State of the TBR May 2019 (plus book confessions!)

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Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear – we appear to have reached Peak TBR. Two full shelves plus stacks and the Pile is not even pictured. This has not been helped by my only managing to read six books in April – two of them were substantial non-fiction works.

One reason for the absolute fullness of the shelves is that when I was in London to visit my best friend and to support friends in the London Marathon, I happened into a North London Oxfam Books and found these two lovelies:

Who doesn’t like a book on ancient and not-so-ancient Britain? and I’ll be running past at least the White Horse of Uffington (which I’m scared of, not really taken away by reading the book based on the TV series that made me scared of it) when I do my ultra marathon in July. So Paul Newman’s “Lost Gods of Albion: The Chalk Hill-Figures of Britain” weighed down my rucksack all day on Sunday. And then a Persephone book I don’t have for only a fiver? Nicholas Mosley’s “Julian Grenfell” is now mine, and it’s not as battered as it appears in the photo.

I’ve also won on NetGalley “Brave, Not Perfect” by Reshma Saujani (about encouraging women and girls to be one but not just strive for the other), Joe Berridge’s “Perfect City” (totally Cari’s fault, that one: a book about urban planning and how the world’s cities are coping or not coping) and “Don’t Touch my Hair” by Emma Dabiri which is a cultural history of black hairstyling culture as a key in to black oppression and liberation.

Now, I did start both of these on my journey down to London and have nearly finished Simon Armitage’s “Gig” which is a loose collection of pieces and poems about being on the road and doing various ‘gigs’ either with musicians or as a jobbing poet. Mark Doyle’s “The Way Home” is about doing without technology – I’ve not unfortunately taken to the author very much but it is interesting in it’s way so I’m pressing on. That’s from NetGalley, hence the odd cover image on PC screen/real book pairing.

I have also finished “Invisible Women” by Caroline Criado Perez and that’s the sixth book for April if anyone’s counting. I’m reviewing that one for Shiny New Books, so I’ll link to my review when it’s written and published there. I’ve just heard I’ve got a possible three more coming from a publisher for Shiny reviews so I’d better get my reading skates on!

My next read after I’ve finished these two (or probably one of them) will be Iris Murdoch’s “The Sea, The Sea” for my Iris Murdoch Readalong project. You can see the cover images and read the blurbs on my introductory post from yesterday if you like. I really can’t wait to read this, one of my favourites of hers, and I’m pretty sure I’ve read it more than the two or three times I’ve read all of the others. I’ll be reading the one on the end but I do like the three covers I have so thought I’d share them all with you.

I’ll also be reading either one of my new NetGalley books or one of the ones that are sadly languishing on the Kindle.

Here are the start and finish of my TBR and I have a horrible feeling the start is almost the same as last month, while the finish has changed dramatically.

The start …

… the finish

The ones at the start will be read in order but I will probably leave “Julian Grenfell” for All August / All Virago (and Persephone) and skip to “Hidden Figures” and “The House on Willow Street” as I want to lend those to a friend. “Albion” will need to be read before mid-July. I am hopeful of more reading time this month as I have my marathon at the end of the month, so there’s some serious resting, tapering and travelling / recovering to be done during May!

How is your TBR? Have you read any of these?

State of the TBR – April 2019

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Well I was pleased to manage to finish 10 books last month, well up on February’s low total, and it might have had something to do with having a short holiday but whatever. I even got some books off the physical TBR as well as reading a Kindle book or two.

Note: I haven’t reviewed them all yet. I have one that’s gone to Shiny New Books to be published there and one short book I read at the weekend that I will review with a COMPETITION! tomorrow.

I’m currently reading Sara Marcus’ “Girls to the Front”, from the oldest bit of the TBR, which is a history of the Riot Grrrl movement and very good and well done so far, and “Holding up the Universe” by Jennifer Niven, which is a YA book I picked off the very end of the TBR and features a boy with prosopagnosia. I took that off the shelf because I ran quite a long way today and needed something easy but it’s pretty engaging so far.

 

Next up are these two: Caroline Criado Perez’ “Invisible Women” which as we probably all know by now is that book about how data and the world are biased against women, and my April 2019 Iris Murdoch, “Henry and Cato” which is a kind of odd one about inheritance and imprisonment (of various kinds) which I feel suffers a little from coming just before a slew of amazing ones.

I’m still really sad I won’t be able to go to the Iris Murdoch Society Conference, which I’ve attended every other year (ish) since 2008, but it clashes with one of the only other big things in my year, my ultramarathon! But it’s been wonderful re-reading all her novels in order, even if I don’t agree with my former self on some of them!

I’m continuing with my policy of reading a book from the oldest part of the TBR and a book from the newest, then a Kindle book. I shared my new Kindle reads the other day and I imagine I’ll be picking up one of the unread ones of those when it’s e-book time.

Oldest TBR books

Newest TBR books

I’m a bit desperate to get to both sets of these, so I’d better get reading, hadn’t I!

What are your April reading plans? Will you have time over Easter for a good wallow in a pile of books?

State of the TBR – March 2019 #readingirelandmonth #dewithon19

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Well, I read FIVE books in February. How dreadful, and something that must be addressed. The TBR only has that gap really because I have taken some books off it for challenges!

But it does have a gap, right?

Currently reading

I am enjoying my new policy of reading one from the oldest end, one from the newest end and one from the Kindle in a cycle. So I’m currently reading this one, “Live at the Brixton Academy” by Simon Parkes, which is fascinating, especially as I went to quite a few gigs there myself in my London days. I haven’t really warmed to the author, but it’s an interesting read so that’s fine.

 

 

 

Next up

Very excitingly, I’ve managed to find books for two nice challenges this month: Reading Ireland Month (read about that one at 746 Books here) and Wales Readathon (the first ever one, hosted by BookJotter here).

Cathy always generously lets me use Iris Murdoch as an Irish writer, so the wonderful “A Word Child”, which is up next after the Brixton one, will count towards it, and I also have Janet McNeill’s “The Maiden Dinosaur” which I think I won in her giveaway during this month last year.

For the Wales Readathon I have the light novel, “The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness” which is set in West Wales; the author, Laura Kemp, lives in Cardiff. So I’m hoping that counts!

Both of these were off the middle of the front of the TBR, so a win all round!

Coming up on the TBR

Here’s the beginning of the TBR – fortunate that I have a Kindle book to come between the two music books, unless I chose Dave Grohl’s mum’s one about rock mums. Some good travel, novels, language, memoir and Norse gods here.

… and at the end, some nice birthday books with a bit of National Trust and Alabama and a lovely Persephone. Let’s hope I get to more than five books this month.

Have you read any of these? Any ones I can look forward to particularly enjoying? Are you taking part in any challenges this month?

 

State of the TBR February 2019 plus birthday book bonanza (and one more confession)

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First off, sorry if you’ve commented on my running or books posts this week; I’ve got myself all behind like a cow’s tail, but I have a weekend off this weekend and am going to spend at least some of it doing blog admin – also including reading the blogs I’ve fallen behind with.

I’m going to tell you about my birthday book bonanza first. Lucky me (I also have book tokens, honey, ear warmers and Lush vouchers and my lovely husband has paid for various items of deeply attractive and flattering officiating wear). Here’s the pile, then I’ll reveal whether I burst the TBR shelf …

From the top, I have …

Angela Thirkell – “Grown Up” – one of the ones Virago haven’t reprinted, in a lovely ex-Library edition

Robert Arthur et al. – “The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot”, “The Mystery of the Talking Skull”, “The Mystery of the Green Ghost” – three of the Three Investigators Mysteries I was missing – all lovely early ones

Anne George – “Murder Runs in the Family” – one of the Southern Sisters cosy mysteries, set in Birmingham, Alabama!

Mary Mackie – “Cobwebs and Cream Teas” – the year in the life of a National Trust property

Edith Ayrton Zangwill – “The Call” – A suffragette novel published by Persephone

Mark Mason – “Walk the Lines” – walking the London Underground lines above ground (ooh!)

Elizabeth Eliot – “Henry”, “Mrs Martell” – two more quirky novels; I loved her “Alice” – all republished by Dean Street Press

And another confession -all those books in and I popped into the newish Acorns charity shop to look again for the bookcase I know will eventually appear there that fits in THAT space just perfectly (next to the bathroom door, left-hand side) and they have their book stock in there and here’s a history of the Brixton Academy music venue, where I’ve seen Green Day, Eels, Foo Fighters and Lamb (Simon Parkes’ “Live at the Brixton Academy”), so I couldn’t leave that there, could I? Right?

Did these books all fit on my TBR shelf? Well, with some fiddling. I finally finished and reviewed my Iris Murdoch of the month (must do better and start the next one at the weekend) and could take a new book to read off the start of the TBR. Then I took Malala Yousafzai’s “I am Malala” off the middle of the TBR because I’ve won her dad’s book on NetGalley and hadn’t yet read this one, so grabbed a BookCrossing copy Gill was waving around. And the Three Investigators Mysteries went on the separate Three Investigators Pile on the shelves, and then I put the books on the shelf (the Thirkell with the Christmas Thirkells as it comes in the middle of them) and this happened …

So along with the associated piles (books in series where I’m waiting to get the next one; big Icelandic sagas book on the back row, those Christmas Cornwall books waiting for Cornwall or Christmas …) I have exactly the right number and size of books to double stack my TBR shelf exactly. Which is some kind of achievement in itself, of course. I’m sure.

Currently reading and up next: I’m enjoying Ian Thorpe’s “This is Me” – a bargain in Foyle’s last January from the front of the TBR. Then up next is Iris Murdoch’s “The Sacred and Profane Love Machine” which is February’s IM Readalong book, and “I am Malala” so I can have a sort of February Malala Fest.

How’s your TBR looking? As robust, at least, as mine, I hope!

Christmas acquisitions, state of the TBR January 2019 AND books of the year 2018

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Sorry, not sorry, you were either going to get two posts close together or one ginormous one … so here’s the ginormous one. We need to cover Christmas acquisitions, the current state of the TBR caused by these, and my books of the year or I’ll never get them done. Ready?

First of all, I want to share the brilliant state my TBR got into before the influx. Look at it! That’s what having a cold does for your reading …

At least this meant the acquisitions could fit in …

And here they are. Arriving on 20 December were three lovely books from my BookCrossing Birmingham Not so Secret Santa (Lorraine):

David Leboff and Tim Dermuth – “No Need to Ask!” about London Underground maps before the famous one.

Simon Winchester – “Outposts” – about the last pieces of the British Empire.

Stella Gibbons – “Conference at Cold Comfort Farm” – a sequel to “Cold Comfort Farm”!

Then from the lovely Cate for my LibraryThing Virago Group not so Secret Santa (along with a great Virago mug):

Angela Thirkell – “Miss Bunting”, “Northbridge Rectory”, “Marling Hall” and “Before Lunch” – all lovely Virago reissues.

From lovely friends:

Pamela Brown – “Golden Pavements” in the lovely Blue Door Theatre Company reissues.

Diana Wynne Jones – “Howl’s Moving Castle”

Sheila Wilkinson – “Too Many Ponies” – novel set at a horse rescue

Annon Shea – “The Phone Book” – I do love a ‘quest’ book and here he reads and discusses, yes, you guessed it …

Jeannette Winterson – “Courage Calls to Courage Everywhere” – her and original suffragette essays

Tony Wilson – “24 Hour Party People” because there has to be a music book in there somewhere

John Sutherland (ed.) – “Literary Landscapes” – about the landscapes novels and novelists inhabit

Dorothy Whipple – “Young Anne” (Persephone) – how did I not have this already?

Lucky me!!

And after they went onto the TBR shelf …

Uh-oh. So a double-stacked shelf NEARLY to the end on both stacks, plus a million Iris Murdochs and the Pile relegated to the lower shelf (large fancy Tolkien book just seen, too). Ulp.

My next two books to read are Tirzah Garwood’s “Long Live Great Bardfield” (the Persephone) and to be fair on me that’s my last Christmas 2017 book to be read, and Iris Murdoch’s “The Black Prince” which I will get read and reviewed earlier than the 26th of January, after December’s failings …

Then I do have some books on the Kindle to read, including one more lovely Dean Street Press book (I have read Elizabeth Eliot’s fabulous “Alice” now as my last book of the year: watch out for the review tomorrow.

Coming up after / amongst those, here’s the beginning of the TBR shelf, so I have a book about swimming (Ian Thorpe’s “This is Me”), a book about kayaking (and nature and personal life changes: Alys Fowler – “Hidden Nature” which was a birthday book), a book about the Riot Grrrl movement in music (Sara Marcus’ “Girls to the Front”), a book about a charlady in New York (Paul Gallico – “Mrs Harris Goes to New York”), a retelling of a Shakespeare play (Anne Tyler’s “Vinegar Girl”) and a book about Greenland (Gretel Erlich’s “This Cold Heaven”) so a representative range of my reading tastes (maybe).

Moving on to …

Reading stats and BEST BOOKS of 2018

Are you still with me? Sorry about this …

OK, so in 2018 I read 115 books, down from 141 in 2017 (however, I wasn’t laid up for a month after an operation this year). I read 59 non-fiction books and 56 fiction, which is the first time I’ve read more non-fiction than fiction for years and years (I wonder if it’s down to my non-fic reviewing for Shiny New Books). I read 39 books by men, 75 books by women and one by one of each and this is slightly more balanced than last year, where I read twice as many books by women as by men.

So here’s my TOP 10 this year, with two highly commended reads and one reader I will be reading more of. I’m not sure why there are more books by men than women here, or why the novels are all by women. Maybe I just read more (good) non-fiction by men. Here they are, in the order in which I read them. No re-reads on there and The Works of Iris Murdoch are a category in themselves of course!

Lucy Mangan – Bookworm – childhood reading experiences that almost matched mine in terms of the books read – magical

Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run – amazing autobiography, open, honest, funny and detailed

Angie Thomas – The Hate U Give – astoundingly good YA fiction on such an important topic

Neil Taylor – Document and Eyewitness – the story of Rough Trade Records, beautifully put together

Dan Hancox – Inner City Pressure – excellent work on the story of grime music

Benjamin Zephaniah – The Life and Rhymes Of – wonderful autobiography

Peter Ginna (ed.) – What Editors Do – essays that were so absorbing and wonderful

Thomas Williams – Viking Britain – undoes all the prejudices, absorbing and fun to read

Barbara Kingsolver – Unsheltered – she’s always in my top 10 and this zeitgeisty novel was brilliant

Kevin Crossley-Holland (and Jeffrey Alan Love) – Norse Myths – because how can a book on this topic, written like that and illustrated like that not be there?

Highly commended:

Katherine Findlay – The Icelandic Adventures of Pike Ward – commended for an amazing job of editing and putting together an excellent book

Ben Smith – 401 – commended for being a brilliant bloke who did a marvellous thing, is lovely, and mentions my running club and has a photo in the book that includes one of my friends

Will read more:

Robert MacFarlane – I read The Old Ways this year and loved it, then was discombobulated by him being younger than me. Why, I don’t know. But I am going to seek out his other works because they’re just magical

So there we go. I read a million running books and none of them makes it into the Top 10 – but then almost all the books I read this year were good, so do go back and have a poke around through the archives!

 

 

State of the TBR – December 2018 (and a small confession)

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Well I’d been doing very well with my reading, having read all my paper books for review that were previously reclining on top of the TBR shelf and eight books in total (and took one off that I didn’t want to read). And actually the problem I  have of more TBR is a lovely problem, because dear Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings has just sent me a Lovely Parcel (see below).

So here’s the current state of the TBR.

I mean, I’ve still got room for the pile, right, so it can’t be that bad.

This is the reason for it all moving around a bit:

So we have Margery Sharp’s “The Eye of Love,” Ellen Wilkinson’s (her of the Jarrow March) “Clash”, and two Henry Handel Richardsons: “Maurice Guest” and “The Getting of Wisdom”. All lovely Viragoes, too!

Reading at the moment and coming up shortly, I’m very much enjoying Samantha Ellis’ “How to be a Heroine” and would have finished it already were it not for my strange hobby of standing in muddy fields pointing the way or writing down numbers. Next up is “The Icelandic Adventures of Pike Ward,” edited by the lovely Katherine Findlay, and then it will be the next Iris Murdoch Readalong read, “An Accidental Man” (14th out of 26 of her books, so I feel we’re already sliding towards the end!).

I’m aware I haven’t addressed the horrendousness of the Kindle TBR recently and I know there are some books on there I won from NetGalley and need to work on. I’m also behind on reading everyone’s blog posts (sorreeee!) and as I’ve got heaps and heaps of work on at the moment, I think I’m just going to have to give up on watching TV in December or something to get everything read!

Then the next books on the shelf, which still include some from Christmas last year, include “The Little Bookshop of Big Stone Gap”, “The book for Forgotten Authors” and “Long Live Great Bardfield (the great big Persephone) as well as Stella Gibbons; “Westwood”, kindly sent to me by Verity. Then we have two I picked up between Christmas and my birthday before we start on the birthday books.

What are you reading this month? Do you have any special December reading rituals?

State of the TBR – October 2018 #amreading

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Apologies for posting twice in one day – I know it’s all feast or famine with me at the moment. I got behind with my Iris Murdoch post but I don’t like this one not to be on the first of the month! I’ll not keep you long …

Well, I don’t think the TBR is that bad at the moment, although I’m not sure how that’s happened (OK, I moved two Paul Magrs novels to the Pile so I have the set together) as I only read SIX BOOKS last month. Shocking! I have almost finished another two, and one of those and one of the six was quite a hefty non-fiction read, but still. I will have to remedy that.

I’m currently reading Dean Karnazes’ “Run” (I will just say here that he is the complete polar opposite of me as a runner in every way there can be – not a bad thing, but sometimes an uncomfortable reading experience, however … I might be becoming more similar to him in one way quite soon (no that doesn’t involve running with few clothes on!), watch this space for my next Book Confessions. The other read is Charles Thomas’ excellent and learned book on the archaeology and history of the Isles of Scilly, homework for our trip later this year, and I’m almost finished with that one, too. Very good, with some interesting annotations, too!

Up next we have a couple of November purchases (I’m slightly pushing back against “Run Fast” as that’s not my schtick, but maybe there are some hints for running strong, which I do like to do) and then Christmas books, with some lovely and surprising not so secret Santa books and the last one from dear Verity’s parcel. Plus, early on, “Bruno’s Dream” as I felt terrible reviewing my last Iris Murdoch so late!

How was your September reading? What have you got planned for October? Have you somehow booked yourself to run an ultramarathon next summer? No, only me and Bernice …?

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