Reading plans

What I’m Reading : Episode 50, January 2023

What I just finished reading

It’s winter here so what could be more appropriate than a novel set in a snowbound community in Iceland? Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson is the first title in his Dark Iceland series which takes place in a town where an avalanche has cut off all communication, putting added strain on a police force investigating two potential murders.

I score a double hit with this one — it not only fits nicely with Annabel’s Nordic FINDS Reading Month , I can also tick off one more country in my World Of Literature Project. As an added bonus it means I have completed that project, more of which in coming days.

What I’m reading now

I’m a quarter of a way through the novel that resulted from the latest Classic Club spin. The Old Wives Tale by Arnold Bennett is set in the Staffordshire Potteries region in which he was born.

In it he focuses on two sisters who grow up as daughters of a draper in a rural town. Sophia, the defiant, romantic one, runs away to Paris where she marries a cad. Her shy sister Constance remains in England and marries her father’s mild-mannered shop assistant. The sisters are reunited many years later when they are both old, giving Bennet the opportunity to reflect on the effect time and environment have had on their personalities.

It’s a long book (600 plus pages) and Bennett is apt to dwell on detail — about the first three pages are taken up by explaining precisely where his chosen town is located. So it was a little slow to get going but now I’m hooked.

The book club choice for this month is How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie which I’ve not heard of previously. According to the blurb:

When Grace Bernard discovers her absentee millionaire father has rejected her dying mother’s pleas for help, she vows revenge, and sets about to kill every member of his family. Readers have a front row seat as Grace picks off the family one by one – and the result is as and gruesome as it is entertaining in this wickedly dark romp about class, family, love… and murder.

I hope no-one in my family thinks I am plotting their demise when they see me reading this book!

JapaneseLiteratureChallenge is now underway and I’m hoping I can squeeze in one or two books for this. Maybe it’s time to read A Man by Keiichiro Hirano which is about a search for identity though I might change my mind and read Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami. I recently read a collection of micro stories by her and while they were not to my taste (far too short) i did like the writing style so maybe a full length novel would be more interesting.

As always these plans, such as they are, are subject to change. I am nothing if not consistent in my inconsistencies…

What I’m Reading is in support of WWW Wednesday  hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words. WWW Wednesday is actually a weekly meme but I choose to do it just once a month.


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

18 thoughts on “What I’m Reading : Episode 50, January 2023

    • The first few pages were very slow and I did think it would be a slog if all the book was like that but the main part of it is actually really interesting so doesn’t feel like I am wading through heavy mud

  • Oh that’s interesting your book club read, I saw that title in a photo I’m sure many others saw this week on twitter, a window display in Bert’s bookshop in Swindon that had a few copies of this book you’re going to read How To Kill Your Family next to a popular memoir just put by a member of the royal family. 🤔🤣

  • I’m intrigued by The Old Wives’ Tale. Have never read Bennet before. It sounds a cozy reading (when you can read leisurely without pressure of time or challenges :P). Maybe I should keep it for after retirement?…. :))

    • She wasn’t very complimentary was she but then his style was so different from what she was seeking to do that I suspect most of the realists would have been criticised

  • Big fan of Strange Weather in Tokyo! I also loved Kawakami’s The Nakano Thrift Shop.

  • I think, as in the past with Dicken’s and others, in Bennett’s The Old Wives Tale it’s almost as though he tries to get the reader into the place before they start on the story. With today’s readers, if the first paragraph, even the first sentence, doesn’t grab, the book’s discarded. Sign of the times we live in. I read this book year’s ago, and actually enjoyed both the style and the story.

    • That’s fair Judith, he does situate his novel very well. I wonder how many of today’s readers would find the opening pages too dull. I know my husband didn’t care for it yet he enjoyed the other Five Towns novels

  • As I’m currently reading an Icelandic saga I fear I won’t be finally getting round to the Ragnar Jonasson novel I had waiting for this month, but it’s not Snowblind so I hope it’s not a later title in a series.

    Anyway, I see from Goodreads I apparently have at least six novels simultaneously on the go so this particular meme will never work for me!

    • I think he has written more than one series so you may find you have the other one!

  • Snow Blind sounds interesting! It’s outside my usual genre pick, so I think I’ll add that one to my growing TBR pile!

    • It’s an interesting twist on the classic Agatha Christie “locked room” premise except that in this case it’s not a room that is locked but a whole town, locked in by an avalanche that blocks the only road in and out. So of course the murderer can’t escape

  • Hello Booker Talk; I am commenting on what you’ll be reading next in that I was reminded that this book was on my long list of to be read or wanting to read; but in viewing my notebook listing, I am in error. The book that I am wanting to read is titled Murder your Employer by Rupert Holmes…a McMasters Guide to Homicide; I don’t have an employer so it seems harmless to peruse it one day if ever I get myself to do this reading. I am noting a similarity is all or I am way off as usual.
    If I could stop commenting on everyone’s else blogs or sites then I would be a better reader and posting of more blogs. At times, it is nice to be heard/read…what have you.

    • Hi again. Yes that sounds like a dangerous book for someone to read while they are at work!

  • I always have a few books on the go at once (a mix of fiction and nonfiction, hardbacks and ebooks, but what I realised in reading your post is I NEVER plan precisely what I’m reading next until I’m ready to start reading it!

    • In my head I have an idea of what I’m going to read next. But unless it’s the book club choice which I have to read before we meet I rarely carry through on that idea. At the moment I’m ready to pick up a new book, you can bet my hand will reach for something entirely different


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