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 Lucia 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 – November 2022

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Looking at last month’s picture, I have done shockingly badly! Not only have the Three Investigators pile moved back to in front of the books; there’s now a vertical pile of the most recent incomings there, too!

I completed 13 books in October, and am part-way through four more. I read none of my ebook TBR books for October, but did get three of my September ones read and I’m going to make a real effort to keep going and clear them properly. I read some of my print TBR books, including two of my three review books from publishers, I gave up on “The View from the Corner Shop” because it was just too detailed.

Incomings

I talked about my 22 incoming print books in a separate post this month and have managed not to acquire any more since!

I won six NetGalley books this month:

Jonathan Coe’s “Bournville” (published Nov) is a family saga set in the suburb a few miles from me. Alba Donati’s “Diary of a Tuscan Bookshop” (Nov) is the tale of a bookshop founded in a tiny town in lockdown. “The Racial Code: Tales of Resistance and Survival” by Nicola Rollock (Oct) investigates race and racism in Britain today. Meron Hadero’s “A Down Home Meal for these Difficult Times” (Dec) is a set of short stories set around immigrants and immigration which I imagine I saw on someone else’s blog, but where? Ore Agbaje-Williams’ “The Three of Us” (May 2023) is a novel taking place in one day as a marriage and a best friendship collapse. Colin Grant’s “I’m Black so you don’t Have to Be” (Jan 2023) is a memoir told through a range of intergenerational stories.

I also bought three e-books from Amazon:

Dayo Forster’s “Reading the Ceiling” was another one I think I saw on a blog. It’s a first novel set in Africa and the UK which looks at three directions a young woman’s life could go on. Dipo Faloyin’s “Africa is not a Country” looks at stereotypes and how to break them, and Jane Linfoot’s “A Winter Warmer at the Little Cornish Kitchen” is a bit of fun in a series I’ve read from before to read in December.

So that was 13 read and 31 coming in in October – still going very much in the wrong direction!

Currently reading

I’m currently reading “Black Victorians” which is a NetGalley book from September and Jessie M.E. Saxby’s “Rock Bound”. Jini Reddy’s “Wanderland” is Emma and my next readalong after finishing “Square Haunting” (review to come soon). I’m also inching my way through that big Tolkien book.

Coming up

As well as the Larry McMurtry for this month, I’m taking part in three challenges: NonFiction November, Novellas in November and AusReading Month. I have set aside books for NovNov and AusReading Month and most of the former and all of the latter are nonfiction books, so the reading for NonFicNov will look after itself and I’ll be bombarding you with Monday posts for the themed discussions.

For AusReading Month, hosted by Brona of This Reading Life (introduction and master post here), I’ll be looking at social justice, with four books looking at colonialism and the current and recent experiences of Aboriginal people (an acceptable term to use at the moment, thanks to resources from Brona last AusReading Month). Anita Heiss edited “Growing up Aboriginal in Australia”, collecting people’s experiences, Doris Pilkington / Nugi Garmara’s “Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence” is the true story behind the film of an epic journey made by children (this is also under 200 pages so will fulfil all three of my challenges). Chelsea Watego’s “Another Day in the Colony” looks at the effects of colonialism, as does Claire G. Coleman’s “Lies, Damned Lies,” which is a personal exploration of this.

For Novellas in November, hosted by Cathy 746 Books and Bookish Beck (intro post here), I have laid out 15 books (like last year!) which I don’t expect to get through; 14 of them are non-fiction and all but two are by Global Majority People authors, too, so I’d like to read as many as possible. I won’t list them all here so you won’t get disappointed when I don’t read your favourite!

My NetGalley TBR for November has just four books, but of course I have the September and October ones, too, including the one I won in October, published then. Two you have seen about above, then “Refugee Wales” is a project looking at Syrian people who have settled in Wales, and Hakim Adi (ed.) “Black Voices on Britain” takes original sources into account, although by then I’ll have read about lots of Victorians and Georgians so I wonder if there’s going to be a lot of overlap.

With the ones I’m currently reading (not including my readalong which will take a while), that’s 3 books to finish and a big choice to read, but I only really have to read my Australian ones and I’ll cover all my challenges, so only a minimum of eight!


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

Interim incomings

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Oh dear, the horror, the horror. TWENTY-TWO books have come into the house this month. Well, I call it “come into the house” but it has been pointed out to me that most of them don’t come in of their own accord, but have been instigated by me. Anyway, want to see them? Course you do.

Two lovely review copies:

“Europe, Love me Back” is a book of poems written in the Netherlands by Rakhshan Rizwan and published by the lovely local indie publisher, Emma Press. This came out on 6 October and I’m reading it at the moment, review to come very soon. Siobhan Daniels’ empowering tale of life on the road after 60, “Retirement Rebel” is published tomorrow by the indie Vertebrate Publishing, and my review will come out then, too.

I’ve been to two book events at The Heath Bookshop this month (so far; for the next one, I do already have the book at least).

I bought Jess Phillips’ “The Life of an MP” and Kit de Waal’s childhood memoir, “Without Warning & Only Sometimes” and novel, “My Name is Leon” at the book events, and got them all signed. You can read about the bookshop here if you haven’t already.

Then I met up with LibraryThing Virago Group friends Claire and Genny early in the month and Genny and I took a trip to Kings Heath Oxfam Books.

David Olusoga and Melanie Blake-Hansen’s “A House Through Time”, which is about researching your house’s history but with details of the houses from the TV series, was on my wish list, as was Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to be an Antiracist” (reading him backwards as I’ve already read “How to Raise an Antiracist“!). Wesley Lowery’s “They Can’t Kill Us All” is the story of Black Lives Matter, published by Penguin: I feel like there’s someone who’s buying all the BLM booklists then donating them to Oxfam as I’ve previously found good ones in there. And finally, I know Claudia Winkleman’s “Quite” is probably quite slight, but there it was and now it is here.

I’m a big fan of Bookish Beck’s book blog and she’s very kind to me and other readers and passes on books we’ve indicated an interest in through the year, so I look forward to a box of books I’ve asked about and ones she thinks I might like (OK, not quite read the last box yet ….).

This year, it included Sophie Pavelle’s “Forget me Not”, about British species that have been affected by climate change; Barbara Kingsolver’s “Demon Copperhead”, her new novel that I was desperate to read; Marie Winn’s “Red-Tails in Love” about wildlife in Central Park, New York; Cal Flyn’s “Isles of Abandonment” is about the psychology and ecology of abandoned sites; the red book with the bomb on it is an extract from Elaine Castillo’s “How to Read Now”; and “Deeper into the Wood” is the sequel to Ruth Pavey’s “A Wood of One’s Own” which I enjoyed a while back.

Finally, I went to Stratford-upon-Avon yesterday to meet some random men off the internet. Fortunately, they were the lovely Andy and Scott, Scott being the chap behind the wonderful “Furrowed Middlebrow” blog and publishing imprint with Dean Street Press. Of course we went to the Oxfam Books and Shakespeare Hospice Bookshop … and I have to say I’ve met my match in terms of pressing books on people, although I did introduce Scott to two new authors to him, so got my own back a bit …

I blame Laura Tisdall and her encouragement of my fellow-interest in “nun books” fro Kate O’Brien’s “The Land of Spices” (it’ll do for next year’s Irish Reading Month, right?); Charlie English’s “The Snow Tourist” is a trip to find the deepest snow field and includes a visit to Greenland, so had to be had; I found the reprint of Floella Benjamin’s memoir “Coming to England”; Rob Young’s “Electric Eden” on 100 years of Britain’s folk and visionary music has informed the work of some of the writers I work with, so was a must; and I think Ali told me about Ann Petry’s “The Street” and there was a lovely Virago Green of it. That was al in Oxfam Books. At the Shakespeare Hospice Bookshop, I found a 1964 World Books edition of Iris Murdoch’s “An Unofficial Rose” (I’ve allowed myself to actually start collecting different editions of her books, oh-oh) and (very) local boy Joe Lycett’s “Parsnips, Buttered” so a bit of a funny pair there.

So there we have it. Twenty-two books in and not that many actually read this month. Dear, oh dear, as our King would say. Read any of these? Shocked at my profligacy? Relieved it’s not only you at the book confessional this month?!

Andy, Scott and me outside the Shakespeare Hospice Bookshop, which never disappoints

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?

A new bookshop in Kings Heath – The Heath Bookshop – and indie businesses in Kings Court

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I found out there was going to be a new bookshop in Kings Heath, my suburb of Birmingham, some time last year when I filled in their first questionnaire. Catherine and Claire have since put in a lot of hard work, and they opened officially last weekend, with a plethora of author events. It was such a joyful time and it was also lovely to run into so may people I knew at the events. Kings Court itself is a real find, and somewhere I wouldn’t have ventured without going to the bookshop – see below for some photos of the area and its indie businesses.

Setting up the bookshop

You can read about the journey the bookshop idea has taken on their Facebook page here. I first visited the premises in Kings Court back in July and met Catherine (who, it turns out, was a student of my friend Gill; when I met Claire, she immediately recognised me as a KH Running Club member; that’s One Degree of South Birmingham for you!).

Fast-forward a couple of months and a few interstitial visits and I popped in last Thursday to find books on the shelves!

They were soft-opening and, as I’d promised, I took a book token in to give them a go at processing one of those (their first book token transaction; they’ll also be selling book tokens). I chose Bernadine Evaristo’s memoir, “Manifesto” and also picked up two small books of short stories, “Stories” by various authors and “Walking Backwards” by Charlie Hill, whose books I’ve reviewed on here a few times.

Launch Weekend

On 9-11 September there was a lovely launch weekend, like a mini book festival, with various authors taking part. There will be pics up on their Facebook and Instagram. I attended Osman Yousefzada’s talk on Saturday afternoon.

I bought his book, “The Go-Between: A Portrait of Growing up Between Different Worlds”: he grew up in Balsall Heath, just down the road from Kings Heath, and this looks fascinating (I did win it on NetGalley but wanted to get a proper copy).

Then on Saturday, I met Gill as normal but instead of going to a coffee shop (well, I did go to a coffee shop, see below), we went to an author talk. Niall Griffiths, Wales resident, Liverpool born, friend of the bookshop, was a hoot.

His novels are more on the thriller side of things but he read some poems and I liked their concrete nature (as in they’re about things, rather than being those ones that are in funny shapes on the page), reminiscent of Attila the Stockbroker, so bought those (in fact, bought the copy he’d done the reading from!).

The hitherto unknown Kings Court

Kings Court is a little court running off the high street; I think it used to house a greasy spoon and a furniture shop but is now a lovely little indie destination. I am sure I’ve missed some places out, but the offerings include Levain & Cherry, an artisan bakers, The Milkcake Man, a dessert shop with a difference, Borough & Fox, an indie greengrocer, and Pause Cafe, a lovely find of a speciality coffee shop with an amazing array of cakes (I had a super coffee there on Sunday and a chat with a fellow customer, and will be back to try out the vegan cakes).

Pause Cafe
View into Kings Court

Well worth a visit, and definitely worth a look around when you’re popping to the bookshop!

About The Heath Bookshop

Facebook page here including opening hours and author events

Instagram here

They’re on Bookshop.org so if you’re not local and want to support them, you can order your books through their page and send them their portion of sale price.

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?

State of the TBR – June 2022

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Well, looking at last month’s picture, the TBR is about the same but with fewer review copies balanced on top, so that’s a win, right? I’ve left my stash of Three Investigators novels in the pic although they don’t count in the “official” TBR somehow. Sorry for the slightly wonky picture.

I only managed to finish fifteen books in May, that’s still one every two days or so but I’d hoped to read more. I don’t have any read in May to review fully here but there are two reviews for Shiny New Books that I haven’t mentioned on here yet. I read or am still reading all of the print TBR I said I MUST read. I read and reviewed seven out of the nine NetGalley books I had TBR for May, DNF’d one and have one still to read (“The New Doctor at Peony Practice”; I need to read the first six in the series, I’ve got the NEXT one now too, but the publicist at the publisher is fine about the delay). I read and loved “The Scapegoat” for Ali’s Daphne du Maurier reading week.

I picked two books off the TBR out of my new quarter of TBR challenge books but haven’t finished them yet, so still have 36 left to go.

Shiny New Books

I reviewed Jude Rogers’ “The Sound of Being Human” for Shiny New Books – a wonderful memoir of her life in and with music and exploration of how music shapes our lives.

Incomings

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

I’m reading and reviewing Nicholas Orme’s “Going to Church in Medieval England” for the Wolfson History Prize book tour, something I’ve been taking part in for several years now. It looks fascinating and approachable and I’ll be reviewing it on 15 June. I saw mention of “Iceland: People, Sagas, Landscapes” by Hans Swik on Paul’s Half Man Half Book blog and had to track down a copy for myself (I had a lucky catch of a copy on Abe Books); a super book of photos and essays. “Haramacy” edited by Zahed Sultan is my latest Unbound subscription copy to arrive: it’s essays from the Middle East, South Asia and diaspora. And Hayley from Rather Too Fond of Books highlighted Patrick Hutchinson’s “Everyone Versus Racism: A Letter to Change the World” by the guy who carried a White counter-protestor to safety out of a Black Lives Matter protest last year and I had to pick up a copy.

I bought NO e-books for Kindle this month.

I won a few NetGalley books this month again:

I haven’t actually read Ibram X. Kendi’s well-respected earlier books but was intrigued by his “How to Raise an Antiracist” (published July), which concentrates on bringing up children to be actively antiracist. I was offered Emily Kerr’s “Take a Chance on Greece” (July) by the publisher and it looks like a fun holiday read with a setting somewhere I’ve only been once myself. “Refugee Wales: Syrian Voices” edited by Angham Abdullah, Beth Thomas and Chris Weedon (November) continues my strand of reading about Wales and its diverse populations. I was offered “100 Queer Poems” (June), selected by poets Mary Jean Chan and Andrew McMillan by the publisher on the strength of my review of “Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head”; it collects past and contemporary poets together. And the Reverend Richard Coles’ “Murder Before Evensong” (June) was a must-request when I was reminded by Hayley that I wanted to read it: I assume we’re in Richard Osman territory but it should be fun, too.

“The Wilderness Cure” by Mo Wilde (August) looks like it came from an email where the first 100 to request get the book: it’s the author’s description of living off free and foraged food for a year. Emiko Jean’s “Mika in Real Life” (September) is a novel about a woman trying to create a relationship with the teenage daughter she gave up for adoption when she was a teenager herself. Tasneem Abdur-Rasheed’s “Finding Mr Perfectly Fine” (July) is a novel about a Muslim girl in London trying to find Mr Right before her mum finds him for her. And Christie Barlow’s “New Beginnings at the Old Bakehouse” (July) is the one I mentioned in the Love Heart Lane series that is waiting on me reading the first six, with the PR’s blessing.

So that was 15 read and 13 coming in in May – not too bad!

Currently reading

I’m currently reading “The Virago Book of Women Travellers” edited by Mary Morris, which Ali kindly passed to me as it’s a massive, heavy hardback; it fitted in with the LibraryThing Virago Group’s life stories theme for May and it’s full of wonderful tales (I have skipped those that are in the Travellers books I bought recently so I get the full effect when I read them). I’m loving Sheila Gear’s “Foula” about life on a remote Shetland island, and I’m also loving Helen Ashton’s “Yeoman’s Hospital” which is a novel set over 24 hours in a wartime regional hospital and fascinating. I’m still reading “Cut From the Same Cloth?” with Emma, too: these essays from British women who wear the hijab are so interesting.

Coming up next, the start of my print TBR …

Obviously I’m prioritising “Going to Church in Medieval England” and then I have my Larry McMurtry, “The Late Child”, sequel to “The Desert Rose” which I loved in May. Then it’s also the start of my 20 Books of Summer project (see my introductory post here), so Ruth Pavey’s “A Wood of One’s Own”, Helen Ashton’s next Wilchester novel (they’re hard to find so it’s not the next one after “Yeoman’s Hospital”), “The Half-Crown House”, Stella Gibbons’ “The Bachelor” and Jeffrey Boakye’s “Black, Listed”. Hopefully I’ll get through more than those and the three books I’m currently reading.

My NetGalley TBR for June is nice and small which should help with the above.

From the incomings above I have “100 Queer Poems” and “Murder Before Evensong”, then “These Impossible Things” by Salma El-Wardany (three British Muslim women against the world, then something happens to divide them), “Dele Weds Destiny” by Tomi Obaro (three Nigerian women against the world, then one of them marries a White man and moves to the US, we see their friendship over 30 years), and Mya-Rose Craig’s “Birdgirl” (story of a young environmental activist).

With the ones I’m currently reading (not including my readalong which will take a while), that’s 3 books to finish and 11 books I plan to read this month, plus more off the 20 Books of Summer and a couple of Love Heart Lane e-books if I can. Seems doable, right?


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

State of the TBR – May 2022

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

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

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

Shiny New Books

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

Incomings

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

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

I bought several e-books for Kindle this month:

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

I won a lot of NetGalley books this month again:

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

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

Currently reading

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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