Reading plans

August 2022 Reading Wrap Up

I never got around to doing a monthly reading update for July. If I don’t pull my socks up it will be too late to do one for August.

August Reading in Brief

I got to the end of August in celebration mood as we reached the end of #20booksofsummer 2022 (hosted by Cathy at 746books). I read 11 books from a list created specifically to take me travelling around the world, which was one more than I expected. My favourite was This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman, a deeply moving account of a young Irish man sentenced to death in New Zealand.

I could have read more but I’ve learned from past experience that selecting titles just from a pre-determined list is too restrictive. I need flexibility to choose books at random, depending on my mood at the time.

So in addition to 20booksofsummer titles, I also read:

The Bone Road by N E Solomons, a newly published mystery/thriller set in the Balkans. It captures the moody atmosphere of the mountains wonderfully though the strongest element of the novel for me was its depiction of the tensions still lingering from the conflict between the Bosnian and Serbian populations.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata. thought from the title that this might turn out to be a little too whimsy so was delighted to find it was nothing of the kind. The central character is a 36-year-old woman whose life revolves around the convenience store where she works. Underneath the humour, the narrative is an indictment of the way society in Japan views people who don’t fit the “normal” pattern of behaviour. 

No One Around Here Reads Tolstoy by Mark Hodkinson. Any book written by a bibliophile should come with a warning that it will encourage its readers to buy many of the books mentioned in the text. I find it impossible to resist temptation though would have to go a long way to reach the 3,500 books that Hodkinson estimates he has in his home. This is his memoir of how a boy from a working class family in Northern England whose home contained just one book (Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain) discovered literature.

Murder by The Book, edited by Martin Edwards. The British Crime Classics Library imprint shows no sign of running out of steam. This is a collection of 15 stories all connected with books in some shape or form — some of the characters are authors, others are collectors. It’s a good introduction to works by some of the names associated with Golden Age crime fiction.

Project Update

Classics Project: I managed to read one of the books from my list: The Rising Tide by Molly Keane, an author I’ve come to love.

Wanderlust Bingo: My card has two more squared completed: The Bone Road filled in the “Mountain” square and I completed the “Oceania” square with The New Ships. Five more squares remain to be completed though it’s going to get tough from now on because Fiction Fan who created this card has a devious rule where a country can only appear only once. That means I can’t use a book set in France for any of the remaining squares because I’ve already used it for the “City” square. Hmmmm.

World Of Literature: I’d hoped to declare victory in my long term project to read books by authors from 50 different countries. But as of end of August, I’m still one book shy of the goal. Maybe September will provide the elusive final country.

#22in22: : I’m aiming to read 22 books from my TBR that were bought before 2022. By the end of August I’d read 16 so with a little push I can make it I think.

On The September Reading Horizon

I started September by reading Educated by Tara Westover, a disturbing memoir of a troubled childhood and her attempts to break free from her survivalist Mormon upbringing.

It was such an intense narrative that I’m now in search of something a little less demanding. But what? Nothing I’ve picked up in the last few days has grabbed my attention. I’ve abandoned four books in quick succession: The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott; A Long Way From Doula by Max Lobe; The Man Who Was Thursday by G K Chesterton and A Winter Away by Elizabeth Fair.

These were all new authors for me so, to break my chain of disappointments, I think I’ll go for a tried and tested author next. John Banville has a new novel The Singularities out next month and I’ve just bought the new Maggie O’Farrell The Marriage Portrait in preparation for seeing her in person later in the month.

Beyond that I have no plans

Bookshelves Ins and Outs

My stack of owned-but-unread books totalled 289 by the end of August, only one down from the total at the start of 2022 despite the good progress on the #22in22 project.

My downfall was a visit to the secondhand bookshop at the National Trust property where I volunteer. I dropped off some donations and couldn’t resist taking a look at the shelves. Fatal.

I not only bought the seven books you see in the first photo, I went back a few days later and bought four more — two Persephone and two Virago Modern Classics.

What you can’t see are the books I bought in a second hand shop in Cardiff where, again, I too some books for donation. The owner increased his offer for my donation if I bought something from his stock. How could I possibly refuse?

Oh and just to compound the issue, I got a bit click happy when looking at the Net Galley site.

Now all I need to do is find space in the bookcases for these new acquisitions (nigh on impossible) and to find more time to read them all.

How was your August reading? Were there any stand out novels that you would recommend? I would love to know what you’ve been reading, and what you plan to read as we move into a new season (could be Autumn or Spring depending on where you live in the world)


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

28 thoughts on “August 2022 Reading Wrap Up

  • Oooh, a few of my favourites here! Thoroughly enjoyed Convenience Store Woman (whimsical it is not!) and No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy. Educated is definitely, as you say, intense, but jeez it has stuck with me.

  • Wow, that’s a good price on that Persephone, and those stories are excellent. I am doing well with my TBR project although I’ve stalled a bit as so busy with work at the moment (and weirdly distracted by These Times). I really enjoyed No One Around Here Reads Tolstoy, as well.

    • They were priced at £1 up until a few weeks ago but one of the volunteers noticed that they were popular so thought they’d been undervalued. Still a good bargain though

  • I loved Educated from the point she was so impressive in what she achieved after getting away from that family. I also enjoyed Convenience Store Woman. I know she has written since that book but not read it. I have the book, No one Reads Tolstoy ….but not read it yet.

    • It was astonishing that she managed to get any kind of a degree given her lack of formal tuition and the psychological issues she was dealing with.

      • It was a book that blew me away when you look at her background. Very inspiring.

        • It made me frustrated to think that she fought so hard for an education, something many young people take for granted and don’t value.

  • l really want to read Convenience Store Woman but, er, inconveniently forget to look for or order a copy from our bookshop. Rats. Anyway, I’ve made another note of it, so thank you!

    Two standouts for me in August were Verissimo’s Borges and the Eternal Orang-Utans and Robertson Davies’s A Mixture of Frailties, both recommendations from review blogs so I’m glad I’m following so many quality bloggers!

    • I’m more than happy to pass on my copy of Convenience Store Woman.

    • Hodkinson’s love of reading was astonishing- he took 25 books with him on a holiday of just one week!

  • No One Around Here Reads Tolstoy sounds really interesting to me. I’m always curious about people who find books despite living in a hostile-to-books environment.

    • His parents were perplexed by his love of reading. They went on holiday in a caravan and he took a carrier book of books with him because his idea of a holiday was just lounging in the caravan and reading. They of course had all sorts of other ideas

  • Well done on that Wanderlust Bingo… BTW I see you still don’t have one for Desert, so you could try Desert, by Nobel winner J M G Le Clezio, Translated by C. Dickson, about the desert people displaced in Africa by colonialism… and for Polar regions Cold Coast by Robyn Mundy is exceptionally good, it’s about an early C20th female defying gender expectations in the polar regions of Norway. (Both are reviewed on my blog.)

    • Thanks for the recommendations Lisa. I was hoping to be able to complete the grid just using books I already own but doesn’t look as if I can do that so will look out for the two you suggest

  • If you’re still in the mood for something light and a bit quirky and unique….try Kit McBride Gets a Wife… lightest read of the summer

    • Thanks Carol. I will keep that in mind though may not choose it this time around because that would mean buying yet another book instead of reading what already lies on my shelves

    • I hope it improves – it hasn’t started brilliantly with so many books I had to abandon

        • For your space bingo square I might recommend A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. It’s interesting and not too technical.

          For small town on your bingo card, consider anything by Karin Gillespie, whom both Bill @The Australian Legend and I enjoy.

        • Thanks for the recommendation of A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. The other one people have suggested is Hail Mary.
          Unfortunately I’ll have to pass on Karin Gillespie because her novels are set in North America and I’ve already used that square. So I have to find a small town not in North America or Australia, France, Wales, Scotland or New Zealand. Quite a challenge!

  • Hello, fellow National Trust volunteer! Where are you volunteering? I’ve read several of the books you mention this time, but one I haven’t sampled is No One Around Here Reads Tolstoy. That made me pause because one of my personal challenges this year was to read War And Peace. I have today got as far as the Epilogue. And it’s shaming to confess I really haven’t enjoyed the experience, so I’m going to need to find out what Hodkinson thought.

    • I volunteer at Dyffryn House and Gardens Margaret which is near to Cardiff. I used to be in the house talking to visitors and explaining the history of the property but the house hasn’t opened after the Covid lockdowns. It’s now just the gardens (Grade 1 listed status). So I’ve moved into the research team for now.

      Hodkinson doesn’t really delve into War and Peace in any depth. The title really comes from the fact he went to a bookshop one day with a list of authors and books, and this is what the book seller told him.

      • I guessed as much. Having a long TBR as well as guilt at all those classics I’ve never read isn’t a winning combination. And I’ll put Dyffryn House and Gardens on my visiting list. I wonder why it hasn’t reopened yet? Similar properties near here are running normally.

        • The management are meant to be doing a feasibility study about future uses of the house but they are incredibly slow in doing it. In the meantime none of the volunteers understand why it can’t re-open in its previous incarnation.

  • I’m with you on This Mortal Boy which I thought was brilliant and The Bone Road which was a really interesting crime thriller for the reasons you mention. Sorry you didn’t get on with The Photographer of the Lost as I really enjoyed that. In fact, I’ve enjoyed every book I’ve read by Caroline Scott.


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