June 2017 reading round-up

Tackle and Books

It’s another month when I read a lot and blogged little. It’s not that I lacked things to blog about – a fantastic open-air Manic Street Preachers gig, the Wonder Woman film, a wonderful holiday in Scotland – but I was too busy doing those things to stop and write about them!

My reading this month was…eclectic. The standout was The Girls by Emma Cline, a very creepy book about a girl who joins a dangerous cult in 1960s California. Cline manages to convey how these on-the-surface unappealing cult members reeled in the vulnerable with just the right words and promises. It still gives me shivers thinking about it!

I will share some more pics from my Scotland holiday once I’ve sorted through at least some of them, but for now, above is a very well named bookshop in Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull. It was a pretty good shop, too.

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May 2017 round-up

Emily, Countess of Kildare

Summer arrived! And it was glorious. It probably did my physical health no good, but mentally I was definitely smiling from ear to ear every sunny evening. I do love a sunny evening. I’d take rainy mornings anytime if I could have those long, warm evenings.

Anyway, this month I finally ran my 10k race. It was really hard (turns out I should have tried to train with my brother at some point rather than discovering on the day that he runs just a little bit faster than me – I kept up for 6k and felt like I might die, but then I slowed down and actually made it to the end without walking and with a PB time) but I’m really pleased with my personal achievement and with having been able to raise a decent amount of money for charity.

We took advantage of the bank holidays and nice weather to have some weekend fun. We went to Tyntesfield, a National Trust property just outside Bristol with nice gardens and remarkably tame cows. We spent a long weekend in Liverpool noodling around museums and art galleries, and concluded that there is too much there to see and do in just one weekend. We went to Cardiff for the Diffusion photography festival, which included some really impressive stuff. And we spent lots of time hanging out around Bristol harbour, particularly the redeveloped Gaol Ferry Steps, which is such a nice place to be.

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April 2017 reading round-up

Selfridge’s 1942. (Imperial War Museums)

I am so behind on my reading this year. I guess I’ve been prioritising other things. Life has been busy. This month has included trips to the Forest of Dean, Lacock Abbey and Tintern Abbey. Plus within Bristol I’ve been to the Wild Place Project, Spike Island, no less than five breweries in East Bristol, and the SS Great Britain. Oh, and we marched for science. And I can’t even remember what we did back at the start of the month.

Being behind in reading means not only that my TBR is growing as I buy books faster than I can read them (usually it’s pretty evenly balanced); it also means that review copies and books borrowed from friends are piling up too. So apologies if I’ve borrowed a book from you and don’t get to reading it for a while. I will eventually.

Hopefully, I’ll book myself at least one free weekend next month, when I’ll just read. That would be really really nice.

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March 2017 reading round-up

(Bill Nye’s History of England, 1900)

I feel like I’ve barely looked at a book this month, though actually the list below isn’t especially short. I have watched a lot of films, including Logan, which isn’t my favourite X-Men film (that would be Days of Future Past), but is my favourite standalone Wolverine film.

My favourite film of the month was probably Freeheld, the 2015 film based on the true story of a dying policewoman fighting to have her pension assigned to her domestic partner. It made me cry a lot, but also includes a very funny turn from Steve Carrell as a gay rights activist who takes on the case.

On 10 March, for British Science Week, I ran a 10k virtual race. I was so proud of myself! Now I have to make sure I keep the effort up ahead of the Bristol 10k at the start of May, which I’m running for charity (more on that soon).

Now I need to wrench myself away from all the films we have on DVD, Netflix and Amazon Prime and get some reading done!

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Sunday Salon: Weekending in Devon

The Sunday SalonDespite losing an hour, we packed in a lot of fun this weekend. Yesterday we took the steam train and ferry from Paignton to Dartmouth with some friends. The weather was perfect, with blue skies and some real warmth from the sun for one of the first times this year. We ate local crab sandwiches, took a cruise around the estuary and (after some searching) found a place for cream tea with delicious scones and terrible wait staff.

We weren’t in Devon for a literary break, but it so happens that one of the stops on the steam train line is Greenway Halt, which exists solely for visitors to Greenway, the estate of one Agatha Christie. I haven’t read her books since I was a teenager but back then I was a big fan. I couldn’t resist picking up one of her titles in the railway shop. Maybe I’ll rekindle my fandom and next time we’re in Devon I can drag Tim round another author’s home!

Braveheart

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January 2017 reading round-up

(CC0)

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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