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Posts Tagged ‘june reads’

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June saw me returning to work after four weeks off sick during May, this is certainly reflected in the amount of reading I have done, I have been so tired! Anyway, I completed eight books, and although I have started another, my tiredness the last two days has meant I haven’t been able to get very far with it. I am indulging in a very lazy weekend – hoping to get quite a bit of reading done.

I rarely post anything personal – in fact I am a little nervous of doing so – but I just wanted to mention that this week I was finally diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I don’t want to make a big thing about it – other people are living with far worse things – but it is changing some of the things I do. The diagnosis wasn’t unexpected – I knew that was the most likely explanation for my symptoms and at least now I have begun treatment. Like with many conditions I suppose I can expect good days and bad, and so this may be reflected in the amount I post here and the regularity of those posts. I try to post twice a week or more – and intend to stick to that as much as I can, but if I go a little quieter – or my reviews seem shorter – it might just be because I have had a bad week. The majority of my energy must naturally go into my job.

Ok, back to books. I started June in the company of Anita Brookner – and I enjoyed it enormously. I have often said how I couldn’t read several Brookner novels in a row, but I really shouldn’t leave it so long next time. Family and Friends opens with a wedding photograph, a group of family and friends in the 1920s, Sophia Dorn – always called by the diminutive Sofka – her eldest son; Frederick, the pride and joy, her daughters; Mimi and Betty all in white, while Alfred the youngest and favourite sat crossed legged at the front with assorted other children. This wedding photo and the ones which follow later in the novel form a frame for telling the stories of these family members and their hangers on. The final photograph coming on the last page – it is the last one in the album we are told by the unnamed narrator.

Photography featured in my second read of June, and was the only one which slightly underwhelmed me – and I’m still not sure why. Mrs Eckdorf in O’Neills Hotel by William Trevor was short listed for the Booker prize in 1970, and tells the story of the inhabitants of the eponymous hotel, which are gradually revealed by the interfering Ivy Eckdorf, a photographer. Ivy Eckdorf is a producer of large coffee table books – in which she has explored the desperate lives of communities in a variety of locations around the world. She had heard about O’Neill’s Hotel in Dublin from a barman – he had described the inhabitants, the hotel’s faded glories, and it had fired her imagination.

The Virago group on Librarything chose Canadian author Margaret Laurence for June, and The Stone Angel was one of two Laurence books I read in June (and I have bought a third). Oh, what joy to discover a new author. The Stone Angel is a simply wonderful novel, Margaret Laurence explores the life of one woman, Hagar Shipley, moving back and forth through different periods of her life. As the novel opens we get a snapshot of Hagar’s childhood, as aged ninety Hagar begins to reflect on her past.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy – has certainly divided opinion since it was published. I’m not going to pretend it is an easy read, I can understand people getting lost in the middle – but even those complicated political bits fascinated me. I loved it – and the characters have stayed with me since I finished it. It starts with Anjum – born Aftab – part of Old Delhi’s Hijra community – a community which has existed since long before the more accepted term of transgender came into use. Born with both male and female genitalia, Anjum leaves her family and finds a home of sorts with the Hijra community. She longs for motherhood, her desire driving everything she does. Later Anjum takes up residence in a graveyard, where surrounded by the dead she builds a makeshift shelter – which over time becomes the Jannat Guest house – home to other waifs and strays. Anjum is a fabulous character.

I was a bit late posting for Margaret Kennedy day but I really enjoyed The Forgotten Smile. The Forgotten Smile is a later Margaret Kennedy novel – one offering the reader a wonderful escape to another world. The majority of the novel takes place on Keritha, a tiny Greek Island, largely forgotten by the rest of the world. A place of Pagan mysticism and legend, where the cruise ships don’t stop and aren’t really welcome. It’s a place out of step with the modern world and is perfect for an escape.

The Devastating Boys by Elizabeth Taylor is possibly her best collection of short stories, each of the eleven stories is quite perfect. On of things that Elizabeth Taylor can do in her short stories is to have her characters step fully formed from the pages, and the reader is immediately involved in their lives. These stories take place both at home and abroad, and concern a variety of types. We have remembrances of childhood holidays and the infatuations they bring. Loneliness and humour sit side by side throughout this delicious collection.

I do love an Agatha Christie – whether it is a re-read or one I haven’t read before (there are some), I always enjoy settling in with one. The Clocks is one I couldn’t remember if I had read or not, firmly rooted in the 1960s Poirot who only makes a couple of brief appearances is really getting on a bit.

My last book of June was my second Margaret Laurence novel, A Jest of God – a review next week – but it was another big hit with me.

I have now started read A Lady and her Husband by Amber Reeves a lovely Persephone book, I have read about 100 pages so far and I love it.

I don’t have many plans for July – other than Save me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald which was chosen by my very small book group, I am looking forward to that. The Librarything Virago group has chosen Rumer Godden for July – a fantastic choice and I have a couple waiting to read – so shall almost certainly join in with that.

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What are your reading plans for July – read anything in June I need to know about? Let me know.

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So it’s the 1st of July, although it doesn’t feel like it, here, in fact as I write I’m contemplating an actual bubble bath later.

June saw the start of #20booksofsummer hosted by Cathy – sticking to the list is the challenge for me, and I have done ok so far. June got off to a good start reading wise, I fairly flew through my first four or five books. Then, predictably things slowed down, and last week was a particularly slow reading week. I did read some wonderful books though, and that is the main thing. Posting this round up later than usual – so racing through it a bit.

I began June reading a wonderful Persephone book which I had managed to overlook for years, Princes in the Land by Joanna Cannan, it could easily make it on to a list of favourite Persephone books were I to compile one. Monday or Tuesday is a slim volume of stories by Virginia Woolf, which I read for phase three of #Woolfalong. Telling the Bees by Peggy Hesketh was a birthday gift from a friend, it’s a really good read, filled with bee culture it’s a story of the lies of omission, the past and friendship. Beryl Bainbridge reading week saw lots of bloggers reading and writing about the author who died in 2010. I read A Quiet Life and A Weekend with Claude, I enjoyed both of them very much, A Quiet Life is a more domestic type of novel, while A Weekend with Claude concerns the relationships between a peculiar bunch of characters during the weekend of the title, it reminded me a little of Iris Murdoch. I had been looking forward to reading Fingers in the Sparkle Jar for weeks, a I finally slotted it in between the two Bainbridge novels. It is a stunning coming of age memoir, superbly written, it is a must for fans of TV naturalist Chris Packham. I was several days late for Margaret Kennedy day, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading Troy Chimneys her unusual historical novel, which won the James Tait Black memorial prize. Up next was another collection of short stories, A Dedicated Man by Elizabeth Taylor, a wonderful collection by one of my favourite writers, her short stories are really a must if you’ve not read any. My final read for the month was Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin, a review should be up in a few days, I seem to be blogging slowly too just at the moment, so bear with me.

So I read exactly nine books during June, all off my #20booksofsummer pile. I’m quite pleased with myself.

IMG_20160630_212352Now I will take a short break from the pile to read this gorgeous looking review copy which only arrived the day before yesterday. Another collection of short stories, the cover art blew me away, and when I opened it up and skimmed the first page I was smitten. I hope the rest is as wonderful as it promises to be. Rosy Thornton is an author new to me, but she has apparently written several other books – if anyone can point me in the direction of other Rosy Thornton books I should read, I would love to know.

July is the start of #Woolfalong phase 4 – check out my #Woolfalong page if you need a reminder of the schedule. I was planning to read Flush and to re-read Nigel Nicolson’s biography, but I appear to have just ordered Winifred Holtby’s critical memoir – which I might read instead or maybe even as well. I also have to read the early nineteenth century novel Zofloya by Charlotte Dacre for my very small book group, which has been postponed so I have an extra week to get to it, but I’m not sure I am looking forward to it.

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So what will you all be reading in July? as ever I’d love to know.

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June began with Mary Hocking reading week; I had already read one book the last week of May, so I kicked June off with the second of my two Hocking reads The Hopeful Traveller, a sequel to A Time of War. It was so lovely to stay with the characters I had just spent time with in the previous novel. Mary Hocking week was a great success from my point of view, I so loved seeing everyone’s posts and chatter about it. From one reading event to the next with Summer will Show for Sylvia Townsend Reading month. That was a big complex novel set during the French Revolution of 1848. Next I finished All Day Long by Joanna Biggs – which, I began reading during May, a fascinating portrait of Britain at work in the twenty-first century, set against a backdrop of the economic downturn. After which I got down to The Silver Spoon (and two short interludes) for my Forsyte saga reading, I gobbled them up, as I seem to have done with all the Forsyte books once I have picked them up. I have though, abandoned my chunky big paperbacks in favour of my kindle, and will continue to read my Forsyte books on it as the print size is much more comfortable. A Persephone book is always a treat to read, and Heat Lightning was a lovely book, a slow, thoughtful read, peopled with believable, complex characters, the quiet drama unfolding over one, hot sultry week. Mr Harrison’s Confessions by Elizabeth Gaskell, a book so full of charm it can’t help but be a huge hit with anyone who loved Cranford. It is in fact referred to as the prequel to Cranford, despite being set in a different place. Circles of Deceit by Nina Bawden, is a novel of family fractures, a theme Bawden always wrote about so well, I always enjoy her writing, and this novel is particularly astute. Watership Down was read for a book group, though unfortunately I missed the actual meeting through work related exhaustion. On Sunday I finished Road Ends by Mary Lawson, a lovely novel set in Canada and London, by the author of The Other side of the Bridge (review to come) in which she has created another memorable family. I have finished the month reading Elizabeth and her German Garden (for book group 2), a book I am very overdue in reading. At the time of writing, I am still reading that and naturally liking it very much. So as well as the end of June, that all also brings me to the end of my list for #20booksofsummer part 1.

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For #20booksofsummer part 2 I have decided (possibly foolishly) to go for broke and choose all remaining twelve books.

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The more observant among you will notice there are not twelve books in the obligatory book pile photograph. Three of my chosen titles are on my kindle, and one book is not out yet – I await its arrival with baited breath. The majority of the titles on the pile, that I don’t have to read for book groups, are books that I have had tbr for ages. I very strongly resisted the urge to read the books I have bought very recently. I now feel quite excited about reading books I had almost forgotten I had got.
So on #20booksofsummer list part 2 are:

Swan Song – by John Galsworthy
The Hundred Foot Journey – by Richard C Morais – for book group 1
Stranger in the House – by Julie Summers for book group 2 (non-fiction, stories of the men returning from Second World War)
Go Set a Watchman – by Harper Lee (on pre-order it should arrive the middle of July)
Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie
The Mill on the Floss – by George Eliot (a re-read)
The Rising Tide – by Molly Keane
The Bay of Angels – by Anita Brookner
The Hopkins Manuscript by R C Sherriff – it was a review from Karen that made me really want to read this and I have now had it ages.
West with the Night – by Beryl Markham (non-fiction and another re-read)
Holiday – by Stanley Middleton – a booker winner from 1974
The Lying Days by Nadine Gordimer – just a book I have been meaning to read for such a long time.

So there they are – I doubt I will finish all of them in July – though I should get most of the way through them, and with the long school summer holidays beginning for me on July 17th I may read a little more than I have been (my total for the year so far very much lower than the last few years I am sad to say). Now all I have to do is just make sure I don’t get distracted from this lovely pile of books (which is always the danger of making book piles).

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June has turned out to be quite a fairly successful reading month for me; I managed to read a bit more this month than last, – taking twelve books off my tbr. Of course June has been Mary Hocking month for me – and I think one or two other people have also been reading her – including some of my lovely friends from the LibraryThing Virago group. I actually managed four Hockings – and so enjoyed them. I have another two sitting here tbr – after an impromptu visit to ebay. I do so enjoy her world, recognisably English and firmly rooted in the times they were written, be it the 70’s 80’s or 90’s; with storylines featuring Greenham common protestors, Irish troubles, homelessness and child protection. I would so like to see her books being re-issued, I am sure there must be a lot of out of print authors who would deserve to be re-issued, how one goes about raising the profile of such authors with publishers I have no idea. However one result of her books being out of print is that I have been acquiring some rather nice old ex-library copies. It might sound strange but I do rather love them, wondering who has had them before me, and where they might have been.

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Beauty is a sleeping Cat – reviewed The Very Dead of Winter – a novel I read and very much enjoyed in December, and I know Liz is reading Good Daughters and will review it soon.

Aside from those lovely Mary Hocking books my other stand out reads for June were:
Brook Evans by Susan Glaspell – a wonderfully poignant Persephone book
Drawn from Memory – the first volume of memoir by Winnie the Pooh illustrator E H Shepard
Beyond the Glass by Antonia White – the fourth book in her famous quartet of novels.
So this is my complete June list – a review of By a Slow River will be along in due course.

52 Letters from Constance (1991) Mary Hocking (F)
53 The Kindly Ones (1962) Anthony Powell (F)
54 The Last Kings of Sark (2013) Rosa Rankin-Gee (F)
55 The Meeting Place (1996) Mary Hocking (F)
56 Beyond the Glass (1954) Antonia White (F)
57 A Song for Issy Bradley (2014) Carys Bray (F)
58 Brook Evans (1928) Susan Glaspell (F)
59 An Irrelevant Woman (1987) Mary Hocking (F)
60 Drawn from memory (1957) E H Shepard (NF)
61 Look, Stranger (1978) Mary Hocking (F)
62 The War Workers (1918) E M Delafield (F)
63 By a Slow River (2003) Phillippe Claudel (F)

I have no exact plans for July – which feels wonderful – I am going to read just exactly what I want. Although saying that I do intend to read one or two more Great War theme books and I have now started my next Anthony Powell – but after that I’m going with the flow.
So what will you be reading in July – any special plans?

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IMAG0229Pictured: walking through a field of oil seed rape on a rare beautiful day at the end of May.

I read ten books during June, a great mix, which found me deviating slightly from the pile of books I put together at the end of May. One of those books I simply didn’t get around to, another From Dusk to Dawn by Violet Trefusis I read five pages of and threw to one side, finding it utterly banal. It later had a bookcrossing sticker put inside it and was taken to the monthly bookcrossing meet up where I hoped it would find a more appreciative reader. Three of the books I have read during June, I hadn’t intended to read at all this month – I do so easily get distracted by other books I find.

This is this list.

59 No Fond Return of Love (1961) Barbara Pym (F)
60 A Very Private Eye (1984) Barbara Pym, H Holt, H Pym (NF)
61 Locked Rooms (2005) Laurie R King (F)
62 Farewell Leicester Square (1941) Betty Miller (F)
63 A Particular Place (1989) Mary Hocking (F)
64 A Woman of my age (1967) Nina Bawden (F)
65 Quartet in Autumn (1977) Barbara Pym (F)
66 Stoner (1965) John Williams (F)
67 The Exiles Return (2013) Elisabeth De Waal (F)
68 Perfect (2013) Rachel Joyce (F)

June started with Barbara Pym reading week – for which I re-read No Fond Return of Love before moving on to her diaries and letters in ‘A very private eye’. Later in the month I re-read Barbara Pym’s ‘Quartet in Autumn’ which I absolutely loved this time around. My Classic Club spin book was the hugely enjoyable ‘Farewell Leicester Square’, and I also read another Persephone book ‘The Exiles Return’, which I liked very much although I had a few minor issues with it. ‘Stoner’ by John Williams was one of two wonderful discoveries ; ‘Stoner’ a modern American classic which seems to have gone unrecognised by many for a long time was a giveaway on twitter – and one I was really delighted to have received. My other wonderful discovery was ‘A Particular Place’ a Virago Modern Classic by Mary Hocking – whose writing is reminiscent of both Barbara Pym and Elizabeth Taylor. I immediately bought four others from awesomebooks and it seems several members of the librarything Virago group seem to be gearing up to read her books this summer too. The last book of the month was ’Perfect’ by Rachel Joyce – a review copy from the publisher – the novel comes out next week and I’ll post my review in a couple of days – but I urge everyone to look out for it – it is quite remarkable.

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So July is upon us – in a few hours at least. Last July Liz and I began our months of re-reading a month of re-reading in July and another in January in recognition of how many wonderful books we have read and never seem to have time to re-read. I loved my re-reading – but in the months since January when I did my last month of re-reading my TBR has exploded! I just can’t justify re-reading all month – as I have some review copies I need to get around to – so glad I don’t get too many of these generally – too much pressure. I also wanted to celebrate all things Brookner and came up with an Anita Brookner reading month for July too. So July will be a mix of

Brookner, three re-reads and some review copies. IMAG0275I haven’t decided which of the Brookners, I have, to read yet – although I have started with Undue Influence.

I will try to read at least a couple of Anita Brookner novels during July – her writing is really very good indeed.
I also have Bartchester Towers by Anthony Trollope, The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald and The Sweet Dove Died as my re-reads. IMAG0277A group of Noble Dames for my Hardy reading challenge. And review copies of Big Brother by Lionel Shriver –which came out in May and The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy which is out in July and a memoir The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines by Shohreh Aghdashloo, which came out a couple of weeks ago.

 

Some great things to look forward to for me. What will you be reading?

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June reads

 

The picture was taken when out walking last weekend in The Breiddons just over the Welsh border – I was kept company on the coach there and back by The Age of Innocence.

Only 9 books read this month (half way through the 10th) – but some really good ones among them. I actually managed 3 non-fiction books -I  haven’t been very good with non-fiction this year – not that I read that many really any year. I also have to admit that one book that was on my June pile – didn’t get read – infact after reading a couple of pages I dropped it from mount TBR completely – and read a Persephone book instead.

58 The Sleeping Beauty (1953) Elizabeth Taylor (F)
59 The Magnificent Spilsbury & the case of the brides in the bath Jane Robins (NF)
60 Manja (1938) Anna Gmeyner (F)
61 The New Moon &the Old (1963) Dodie Smith (F)
62 Nella Last in the 1950’s (2010) P & R Malcomson (ed) (NF)
63 Illyrian Spring ( 1935) Ann Bridge (F)
64 The Bottle Factory Outing (1974) Beryl Bainbridge (F)
65 The Age of Innocence (1920) Edith Wharton (F)
66 The World that was Ours (1967) Hilda Bernstein (N F)

 

So my special mentions this month are:

 

1. Manja – a nice thick Persephone book about the lives of 5 children in a small German town between 1920 and 1933.

 

2. Illyrian Spring – a beautiful new edition of a Virago favourite from daunt books – a lovely story about a middle age woman who runs away from home.

 

 

3. The Age of Innocence – the third Edith Wharton I’ve read in 2012 – a wonderful novel about New York society.

 

 

July of course will be all about re-reading some old favourites for me – and I am looking forward to each of them enormously.

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54 Truth, Dare, Kill (2011)

Gordon Ferris ( (F)

55 The Girl in the painted Caravan (2011)

Eva Petulengro (NF)

56 Clear Light of Day (1980)

Anita Desai (F)

57 The News Where You Are (2010)

Catherine O ‘ Flynn (F)

58 Dancing with the Virgins (2001)

Stephen Booth (F)

59The Return of Captain John Emmett (2010)

Elizabeth Speller (F)

60 The Vicar’s Daughter (1927)

E H Young (F)

61 Ngaio Marsh  (2009)

Joanne Drayton (NF)

62 The Marriage Bureau for rich people (2008)

Farahad Zama (F)

63 A Wreath of Roses (1949)

Elizabeth Taylor (F)

10 books read this month, 2non-fiction and 8 fiction books.  My special mentions this month are all fiction. 1. Clear light of Day – Anita Desai – lovely India set family drama, beautifully written and evocotive. 2 The Return of Captain John Emmett – Elizabeth Speller – excellent WW1 set mystery, looking forward to the sequel. 3 The Vicar's daughter – E H Young –  well written 1920's novel, about a couple of vicar's and a lot of misunderstanding. 4 A Wreath of Roses – Elizabeth Taylor – Chilling, beautifully written novel by an author I can't praise highly enough.

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