Kindred Spirits

This year I am starting my annual Christmas re-read of Little Women a bit early as I am doing so in the company of some lovely people on Instagram – the Kindred Spirit Network.

Social media is a bit of a tricky topic for me – if I spend too long scrolling – and on a bad day too long can be five minutes – I end up feeling very down and it really isn’t good for me.  On the other hand, I need to use it if I want to promote my blog.  It is difficult for me to find the right balance sometimes.

However, a huge positive side of social media – and Instagram in particular – is the connection I can so easily make with like minded people.  I love having a book club with real people I can talk to in person but none of them really enjoy the same books as me.  Yes, it makes me read a wider range of books and that is great – but sometimes I just want to read a cosy, comforting book which I love.  It is even better if I can share that book with other people who love it just as much as I do.

I am therefore very much looking forward to a couple of months spent curled up with Little Women (and Good Wives – they are usually published separately in the UK).  I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening.

Summer Reading

Last year I had a big clear out of books. Most of them I had read but some had been languishing on my TBR for years. Genuinely years. Books were taking over the house and so I tried to be fairly ruthless – if I’d had it for years and wasn’t likely to read it any time soon then it was a candidate to go. If it was also still in print or otherwise readily available then it was almost certain to go – when (if) I was ready to read it then it could be replaced.

It wad quite hard to do but was also very freeing. For the first time in a long time I didn’t feel guilty about buying a new book because there were so many others waiting at home that I just had to read. Of course, the idea of having to read something is really nonsensical – reading should be fun.

I was very proud of myself and kept my physical TBR down to a strict minimum (the list of books I want to read has always been ridiculously long but at least it doesn’t take up more room than a notebook). However, I have recently started to notice that it is growing and as I don’t want to have to cull them again I have made a resolution – over the summer I will do my utmost to only read books that I already own.

I am very much a mood reader so do not usually have a set TBR for any given month but, as you can see, there is quite an eclectic mix to keep me going. Some of these are re-reads (Artemis Fowl) and a couple are ones I started last year, put down and never picked back up again (Sylvia’s Lovers and The Italian). It would be so good if I could finish one of those!

There will be a couple of exceptions though. I need to read Erebus by Michael Palin for my August book club meeting and the new Murder Most Unladylike book is published next month. I will almost certainly be buying it as soon as it comes out!

The books on the bottom shelf are too tall to stand upright!

Did I buy a couple of books sooner than I might have done otherwise just because I knew I would be setting myself this challenge? Yes. Yes I did. I am the one setting the rules after all.

Do you see any favourite books? Any you think I should read first?

In Defence of Escapism

We all have bad days. Yesterday was quite stressful for me and when I got home all I wanted to do was curl up in front of the fire with my book and a cup of tea. Yes I had a list of chores which needed doing but they would still need doing another day!

This is why I like to have escapist books. People so often scoff at happy books as being ‘just’ escapism but sometimes that’s what I need. If I’ve had a hard day I don’t want to make myself feel worse by reading about someone else being miserable. Books are my happy place after all.

In this instance I was reading Alan Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie which I picked up on my trip to Foyles. It’s a book I had heard of but never really knew anything about – when I found it though I could tell it was perfect for me. I’m halfway through now and I definitely made the right choice!

Just a couple of hours reading settled me back down. Books are the best medicine.

Medicinal Reading

For the past few days I have been suffering with a shocking cold which always makes me feel miserable.  At times like this I just want easy, comfort reading. Quite often that means children’s books and this time it is pony books I have been craving.

Anyone who follows my pony adventures will know that I am a huge fan of pony books anyway but over the past two days I have read three pony books and don’t look like stopping anytime soon.

Firstly, I have been catching up with Olivia Tuffin’s A Pony Called Secret series.  I adored the first book but it has taken me ages to get round to reading the others.  I am almost up to date with them now and am enjoying them as much as ever.  This is definitely one of my favourite modern series.

Sadly most of the more vintage pony authors I enjoy have gone out of print and often they are very expensive second hand.  However, I came across three at our local market just before Christmas and I couldn’t resist them.  I am very grateful for that weakness now!  I had only read one Joanna Cannan book before and I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed her writing – I will definitely have to seek out more of her books in the future.

From past experience, my pony book obsession will last a few days – or possibly weeks – and I will then feel a desperate need to read something much more meaty.  However, while it lasts I am revelling in it!

Bookish Restorative

I have had a few days off this week and decided to make the most of them to rest and recuperate from the busyness of the past couple of months.

My ideal was to just sit and read all day long but that isn’t actually entirely practical – if nothing else, I have ponies who need looking after and a dog who needs walking. It’s tricky to ride and read at the same time but it is entirely possible to read whilst dog walking. As long as you wear enough layers of course!

However, I did manage to do a great deal of sitting by the fire with a book. The cat kept me company and I had a marvellous time lost in imaginary worlds.

I have been reading – and very much enjoying – the second volume of Dorothy L Sayers’ letters but for pure escapism and relaxation I picked up a couple of magical children’s books. These were Michelle Harrison’s A Pinch of Magic and Cerrie Burnell’s The Girl with the Shark’s Teeth – both of which were excellent.

It has been a wonderful couple of days.

A Reading Revelation

Over the past few years my family has got into the habit of sitting down after dinner to watch an episode (or two) of something.  Most recently we have been working our way through Star Trek and Bewitched – depending on our mood.  It is a great way to wind down at the end of the day but it has seriously curtailed my reading time.

However, over Christmas we watched very little of anything.  The joy of sitting down in front of a fire to read by the light of the Christmas tree is incredible.  I have always said how much I enjoy that but somehow it’s not always continued once the twelve days are up.

For some reason though, this year is different.  We just sit down to read our books because that’s what we’d rather be doing.  Not always, of course, but a large percentage of the time.  It is wonderful and it makes me so happy – definitely the best way to spend a long winter evening.

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A Year of Reading

2018 was a mixed reading year for me. I had weeks when I was trying to read at every possible moment. It was like being a child again, sneaking in a few pages when I should really be doing something else. Then I had a month or two when I struggled to read anything at all. Nevertheless, I find that I have managed to read 91 books this year which is pretty good going I think. Especially when one considers the length of some of them – War and Peace is a pretty weighty tome!

I have kept a reading record for the past several years – just a list of books and the months in which I read them. I used to record start and end dates for each book but I couldn’t really keep up with that! Not that I’m completely sold on this layout – I record a book in the month I start it but if I am reading it for a while the following month looks very short of reading!

To finish up my year I have once again been reading my favourite wintry children’s books. Plus the odd new ones – I loved Noel Streatfeild’s Christmas Stories and also Christmas Pudding by Nancy Mitford (that one obviously not a children’s book!). It is my favourite way to spend the winter evenings.

A very Happy New Year to you.

Christmas Reading

For me, reading at Christmas is all about comfort. Most years I read Little Women and quite often something like Arthur Ransome’s Winter Holiday as well. Last year I exclusively read all of my favourite wintry childhood books throughout December – things like The Box of Delights and The Rat-a-Tat Mystery. It was wonderful.

Part of every Christmas is reading Lucy and Tom’s Christmas. I love Shirley Hughes’ illustrations and I always look forward to this one. This year, I treated myself to her new Christmas book – Snow in the Garden – and I am very much looking forward to reading it!

I started my Christmas reading a little late this year but my first book was brand new (to me). I found this on the book stall in our local market and I couldn’t resist it!