State of the TBR June 2017 plus MORE buys plus an article I’d love you to read #amreading #books

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Well, the TBR has ended up about the same size as it was last month, but there’s a big difference in the books that are on it. If you have a look at the May post, that first Persephone was a good seven books in, and the PILE had ten books in it rather than the four it has now. I had a massive reading month in May and it’s nice to have brought some new and exciting stuff round to the front.

I actually moved Jon Kalman Stefansson’s “The Heart of Man” onto the Pile as it’s the third in a trilogy and that’s where that kind of thing that I can’t read immediately goes. But, erm, having noticed that and moved it, I seem to have ordered the first two. Oh well, they’re set in Iceland so they fit in the collection management policy, right? I also ordered Amit Katwala’s “The Athletic Brain: How Neuroscience is Revolutionising Sport and can Help you Perform” because someone was talking about it in a running and reading group I’m in, and had a fit of Kindle-clicking and bought Shion Miura’s “The Great Passage” from an Amazon advanced reads offer (a Japanese novel about writing dictionaries? Yes, please!). Handily, there was nothing I wanted out of the six for this month in the email newsletter I signed up for.

I’m currently reading the excellent “The Professor’s House” by Willa Cather – I’m nearly done and the dual setting of the Midwest and New Mexico just seems to encapsulate everything I like about her writing in one book.

I’m then set to start on my #20BooksofSummer challenge and you can see my pile for that here. Most of the books in this pic are part of that. Lots of bloggers I read already are taking part in that and I’m looking forward to being in that special community of readers over the summer months.

I published a post on my professional blog today which I’d love some of you to pop over and read if you have a moment. It’s about responding to comments on blogs, and I’d really like to hear your opinions on whether that’s something that matters a lot to you in the blogs you read. Please pop and have a look and comment there if you have a min. Thank you!

What are you reading on this (sunny here) first day of June? What variety have you got coming up?

State of the TBR May 2017 and a small confession

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I’ve had a good reading month in April (1o read in total, not all reviewed yet) but I have to confess that I’ve lagged in my competition admin – everyone waiting for the “Girl Up” draw, I promise I’ll do that soon. Events have been conspiring to send me all the fabulous reading, work and running opportunities recently and something has to give.

So, I think the TBR’s looking rather good – the front shelf only goes up to “The Gallery of Vanished Husbands” and is looking much better. I have some real crackers on there, too, that I’m very much looking forward to reading.

However, I haven’t shared a picture of The Pile recently (I’m not sharing the Kindle: that’s a step too far) so here it is in all its glory. The pile is meant for books that a) I’m reading bit by bit (the Sagas of Icelanders), b) books in series that I want to keep in order (the rest of them – nearly done with the Indriðasons!) and c) books in series where I haven’t read the ones that come before them but after the last one I read (I have given up on this with the Earlene Fowlers and am going to read these soon, otherwise they languish for EVER).

Of course, review books hover around on here or on top of the shelf: do you have separate areas of your TBR or is it one great big mass of joy?

“Whiteladies” by Francis Brett Young, in this rather delicious Worcester Pear edition, is what I’m reading at the moment. I’ve only just started but it looks to be a sweep of a saga set just outside the Black Country as industrialisation and capitalism hit the Midlands. I love this writer, and yes, this is a signed first edition, but it’s unlikely I’m going to stumble upon a “reading copy” of it so I’m reading my first edition. I don’t like to be too precious about such things and it’s not in perfect condition to start off with. I know I have a few FBY fans among my blog readers; if you haven’t tried him, he does lovely big, meaty books full of great characters and if you know the Midlands well, a lot of them are set here, which is marvellous. If you use the Search function you will find my earlier reviews; I haven’t read one for a while and I’m really looking forward to settling into this one.

These are the next books to read: I’ll be taking the D.E. Stevenson and Mark Ellen on a short trip this week where paperbacks are easier to deal with than a big 1930s hardback, and then more music, Woolf-ness, microlending, light fiction and that tempting book on bookshops bought on my trip to Buxton (I forgot that when I mentioned the London trip in the last blog post: of course I went to Buxton with the lovely Laura and did the bookshops there, too!). Jools might need to shuffle down a bit, actually, however much I usually read books in acquisition order, because I don’t like to read two similar books next to one another (do you? probably not, I imagine). Anything take your fancy there?

Naturally, I’ll also be reading from my Kindle, as I have two NetGalley books and four Elizabeth Fair novels still to read (and the rest!).

And a final April confession, picked up in the naughtily tempting The Works and books I would have bought anyway, honest. But they’re on the TBR and it’s not too big, so …

How was your April reading and what’s May looking like for you?

State of the TBR April 2017

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To be read April 2017

Well, I don’t think this is looking too bad, given the state it was in back in February! It’s been helped by the fact that I finished 12 books in March (11 reviewed, one still to review), which is quite a high total for me these days. As I mentioned in my last review, this is probably down to there being not very much at all on the TV that I’ve wanted to watch. I do have a Pile which was added to in the month with some light Debbie Macomber reads, but then a Reykjavik Murder Mystery came off the pile, so …

Currently reading April 2017

I love the fact that I’m currently reading an old-style Pelican (I’ve got all the way through to Poetry in “The Modern Writer and his World”; it’s very readable although I kind of wish he’d gone by decade and not by genre) and a new-style Penguin (I’m very much enjoying this book about making a lot of things out of an ash tree). One bought on the Charing Cross Road and one bought in Penzance, which is nice.

Books up next April 2017

Up next, I have this lot. Is this representative of my reading taste – a running book, two music memoirs, a children’s book from the 1920s/30s, a mid-century reprint, a Mitford autobiography and a Francis Brett Young? Probably not (add in a Virago or Persephone, a travel book and some sociology, and maybe) but it looks like a lovely lot to keep me going. I’ve only got two Arnaldur Indriðasons left and have four more Elizabeth Fairs to review, so those will feature this month, too).

Anything special going on for you for April? Did you have a good reading month in March? Which of these appeal to you?

State of the TBR March 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

State of the TBR February 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

jan-2017-tbr

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

Top 10 books of 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honourable mentions to:

The rest of Woolf

Margery Sharp – brilliant and just pipped to the post

Jo Pavey – This Mum Runs

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

Challenges completed

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

I completed 20BooksofSummer this year!

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

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

Happy reading for 2017!

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

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

 

A Year in First Lines

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

January

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

February

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

March

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

April

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

May

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

June

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

July

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

August

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

September

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

October

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

November

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

December

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

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

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

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