2009: A Year in the Library … and a Year in the Pub


Let’s start in the library.

J. Kaye from J. Kaye’s Book Blog hosted the 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge.

You could commit to reading 12, 25 or 50 library books in 2009. I went for the maximum, and I knew it wouldn’t be a problem.

Here are a few reasons why I love  libraries:

  • I am lucky to have a good public library service – I can order any book in the county or in a large reserve stock for just 50p.
  • I also belong to the wonderful Morrab Library. There are only 19 private subscription libraries in the UK and this one is just a few minutes walk from home.
  • I can still visualise where my favourite books were in the library when I was a child.
  • Without libraries I wouldn’t be able to read anything like as widely as I do.
  • I pass the library as I walk home from work. A little look around the shelves after a difficult day is wonderfully theraputic!
  • I like to think I can influence what the library stocks by ordering and borrowing books. I have been known to borrow under-borrowed books that I own to help their statistics.
  • Don’t book lovers have a duty to support libraries? If we don’t we can’t assume they will still be there and then how will people who can’t afford to buy books read and how will other people discover books?
  • I first met my fiancé in the library!

I’ve  read 106 library books this year.

Some wonderful new authors and a few books that I hadn’t heard of until I saw them on the shelves.

I’ve added some to my shelves since, there are more I’d like to.

And I’ve uncovered a few put of print gems.

The full  list is here.


And so to the pub

The 2009 Pub Challenge was hosted by Michelle at 1morechapter.com.

Read at least nine books published for the first time in your country in 2009. I’ve done 3 rounds – 27 books.

Here they are:




(There are a few more I’ve read but not written about yet and, I suspect, a couple I’ve missed.)

Some great books – the ones I’ve starred are la creme de la creme!

Henry: Virtuous Prince by David Starkey


This book held so much promise. It is beautiful, both inside and out, and the subject matter had much potential. The early years of Heny VIII, not the familiar tales of the six wives, but his childhood, his education and his life as a young prince.

How did the uncertain crown that Henry VII picked up on Bosworth Field become so secure that his son could hold onto it while behaving so monstrously?

What shaped Henry VIII into the man he became?

And of course David Starkey has a wonderful reputation as a Tudor historian. He sets out his plan well in the introduction, but I’m afraid the book doesn’t quite come off. Why?

Partly I think it is because the author is trying to two things that aren’t entirely compatible – draw out the circumstances and events that shaped the man and sustain an exciting narrative.

David Starkey succeeds in the latter – this is definitely a page-turner – but in doing this many key issues are simply glossed over and ideas and themes that could have been developed to shed more light on Henry the man are simply left hanging.

There is some great material here – as clear an overview of the Wars of the Roses as I have read, a wealth of detail about Henry’s upbringing, the pretender Perkin Warbeck and Henry VII’s response … It just doesn’t work as it should because so much background is missing.

What made Henry VIII the man he became? Well I have ideas but no fully formed arguments.

The first half of the book is stronger than the second. And in the end it just fizzled out. The threads will presumably be picked up in the planned sequel concerning Henry’s later years.

A disappointment.

Library Loot


Library Loot is a weekly event hosted by Eva and Alessandra to share the library books we find each week.

I have 4 new books on my library pile and they all look wonderful. So much for my resolution to read more of my own books!


The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry

“In this tightly plotted yet mind-expanding debut novel, an unlikely detective, armed only with an umbrella and a singular handbook, must untangle crimes committed in and through people’s dreams.”


American Wife by Curtis Sittenfield

On one of the most important days of her husband’s presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that lead them to the White House. Thrust into a position she did not seek Alice must face contradictions years in the making: how can she at once love and fundamentally disagree with her husband? How complicit has she been in the trajectory of her own life?”


Henry: Virtuous Prince by David Starkey

Before the legend there was another king. A dazzling sportsman and scholarly prince, a chivalarous husband, a proud father. Henry VIII: The rise of England’s most powerful monarch.”


The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor

“Through the eyes of eight-year-old Finn we find ourselves on a small island , surrounded by nothing but sea. Finn lives here with his Pa, his older sister Alice and his younger sister Daisy and he has no memory of any other world but this one. All he knows of the past comes from the songs and stories of his father, which tell of the great flood that drowned all of the other inhabitants of the earth, a deluge their family survived thanks to the ark in which they now live.”

What do I read first?

And what did you find in the library this week?