July was a good month in many ways, but most importantly because we saw Janelle Monáe! In the real life! We went to Manchester for the first four days of the Manchester International Festival and it was excellent. She is amazing and I love her.
Time just keeps on passing, huh? This month I’ve been to Lincolnshire and Cornwall, and next week I’ll be in Manchester (to see Janelle Monáe! I’m so excited!). Those trips afforded plenty of time for reading, though not as much as my overambitious packing had allowed for (four books in four days and tourist stuff? Not likely).
My favourite this month was one of the tiny Penguin Mini Classics: Of Dogs and Walls by Yuko Tsushima, a collection of short stories that has definitely got me adding more books by this Japanese author to my wishlist.
I think it might be summer. How did that suddenly happen? Lovely long evenings, feeling torn between enjoying the sun and avoiding too much of it – it’s that time of year again.
This month, we went to Bristol Old Vic to see The Remains of the Day, in an excellent production that I think might have moved me more than the book did. We also started rewatching The Sopranos to remind ourselves what truly excellent, well-written and beautifully filmed TV looks like.
We also had a really fun long weekend in the Peak District. We did archery, cycled across the moor, rode a cable car, explored caves and went to Chatsworth House, which is a pretty amazing place. They sadly seemed to downplay the Mitford sisters connection, but there was a lot of impressive art and beautiful grounds to explore.
You’d think with two bank holidays and some empty weekends I would have read a lot in April, but bearing in mind that every other read is a 60-page mini book, I wasn’t especially prolific. However, I did have some lovely days in the Wye Valley with my mum, some good times (and unfortunately a little too much sun) with friends and I did a fair amount of sorting out books for my EU Reading Challenge.
I also watched some great films (I highly recommend Hearts Beat Loud, now on Netflix, and Eagle vs Shark, now on Amazon Prime Video) and great TV (yes, I am up to date with Game of Thrones – thankfully, as overheard conversations at work this week have been spoilerific). It’s a wonder I read any books at all, frankly.
I have spent almost three years feeling pretty low about Britain voting to leave the EU, but I have decided that in this bonus time created by the latest extension, I want to do something to celebrate the EU. So I’m going to try to read a book from every one of the 28 EU countries (yes, that’s including the UK).
Ideally, I’d like every book in the challenge to be written by an author from the designated country and set in that country. But if that’s not possible for every country, then I’ll take one or the other where I need to. I already have several books to get started with, but I’m going to need to do some research/get some recommendations to complete this.
I started by making a pile of books from my TBR that are by EU authors. There are some duplicate countries in here, so I have some decisions to make (again, recommendations will be welcomed). And I’ve only included one book from the UK – the collection of Welsh legends known collectively as The Mabinogion.
We ended this month visiting Bristol City Museum for the second part of their Japanese prints exhibition. I love ukiyo-e, and this collection on the theme of “life in the city” is definitely worth a trip if you’re anywhere near Bristol before 12 May.
My reading has been up and down – possibly because I have been really trying to get through The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov for six weeks now, but I’m just not enjoying it. I think it might be time to give up. I also read a couple of badly written books, which I wouldn’t usually stick with. Thankfully I also read some gems, including Inferior by Angela Saini, which I genuinely recommend to everybody. I bought my Mum a copy for Mother’s Day. That will not be the only copy I give as a gift.
I also started running again this month after a five-month break. It’s been tough getting back into it but I am starting to feel the benefits. Now I just have to…keep it up.
This might seem redundant on a book blog, but I really do love books. I love books in all their forms: print or electronic; old and tatty or crisp and new; beautifully designed or so plain it’s practically a printout. All of them. I love books that educate, entertain, shock, horrify, uplift, sadden or amuse me.
I have always tried not to be in any way snobby about books or reading. If some people prefer to only read for information-gathering, or only for total escapism, that’s up to them. I think all reading is beneficial – even the backs of cereal packets. I might have a literature degree and have ticked off a lot of titles on those “must read” lists that do the rounds, but I also read a lot of Mills & Boon as a teenager – and really enjoyed them!
That’s not to say I don’t want to change the balance of what I read to better represent the world I live in (I now read slightly more women than men, but most of these authors are white and, to the best of my knowledge, cis-gender and able-bodied). And if I can encourage others using positive means to read more broadly then that’s brilliant.
It’s been an interesting month. From below-freezing temperatures and snow storms to summer weather in three weeks. We took a long weekend to play countless hours of Civilization and eat a lot of very rich food, but I honestly can’t remember much of the rest of the month. Brain fog, apologies. I didn’t get much reading done either, for which I also accuse brain fog.
I feel like a lot has happened already this year, especially considering two weeks were written off by having a bad cold (it’s still lingering but on the way out now). I had a birthday, we’ve spent time with friends, had a weekend away. Which handily included long train rides for reading.
Because one of my birthday presents was a box set of Penguin Mini Classics, I’ve decided that this year in-between each full-sized book I will read either a comic or a mini book. In addition to giving me a sample of lots of authors I’ve been meaning to read, it also makes my numbers on Goodreads look really good!
Like last year, February looks set to be much colder than January so I foresee some cosy reading days ahead.