In years gone by, my May reading wrap up would have featured all the authors I’d heard speak at the Hay Festival. This summer I’d been looking forward to winding my way over the mountains to the first in person festival for three years.
But at the last moment I got cold feet —although Covid numbers are significantly down the idea that I’d be in close proximity to hundreds of people in a closed space made me nervous. I knew I wouldn’t be relaxed enough to enjoy the talks. So I decided to postpone the pleasure for another year and instead take advantage of a membership package that enables me to watch recordings of most of the events. I know it’s not the same as being there in the flesh but actually I’ll be able to far see more events than I would if I’d gone to the actual event. It’s an incredible deal at £15 for the whole year.
Top of my list to watch will be the events featuring Elif Shafak, Claire Fuller, David Olusoga , Meiko Kawakami and Damon Galgut. And that’s just for starters.
May Reading in Brief
A very satisfying reading month with only one book I found disappointing
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield A cracking story about a famous author and her mysterious past. That, and the nods to Gothic tropes, would have more than satisfied me but the bonus was that this is also a novel about a woman’s love of reading.
The Day The World Came To Town by Jim Defede Until last year I hadn’t heard of this true life account of how one Newfoundland island got caught up in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US. It’s a detailed account of how the islanders provided food, shelter and support for the 6,000 plus passengers of 38 jets that were grounded when US air space was closed.
All Come To Dust by Byrony Rheam This entertaining crime novel set in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city, features a very strange detective
The Beach House by Beverley Jones. Hugely atmospheric psychological thriller set in a beachfront community in Oregon and also a picture postcard village in Wales. Adding to my enjoyment of this book was the fact that the Welsh section is quite close to my home.
Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason We will know within a few days if this has won the Women’s Prize For Fiction. It’s considered a strong contender judging by what I’ve seen in Twitterland but I didn’t think it lived up to its promise.
On The June Horizon
June 1 marks the start of #20booksofsummer 2022, hosted by Cathy at 746books. I’m shooting for 10 books this year but have pulled together a list of 15 books to allow for changes in mood. The books I’ve selected are going to take me on a virtual holiday around the UK, dropping into some parts of Europe before heading east and then down under.
I’ll be starting at home with a book by a Welsh author that was shortlisted for the 2000 Booker Prize. The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi features the Gauci family who live in poverty in the docklands of Cardiff. It’s going to be interesting to compare her handling of the location and its multi cultural community with the depiction of the same place in The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed.
Also on the horizon is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury which is the book club choice for June. I’ve not read much science fiction since my teens but the dystopian aspect of this book is intriguing me.
Bookshelves Ins and Outs
I am undone! The TBR which was slowly coming down went up by six in May so now stands at 288.
Two of the books were bargain purchases in The Works to help complete my set of the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny. i found an Angela Thirkell in a charity shop for 50p so couldn’t resist — I think I’ve read only one book by her which wasn’t great but also wasn’t all that bad. Worth trying again I thought.
And then somehow I found myself walking through the doors of a local independent bookshop and walking back out again, but this time with two books in my hands. I can’t think how that happened really. But now I am the owner of Breast and Eggs by Meiko Kawakami (it’s actually the second time I bought this but my first copy was loaned to my niece and never returned) and A Town Like Solace by Mary Lawson which was a Booker contender in 2021.
When will I ever learn!!
How was your May 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 June.