I haven’t picked up any book more complicated than the Chronicles of Narnia for over a month. Other than Doomsday Book, I haven’t read anything difficult or challenging this year. Well, not for pleasure, and I don’t think any of you want my review of Improving Patient Care: The Implementation of Change in Health Care. Almost all of my reading since January has been in the form of revisited childhood favourites. They were occasionally interspersed with Agatha Raisin audiobooks while I ran logistic regression analyses in SPSS and had literal palpitations about my thesis. I did reread several of the Narnia books over the past few weeks – they can be read cover-to-cover in an hour after collapsing into bed, after all – and they were exactly what I needed, so I will hopefully be doing a post about that experience soon.

Three copies of my thesis, ready for submission.

Though my thesis isn’t actually submitted yet, it’s printed, bound, and sitting on my table waiting for me to hand it in tomorrow. I’ve delegated as many work responsibilities as possible until the end of next week, so I am entertaining/distracting myself by thinking about all the books I can read once I submit on Monday. There are books I have been daydreaming about revisiting or picking up for the first time. Fortunately, before the great PhD Panic of March, I had already booked a week of annual leave for the end of April. It’s perfect timing, because I probably won’t have a viva date at that point, so I can really and truly take the week off. I’m going to see Bill Bailey do standup with my dad and brother, and I’m going to see Hamilton in London (!). Here are some entirely-subject-to-change reading plans:

  1. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. I read this for the first time a couple of years ago, and I really loved it. It made me want to move to Montana and become a cowboy, which is not an especially realistic career progression for me. It has such a compelling plot, it’s beautifully written, and it is impossible not to be moved by the friendships depicted. I’m very much looking forward to revisiting it.
  2. Everfair by Nisi Shawl. I wrote about this back when I was doing my SFvsFBingo TBR. It arrived mid-March, so I had to shelve it for the time being, and it’s been looking at me the whole time I’ve been writing. I’m so excited about finally picking it up.
  3. Dominion by CJ Sansom. I was actually reading this back in January, but in the end, I decided my brain was just too fried to actually take any of it in. I’m going to start it afresh. It was incredibly gripping, and I am so looking forward to being engrossed in a long, intense story.
  4. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. Look, you all know how I feel about GileadThat’s actually why I’ve been so hesitant to pick up anything else by the author. I loved Gilead so so much, and I’m worried that if I read Housekeeping and it doesn’t hold the same beauty, it will somehow spoil Gilead for me. I know that’s silly, but it’s how I feel. However, I watched this lovely review by Climb the Stacks (one of my favourite booktubers and the only one I support on Patreon), and it has convinced me to give it a go.
  5. Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger. This is a library book, which I picked up on a whim last time I was there. It’s about a finishing school that offers classes in dress, dancing, assassination, etiquette, and spycraft. You know, for proper young ladies. I’ve flicked through it and it sounds just silly and delightful enough to be exactly what I want to read at the moment. One of the quotes on the cover calls it a “steampunk version of Harry Potter”, which I consider to be a ringing endorsement.

In short, I am so happy to be able to read for pleasure again. Almost the first thing I did once I’d dropped off my thesis at the printers was hole up in a coffee shop with a novel. I already feel less frazzled, and I haven’t even submitted the thing yet. I’m so looking forward to working my way through these books, or others, and starting to feel like myself again.