What I’m Reading: Episode 33, April 2021

I think I’m suffering from an overdose of reading events. Although I enjoy the spirit of camaraderie when know bloggers all over the world are reading books on a particular theme, the last few months do seem to have been over-crowded. Wales Reading Month and Irish Reading Month (both in March) were barely over when it was time to get ready for #1936Club.

Add in some book tour commitments and the monthly book club selection and it felt like i was spending most of my time “reading to order” rather than reading what I fancied at the time. So I’m going to give reading events a wide berth for a few months. Clearly you can have too much of a good thing,

I have one book tour commitment next month and the book club choices but beyond that it’s free-wheeling reading all the way. .

3 novels that feature in my reading plans for April

What I just finished reading

My “rule” for taking part in reading events is to read only books I already own. Which presented a bit of a problem when it came to the #1936club hosted by Simon of Stuck In A Book and Karen of kaggsysbookishramblings. 

The General by C S Forester was one of only two novels on my TBR published in 1936, both having a military flavour. The other book is Old Soldier Sahib by Frank Richards which is an autobiography of his time as a soldier in British India from 1906 to 1912. That didn’t seem much fun so, by default, The General became my choice. Actually it was more interesting that I’d anticipated.

It’s a portrait of a military commander during World War 1, a man whose decisions send thousands of men to their deaths. We get to understand how Herbert Curzon earned promotion after promotion through steadfast dedication to the principles of obedience and duty. He’s the kind of man who – in subsequent decades – was held responsible for the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands of infantrymen. What makes a man like that tick is one of the questions Chesterton examines. Well worth reading though be warned that the book does contain some tedious passages about military command structures.

What I’m reading now

The book club choice for this month is an exciting choice. Much more to my taste than last month’s selection of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley.

This is the blurb for The Hiding Game by Naomi Wood:

In Roaring Twenties Germany, Paul, Charlotte and Walter meet at the Bauhaus art school. The trio form a close-knit group, in which passions and rivalries collide. But when Walter is betrayed, he makes a terrible mistake – a secret he will keep from Paul and Charlotte for as long as he can.

As political tensions escalate and the Nazis gain power, Walter’s secret – hidden in notebooks, paintings and blueprints – ultimately threatens the very lives of his friends, with devastating consequences.

That mention of Roaring Twenties Germany was enough of an enticement but add in the Bauhaus movement and I was sold!. Despite the fact I have the artistic talents of a flea, I’m a sucker for any novel that has an art related theme. I spent the best part of a day at the Bauhaus museum in Berlin a few years ago so I’m thinking that this book will bring back some fond memories.

Emnet by Sara Gethin figures in my reading plans at some point the next few weeks. This is due for publication by Honno on May 20 and I’m taking part in the blog tour as part of my efforts to support authors and publishers from Wales. I read Not Thomas, Sara’s debut earlier this year and was impressed by her ability to capture the speech and thoughts of a troubled five year old boy. The blurb for her new novel reads:

Summer 1966: When her father comes home with lipstick on his collar, ten-year-old Claire’s life is turned upside down. Her furious mother leaves the family and heads to London, and Claire and her brothers are packed off to Ireland, to their reclusive grandmother at her tiny cottage on the beautifully bleak coast of Connemara. A misfit among her new classmates, Claire finds it hard to make friends until she happens across a boy her own age from the school next door. He lives at the local orphanage, a notoriously harsh place. Amidst half-truths, lies and haunting family secrets, Claire forms a forbidden friendship with Emmet – a bond that will change both their lives forever.

Beyond that, there is the book club choice for May of The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennent , a novel about which I know very little other than it deals with issues of race and identity.

Somewhere in the mix there’ll be some translated fiction. And that’s as much planning as I want to do right now. We’ll see this time next month where my freewheeling reading took me and whether I manage to stick to the plan of pressing pause on reading events.



I

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

16 thoughts on “What I’m Reading: Episode 33, April 2021

  • April 24, 2021 at 7:49 pm
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    I haven’t been doing any reading events lately, though I did read a great book about Ireland and it would have been nice to participate. My bandwidth these days just feels limited, and one book club book a month is about what I can commit to. I’m glad you’re taking a little time off.

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    • April 25, 2021 at 9:30 am
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      I haven’t even managed the book club choice this month. It’s not lack of desire to read, just can’t seem to find the time.. I hope things ease up for you.

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    • April 25, 2021 at 9:45 am
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      I’m really enjoying it. She has clearly done a lot of research on the philosophy of that art movement though it feels a very natural part of the narrative.

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  • April 22, 2021 at 10:50 am
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    I do agree that there are so many events – it can get in the way, but I’m glad you joined in with 1936 and I too try to read books I already have. Good luck with whatever comes next!

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  • April 22, 2021 at 9:52 am
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    Haha – I know what you mean about blogging events, even though I love them and even hosted my own in March. But now I’m ready to read at whim.

    I was not planning to join the 1936 Club for that reason, but I ended up taking part by accident – I read a book that week (Young Men in Spats) and only afterward realized it was published in 1936! There were so many great books from that year, though, that it would not be hard to hit upon one by chance. The next date of 1976 turns up very few books I want to read.

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  • April 22, 2021 at 9:31 am
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    Thank you for having my new book on your TBR list, Karen – I’m in wonderful company there!

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    • April 22, 2021 at 10:29 am
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      My copy has just arrived from Honno so is now on the bedside table nestled up to Naomi Wood 🙂

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  • April 22, 2021 at 8:33 am
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    I know how you feel – I am guilty of signing up for zoom book launches and then forgetting them, and also with my own reading plans couldn’t join in the 1936 Club.

    BTW – you may want to fix your typo in the Hiding Game – Naomi, not Natalie! 😀

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    • April 22, 2021 at 10:31 am
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      Oh yes I’ve done that with online events so much this year. I suppose its because they’re so easy to sign up to that i over-reach myself especially when they are timed for around the hour of dinner preparation/eating. Thanks for catching that error. I kept typing Nathalie for some reason even when I knew it was Naomi. How odd

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      • April 22, 2021 at 10:58 am
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        Made me giggle – you resurrected her! It is irritating that all the online events are at dinnertime.

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  • April 22, 2021 at 8:19 am
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    I hope you enjoy The Hiding Game as much as I did, Karen. Meticulously researched and gripping, too.

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  • April 21, 2021 at 9:58 pm
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    I know what you mean. With reading books for Read Ireland, for 1936 Club, and then doing The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne for the Bryan Moore at 100 read-along, which I haven’t reviewed yet, I feel overcommitted and ready to loosen up my reading. I am going to do a read along the The Mirror and the Light starting May 1, because I needed a push to get me started on that.

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    • April 22, 2021 at 10:32 am
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      A readalong of the Mantel is a good idea – I loved the book but it took me almost three months to finish it because it’s so intense and such a slippery time frame and perspective that I had to re-read some passages to make sure I knew what was going on

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  • April 21, 2021 at 9:47 pm
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    Vanishing half was interesting with the theme of identity addressed on so many levels.

    Reply

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