A new year – and a slightly new way of rounding up the month.
As the glitter and warmth of Christmas gives way to the dark seeming chilly days of January the thoughts of many of us book addicts turn predictably to reading challenges. My first book of January was A Man of Property for my Forsyte read-a-long it was also my first five star read of 2015. I will be getting stuck into the second Forsyte book later in the month; it’s a treat I am looking forward to immensely. Period Piece by Gwen Raverat was my first non-fiction read of the year, a childhood memoir of Charles Darwin’s granddaughter, was loaned to me by Liz, her review of it had made me want to read it, and now I have returned it to her, I think I must look out for my own copy. The Small Widow by Janet MacNeill, was another five star read, and one of three books I read this month that I had found under the Christmas tree. The Small Widow is a wonderfully subtle novel that fans of such writers as Elizabeth Taylor and Anita Brookner would appreciate. Nightwoods by Charles Frazier, was a novel I had been meaning to read for over a year, having been disappointed by Frazier’s second novel Thirteen Moons, I was relieved to find I enjoyed this one much more. An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden came next, the first book in another reading challenge, the brilliantly conceived Seven Ages of Women – some genius friends over on the Librarything Virago group came up with this idea – and now already, I have read three off the list. An Episode of Sparrows comes from the childhood section of the list, no one does childhood like Godden, her understanding goes much deeper than merely showing us how childhood is, Godden shows us how childhood feels. Beside the Sea was my first Peirenne Press book, they publish small works of translated European literature – and it does seem as if almost everyone in blogosphere was reading them last year.
For Margery Sharp day I read The Foolish Gentlewoman which was my first experience of her writing and it certainly won’t be my last, it’s so exciting to discover a new to me author. Family Circle was the second of those Christmas books, I love Mary Hocking, and I am certainly going to host another Mary Hocking reading event later this year – Family Circle is now firmly one of my favourites of her books – I have to stop myself from becoming obsessed with finding more books by her – thankfully I do have two others to look forward to. Another Christmas gift was A London Child of the 1870’s – also in the childhood section of the Seven Ages of Women theme read list. My final read of the month was No More than Human (review to come). It is the sequel to Never no More that I read last year, and appears in the Coming of Age section of the aforementioned Seven Ages of Women list.
So that’s it, ten books completed and a good start made to two reading challenges.
I had also pledged some time ago to read more poetry and I am currently reading Ariel by Sylvia Plath, alongside Suite Francaise by Irѐne Nѐmirovsky. I intend to review any collections of poetry I read, and add them to my list of books read. I realise I read poetry differently – naturally so I suppose, several of Plath’s poems I have had to read four times to begin to fully get a handle on them, in that way I found myself becoming totally immersed in her language, I remember now, how she was the poet that made me want to be a poet, who made me love poetry when I was a teenager. I didn’t become a poet – though I dabbled at writing some many moons ago – and somewhere I lost the habit of reading poetry. I think that habit of not reading poetry is actually a hard habit to break – but it’s one I’m trying to.
Another challenge going on all over the place is #TBR20 – I sort of failed and had to start again – but I am trying. I got three and a bit books into my #TBR20 pile when I went to Waterstones to buy a gift – and succumbed to temptation. So I began all over again, my second pile the 16 remaining books of that first pile plus any other four. So now I am again four books into the challenge to not buy any books till I have read the twenty on that pile – it will be tough.
A new issue of the fabulous Shiny New Books came out on Thursday, and I urge you to hop on over to check out the fabulous reviews and articles written by many familiar names from the world of blogging. I revisited my review of Wake for SNB which is just out in paperback but which I read in hardback last year.