State of the TBR – May 2023

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The amount of my TBR has stayed pretty well the same as last month; I took seven books off the TBR to read so even though I acquired a few, three of them were review books or loans, and it’s doing OK.

I completed 15 books in March (two left to review) and am part-way through four more (plus my Reading With Emma Read). I took part in Kaggsy and Simon’s 1940 Club and read three books for that, and I read a hardback bought relatively recently for that mini-project of mine to not let those languish. I also got through all six of my NetGalley books published in April (I DNF’d two: “Love on the Menu just never got going and wasn’t what I thought it was and sadly, the plot of “Happy Place” about exes pretending to be together just didn’t work for me) and also a couple of May NG books already plus two older ones, and my percentage is still at 90%!

Incomings

I’ve had books in from different sources and for different reasons this month

I went to The Heath Bookshop to help Matthew to spend his book token from Gill and couldn’t resist “The Book of Birmingham”, edited by Kavita Bhanot, in the same series as the Reykjavik one I’ve read, which covered the remainder of his book token and a little more. I was in The Works looking for something else and (honestly) felt I wanted to encourage them to stock books by people from the Global Majority People community so bought Nisha Sharma’s “Dating Dr. Dil” and I haven’t read any of Beth O’Leary’s books so picked up “The Switch”. Emma suggested Catherine Mayer’s “Attack of the 50ft Women: How Gender Equality can Save the World” as a read-together book and I found a heavily discounted copy online so picked it up for our pile. Ali kindly passed me Ruth Ozeki’s “The Book of Form & Emptiness” (which I will read with Matthew at some point: edited to add after comments, I have read all her other books and loved “A Tale for the Time Being“, mentioned “All Over Creation” in my Best books of 2005 post and read “My Year of Meats” before the blog, but had seen varied reviews of this and hadn’t got round to getting a copy) and loaned me Daphne du Maurier’s “The Parasites” to read for her DDM week this month and Kaggsy of the Bookish Ramblings kindly sent me Virago’s new celebration book of short stories, “Furies”. And I have the beautiful but very substantial “The Book of Wilding” by Isabella Tree and Charlie Burrell to review for Shiny New Books (thank you!).

I won quite a few NetGalley books this month (but I’ve already read two of them!):

I’ve already read Stephen Buoro’s “The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa”, an amazing novel about a 15 year old Nigerian boy (published in April, review here), and Rachel Barnett’s “A Summer on the Riviera” about high-faluting yacht life (published in May, review here). Ben Jacobi’s “The Orchid Outlaw”, non-fiction about the author’s attempt to see and save Britain’s orchids (published May 2023); Mariam Ansar’s “Good for Nothing” is a YA novel set in a small northern town with two British Asian and one British Black protagonists (published March, currently reading); I was invited by the publisher to read Elizabeth Acevedo’s “Family Lore” (Aug), a “deeply Dominican” book with a touch of magical realism (I have at least two of her earlier books to read!). “Everything’s Fine” by Cecilia Rabess (June) is a dual-heritage romance that asks questions of race and America; Lyn Liao’s “Crazy Bao You” (June) is a mistaken-identity love story with a Korean American heroine (though I’ve just spotted there’s a rescue dog in it so will be worrying now); I requested Caleb Azumah Nelson’s “Small Worlds” (May) because I was a bit ambivalent about his debut but said I’d read what he wrote next, and set between London and Ghana and about family, faith and friendship, this does look good. Rachel E. Cargle’s “A Renaissance of our Own” (June) offers essays on the power of reimagining yourself and of allowing Black women to be complex. Finally, I was offered “You were Always Mine” by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza (July) because I read and reviewed their previous novel, “We are Not Like Them” – this one explores race, class and ethics as a baby is abandoned and a baby is found.

So that was 15 read and 18 coming in in April (oops).

Currently reading

As well as Adam Nicolson’s “The Sea is Not Made of Water: Life Between the Tides” with Emma, I’m still reading “Shakespeare’s First Folio”, which is brilliant but takes some concentration and is in small print, I’m part way through Mariam Ansar’s YA novel “Good for Nothing” and Deesha Philyaw’s book of short stories, “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies” (which I was supposed to read along with my friend Melanie but managed not to) and have made a start on Nova Reid’s important book, “The Good Ally”.

Coming up

It’s Daphne Du Maurier week 8-15 May over on Heaven-Ali’s blog (and I’ll be helping out by hosting the book review list page, coming soon) and she kindly loaned me “The Parasites”, an autobiographical novel about DDM’s childhood, so I could take part. Then I have these two review copies, “The Book of Wilding” and “Mother Tongue by Jenni Nuttall.

My NetGalley TBR for May has seven books on it, however I’ve already read and reviewed “The Three of Us” and “A Summer on the Riviera” and am part-way through “Good for Nothing”.

With the ones I’m currently reading (including my readalong with Emma as should finish it this month), that’s five books to finish and eight to read, which seems doable. If I get those done, I would like to read some more older NetGalley books and some more from my TBR, although I have nearly succeeded in reading the hardbacks I bought recently before they come out in paperback …


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 2023

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The amount of my TBR has stayed essentially the same as last month, as I didn’t acquire too many non-review books and took the grand total of four print ones off the shelf (not from the beginning of it).

I completed 16 books in March (one left to review) and am part-way through three more (plus my Reading With Emma Read). I was a bit disappointed as we did have a five-day holiday during the month, however I chatted on the plane rather than reading, we did some long walks while on the trip and two of my print books were quite substantial. I did read two books for #Reading Ireland Month and two for #Reading Wales, which I was really pleased about. And I also got through all eight of my NetGalley books published in March, although DNF’d two (one had an unfortunate description of a character that put me off but the publisher has been brilliant about it, so I’ll leave it there; one was more about a horrible marriage than about being Ghanaian-British so lost its appeal) and actually one April NG book already, and my percentage is 90%!

Incomings

I’ve had some super review books in this month as well as acquiring books from two trips. Here are the print incomings …

I was gutted to miss the Heath Bookshop’s event with Adam Nathanial Furman and Joshua Mardell with their beautiful book, “Queer Spaces” so made sure I bought a copy of the book from the bookshop before we went away. Matthew went to San Diego for work and explored the San Diego Public Library’s book sale on his free day and bought me the first two “Saddle Club” novels and took a punt on Alice Mattison’s “The Book Borrower” about a long friendship between two women based on a book passing between them early on. In Malaga, I was very excited to find two of the “Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators” books I collect, in Spanish, and snapped them up. British Library Publishing have very kindly sent me the next in their Women Writers series, “The Home” by Penelope Mortimer”, Little, Brown have sent me Jenni Nuttall’s book about women’s words, “Mother Tongue” (embargoed until late May) and Oxford University Press have sent a lovely copy of “Shakespeare’s First Folio” by Emma Smith, the last two for review for Shiny New Books.

I won four NetGalley books this month:

Tembe Denton-Hurst’s “Homebodies” (July 2023) is a novel about a woman who exposes the racism in her industry, gets fired and then goes viral; “Black Girl, No Magic” by Kimblerly McIntosh (June) is essays about being a Black woman today; Breanne McIvor’s “The God of Good Looks” (June) is liked by authors I like and shows us a young woman’s coming-of-age in Trinidad; and Emily Kerr’s “Her Fixer Upper” (May) is a light novel about doing up a house.

In addition to these e-books, I was sent one book to review on PDF and bought three in the Amazon spring sale (quite restrained, I felt):

“Broken” by Katie Treggiden was sent to me to review in Shiny by Ludion books; it’s about mending and repairing items to keep them going. Amusingly, I bought Repair Shop Jay Blades’ “Making It” in the Amazon sale and he wrote a Foreward to “Broken”. I also bought Elizabeth Nyamayaro’s memoir “I Am A Girl from Africa”, which was on my wishlist, and Olly Richards’ “Short Stories in Spanish” to help with my language learning.

So that was 16 read and 17 coming in in March (oops).

Currently reading

As well as Adam Nicolson’s “The Sea is Not Made of Water: Life Between the Tides” with Emma (which I’ve described as Hard Philosophy masquerading as mollusc talk” to her but is decently readable and very interesting), I’m still leafing through “Birmingham: the Brutiful Years” and my two most pressing review books, “Shakespeare’s First Folio” and “The Home”.

Coming up

It’s Simon Stuckinabook and Karen Kaggsysbookishramblings’ 1940 Club in the week of 10-16 April and, while I claim to do all challenges soley from the happenstance of what is on my TBR when the challenge is announced, I will admit that I added books published in 1940 specifically to my wish lists I gave to Ali and Emma at Christmas/birthday time. The result …

It’s a little bittersweet to be planning to read these after the tragic death of publisher, Rupert Heath: the books will still be available to buy as long as they remain in copyright and I’ve decided I will still run my Dean Street December challenge; but it will be sad not to have Rupert see and tweet about my reviews (his sister Victoria is doing superb work taking up the reins, though). I have Susan Scarlett’s (Noel Streatfeild) “Ten Way Street”, Margery Sharp’s “The Stone of Chastity” and D.E. Stevenson’s “The English Air” – three favourite DSP authors and the last two Heaven-Ali is also reading for the Week!

My NetGalley TBR for April has six books on it, all novels, half of them with diverse topics, and I’ve read the Christie Barlow already (reviewing later in the month if I can as it comes out at the end of the month). “Pineapple Street” asks if money can buy happiness, “Love on the Menu” is a romance set around a takeaway, “Small Joys” has a friendship between a gay Black man and a straight White man, also promising ornithology, “Arthur and Terry are Coming Out” has a grandfather and grandson blossoming into their sexuality and Emily Henry’s “Happy Place” is a romance that starts with a couple breaking up but still going to their holiday cottage … “Pineapple Street” is quite long but the others should be fairly quick reads.

With the ones I’m currently reading (not including my readalong with Emma as we won’t finish it this month), that’s three books to finish and nine to read, which seems doable. I would like to read some more from my TBR (obviously the Dean Street Press books count there), and make some progress on reading hardbacks I bought recently before they come out in paperback …


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 2023

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Well, in good news, the bulk of books on my TBR has stayed essentially the same as last month, the bad news being that I still have almost an extra shelf of it!

I completed 20 books in February (one left to review) and am part-way through four more (one my new Reading With Emma Read). Sadly I didn’t read quite what I intended to, as I was struck down by an unpleasant virus that seems to be doing the rounds and only able to read a series of (nine!) very light and enjoyable novels on my kindle for about a week in the middle of it. I read three of the #ReadIndies books I’d laid out for myself, with one still on the go and therefore should still Count, and added two that came in through the month handily from indie publishers. So six ReadIndies challenge books in total, plus two of the ones I laid out for myself I really didn’t like at all and put to one side, at least thus removing five from the print TBR. I finished one of my other print review books (review to be done for Shiny) and am part-way through another (see below). And I DID read all five of my NetGalley books published in March, hooray, plus three more NetGalley books by Christie Barlow that were waiting for me to read the first six (I did). So eight books off the NetGalley TBR and my percentage is 88%!

Incomings

Not quite so many incomings this month (mainly because I couldn’t see very well or leave the house much this month, I suspect). The kindness of friends and publishers kept me supplied, though!

Ada Leverson’s “Bird of Paradise” was a kind gift from the publisher, Michael Walmer, and I have read and reviewed it already (here). Bookish Beck sent me Jeremiah Moss’ “Feral City” which is about New York and the pandemic (I’m aware I need to send this on to Laura Tisdall so will try to promote it up the TBR!). I spotted Bob Mortimer’s autobiography, “And Away” in The Works when milling around on the High Street and couldn’t resist it. Charlie Hill dropped a copy of his historical novel “The Pirate Queen” round (read and reviewed here) and my lovely friend Jenny dropped Deesha Philyaw’s “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies” (racy stories!) and Cyndia Lauper’s memoir round on the same day. I bought Hunter Davies’ “The Heath” for Emma as she lives near Hampstead Heath and we decided to make it one of our Read Together Books – even though we have one on the go and another two in hand, I decided I had to have this one, too, so ordered it from the (Heath!) Bookshop. Michael Hann’s “Denim and Leather” is the story of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal: I did a very small amount of transcribing for it (and he added me to the acknowledgements!) and decided to pre-order the paperback LAST Feb so thank you, Past Me. And Vertebrate Publishing sent an enticing email about review copies and I chose “The Outdoors Fix” by Liv Bolton which has essays by a lovely diverse group of people and how the British countryside has helped them in various ways (look out for that review soon as it’s out on 9 March).

I won four NetGalley books this month and didn’t buy any other ebooks:

Ryan Love’s “Arthur and Teddy Are Coming Out” (published April) is a feel-good novel where a grandfather and his grandson both want to come out as gay but one finds it easier than the other. Paul Morgan-Bentley’s “The Equal Parent” (March) looks at research from around the world about why parenting gets gendered and how to combat it – so much so that as a man married to a man, he gets called MummyDaddy by their local chemist. Christie Barlow has another one out but this time I’m caught up so can read it at the right time – “A Summer Surprise at the Little Blue Boathouse” (April) returns us to Heartcross and more warmth and community. Finally Catherine Joy White’s “A Thread of Gold” (June) brings Black women out of history to celebrate them as they should be.

So that was 20 read and 13 coming in in February, two of which I’ve already read – a win!

Currently reading

As well as Adam Nicolson’s “The Sea is Not Made of Water: Life Between the Tides” with Emma, I’m reading Lauren Fleshman’s “Good for a Girl”, about her own life in athletics and women’s experience in general, for Shiny New Books, and Liv Bolton’s “The Outdoor Fix” as described above.

Coming up

This month, I’ll also be reading for both Bookjotter’s Reading Wales (Richard Llewellyn’s “How Green was my Valley” and Charlotte Williams’ “Sugar and Slate” (which was the main read for it last year but I was balking at buying the ebook until I just had to) and Cathy at 746 Books’ Reading Ireland (Kate O’Brien‘s nun-based novel “The Land of Spices” and the novella “Small Things Like These” by Claire Keegan which I know everyone has read except me) for once (I usually manage one or the other).

My NetGalley TBR for March has eight books on it and an equal mix of fiction and non-fiction:

Jacqueline Crooks’ “Fire Rush” is set in reggae clubs in London and Bristol and takes our heroine through gangs and to Jamaica. Monica Macias tells of her life as a West African growing up in North Korea in “Black Girl from Pyongyang”. Nikesh Shukla’s YA novel “Stand Up” has teenager Madhu caught between helping her family and wanting to be a stand-up comedian. We’ve seen “The Equal Parent” above, and Katherine May’s “Enchantment” looks at how to help your mental health through finding wonder in life. Julie Shackwell returns to Scotland with “A Scottish Country Escape” – another reliably good light novelist. “Rootless” by Krystle Zara Appiah is a poignant novel about a British-Ghanaian marriage in crisis. Finally, Elizabeth Day explores her own friendships and broader discussions of friendship in “Friendaholic”.

With the ones I’m currently reading (not including my readalong with Emma as we won’t finish it this month), that’s three books to finish and twelve to read, which feels OK, though I would like to continue progress on reading hardbacks I bought recently before they come out in paperback …


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 2023

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Oh-oh. That’s all I can say. Yes, that’s almost a whole shelf-in-front-of-a-shelf of books on the bottom level. But also: hooray! This month I’ve had my birthday (pile here) and I have also spent Christmas 2021 / Birthday 2022 book tokens in a few goes (Book Token Splurge part 1 here, Part 2 to follow in a few days). Incomings have come in and looking at my stats, two hardbacks came off the bottom shelf. Hopefully this will change this month as I have an Exciting Book Challenge to take part in!

I completed 14 books in January (one left to review tomorrow) and am part-way through two more (one my new Reading With Emma Read; we finished and reviewed our last one this month). I finished my two remaining December NetGalley reads, plus one older one and the three from my January ebook TBR so have now caught up there. I read my Larry McMurtry for December as planned, and my review copy from Lurid Books of “Chase of the Wild Goose”; I have pretty much given up on my sagas volume (sorry Annabel, didn’t manage to do it for Nordic FINDS!). I started my plan to read newly acquired hardbacks before the paperback came out, reading Bernardine Evaristo and Osman Yousefzada’s memoirs.

Incomings

Brace yourselves! This is the full pile of print incomings for this month! I will say in my defence that I haven’t paid for many of them, as there’s the birthday pile in there, the Persephone (“The Waters Cover the Earth” by John Moore) is a Christmas gift from Ali that the supplier took a while to send to the Bookshop and several lots of book token spends (I’ll go through the most recent of those on Friday; you’ve seen the earlier ones here).

I won 5 NetGalley books this month and bought 3 ebooks from Amazon (I also bought a copy of Riva Lehrer’s disability/art memoir “Golem Girl” but that was because I can’t comfortably read the small print of the paperback so in my mind doesn’t count):

So we have Christie Barlow’s “The Hidden Secrets of Bumblebee Cottage” (published December 2022), another in her long series I keep having to save up while I read the earlier ones; Mimi Deb’s “Love on the Menu” (April 2023), a romcom set around an Indian takeaway (this has split NetGalley reviewers so let’s see!). “Small Joys” by Elvin James Mensah (April) is set in mid-noughties Kent with a Black queer man befriending a straight White birdwatcher and discusses male friendship and mental health; Katherine May’s “Enchantment” (March), the only non-fiction NetGalley book I won, looks at how to help your mental health through finding wonder in life; and Nikesh Shukla’s YA novel “Stand Up” (March) has teenager Madhu caught between helping her family and wanting to be a stand-up comedian. From Amazon, Libby Page’s “The Island Home” is another community novel, Joya Goffney’s “Excuse me While I Ugly Cry” I thought I had TBR already but didn’t, and I was reminded of it reading an interview with the author on The Black Book Blog; and “Dream Big, Do Bigger” by Hanna Olivas and Adriana Luna Carlos is a business inspiration book that features my friend Annabelle, so had to be purchased!

So that was 14 read and 31 coming in in December – half and half, right?!

Currently reading

I’m currently reading Adam Nicolson’s “The Sea is Not Made of Water: Life Between the Tides” with Emma, a beautifully written exploration of the seashore that is going to be a real treat, and Alison Mariella Désir’s “Running While Black: Finding Freedom in a Sport that Wasn’t Built for Us” which is a fascinating and powerful story of how she founded a Black running club in New York and built a world of social activism around it: I would love to find the equivalent British book if anyone knows of one.

Coming up

This month, I’ll also be reading for Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings‘ and Lizzy’s Literary Life‘s #ReadIndies challenge – to read books by independent publishers. I found I had LOADS on the shelf (carefully checking for non-independence: hope I’ve got it right!) and picked out these as possibles. I won’t go through them now but you’ll hopefully see reviews popping up (and my first review of the month, out tomorrow, is by an indie, too!)

I also have these two review books from publishers to read:

Lauren Fleshman’s “Good for a Girl” looks at women’s place in the running world and came out from Virago in January, and Carl Abbott’s “Suburbs: A Very Short Introduction” is one of those great small Oxford volumes. Watch out for alerts on my reviews on Shiny New Books.

My NetGalley TBR for February has five books on it (why did I get to win this Libby Page but not the Island one I bought above?)

Jessica George’s “Maame” is a coming of age novel about a woman standing up for herself and making choices; Anika Hussain’s “This is How You Fall in Love” is a YA romcom set in a diverse friendship group; Alexis Keir’s “Windward Family” studies the author’s family that spread out from the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent across the UK, US and New Zealand over several generations; Shauna Robinson’s “Must Love Books” has a Black woman working in publishing (but hopefully isn’t as odd as “The Other Black Girl”!) and Libby Page’s “The Vintage Shop of Second Chances” is a community novel set around a second-hand clothes shop. Mainly novels here, mainly non-fiction in the indies: will I maintain my 50:50 balance??

With the ones I’m currently reading (including my readalong with Emma), that’s two books to finish and at least eight to read in full, though I would like to read more indies than one, and I’d also like to get to Barbara Kingsolver’s “Demon Copperhead”.


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 2023

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Looking at last month’s picture, and given that I have added my Christmas books already, I haven’t done too badly! Incomings have come in but books have come off the TBR, too, although from the middle mainly down to my Dean Street December challenge (remember you have until the end of Monday to submit your reviews to me). The pile at the end is still there, but it’s only one pile …

I completed 17 books in December although I have three left to review (two of Susan Cooper’s “Dark is Rising” sequence, which I’m going to review together, and Dave Grohl’s memoir), and am part-way through three more (one my Reading With Emma Emma Read). I read two of my six ebook TBR books (four for December and two older one) although I started one and only have three January publishing dates so might do OK this month. I read eight out of the ten Dean Street Press books I put out to choose from (seven print and one ebook) and one of the other print TBR I’d set aside for myself (the Christmas stories) but I didn’t get round to my Larry McMurtry for the month.

Incomings

Incoming print books. I have already shared my Christmas incomings in another post (see here) and also gathered these ones during the month (only four!):

I picked up “Birmingham: The Brutiful Years” by Mary Keating, Jenny Marris and John Bell in advance of their author talk for The Heath Bookshop, and had it signed at the event. It’s about post-war architecture in Birmingham, at risk, lost and saved. My dear friend Cari bought me Alison Mariella Désir’s “Running While Black: Finding Freedom in a Sport that Wasn’t Built for Us” at her launch event and had it signed for me – this is a US book and I’d love to know if anyone has seen similar from the UK. My lovely friend Chrissie popped Peter Oborne’s “Basil D’Oliveira: Cricket and Conspiracy the Untold Story” through my letterbox the other day as she knows I enjoy a sports book, and OUP have kindly sent me Carl Abbott’s “Suburbs: A Very Short Introduction” to review for Shiny New Books.

I won five NetGalley books this month:

Elizabeth Day’s “Friendaholic: Confessions of a Friendship Addict” (published in March) is a non-fiction account of her own and others’ thoughts and research on the phenomenon of friendship. Libby Page wrote “The Lido” and “The 24-hour Cafe” which I really enjoyed (and I might just have bought “The Island Home” on Kindle as I missed that one) and her “The Vintage Shop of Second Chances” (February) is another warm community novel. I enjoyed Julie Shackman‘s “A Scottish Highland Surprise” so was pleased to be offered “A Scottish Country Escape” (March) by the publisher. Anika Hussain’s “This is How You Fall in Love” (February) is a South Asian YA romcom and Krystle Zara Appiah’s “Rootless” (April) looks at the “happily ever after” as a British-Ghanaian marriage falls into crisis.

And I bought no e-books (hooray!)

So that was 17 read and 17 coming in in December – I call that a win in a busy month for incomings!

Currently reading

I’m currently still reading Jini Reddy’s “Wanderland” with Emma, seeking the mystic places of Britain with the author; we should have it finished and reviewed soon and it’s been an interesting if a little frustrating read so far. I’ve decided to use Annabookbel’s “Nordic FINDS” challenge to finish that Icelandic Sagas book I’ve had on the go for EVER so am picking that up for 20 minutes or so a day. And I’m part-way through one of my December NetGalley reads, Eris Young’s “Ace Voices” about the asexual spectrum and people’s everyday experiences.

Coming up

This month, I’ll also be reading my Larry McMurtry from December – “The Evening Star”, which I wanted to do justice as it’s a big book. Then I have two review books to prioritise: Mary Gordon’s “Chase of the Wild Goose” which is “part biography, part novel, part spiritual memoir” about the Ladies of Llangollen, published by the fab young publishing house, Lurid Editions, and the aforementioned “Suburbs: A Very Short Introduction” from OUP for Shiny.

My NetGalley TBR for January has just these three books, but I have one to finish and one to read from my December books and those two September/October ones. I reckon I can manage seven in the month, right?

Colin Grant’s “I’m Black so You Don’t Have to Be” is an intergenerational biography which places the author’s British-Jamaican identity in context; Nell Zink’s “Avalon” is a coming-of-age novel set in the context of late-capitalist California, and Jyoti Patel’s “The Things that We Lost” is a debut novel covering families and mental health in the British Asian and Black communities. With the ones I’m currently reading (including my readalong which will only take another week or so), that’s three books to finish and nine to read in full, though I would also like to get to Barbara Kingsolver’s “Demon Copperhead”, which Matthew has finally finished reading!

Reading Challenges

I am not going to do an author reading challenge this year for the first time in a decade or so. I have two Larry McMurtrys to finish and then I’m going to concentrate on my TBR (I will do Dewithon, Reading Ireland, 20 Books of Summer, NonFiction November, AusReading Month and Novellas in November as well as running Dean Street December again, plus Simon and Karen’s two Year Weeks, but I will fulfil all those from my TBR). I have also realised that I buy hardback books only to find the paperback is out by the time I get round to reading them, so I am going to prioritise the newer hardbacks on the TBR and then try to read any more that I acquire as I go. What are your reading intentions for 2023?


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 2022

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Looking at last month’s picture, I have done quite well again! Incomings have come in but books have come off the TBR, too. Even though I’ve added five books to the little pile at the end, it’s not as big as last month.

I completed 23 books in November (thanks to my week’s holiday and doing Novellas in November), and am part-way through three more (one my Emma Read and one reading along with Matthew), plus the long-term ongoing Tolkien and Sagas books. I read all my ebook TBR books for November (my picture was wrong last month; I have yet to review two of them), and also got my September ones and all but one of my October ones read or (one) started. I read eight out of the fifteen novellas I put out to choose from and two others (one in from a publisher then read right away, one from the TBR), making a total of ten, and I read three books for AusReading Month (one left to review) and twelve for NonFiction November.

Incomings

Incoming print books. I had some lovely books in this month.

“Mary & Mr Eliot” by Mary Trevelyan and Erica Wagner is an author copy from the publisher – it’s based on Mary Trevelyan’s manuscript about her friendship with T.S. Eliot which I copy-typed a few years ago to start off the process for Erica to edit and provide commentary on it. Lovely publisher Michael Walmer kindly sent me a review copy of his reprint of Howard Sturgis’ “On the Pottlecomble Cornice” which I promptly reviewed for Novellas in November and the British Library Publishing folk kindly sent me “Stories for Christmas and the Festive Season” which of course I have saved to read this month. We had a tea party at Ali’s the other weekend and Meg gave me her copy of Claire Keegan’s “Small Things Like These” while Ali passed me her copy of Elisa Shua Dusapin’s “The Pachinko Parlour”. I went to a Brian Bilston poetry reading run by The Heath Bookshop last week and bought a copy of his latest book, “Days Like These” (a poem for every day of the year!), and finally I received a copy of Nigel Green and Robin Wilson’s “Brutalist Paris” which I had helped crowd-fund. What a lovely variety of ways to receive books!

I won five NetGalley books this month:

“The Silence of the Stands” by Daniel Gray (published November) is about football’s lost season in the lockdowns – whose blog did I see this on?? Alexis Keir writes about returning to St Vincent [edited out my error, apoplogies to the author] and tracing his family’s journeys to the UK and New Zealand in “Windward Family” (Feb 2023) and in “Black Girl from Pyongyang” by Monica Macias (Mar 2023) we’ll learn about how the author was transplanted from West Africa to North Korea to be raised, and how she searched for her identity once she’d grown up (that’s going to be a good one for the Stranger than Fiction segment of NonFicNov next year!). “Happy Place” (April 2023) looks like another good novel from Emily Henry, a break-up novel with a big lie to all the friend group and Shauna Robinson’s “Must Love Books” (Feb 2023) pits a young Black woman against the world of publishing.

And I bought three e-books from Amazon in their Black Friday sale:

I always think I have Trevor Noah‘s memoir, “Born a Crime” but I didn’t, until now. John Cooper Clarke is one of the few poets I like and I couldn’t resist his autobiography, “I Wanna Be Yours”, for 99p. And Patrick King’s “Stand Up For Yourself, Set Boundaries and Stop Pleasing Others” might stop me making myself labour over these massive posts (right?!).

So that was 23 read and 15 coming in in November – back in the right direction!

Currently reading

I’m currently reading “Settlers: Journeys through the Food, Faith and Culture of Black African London” by Jimi Famurewa, which is a NetGalley book published in October and is marvellous so far, Jini Reddy’s “Wanderland” is my readalong with Emma and most entertaining so far, and I’ve finally got to reading Dave Grohl’s “The Storyteller” with Matthew, so he does a bit of the audio book (with Dave narrating and a musical background) on his walk and I catch up with the book (no Dave’s voice or music) at home.

Coming up

This month, I’m taking part in two challenges: my own Dean Street Press December, of course (see my main post here) and I’ve laid out all the DSP books I have in paperback plus one more modern one on Kindle. I’m looking forward to seeing what I and everyone else can read in the month from this lovely publisher.

And I’ve also decided to do #DiverseDecember to maintain the diversity of my reading, though I don’t have a main post to link to for that. So upcoming are Nova Reid’s “The Good Ally”, Riva Lehrer’s memoir of her life and art living with a disability, “Golem Girl” and Rabina Khan’s essays, “My Hair is Pink Under this Veil”. I have my lovely Christmas stories from the British Library, too, and my great big Larry McMurtry, “The Evening Star”. This isn’t the end of Larry McMurtry Rereading, though, as I only have “Cadillac Jack” left so am going to read that in January.

My NetGalley TBR for December has just two books, but of course I have September to November ones, too:

“Beyond Measure” and “Femina” are older ones I need to get read, “The Racial Code” and “The Christmas Castle in Scotland” are two from October I need to polish off (the latter saved on purpose of course) and Meron Hadero’s “A Down Home Meal for Difficult Times” and Eris Young’s “Ace Voices” are published in December.

With the ones I’m currently reading (not including my readalong which will take a while), that’s one book to finish and 21 to read (ten of them paperback novels and I have a week off over Christmas …), but I’m looking forward to it all!


How was your November reading? What are you reading this month? Have you read or picked up any of my selection? Are you doing Dean Street December with me?

State of the TBR – October 2022

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Looking at last month’s picture, I haven’t done too badly or too well – it’s slightly fuller than it was last month but a few more have disappeared from the oldest part, top left and there is now NO PILE in front of the shelves! My Three Investigators Mysteries pile is still tucked in, albeit turned around.

I completed 11 books in September, and am part-way through three more. I finished NONE of my ebook TBR books for September, although I did DNS one as I couldn’t get the file to work. I read or abandoned eight of my print TBR books and am in the middle of my ninth. Those were all also mainly from my TBR challenge – I now have 3 whole books and several to finish to go on that from now until 05 October, the good news being that Matthew won’t be ready to start the Dave Grohl book that initiated the challenge until a few days after that. I am now still on books that came in in September 2021 but should be “just” a year behind again soon.

Incomings

I was NOT restrained with print books in this last month. This is probably down to my lack of self control as the new bookshop opened in Kings Heath, where I live – I reported on the opening weekend and the books I bought there here.

As well as those on the top row that came then, Meg passed me Ali’s copy of “Sankofa” by Chibundu Onuzo, about family secrets and a return to Africa to read, I bought Rob Beckett’s memoir / consideration of British class systems “Class Act” very cheap in The Works, I introduced Matthew to the Heath Bookshop and how wonderful to just browse and not just have to search for books on my wishlist, so I went for Eniola Aluko’s “They Don’t Teach This” about her career in British football, and Robert Twigger’s “Walking the Great North Line” about a walk through the middle of Britain. Claire kindly picked up our mutual friend Sally Brooks’ novel “Four Movements” (50 years, four people, one piano) for me at her book signing. Two review books arrived, from the British Library in their Women Writers series, “War Among Ladies” by Eleanor Scott (about teachers at a girls’ school!) and “Chase of the Wild Goose” by Mary Gordon is a novelisation of the Ladies of Llangollen from new publisher Lurid Editions (not out till Feb so reading in November). Finally, my pre-order of Damian Hall’s important book about the carbon/climate effect of running, “We Can’t Run Away from This”, popped through the letterbox.

I won just the four NetGalley books this month:

I went looking for “Pineapple Street” by Jenny Jackson after seeing it mentioned by another blogger (who?) – it’s a saga about monied folk in Brooklyn Heights (pub April 2023). Susan Rogers and Ogi Ogos’ “This is What It Sounds Like” (Oct 2022) is about why we like the music we like. “The Things That We Lost” by Jyoti Patel (Jan 2023), winner of the 2021 #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize is about the secrets that lie in family histories, and Jessica George’s “Maame” (Jan 2023) is a debut following a young woman’s journey to independence.

So that was 11 read and 17 coming in in September – even if I have read the two short story collections, going very much in the wrong direction!

Currently reading

As well as my readalong with Emma, “Square Haunting”, I’m still reading “The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym” and picking away at those Icelandic sagas (Matthew has granted me that I’m reading them so they are off the TBR challenge even if not finished) and Stacey Dooley’s “Women Who Fight Back”, a very engaging but often shocking read about some of the subjects of her documentaries.

Coming up

As well as the Larry McMurtry for this month, these books take me up to and through Dave Grohl’s “The Storyteller” while covering the three review books I must get to in print.

My NetGalley TBR for October covers Africans in London, why we like the music we like, a Christmas novel I might read later, a book about healing through nature and edited primary sources on Black people in Britain:

All very achievable if I didn’t have the EIGHT books from NetGalley published in September that I have yet to read! And I think there’s a Kaggsy and Stuck in a Book Year read coming up, too, for which I have an e-book languishing somewhere.

With the ones I’m currently reading (not including my readalong which will take a while), that’s 3 books to finish and 21 to read, minimum. Can I do that? Hm: no!


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 2022

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Looking at last month’s picture, I’m pleased at how things are going. My little pile of Three Investigators Mysteries is safely tucked into the shelf now, and things have definitely moved on in the oldest part of the TBR (top left). Hooray!

I completed 16 books in August, and am part-way through two more. I finished two of my ebook TBR books and am part-way through a third, with one unread as yet. I read ten out of eleven of my print TBR books, not managing the Michael Walmer, which I’d warned him might happen. I completed my 20 Books Of Summer challenge! Those are all also from my TBR challenge – I now have 14 books to go on that from now until 05 October, which isn’t going to happen, see below.

Shiny New Books

Shiny has been having its August break so no books reviewed there.

Incomings

I was again restrained with print books in this last month.

Kaggsy of the Bookish Ramblings sent me “Country of Origin” by Dalia Azim, a novel about Egyptians in New York. I was reminded of the existence of “Life Among the Qallunaat” by Mini Aodla Freeman (an Inuit woman’s memoir of living among the non-Indigenous settlers) by The Australian Legend’s review and managed to find an OK-priced ex-library copy, and publishers Elliott & Thompson kindly sent me Aliya Whiteley’s “The Secret Life of Fungi” which I will review here on Fungus Day in October and also for Shiny.

I won just the five NetGalley books this month:

The nice folks at Faber offered me “Avalon” by Nell Zink (published January 2023), a novel about utopias and finding yourself, and then when we were discussing their non-fiction list, approved me for history of measurement, “Beyond Measure” by James Vincent (June 2022). I was also offered Julie Caplin’s “The Christmas Castle in Scotland” (October 2022) by its publisher, having enjoyed one of her novels before. “Fire Rush” by Jacqueline Crooks (March 2023) is a coming-of-age novel set in 1970s London and Crooks was named best debut Black female novelist by Bernardine Evaristo in the Guardian, which is enough for me to request it from the tempting email, and Jimi Famurewa’s “Settlers: Journeys Through the Food, Faith and Culture of Black African London” (October 2022) looks very interesting and also pairs nicely with the novels I’ve read recently about British Nigerian Londoners.

So that was 16 read and 8 coming in in August – very much in the right direction!

Currently reading

Slightly oddly, I’m currently reading two books loaned to me by Heaven-Ali – “The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym” by Paula Byrne, the biography of our beloved writer, and “Desert of the Heart” by Jane Rule, a 1960s lesbian classic about a woman staying in Reno to accomplish her divorce (I was attempting to include this in All August / All Virago and the Virago Groups’s travel theme for August but didn’t get it finished). Actually, I think this is Ali’s hard copy of Francesca Wade’s “Square Haunting” too – Emma and I started this as our readalong this month and are thoroughly enjoying it, as predicted. On the Kindle is Derek A Bardowell’s “Giving Back: How to Do Good, Better” which is an excellent and powerful book on the social sector and how we can all make our money and work go further and to the right people.

Coming up

Coming up next in print books, well, this isn’t going to happen. This is all the books that will get my TBR project finished, plus two review books, and doesn’t include my Larry McMurtry as I’d taken the picture and shelved the books before I thought about it. It also includes the first volume of David Lodge’s memoirs, as I have the second volume in the TBR project but need to read that first. Argh!

I’m not going to list them because it’s ridiculous, but basically I’m going to concentrate on the review books, of course, “Rock-Bound” and “The Secret Life of Fungi” and then try to eliminate those ‘extras’ that have been hanging around on the shelves, so the top row of light women’s novels and two Earlene Fowler quilting cosy mysteries and that massive Tolkien catalogue. Any others will be a bonus. Sensible, right?

My NetGalley TBR for September:

Well, there is a bit of diversity in the print TBR but I seem to be giving myself more of a course in Black British history and diverse people’s lives in America. Alternative history of the Middle Ages, “Femina” by Janina Ramirez, is still on there, and I’ve added “Beyond Measure” so it doesn’t get forgotten. Then I’ll be covering Black British Georgians (“Black England” by Gretchen Gerzina), Black British Victorians (“Black Victorians” by Keshia N. Abraham, John Woolf) and Black Britons in the whole of history (“African and Caribbean People in Britain” by Hakim Adi). Then Diya Abdo’s “American Refuge” covers stories of the refugee experience in the US and “Mika in Real Life” by Emiko Jean is the story of a Japanese woman in America. Kamila Shamsie’s “Best of Friends” travels from Pakistan to London, and “Inside Qatar” promises to show the real history of the place hosting the men’s football World Cup (people have had trouble downloading this one, so fingers crossed). So this time it’s mainly serious non-fiction on the Kindle and light fiction in print books!

With the ones I’m currently reading (not including my readalong which will take a while), that’s 3 books to finish and 17 to read, minimum. Can I do that? Hm, possibly not!


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

State of the TBR – August 2022

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Having a look at last month’s picture, I still feel like I’m doing OK – the top shelf has shifted along again and there’s still a little space at the end. It is a bit shocking however that I’m onto books acquired in June and July 2021, which means that all these books have arrived in the last year (the vertical ones). Oops.

I completed 15 books in July, with two more on the go. I read seven of my ten ebook TBR books, DNF’d two and didn’t start one, but did read an extra one I won during July, too. I didn’t read all of my print TBR, reading four, including my huge Larry McMurtry, “Moving On”, the 800-pager that took up most of my week off. I’m currently on book 11 of my 20 Books Of Summer, which are all also from my TBR challenge – I now have 24 books to go on that from now until 05 October and none of that is strictly ideal – I don’t think I’ll get either challenge finished (obviously, there are worse things to worry about and at least I am getting through my books and keeping more up to date).

Shiny New Books

My review of “Going to Church in Medieval England” by Nicholas Orme, which I read and reviewed here for the Wolfson History Prize, came out on Shiny New Books – do pop over and have a look.

Incomings

I was actually quite restrained with print books in this last month.

I saw “It’s a Continent: Unravelling Africa’s History One Country at a Time” by Astrid Madimba and Chinny Ukata mentioned on another blog and had to snap a copy up. Then I was thinking about world Englishes, as you do, and found Edgar W. Schneider’s “English Around the World”. Claire Coleman’s “Lies, Damn Lies” I bought after seeing The Australian Legend’s review and will fit in with Brona’s Aus Reading Month in November. I went to the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham in my week off and spotted “A Brief History of Black British Art” by Rianna Jade Parker, which felt relevant after watching Lenny Henry’s “Caribbean Britain” TV series, and for the same reason ordered a copy of “Life Between Islands”, on Caribbean art, the catalogue of an exhibition at the Tate Gallery I didn’t manage to get to. Michael Walmer kindly sent me his new novel re-print, Jessie M. E. Saxby’s “Rock-Bound: A Story of the Shetland Isles”, part of his Northus Shetland Classics imprint, and Kaggsy of the Bookish Ramblings sent me (and Ali) Reshma Ruia’s British Asian novel, “Still Lives”.

I won just the six NetGalley books this month:

“Black Voices on Britain”, ed. Hakim Adi (published Sept) is a collection of African, Caribbean, American and British voices from the 18th to early 20th centuries. “Black England” by Gretchen Gerzina (Sept) is about Georgian England and “Black Victorians: Hidden in History” by Keshia Abraham and John Woolf (also Sept) does the same for the Victorian era. Diya Abdo’s “American Refuge” (Sept again) collects stories of the refugee experience, Eris Young’s “Ace Voices” (Dec) collects what it means to be asexual, aromantic, demi and grey-ace, and Kamila Shamsie’s “Best of Friends” (Sept again!) is a novel about friendship spanning thirty years.

So that was 15 read and 13 coming in in July – still tilted vaguely in the right direction!

Currently reading

I’m currently reading Angie Thomas’ “On the Come Up”, the excellent follow-up to “The Hate U Give” (the characters aren’t connected but the location is as it’s set just after) and Elizabeth Fair’s “The Marble Staircase”, which is one of the Dean Street Press Furrowed Middlebrow imprint books they kindly sent me for review (out today, review coming soon). I’ve also taken “Square Haunting” by Francesca Wade off the shelf as it’s my and Emma’s next read and we’re starting it this week.

Coming up

Coming up next in print books, I have my Larry McMurtry for this month, “All My Friends are Going to be Strangers”, the lovely book from Michael Walmer and the remaining nine and a half books on my 20 Books of Summer list (books 11-20; see their descriptions here):

My NetGalley TBR for August is a lot calmer than it has been:

“Femina” by Janina Ramirez, which I had left over from July but am committed to getting read, is an alternative history of the Middle Ages, told through the women of history who have largely been forgotten. Anne Booth’s “Small Miracles” is a heartwarming novel about three nuns whose convent is slated for closure. “Giving Back” by Derek A. Bardowell promises to redefine the role of charity and reimagine philanthropy through a reparative lens, and Mohsin Hamid’s “The Last White Man” is a satirical science fiction (I think you’d call it?) novel about what happens when White people’s skin starts to turn dark overnight. Then of course I have my two Dean Street Press novels to finish, including Susan Scarlett’s (aka Noel Streatfeild) “Clothes Pegs”.

With the ones I’m currently reading (not including my readalong which will take a while), that’s 2 books to finish and 16 to read. Can I do that? Hm, possibly not!


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

State of the TBR – July 2022

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Having a look at last month’s picture, I feel like I’m doing pretty well – the top shelf has shifted considerably, the pile of Virago Travellers on the bottom shelf is a pile no more, AND there’s a bit of space at the end! This is down to having read more print books than I’ve acquired (though not sure the actual balance is as good if you include e-books).

I completed 16 books in June, with two more half-way through each, and I’m pleased with that, especially as one was quite a substantial hardback. I read all five NetGalley reads I had that were published in June and read and reviewed six and am part way through the seventh of my 20 Books Of Summer, which were all also from my TBR challenge – I now have 28 books to go on that from now until 05 October (update coming in a couple of days).

Shiny New Books

I reviewed Miranda Roskhowski’s “100 Voices” which prints essays by 100 women about their achievements, many in writing but in other fields as well, and Katherine MacInnes’ “Snow Widows“, about the wives and mothers of Scott’s Antarctic expedition, drawing together so many archived materials to bring their voices out on Shiny New Books in June. Do pop over to have a read.

Incomings

I was actually quite restrained with print books in this last month.

Paul from HalfManHalfBook kindly sent me Jason Cowley’s “Who are we Now? Stories of Modern England” which takes a snapshot of post-Brexit England, and “Dorset in Photographs” by Matthew Pinner which I’ve already been through greedily. I saw Wendy from Taking The Long Way Round talking about Stacy T. Sims’ “Next Level: Your Guide to Kicking Ass, Feeling Great, and Crushing Goals Through Menopause and Beyond” and felt this exercise and nutrition orientated guide could help me at this tricky time of life, so bought myself a copy immediately.

I bought three e-books for Kindle this month; well, one was a free one from the First Reads initiative, and the lovely folks at Dean Street Press sent me two upcoming new reprints:

Scott from Furrowed Middlebrow posted about the Susan Scarletts and Elizabeth Fair here with all the covers here. Susan Scarlett was Noel Streatfeild’s nom de plume for her lighthearted romances for grown-ups and I have the delightful-looking “Clothes Pegs”, and the Elizabeth Fair, “The Marble Staircase”, is a previously lost and unpublished work by this lovely author.

Meanwhile, “This Way Out” by Tufayel Ahmed was an Amazon first reads special and is a novel about a gay Muslim British Bangladeshi man with a White partner. Racheal Lippincott and Alyson Derrick’s “She Gets the Girl” I think I saw on a blog and then was cheap for Kindle; it’s a YA campus romcom and looks fun. “It Takes Blood and Guts” is the memoir by Skin, lead singer of 90s and beyond band Skunk Anansie – I liked her insights on the recent Top of the Pops history programmes and grabbed this when it was in the sale.

I won several NetGalley books this month:

“Femina” by Janina Ramirez (published in July) is an alternative history of the Middle Ages, told through the women of history who have largely been forgotten. Charlene Bauer’s “Girls They Write Songs About” (July) I was trying to ignore but someone incited me to request it on their blog, set in 1990s New York it’s about friendship and changing lives as you come of age. I was made aware of Hakim Adi’s “African and Caribbean People in England” (September) by Annabel on her possible Shiny reviews roundup and found it on NetGalley – it takes the long view of history from Roman times onwards.

Mohsin Hamid is well known for his provocative, interesting work, and “The Last White Man” (August) is a fable where people with white skin find it turning darker … Derek A. Bardowell’s “Giving Back: How to do Good Better” (August) looks at how we can redefine charity and reimagine philanthropy and all make our giving count more. “What a Mother’s Love Don’t Teach You” by Sharma Taylor (July) looks at what happens when the son a woman gave up for adoption 18 years ago in Jamaica comes looking for her in the US, and Ronali Collings’ “Love & Other Dramas” (July) has three women and two cultures engaging with one another in a novel about family and friendship

So that was 16 read and 15 coming in in June – a balance of sorts and at least tilted vaguely in the right direction!

Currently reading

I’m currently reading “Running in the Midpack: How to be a Strong, Successful and Happy Runner” by Anji Andrews and Martin Yelling, which is a book written for runners who aren’t new to the sport, aren’t elites and aren’t right at the back: these groups have lots of books written for them but they claim, probably rightly, that “midpack” runners don’t. Lots of mental health and all-round health advice so far. I’m also reading the first of my July NetGalley reads, “Take a Chance on Greece” by Emily Kerr, which is a fun novel with a heroine who runs back to Greece to find out where and why she got that tattoo.

Coming up

Coming up next, I have my Larry McMurtry for this month, “Moving On” – all almost 800 pages of it, but his books ARE compulsive reading, thankfully, and the next seven books on my 20 Books of Summer list (books 8-14):

My NetGalley TBR for July is a little alarming, although I am already half-way through the first one, “Take a Chance on Greece”. I do also have a Christie Barlow but still need to catch up on the rest of her series first (the publisher said they will be patient with me, as I’ve gone and bought all the earlier ones!).

… and of course my two Dean Street Press lovelies. Ten novels, a few of them what I’d consider “light” and two non-fiction, I know “Femina” is quite a long one.

With the ones I’m currently reading (not including my readalong which will take a while), that’s 2 books to finish and 18 to read. I will note that quite a lot of the NetGalley books are light novels this month, and I have a week’s actual staycation (staying at home with a week off work) coming up this month so maybe it’ll work …


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

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