Posts Tagged ‘talesfromthetbr’

I cannot lie, books have come into the house.

It might not seem like it, but I really have reduced the amount I have been buying recently. However, what with the enormous number of wonderful books I received at Christmas a handful of review copies all arriving at around the same time – my shelves are not feeling the benefit yet. My tbr stands at 258 (I am keeping my spreadsheet from last year going – it proves useful in all sorts of ways) which is about where it was for most of last year – it never really improves by much.

However, I am also attempting to rid myself of books I am unlikely to read again. My virago books, Persephones, my old out of print editions are books I cannot, will not part with, but modern mass market paperbacks, translated fiction and those books I buy for my book group – can be passed on and enjoyed by others. I am taking steps in reducing the number of those I have in the house, but it is admittedly a slow process. It was the bookcrossing meet up today – so that’s another small pile gone.

Sometimes the dogged pursuit of one particular book – finally pays off – and so it was this week – with the help of my friend, Liz. Last year I read The Juniper Tree by Barbara Comyns, a book which made my end of year list. Certainly not the only Comyns I have read – I have now read six of her novels – but probably the one that made me decide to track down everything she had written as soon as possible. So, it was about then that I first became aware that A Touch of Mistletoe and some of Comyns other books are especially hard to track down. There is something about the knowledge that something is hard to get that only makes one want it more. Despite not having all Comyns books yet – I decided I had to buy it – I will worry about those others later. Reasonably priced copies were few and far between – absurdly priced copies would pop up every now and then, so it seemed the scarcity of even the VMC edition was driving prices up. To cut a very long story short, Liz found a copy of A Touch of Mistletoe on Amazon marketplace at such a reasonable price – we doubted it was the right book. Having already lost out on a copy – when I didn’t see a message another friend sent me in time – Liz just bought it on my behalf – and had it sent to her house. We met up for a cuppa a few days ago and I brought the book home – the condition of it is practically perfect. So, I still have three (I think) Comyns to track down – but I think I need to wait a while before I start chasing Comyns all over the internet again, it really is quite exhausting.

The other two books I bought this week are by Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, Flights which has been reviewed everywhere, a challenging work I suspect but which won the International Man Booker, and the wonderfully titled Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead – which I may have bought for the title alone.

The last book which came into my house in the last few weeks is The Rental Heart and other fairytales by Kirsty Logan – chosen by my very small book group. Since buying the book, I have realised I may not be able to attend that meeting. It is probably not a book I would have acquired without my book group – it is short stories, and very slight, so I may read it anyway.  

What books have come into your house recently?

Read Full Post »


A quick Tales from the tbr post this time, and my last of 2018. Pictured above my tbr as it is today – pretty chaotic and untidy – I went mad a few days ago looking for something and that was the result. There are almost as many books behind the ones in front – which makes finding things difficult.

I am currently juggling like mad – well that’s how it feels. The last couple of weeks have been busy as work, and what with several nights out, busy weekends and Christmas shopping to be done I have found reading and blogging harder to fit in.

I still have three books left in my A Century of Books – well I will have later this evening when I finish my current read The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy for 1964 – such a good book.

While I really should be writing up reviews – my thoughts have turned to reading challenges for 2019 – and, well I am not really doing them – much.

Having spent 2018 juggling two big reading challenges; #ReadingMuriel2018 and A Century of Books – 2019 will give me chance to get my tbr in order (feint hope) and read what I want to. I think I shall end the year almost where I started in terms of the number of books tbr – which is pretty dreadful – not all books have been bought – I do get given books, ( a friend passed one on to me just a few hours ago) I’m sent books and pick some up through bookcrossing, but many, too many have been bought and I need to rein it in somehow. Financially, I need to get a grip on my book spending – and though I am not setting a target or anything – because I will immediately fail – I will be buying fewer books. I have so many wonderful books already – and will no doubt score a few more over Christmas. They are enough to keep me busy.

IMG_20181216_165235.jpgHowever, although I am not hosting any big challenges in 2019 – I am sort of responsible for a little read-a-long in January of Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym. Back in 2013, leading up to Barbara Pym’s centenary I started a little FB group – The Barbara Pym virtual tea party – a place for like minded Pym fans to celebrate the day share pics etc. I assumed the group would fade out after her birthday in the June. It didn’t. People have continued to join. I realised I was the most useless FB group admin ever – never posting, taking weeks to approve new members, and so to make up for it, I suggested a little group read-a-long in January. It proved a popular idea, so we will be reading Some Tame Gazelle in the second half of the month (no strict timetable – I can never be bothered with those). Pym will be fairly sure to brighten up a gloomy month – and this early Pym is a classic. If you feel like it, join in.

I will happily join in other reading weeks/months/club events as I usually do, I’m just not organising anything myself or committing to anything big. Let me know of any that has passed me by – I know about the tbr busting ones but have decided not to sign up to any of those.

For several years the Librarything Virago group have had a monthly reading event. The last two years each month has been dedicated to a particular VMC author. In 2019 we will be reading the 1940s – I think there will be some themes within that for each month – details are being worked out by members as we speak. I think most of us will stick to VMC and Persephone books – but as it is a period I love – and I will have plenty of books already to fit – I am sure to be joining in quite a lot, I like the flexibility of being able to dip in and out.

So, I am a little behind in my reviews but hope to get one or two out this week, and maybe even Christmas week as well. Next up to be reviewed, The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay and Stet by Diana Athill – and my current read of course.

I never do my books of the year post till right at the end of the year – when everyone is probably heartily sick of those kinds of posts. There is still plenty of time to read something that simply has to make the list – and so I haven’t even started compiling it yet.

How will your New Year be for challenges?

Read Full Post »


As the year starts drawing towards Christmas, I have to stop buying books – it is obviously not easy for me. However, buying books for other people does help to scratch the itch. The Librarything Virago group have a lovely Christmas gift exchange – which naturally involves books. I am currently enjoying selecting and buying books for the person whose name I drew. It’s one of the gifts I enjoy buying most each year.

So, the latest books to come into my house (that are for me) could be seen as my last hurrah for the year.

Some second-hand book shopping while I was away in Devon at half term yielded these lovely books.

Blind Messenger by Joanna Cannan (1941)– a bit of a rare find I thought, so I sort of took a chance on it. I loved Princes of the Land published by Persephone, and I have High Table by her tbr – Liz read it and liked but didn’t love it I seem to remember. I could really do with the print being larger – but beggars can’t be choosers – I will need to turn on all the lights when I finally read it.

Mrs Reinhardt and other stories by Edna O’Brien (1978)– I have often thought I haven’t read enough Edna O’Brien – and I do love short stories. I actually have another Edna O’Brien book tbr that I shall most likely be reading soon for my ACOB.

Mary O’Grady by Mary Lavin (1950) – a green virago I didn’t have – the story of a woman’s life, and motherhood in Dublin in the first part of the twentieth century.

The Ante-room by Kate O’Brien (1934) – a modern virago – set in Ireland in the late nineteenth century. I haven’t read Kate O’Brien yet – though I do have another of her novels on my tbr bookcase. I must say this does look very good.

Before going away, I started ruminating on Katherine Mansfield – I saw something on line about her which got me thinking. It ended in predictable fashion – I went looking for books.


The Aloe – by Katherine Mansfield (1930) her only novel – well novella really – was later reworked to become her famous short story Prelude. She wrote The Aloe to capture her recollection of childhood. I have been wanting to get to know Katherine Mansfield better for a long time, I read The Montana Stories earlier this year – ever since when, I have had this yearning for more. Well I haven’t been able to fit more in to my A Century of Books – but I am planning on reading this very soon after I complete the challenge.

You may remember me posting about the lovely Second Shelf books – well despite their website not being completely up and running yet (you can’t shop from it just yet) I managed to order myself two reasonably priced Katherine Mansfield first editions. The arrived wrapped up like little presents (they were presents to myself!) and I was delighted with the look and feel of these books by an author I first read a few years ago but fell properly in love with earlier this year. So, I bought The Collected Stories (1945) and The Doves Nest (1923) I have already read a lot of the stories in these two books, but I will want to read them again one day, whether I should read first editions I never really know, probably collectors would say not to (I do sometimes read my first editions – though I don’t have many – books are for reading – aren’t they?)


I have now ordered a surprise first edition from them – which I think get sent out in a couple of weeks. I have seen so many people tweeting their delight with their surprise first editions – that I caved in – surprises are exciting. I am really going to have to rein in the book spending next year – I have gone a bit mad lately – but the joy of books coming through the post is irresistible. I will no doubt let you know what I get when it arrives (I’m calling it my early Christmas present to myself).


Something else I discovered because of Twitter – was book buddle – I bought one with pretty poppies on, but they come with lots of designs. A good potential Christmas gift too – a padded sleeve to protect your book when you are carrying it around in your bag. I love mine and it has already accompanied me around the city on various buses as well as on my holiday to Devon. A simple but useful idea. How did I manage without one so long?

So, how is your shopping bag for books? Bought anything good recently?

Read Full Post »

Tales from the tbr


More books have come into the house – and I am hovering over the buy button almost daily. This is not good.

In January I was able to report that my tbr stood at 280 – once I had added in all those invisible kindle books. I imposed a book buying ban for the whole of January – (there may need to another one of those soon) but since then I have returned to my good old, bad old ways. So now, despite my best efforts I still have 264 books tbr – there was one heady moment when I fell below 260 – but of course I acquired more books. There they are, in all their glory. So, while the overall number has fallen – it hasn’t fallen by much. I’m also aware that, I don’t have any books for phase 3 of #ReadingMuriel2018 so once I have read a few more books to make space, but before the start of May I shall have to rectify that situation (perhaps I should reacquaint myself with the library for those).

Having so loved Barbara Comyns’ The Juniper Tree – I went straight off and ordered three more of her books; Mr Fox, Sisters by a River, and The House of Dolls. I am going to space them out over the next few months (or longer) so I have them to look forward to.

Trick by Domenico Startone published by Europe Editions – is the latest book to arrive from The Asymptote book club – it is translated from Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri. I anticipate it eagerly – a quick flick through when it arrived really whetted my appetite.

A Secret Sisterhood (the hidden friendships of Austen, Bronte, Eliot and Woolf) by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney looks utterly brilliant and boasts a foreword by Margaret Atwood. Well I had to really.

Having seen so many fabulous reviews lately of Fleur Jaeggy novels I bought Sweet Days of Discipline, which I am really looking forward to.

Following on from my review of Crooked Heart a novel set during World War Two by Lissa Evans I was delighted to be offered a review copy of Old Baggage – which comes out in June. It will reunite me with a most fascinating character from Crooked Heart.

The Divine Fire by May Sinclair is definitely the oldest book I have bought in the last couple of weeks. I found it in a second-hand bookshop in Budleigh Salterton while I was away a few days ago. A 1911 edition of a novel first published in 1904, I didn’t have to pay much for it – as it is probably not in the greatest condition, good enough to read I hope.

I’m fairly pleased with my progress in A Century of Books so far, however, I know I have books coming up (book group reads, Muriel Spark reading etc that will mean I replicate some years I have already done – so slowing down my progress. Also, despite my buying all those books I still have gaps in my ACOB spreadsheet. My gap years are: 1938, 1978. 1979,1991, 1992. 1994, 1999 and 2004. Some years (for example 1950, 1974 – I only have one book listed- and so no choice of title – I much prefer to have three or four to choose from). I am very much enjoying A Century of Books though – I would love to finish it in one year, though not sure how realistic that is. To date I have ticked off thirty years (though not yet reviewed them all).

I’m just about to start reading The Bachelors by Muriel Spark, which I have been looking forward to so much. I really should be reading my book group read – Men without Women by Haruki Murakami – which I admit I may be putting off a bit. We meet on Wednesday evening – what chances are there I shall have finished Spark and read Murakami by then?


Read Full Post »

Tales from the tbr


As you’re reading this I am travelling back from a few days away by the sea. One thing about coach and train travel is that it gives one plenty of reading time. I chose the coach this time, because the train price was quite a lot higher. I can read on the coach without feeling unwell as long as I take breaks and only read while on the motorway.

My TBR is improving – oh so slowly, but because I didn’t buy books during January I have not added to it too detrimentally. I have bought a few books during February however, I bet you all knew I would. The shelves are not quite as tidy as they were either.


The Juniper Tree by Barbara Comyns – a very pretty nyrb edition – I read a review recently which reminded me how much I wanted to read it.

A second-hand Persephone (though practically pristine and still with its bookmark) Julian Grenfell by Nicholas Mosley. It is one I had overlooked for a very long time, then a review of it I saw once made me re-evaluate my Persephone wish list. It is not a book I have seen reviewed very often though, or even talked about much – perhaps because it was first re-issued by Persephone so long ago.

I also bought three more of the beautiful new Muriel Spark centenary editions from Polygon – though only two of them have gone on to my tbr – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie I have read before, but don’t have a copy any more. The Girls of Slender Means (chosen by my very small book group for our March read) and The Bachelors which I couldn’t resist.


I also found these two D E Stevenson books the other day. Now I”m not a D E Stevenson expert and I know her books vary quite a bit. So I did hesitate in buying them at first, but they sound so charming I decided to take a chance.


A few days ago, I picked up Luminous Isle by Eliot Bliss I loved Saraband – and I looked forward to more of her beautiful, poetic prose. The novel, first published in 1934 is set in Jamaica – and I suppose I should have been ready for the usual racist epithets of the time – but having encountered several uses of the ‘n’ word in the first few pages I just couldn’t go on, it was just too much. I was really frustrated, Eliot Bliss was also a poet, and her prose is glorious. I still really want to read the novel that Karen so kindly sent me. I have placed it back on the tbr shelf – hoping someone will tell me it is worth pressing on with.

Giveaway Winner

cover miss Boston.jpg.rendition.460.707On Monday morning I selected the name of the winner (random name generator) of the Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves paperback provided by Penguin books. The winner is Sarah from the Hard Book Habit blog and they have been notified already, the book will be sent out in the next couple of days. Congratulations Sarah I really hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.

Read Full Post »


Having decided to take part in ACOB I determinedly ignored any temptation to do anything crazy like sweep all my tbr books to the floor and work my way through them looking for the first published date. Who, after all would ever need a spreadsheet of their tbr? Did I really need to know how many tbr books I actually had?

Then I saw other ACOB-ers posting pictures of  books – books spread across the floor, stacked in piles, I felt the stirrings of inspiration. The following day I found myself surrounded by a few tottering piles of books, my laptop on, as I set about doing the very same thing. It took the best part of five hours (with a break to cook dinner) and I don’t have *that* many books – as I discovered.

Collage 2018-01-12 18_49_22

So, let’s talk numbers. Before I began there was a stack of about 15 books on the floor – this worried me – I don’t allow a stack on the floor. However, after sifting through I discovered about 14 books for culling, and 2 pairs of duplicates – so when I had finished there were, pleasingly, no books to be piled on the floor. My tbr is housed on two deep, wide shelves, the books are doubled rowed with others stacked on top – meaning I only access about half of it at a time. Not the best way to arrange my tbr I grant you – but I insist on only have two shelves tbr. There were two re-counts – I discovered an uncounted book down the side of the chair (they get everywhere) and remembered two books ordered before New Year, that had yet to arrive – (they have now). So, the final, final numbers; I have 208 books on my tbr. I was absurdly pleased with that, I had thought it would be higher.

IMG_20180112_202233.jpgOh, that doesn’t include my kindle books. My kindle tbr stands at 72, but I don’t currently feel compelled to add them to the spreadsheet. They don’t quite feel like real books in the same way. Still, mathematical genius that I am, I know that 208 and 72 comes to something like 280 books. Should I add them to the spreadsheet? Ooh now I’m thinking I should!

I was fascinated by the books I found, that I had forgotten all about, some I have had years. (Some of those kindle books have been there since I had my first kindle). I was surprised how many books by Beryl Bainbridge I had 5 – I choose to read one straight away. There are quite a lot of Golden Age crime, including 3 Margery Allingham who I haven’t read enough of, but now I’m not sure whether they are at the front or the back. Lots of Virago greens, including four Molly Keane’s and four Mrs Oliphants (she falls outside the dates of ACOB though). Edith Wharton, Olivia Manning, Margaret Laurence, E H Young, so many wonderful writers. Lots of things I am now looking forward to reading. I already have my first 2018 book on the pile, Three things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon arrived yesterday, I pre-ordered it a few months ago. I have three or four books for many of the years in ACOB but frustratingly there are a lot of missing years, which could lead to more book buying later in the year. If I added those kindle books to the spreadsheet then I might find I have some them.

*drums fingers* perhaps I better get on with it, though it’s probably a job for another day.



Read Full Post »