Reading plans

March 2022 Reading Wrap Up

I’m officially declaring March as my “Did Not Finish Month” because of the number of books I started but abandoned.

There was a time when it was rare that I didn’t read right through to the final page even if I wasn’t than enamoured by the book. But as the years have advanced, I’ve become less inclined to plough on to the bitter end. Sometimes I get half way and lose interest, other times I give up after just a chapter.

This month was a jackpot with 10 books for which I failed to summon up a lot of enthusiasm. Now on their way to a National Trust second hand bookshop are:

A Perfect Cemetery by Frederico Falco (short stories from Argentina)

The War Doctor by David Nott (non fiction)

The House By The River by Lena Manta (debut novel by Greek author)

Aranyak: Of The Forest by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay: (semi autobiographical novel from Bengal author)

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane (I didn’t rate her earlier novel Fever so I don’t know why I bought this)

Reading In The Brain by Stanislas Dehaene (an account by a neuroscientist of how the brain “reads” marks made on a page/screen. Interesting subject but hard work to make sense of Dehaen’s text)

I’m holding on to a few thinking that there’s nothing wrong with the book as such, it just didn’t fit my mood at the time. So at some point I might return to Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf and State of Wonder by Ann Patchett because I’ve enjoyed other novels by them. I might also try again with Through The Window: 17 Essays by Julian Barnes in which he examines the British, French and American writers who have shaped his writing. Aranyak

Yet to be decided is whether I keep White Spines: Confessions of A Book Collector by Nicholas Royle in which he describes collecting particular editions of Picador’s fiction output from the 1970s to the end of the 1990s. He goes searching for them in bookshops and second hand shops. I struggled to find his commentary on the various merits of different covers very enticing. It’s been put to one side for now. Anyone know if this gets better after the first few chapters?

March Reading in Brief

March was all about Celtic authors since this was Reading Ireland Month and also Reading Wales Month. I’ve reviewed only the first two books on the list that follows. The other links take you to the Goodreads review.

The Long Dry by Cynan Jones: a powerful novella of a emotional isolation from a Welsh author whose evocative, sparse language I am coming to love.

A Time To Laugh by Rhys Davies: the hills of South Wales are alive with rebellion and discontent in this modern classic of Welsh literature.

Heaven by Mieko Kawakami: enthralling yet appalling tale of two young people who are targeted mercilessly by bullies at their school. Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2022.

Last Chronicles of Barset by Anthony Trollope: The final novel in Trollope’s Barsetshire Chronicles brings a welcome return to the formidable Bishop’s wife, Mrs Proudie.

Sacred Country by Rose Tremain was the book club read for March. I didn’t expect to enjoy it because I’ve struggled with Tremain’s work in the past, but this was a superb tale of a boy growing up in a girl’s body, and other characters who feel themselves similarly wanting their lives to be different.

Strange Flowers by Donal Ryan. A bitter-sweet tale of a multigenerational family from one of my favourite Irish authors.

On The April Horizon

This month sees two more reading events that I’ve enjoyed in previous years.

Simon and Karen are hosting another of their reading clubs, this time we’ll be looking at books published in 1954. I have three choices for the #1954Club: Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis; She Who Was No More by French writing duo Boileau-Narcejac and An Unsuitable Marriage by Pamela Hansford Johnson.

Realistically I’m going to get to only one of those because April also marks Zola Addiction Month hosted by Fanda@ClassicLit and I’d like to read at least one more from my stack of Zolas.

I also have a crime procedural from Switzerland that I’ve agreed to review and the book club choice. That’s more than enough commitments for one month because I want to leave space for reading whatever takes my fancy.

Bookshelves Ins and Outs

The TBR is now up to 294, nine more than the tally at the end of February, the result of a buying spree in a few real bricks and mortar bookshops. It’s still down from the 325 I had at the end of 2021 so still heading in the right direction.

How was your March 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 in April.


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

36 thoughts on “March 2022 Reading Wrap Up

  • It’s good that you were able to give those up! I tend to get batches, too, though my largest has been four, I think – I do try to choose well and then decide as I get to them yay or nay but sometimes things slip through. I have White Spines to read and have only heard good things about it – let me know if you fancy a readalong to get you through the hump of it, but no book is for everyone! I am glad to hear of your buying spree after my unfortunate incident in the Oxfam Bookshop …!

    • Thanks for the offer Liz. It will likely be the summer before I pick up White Spines again.

  • I have months like that too. I try not to feel bad about it, although at times I feel as though my attention span has been shot to heck — it’s hard to concentrate these days.

    Great novels to recommend? Lately I’ve been more and more impressed by my nonfiction reading and have found fiction less compelling. I know the amazing, worthwhile novels are out there — I’ve got to read Our Souls at Night at some point — but I also encounter a lot of disappointing, lackluster ones. The standout books for me from the last month were nonfiction (or at least memoir, which is a bit borderline): Educated by Tara Westover, Inheritance by Dani Shapiro, What My Bones Know by Stephanie Foo. All recommended.

    • I have a copy of Educated which I’ve been dithering over but your positive reaction reinforces what others have said so I shall keep it and hope to get to it sometime this year.

      • It was riveting and the writing was incredible. Really glad I got to it finally.

        • It’s staring at me from my TBR bookcase, pleading with me to pick it up!

  • I rarely DNF a book completely, but regularly put down a book, because it doesn’t fit with my mood. You still did a lot better than me in March – I only finished two books. Our Souls At Night is on my TBR, hopefully you get on with it, if you decide to give it a second try. Heaven is also on my radar.

    • How long a gap do you have between when you put a book on pause, and when you pick it up again? I have a feeling if I wait too long before returning I’ll have forgotten it and will have to start at the beginning

      • It varies a lot. Sometimes, I start all over again. My record must have been Mrs Dalloway, which I finished some 10 years after my first attempt.

        • oh boy that is a long gap. I don’t think I have gone as long as that

  • I loved Our Souls at Night, so I hope you make it back to that one! That said, better to put a book down when you’re not in the mood for it. Your Celtic reads sound great, I’m going to look up a few of those. I like Rose Tremain, but interested in some of these authors I haven’t read like Donal Ryan and Cynan Jones. My library has Heaven so I’ve put that on my list.

    • Ryan and Jones are both wonderful authors. Their output isn’t that big but everything I’ve read by them I have enjoyed

    • Well March was better than February so if the trend continues, then April should be looking pretty good Jill

  • I’m contemplating a DNF right now, I don’t do it often, but I’m on page 750 of a 1000 pager.. I don’t know if I can do it! I read Heaven this month too, and can’t stop thinking about it.

    • Oh my gosh I don’t think I could invest that much time in a book and then abandon it. Even if I wasn’t particularly enjoying it, I;d be thinking that “I’ve come so far, may as well get to the end. “

        • Well of course – so far no DNF though my current read isn’t great

        • Yeah, I’ve always been one not to DNF. Although I have skipped a lot of pages before to just get the general goat before moving onto a new book lol

        • I’ve been skimming a lot of my current book and finally decided this morning that I absolutely didn’t care what happened. So it’s become dNF

        • Yep of its like that the definitely DNF. There too many good books out there to be stuck on one you don’t care about!! Lol

  • wow, I just talked about Dehaene to my husband less than 15 minutes ago, I open my email, see your latest post, and here he is! I highly recommend you watch instead the conference he gave in English at the Petr Wall INsitute, so fascinating:
    I hope you’ll find better suited books in April.
    I’m going to look into Boileau-Narcejac. I’ll be participating in the 1954 club, just with one book, that I just finished: Death Going Down, a mystery by Maria Angelica Bosco (Argentina).

    • I can’t comment on your DNFs as. I know none of them. But I agree with your sentiments. I definitely finished Storage Flowers, one of my stand out reads of this last month. I barely started Julia Armfield’s Lives under the Sea.

      • Some of the books I abandoned before barely starting them too. Sometimes you can just tell within a few pages can’t you?

    • Thanks for the link to the video – the shorter length might work better because the ideas will be crisper.

  • I read Ask Again, Yes and can remember nothing about it but loved the Haruf. As for White Spines – I liked it very much but I suspect that’s becsue it brought back fond memories of bookselling for me

    • There are so many books that I know I read but couldn’t tell you a thing about them -tends to happen a lot with crime fiction. Bit like eating vanilla ice-cream.


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