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.
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)