Reading plans

What I’m Reading : Episode 51, April 2023

What I just finished reading

March was supposed to be a month full of reading Celtic authors in celebration of #ReadingWales23 and #ReadingIrelandMonth23.

I had a copy of These Days by Lucy Caldwell all lined up for Ireland but never even got as far as opening the book. Nor did I get around to any of the reviews of books by Irish authors that I read last year.

Wales fared slightly better with The Party Wall by Stevie Davies (OK though a little over-written). I just managed to squeeze in another novel before the end of the month — Drift by Caryl Lewis has become by far my favourite book of the year so far.

Caryl is a TV scriptwriter (she wrote the Welsh/English language drama series Hinterland) and writes poetry, fiction for children and adults all in the Welsh language.

Drift , her first venture into writing in English, is a mesmerising tale set in a small bay on the North Wales coast. The plot revolves around a Syrian mapmaker held prisoner at a nearby army camp, and his encounter with a local girl who has a strange affinity with the sea. Within this framework, we get a haunting tale of people who have become untethered from the world around them. It’s simply stunning.

What I’m reading now

Back in February I decided to reinstate my TBR Book Jar, using this as a way of reading more of the books I already own instead of chasing after the new.

The plan was that each month I would pick out three titles from the jar and commit to reading at least one of them within two months.

My first lucky dip into the jar on March 1, delivered The Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. It’s the first part of his Ibis trilogy, Ibis being the name of an early nineteenth century trading ship used to transport opium and indentured servants.

I’ve read just over 200 pages (300 plus yet to go) and the ship has yet to leave India. Most of the narrative so far has been taken up with introducing the characters who will somehow end up on the ship and the tensions over the trade in opium. I’ve learned a lot about opium through Ghosh’s detailed explanations of how it’s grown, harvested and processed. That isn’s as dull as it might seem — the key point is that this crop effectively made slaves of poor people in India. Fascinating stuff.

By way of light relief, I’m reading The Women in Black by Australian author, Madelaine St John. It was recommended by Bill at TheAustralianLegend when he saw I had enjoyed the department store setting of The Ladies Paradise by Emile Zola. St John’s novel, uses the setting of Goode’s department store in Sydney for a wonderful character study about some of the women who work in ladies fashion. It’s comic but also touching.

You all know by now that I don’t like to plan my reading yet I already know of two books that I will be reading in the next few weeks.

As soon as I finish The Sea of Poppies I’ll be moving onto the novel chosen via the most recent Classics Club Spin — The Citadel by A J Cronin. Then I’ll be turning my attention to The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex which is the next book club choice. It’s a historical fiction novel inspired by the real life mysterious disappearance of three lighthouse keepers off the Hebrides in 1900.

It’s also time for me to pick another title from the TBR jar to read by the end of May.

That’s more than enough of a plan for me.

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

17 thoughts on “What I’m Reading : Episode 51, April 2023

  • I admire you doing the jar. I don’t know if I could do it. I’m so mood-driven on reading. I do enjoy hearing about the books you read though. Sometimes it amazes me that you found them!

    • Well this is my second attempt at the jar – my first one not being a great success because I too am a mood reader. So I would pick a book from the jar, decide it didn’t suit my mood and I’d return the little slip to the jar. This time I’m giving myself two months to read the book, allowing for variations in mood

  • The Woman in Black is such a fun story. See the film too. The Lamplighters sounds good too.

    • Any idea why the film has a different title – Ladies sounds pejorative to me

      • I wrote a little bit about The Women in Black when I read it, which generated a discussion about (film director) Bruce Beresford’s lack of respect for St John whom he had known at Sydney Uni (The guys, led by Clive James, were pretty elitist).

        • There is a good introduction/epilogue to the edition I have. I think it’s by Beresford in fact

  • I’m always happy to be a positive influence! I should return the favour and read something of yours. Drift sounds good, I’ll have a look for it.

    • Drift is the kind of book I can get immersed in. I’m not sure how it would work on audio though which I know is a format you use extensively

  • Please don’t be hard on yourself for not reading or reviewing. You are having a rough year. It is ok. Hug

  • Oh, the Women in Black is fabulous. It’s the book I always buy as a gift … must have bought 10 or more over the years. Do hunt out the film adaptation which is just as delightful.

    • I finished it a couple of days ago. Loved it, especially the characters of Magda and Lisa.


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