Gateway Books Part One

Hello Bookworms!

I’ve fallen down a nostalgia induced Google wormhole today trying to research this blog post – aargh!

*Bonus points for knowing what 90’s music video this is from

Why have I spent the last hour chuckling at images of old Just 17 magazines and frantically trying to place random tv theme tunes? Well, I’ve been looking back through my life to see which books have been the real game-changers… the ones that I’m calling:

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A whole new worrrrrrlllllldddddd….

Ahem.

So, I thought it would be good to start at the beginning, when I first began to choose my own books. I guess at around ten years old I was mostly reading:

Children’s Fiction (unsurprisingly)

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I remember reading Goodnight Mister Tom with the rest of the class at primary school and it was so sad but utterly captivating too. Even the annoying kids with poor concentration were absolutely gripped by the story! The backdrop of the war led me to  other books like Warhorse by Michael Morpurgo and Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden and when I was even older, books like All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Birdsong by Sebastien Faulks (which I purchased years ago and still haven’t got round to reading, oops).

I also LOVED all of those animal stories written for children like The Sheep Pig by Dick King-Smith (which was made into the film Babe) and Charlotte’s Web, which very nearly made me a vegetarian (but failed at the first sniff of a bacon sandwich). I still love books about animals – I recently read The Bees by Laline Paull which was both super interesting and super-disturbing.

I also read lots of…

Children’s Classics

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I went through a big Enid Blyton phase when I was younger, especially The Famous Five (I wanted to be George, obvs) and Mallory Towers, which made me want to go to boarding school. I can draw a direct line between this book and a later series of books set at a somewhat more magical boarding school… in hindsight these books are pretty problematic but at the time I loved them.

I also loved books like What Katy Did, where naughty Katy got her comeuppance and learnt to be good by following the meek and mild Aunt Helen. I have SUCH vivid memories from this book – the medicine bottles on the shelf, the cracked staple holding up the fateful swing, the menus she would have to write where she complained that every meal had to either be pork, chicken or beef and couldn’t someone just invent a new meat (something I regularly think about when I can’t decide what to cook). The feminist in me shudders at this story now but at the time I couldn’t get enough of it. I have equally fond memories of books by E. Nesbit like The Railway Children and Five Children and It, which led me to the fantastical, magical stories of people like Neil Gaiman.

Finally, I also got very much into…

Humour/Humorous Poetry

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(Aargh why won’t these pictures align????)

I went on holiday when I was about eight or so and, glory of glories, there was a whole bookshelf full of (adult) books for any of my family to borrow. I chose to read The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 which, in hindsight, was far too old for me (I think I just skipped over the parts that I didn’t understand) and Some More of Me Poetry by Pam Ayres, which was really funny in a very innocent 1970’s way (or at least, that’s how I remember it). Both of the books were brilliantly amusing and made me love that kind of downtrodden working class sense of humour, leading me on to the rest of Sue Townsend’s works and even into stand up like Victoria Wood and working class folk-rockers like Grace Petrie:

 

And with that solid grounding in literature, I ventured into my teenage years… which will have to wait for another post!

So, what books did you enjoy growing up? How do you think they influenced your reading tastes now? Did they a wider impact on you as a person? Let me know in the comments!

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Sorting Out the Shelves #5

Hello Bookworms!

Welcome to another edition of sorting out the shelves! I haven’t done one of these for a while and although I thought I’d mostly covered the books I wanted to get rid of, when I looked harder I still have loads more to get through. So, it looks like this feature is here to stay!

Today, I’m looking at books that I bought when I became interested in two very different topics – fantasy writing and gardening! Soooooo… it’s time for Own or Re-Home!

Own

Assorted works by J. R. R. Tolkien

I love that edition of the Hobbit…

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The copies of LOTR are some of my most battered books (having been obtained when I was a student and surviving four different house moves – including a period where they were kept in my Grandma’s shed) but they’re also amongst my most loved books. Confession: I essentially stole them off my then boyfriend and never returned them – oops – but that was fifteen years ago and he never asked for them back, so… yeah. Mine now! He recommended that I read them despite my initial trepidation – I’d made an attempt at reading The Hobbit when I was about six or seven and thought it was the dullest book in the world. Surprisingly, I loved them and that started my journey into fantasy. I bought the special edition copy of The Hobbit mostly because it was pretty but when I actually read it again I loved it – I think I’d just been too young the first time round. Now, I fondly look at these books as a kind of gateway drug into a world that I didn’t know existed and even though I really don’t like my ex I’m grateful that we had a relationship purely for the book recommendations!

Re-home

A selection of gardening books that all pretty much say the same thing…

We have the internet now…

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All of these books have been gifts (because what else do you buy for someone who likes both gardening and reading?) and although they were initially useful, they’re pretty basic and the internet has much more up to date information. I haven’t referred to any of them in years, so off they go to the used bookstore at the library.

 

Do you have any “long term loan” books lurking on your shelves that you’ve never got round to returning? What were your “gateway” books that introduced you to a specific genre? Are reference books even remotely useful in the 21st century? Let me know in the comments!

 

Sorting Out the Shelves #4

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Hello Bookworms!

Welcome to another edition of sorting out the shelves! Today, I’m looking at my “popular” books from the 90’s/00’s

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(I imagine this is how I would look if I won some kind of popularity contest)

So, lets begin by looking at some of the most popular books of all time and then move on to some pop psychology/sociology…

It’s time for Own or Re-Home!

Own

Harry Potter. Need I say more?

You might recognise these covers…

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I have a complete set of the paperback versions of the HP books, some of which are first editions (but worth precisely zilch because the print run will have been so huge). This took supreme effort from me – when the final book was released I waited a whole year to read the paperback so that I didn’t mess up my bookshelves with a random hardback. They take pride of place in the middle of my bookshelves along with some other HP paraphernalia (like my picture of me on a broomstick flying over Hogwarts). I love these books so much that I’ll never part with them.

Re-home

A selection of pop psychology/sociology/anthropology mostly written by TV media types…

It was just a phase…

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I still love books that teach me about other cultures (including my own) or people, especially if they’re written in a humorous way. There seemed to be loads of them out in the mid 2000’s  – I bought most of these for my train journey to and from work from WHSmiths on New Street Station. However, as interesting as they were I don’t treasure them or feel like I’ll ever return to reading them again (I can still pretty much remember what they said) so off to the library used bookshop they go!

Do you have a selection of similar books from a specific period in your life? Do you have any bookish phases that you’ve been through? What do your Harry Potter books look like? Let me know in the comments!

 

The A-Z of Me Part Two

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So, we previously looked at The A-Z of Me Part One – lets take a look at what the rest of the alphabet says about me!

 

N is for National Trust

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I’m a member of The National Trust and a passionate supporter of British heritage. I love visiting historic houses, especially if they have nice gardens. We try to visit somewhere once a month to really get the most of our membership.

O is for Organic Fruit and Veg

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I grow my own vegetables organically – the picture above is last year’s strawberry patch (every flower will turn into a fruit). I grow everything from soft fruit to root vegetables and I always try something new – 2019 is the year I try cucamelons!

P is for Police Force

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I used to work for British Transport Police in their HR team. I learnt so much and met some fantastic people. It also gave me a real appreciation of the police force, especially with regards their commitment to equality and diversity.

Q is for Quidditch

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I am a self-professed Harry potter nerd – here’s a photo of me flying on a broomstick on the HP Warner Bros Studio Tour. I love everything about the books and will forever be Team Slytherin.

R is for Reading, obviously

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I have always been a bookworm and love reading, talking about books, blogging about books, buying books, smelling books… above are some of my Virago Modern Classic Designer Collection which are my all time faves – fabulous stories and just so, so pretty!

S is for Silverstone

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We go to Silverstone every year to watch the British Grand Prix (that’s Formula One car racing to the uninitiated). Obviously we support Lewis Hamilton but I also have a soft spot for Kimi Raikonnen and I think Max Verstappen is going to be a future champion – he’s so exciting to watch!

T is for Tortoises

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Awwww! These are my pet torts Tabitha (the big one) and Voldetort (the baby). Contrary to what you see in the photo, they have a lifelong feud and will attack each other if we let them get too close. We keep them in separate pens where they silently plot their revenge from afar.

U is for Unemployable

Since giving up on my career in HR I’ve done bits and bobs but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m basically unemployable by big companies. Self-employment is definitely the way forwards for me.

V is for Vintage

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I love anything vintage and will happily dress up in 1940’s/50’s clothing. This is me and my best friend Juliet on our way to a burlesque night a few years ago. I also love vintage interiors and would much rather buy old furniture/ornaments than new stuff.

W is for West Midlands

I live in the West Midlands in Coventry, which is the City of Culture 2021. I am genuinely excited to see what Cov can pull out of the bag after years of under-funding and decline (the Special’s song Ghost Town was written about us for a reason!)

X is for X-Ray

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This is me in my roller derby gear, a few months before I broke two bones in my leg and snapped my ankle bone off on either side of my foot. I’d love to say I did this performing an apex jump but in reality I just slipped. So now my leg has two metal plates, a big bolt through my ankle and a load of pins holding it all together.

Y is for Yoga

Since stopping roller derby I took up the safer option of yoga and absolutely love it! Just 20 minutes in the morning is enough to really make a difference and although I do it in fits and starts it never takes long to get back into it.

Z is for ZZZZZZ’s

Oh my gosh I love sleep! Nine hours if I can get it but I struggle to function on anything less than eight. Once asleep I’m dead to the world and can nod off anywhere – including once when I was in the middle of an assessment centre!

So, that’s the A-Z of me! Can any of you relate? Would you like to write one of these posts too? Let me know in the comments!

 

The A-Z of Me Part One

Hello Bookworms!

black vintage typewriter
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I saw this great little post on Dave@espressococo‘s blog and thought that it would be really fun to try! I love a good getting to know you post, so let’s see what the letters A to M say about me!

A is for Antiques

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I love antiques and I’ve been collecting them for a few years now. In particular, I like objects from the arts and crafts movement, like this copper jardiniere.

B is for Blogging

Well, obviously! I’ve been blogging for three years now and my little corner of the internet remains small but perfectly formed (well, as perfect as I can make it anyway).

C is for Comedy

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I love seeing comedy live – I usually go to a few gigs per year. Favourite comedians include Sara Pascoe, Jon Richradson, Hannah Gadsby and Rachel Parris – I saw Jon last year for the third time and I’m hoping to see the others soon.

D is for DIY

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I love DIY and I’m currently refurbishing a house with my partner. I’ve learnt loads of new skills and so far I’m still enjoying the process, even though it’s gone on for a lot longer than expected.

E is for Eating

Who doesn’t love eating? I really enjoy cooking my own food and have been known to whip up some tasty treats, such a lemon meringue pie from scratch (including the lemon curd) and I always do a big Sunday roast for me and the non-hubs.

F is for Feminism

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I’m a feminist and proud! I listen to lots of feminist podcasts, like The Guilty Feminist, Standard Issue and even good old Woman’s Hour on Radio 4 (which is way more radical than you’d think!) I became interested in the movement after reading Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Girl, which is an incredible book that everyone should read.

G is for Gardening

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If there’s one thing that gives me almost as much pleasure as reading it’s gardening. It all started when I met my boyfriend (who is a plant scientist) and he basically roped me into helping him sort his garden out after having the kitchen extended. I got completely hooked, to the point where I now grow most of my own veg on my own allotment. It’s hard work but so, so enjoyable.

H is for Human Resources

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I have an MA in Human Resource Management, as well as a degree in Business and membership of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development. Despite all this, I gave up my career because…well… I hated it! If you have a HR team in your workplace, please be nice to them. It can be a pretty thankless job dealing with people’s problems day in and day out.

I is for Injury

My leg is mostly made of metal having broken it in four separate places. Some of the pins in my ankle stick out a bit and you can feel the plates in my leg (weirdly it’s made my leg thinner, so now my calves are different sizes). I also have a pretty cool scar!

J is for Jaguar

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We have an old Jaguar car that we take out a few times a year to shows and events (or just to show off if we’re going to a wedding lol). I don’t really get it but the non-hubs loves it and our house is full of his Jaguar tat memorabilia.

K is for Knitting

I love making things and knitting is one of those hobbies that I intermittently try my hand at. I’m still at beginner level but I’ve made so pretty nice things, including a lace knit scarf and an old-fashioned tea cozy for a friend. My long term goal is to knit an advent calendar – I’m thinking 25 individual mini-stockings that I can string up like bunting and fill with chocolates/sweets/tiny presents.

L is for Library

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I’m a library volunteer for one of my local libraries (since the council completely cut all funding) which is really, really fun. I recently mentioned online that I’m on the lookout for donations of books (used or new) to help replenish out stock, or possibly be sold in our used giftshop and people have been so kind – it’s really restored my faith in humanity!

M is for Music

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I love music, especially weird indie-pop, 80’s and 90’s stuff, rock, metal, death metal… and Kate Bush. I collect vinyl records too and I’m always mooching about in charity shops and record fairs.

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So, that’s the first part of the A-Z of me! Do we have any hobbies or interests in common? Let me know in the comments and stay tuned for part two – coming soon!

 

Sorting Out the Shelves #3

Hello Bookworms!

Welcome to another edition of sorting out the shelves! This week it’s a special feature – cookbooks!

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Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

I have tons of cookbooks because EVERYONE buys them for me despite having, you know, the internet to find recipes on. So, I’m overrun with the bloody things and I need to get rid.

Lets play own or re-home!

Own

Vintage cookbooks inherited from my mother-in-law plus New Covent Garden Soup recipe books

Cookbooks should be battered and covered in stains…

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I mean, look at the state of the Be-Ro book – that tells you everything you need to know about how useful it is. Seriously, it’s my most used recipe book by far, even though it must be forty years old. It also houses a number of handwritten recipes from my non-husbands since-departed mother and possibly his ex-girlfriend, all of which I’m very grateful for (even though the non-hubs always complains when I use them to make something it don’t taste as good as when his Mum/ex made it). The Marguerite Patten cookbook is even older – it must be getting on for fifty but again I use it all the time. I love how simple the recipes are and how there’s an easy “blueprint” guide, with variations to try once you’ve mastered the basics. There’s also a brilliant “what to do when it goes wrong” section at the back that’s absolutely indispensable when you’re first learning to cook. The soup books are lovely, easy to follow and even though all of the recipes are probably available online I always find it’s easier to use a hard copy book than try to keep a tablet/phone open when you’re in the middle of cooking. They’re all definite keepers!

Re-home

A totally random assortment of cook books

I’ll just use BBC Good Food…

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Clearly, at some point someone found out that I’d bought a slow cooker and got me some recipe books to go with it – failing to realise that there’s really only three things you can make in one and the recipes are all just variations on a theme. There’s also a jam/chutney making book (I might look at this once a year when I have a glut of allotment veg but I’d rather look online) a veg cookbook (too weird) a couple of “British” cookbooks (fancy versions of what’s in Marguerite Patten) a Delia Smith How to Cook book (again, Patten does it better) and a “Mediterranean” book (featuring ingredients that I never own). Off to the charity shop you go!

Do you have a million recipe books that you never use? Are any of them quirky, old or unique? Do you have any treasured inherited recipes that you can’t make as well as your relatives did? Let me know in the comments!

 

Sorting Out the Shelves #2

Hello Bookworms!

A bit late this week but welcome back to my new feature, where I try to Marie Kondo my massive collection of books that I’m fast running out of room for. I hate getting rid of them but needs must, so bring on the binbags! *Side note: obviously I’ll be donating my books to the charity shop, not actually chucking them away. I’m not a monster.

This week’s selection features some beautiful vintage hardbacks that have sentimental value and some popular paperbacks that I’ll probably never re-read – plus a bonus book that somehow escaped the first cull!

Keepers

My Grandad’s 1950’s Encyclopedias

I could spend all day looking through these…

I know it’s hard to believe, but back when I was at school the internet was not a thing and we had to rely on encyclopedias to obtain information. If you couldn’t find the topic that you were looking for… tough. Dark times indeed.

These encyclopedias were printed in the 1950’s when books were luxuries that most ordinary people couldn’t afford, so quite how I managed to inherit these is something of a miracle (my Grandad died with 22p in his pocket and zero savings – he’d even cashed in his funeral plan). I guess he must have thought that they would be useful to my Mum and Uncle so found some money from somewhere? My Mum thinks that he got them from a door to door salesman so probably bought them one book at a time, which would have helped with the cost. Considering my Mum grew up with very little, I love the idea that my Grandad prioritised her education over all of the other household expenses.

The books themselves are beautiful, in fairly good condition considering their age and have some gorgeous colour illustrations (?) (I’m not entirely sure what they are, they look like paintings but they’re so realistic they might be black and white photographs that have been coloured in). They’re fascinating to look through and a real slice of history, as seen through a very British colonial lens (i.e. racist). Despite their problematic language I love what they represent to my family and I could never throw them away.

Donations

The Millennium Trilogy plus a stowaway Eclipse book.

Read them, next…

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Bleurgh, look at the stickers…

I enjoyed reading the Millennium Trilogy and although I like the look of the spines all sitting in order on my shelves, I’ve read them, I’m not re-reading them, they have to go.

Also, although I admire the tenacity of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, how did it manage to hide itself when I was chucking out all the Twilight books last week? It was right next to them! Whatever, I can’t really remember what it was about, I’m not going to look at it again, It’s just taking up space. Bye Felicia!

Do you have any inherited books that you just can’t throw away? Do you own any unique books that have sentimental value? Can you remember what The Second Life of Bree Tanner is about? Let me know in the comments!

 

Sorting Out the Shelves #1

Hello Bookworms!

I’m on a bit of a mission to sort out my house at the moment but the one thing that always gets missed is my bookshelves. I have three Billy bookcases in my spare room and they’re basically full, so time to (sob) get rid of some books.

I’m sure you’ll all understand how hard this is, so I’ve promised myself that each week I’ll choose one series or group of books to keep and one to throw away (I say throw out, I obviously mean charity shop).

This week’s selection features the two most obvious choices that jumped out at me as soon as I looked at my bookshelves. They are…

Keepers

My selection of Virago Modern Classics

Sooooo pretty…

I actually wrote a post quite a while ago about how much I adore these books and I’ve been adding to my collection ever since. I love them sooooo much so they’re definitely staying.

Donations

The Twilight Series (is that what it’s actually called?)

These books do not spark deep joy…

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Now, I can’t deny that these are pretty books. You can’t tell but the middle two books have a special blood red edge to the pages that works so well with the predominantly black covers. Unfortunately, I hate the content and I know I’ll never read them again so these have got to go. Also, what possessed me to get the final book in hardback when the previous three were paperbacks? Urgh. I must have assumed that they wouldn’t make it to my bookshelves, or picked the final book up for cheap somewhere (it does look secondhand). Begone!

Do you have overflowing bookshelves? Have you been inspired to have a clear out? Which of your books would you definitely keep or get rid of? Let me know in the comments!

 

Nick’s Chapter-a-Day Read-Along – Join Us!

Last year, I took part in Nick’s Chapter-a-day read-along of Les Miserables and enjoyed it so much that I’ve signed up to his 2019 challenge! I know that I would never have had the patience to get through Les Miserables without the read-along and I enjoyed seeing everyone else’s thoughts as we were working our way through the novel. This year, I’m hoping to expand my horizons even further!

So, by popular demand, Nick has chosen four books to read in 2019 which in total have 365 chapters. They are:

 

  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes #quixotereadalong
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas #montecristoreadalong
  • Lillith by George McDonald #lilithreadalong
  • The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens #curiosityshopreadalong

Although the idea is obviously to read one chapter a day, last year I found it easier to read in larger chunks. The beauty of this challenge is that you can structure it to whatever suits you – you can read on ahead or catch up whenever you get the chance!

I’ve copied the below from Nick’s original post about the read along, so if you want to join in you’ve got all the information that you need:

How to Participate in the 2019 Chapter-a-Day Read-Along

  1. Get a copy of each of the four books.
  2. If you have your own blog, write a welcome post explaining why you are joining the read-along and what you hope to gain from it. Leave a link to your post in the comments section on Nick’s original blog post. If you don’t have a blog, you can leave your information in the comments section as well.
  3. Download the daily schedule: Nick’s Chapter a Day Reading Schedule 2019
  4. Commit to reading a chapter a day. If you get behind or race ahead, no worries. Life happens.
  5. If you feel like it, post a line a day from the current chapter on social media, using the hashtags listed above. Nick will be posting to Twitter and Facebook each day and would love to read your thoughts, too. When you post, please respect the reading experience of those who may not know the full story. In other words, no spoilers!
  6. Be sure to subscribe to Nick’s blog to receive any read-along updates.

The 2019 Chapter-a-Day Reading Schedule

Here is the broad outline of the year:

  • Don Quixote: January 1 to May 8 (126 chapters plus 2 prologues = 128 days)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo: May 9 to September 2 (117 chapters = 117 days)
  • Lilith: September 3 to October 19 (47 chapters = 47 days)
  • The Old Curiosity Shop: October 20 to December 31 (73 chapters = 73 days)

Nick’s blog has more information including sign up information, graphics and links to where you can get hold of copies of all the books listed so please check it out – and join us!

What Lucinda Did…in 2018

Hello Bookworms!

Gosh, I’ve just been flicking through my blog posts from this year and I can’t believe how fast 2018 has gone! I started the year not being particularly serious about blogging, with about 150 followers and no other social media presence. I’m ending the year with over 350 followers, 240 Twitter followers and a far more regular blogging schedule, plus more varied content and participation in the wider blogging community. Oh, and I’m finally writing my posts on a laptop instead of tapping everything out with one finger on my Kindle Fire! I can actually resize images!

I also bought myself this nifty little trolley from Ikea and turned it into a Book Blogging trolley (which the good people of Twitter seemed to really like). I love it so much!

In terms of reading, I’ve read and reviewed 62 books on my blog this year and had several rated five out of five. I was actually surprised at how many poorly rated books I read – something that I’m planning to change in 2019. No more Foxhole Court! I was also surprised at how few books I’d read – I think reading Les Miserables took up quite a lot of time and should count for at least five!

I’ve already talked about my favourite books that I read as part of the Read Harder challenge but I’ve got a few other honourable mentions from my reading total:

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a wonderful novella with layers of symbolism that I found completely enthralling.

Bitter by Francesca Jakobi was a fantastic, twisted book about what happens when a mother’s love becomes obsessive. I was totally engrossed from start to finish by this clever, atmospheric novel.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata was wonderful. I loved the sheer weirdness of this short book – again, the novella was completely multi-layered, packing a huge amount into what initially appears to be a simple story about a woman happy to work in a simple job in a convenience store.

The Lido by Libby Page was a lovely book that feature a rare appearance from a main character who was actually older than sixty! I loved the relationship between the characters and seeing how the community all came together was lovely. It also made me want to take up swimming again!

However, there was one other book that really stood out for me this year that I’m officially naming as my favourite…

Drum roll…

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It was Skyward by Brandon Sanderson!

I loved everything about this amazing novel, from the female representation to the complex characters, the world building and the TOTAL LACK OF TEENAGE SNOGGING! Amazing!

I hope you all had a great 2018 too! What were your favourite reads? Let me know in the comments!