in instead), I should get it finished by the September 4 deadline for the end of 20Books. I’m about to start (and have packed) Daniel Tammet’s “Every Word is a Bird we Teach to Sing”, which is about language – I’m reviewing it for Shiny New Books and very much looking forward to reading it.

Coming up next on the shelf are these lovelies. I have the NetGalley TBR down to 10 books now (and have won my 25 books reviewed badge, which you should be able to see on this blog; I think I have two books to go until I’m back at 80% reviewed, too) so should get to a few of these. I know Ali has the Angela Carter bio so we might read that together. These represent the end of Christmas and the beginning of my birthday books – so I’m finally reading books I acquired this year, which always seems like a bit of a triumph!

What does your September reading look like? How’s the old TBR?

Older Entries