#readwomen in December

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Participating in ladybookmad’s initiative of reading as many women as possible in December!


(Also yes, I’m back… stay tuned.)


This week I will mostly be reading…


This week, I will mostly be reading:

Pictured above, from top to bottom:

The Diamond as Big as the Ritz and other stories – F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Grand Sophy – Georgette Heyer

Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer

I finally managed to regain a little momentum towards the end of last week.  I finished Emma and my review for it has gone up.  I’m still stalling on Gormenghast because I’m finding it, physically, a hugely inconvenient book to read as it’s so large and heavy.  I’ll finish it at some point, but I’m trying not to let it become an albatross around my neck as I’m enjoying it immensely.  As well as finishing the original Emma, I’ve read the Alexander McCall Smith modernisation of the same book, as well as All the Bright Places over the weekend.  I’ve already written reviews for both, and those will go up Wednesday and Friday respectively.  Fair warning: neither review is particularly flattering.

So, for this week, what’s coming up?

Everything is Illuminated is still my priority behind Gormenghast.  I hope it will help spur me on even more out of this slight reading slump (I have my own suspicions on why it started but don’t want to say too much on a public blog).

The Diamond as Big as the Ritz is a nice short one.  I’m hoping it’ll be a more positive experience of Fitzgerald than my last attempt, which was reading half of Tender is the Night and heartily disliking it.  I’ll probably give the latter a go again at some point.  (For the record, The Great Gatsby is one of my favourite books).

The Grand Sophy is one I’ve been looking forward to, as many have compared it to Jane Austen in terms of wit and romance.  I’m hoping that I find it to my taste.  I tend to sway wildly one way or the other with these things.  For example, Cold Comfort Farm is often said to be witty in the same vein as Jane Austen and I didn’t find much to smile about in that one!

We’ll come to the close of January this week.  For starters, I’d like to say thanks to everyone who’s followed my blog, or commented, or liked posts over this month – it’s been a really positive experience!  This is probably the longest I’ve persevered with a blog as I tend to get discouraged really easily.  I’m trying to remember I’m doing this for myself first and foremost, and it seems to be working.  You’ll also perhaps remember that, at the start of the month, I posted a picture of the books I hoped to read this month.  I’m obviously a little over-ambitious – including those above, I still have seven of those plus half of the Gormenghast trilogy to read.  I shall not let that discourage me!  Depending on what I get done this week, those books will most likely role over into next month.  However, I’ll keep one mantra in mind: it’s up to me.


This week, I will mostly be reading…


This week,  I will mostly be reading…

Pictured above, from top to bottom:

Emma by Jane Austen

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake

So here’s what I’ll mostly be reading this week! You’ll notice that there’s not been much of a change from the start of this month.  I’ve not spent as much time reading lately as I’d like.  This is odd, as I’d been going really well until the turn of the year.  Hopefully it’s just a tired patch.  Anyway, the first book there is Emma, which I’m about 40% of the way through as of today.  I’m only making slow progress with it as I’m not reading it at home, only on my commute and lunch break.  I’m really enjoying rereading it, as I’m picking up on so much more of the foreshadowing of things that happen towards the end of the book than I did the first time through.  I’ve got Alexander McCall Smith’s modern rewrite lined up for afterwards, and I’m really looking forward to that too.  I like modern rewrites a lot, even though they don’t always do anything innovative with the text.

Everything is Illuminated is what I’ve got lined up for after I finish Gormenghast. I’m kind of nervous to read this one.  I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close near the end of 2013 when I was in a pretty big reading slump and was generally pretty depressed.  Although it was pretty self-conscious and a bit pretentious,  I really enjoyed it and it really spoke to me, especially the meditations on grief.  So I’m hoping that this one will still work for me now that I’m in a much better head-space.  Foer has a bit of a rep for being pretentious and not being as clever as he thinks he is, so we’ll see how I get on with this one.

Finally Gormenghast.  I’m about one third of the way through the second book in the trilogy, and I hope to finish it by the end of this week (I said this last week, and the week before…) The thing about these books is that they’re very dense.  Even though I don’t find the language difficult, or what they’re describing hard to imagine, there’s just so much of it.  It’s been said by many that Peake writes like a painter and that’s true – his imagery is so alive with colour and artistry that it works so much better for me than most other extremely visually descriptive writing.  If I could make one small criticism, he’s a little a repetitive.  For example Steerpike’s “high shoulders” or Fuchsia’s “inky black” hair is referred to at least once every couple of pages.  I’m not sure, maybe it’s intentional, but it doesn’t really work for me.


#BoutofBooks – Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt!

Many thanks to Stefani at Caught Read Handed for hosting this great challenge here.  I decided to take a picture for each one… some were harder than others!

1. Find an author with the same initials as you


This one was sort of hard, as I didn’t have any physical books that had my initials, but here’s a book I’m probably going to read at some point later this year (I’m definitely going to read it in general!) My initials: SC

2. Find a book with the color yellow on it

3. Find an author’s name with the letter “S” in it


This is one of my favourite books.
4. Find a book with a female protagonist

5. Find the longest book you own

6. Find a book with a map in it or on it


From my copy of The Fellowship of the Ring.
7. Find a book with a face on it (photograph or illustrated)

Bonus: Find something on your shelf that isn’t a book.


(oh dear, I cut his ears off at the top of the photo)

I hope you enjoyed my little scavenge-y tour and that you’re having a good Bout of Books!


#ShelfLove – My TBR Overfloweth

No Book Buying Challenge 2015 – January update: Post/share a picture or list of your TBR pile(s)

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(click the images to make them bigger)

So… I have quite a big TBR.  I went through a mega-phase maybe three years or so long where I just kept buying books, and buying them, and buying them… I’m not quite sure when it completely got out of control, but the result was that I ended up with 162 unread paper books.  Which is quite a lot.  As you can see.  This is the reason that I need this challenge!  I’m going to try to add to this pile as little as possible – only one book per month(!) so that over the next couple of years I can reduce my TBR to a manageable size and read books when they come out or as I discover them, instead of waiting  years and years to get round to them.

Obviously, some of the titles are really hard to make out – so, inspired by the fine ladies running this challenge, I’ve made a Goodreads shelf so that anyone who wants can peruse at their leisure.  Feel free to add me on Goodreads too!  The more the merrier is definitely my motto.  If there’s anything in particular you’d like to see me read sooner rather than later, feel free to give me a shout.  Happy reading!


This month I will mostly be reading… January!


So here’s a little taster of what I’m going to be reading this month.  Sorry it’s not the best photography, but I had to use my phone. Looking at last year, I managed at most twelve books in one month, and the least I managed was four.  So I’m gunning for nine this month, as I feel like I’ve got a reasonably empty month ahead, and I’ll have some commuting time (along with probably my lunchbreak) to read.

Two of these books – Gormenghast and Emma (which is on my e-reader, pictured in its fetching owl cover) – will be read for the TBR Pile and Back to the Classics challenge respectively.  Gormenghast is a tome I’ve been meaning to get to for a long time.  My boyfriend has been badgering me about reading it FOREVER.  I don’t know if it’s because I have the trilogy collected in one volume that intimidates me, but I’m going to make the effort to get through it during next week’s Bout of Books.  Even if I don’t manage, I’ll give it a good try!  Emma is my only reread that I’ve picked for Back to the Classics, and I chose it to ease me into the challenge, but also as I want to give the Alexander McCall Smith Austen Project modernisation a go in the next few weeks.  I know these modernisations haven’t been popular with a lot of people but I’m loving them so far!

As to the rest… the top one is The Diamond as Big as the Ritz and Other Stories (I doubt you’ll be able to make out the title as it’s such a light green!) which I’ve been meaning to try for ages. I loved Gatsby but had trouble getting into (and eventually abandoned) Tender is the Night so I’m wondering how I’ll get on with this – hopefully as it’s very short it might work better for me. The Grand Sophy  I’m looking forward to as I’ve been meaning to try Georgette Heyer for a while – it sounds like a lot of her regency-type romances hit the right buttons for me regarding the right balance of sentimentality and snark.  I’ve already read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, so I’m looking forward to Everything is Illuminated – I know Foer’s work isn’t for everything, but the former book got my out of an extremely dark place in 2013, so I’m hoping the latter lives up to it.  Similarly, I loved The 100 Year Old Man… and although I’ve heard The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden does not quite live up to it, I’m hoping I’ll enjoy it well enough anyway.

Breakfast of Champions is one I’ve been wary of for a while as my partner did not enjoy it at all but I thought it was about time I tried some Vonnegut.  The French Lieutenant’s Woman I know almost nothing about but picked it pretty much at random.  Despite trying to avoid series, I couldn’t resist the lure of Use of Weapons as I loved Player of Games so much last year, despite it being a deeply silly book.  This will actually be only my second Culture book, as I’ve skipped over Consider Phlebas, but might return to it at a later stage.

So here’s what I’ll be reading this month!  I’ll probably sprinkle another couple of ebooks in there if I finish Emma on my commute.  What will you be reading this month?  Have you read any of the above?