I’m still continuing with my plan to try and read at least one Agatha Christie novel per month. My original hope was to have as many finished as possible before October this year. I’d secretly wanted to read them all before them because 71 books in 12 months seemed more than doable. Of course, my inability to stop buying books and increasing my TBR really put those plans to bed. But that won’t stop me going back to the books I love. I don’t reread enough anyway and Agatha always makes me feel better about the world. That could be considered weird considering her books are so full of awful people but her books are like a warm hug. Reading them is a really great counterbalance for the crappy few months we’ve been having.
In light of all of the Covid nonsense, I’ve really not been keeping track of awards season this year. I’ve barely watched any of the nominees. Or at least I’m pretty sure that I haven’t because I don’t even know who all of the nominees are. I’ve just lost my way with films and decided that there were other things to focus on this year. Plus, it isn’t really the same when you can’t head out to the cinema. Despite my Oscars blackout, I was still overjoyed to wake up to the news that this year’s ceremony had made history. Anthony Hopkins became the oldest person to ever win for acting. Daniel Kaluuya picked up the best supporting actor and became the first Black British actor to win an Oscar. Then there’s Chloé Zhao who became not only the second woman to win Best Director but also the first woman of colour. It’s quite the positive step for the Academy. Emerald Fennel was given recognition for her screenplay and became the first person since 2007 to win. This was only one that I was really invested in. I was desperate for Fennel to win. Why? Not only was the film important and original but I’m becoming obsessed with Fennel. She seems like a fantastic human being with a unique creativity. This was one film that I knew I had to see as soon as possible.
My monthly reading challenges to Spell the Month in book titles has been a great way to approach my reading. However, it isn’t always easy coming up with titles for each of the letters. Especially as I’m trying to avoid buying too many books. I’ve already bought way more than I should have done. At the start of this month, I figured that April would be an easy task but I hadn’t thought about “i”. When it came down to it, I couldn’t think of an obvious choice for this letter that I already had a copy of. I don’t even know if I still have my childhood copy of I Capture the Castle. So, I decided to get myself a copy of this book because I’ve been wanting to read it for so long. The only problem was that I wasn’t a fan of the paperback cover that I found. So, I spent far too long trying to find a cheap copy of the cover I actually wanted. It’s beautiful, obviously, but I do hate how much of an issue I make things like this.
As I mention far too often, I’m currently taking part in a virtual book club. It’s something my friend set up at the start of the first lockdown and one that I joined after a couple of months. I never thought of myself as a book club kind of person but I’m really enjoying discussing the books every week. My major problem is having nothing of interest to say, which mostly happens with books that I don’t really like. When the monthly pick is an underwhelming book, I tend to forget a lot about it before the meeting. Part of the reason that I try and read the book as close to the deadline as possible. Luckily for me, there has only been a couple of duds since I joined. In fact, it’s been a great range of titles that I’m really glad to have had the chance to read. This month, I wasn’t particularly drawn to any of the potential titles, so I didn’t even vote. Considering how it’s turned out, I think I’ve learnt a valuable lesson about taking responsibility for yourself.
It’s becoming something of a tradition that I read at least one Agatha Christie book each month. Not only are they super easy to get through but they just make me feel happy. Considering what the past 12 months have been like, we all need to dedicate more time to the things that make us happy. Christie is not only a fantastic writer but she has an incredibly wicked streak. As I say every time I review one of her books, she understands people and what might compel them to commit murder. In my recent rereadings of her novels, I haven’t actually read any Miss Marple stories yet. I think in terms of the books, I prefer a lot of the Poirot novels but who can’t love Miss Marple. I also think the ITV adaptations of these novels were fabulous. They made a few changes and modernisations but they capture the spirit perfectly. The adaptation of this novel is definitely one of the better ones.
I first found out about this book because of Instagram. I’d been following Harriet Young (thesenovelthoughts) for a while so I had been aware that she was writing her first novel. When she was looking for funding on Unbound, it didn’t take a lot of persuasion for me to preorder it. I was fascinated by the story and the history of the Pendle witch trials. I’ve been waiting to read this one for a long time and, when it arrived last moth, I couldn’t wait to start reading it. Of course, it was just a huge coincidence that it also crossed off one more letter on my Spell the Month Challenge.
I have been a lover of Agatha Christie for a long time but I’ve never read any of the novels that she published under her pseudonym, Mary Westmacott. Mostly because of the way they’ve been labelled. If there’s anything more likely to get me to avoid a book it’s referring to it as a romance novel. It’s not that I think romance novels are bad but it’s just not my thing. Love is a fact of life but that doesn’t mean I need to read about it for 200-300 pages. I will read the odd romance every now and them but I prefer something a bit darker. Give me a love story full of grisly murder and maybe we can talk. Otherwise, I’ll probably look elsewhere. Although, I decided that I couldn’t really call myself a true Christie fan if I didn’t at least try to read her other books. Why pick this one? It was the first one I saw and it crossed off a letter on my monthly reading challenge.
This Monday was International Women’s Day. A day that is dedicated to celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It is a day to highlight and challenge the disparity between the genders. A time to call for equality. As people in the book community, it is also a time to celebrate and champion female writers. As such, those of you on Instagram will no doubt have noticed plenty of amazing female centric content cropping up in your feed. There was one post that really caught my eye and prompted me to write this post. The caption started with the age-old question:
Do you preferentially read books by women or men?
I, obviously, responded in my normal pretentious and, probably, obnoxious way, which I won’t go into yet because it would negate the need to write this post. Instead, I want to focus on most replies. They consisted of a sentiment that went along the lines of “I don’t care about the gender of the writer. It’s all about the story.” There’s nothing wrong with this idea in theory but it’s an attitude that I do think we need to change. And I’ll tell you why.
In order to complete my Spell the Month Challenge for February, I knew that I’d have to find a book title that started with Y. After reading Yes Please last month, I wasn’t sure that I’d have anything already on my shelves. So. I ended up buying something to fit the bill. Unfortunately there aren’t an awful lot of inspiring books beginning with Y. Or at least not that I was able to get in time. I’ve for a bit of time before I’ll need my next one, so I’ll have to do some proper research. For this month, my Y pick was I book I randomly found on Amazon. It sounded interesting enough and, most importantly, was quick. Meaning that, even if it ended up being terrible, I wouldn’t have to push on through a really long novel.
I meant to read Nancy Mitford’s Christmas Pudding back in December but I never got round to it. I ended up with far too many things to on my festive TBR and something had to suffer. Unfortunately, that was Nancy Mitford. Thankfully this month’s book club gave me the chance to make up for this when her novel The Pursuit of Love was chosen. It wasn’t my first choice but I was more than happy with the selection. In fact, it was probably the best bunch of novels so far. I’ve also learnt my lesson from previous months and not left the reading until the last minute. Of course, the chances are Ill have forgotten a lot of it by tomorrow’s meeting but it’s better than rushing the last third. This is what happens when people give me a reading deadline. I just lose all motivation to get it done.