Hi everyone. I finished 24 books in January- a particularly strong start to what I hope will be another good reading year for me. The weather has been pretty cold and blustery lately, so that has meant somewhat less walking in the evenings after work like we are used to. I’m back to curling up on the sofa with a good book again- some of which are the promised chunksters; I finished the 832 page tome Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine, a time-slip novel I was given for Christmas that I really enjoyed. It was the first of her books I’ve tried and was written in a similar style to Diana Gabaldon, who I also love. Albeit slightly more far-fetched and admittedly a tad silly in parts, it nonetheless offered some real escapism which is just what I needed at that point in time. I also read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt which was another hefty read at 771 pages.
In January, I’ve found that since I’ve put less pressure on myself to blog, I’m more inclined to want to do so. I’m not sure if this is because I’m freer in my choices of what to read and have more to choose from on my shelves at the moment, but I hope this is a trend that will continue into the next few months. The last thing I want is for my blog to begin to seem like a chore, so here’s hoping I will continue to feel this way.
I read several review books from Netgalley in the month too, including the utterly sublime The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley. I will post links to all of the other reviews closer to their publication dates on my 2014 reading list, but this was definitely my favourite of all the review copies I received and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I also absolutely loved The Dead Wife’s Handbook a debut by Hannah Beckerman, which was a moving tale of love, loss and grief and was so much better than I anticipated.
My favourite books in January were the aforementioned The Deepest Secret, The Dead Wife’s Handbook and also The Son-In-Law by Charity Norman, which stuck with me because of its thought-provoking themes. As you can see- a really brilliant reading month for me, all in all. I managed to read some books from the Guardian’s 1000 books list as well, which was an added bonus- including a re-read of The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (which I love), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark and the utterly fabulous Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann. That book was kind of reminiscent of a Jackie Collins novel, only perhaps a little bit less salacious, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much!
I also finally completed Made in America by Bill Bryson, a piece of non-fiction that I started in December last year (which seems forever ago now). My new non-fiction bedside read is The Knife Man by the brilliant Wendy Moore, which I’m three quarters of the way through; her book Wedlock was one of my favourite reads back in 2012. This book explores the birth of modern surgery and the controversial methods and history of medical pioneer John Hunter. It’s a little gory and somewhat macabre in places (I have to skip over the bits where he experiments on live animals), but utterly fascinating. I also started In Cold Blood by Truman Capote yesterday- so I have two non-fiction reads on the go at the moment, which is a bit unusual for me.
I also finished a couple of short story collections in the month- short stories not usually being something I read particularly often as I much prefer immersing myself in longer pieces of work. I read Night Shift by Stephen King and The Birds & Other Stories by Daphne Du Maurier. The Du Maurier collection was certainly my favourite of the two as it was so atmospheric. I think I may try and read more short story anthologies this year if I can; they’re a good way to pass my commuting time to work, which now that I take a faster train is fortunately quicker than ever.
Happily, I didn’t read anything especially bad in January. I put this down to the fact that I have had all of the books I got for Christmas to choose from- of which there are a lot!- and I have enjoyed making inroads into them. My bookshelves are decidedly full at the moment (well, fuller than usual…) and as it is my 30th birthday in February (eek!), I’m hoping to receive a few more to tide me through the rest of the year… 🙂
In February I’m hoping to tackle a some more of the Guardian’s list books, since that seems to be going pretty well at the moment. One of my picks from this list is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, though as this looks like a massively chunky read with teeny tiny print, I think it’s a novel I need to be in the mood to dedicate my full attention to; I suspect it might take me a while to get through it. I’ve still not read And The Mountains Echoed by Khalid Hosseini yet either- which has been sitting on my bedside table for a good few weeks now. I have Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter set to one side to take with me on my short holiday, which I’ve managed to resist until now, though heard very good things about.
So, February looks to be another good reading month, then. I’m off on a city break to Amsterdam near its start, so my reviews might be a bit sparse for the first couple of weeks at least while I play catch-up. I hope everyone has a great reading month 🙂