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!

Chunkster Challenge – Done and Dusted!


I committed to 6 books of 450 or more pages for The 2009 Chunkster Challenge and I’ve done it!

Here’s the list:

Not a dud among them, but I would pick South Riding out as the star!

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Wolf Hall

A little over a year ago I decided that I was going to give up reading Tudor novels.I love the period, but I had read so many over the years that they were too familiar, it was too easy for me to pick up things that weren’t quite right, assumptions that jarred.

But then came Wolf Hall. Written by Hilary Mantel, who I know to be a wonderful writer. My resolution wavered. The book was acclaimed, longlisted for the Booker Prize, and swiftly installed as favourite. So when Wolf Hall appeared on the new books shelf in the library, what could I do? I brought it home!

The viewpoint intrigued me too. The man at the centre of the story is Thomas Cromwell, a man who would rise from humble beginnings to become first Cardinal Wolsey’s right-hand man and then Henry VIII’s first minister. And this is his story, but it is also the so familiar story of Henry VIII and his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, marriage to Anne Boleyn and the resulting split with Rome.

Hilary Mantel’s prose is as lovely as ever and she paints a wonderful picture of this world, of the people who live in it and of their relationships.

Cromwell is an interesting central character and his family life was beautifully portrayed to create a portrait of a fully rounded human being. His evolving relationships with Cardinal Wolsey and with Thomas More are well drawn too, and fascinating to read.

And Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn came to life for me as real, understandable women so much more vividly than ever before.

Many details, of course, are historical fact, but where the author filled in the details and the background she did it just beautifully, and nothing jarred with me at all.

There is much background and many details, making Wolf Hall a very long book that will swallow up a great deal of time. But I am definitely pleased that I picked it up and it took me into a world that I really didn’t want to leave.