January 2017 reading round-up

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This month had some pretty big ups and downs. I had a lovely birthday. I successfully managed to run three times every week. We had a fantastic weekend in London, looking at art and watching the stage show Lazarus.

I have also despaired at the news even more than usual. On Monday evening I joined thousands on College Green in Bristol protesting against the US “Muslim ban”. These really do feel like dark scary times but I have to hope that continuing to raise my voice against injustice helps.

To distract myself from world affairs, I’ve managed to read a decent amount and I’ve also watched a lot of films. I thought La La Land was a lot of fun in the first half, then kinda bittersweet. Not the best film ever but very good nonetheless. Plus Tim and I have ploughed our way through almost four whole seasons of Dexter. (Speaking of which: has anyone read the book it’s based on, Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay? Would I like it?)

Here’s to February, hints of early spring and escaping into books! In the US February is Black History Month but in the UK it’s LGBT History Month (we do black history in October) so I’ll be choosing some reading based on that. What are your February reading plans?

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2016 – a year in stats

Happy New Year’s Eve! To quote Tim’s newest T-shirt, 2016 sucked. I’m not sure how, but I have to hope that 2017 will be better.

That said, this year wasn’t all bad. There has been great music, great theatre, great art and of course great books. I read 80 books this year (less than last year) or 20,571 pages (more than last year). I read 12 classics towards the Classics Club, including finally getting round to reading books I’ve had on the TBR for many years.

I read 21 books in translation, from many different languages (my spreadsheet shows 10 languages but in addition, Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales was translated from all over the world), which is more than double what I managed last year. 24 books were by authors from a country other than the US or UK, which again is up on last year.

I read 32 books by men, 40 by women and 8 by authors of both genders, which I’m happy with. I read 4 poetry books, 4 short story collections, 9 non-fiction books and 20 comics, leaving an overwhelming 43 fiction books. I think I should read more non-fiction next year.

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Reading round-up December 2016

Happy holidays! I’ve had a week off work and I have read half a book. Crazy! In fairness it’s a big book – 684 pages in the edition I have. And I finally finished it this morning, just in time for a New Year fresh start. If I feel like reading today, I’ll dig out a short story or three, but I think we’re running out of time to do stuff before going out for New Year anyway.

I have sadly failed to complete my reading bingo card. Even cheating a little bit by including short stories for two of the remaining categories, I didn’t manage to tick everything off. But I think in general I did pretty well and it did encourage me to read a few things I otherwise wouldn’t have – including my epic reread of Sophie’s Choice.

Tomorrow I’ll weed out the TBR a little as my kind and generous family gave me 10 new books for Christmas and I’m expecting/hoping for a couple more for my birthday next week. Lovely lovely bookses.

But for now I’ll quickly list my December reads and then get to my annual stats in another post.

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November reading round-up

(Corrado Ricci 1858-1934)
(Corrado Ricci 1858-1934)

Well we had three weeks of autumn before winter arrived. I quite like winter – Christmas and my birthday! – but I’ve realised in the last few years that at the start of both summer and winter, my lupus flares. In summer it’s the UV, that’s easy to figure out. In winter, well I guess cold isn’t good for arthritis, which is closely related to lupus, plus I have low vitamin D all year round anyway.

Which is a long-winded way of saying I’m not feeling all that healthy but I know it will pass soon. In the meantime I have been watching Gilmore Girls: a Year in the Life, which is both perfect and really not perfect at the same time. I’ve kept a log of books, authors and films mentioned, of course, which I’ll blog about soon.

I have one month left to complete my Books on the Nightstand Book Bingo card, and it’ll be tight but I think I can do it. If you want to help me pick my book for the “500 pages or longer” category, you can vote in my Twitter poll!

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Sunday Salon: #LoveToRead

The Sunday SalonI love the BBC. It’s not perfect, but it produces a lot of great stuff, especially for lovers of music and books. This weekend has been the BBC’s #LoveToRead weekend, with a deluge of book-related programmes, articles and partnerships with schools and libraries, to promote the importance of reading for pleasure. It’s a campaign I can get behind.

I first knew this was coming thanks to (best radio station in the world) 6 Music‘s new series of Paperback Writers, in which bestselling writers talk about the music that inspires them. Today’s writer was Zadie Smith, who I think is even more awesome now I know that her music of choice includes Lauryn Hill and Bob Dylan.

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October reading round-up

Two Friends by Oliver Ingraham Lay (1877)
Two Friends by Oliver Ingraham Lay (1877)

Happy Halloween! Tim and I have been celebrating the eeriest day by watching Stranger Things, but most years I try to read something a bit on the spooky side. October has been so mild it has barely felt autumnal (though the colours are amazing) so it’s only now that the clocks have changed and the evenings are long and dark that I am starting to yearn for ghost stories.

What I have read this month has been fairly eclectic, not least because I have working on filling out my Books on the Nightstand Book Bingo card. I’m currently three-quarters of the way through two books for that – a popular-science title and a random book picked off the shelf. I even shut my eyes!

How was your October? Did you pick out a special Halloween read?

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September reading round-up

Yes, I’m posting this a week late and it’s a bit sparse, both because I’ve been on holiday and because I didn’t read that much in September. I’m not sorry. I had a fantastic month, starting with seeing Kate Tempest and Massive Attack and ending with a week in Berlin. We had gorgeous weather all month, which has only turned autumnal in these last few days. It was a good September.

Flohmarkt

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August reading round-up

The summer turned out quite nice in the end here in Bristol. But perhaps I’m biased because August ends with mine and Tim’s anniversary. This year we celebrated 14 years. That’s two-fifths of my life!

My reading has been fairly eclectic this month. I took more than two weeks to read a perfectly ordinary short novel so then I turned to easy reads like superhero comics. I think I’m back on track now, but I did only manage one book towards Women in Translation Month in the end, which isn’t as good as I’d hoped.

I did treat myself to a little book shopping. Because new books! Here are my purchases:

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July 2016 reading round-up

This has been an okay month for reading, a bad month for review-writing. But in my defence we’ve been on holiday and that’s definitely a time for reading without thinking too hard about analysis. I do have some thoughts running around my brain that I will at some point turn into reviews when time allows. I also bought quite a lot of books while we were away, which I’ll share pics of soon.

For now I have about a thousand holiday photos to scan through for highlights and half a dozen loads of laundry to wash. Ah, that coming home from holiday feeling! I have a few posts planned about our recent holiday but for now I’ll tease with this photo. There will be many more to come.

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How was your July?

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May 2016 reading round-up

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(George Wharton Edwards, 1873)

In writing this post I was briefly convinced I was wrapping up June, not May. It must be the lovely weather we’re having. I’m glad I was wrong! This month we went to three gigs (Sound of the Sirens, the Heavy and the Dandy Warhols) and one play (The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary), had two weekends away visiting family and I still managed to read a lot. (Tim thinks I have more energy these days, since taking up running regularly. He might be on to something.)

I think May is a good month. It’s bookended by bank holidays; it’s warm even on wet days (I have had “Summer rain” by Belinda Carlisle stuck in my head far too often lately); the months of summer stretch out ahead full of promise. It’s also when the city really begins to be packed with far more things to do than we can get to. For instance, yesterday Bristol Old Vic had a huge street party to celebrate its 250th anniversary. It looked awesome, but we had a lawn to mow, pictures to hang, books to read, new music purchases to listen to. Chilled time at home is good too.

How was your May?

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