A friend of mine started her own virtual book club in the UK’s first lockdown. I didn’t join it straight away because I figured I was already putting enough pressure on myself to read 2 books a week. Then they read Convenience Store Woman and I asked her what she thought. She invited me to join and I said yes. As you’d expect, the book selection has been hit and miss. My friend and her boyfriend come up with a selection of titles that are all around 200 pages in length. Then we all vote on our favourite. I think I’ve only picked the winning book a couple of time since joining but there haven’t been many books that I’ve really disliked. Until this week. It hadn’t been my choice but that’s not really the point. It sounded like an interesting read and I was quite excited to read it. How wrong I was.
When I bought this book, I knew that it would be a useful thing to have around. Almost every week, I tend to be rushing to finish a book in time to write my Wednesday review. At only 80 pages long, Max Porter’s new book would be ideal for finishing in a rush. I knew that it was going to be a lifesaver before too long. What I didn’t expect was that it would come to my rescue so soon. The book was published on 7th January and I’ve had it for about a week. Unfortunately, I’ve not been getting enough reading in each day and there was no way I was going to get my current read finished in time. So, I read this on my lunch break. Meaning I didn’t have to resort to some awful stream of consciousness book post about whatever I could think of. Instead, it’s going to be fairly stream of consciousness book review of a book that’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.
Am I the only one that seems to miss out on all of the bookish drama? It wasn’t until I finished reading this book that I realised there was a load of controversy around it. When looking on Goodreads, it became apparent that people were taking issue with the title of the book and the effect it might have on children in the care system. I understand that you have to be careful about these thing but it’s clear that most of the people making a fuss haven’t actually bothered to read it. After all, the more you know, the harder it is to complain about everything. You might say that, as someone without any connection to the adoption community, that I’m not qualified to comment on the argument. However, it’s clearly an opinion shared by Adoption UK as they’ve published a positive review of Hana Tooke’s book. I’m sorry a bunch of Karen’s are miffed but this isn’t fair to a good children’s book.
Yesterday was Haruki Murakami and I’ve seen plenty of people on Instagram picking up his books this month. I decided that I wanted to pick something up and decided to finally get round to this short collection. I’m not as well-versed in Murakami’s short stories as I’d like to be. It’s not about their quality but more about my attention span for short stories. I typically need a longer narrative to keep me going or I just lose my pace. I have lost count of how many anthologies I own but have never read more than one story. So, I was determined to keep to my “read more books from my shelves” resolution and finish this one.
On Saturday, I set out a list of reading resolutions for the year. As usual, one of the majors ones was to buy fewer books. This is something I try and fail to keep every year. The publishing industry just can’t stop bringing out more fantastic books. However, I do intend to do better this year because I’m painfully aware that I have something of storage problem. In order to stop myself from buying new books, I have set myself a second resolution of actually reading the books on my shelves. I have that classic bookish problem of having owned books for years. This is especially true of my Kindle. I tend to buy cheap ebooks on a whim and then forget about them. According to Amazon, I bought Jonathan Unleashed in December 2016. That means I’ve owned it for 4 years. It feels as though it was time to finally give it a chance.
I admit that it took me longer to read my first book of 2021 than I’d have imagined. I started on January 1st and have only just finished today. I’m just experiencing that classic January reading slump. I could have spent last weekend reading but I just couldn’t focus. It doesn’t help that I’m pretty tired now I’m starting back in the old work routine but it should help me get better at reading. It got so bad this week that I was worried I wouldn’t even finish the book in time. So, I turned to the audiobook version to finish the last two thirds. It turned out to be a bad idea because I really didn’t get on board with one of the narrators. She just didn’t sound like I imagined the character would. In fact, very few of the voices seemed to fit their characters. It was a real shame and made it harder to engage with the story.
I finished Twleve Nights about 2/3 days before the end of 2020 so I had a bit of a conundrum about what to pick next. I wanted something that I could definitely finish in time because I hate the idea of carrying a book over. I feel like a failure and I don’t like that it skews my final count. I picked this one up even though it’s the longest book I’ve read for ages because I was being cocky. Of course, when it got to the morning of the 31st, I still have about 200 pages to go. Considering we were babysitting my niece during the day, it didn’t leave me with a great deal of time to read either. So, as soon as she left, I retreated to my room and didn’t come out until I’d finished. As it turned out, I finished it in about 2 hours, which goes to show how much more I could achieve if I just took the time to read properly. Anyway, I did what I wanted and got it finished. But was it the best book to choose as my final book of the year?
That’s it. 2020 is over and we’re staring a new year. It feels good that it’s all behind us but I can’t pretend that 2021 is magically going to be better. After all, the virus is still raging and it’ll be a while before the vaccine is really rolled out. Then there’s Brexit which has the potential to fuck everything up. It might cause problems for food and shopping. There’s also the chance it will create issues with the vaccine. So, who knows where we’ll be this time next year. I’m hoping that the Leave voters were right and we’ll be fine. However, I can’t see it being that rosy. Anyway, enough about the future. We’re hear to look back. I’ve already posted my 2020 review post but I still wanted to breakdown the books I read in December.
Number of books read: 10
Number of rereads: 1
Number of physical books: 10
Number of ebooks: 0
Number of audiobooks: 0
We’re so close to the end of the year which means that everyone is thinking about what they’ve achieved this year. For us bookish folks that mainly means the number of books that we’ve read. I’m already seeing people compiling their list of favourite books for 2020. How are they so on it? I’ve figured out which my top 5 rated books are but that doesn’t mean they were my favourite reads. Flawless books don’t always give us the same feels as slightly flawed books do. It’s not always the most fun to read a technically brilliant book. I have been looking back over my reviews for the year though. I think I get more wary of ratings near New Year’s Eve because I remember all of the great books I’ve read over the last 12 months. The books I’m currently reading start to pale in comparison to the books I’d long forgotten about until now. I blame that for my struggle to rate this book. I couldn’t decide so went with a bit of a compromise. Next year, I’m only doing rereads on December. It’s easier.
As you know, I love a bit of cosy crime. I’ve enjoyed reading Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle for as long as I can remember. More than anything, I have an affinity for the novels from the Golden Age of detective fiction. Just give me a whodunnit in a country house, an amateur sleuth and plenty of red herrings. That’s all I really need. Modern crime fiction is getting too pretentious for my liking. It’s trying to be more like television and it’s getting ridiculous. So, when this contemporary version of a Golden Age novel I knew that I had to give it a go. I’m always wary of books that get compared to Agatha Christie because no modern writer has ever been able to match her genius. Still, I’m always hopefully that someone will come close.