July was a difficult reading month for me – not least because I was very busy and over-tired for most of it. I seem to have bemoaned my slow reading progress quite a bit the last couple of weeks – but now at least I can report that things have picked up. On the 22nd of July I finished work for the long summer break – and although I was absolutely shattered (or maybe because I was absolutely shattered) I have read a lot since then. I am now in the position of still being a little down on my usual monthly total but now with two July books still to review, and I have started my first August book too. So the month has ended on a high – and I have lots more reading time to look forward to before I go back to work at the beginning of September.
July began with a lovely review copy – Sandlands by Rosy Thornton was a superb collection of short stories – a book which saw me briefly move away from my #20booksofsummer list. Everything else I read during July including my one DNF came from that list though, and I finished July having completed 16 (and 80 pages of that DNF) off my summer pile. Next came Flush, read as part of my #Woolfalong and for me an absolute joy of a read. Another joy came in the form of the unusual Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker – a book I have had at least three years, it was worth the wait. Next up – a book group read – which only made it into the above photograph for illustrative purposes because it was a rare DNF – Zofloya; or the Moor by Charlotte Dacre (1806) – I’m afraid I couldn’t get past page 80. Golden Age crime I find are great when I am tired and busy – and I had The Hog’s Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts on my summer pile which suited my mood perfectly, my first mystery by that prolific mystery writer, it won’t be my last. My next read took me outside my comfort zone (which is a good thing to do sometimes) with Different Class; Joanne Harris’s most recent novel. I like Joanne Harris’s writing, and I love school set novels, and although I generally dislike psychological thrillers, I really enjoyed this one. I was reading Different Class as I finished work for the summer on that Friday – and it seems since then I have nearly read my eyes out (slight exaggeration two books were very short). So Long. See you Tomorrow by William Maxwell, a short novel which packs a real punch – I was sorry when I had finished it. It will almost certainly make my books of the year list. Virginia Woolf a slim biography by Nigel Nicolson – younger son of Vita Sackville West another #Woolfalong read – was a re-read. I had read it so long ago I no longer had a copy so had bought another second hand copy, (review to come of course) I was reminded what a lovely, honest and intimate portrait it is of a woman whom the author had known when he was a child. Thinking ahead to All Virago/All August which I posted about recently I picked up Love by Elizabeth von Arnim a book I have been itching to read. At a little over 400 pages I hadn’t expected to finish by the end of the month but I could hardly put it down, von Arnim is such an engaging writer I flew through it.
So looking ahead to August – I will be mainly reading books for AV/AA – and #WITmonth. Although I do have a review copy on my kindle which I also hope to get to (I have neglected my poor old kindle in favour of real books just lately). My current read, The Murder of Halland will be my first for #WITmonth a little Peirene Press book (only 166 pages I’m more than half way through) – for which I am taking another short break from #20booksofsummer. I had hoped to be on about 18 by the end of July – but I still have only four books to go and a whole month left in which to complete the challenge, so I think I can afford a little break. I’m impressed I have stuck to the list quite as well as I have – sticking to the list was always the challenge for me.
One book I shall definitely be reading – as it has been chosen by my very small book group is Challenge by Vita Sackville West. It has an interesting history, written by Vita following her elopement to France with Violet Trefusis, it tells a thinly disguised story inspired by that relationship (although the couple in the novel are a man and woman not two women and the setting is a Greek Island). The book was all set to be published in 1920, but VSW changed her mind (worried about scandal) and it remained out of print for over fifty years.
As always I would love to know what you all will be reading, are you all juggling reading challenges too?
(oh and I have added links to past review this time – is this a good thing or pointless? – let me know I appreciate feedback)