A Box of Books for 2014

Some people make year-end lists, but I prefer to pack a box of books as each year draws to a close.

I have loved lists – writing them, reading them, studying and analysing them – since I was a child. And yet I find it difficult to sum up a year of reading in a list or two.

So I’m going to do what I’ve done for the last few years. I’m going to assemble a virtual box of books to capture all of the things that I’ve loved about the books I’ve discovered this year.

This year there have been a lot of classics, a sprinkling of new books, and shamefully few works of non fiction.

It might sound like a list, and maybe it is, but to me feels like I’ve pulled some great books from the shelves because those are the books I want to pull from the shelves right now. It’s not quite so definitive somehow.

And here it is – in the order that I read them:

2014-12-27

The Visitors by Rebecca Mascull

“An operation she restore Adeliza’s sight – she had cataracts – allowed her to learn and discover even for. Her joy in seeing the world that she had previously only known by touch was palpable, and so very, very moving. Adeliza was still constrained by her lack of hearing, but she was freed by an upbringing that had been free of so many of the restrictions that would have been placed on other children of her age.”

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

“I loved the tone, the wit, the style, the echoes of great novelists; and I was dazzled by the depth of knowledge, by the love of the creator for her creation that shone from the pages, and by the work that she had so clearly done to allow this world so rich in detail, so real and so magical, to live and breathe.”

How to be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis

“I met a woman and, though we didn’t have too much on common, we bonded over books. We agreed about many – though not all – of them, she made me see a few books and a few of their heroines in a different light, and I wondered if I might have done the same if I could have only spoken back to this book. Oh the dialogue we might have had!”

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas

“There were so many scenes, so many moments, that took my breath away. It broke my heart that whatever The Count of Monte Christo did, there was no vengeance that could bring back those long years that had been lost in prison, or bring back happy future that had once been before the young Edmond Dantès. He knew that. He was a fascinating character,and I could never let go of his story.”

The Castle on the Hill by Elizabeth Goudge

“This is a story of the darkest days of World War II, when only England stood against the Nazi forces advancing across Europe, and when the fear of invasion was very, very real. Elizabeth Goudge lived on the south coast of England then, close to the eye of the storm, it was during the war that she wrote this book, and it was clear as I read that she knew and she that understood.”

* * * * * * *

2ndAnna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

“This is a book full of utterly believable characters and relationships. the depth and the detail of the characterisation.
That’s what I’ll take away with me. That and a head full of images …. Anna encountering Vronsky at the station …. Levin seeing Kitty on the ice ….. Karenin ill at ease as he visits a lawyer …. Kitty at her brother-in law’s death-bed ….  and most of all the final scenes of Anna’s story, which was one of the most compelling and moving pieces of writing that I have ever read”

An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey

“I loved the storytelling: the voices were distinctive, the period touches were lovely, and the story was captivating. There’s a lot more than history and mystery, but this is too good a book for me to spoil for anyone else. It’s a lovely, it’s distinctive, it’s full of interest, and it’s told with just the right amount of verve. The author’s love of her story and everything in it shone from the pages.”

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

“The story was perfectly judged; mystery, suspense, romance, and just a dash of the gothic, woven together by a craftswoman at the height of her powers. And there was a nice balance of elements that were recognisably ‘Mary Stewart’ and elements that made this story distinctive. It was full of wonderful details; and I particularly liked the way that the small debt to Jane Eyre was acknowledged.”

The True and Splendid History of the Harristown Sisters by Michelle Lovric

“There’s wit, there’s colour and there’s love threaded through what might otherwise have been a very dark story. And at the centre of it all are those fascinating, infuriating sisters; they quarrel bitterly, they feud, they take sides against each other, but they also cling together and keep each others secrets. Such a wonderful portrayal of sisterhood! I loved watching them all interact, and their conversations were a joy.”

Sugar Hall by Tiffany Murray

“‘Sugar Hall’ illuminates the time when the war was over but the consequences were still being felt, and the post-war world hadn’t quite begun. It explores the consequences of old sins and the reverberations they send into the future. It considers the importance of the home, the consequences of leaving, the importance of having a place in the world.  And it does that with the lightest of touches, so that the stories of lives and the story of the ghost can live and breathe.”

* * * * * * *

3rdCan you Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope

“I am so pleased to say that I have finally discovered why so many readers love Anthony Trollope. In fact, if it isn’t wrong to say so after reading just the one book, I am now one of them. I’d picked up one or two books over the years and they hadn’t quite worked. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them but I didn’t love them, they weren’t the right books; I had to find the right place to start, the right book at the right time at the right time, and this book was that book.”

Tryst by Elswyth Thane

“There were some lovely moments, some amusing, some heart-warming, some sad, as Hilary made his way home and as Sabrina curled up in an armchair to read from his bookshelves. And though the arc of the story had a feeling of inevitability it never felt predictable, and I was always held in the moment. I was involved. I cared.  The characters are simply drawn, the logic probably wouldn’t stand up to close inspection, and I can’t deny that the story is sentimental. But it works beautifully, if you take it for what it is: a simple, ghostly, old-fashioned romance.”

Four Gardens by Margery Sharp

“I have to believe that Margery Sharp loved people; that sometimes they saddened her, sometimes they amused her; that maybe, like me, that there were so many people in the world and that they all had their own life stories that might be told. She clearly loved Caroline; she blessed her with a lovely inner voice and she gave her story exactly the right tone. There’s gentle wit, wry humour and acute observation in this story of a life well lived.”

Valentine by George Sand

“George Sand constructed and managed her plot beautifully, attending to every single detail; she brought the countryside to life with wonderfully rich descriptions; and she made her characters’ feelings palpable. She gave me a wonderful story, full of wonderful drama, and so many real emotions. And it was a story with much to say, about the separation of social classes, about the lack of education and opportunity for women of any class.”

The Winter Foundlings by Kate Rhodes

“This story is clearly underpinned by detailed research. The practical arrangements in the high-security hospital seemed credible; the different approaches of the staff to their work, the ways they lived and the ways that they coped rang true. That was fascinating. And I loved learning about The Foundlings Hospital. Kate Rhodes teaches me something new about London with every book, and it is clear that she loves that city that she brings to life on the page.”

* * * * * * *

4thThe Good Companion by Una L Silberrad

“Julia was the star of the show. She was bright, she was capable, and she had such empathy and understanding. She could accept that others had weaknesses, had different values, wanted different things in life. Julia was prepared to work hard, and to learn from her mistakes, as she tried to live set her life on the right course. She was confident that she would, that she could, do that, because she loved people and she loved the world she lived in.”

The Wild Swan by Margaret Kennedy

“Back in the 1920s Margaret Kennedy’s second novel, ‘The Constant Nymph’, was a huge, huge success. It was one of the bestselling novels of the decade, it became a successful stage play and then Margaret Kennedy was called upon to write a screenplay. That led her to more work in Britain’s film industry, and that experience underpins this very fine novel.”

Privileged Children by Frances Vernon

“Frances Vernon would have sat very well in the Virago Modern Classics list, and I suspect that she might have read a few of those green books when she was very young and they were very new. She was born just three months before me, we would have been in the same school year, and I am quite sure that we would have read and many of the same books.”

Cometh Up as a Flower by Rhoda Broughton

“The story is simple, but it is made special by the way it is told. Nell’s voice was underpinned by excellent writing, and Rhoda Broughton’s understanding of character and her command of the story stopped this from becoming a sensation novel. It’s a very human story of love, passion, betrayal, loss … In its day it was deemed shocking – because Nell spoke of meeting her lover covertly, of enjoying his attention, of her reluctance to be intimate with the man she might have to marry – but there’s nothing at all that would shock a reader now.”

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

“It is said sometimes that Dickens’ characters can be flat. I can understand that because I know that there were sides to these people that I didn’t see, but in ‘Bleak House’ that didn’t matter. I was shown the aspects of their characters and their behaviour that I needed to be shown as the stories unfolded, and I found it easy to believe in these people and their lives.”

* * * * * *

 I’m pleased with what I’ve read, but next year I’d like to read a few more contemporary novels and much more non fiction.

Now tell me, what would you put in your box for 2014?

And what do you plan to read in 2015?

Now We Are Six …..

….. my blog and I. It was six years ago today that I pressed ‘post’ for the first time.

I feel that I should say something profound, but I’m just going to say THANK YOU!

To everyone who has come by and to everyone whose paths I’ve crossed and whose words I’ve read.

It’s been lovely to meet you!

(And if you’ve been quietly lurking I’d be so pleased if you decided that today was the day to say ‘hello’.)

There have been ups and downs along the way, but I’m still so glad that I took that first step.

I thought I should do something, and it occurred to me that I could adapt Jo’s game of sixes.

Six books for each of my six years. Not necessary my favourite six, but six very good books to track my reading journey.

* * * * * * *

2008/2009

1The Great Western Beach by Emma Smith

Doreen by Barbara Noble

South Riding by Winifred Holtby

Miss Cayley’s Adventures by Grant Allen

The Solitude of Thomas Cave by Georgina Harding

London War Notes 1939 to 1945 by Mollie Panter-Downes

A pitch perfect memoir of a Cornish childhood; a sensitive account of the torn loyalties of a wartime evacuee; I can think of no word but masterpeice; a lovely heroine’s adventure at the end of the 19th century; maybe the best opening of a novel ever; life in wartime London caught perfectly.

* * * * * * *

2009/2010

2Love in the Sun by Leo Walmsley

Flowers for Mrs Harris by Paul Gallico

Florence and Giles by John Harding

Joanna Godden by Sheila Kaye Smith

Diamond Star Halo by Tiffany Murphy

Beside the Sea by Veronica Olmi

It’s wonderful what you find on the Cornish shelves in the library; bitter-sweet and pitch-perfect; a gothic tale in a wonderful, unique voice; if only all rural novels were; a new story with lovely roots in books gone by; a tale to leave you lost for words.

* * * * * * *

2010/2011

3Sacrifice by S J Bolton

Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd

Glasshopper by Isabel Ashdown

Never No More by Maura Laverty

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Thunder on the Right by Mary Stewart

This was the year of my Crime Fiction Alphabet; I was inspired to write a letter to a wonderful heroine; in which it is proved that border terrier people can really write; oh, Delia;  I was captivated; one of my mother’s favourite became one of mine.

* * * * * * *

2011/2012

4Ten Days of Christmas by G B Stern

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivy

Diving Belles by Lucy Wood

The One I Knew the Best of All by Frances Hodgson-Burnett

White Ladies by Frances Brett Young

Catherine Carter by Pamela Hansford Johnson

A wonderful discovery in the basement of a used bookshop; a timeless wintery tale; the essence of Cornwall; the author as a child who loved books and gardens; I wondered and when I saw the reviews of a Librarything friend I knew that I would love FBY; I passed by her books when I was younger, but this one caught my eye years later, and I loved it.

* * * * * * *

2012/2013

5The Love-Charm of Bombs by Laura Fiegel

The Pinecone by Jenny Uglow

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker

Lucy Carmichael by Margaret Kennedy

The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys

Five authors and their work in wartime illuminated; and extraordinary lady, who left such a legacy; my favourite Pym; A story of magical creatures that says much about humanity; of course there has to be a Margaret Kennedy novel; a lovely little book, full of wintery words and images.

* * * * * * *

2013/2014

6The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey

Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope

Tryst by Elswyth Thwaite

Four Gardens by Margery Sharp

Valentine by George Sand

Now I understand my so many so love this book; this was a wonderful way to vist the past; I fell in love with Trollope this year; a lost gem – romantic suspense at its very best;  no list of this kind would be complete without Margery; I saved this book because I thought it would be special and I was right.

* * * * * * *

 I wonder what happens next.

I don’t know how much longer this will go on, but for now at least I have no plans to go anywhere.

I have one or two things planned for next year, and I need to simplify things a little bit. I’ll explain more another day.

Today is for saying THANK YOU!

Last Month’s Reading and Next Month’s Reading

I found a lot of books to love in October.

2014-10-31

I loved both of the books I read for Margaret Kennedy Reading Week – The Wild Swan and A Night in Cold Harbour.

‘The Provincial Lady Goes Further’ by E M Delafield was exactly the right book to ‘change gears’ after a week absorbed in one author.

I read the opening chapter of The Adventurous Lady by J C Snaith a while ago, I meant to go back and finish it, and this month I did. The story didn’t quite live up to the lovely set-up, but it was readable, it was entertaining and it fills a year in my poor neglected century.

I’ve pondered shifting the century, giving up on the century – I’ve done it before so I know I can do it – but in the end I decided that my reasons for starting out were still good, but I needed more tie for digressions and to read some of those very big Victorian novels I’ve always meant to read. And so my century is open ended – no more deadlines – It’ll be done when it’s done.

Anthony Trollope has been one of those digressions – I only allow one book per author in the century but I’ve read three of his and I plan to read more. I found much to love in The Eustace Diamonds but it isn’t my favourite, and so I decided to have a little break with another Victorian before I go back to ‘Phineas Redux’, ‘The Prime Minister’, ‘The Duke’s Children’ ….

I turned to Charles Dickens and ‘Bleak House.’ The change of style was a shock – Dickens paints pictures where Trollope introduces people – but Dickens did what he did so well in this book that I was very soon absorbed and involved. And I will be for quite soe tie, because it’s one of those big Victorian novels I mentioned a few paragraphs ago.

That’s my audiobook of the moment.

My traditional book of the moment is ‘The Shuttle’ by Frances Hodgson-Burnett. It’s lovely, the grown-up equivilant of her children’s books, and I don’t want it to be over but I think I may finish it tonight.

Frances Vernon is my best discovery of the month, Privileged Children will be one of my books of the year, and I already have her next book lined up and ready to go.

I’ve read just two recent books. I had mixed feelings about  ‘The Paying Guests’ by Sarah Waters, but I loved a book that slipped out much more quietly –  The Girl Who Couldn’t Read by John Harding.

And that was October!

2014-10-312

In November I want to finish all of the books I have in progress.

That includes ‘Folle-Farine’ by Ouida. I hadn’t meant to start reading but I had to because I was captivated by a lovely story wrapped up in pages and pages of description.

I have a copy of ‘The Hotel’ by Elizabeth Bowen lined up for a readalong. I’ve been meaning to read her fiction in order – reading some for the first time and re-reading others – and so this was a very well-timed push in the right direction.

And I have a few books in mind for Australian Reading Month. ‘My Career Goes Bung’ by Miles Franklin and ‘The Three Miss Kings’ by Ada Cambridge are possibilities from the Virago bookcase. And I have ‘The Idea of Perfection’ by Kate Grenville, which was highly recommended by last year’s Virago Secret Santa.

The year’s Virago Secret Santa is underway, so my only book-shopping between now and Christmas will be for other people.

And that’s not a bad thing, because I want to read more of the books I have already, I want to read the books that call.

What books are calling you? What are your reading plans?

There has been Writing – There has been Shopping – There has been Reading

Time to catch up!

The Writing:

I’m quite sure that you’ll have heard about it already, but I must mention the fabulous new autumn edition of Shiny New Books.

There are far too many wonderful things to mention, but I pick out just a few:

  • Simon has written about one of my favourite books, that has just been reissued, and about one of my favourite authors.
  • You will find me revisiting two of my favourite books, both now available in paperback, in Annabel’s Fiction pages.
  • You’ll also find me writing about The Good Companion by Una L Silberrad. It’s a wonderful book, I’ll be looking out for more of the author’s work, and I found a heroine – from an earlier era – who I’d love to introduce to Lucy Carmichael. Yes – that good!
The Shopping

Our annual day trip to Truro resulted in a very fine haul of books from its two used bookshops and its charity shops.

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I loved ‘The Lonely’ when I read a library copy, so I was very pleased to find a copy to keep. I’m not too sure about ‘Ludmilla’ – described as ‘a charming pastoral legend set in old Lichtenstein’ but as it’s by Paul Gallico I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.

‘The Use of Riches’ by J I M Stewart (who also wrote under the name Michael Innes) is a story of art and intrigue, and so I had to pick it up.

I read ‘Bright Day’ by J B Priestley years ago, I loved it, and it has a Cornish setting, so that one had to come home to be re-read.

I saw a pile of books by Mazo de la Roche, and her name rang a bell but no more than that. I brought home ‘The Building of Jalna’, which on the first book (chronologically) in a long series. I liked the look of them all, but I thought it would be tempting fate to bring home more.

‘The End of Childhood’ by Henry Handel Richardson is the sequel to ‘The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney’, which Cat loved and I know my library has.

‘The Old Ladies’ by Hugh Walpole was a book I had to rescue from a 50p table.

I know that the library has ‘Sissinghurst’ by Adam Nicholson and ‘Millions Like Us’ by Virginia Nicholson, but I also knew that I wanted copies of my own to keep and read at leisure, at the right time.

I know nothing about Mrs Henry de La Pasture, except that she was E M Delafield’s mother and that the Folio Society saw fit to reissue ‘The Unhappy Family’, and that was enough reason to bring the book home.

The Reading

This hasn’t been a great week for finding the time and the clarity of thought that I need to write, but I have been reading:

  • ‘The Provincial Lady Goes Further’ by E M Delafield – the perfect way to change gear Margaret Kennedy Week.
  • ‘The Adventurous Lady ‘ by J C Snaith  – the report will be mixed.
  • ‘Privileged Children’ by Frances Vernon – I was very impressed by I have to track down her other books now.
  • ‘The Eustace Diamonds’ by Anthony Trollope – I liked it, but not as much as my first two Trollopes

I’ll elaborate, I’ll get back to writing, very soon ….

There has been reading, there will be reading ….

…. but for one reason or another there wasn’t as much reading as usual in August, and for those very same reasons I read books that didn’t make too many demands.

2014-09-02

I read just two books for All Very Virago All August.

The Getting of Wisdom by Henry Handel Richardson was an intriguing tale of one girl’s experiences at boarding school a century ago. It left me wanting to now more about the author, and wanting to read more of her work.

‘A Wreath for the Enemy’ was my second novel by  Pamela Frankau  – after The Willow Cabin, which I read for All Very Virago All August – and it confirmed to me that she is very, very good, and that she really should be back in print.

I had to put the first volume of Pilgrimage by Dorothy Richardson to one side. I was loving it, it just wasn’t the right time for me to give a book so special the time and thought it deserves.

But I think that almost everything I read was in the spirit of Virago.

*****

WITmonth3 + text1I was inspired by Women in Translation Month, and I have come away with a long list of books to read in the future.

I wrote about The People in the Photo by Helene Gestern: a wonderful human story told in letters, emails and texts.

And I fell utterly in love with Valentine and with George Sand’s writing.

*****

I’ve read a lot of crime fiction, more than I have for a long time.

I revisited two crime series with wonderful female protagonists.

The Winter Foundlings by Kate Rhodes was the best crime novel I have read for quite some time, and will definitely be on my year-end list.

‘The Stranger You Know’ was Jane Casey’s best book to date, and I already have the next book in the series lined up.

I started a new series with Strangled Prose by Joan Hess.

And now I’m catching up with Deborah Crombie.

*****

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past:

The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman was a wonderfully colourful story, set in 1799, about women who fought in the ring and out of the ring for their place in the world.

Mona and True Love’s Reward by Mrs Georgie Sheldon were both lovely: utterly readable 19th century intrigue and romance.

After that it felt natural to stay on that century a while longer, with The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume.

And that was August.

*****

lavinia-portraitRIP92751September brings RIP IX. Two months of reading the mysterious, the suspenseful, the gothic, the ghostly …..

I’m not sure exactly what I’ll read, but I have a lovely pool of books on hand :

The Vanishing Witch by Karen Maitland
Come Back Lucy by Pamela Sykes
The House by the Churchyard by Sheridan Le Fanu
Cashelmara by Susan Howatch
The Collegians by Gerard Griffin
The Mesmerist by Barbara Ewing
He Arrived at Dusk by Ruby Ferguson
Ghosts and Family Legends by Catherine Crowe
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Two-Thirds of a Ghost by Helen McCloy
The Uninvited by Dorothy Macardle
A String of Pearls by Thomas Peskett Prest
Thornyhold by Mary Stewart
The Dead Letter by Metta Victoria Fuller Victor
The Quick by Lauren Owen
Herring Girl by Debbie Taylor
Lyonesse Abbey by Jill Tattersall
The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes

You’ll see one of my books for Mary Stewart Reading Week  in there, but not the other.

*****

I have newly reissued novels by Edith Olivier, a new novel by Esther Freud, and no lack of other books I should love to read.

But nothing is set in stone: the important thing is to read the books that call.

What books are calling you? What are your reading plans?

Sixes

It was Jo’s idea a couple of years ago, and now it’s become an annual event – celebrate the first six months of the reading year by putting six books into each of six categories.

Not quite as easy as it looks. I’ve tweaked the categories to suit my reading style, and because I wanted to push disappointments to one site and simply celebrate some of the books I’ve read and the books I’ve discovered.

Here are my six sixes:

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Six books illuminated by wonderful voices from the twentieth century

Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E M Delafield
The English Air by D E Stevenson
The Castle on the Hill by Elizabeth Goodge
Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter

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Six books from the present that took me to the past

The Visitors by Rebecca Maskell
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey
Turning the Stones by Debra Daley
The True and Splendid History of the Harristown Sisters by Michelle Lovric
Sugar Hall by Tiffany Murray

******

Six books from the past that pulled me back there

Wired Love by Ella Cheever Thayer
Esther Waters by George Moore
Griffith Gaunt by Charles Reade
Nine Pounds of Luggage by Maud Parrish
The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas
Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope

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Six books that introduced me to interesting new authors

Wake by Anna Hope
Still She Wished for Company by Margaret Irwin
The Lie of You: I Will Have What is Mine by Jane Lythell
Mr Perrin and Mr Traill by Hugh Walpole
My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff
None-Go-By by Mrs Alfred Sidgwick

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Six successful second meeting with authors

The Auction Sale by C H B Kitchin
The Twelfth Hour by Ada Leverson
A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon
Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell
Mrs Westerby Changes Course by Elizabeth Cadell
Her by Harriet Lane

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Six used books added to my shelves

The Heroes of Clone by Margaret Kennedy
The Serial Garden by Joan Aiken
Portrait of a Village by Francis Brett Young
The West End Front by Matthew Sweet
The Stag at Bay by Rachel Ferguson
Elizabeth’s Women by Tracy Boorman

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Do think about putting your own sixes – it’s a great way of perusing your reading, and I’d love to read more lists.

Reviewing the Situation

I have a bad habit of picking up books, starting them, and then being distracted by something else. It generally works well; I have several books in progress and I pick the right one for the moment. But sometimes it gets too much and I have to stop and take stock to see where I’m going.

This is one of those times.

2014-01-22_20-18-01_70Starting from the bottom:

I bought a copy of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell when it was a brand new hardback, and I’ve started reading a few times and drifted away. But a read-along came along at just the right time – and at just the right pace – and I’ve read more than ever before, I have the momentum to see me through to the end. it’s love.

I planned to read The Goldfinch over Christmas, but I was later than I planned finishing my Century of Books, and then other books started calling me. I loved the opening chapters, but then it seemed to wobble a bit, and the adolescent years seem interminable. I want to see it through and I will get back to it. I think …..

I loved How To Be A Heroine: Or, what I’ve learned from reading too much as soon as I saw that title and I placed an order as soon as it appeared it library stock. It’s as wonderful as I hoped, and I’m not going to want to give it back to the library but I’ve been reading at lot of my own books and I really need to make some space on my ticket.

I picked up Red Pottage because it’s on my Classics Club list, because it worked for my 100 Years of Books, and because I’ve spotted others with great taste on books loving it. I followed a trail from Lisa to Hayley to Simon. I loved the first few chapters, but I’ve put it on hold until I’ve caught up with one or two other books.

I pulled The Beth Book off the Virago bookcase for the same reasons, and I didn’t mean to pick it up yet but I loved the first chapter and I had to carry on.

I’m reading The Game of Kings with a group – one of the Lymond novels every two month, so we’ll have read the series by the end of the year. So many people love Dorothy Dunnett, and I’m beginning to see why, but I’m not entirely smitten yet. Time will tell …..

And I’m reading Clarissa in real time. I started a couple of years ago but I fell off the read-along. It was the year my mother was ill and moved into a nursing home, and I didn’t have electronic means then and it just wasn’t practical to carry such a big book around with me. But now I do and so I’m trying again, with a Twitter read-along.

And that’s it.

Everything else has gone back on the shelf, to be started again one day in the not too distant future.

My plan I to keep reading the big books at a steady rate, and to read the smaller books along the way.

I’ll finish the second volume of Strange & Norrell tonight, and I’m going to be ‘Doing Dunnett’ at the weekend.

Then I’ll see where I am. And pick up one or two other books.

Sometimes I wish I was the kind of person who picked up one book at a time, to read from cover to cover before picking up another, but I’m not. I do like my system, I just have to bring it under control.

What works for you?

What are you reading? What are your plans?