Category Archives: TBR list
Greetings all. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas with friends and family.
I suspect there were a fair number of you who found book-shaped presents under the treat this year. Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without any book presents as Joe March should have said…
I thought I’d share the books that came into the house as a result of this festive season. There was a very plentiful supply – more books than I can ever recall.
I’ve learned with my family that it’s best to give hints about what books would give me most pleasure to receive. That way they avoid wasting their money on titles and authors that are just not to my taste. I’ve had a number of those in the past and it’s very awkward – it seems rude to say I don’t care for their gift when they’ve gone to the trouble of buying it for me. So I usually just thank them and then, after time has elapsed, pass it on quietly to someone else who will get more pleasure from it than I will.
This year I was remarkably restrained in my suggestions because I’m still on a campaign to reduce my stack of owned-but-unread books (my TBR) to a more manageable level. I feel guilty that I still have presents from Christmas past as well as birthdays that I asked for yet have not even opened.
I limited my requests to just two titles, both non fiction (another unusual feature of this year) books that caught my eye during this year’s Non Fiction November . My husband duly delivered:
Forty Autumns by Nina Willner
Willner was the first female US Army intelligence officer to lead sensitive operations in East Berlin at the height of the Cold War. When the Berlin Wall came down members of her family who had lived in Communist East Germany. were re-united with those who lived on the Western side. This sounds like an extraordinary story of courage and resilience.
Rebel Writers: The Accidental Feminists by Celia Brayfield
This is a collection of biographical features on six women writers who rebelled against sexism, inequality and prejudice and challenged the existing definitions of what writing and writers should be. Three of the featured women are writers whose work I’ve enjoyed over many years –the authors Edna O’Brien and Margaret Forster and the journalist Virginia Ironside. The remaining three are people I’ve heard of – Lynne Reid-Banks, Charlotte Bingham, Nell Dunn – but know little about so I’m hoping this book will spur me on to reading their work.
I went off to the Christmas get together for the #southwalesbookstagrammers in November, knowing that I would come home with one book as a Secret Santa pressie.
That wasn’t quite how things turned out…… As this photo shows, I staggered home with rather more than one book.
I knew there were a lot but it only this morning that I discovered the total was 13 books plus a lot of other items like book marks, a t shirt, and a notebook. By the way I hope you admire my self restraint in keeping these packages unwrapped for a month! They were all generously donated by publishers and booksellers.
Here’s what was revealed today.
Judith Barrow and Juliet Greenwood that you can see at the top of the pile are both authors from Wales that I’ve meant to read for some time. The gift from HonnoPress means I have no excuses now.
There were two many books to get into one photograph so here’s the second group.
In case you can’t read the titles, I’ll list the books for you
The White Camellia by Juliet Greenwood: a love affair disrupted in its infancy by a woman’s involvement in a suffrage rally and a call up to World War 1
Stranger Within the Gates by Bertha Thomas : a collection of short stories written in 1912 and re-published by Honno
A Hundred Tiny Threads by Judith Barrow another novel set against the background of the campaign for female emancipation. Two ordinary women who take huge risks in standing up for themselves and fighting for justice.
The Child in Time by Ian McEwan: I read this years ago and it remains one of my favourite McEwan novels.
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano: Based on a true story of a plane crash in which the sole survivor is a 12 year old boy.
The Wych Elm by Tana French: a pscychological mystery that has been on the Sunday Times Bestseller’s list for many weeks
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson: a student chooses for her final year project, an unsolved crime in her home town
Starwars Be More Leia : sorry about this all you Star Wars fans but this is one that is going to be gifted out of the house. I really don’t need a character from a film to advise me on how to live my life
The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis: fantasy adventure set in a world where girls are sold to a “welcome house” as children and branded with cursed markings.
Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly: a retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale
Frostheart by Jamie Littler: the first venture into fiction for a children’s book illustrator . As you’d expect the pages are crammed with wonderful line drawings
Overdrawn by M J Crosskey: a novel based on a chance encounter between a young waitress desperately seeking funds to keep her brother alive and a man whose wife is slipping away from him.
The Truth Will Set You Free by Gloria Steinem: an illustrated collection of inspirational quotes from a feminist activist
This is now going to do serious damage to my TBR …….
What did Santa bring you this year? Do leave a comment telling me about your latest finds. Not that I need any more temptation to buy, but I can still be interested……
Let’s get the good news out of the way first. Last month you may remember I said that, because I’d broken my upper humerus, I had limited movement in my arm. Good progress has been made in the past month and I no longer walk like a penguin. I can do pretty much most domestic and social activities unaided now, including drive my car. Freedom at last!!! I even managed a three hour baking class last week where we were throwing around a heavy batch of bread dough (I did it left handed just to be on the safe side).
Apart from trying to coax my damaged wing back into health, what else was I up to on October 1, 2017?
I’m not one of those people who makes a habit of simultaneously reading multiple books. Two I can manage providing they are in vastly different genres (a crime novel say and a more literary novel, or a novel and a short story collection) but unusually I have three books on the go at the moment.
The first is my 44th Booker Prize winner – Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre which won the prize in 2003. This is not one I was looking forward to read and it seems I am not alone. Although some reviewers thought it highly comic, others hated it and didn’t feel it deserved to win the prize. It’s set in a town in Texas in the aftermath of a mass shooting of students at the local school. One student, Vernon Little, is taken in for questioning and gets caught up in the legal and media circus. I’ve not yet read far enough to judge whether this will be one I enjoy but it certainly has a unique style.
By contrast on my e-reader is a psychological story that became a cinema classic when it was adapted by Alfred Hitchcock with the leading roles taken by James Stewart and Kim Novak. The film was Vertigo and the book was D’entre les morts (From Among the Dead) by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. It was published in English as The Living and the Dead in 1956 and now re-issued under the new Pushkin Vertigo imprint. Apart from re-locating the action from Paris to San Francisco, Hitchcock seems to have stayed fairly close to the original story of a former detective asked to help an old schoolfriend who is concerned about the increasingly strange behaviour of his wife. Interest in his quarry becomes a dangerous obsession however.
My third book is a re-read. It’s a novella which has become a stable of the school syllabus in the UK for 14-16 year olds. I’d never read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck until four years ago when it was chosen by the book club I belonged to at the time but loved it (my review is here). Now I’m re-reading it to help coach a young girl in my village who is being bullied at school so studying on her own until a solution can be found.
Reflecting on the state of my personal library
One of my goals for 2017 is to enjoy the books I already own and to reign back on acquiring yet more. I started 2017 with 318 unread books. I’m holding steady to last month’s total at 274. I bought just one book in September: The Ladies’ Paradise (Au Bonheur des Dames) by Emile Zola published in 1883 as part of his Rougon-Macquart cycle. This one focuses on the world of the department store, a form of retail outlet that is very familiar to us today but was an innovative concept in the mid-nineteenth century. Until then, shoppers had to visit separate establishments for different items but with Le Bon Marché (the model for Zola’s store) they could find all their purchases under one roof. The book was adapted by the BBC for a costume-drama series The Paradise broadcast in 2012 and 2013.
Thinking of reading next…
I don’t know what I’ll be reading later in the month other than one of the remaining six Booker prize titles from my list. It’s a long time since I read any of the Louise Penny novels I bought on my last trip to the USA ( I much preferred the covers of the US editions to the British ones) so a return to her fictitious village of Three Pines could be on the cards. I also found a little collection of Penelope Lively books when I was hunting through the shelves recently and its ages since I read anything by her. As always there are too many choices!
Watching: I read Ian McEwan’s The Child in Time at the time it was published which is now about 30 years ago and went on to read and enjoy many more of his novels (his early output is, with the exception of the magnificent Atonement, superior to his more recent work.). The recent BBC adaptation starring Benedict Cumberbatch was a reminder of just how powerful a study of loss and grief The Child in Time is and of McEwan’s versatility as an author.
Required viewing in our house at the moment is The Great British Bake Off. I’m frustrated by the intrusions of the commercial breaks but other than that the series hasn’t seemed to have suffer much by it’s move away from the BBC ( I never did like the Mel and Sue double act). There’s a new series of The Apprentice starting I think this week – this is a show that is probably on its last legs. The last few series they seem to have scraped the barrel and found the most inane and useless candidates possible. They talk a lot about how great they are but I wouldn’t let them anywhere near any business of mine. It’s good for a laugh though.
And that is it for this month. I hope by this time next month the arm will be back in operation again. Until then, happy reading everyone.