I try to read a mixture of old and new books, and often find myself reading ‘new’ books some time after they come out, purely because I always have so many books I want to read that I rarely get to read things when they are really new. Often I just get to look at other reviews and wish I didn’t have so many books to read! There are several books that I am really excited about reading in the next few months – some new and some not-so-new. Here are the ones I’m most looking forward to…
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
I loved Room but somehow didn’t feel the need to pick up Frog Music; but now Emma Donoghue’s new novel The Wonder really appeals to me. I know from reading Room that she is a wonderful writer, and this story is not like anything I have read before. Kim Forrester wrote a brilliant review of it here. Fingers crossed I’ll get to read it before Christmas!
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
This is coming out in May 2017 from Tinder Press, and I am really looking forward to it. It is a fictional take on the story of Lizzie Borden and the murder of her father and stepmother. She was acquitted of their murder but of course suspicion remains, and the story is fascinating. This looks like a really interesting and modern interpretation of the story, and I cannot wait to read it.
Labyrinths: Emma Jung, Her Marriage to Carl, and the Early Years of Psychoanalysis by Catrine Clay
I’ve always had a vague interest in psychology and psychoanalysis and the fact that this book focuses on Emma rather than Carl Jung really appeals to me. It just seems like another way of looking at a familiar story, and I hope it’ll be as interesting as it looks! It’s always a pleasure to read about wonderful women from history.
The Good People by Hannah Kent
Like many other readers, I loved Hannah Kent’s first novel Burial Rites. It really stuck with me and as soon as I heard she had written a second novel I knew I had to read it. The premise really interests me and I think it will be a great multi-layered book.
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin
I have read three of Jackson’s novels and have The Lottery and Other Stories on my shelf waiting to be read, so I just have to read this new biography of her. New PMC editions mean that Shirley Jackson is again popular, and I am so glad she is – her writing is some of the most beautiful and beguiling I have read in years. Luckily she also seems to have been a brilliant and intriguing person, so I’m really looking forward to this one.
I’d love to hear about books that you are looking forward to – there are always too many to read!
Earlier this year I pledged to ‘do’ TBR20, the reading challenge created by Eva Stalker and taken up by many book bloggers. The aim is to pick 20 books that you own but have not read, and pledge not to buy any more books until you’ve read those 20. Seems like a good idea right? We all have a lot of books we haven’t read. I know I do. So I thought it would be a good idea for me. Well…
I put together my 20 books. I was full of hope. I read a few. But then I realised I didn’t want to read many of the others. A few more yes, but some of them – no thanks. There was a reason they had been sitting on my shelf, unread, for so long. I just didn’t have the interest/desire to actually read them. Some were unsolicited review copies that had appeared, so I think those are fair enough, seeing as I didn’t choose them in the first place.
The thing is, if I want to read a book, I will. If it’s still on the shelf, it either means it is a long term goal (like The Madwoman in the Attic and The Second Sex), or I’m just not that bothered about it. The latter happens quite a lot, and a lot of those books ended up in TBR20.
So, a couple of week ago, I got fed up and took myself to Waterstones. I bought three history books (I’m on a non-fiction kick at the moment), and devoured them all within a week and a half. Two weren’t as good as I had hoped, but it didn’t matter – I had still bought and read books that I really wanted to read, just for me. Not for a challenge, not for a review deadline or the expectations of a publisher or anyone else – for me. And that is something that is supposed to be at the heart of this blog. So I’ve decided I will only do reading challenges if they really suit me, or if I come up with them myself. TBR20 is off, a book clear out is imminent, and reading purely for myself is in. And I’m all the happier for it.
In my last post I wrote about the troubles of having too many books to read. I also posted recently about using a book jar, something which I have, and am able to use – but haven’t yet, because really I haven’t needed to. Really it’s there just in case I need it. But frankly it isn’t helping me to work through my TBR. Ah, the TBR. The thing that book bloggers both love and loathe. Our To Be Read list (often a physical heap) is something that gets us happy and excited, but also make us nervous, and can sometimes be overwhelming.
So what is TBR20? It’s basically a way to cut through the TBR, and I think it’s fantastic. It was created by blogger Eva Stalker, who tweets and posts about it regularly. A lot of bloggers I follow mention it often enough for me to have considered doing it. And now I’m gonna!
The premise is: in order to help you work through your TBR, you pledge/actively decide to read 20 books from it before you buy any more. Simple enough, but not buying books is hard. Not any at all?? Not even one? Nope. Doing the TBR20 puts an embargo on book purchases and forces you to pay attention to the books you have, some of which might have been waiting weeks and months (or years…) to be read. Which is just silly and pointless.
So which books do I choose for the list? The only way to do this was to sit and stare at my unread books, look at them all over and over until my boyfriend gave me a funny look, cut out a few, add a few, take away more… and finally manage to wittle the list down to 20. And here they are in all their glory:
My apologies for the slightly crappy photo. The books on the left are:
Havisham by Ronald Frame
Freud’s Sister by Goce Smilevski
The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell
Red Room: Short Stories Inspired by the Brontes
The Ecliptic by Benjamin Wood
Girl at War by Sara Novic
Tracks by Robyn Davidson
The Blue Tattoo by Margot Mifflin
The Ladies of the House by Molly McGrann
And the books on the right are:
Autobiography of Us by Aria Beth Sloss
The Inheritors by William Golding
Nagasaki by Eric Faye
The Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov
Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan
Chasing the King of Hearts by Hanna Krall
Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death by Otto Dov Kulka
Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
The Vatican Cellars by Andre Gide
Nothing Holds Back the Night by Delphine de Vigan
I’ve included the proofs I currently need to read (Girl at War, Ladies of the House, The Ecliptic) as well as several books I’ve been meaning to read for a long (long) time. I’m currently just under halfway through A Clash of Kings, so this project will start once I finish that, so… mid March I expect. I will be posting my reviews as well as my thoughts on the process as I go along. Wish me luck!! Anyone else done/doing the TBR20? The #TBR20 hashtag on Twitter is the perfect way to join in!
I’m sure many of you will have heard of a book jar (lots of bloggers do it, and it’s been a Thing for a while now), but for those of you who don’t, here’s a quick rundown:
it is essentially a way to choose what to read next when you have way too many books you want to read
you make a list of all the books on your TBR and cut up the list so each book is on a little scrap of paper
these then go in a jar, folded, and you pick one out at random when you need to choose a new book
you read the chosen book – unless you want another pick…
it’s basically a book raffle
I’ve been thinking about doing a book jar for a while, and am always terrible at choosing what to read next. I also always have too many books.
I’ve decided to include both books I own and books I do not own in my book jar. If I choose a book I own, I take it from the shelf; if I don’t own it, I will get a copy as soon as I can (I’ll try to get to the bookshop ASAP, but yes, I may sometimes use Amazon Prime. Sorry). When I review what I’ve drawn from the book jar, I’m sure my method of choosing it will come to mind – as will any patterns or complete randomness that show themselves as I continue to read.
Have any of you tried doing a book jar? Or have you used a similar concept for something other than books?
This was supposed to be a Top Ten Tuesday post, but I haven’t had the time recently to post on the correct day! So I thought I’d share this on a random day instead. I tried and failed to actually rank these in some kind of order (they all look amazing) so they have ended up in a general list instead. But, hey it’s still a list! Bloggers love lists.
After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell – I’m very much looking forward to reading a third novel by the amazing Maggie O’Farrell. Her entire back list has been re-released with gorgeous new covers, and this makes it even more exciting to read After You’d Gone, a novel that her fans always praise. It tells the story of Alice Raikes and her family. She had just arrived in Scotland when something happened that caused her to return to London almost immediately – and then she slips into a coma. Alice’s family gather around her and their histories are slowly revealed and concealed. I love O’Farrell’s writing and have high expectations for this one.
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters – This is one of the most highly anticipated releases of 2014 (it is published in August) and I was very, very happy to receive an early copy from Virago. I’ve read all of Sarah Waters’ books except Tipping the Velvet (which is also on my TBR) and have loved all of them. The Paying Guests tells the story of a young woman and her mother whose lives are completely changed when a young married couple move in with them as lodgers. I’ve read the first couple of pages of this and I can’t wait to dive in!
The Vanishing Witch by Karen Maitland – this is also published in August 2014, and my copy has been sitting on my shelf for a little longer than planned – but it is going to be my next-but-one read. Set during the “troubled” reign of Richard II, the novel depicts the Peasants’ Revolt and the difficulties faced by the family of wool merchant Robert when a widow and her daughter charm their way into his home and disrupt his entire family. As the title suggests there is also a bit of witchcraft (or at least suspicions of it) as well, and after reading The Crimson Ribbon earlier this year I’m looking forward to what this novel may hold. And I love the cover!
The Awakening by Kate Chopin – Originally published in 1899, this is being reissued in August 2014 by Canongate and they very kindly sent me an early copy. It’s a book I’ve been aware of for some time but have not got around to reading, but it is firmly in my sights for this year. I haven’t read any ‘old’ literature for a while and I’m looking forward to getting lost in the world of 19th century feminism.
The Lonely Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers by Virginia Spencer Carr – I consider Carson McCullers to be one of my favourite writers, but really I’ve read relatively little of her work. When I first discovered her I read two of her novels and left a third unfinished when I had to relinquish recreational reading for required reading – but I loved them all. I’ve also read a few short stories and poems, and several of her books are on my TBR. She was not only a great writer but also a fascinating person and she lead a very eventful and interesting life, which I can’t wait to read about. It’s been a while since I read a biography, and I’m looking forward to spending time with this one.
Tracks by Robyn Davidson – I have to admit I only heard of this when the recent film adaptation was advertised, but I instantly wanted to read the book as well as see the film. After having enjoyed Wildand Travels with Myself and Another so much, I want to read more travel writing, and I liked the independence and bravery of Robyn’s trek across Australia. I also don’t think I’ve read much set in Australia, so that appealed to me as well. I plan to read this before I see the film (which looks excellent) and hopefully it will live up to expectations.
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan – This has been on TBR since it came out, but I’ve ramped it up the list now that it’s out in paperback. Amy Tan is one of those writers I’ve always heard of but never read anything by, and her latest book sounds like something I would enjoy. It also appeals to me because it is historical and because I have not read anything (I think) that is set in China. This novel has a family saga, China, America, and a story spanning fifty years – I can’t wait to read it.
Hellboy in Hell, vol. 1: The Descent by Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart – This may seem like a very different choice for my TBR, but I’ve read a fair amount of Hellboy and absolutely love it. I also loved the films – no one else seemed to, which I just didn’t get! I essentially want to read every single Hellboy book ever, but there are so many that I had to pick one. And this is a new one, published in May this year. Hellboy in Hell is a bit different as this time around Hellboy is dead, and so his whole story arc has changed. This is also the first book illustrated by Mike Mignola (his wonderful creator) for some time, which is very exciting as I adore Mignola’s artwork. I could literally spend a whole day reading Hellboy – and a whole lotta money buying the books. I’ve never reviewed any on here, but I think I will from now on.
The Meat Tree by Gwyneth Lewis – I want to read this because it is a retelling of Welsh myths, and I’m a bit Welsh, and it also just sounds really interesting. The myth in question is the Blodeuwedd Mabinogion, and the Seren Books website describes the book as: “An elderly investigator and his female apprentice hope to extract the fate of the ship’s crew from its antiquated virtual reality game system, but their empirical approach falters as the story tangles with their own imagination. By imposing a distance of another 200 years and millions of light years between the reader and the medieval myth, Gwyneth Lewis brings this tale of a woman made of flowers closer than ever before, perhaps uncomfortably so. After all, what man can imagine how sap burns in the veins of a woman?”
Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth – Sticking with the fairytale/myth theme, this is described as a retelling of the story of Rapunzel (the actual fairytale, not the Disney version (Tangled) – which I have to say is also amazing). Set during the reign of the Sun King Louis XIV, Kate Forsyth weaves together the stories of three women – Charlotte, a storyteller exiled from court; Selena, an artists’ muse terrified of time; and Margherita, trapped in a tower with her unruly hair… It sounds like an intriguing and original book, and I think (hope!) I’ll enjoy it a lot.