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!

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson


This book has received so much coverage that laying out the plot seems somewhat unnecessary. But I’m going to do it anyway – just briefly, to remind myself and to give me something to hang my thoughts on.

The story opens some time after the ending of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – and this is a series that you definitely need to read in the right order.

Lisabeth Salander has broken off contact with Mikael Blomkvist. He doesn’t know why.

Millennium magazine is thriving and Blomkvist has a powerful story ready to break – a story about sex trafficking and the abuse of young girls implicating powerful men in high places. But before publication the two writers are found murdered.

Salander’s guardian is murdered too and she is named as prime suspect. There is a great deal of circumstantial evidence linking her to the crimes and a nationwide hunt begins.

But Blomvist doesn’t believe that she is guilty and he thinks that the solution lies in the story that he was to publish.

And Salander is looking for the traffickers too. Just what links her to them?

The core of the story is simple but the details are intricate.

And no detail is too small – you will find much information about furnishings, computer specifications, procedures at meetings and much within the pages of this book.

Yet it never loses its grip.


Well, it has a broad scope, moving between Blomkvist and events at Millenium, Salander, the security company she used to work for and the police investigation.

The plot is well structured and paced, and a wide cast of characters is very well drawn.

Stieg Larsson takes on some big issues – the sex industry, the abuse of power, the responsibility of criminals versus the society that created them, individuals let down by the state, tabloid journalism … This is as much a story state of the nation as a crime story.

Ultimately though this is Salander’s story, and she is an extrordinary creation. Her back story is filled in and, in the process, it becomes clear that a number of elements that seemed less that relevant to the main storyline of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo are very significant to the bigger story.

For me, that made this a better book than its predecessor.

And in the end there is a resolution but not a conclusion – a number of lines are left open for the next book. I’m looking forward to it.

Translated by Reg Keeland

Library Loot


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

Four new books on the library pile this week.

The first three suggest that I may be having a bit of a Scandinavian crime fest …



The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larssen

I ordered The Girl Who Played With Fire as soon as it went into the library catalogue. I seem to have been waiting forever, but last night I went into the library and there it was on the reservations shelf and labelled with my name!
The Preacher by Camilla Läckberg

This is Camilla Läckberg’s second novel. I was impressed by her debut (The Ice Princess), so I was always going to pick this one up.

Unspoken by Mari Jungstedt

Mari Jungstedt kept popping up on recommendation list and so I picked up a copy of her first novel. It looks extremely promising.

The Fire Gospel by Michel Faber

Not a Scandinavian crime novel! This is Michel Faber’s contribution to the Canongate myths series. It’s an interesting series and I love Michel Faber’s writing, so I had to bring this one home.

Now what do I read first?

And what did you find in the library this week?

The 2009 Pub Challenge


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

It’s a challenge to read at least nine books published for the first time in your country in 2009. The rules are here.

I have read some great new books this year and I’m looking forward to more next year as well as picking up ideas from others.

I have had a look at what’s due out next year in the UK and I can already see four books that I want to read asap:

The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Steig Larsson
(UK release 6th January 2009)

Devil’s Brood, by Sharon Penman
(UK release 5th February 2009)

The Owl Killers, by Karen Maitland
(UK release 5th February 2009)

Delicate Edible Birds: And Other Stories, by Lauren Groff
(UK release 2nd July 2009)