Snapshot February 2018

Throughout 2017 I was making a note on the first day of the month of what I was reading and the level of what I call my personal library (otherwise known as the TBR mountain). I forgot to do this in January but here’s how things stood on February 1, 2018.

Just read

I limped my way through Muriel Spark’s The Comforters which was her first published novel. Such a disappointment after the other two novels I’d read by her: Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Girls of Slender Means.

Currently reading

When I complained recently that I’d hit a reading slump there were many bloggers coming forward with ideas of how to get the enthusiasm back. Melanie at Grab the Labels recommended: “return to a book or genre you deeply enjoyed before you started blogging” which advice I duly followed that very evening when I was looking for something new to begin reading. Two writers called out to me: Louise Penny whose Chief Inspector Gamache series I’ve loved so far and Emile Zola who I have sadly neglected this last year. Since I had recently read and listened to a few crime fiction novels I plumped for Monsieur Zola.

Melanie’s advice proved the perfect medicine. I am now happily ensconced in the world of a Parisienne department store in the nineteenth century via The Ladies’ Paradise (Au Bonheur des Dames). It was one recommended by Lisa at ANZLitLovers to whom I shall be eternally grateful. Zola’s usual approach of conducting meticulous research before writing his novels is very much in evidence here. We get details about how every department works, from the cashiers to the sales people who work the floor, and some colourful details about the wonders to be purchased in this emporium. Department stores are nothing remarkable to us now but in the time Zola was writing, they were a revolution.

State of the personal library

Once again I find my numerical skills – or is my cataloguing skills – leave something to be desired. I thought I was doing a pretty good job last year of keeping track of all the owned but unread books in my home. I even had a spreadsheet with formulae designed so that I wouldn’t have to do the counting manually.

Well something clearly went wrong because instead of the downward trend I was congratulating myself upon all throug

h the year, I thought I ended 2017 with 225 books in my library. But somehow I have started 2018 with 245. Where that extra 15 books came from is a mystery. But no amount of double checking my spreadsheet or my formulae is giving me the answer. So I just have to accept that the number is 245.

But instead of going down, it’s already gone up from that…

Joanna Cannon

I won two books in a giveaway hosted by Kath who blogs at Nutpress. I might just be the only person on the planet who hasn’t read Joanna Cannon’s The Trouble with Goats and Sheep. I now have no excuses since Kath presented me with this plus Cannon’s latest novel Three Things About Elsie. 



I’ve also just taken delivery of the first book from my year-long subscription to the Asymptote Book Club. As part of this I’ll receive 12 books from around the world. January’s choice comes from the Indian sub-continent. Aranyak by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay was written between 1937 and 39 and looks at the conflict created between the need to cultivate the land for food and shelter and the need to preserve ancient forests and the traditional ways of life followed by its indigenous population.

My recent blue period also saw me indulge in a few purchases….

Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty. This is the selection for our next book club meeting in March

Since I was in the shop buying this I couldn’t help but have a mooch. So ended up buying a book I’ve seen attracting a lot of comment recently. Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. Walker is a professor and Director of the University of California Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab so he knows a little about sleeping. In the book he explains the science about sleep and the consequences of too little sleep (clearly not something I should be reading on nights when I wake in the wee hours and can’t get back to sleep again).

I’ve also picked up a copy of Anna of the Five Towns by Arnold Bennett. This wasn’t an intentional acquisition but driving to the gym one day I noticed a little free library outside a house. It’s the first one I’ve seen in the UK. So of course I had to stop and have a peek at the contents …. a lot of the titles were thrillers or crime so not of interest but I saw the Bennett and knew I had to have this because most of this series which is set in the fictional Potteries towns of Stoke, are out of print. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it…..

Hopefully by the time March 1 comes along and it’s time for another snapshot I will have actually read something from my growing collection….. But I won’t guarantee it.

About 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

Posted on February 2, 2018, in Bookends, Reading Naked 2018. Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. Karen, I am really pleased Melanie’s advice helped you out of your reading gloom. I haven’t read anything by Emile Zola, however I really enjoyed the TV series The Paradise, which was based on his novel about a department store.

  2. I’m still trying to figure out how mine grows without my knowing it. I was REALLY good about cataloging things for a while, but then it just sort of fell apart sometime in the last two years. We’re getting ready to move house and so I at least caught them all up this time.

  3. I had to laugh about how your numbers didn’t add up. I have that trouble often when I am attempting to balance my checkbook. I think those nasty books are up to something when we are not looking! Or else I go into some form of amnesia when I am in a bookstore and forget what I bought. In any case, if we have any form of apocalypse in our future, I comfort myself by knowing that I will never run out of reading material. I also hoard candles and matches!

  4. I’m the other person in the world who hasn’t read Trouble With Goats and Sheep (but I have it in my insane TBR stack).
    My book numbers haven’t gone down either, despite reading lots in January (I blame ARCs, one or two purchases and some library loans).

    • Well that seems to make three of us who haven’t read Trouble with Goats and Sheep. We are a very exclusive club 🙂 I didnt seem to read much in January but I did buy a few books unfortunately

  5. I’m so glad I was able to help, Karen. I’ve noticed that a number of my blog friends seem a bit sluggish for one reason or another, so I’m trying to help out and be supportive. I think I told you about the spreadsheet I made last weekend. Each book was either checked off on my digital libraries or physically held in my hand before it went on the spreadsheet. I never anticipate a book and put it on the list because sometimes they don’t come in the mail like I think they will.

    • I only have items in my spreadsheet that I can touch or see in my e reader. I never use it for wishlist books for example. Hence why I thought I had it all nailed down. But I’d forgotten that I opened my husband’s wardrobe recently to find a stack of my books he had moved out of a bookcase to make way for his……

  6. I had not even HEARD of Joanna Cannon’s The Trouble with Goats and Sheep…

  7. I finished Aranyak this morning. I await yours and everyone else’s thoughts on it, I might even delay reviewing it for a while. Beautifully written though. I read Three things about Elsie last weekend, I found it a very quick read. Giving a rather depressing picture of some aspects of old age, it was nonetheless compelling. I bought a book off ebay last night. Well it had to happen sometime.

    • I’ll be lucky if I get to Aranyak before the next month’s book arrives. You know I never even thought of buying books on Ebay but that could be a good option for a book about the Irish immigrants in Wales that I can’t seem to get anywhere else at a reasonable price

  8. Midwinter Break and Anna of the Five Towns are great reads — enjoy! I’m currently skimming a copy of Why We Sleep from the library’s bestsellers collection. It has fascinating nuggets of information.

  9. I’m glad you’ve come out of the slump, hooray!

  10. How frustrating to realize your numbers don’t match, but you can’t quite figure out how it happened.

    I like the suggestion about returning to old pre-blogging favorites when in a slump. I tend to mix up my usual “blogging choices” with old favorites, too.

    Enjoy your new month…and thanks for sharing.

  11. Good on you for moving onwards. And how fun to have a new Little Free Library, to which you can also contribute, in time, as well as draw from! (Also, not to rub it in, but isn’t that 20 books which have magically appeared, rather than 15. Now that math is troublesome! :))

  12. January is always such a strange reading month. I don’t really know why exactly, but I, too, have felt less attached to reading this month and, entirely by accident, resorted to an old favourite (DeLillo, in my case. I actually found myself thinking about his books whilst I was reading something else) which has made reading more of a pleasure. Maybe it’s the darkness and the cold that makes us seek something more comforting and familiar? Your comment about acquiring mysterious new books made me giggle. I had a vision of books sneaking out from behind the sofa in the middle of the night and ensconcing themselves nonchalantly on your shelves!

  13. Glad you’re managing to move out of the slump – and also acquire a few more titles… 😉

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