Super Sunday Snapshot

Four picture book covers
Before you ask – yes, I have been reading again this week. I’ve read picture books for the day job and have added all of them to posts on the When a Book Might Help blog (although, granted, not all of the posts have been published yet).

Four book covers

I’ve been reading (and listening to audiobooks) for my own pleasure.  It’s been great.  I love to read!  But I’m starting to think I might need to go on a bit of a book diet.  In food terms, my eyes are bigger than my stomach.  I am in serious danger of overdosing on the books in my house… and I keep bringing in more!

Overflowing bookshelfShelf full of books

 

In my front room I have two full shelves of books waiting to be read.  These are all books I have been given as birthday and Christmas gifts, books that I really wanted.  There are also some that I have picked up at shops, in library sales and at various author events.  Books I am longing to read.    How lucky am I?!

Three stacks of booksIn my bedroom are the books that are higher up the ‘To Be Read’ list. These are the books that have a ‘best before’ date, like library books and books for work. Some are for reading groups and others are for college.  You have to be a book with a purpose to make it upstairs in my house.  I do try and slot in books from the front room every now and then but, as you can see, I’ve got lots of books in my three ‘priority’ stacks.

In theory, this is my idea of heaven. Books as far as the eye can see! Unfortunately, reading has to be slotted in around other things like work, sleep, walking the dogs, laundry, and a whole list of other stuff. You know how it goes.

15 book coversBelieve it or not, my book stacks have gone down a bit over the last couple of months. Since I handed in my last assignment for college I’ve been able to catch up on some of my reading for pleasure. Then I had a birthday and this lot arrived.  I don’t want to sound ungrateful, I’m really thrilled to have every one of these books.  On the other hand, I’m very pleased that I have read two of them before and four of them are for study.  It makes it easier to find room for the others on the TBR shelves.

Three open books showing signatures

I am especially delighted with these three books.  My best friend bought me The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce and I received a personalised book-plate to put inside – Twitter is a wonderful thing!  My lovely partner bought me a signed copy of Four Stories by Alan Bennett.  I nearly always hear his stories in his voice when I read them.  She also found a shop that has close links with Jackie Morris.  They arranged for a copy of East of the Sun, West of the Moon to be autographed for me.  I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to find a personalised message and a drawing of a polar bear on the title page.  Her illustrations are stunning!

I would like to say thank you to my family and friends for all the wonderful books they buy me, to the booksellers, to the libraries who lend me more books every week, and to the magnificent writers and illustrators (and their agents and publishers) who produce them in the first place.  Please forgive me if I don’t write about the books I’ve read this week.  I’ve had a look at the next book on my priority reading heap and it’s about fairies – I’m off to curl up with a book.

Sunday Snapshot and a Confession

Three books and a magazineIf you just look at the pictures, it doesn’t seem that I have done much reading this week, but that’s not the case.  I have finished two cracking YA novels, a beautiful version of a traditional tale, an early reader and a magazine about writing.  The latter always takes me off onto researches and explorations inspired by the articles and news features.  That takes up a lot of time!  I’ve also been reading profiles of people who were speaking at Wonderlands, a symposium organised by the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy that I attended this weekend.  I shall post more about that later in the week.

This week I have done something I thought I would never do.  I have given myself permission NOT to finish every book I start.  It has always been a matter of pride that, no matter how dull, annoying or frustrating, I always plough through to the very end.  There have only been one or two exceptions over the last fifty years.  At the moment, the books in my TBR heap would reach the bedroom ceiling twice over if they were gathered into one place.  The books I’m reading for work still get the full treatment, as do most of the books I’m reading for college.  However, if it’s a book that I’ve picked up just because it might be useful, or I liked the sound of the blurb, or it’s had a lot of attention on social media – the rules have changed.  Those books get thirty pages or so to grab my attention.  If by that stage I’m not looking forward to my next opportunity to read a chapter or two, I can choose whether or not to persevere.  As someone pointed out, the early pages of most books have received a disproportionate amount of attention from writers, agents and editors.  That being the case, how likely is it that my reading experience will improve as the book progresses?

Over the last seven days I have started and abandoned two books and returned a third to the library as it was a sequel to one of those two.  I won’t name the books or the authors – it is, after all, just my opinion and it would be unfair of me to cast aspersions on something I didn’t finish.  After all, it could be that my head was just not in the right place to read those stories on that day.  I have to say – seeing my TBR heap shrink as a result is strangely liberating.  Every time I put an unread book in the library returns bag it makes me giggle like a naughty little girl.

Book CoverNot reading books I didn’t enjoy gave me space to read books that I really did.  East of the Sun, West of the Moon is Jackie Morris’s beautifully illustrated adaptation of a traditional story.  I was going to say it had been a long time since I read the original, but I’m sure you know what I mean.  I haven’t read any other versions of this story for a while so I can’t remember how they end.  I think Ms Morris got it just right.  The girl grew up and changed during her travels and accepted that she was not the same person who had fallen in love with the bear/prince.  Each of the illustrations is a little jewel and I was very sad to give it back to Hampshire libraries.

Vortex by S J Kincaid is the sequel to Insignia. This series has children with processors implanted in their brains competing in games in preparation to defend the world against enemies from beyond.  In reality they are engaged in a constant battle between the mega-rich corporations who control the wealth of the world.  It is full of technology, intrigue, action, politics and teenage friendships and I think I might buy them for my nephew for his 14th birthday – if he doesn’t have them already.

Before July last year I knew nothing about Rainbow Rowell.  Then I went to YALC and saw the rapturous attention she received from her many fans.  I’d been seeing a lot of chatter about her book Eleanor & Park on social media so I decided to read it.  I fell instantly in love with the characters, the story and her writing.  It’s taken me nine months to move another of her books up my reading heap – and it was worth the wait.  Fangirl could, at first glance, be just another story about twin sisters going to University, leaving their bipolar father home alone.  The mother who abandoned them tries to build bridges, there are new friendships, parties, boys and worries over studies.  But this story was written by a master (sorry, mistress) of her craft and has the added bonus of a sub-story; a piece of fanfiction written by the protagonist, Cath.  It was one of those stories that made me sad when the book was over, but happy because I was certain the characters were still carrying on their lives without my watching them.  The library catalogue has two more of her titles listed, but I am being very brave and not placing a reservation at the moment.  Anyone want to take bets on how long I can hold out?