As at all times, I’m saving my books of the yr for the thirty first, and also you’ll get my guide stats (my favorite publish) on the twenty ninth, however at the moment I plan to share another running a blog highlights, together with all these studying weeks, months and challenges I took half in over the yr. You’ll additionally discover a guide group abstract, DNFs and CGSs, and a few sensible new authors I found beneath too. Alongside my weblog posts have been my opinions for Shiny New Books, a few of which I’ll point out right here too.
The place did 2023 go?
JANUARY noticed the return of Nordic FINDS, I managed to learn and overview six books, one from every nation, plus an additional Danish thriller as a gaggle learn and one written in English set in Finland. I additionally made resolutions to learn extra from my TBR, particularly for fulfilling challenges and studying themes. We’ll see how I did in my stats publish in just a few days time. (I’m not formally working Nordic FINDS this yr, however can have a Nordic focus to a few of my studying for Jan 2024).
FEBRUARY was the third #ReadIndies month hosted by Kaggsy and Lizzy It additionally noticed the return of my ‘Watchlist’ – a overview of the very best issues I’ve seen relatively than learn in whichever format (hyperlink right here to my 2023 Watchlist posts). My guide group completed our protection of the Large Jubilee Learn listing with The Promise by Damon Galgut from the final decade of QEII’s reign.
MARCH is a giant month for nationwide studying challenges: I learn two for Eire (Keegan and Kennedy) and one for Wales, plus I squeezed in a novella by Mishima to beat the tip of this yr’s Jan-March Japanese Studying Problem. I additionally added one other publish to my ‘Studying the A long time’ sequence: for 1950 – and it went on to be my most-viewed publish of the yr.
APRIL had only one studying problem within the 1940 Membership hosted by Simon and Kaggsy – I reviewed an Eric Ambler for it. However it was a busy month with 5 weblog excursions. It was additionally a notable month for re-triggering a fascination with Thelonius Monk, as a result of sensible novel Viper’s Dream by Jake Lamar, which featured the jazzman – and extra notably his patron – Nica Rothschild aka The Jazz Baroness whose biography I went on to learn. At Shiny, I learn Todd McEwen’s guide of essays, Cary Grant’s Go well with: 9 Films that Made me the Wreck I’m As we speak from Notting Hill Editions. I really like movie crit books, and this was certain up in memoir, and humour as well.
MAY was a quiet month, surprisingly. No themed studying in any respect, though I did learn Charlie Higson’s official Bond guide for the coronation On His Majesty’s Secret Service, which was nice enjoyable. However, for Shiny, I did get to overview the attractive Folio Society version of Roadside Picnic by the Strugatskys, and that led me down the rabbit gap to Tarkovsky’s movie Stalker, and Geoff Dyer’s guide Zona he wrote about it..
JUNE in fact sees the beginning of 20 Books of Summer season, as at all times hosted by Cathy, which I cheat at mercilessly – however I at all times begin off fairly properly, studying 6 books from my TBR and reviewing 3 of them. It additionally marked the primary ‘Studying the Meow’ hosted by Mallika of Literary Potpourri, and I learn a guide with a really completely different cat in it!
JULY and I solely added one other 4 to my 20 Books of Summer season, leaving me an extended approach to go in August! I did handle to tie one title – the 2nd in Izzo’s Marseilles trilogy – in with Paris in July, hosted by Emma of Phrases and Peace weblog this yr.
AUGUST brings in one other massive theme – it’s #WITMonth – Girls in Translation, and I learn 4 books for it: two written in Spanish, two written in French, however from 4 completely different writer nationalities! I completed my 20 Books of Summer season a bit brief – at 18. Shut however no cigar! In the meantime, at Shiny, I used to be delighted to overview the primary in a brand new Arthurian trilogy Morgan is My Title by Sophie Keetch – so refreshing after too many Greek myths.
SEPTEMBER is a busy month for me – again at college – drained within the evenings, so much less studying executed. However I nonetheless managed 5 weblog excursions and a bit little bit of Czech studying (managing solely 108 pages from over 750 of The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek) for Czech lit Month hosted by Stu. A Shiny spotlight was reviewing Mat Osman’s splendid second novel The Ghost Theatre, an Elizabethan journey with a Dickensian eye for element.
OCTOBER was additionally very busy certainly at college, and an analogous smaller quantity of studying obtained executed. A selected spotlight was studying The IPCRESS File by Len Deighton for the 1962 Membership, and I lastly obtained round to studying my Sunday Instances Younger Author Award 2017 Shadow Decide, Dane Cobain’s horror novel Meat for RIP XVII. I coated the Eighties in my Studying the A long time sequence, and likewise managed to learn the novel that may go on to win the Booker – Prophet Music by Paul Lynch.
NOVEMBER is a month with some massive month-long themes: notably Nonfiction November, hosted by 5 completely different bloggers – I took half in weeks 1, and three (hosted by Liz ) with themed posts, plus another nf reads that simply occurred to suit into … Novellas in November, hosted by Rebecca and Cathy and most of my reads this month fitted one or different of those tags. Then there was German studying month, hosted by LIzzy and two extra novellas squeezed in for that, plus lastly – my very personal Beryl Bainbridge Studying Week – centred across the late writer’s birthday for which I learn one of many few of her books I hadn’t learn earlier than, The Lady within the Polka Dot Gown, and re-read An Awfully Large Journey, and we had a stunning visitor publish from Maureen about assembly Beryl. A Shiny spotlight from this month was my overview plus Q&A with Nicholas Royle on the publication of his ‘memoirish’ lockdown guide, David Bowie, Enid Blyton and the solar machine – he’s so thought-provoking.
DECEMBER had time to squeeze in two remaining weblog excursions, making a complete of 34 all year long – and largely sensible reads too. The month additionally offered an excellent excuse to indulge within the third Elvis Presley Thriller by Daniel Klein for Dean Avenue December hosted by Liz. After that it was whim studying all the way in which, together with a late discovery that’ll seem in my better of publish nonetheless to return…
My full E-book Group web page is right here with the listing of what we’ve learn this yr. After we completed our Large Jubilee Learn, we returned to ‘Phrase Affiliation’ for pitching titles every month, which introduced up some attention-grabbing decisions within the key phrases and themes: going from the ocean, to Turkey with Norwegian, bell, doll, soldier, Czech and museum in between. I used to be a foul guide group member this yr by way of really studying and ending the texts chosen, however my favorite was my re-read of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carre, which I cherished simply as a lot as the primary time, adopted by The Promise by Damon Galgut. I used to be delighted that we selected 4 translated titles this yr too. It additionally goes to show that essentially the most irritating books (The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk) can generate the very best dialogue!
The DNFs and CGSs.
I’m introducing a brand new acronym, ‘CGS’, for Couldn’t Get Began. Sadly this utilized to Elif Shafak’s The Bastard of Istanbul, a guide group learn. I attempted a number of occasions however by no means obtained past the primary few pages. An actual disgrace as I’ve seen Shafak learn from her novels, and her mellifluous voice makes me need to learn them, however each one I’ve tried to this point has failed for me. I do have The Island of Lacking Bushes in my TBR although.
My two DNFs have been additionally guide group reads. Svejk I’ve already talked about, however I had issues with Elizabeth Buchan’s The Museum of Damaged Guarantees (though the Prague bits have been nice). Oh properly!
The Largest Disappointment
I slogged by Examine for Obedience by Sarah Bernstein, begrudging the narrator’s vagueness and navel gazing from the start. I acknowledge the great thing about the writing, however I didn’t benefit from the voice in any respect. Additionally the underlying messages have been simply too delicate. I’ll go away it there.
The Sensible Discoveries
A number of new to me authors to present a shout-out to.
- High of the listing is Callum McSorley whose debut crime thriller Squeaky Clear was simply sensible and humorous as well.
- Gwendoline Riley – My Phantoms was such a bleak and chopping but darkly humorous novella, I need to learn extra by her.
- James Wolff‘s spy thriller The Man within the Corduroy Go well with launched a refreshingly completely different spy in Leonard Flood. There’s two earlier standalones to meet up with.