Reading Horizons: Episode 17

Reading Horizons, 10 April 2019

What are you currently reading?

I have three books on the go at the moment.

Zola and the Victorians by Eileen Horne

Zola and Victorians

In 1888, the works of Emile Zola were denounced in the House of Commons in London as “vile” and “diabolical”. Zola’s novels were – according to Samuel Smith of the National  Smith – sold to “young girls in low bookshops”, leading directly to prostitution.  Zola’s British publisher, Henry Vizetelly, was subsequently prosecuted and imprisoned, his health suffered and he was ruined financially.

Horne’s book reconstructs the events using  court records, Hansard transcripts, letters, journalism. It’s a fascinating topic but I so wish Horne had done a better job of creating dialogue between the various members of the Vitzelly family.

One Woman Walks Wales by Ursula Martin

One Woman Walks Wales

This is an extraordinary account of Ursula Martin’s decision to walk through Wales to raise awareness of ovarian cancer.

She initially set out to do a route that she could cover the six months between hospital appointments for check ups after her own treatment four years earlier. But she miscalculated and ended up walking around 3,700 miles. It took her 538 days on her own most of the time. Camping in the wild most nights (without a tent). Without equipment to make a hot meal.

I’ve reached only day two of her journey and already I’m thinking she must be crazy. But also far braver and more determined than me.  I know she made it because this year she was trekking through Romania. In the snow.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

american marriage

This is my book club selection for April. I wasn’t jumping for joy when I heard this had been selected. Not that I knew anything about the book, it was just the title that was off-putting.

But I’m pleasantly surprised by this tale of a couple whose life together is severed when he is accused and imprisoned for a crime they both know he did not commit.

This was an Oprah Book Club title in 2018 and apparently one of Barack Obama’s best books of 2018.

What did you recently finish reading? 

Dignity by Alys Conran


I enjoyed Alys Conran’s debut novel Pigeon (see my review here) which won the Wales Book of the Year award in 2017. Her latest novel Dignity which was published at the beginning of April, is I think just as good.

It’s a tale of three women: Evelyn, an engineer’s wife in British India; Magda, an old lady stuck in an empty house; and Susheela, a young English carer of Bengali descent in a British seaside town on the verge of collapse. Review coming soon……

What do you think you’ll read next?

 I had this idea last week where I would identify the categories of books I like to/want to read, and then make my next reading choice based on a cycle of those categories.  So I’d read a classic, say, then a book in translation, followed by a Welsh author, a prize winner, crime fiction or a ‘new this year’ book.  I didn’t include non fiction since I tend to read those simultaneously with a work of fiction.

This sounded a good idea at the time but then the doubts began to creep in. Does it feel too rigid, not spontaneous enough. What if I’m not in the mood for that particular category?

And then I challenged myself: who says you have to stick 100% to that cycle? It’s your plan so you get to make up the rules.

Rule number 1: if I don’t feel in the mood for a particular category at the time, I can skip to the next category in the sequence. For example if I really don’t fancy a translated book, I can skip to a Welsh author……

Rule number 2: There isn’t one. There is only one rule. No sense in making this a burden.

All of this is a long winded answer to a simple question: what am I thinking of reading next? I don’t know exactly what I’ll read next. All I can say is that since I’ve just read a book in translation (Emile Zola’s The Kill), and then a Welsh author (Alys Conran), it will either be a prize winner or – if none of those take my fancy, a crime novel….

WWWednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It involves answering 3 questions:

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?


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

15 thoughts on “Reading Horizons: Episode 17

  • Judy Krueger

    Do you have something against America or marriage? Just kidding. It was a thought provoking novel for me because of the wife’s choices. That walking through Wales book reminds me of Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
    I finished The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, a reread for a reading group.
    I am currently reading The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders.
    Next I plan to read The Reactive by Masande Ntshanga, who was born in East London, graduated from the University of Capetown. Supposed to be “a brazen account of present day South Africa,” written in English.
    I make a reading plan every Monday morning for the week but often change my mind midweek. I read crime fiction while recovering from the flu a couple weeks ago.

    • Nothing against either the country or the state of marriage (I celebrate 36 years of that this year ….) Just a reaction to the combination of words which could easily have been some cutsy romance stuff…. A reading plan every Monday morning – now that really is being organised

  • An American Marriage featured in quite a few top lists last year, and my Californian friend liked it. We concur quite a lot on books. I look forward to seeing what you think.

    • I like some things and other things i find irritating….

  • I am going to get the One Woman Walks Wales right away because I LOVE this genre. Living vicariously. I laughed out loud at your new plan and then making the rule. I will look forward to seeing how this goes. I do love your blog!!🤠🐧

    • I’d love to meet Ursula, she is clearly a strong minded woman. She has done a phenomenal job of raising funds for a charity who want people to know more about ovarian cancer and the symptoms. Caught early it can be cured…

  • An American Marriage is on my list of possibles for the summer so I look forward to your review. I find making rules about how I am going to order my reading is the surest way to send me looking for excuses to break them.

    • I am my worst enemy – I come up with all these plans which sound good at the time but deep down I know it’s a futile exercise because I have such a butterfly mind I don’t stick to any plan. If it lasts longer than two months I will be amazed

    • I try not to read too many because although I enjoy them at the time I seldom can recall them afterwards

  • I’ve read two of these books. An American Marriage & one woman walks Wales. Both excellent.

    • There was one point in American Marriage when I got frustrated about the writing style – it did improve though


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