Foxes and Bombers: June Reads

Life after Life book on table

It’s been another busy month of distractions, but I’ve been saved by two good reads that have kept my mind occupied.  I never knew a Kate Atkinson that I didn’t love, and Life After Life exceeded all promise. Ursula is a wonderful character, and I was amazed at the seamless way Atkinson weaved together lives that are different but the same.  Go and read it; it really does live up to the hype, and chances are someone you know will have a copy.

I’m currently reading The Passage. Very different from Atkinson (what with the vampires and futuristic viruses) but equally captivating.  It’s well-written pulp fiction that reads like a movie.  I’m obviously not the first person to think this as it’ll be coming out it in celluloid before long.

One of my favourite things about reading is wandering round the house and gathering a pile of books that a might read next.  I’m still far too engrossed in Cronin’s California adventure to choose my next book.  No doubt I’ll get some inspiration from Laura’s linkup on #theyearinbooks.

All the Books I Didn’t Read: May

Ghana Must Go book

When I sat down to write May’s Year in Books post I realised I have only read one book this month. In fact, I started that one book back in April so that’s almost cheating..

I’ve had reading ruts before, when I just can’t settle on a book, but this month I’m blaming it on work. Not too much of it, but just the uncertainty and stress of it as my team faces serious cuts.

I zone out mid-page to start thinking about who said what in that meeting, or how I should frame that response in a more diplomatic fashion. When really I just want to shout ‘Don’t do this!’ It feels like a great loss, of the work we all feel so passionate about.

Close up of boat cover

Tom and I are both talking big changes next year. Plans are afoot to strike out on our own and fill more of our days with the creative endeavours we love so much. Of course, Radio 4 features heavily in this idyllic vision of the future..)

I’m trying hard to balance sensible ‘pay-the-bills’ thoughts with wild and ambitious ‘nothing-can-stop-me’ ideas. My morning ferry commute flashes by without me opening a book at all.

California poppies

So, I appreciate Laura’s achievable target: just one book a month! This might be less than I usually read, but it’s something.

Ghana Must Go was a beautifully written and colourful read. It moved between narrators and across time in a way that took some adjusting to. I think it’s a good book; too good to be fully appreciated by my distracted mind. I’m taking refuge in some Kate Atkinson this month: Life After Life. I’m sure I can concentrate on that…

Muddy Shoes and Messy Gardens: April Reads

Muddy running shoes and book

The secret that all runners keep is that they don’t do it for their bodies, but for their minds.  Slim legs can get boring, but a clear mind never does.

April was the month for purchasing new running shoes and spending a week running around in Pembrokeshire.  So it seemed the obvious time to read a little bit about my new favourite thing.   ‘Hemmo‘ writes in a charmingly realistic way about her hobby- from her devastatingly difficult first run to her marathon habit.  Filled with practical advice and surprisingly emotional moments, this is a race-through-in-a-day read that I’d recommend to anyone who likes to leave the couch occasionally..

I also read The Sea, a perfect book to savour in a quiet week by the sea. Banville is an author I think I’ll be returning to.  Last but not least, I read a beautiful little book that Tom gave me: A Gentle Plea for Chaos.  Osler takes a meandering trip through her own garden, via a little history, philosphy and geography.  Her premise that we should embrace the wild edges and stop trying to neaten nature really rang true.

With the sun breaking through at this time of year, my reading has turned to warmer climes and for May I’m reading Ghana Must Go.  I chose this book for its cover (the indulgence of a non-kindle reader!) but the pages inside are proving pretty fantastic so far. Check out what other people are reading for the year in books over at Circle of Pines.

Why Nature Rocks: March Reads

Last Child in the Woods book outside

March has surprised me with some beautiful spring days. After so much rain, it’s wonderful to see some blossom. What with soaking up plenty of outdoor time, it’s been a perfect month to read Last Child in the Woods. Richard Louv presents a staggering amount of research all pointing to our human need to be part of nature, whilst considering the many factors that have drawn us indoors.

I loved the idea. Yes! We should all go outside more! We should roll in the dirt, get lost and be inspired! If anyone’s in doubt as to nature’s brilliance, or wants some new interesting facts, then this is well worth a read.

I also read the second in the Wool trilogy. My long train journey to Manchester warranted a hefty piece of pulp fiction, and this kept me occupied for the full return trip.

A note on quitting: If you read February’s post you’ll spot that I had planned to read The Tiger’s Wife this month. I read half of it. I also read half of a P.G. Wodehouse book. Both were lovely, but I just didn’t make it beyond the halfway point. There are too many great books out there to warrant soldiering on with one. If you aren’t revelling in your read, I say ditch it!

Also, a big thank you to Laura who has created such a friendly online group of readers for #theyearinbooks. It’s lovely to see the variety in what everyone is reading!

Green Tomatoes and Steel Silos: February Reads

Stoner book on a shelf

February was a month filled with a delicious number of books.  It’s no accident that this coincided with the arrival of a lovely hand-me-down armchair in the house and a lack of good TV (no, I haven’t yet got with Breaking Bad; sorry!)

After a winter of stormy cold reads, I turned towards warmer climes with Fried Green Tomatoes.  This book was filled with charming characters whose southern drawl just leapt off the page.  The small-town-small-drama still touched on bigger issues: Alabama’s race relations, the desperate poverty sweeping the country, and the uplifting persistence of Railroad Bill.  I enjoyed how people helped others in simple, unexpected ways.  Everyone had something to give; even the very old, who can sometimes seem on the fringes of mainstream society.  A sunny uplifting read for a rainy month.

I also read Wool: a much bleaker story; cold and steely with a dark centre.  This post-apocalyptic vision is not my usual choice (and I’ll admit I first picked it up thinking it was about knitting).  But the main character is a brilliantly strong woman who stands up to some intimidating shit.  I was hooked and read it super-quick.  A good holiday read!

I picked up Stoner purely because we had a brand new copy on the shelf and it always feels a terrible waste to not read a full price book (incidentally, another book I first picked up thinking it was about something else).  Initially slow going but well worth the time.  It got me thinking about a lot of things, and now I just want to find someone else who’s read it.  A good book group read.

The Rosie Project has been getting a lot of press, and I’ve seen several copies in #theyearinbooks.  I fell in love with Don Tillman.  What a brilliantly quirky guy.  Lots of fun to be had with someone who leads life so methodically and literally.  This is a perfect rainy weekend read; sit in your armchair with a pot of tea and devour it in two big bites.

So, what lies in store for March?  I’ve just started reading The Tiger’s Wife and also want to read some non-fiction.  What’s on your March reading list?