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!

Thaw by Fiona Robyn

“Never judge a book by its cover,” they said.

They were right.

I looked at the titles (The Blue Handbag and The Letters) and covers (contemporary women in flowing dresses) of Fiona Robyn’s previous novels, and decided that they weren’t a high priority. Probably something between chick lit and aga saga – readable but not unmissable.

I was wrong.

Fortunately a Tuesday Teaser steered me towards a third book:

“I’d be happy just lying on my back in the middle of a busy pavement, people stepping over me and cursing me for getting in their way. It does something strange to my senses, blunts them – like eating ice-cream when you have a cold. You’re vaguely aware that you usually enjoy mint choc chip more, but you carry on eating it just the same.”

(from Thaw by Fiona Robyn)

I was intrigued, I discovered that the library had it in stock, and in due course I picked it up.

Thaw follows the journals of a thirty-two year-old woman over a three-month period. The three months that she has set herself to decide whether or not she should end her life.

Ruth has a successful career as micro biologist, a well-ordered life and a good standard of living. But what does it all mean?

In her journal she writes about the details of her life. About her work and her colleagues. About her two close friends – one in a new relationship and one going through a difficult break-up. About her relationship with her father and his new family – her mother died when Ruth was very young. And about Red, the artist she has commissioned to paint a portrait to record her life.

And, of course, she ponders that crucial question.

Every detail rings true.

Ruth is spiky, but Fiona Robyn brings her to life so well that I found it impossible to resist following her story, getting to know her better and, ultimately, finding out what happens to her.

The world of the depressive, the way you are drawn into yourself, the way just small things can lead to elation of despair is perfectly realised. And I’m afraid I speak from experience.

No, Thaw isn’t a cheerful book, but it certainly isn’t a miserable one either. Engaging and thought-provoking are the expressions that come into my mind.

And it also comes into my mind that I really must look out for those other two books that I had disregarded.