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

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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.

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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:

ROUND 1

ROUND 2

ROUND 3

(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!

Leaving The World by Douglas Kennedy

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WARNING – Usually when I write about a book I try to not give away more of the plot than you would pick up from the dust jacket and promotion for the book. This time I am going to give away a little more – I have to in order to explain myself properly. So if you are thinking of reading the book and don’t want it spoiled please don’t read on. But do come back when you have read it so we can compare notes.

A few years ago Douglas Kennedy wrote a trio of books that I really enjoyed (The Pursuit of Happiness, A Special Relationship and State of the Union). They were compelling stories of women dealing with interesting issues and challenges. I was disappointed in his next two books (Temptation and The Woman in the Fifth). Less interesting male leads and much more fanciful storylines. Not terrible but nowhere near as good as the preceding trio.

So when Leaving The World came out I didn’t rush to get hold of a copy and I took a close look before I brought a copy home from the library. From the synopsis it looked as if the Leaving The World could be a return to form. A female lead and an interesting concept. So I gave Douglas Kennedy the benefit of the doubt and took out his book.

“On the night of my thirteenth birthday, I made an announcement. “I am never getting married and I am never having children.”

Those are the opening lines. There was bags of potential in the story of a woman who decided at an early age that family life wasn’t for her – but that wasn’t the story that unravelled.

Jane was a bright girl who grew into an intelligent and caring adult. The story follows her through college, a relationship waith a married professor, a short-lived career in finance and a move back into academia. It was certainly compelling, but a pattern quickly emerged. Always Jane would do the right thing but run into problems when other people, starting with her parents, let her down.

And then, in the early stages of a relationship, Jane fell pregnant. All her doubts about motherhood flew out of the window and her daughter quickly became the centre of her universe.

Ony then – remember the pattern – the father of her daughter let Jane down in a big, big way.

I thought that might not be a bad thing. I would have been happy to see Jane forge ahead as a single parent. But that didn’t happen – she lost her child.

It was then that Jane considered leaving the world – and after some turmoil ended up leaving the world she knew for a quieter life working as a librarian in a small town. Was that what the story was heading to – a realisation of what was importany in life. Friends and community, rather than career success and material possessions.

Could be, but there was yet more drama to come. For reasons to complex to explain, Jane inveigled her way into the centre of a major criminal investigation. Was it compelling? Yes. Was it believable? No. Did it belong in another book entirely? Yes.

When the case was closed Jane finally returned home and began to plan for the future. And that was where we left her.

The story had been gripping and I really cared about what happened to Jane, but I was emotionally drained.

And ultimately I was disappointed in Leaving The World. There were so many missed opportunities and a much better, much simpler story that could have flowed from thoses two opening lines.

Teaser Tuesdays / It’s Tuesday, where are you

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It is January 1st 1987 and we are in a restaurant on West 63rd Street and Broadway. My parents are having a major fight. They’re always fighting and they really combust on special occasions. It’s my birthday, this is supposed to be my treat, but they’ve completely forgotten that.

It’s Tuesday, where are you? is hosted by raidergirl3.

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Just quote a couple of spoiler-free sentences the book you’re reading to tempt other readers.

Here is mine:-

” On the night of my thirteenth birthday, I made an announcement. “I am never getting married and I am never having children.” “

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB

This all comes courtesy of Leaving The World by Douglas Kennedy.

Library Loot

I two big books of my own in progress (Little Dorritt and The Tale of Genjii), so I wasn’t looking to bring too much home from the library this week. But I couldn’t not go in (it’s theraputic at the end of the day!) and I couldn’t come away completely empty-handed. There were a lot of great books on the shelves, but I was very restrained and only came away with three. Here they are:

Leaving The World

Leaving the World by Douglas Kennedy

“On the night of her thirteenth birthday, Jane Howard made a vow to her warring parents – she would never get married and she would never have children. But life, as Jane comes to discover, is a profoundly random business. Many years and many lives later, she is a professor in Boston, in love with a brilliant, erratic man named Theo. And then Jane falls pregnant. Motherhood turns out to be a great welcome surprise – but when a devastating turn of events tears her existence apart she has no choice but to flee all she knows and leave the world. Just when she has renounced life itself, the disappearance of a young girl pulls her back from the edge and into an obsessive search for some sort of personal redemption. Convinced that she knows more about the case than the police do, she is forced to make a decision – stay hidden or bring to light a shattering truth.”

I was a lttle disappointed in Doulas Kennedy’s last couple of books, so I studied this one carefully before making a decision. The synopsis suggested that it could be a return to form, so home it came.

Uncle Montague

Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley

“Uncle Montague lives alone in a big house and his regular visits from his nephew give him the opportunity to relive some of the most frightening stories he knows. But as the stories unfold, a newer and more surprising narrative emerges, one that is perhaps the most frightening of all. “Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror”, it transpires, are not so much works of imagination as dreadful lurking memories. Memories of an earlier time in which Uncle Montague lived a very different life to his present solitary existence.”

Staci of Life in the Thumb reads a lot of great Young Adult books, and she inspired we to take a look in the section of my library. This book caught my eye and I though a few short scary tales would contrast nicely with my other reading. Thank you Staci!

Where Shall We Go For Dinner

Where Shall We Go For Dinner?: A Food Romance by Tamasin Day-Lewis

“Sharing a good dinner is one of the chief pleasures of life. This is a year of travel and culinary discovery, part memoir, part love story, but the glue that holds it together is food, a shared passion, if not obsession. Tamasin and her companion Rob set out with no real plan for the forthcoming year other than that each trip offers the possibility of perfection and discovery of something new. Whether investigating the food scene in San Francisco, sipping a cocktail in Venice, or walking down Sullivan St in New York to dine on fried chicken at the Blue Ribbon, they always set out in hope of the perfect dinner. They may find it at a small cafe in the hills of Santo Stefano Belbo in Piemonte, or snacking on falafel in a warm wad of pitta bread at Mamoun’s, a hole in the wall in Greenwich Village. Sometimes they try too hard and don’t find it at all, but even the disappointment is food for thought…and there is always tomorrow.”

I love Tamasin Day-Lewis’s writing and I have a few of her cookery books, but I wasn’t aware of this book until Belle of Ms Bookish included it in her Library Loot last week. It looked wonderful, so I ordered it staight away and it appeares on the reservations shelf just two days later. So thanks are due to both Belle and the Cornish Library Service!

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So have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

And what did you find in the library this week?

See more Library Loot here.