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!

The Finest Type of English Womanhood by Rachel Heath

English Womanhood

The Finest Type of English Womanhood is a wonderful piece of storytelling, the tale of two very different women whose lives become entwined: Laura Trelling and Gay Gibson.

As the story opens Laura is seventeen years old and living a quiet life with her parents in the Sussex countryside. Her life changes when she meets and swiftly marries a man she meets at a party. He takes her to his home in pre Apartheid South Africa, but life there is not at all what she imagined. And nor is her husband.

Laura is quite beautifully written. She is bright, engaging and honest, but she is inexperienced and cannot quite comprehend what is going on around her. Her narrative drws you in, and does not let go.

Gay is a few years older than Laura. She has a very different upbringing in Birkenhead, where she dreams of becoming an actress. Those dreams, and her determintion, take her to south Africa too.

Gay is a wonderful creation too – based on a true life character – and though she has a smaller share of the narrative she makes a very strong impression.

It is in South Africa that the two Englishwomen’s lives become entwined – with dramatic consequences.

It would be unfair to much more than that about the story though – this is a book that you really must live through as you read.

What I will say is that the this book holds a fine supporting cast, many wonderful scenes and incidents, perfectly evoked settings, and just enough plot twists.

And so many themes explored: from gardening and disfunctional families to politics and racial divides.

All held together by the story of the lives of two fascinting women.

I read The Finest Type of English Womanhood much more quickly than I expected and stayed up much later than I had planned, compelled to keep turning the pages.

What greater recommendation could there be?!