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.
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.