20 Books of Summer 2016

Cathy at 746 books runs a challenge every year to read 20 books from 1st June to 5th September. This year, mostly because I like writing lists, I’ve decided to join in. I mean, I’m cheating a little bit, because I’ll be reading a couple for my book club already and I’ve included those. Even so, here is my fairly ambitious TBR (links are to the relevant Goodreads page): Continue reading

Bout of Books May 2015

My “regular Friday posts” thing never did work out. That’s okay. It was an ambition, not a hard-and-fast rule. In fact, I suspect that blog posts are going to become more sporadic for a while, rather than less. The PhD is turning into a time-sucking social-life-devouring monster, and, as much as I love to read, the few hours I currently have which aren’t devoted to my research or my “real” job are spent on top priority activities, like sleeping and eating and trying to keep my flat inhabitable.

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Austen in August & Pride and Prejudice reread

My relationship with Jane Austen is, I think, a bit complicated. I read all of her works in my early teens, and mostly didn’t like them very much. I think I was too young for them, and moved onto Wuthering Heights, which (rather worryingly, when considered as a commentary on my teenage mental health) I thought was much more realistic and enjoyable. Continue reading

Classics Club spin list #1

Since signing up for the Classics Club, I haven’t done quite as well as I might have hoped. I’ve read three of my 50 books (Agnes Grey by Charlotte Brontë, Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, and Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell), and only reviewed one of them. A review for Ruth is in the works; however, immediately after reading Metamorphosis, I decided that I will definitely have to read the original German text before I can review it, because I could clearly spot places where the translation was letting it down. Whilst that’s fine, and a good way to practice my rather rusty German, it is taking a while. I’ve even acquired many of the books I want to read (I recently moved flat, and my local Oxfam bookshop is now perilously close; also, I found out about the very generous Foyles loyalty scheme)–I just haven’t picked too many of them up.

In order to rectify that, I’m participating in the Classics Club Spin, which is far better described on their own blog. Below, I have to list 20 books that I have yet to read as part of the challenge. On August 11th, they will announce a number between 1 and 20, and I will then have to read that book by October. Sounds doable, right? Right. Here’s my spin list, as per their category suggestions.

5 books I’m dreading:

1) The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
2) Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
3) Ulysses by James Joyce
4) Le Morte D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory
5) The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

5 books I can’t wait to read:

6) I, Claudius by Robert Graves
7) Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
8) Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
9) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
10) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum

5 books I’m neutral about:

11) The Professor by Charlotte Brontë
12) Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
13) The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
14) A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
15) The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

5 Penguin English Library editions that I want an excuse to buy*:

16) Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
17) Daniel Deronda by George Eliot
18) A Room with a View by EM Forster
19) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
20) Moby-Dick by Herman Melville


I anticipate 11th August with excitement and trepidation, and a determination to finish The Great Gatsby before then. Here goes…


*All right, so this wasn’t one of their categories. They did say ‘free choice’, though…

Underhyped reads

Although I enjoyed my experience of the Dewey 24-hour readathon back in April, I’m still fairly new to the concept of readathons. However, the idea of reading as a group activity, of a whole load of people from many different countries collectively reading and engaging with and enthusing about books–that seems to me to be exactly what the internet should be for. With that in mind, I am participating in the Underhyped Books readathon this week. There’s a Goodreads group that has been set up with all the relevant information (https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/137329-the-under-hyped-readathon); for my purposes, all that’s really important is that the books selected have under 5000 ratings on Goodreads. This is something new for me, since I read so many classics (all of which have tens of thousands of GR ratings), so I’m being forced out of my literary comfort zone. It’s an interesting experience, and here’s an approximate TBR:

Falling Sideways by Tom Holt (910 ratings)
Everland by Rebecca Hunt (44 ratings)
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie (3294 ratings)
The Red Queen by Margaret Drabble (1380 ratings)

I’m currently 160 pages into Falling Sideways, and, truth be told, I’m hoping it gets better soon. At the moment, it strikes me as snide without being funny, and that’s a quality that always irritates me in any writing. However, I read and loved The Portable Door and various other Tom Holt comic fantasy novels, so maybe this one will pick up–I’m not even halfway through at the moment. I’ve also just finished working night shifts, so maybe I’m just in a grumpy mood. I’ll have a nap and a cup of coffee, and see if it improves accordingly 🙂

Thanks to Ramblings of an Elfpire for setting up this readathon! I’m having a lot of fun chatting with people in the Goodreads group and getting book recommendations, even if what I’m reading at the moment isn’t as satisfying as it could be. I’ll post another couple of updates throughout the week and a wrap-up at the end. Let me know what underhyped books you love–I’m always on the lookout for recommendations!