January 2022 Reading Round Up

So that’s January done and dusted. Not one of my favourite months usually but this year we’ve been blessed with some glorious blue skies and crisp days. Perfect for the start of my challenge to walk 1000 kilometres by the end of the year. Only 896k to go… I should make it providing we don’t have any snowstorms or long stretches of icy weather because I’m not too secure on my pins in those situations.

January Reading in Brief

The reading year has got off to a cracking start with six books, three of which I know are going to be contenders for “Favourite Reads of 2022”.

In my recent review of Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller I described it as a cleverly-written novel about the complex and messy world of a relationship that goes sour. It was my first experience of Claire Fuller’s writing but it certainly won’t be my last – within days of finishing Swimming Lessons I’d already bought her more recent novel Unsettled Ground.

I’m behind with reviews for the other three novels in the photo. They’ll be coming soon I hope.

Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood was a bargain purchase five years ago and I’m kicking myself that it’s taken this long to read it because it’s simply wonderful. I don’t care for Ernest Hemingway a writer (his prose is too sparse for my taste) and now, having heard this tale of the the way he treated his four wives, I dislike him as a person.

Last autumn, the BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week was RC Sheriff’s A Fortnight in September. I happened to hear one episode and that was enough to make me want to read the unabridged print version. First published in 1931, this is an absolute gem of a novel. An utterly charming but not sentimental quiet tale of a family who embark on their annual holiday in Bognor Regis. Sheriff captures everyday life for a fairly typical middle class family, reminding us of a time when people could take pleasure in simple things.

On Wilder Seas by Nikki Marmery was the book club choice for January. It sounded promising — a tale, based on fact, of the only woman on board the Golden Hind during Francis Drake’s circumnavigation of the world. But the delivery was disappointing with too much historical information crammed into the narrative ( a common problem for me in historical fiction).

Missing from the photograph are two books I read in e-format, both published in 2022. A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe (My review is here) focuses on the emotional turmoil of a young embalmer who responds when tragedy strikes a South Wales mining community in the 1960s. The Old Woman With The Knife by Gu Byeong-Mo (my review is here) is an odd novel about a 65-year-old South Korean woman who is a paid assassin.

On The February Horizon

You should know by now that I don’t make reading plans. I never stick to them so there’s little point in making them. I just have vague ideas instead of what I’d like to read.

It’s #ReadIndies 2022 — a brilliant idea from Karen @Kaggsy’sbookishrambings and Lizzy @ Lizzy’sLiteraryLife to celebrate independent presses over the whole of February. I’m just about to finish my first contribution: An Exquisite Sense of What Is Beautiful  by J. David Simons, published by Saraband. Exquisite it certainly is.

I hope to read at least one more indie published novel. It could be A Long Way from Douala by Max Hope, published by Hope Books as a coming of age story of two boys in Cameroon. Or I might go for another Saraband title: As The Women Lay Dreaming by Donald Murray which is based on the true story of the sinking of a ship carrying servicemen back from active service in WW1.

How was your January? Any stand out novels that you would recommend? I would love to know what you’ve been reading, and what you plan to read in February.

BookerTalk

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

19 thoughts on “January 2022 Reading Round Up

    • February 10, 2022 at 8:49 pm
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      I had a few days off walking because the weather was rubbish but it was glorious today so I was able to get out and enjoy the signs of spring

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  • February 6, 2022 at 7:02 pm
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    I hope you’ll enjoy Unsettled Ground. I found it interesting and quite unusual. Not too many novels focus on rural poverty and have a couple of middle-aged siblings as protagonists.

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  • February 6, 2022 at 4:45 pm
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    I loved A Fortnight in September and have a sweet older paperback copy (though that meant I couldn’t justify the Persephone … ). I had a good January, my two fiction faves were Nikky May’s Wahala and Daphne Palasi Andreades’ Brown Girls and the two D.E. Stephensons I read at the start of the month were gread, too. I have Black Cake and The Love Songs of WEB Du Bois coming up so we’re all reading the same stuff, we readers of your blog!

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  • February 6, 2022 at 2:53 pm
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    You’re right, RC Sheriff is someone rather neglected these days: and currently by me too. Thanks to you, I’ll put that right. Mrs. Hemingway turns out not to be in our library system, but another. Naomi Wood – The Hiding Game – i, and that looks equally interesting. Let’s see!

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  • February 6, 2022 at 9:57 am
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    Glad to hear you enjoyed A Fortnight in September, it’s gloriously unsentimental and for me a perfect glimpse of a 1930s family holiday.

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  • February 5, 2022 at 11:12 pm
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    I would like to read the Korean book you mentioned but I have so many books standing in line waiting to be read. I like your idea of walking 1000 km in the year. I keep track of my walking but I don’t write it down. I should start putting it in my journal at night. I will have to catch up with you. I do about 25 a week and then the weights at gym. I could do more walking though. I enjoyed your post.

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  • February 5, 2022 at 8:49 pm
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    I hadn’t expected to but my month’s reading — seven titles — was dominated by children’s fiction, four in fact, all determined by memes, as were the other three titles to a greater or lesser extent. Two books were by the late children’s writer Jan Mark (who actually thought of her work as straddling the age divide). There was a Moomin book to go with a decidedly not juvenile novel by Sjón as a NordicFINDS read and Gaarder’s environmental fable for anybody not already familiar with the existential crisis facing us all. Finally, a Narniathon title and a distantly related adult science fantasy by C S Lewis. Such an odd mishmash but somehow hung together. But, like you, I don’t make reading plans!

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  • February 5, 2022 at 7:19 pm
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    Three contenders from your January stack? That’s pretty sweet! Hope the odds continue like that, for you, in the remaining months of the year.

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  • February 5, 2022 at 6:29 pm
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    I read Black Cake which is a strong contender for a favs of the year list!

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  • February 5, 2022 at 6:19 pm
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    I loved the way Hemingway’s wives ended up rooting for each other. And I’m glad you’re now a Claire Fuller convert!

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    • February 5, 2022 at 6:24 pm
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      That was remarkable wasn’t it, but i suppose they found they could support each other having had the same experience

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    • February 5, 2022 at 6:41 pm
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      My January stand-out was Claire Keegan’s Small Things. I just started reading Oh William by Elizabeth Strout which is not disappointing so far. Two hefty ones are awaiting me: The Love Songs of WEB Du Bois and To Paradise. Yanagihara’s one is quite daunting. I hated A Little Life and I hope the reviews promising a totally different novel are right.

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