Snapshot March 2017
Another month further into the year and time for another snapshot of my reading life. March 1 marks the beginning of Spring in the northern hemisphere and for once nature is in tune with the calendar – daffodils are in bloom in the garden though the squirrels seem to have snaffled most of the crocus bulbs I planted. Tulip leaves are also pushing up through the earth heralding the pleasure to come. My recovery from surgery is also going well – so plenty to celebrate this month.
As I expected, being unable to do much other than vegetate on the sofa while the wounds healed, meant I was able to do fair amount of reading in the past few weeks. On March 1 itself I was half way through Dr Thorne by Anthony Trollope. It’s the third book in the Chronicles of Barchester series and though it doesn’t have my three favourite characters from the first two – Mrs Proudie, the Bishop’s Wife, Septimus Harding and the most magnificent of all, the chaplain Mr Obadiah Slope – it does have a rather delicious character in the shape of the Squire’s wife. Where the first two books, The Warden and Barchester Towers, focused on the dealings of the clergy, Dr Thorne takes us into the world of the gentry with their political ambitions and concerns to maintain their status in society. Dr Thorne is a book I’ve long planned to read as part of my Classics Club project and it didn’t disappoint.
State of my personal library
One of my goals for 2017 is to enjoy the books I already own and to reign back on acquiring yet more. I started 2017 with 318 unread books ( I thought it was 299 but then discovered my list of ebooks was incorrect) and a plan to hold off from adding to that number for the first six months of the year. I’m amazed that I’ve been able to keep to this plan – largely down to my strategy of immediately deleting from my in box any emails from publishers about new titles and from booksellers about special offers. I won An Exquisite Sense of What is Beautiful by J David Simons in a giveaway hosted by Lizzy at https://lizzysiddal.wordpress.com/. Lizzy’s review is here.
Then I was sorely tempted when asked if I would review The Last Gods of Indochine by Samuel Ferrer that was nominated for the Man Asian Literary Prize (“The Booker of Asia”). It’s a historical drama combining two storylines separated by six centuries; one story is set in Cambodia in 1294 during the last days of Khmer imperial glory and the other in 1921 during the period of French colonial rule. Here is the opening paragraph:
“Farther India”, 1861 (Laos, Indochina).It was hard to believe the human body could contain so much water, and yet, there it all was. Phrai twisted the cloth and watched it plop in dull patters on the ground, the pocked earth sponging up sound as well. Sweat had been seeping out his employer for weeks, and he had been at the dying man’s side all the while, pouring fresh water back into his mouth with the devotion of a nun. Phrai imagined nearly half the man had been absorbed and squeezed from these rags, creating small pools just outside the hut. In another part of the world, that half of him would evaporate out of existence, but here it could not; the thick air held eternity at bay.
So with two additions to my collection but five read, I ended February with 311 books remaining in what I call ‘my personal library’.
The collection of owned-but-unread books might be on the downward trend but the same can’t be said for my wishlist in Goodreads. In February I added The Long Dry by Cynan Jones, I Refuse by the Norwegian author Per Petterson plus twelve titles from the Greatest Books from Wales list that I posted a few days ago. I’m hoping I can get to end of June before I start buying any of these but it’s good to dream…..
On the reading horizon…
March is Reading Ireland month, hosted by 746books.com which has given me a good impetus to dig out the Ireland-related books from my shelves. Of the titles I found I’m probably gong to begin with John Banville’s Ancient Light. After that I will see where my mood takes me – I’ve discovered that planning too far ahead doesn’t work well for me. Making a list is good fun but the minute I have to start reading it, my enthusiasm wanes. I much prefer the serendipitous approach.
18 thoughts on “Snapshot March 2017”
You’ve reminded me that I simply must get back to some Trollope. Lately I’ve been feeling rather overwhelmed by some of the sad stories I’ve been reading (fiction and non-fiction) and thinking that perhaps some classics might make for better bedtime reading: Trollope seems perfect, really.
So glad to have news of your recovery. I’d been wondering if things were going well – and hoping so. May that be the trend for you. Onwards.
I’d be doing a disservice to call a classic novel a comfort read (that term to me implies something that you dont need to think about) but whenever I read one I feel like I’ve met an old friend.
It is really good to hear your recovery from surgery is going well. I wish you more happy reading and healing in March 🙂
Thanks for the good wishes Jessica. I have two more weeks to go now before the next round of surgery….
I pray that you are well healed for the next round of surgery and that it is as successful as before.
Well done for not acquiring any new books- despite having loads I have been acquiring more and more. Oops. Those Barchester books are wonderful. I started re-reading them a couple of years ago but only got as far as the first two. I really want to get to Doctor Thorne.
Ah but you read more than I do Ali so the piles never threaten to overwhelm I’m sure. Dr Thorne is very different to the first two – a bit slow in part but I felt I was in the safe hands of a good storyteller
Oh no the piles do overwhelm if I stop to think about it.
I had no idea you had surgery. I’m very glad to hear you’re getting better.
I have to get back to Trollope one of these days.
thanks Caroline – progress is slow but I’m getting there.
Ah, the Goodreads wishlist! For every book I read, I add two more. And strangely, the books I read never seem to have been on my wishlist to begin with. It’s wonderful that there are so many good books to discover and so many book blogs to help us discover them, but it can lead to a slight disconnect between wishes and reality. Now, let me look up The Last Gods of Indochine…
the odd thing is that I never take that wishlist with me when I go book shopping. So I end up buying everything but what I wish for
I have Dr. Thorne on my tbr list after I saw the recent series…can I read it as a standalone or do I have to read the other books in the series?
Oops, I meant after I watched the recent television series….(sorry for the confusion).
Last Gods of Indochine sounds promising, and yes such a pity to have lost the Asian Man Booker, looking forward to the #MBI2017 long list coming out on March 15. Happy you are recovering and have your reading mojo intact.
So glad to hear your recovery is doing well, and that you were able to read during that time.
I totally understand you can fall into those types of temptations, I fall more often that you do, but I’m still able to keep working on my TBR
I’m so glad to hear your recovery is going well. I remember enjoying Dr Thorne, though I don’t think I liked it as much as the other novels in the series. The Warden is a favourite, as is The Small House at Allington.
Gosh, for a moment there I got myself all excited because I thought the Man Asian had been resurrected! I loved that prize… I discovered so many great books that way, and really there is nothing to replace it that brings us news of what’s great to read from Asia.
I was on a shadow jury with Stu from Winston’s Dad for a couple of years and we read all the books and it was just fantastic.
On top of losing the Commonwealth Writers Prize which has fizzled into nothing since it only offers a prize for an unpublished short story, the loss of the Man Asian is really sad. All those new billionaires in Asia and not one of them would sponsor it…