Posts Tagged ‘oct reads’

October in review


Not quite as many books on the book pile picture this month as I read about four books on my kindle. The downward trajectory in my monthly reading totals continues, which I am trying not to get too fed up about, I think I just have to accept I won’t ever get back to those totals of a few years ago unless I give up everything else in my life including (and probably especially) this blog. My tbr is terrifyingly out of control, I can no longer see much of it – and so one of these days there will have to be a cull. I’m not very good at culls – I always imagine an enormous pile of thirty or forty books being consigned to the bookcrossing boxes – but when it comes to it I wimp out somewhere around seven or eight.

This month has seen me reading a real mix of old and new, as I started out on a pile of review copies and impulse buys from the new Foyles in Birmingham, as well as helping Karen and Simon celebrate the fantastic 1924 club. I began October a little over half way through the seventh Forsyte novel Maid in Waiting, which I enjoyed very much. I am hoping to get to number eight, Flowering Wilderness in the next few weeks. Leadon Hill by Richmal Crompton was something of a surprise, it is a light read – but has rather more about it than I had expected, the character development is particularly strong. The Sans Pareil Mystery, one of my Netgalley books was perfect for a tiring, stressful week, the second in a series I hadn’t read before, but that didn’t stop me enjoying a historical, regency set mystery with good characterisation. Despite its rather slow start, Yeoman’s Hospital by Helen Ashton was a good second hand book shop find, the 1944 novel from the author of Persephone books title Bricks and Mortar. The Classic women’s literature challenge was launched recently by the Classic Club – and I kicked off my reading with A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf’s famous extended essay in six chapters – which I found quite brilliant. My first read for the 1924 club was The Rector’s Daughter by F M Mayor, something of a forgotten classic, I loved it. Seducers in Ecuador, Vita Sackville West’s odd little novella was my second read for the 1924 club, rather different from other things I have read of her’s, it felt a little experimental, but is also strangely memorable. The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien – her first novel in some years, and another read courtesy of Netgalley – was a powerful novel inspired by the events of the siege of Sarajevo in 1992 and the subsequent disappearance of Radovan Karadzic. Unusually for me I went on to read two more brand new novels during the week I spent on holiday in Devon, reviews of these two to come – the fourth Neapolitan novel The Story of the Lost Child – and Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last. Each of these contemporary novels very different to one another – and I did enjoy them – but perhaps three ‘modern’ novels in a row were a bit much for me. As October 31st draws to a close I picked up my large collection of Shirley Jackson stories and essays, which I set aside having not read very much a few weeks ago, and read a few of those, her writing is excellent, and I do need to try and read more of them between books.
My Stand out reads for the month:

A room of ones own2015-10-13_21.47.05the rectors daughter

A Room of One’s Own, Yeoman’s Hospital and The Rector’s Daughter, old books almost always win for me it seems.

November feels oversubscribed with books already – A collection of feminist essays for a book group, another book group read I am not even sure I can face, some review copies which look great and I really must try to get round to and the next Forsyte book all on the horizon. Sometimes, however I do need to just be able to read according to my mood – so I hope I shall be able to do that. I have a strange yearning toward Persephone books and Jane Austen – but I may not squeeze Jane in this month. I also think I really need to get on with that cull. As always I would love to know what you will be reading during November. Long dark nights = lots of excuses to curl up with books.

bad feministmy mother riverflowering wildernesstrouble on the thames

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I started this month a little way into This Side of Paradise – which turned out to be a bit of a literary whimper and have ended it with a bang reading the massively talked about and reviewed The Luminaries (my review in a couple of days). 11 novels read during October – most of them fairly slight – made up for with the largeness of that final book.

103 This Side of Paradise (1920) F. Scott Fitzgerald (F)
104 Wild Strawberries (1934) Angela Thirkell (F)
105 The Clue of the twisted candle (1918) Edgar Wallace (F)
106 The Last September (1928) Elizabeth Bowen (F)
107 The Sugar House (1952) Antonia White (F)
108 The World is a Wedding (2013) Wendy Jones (F)
109 The Haunting of Hill House (1959) Shirley Jackson (F)
110 An Unsuitable Attachment (1982) Barbara Pym (F)
111 Sleepless Nights (1979) Elizabeth Hardwick (F)
112 The Five People you meet in Heaven (2003) Mitch Albom (F)
113 The Luminaries (2013) Eleanor Catton (F)

Aside from The Luminaries which is wonderfully literary, massive in scope and just wonderfully impressive – my standout reads for the month are:

The Last September – Elizabeth Bowen, a novel to be read slowly, the prose is beautiful, Bowen is always impressive and this only her second novel shows her early genius.
Sleepless Nights – Elizabeth Hardwick; an unusual but astonishingly well written novel – although there is little of the novel form about it.
Wild Strawberries – Angela Thirkell – 1930’s froth, cosy reading at its best, I can’t wait for the new Thirkell re-issues from Virago.

ausreadingAnd so on to November. I haven’t made any definite reading plans for November, although I have a couple of new books on pre-order I think may not be able to resist, including the new novel by Elizabeth Speller and there will of course be another Barbara Pym for the centenary read-a-long. I am also probably going to be taking part in the Ausreading month hosted by Brona’s books. For this I am going to be reading ‘The Three Miss Kings’ by Ada Cambridge and am considering re-reading My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin. I hope some of the three miss kingsyou will be able to join in too.

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Nine books read during October, and quite a mixed bag of things I think. Some of them were slower reads, which is why despite one week off work and away on holiday I didn’t manage to read more than what is lower end of my average in a month. I continue to be even worse than usual with non-fiction at the moment and am going to trey and read one or two during November.

104 The Wedding Group (1968) Elizabeth Taylor (F)
105 The Casual Vacancy (2012) J K Rowling (F)
106 The Moorland Cottage (1850) Elizabeth Gaskell (F)
107 Umbrella (2012) Will Self (F)
108 The Children (1928) Edith Wharton (F)
109 A Treacherous Likeness (2013) Lynn Shepherd (F)
110 Lady Audley’s secret (1862) Mary Elizabeth Braddon (F)
111 The Limit (1911) Ada Leverson (F)
112 The penguin book of ghost stories (2010) Michael Newton (ed) (F)

So my Special mentions for October are:

1 The Children – Edith Wharton – one of Edith Wharton’s slightly less well known novels, about a middle aged man’s infatuation with a fifteen year old girl.

2. A Treacherous Likeness – Lynn Shepherd – not published yet _ I was lucky to read an uncorrected proof – loved it great atmosphere blending fact and fiction in the lives of the Shelleys.

3. Lady Audley’s Secret – Mary Elizabeth Braddon – a fantastic ninteenth century sensation novel – I loved every word.


I have gathered togther a nice little stack to read during November.  As I have been doing so badly reading non-fiction I have incuded two non-fiction titles. There are also reads for my Thomas Hardy challenge and the continuing Elizabeth Taylor centenary readalong. I am also doing my bit for libraries with my current read.

My reads for November then – hopefully – distractions permitting wil be:

1. To Bed with Grand Music – Marghanita Laski

2 Harriet – Elizabeth Jenkins

3 Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont- Elizabeth Taylor

4 Two on a Tower – Thomas Hardy

5 Tea by the Nursery Fire – Noel Streatfield

6 Brief Lives – Anita Brookner

7  Selected Letters – Jane Austen

8 Talking to the dead – Helen Dunmore

9 The Two Mrs Abbotts – D E Stevenson – which I am currently reading. (It’s the third “Miss Buncle book)

A set of books to be eagerly anticipated I think, and I am really looking forward to them. What will you be reading during November?

One thing about these chilly early winter evenings – they are perfect for reading. Unfortunatly work is a bit full on at the moment so I am being tempted away from my books by TV too – I need a bit of easy distraction sometimes. Early bedtimes with my book though, are very much the order of the day at the moment.


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October reads

97 Jamrach’s Menagerie (2011) Carol Birch (F)
98 Sense of an Ending (2011) Julian Barnes (F)
99 The Echoing Grove (1953) Rosamond Lehmann (F)
100 The Bloody Chamber (1979) Angela Carter (F)
101 Pigeon English (2011) Stephen Kelman (F)
102 Half Blood Blues (2011) Esi Edugyan (F)
103 Boy: tales of childhood (1984) Roald Dahl (NF)
104 Eight Cousins (1875) Louisa M Alcott (F)
105 Bring the Monkey (1933) Miles Franklin (F)
106 Mandoa Mandoa (1933) Winifred Holtby (F)

Some lovely books read this month – although only one non fiction, I must try to get better at reading NF.

Special mention must go to:

1. Jamrach's Menagerie – Carol Birch – brilliant page turner, and worthy booker nominee

2. Half Blood Blues – Esi Edugyan – another booker nominee, wonderfully evocative with a great narrative voice.
3 The Echoing Grove – Rosamond Lehmann – I love Rosamond Lehmann, and this is a brilliant complex novel, beautifully written.

4 Boy: tales of childhood – Roald Dahl – charming autobiographical tales from the childhood memories of the great children's writer

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October reads

96 Angel    Elizabeth Taylor  (F)
97 Justice Hall    Laurie R King (F)
98 In other rooms, other wonders    Daniyal Mueenuddin (F)
99 A Cotswold Ordeal     Rebecca  Tope (F)
100 violet to Vita    Mitchell A Leaska (NF)
101 The dream woman and other stories    Wilkie Collins   (F)
102 Cranford and other stories    Elizabeth Gaskell (F)
103 The book and the Brotherhood    Iris Murdoch (F)
104 Agatha Raisin & the Curious Curate    M C Beaton  (F)

Mainly fiction this month I seem to have read very few non fiction this year in the end.  Only 9 read – but some good ones among them.

Special mention should go to:

In other rooms other wonders – Daniyal Mueenuddin – excellent linked short stories set mainly in Pakistan.

Cranford and other stories – Elizabeth Gaskell – simply marvellous and should need no other description.

The Book and the Brotherhood – Iris Murdoch – a really good Murdoch with a marvellously memorable bit about a Parrot.

Odd that I should have read so many short stories this month when I don’t often bother with them

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October reads

OOh not many this month – but some were biggish ones – some cracking good books though.

103 The Mermaid and the Messerschmitt

Rulka Langer  NF

104 Crewel Yule

Monica Ferris F

105 The secret Scripture

Sebastian Barry F

106 The Sacred and Profane love machine

Iris Murdoch F

107 Tulip Fever

Deboragh Moggach F

108 Sand in My shoes

Joan Rice N F

109 The lady Elizabeth

Alison Weir F

110 The wasted Vigil

Nadeem Aslam F

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October reads

108 The Time of the Angels Iris Murdoch
109 The Documents in the Case Dorothy L Sayers
110 Final Demand Deborah Moggach
111 Look at me Anita Brookner
112 The Red Tent Anita Diamant
113 The Saffron Kitchen Yasmin Crowther
114 Murder After Hours Agatha Christie
115 The Conjurors Bird Martin Davies
116 Leaving Cold Sassy Olive Ann Burns
117 They Knew Mr Knight Dorothy Whipple
118 Sullivan’s Island Dorothea Benton Frank

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