Monday, 1 February 2021

Books read in January

I feel like I've had a decent start to my reading year, not because of the number of books I read - seven - but because I loved them all. That's pretty unusual for me and there was something else that was unusual too but I'll get to that in a moment. First, the books.

1. Death's Detective - Charlotte E. English

2. Into the Planet - Jill Heinerth

3. Watery Ways - Valerie Poore 

4. Krakatoa - Simon Winchester

5. Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides

6. If Only They Didn't Speak English - Jon Sopel. A book comparing the USA and the UK, socially and politically, by the BBC's North America editor (although I see precious little evidence on The News of him ever being in Canada or Mexico). Well written, interesting anecdotes. I enjoyed it but with some reservations.

7. Sunny Side Up - Susan Calman. The author is a well-known comedian and presenter of travel documentaries in the UK. She writes here about being as kind as you can in your every day life.

So, seven books to start the year. What's slightly unusual for me is that of the seven, five were non-fiction. I don't believe I've ever had a month where I've read more non-fiction than fiction. I'm rather taken aback by that. I'm also surprised that I can't pick a favourite because every book was special, unique in its own way, and most importantly, 'good'.

I've made the decision that I needn't feel obliged to review every book I read, I tried to do that last year with 93 books and found it too much. This year I'll only review the books I want to talk about. 

So, I'm currently reading this:

Love that cover.

And slowly working my way through these two:

Wherever you are, 'stay safe' and enjoy heaps of lovely books in February.


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Cath, I think you reviewing only books you want to talk about is a good idea. I feel pressure (self-imposed) to review all I read and them I feel my reviews turn out rushed or half-hearted. I read the last 2 on your list and really enjoyed Middlesex.

DesLily said...

Hooray for the Death Detective. I finally got the other two books! I read Middlesex years ago! lol.. a good month for you a bad month for me for reading.. but I keep plugging along lol

Kay said...

I agree with Diane regarding your only reviewing books that you'd like to. I have that same thought for myself. Many times, I avoid writing posts or updates because I just don't want to write a lot about my current reading. And I don't really like writing thoughts about books I've read for the second or third time. I vote we all just write as we like and read as we like. We can do that, right? Oh, also, I'm not sure I've ever read more non-fiction than fiction in a month in my whole life. Good for you! Not that I'm necessarily going to follow your lead, but...ha! Take care, Cath! Oh, I also read Middlesex many years ago and remember it as a good one.

Vallypee said...

That's a great list, Cath. I wish I could read faster and review as often. I only review memoirs on my blog, and only the fiction that I enjoy, but I'm doing well if I manage three books a month at the moment; mostly it's only two and occasionally one book will take me a whole month. It depends on my workload. Your selection looks great (leaving myself aside) and you've added a couple of books to my tbr list already!

CLM said...

I like Maisie Dobbs but they all began to seem the same to me. I did enjoy Winspear's memoir recently and I think you would like it when you are in the mood (and it shows up at your library).

The Thursday Murder Club has finally reached me on the reserve list! I had suggested my mother get it for my sister for her bday in December. Apparently, it was delivered to the wrong apartment in her building and they kept it. That seems so odd - most people in a doorman building in NY have their mail organized for them, plus around the holidays wouldn't you just go put it outside someone's door? My mother didn't want to ask for a credit because she thought it must be her fault but I told her Amazon is making a lot of money from her and to speak up, so she did (one has to be firm!).

Lark said...

Starting off the year with so many books that you love is a good sign; I hope it continues. And I don't review every book I read either. When I try it just starts feeling like a chore, and that's not what I want my reading or blogging to be. Have a great week! :D

Sam said...

Great start, Cath. Looks like you are taking up my nonfiction slack and making up for it. Of the eleven I've read so far this year, only one has been nonfiction. I was down in NF last year, and planned to do better this year, hoping to get back to about a 2-1 ration in Fiction to Nonfiction. At 10-1, things aren't going well. :-)

That book comparing the UK to Canada and the US sounds interesting. I'll have to see if that one is available here, and we can compare our impressions.

TracyK said...

Five nonfiction books is amazing, Cath. I have not been in the nonfiction mood lately but I am confident I will have some months where that works for me. I am reading several nonfiction books in slow mode. And I started The End of Your Life Book Club a few days ago.

I agree on only reviewing books you want to review. My problem is I can't keep up with the ones I want to review. I still have 5 or 6 books I read in 2020 that I think deserve a review, plus all the Poirot novels I have been reading. Oh well.

I have ordered a copy of Tales of the Black Widowers (for way more than I wanted to spend, but we are not spending much on anything else now) and I hope it comes soon.

Cath said...

Diane: it's funny, once I made that decision about not reviewing every book it felt like I'd been set free somehow. I'm so pleased I finally got around to Middlesex this year.

Pat: Enjoy the next two Death Detective books! Yes, I'm one of the last people in the world to read Middlesex. LOL

Kay: Yes, absolutely we can vote to just write about books when we feel like it. Blogging needs not to be a chore but *fun*. I know for certain that I've 'never' read more non-fiction in one month than fiction. I was pretty shocked by it to be honest.

Val: I'm sure you have a lot of other stuff to be doing apart from reading, I have more free time than you. And I always say that it isn't a race.

Constance: I've yet to find that the Maisie Dobbs books have started to be samey but it may happen. We'll see.

Goodness, the whole story around the loss of your mother's book is pretty strange. Not least that the people in the other apartment *kept* the book! My copy of the same book got lost in the post too, funnily enough, but Amazon sent me a new book without quibbling. I hope your mum gets a refund.

Cath said...

Lark: Yes, I definitely think starting the year with such a great reading month is a good sign. Hopefully it will continue. Pleased to hear that and a few others don't review everything either.

Sam: The trouble is, non-fiction takes more effort, not just the reading of it but also 'finding' the right books that are readable and interesting. I fail at that quite often.

I think you would find, If Only They Didn't Speak English an interesting read. I felt the BBC bias was well to the the fore and would be interested to hear your take on it.

Tracy: I was certainly in the mood for non-fiction last month, whether that'll continue into this is another matter. LOL

Tales of the Black Widowers is not cheap but I managed to find a halfway decent priced one. As you say, not much money going out on anything else. Enjoying it so far but reading it slowly.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath

I must admit that for me I had a really good month in January, but I'm putting that down to lockdown winter and the fact that I have so over-committed to Blog Tour/Reviews that I have had to power read my way through them to keep on track, although I hasten to add that I have read them all thoroughly and enjoyed them all!

You have probably guessed that the book I am most interested in is the Jacqueline Winspear, although I have to confess that although I have obviously come across 'eulogy' before, I didn't recognise 'elegy' and needed to look that one up! I learned something new as well :)

Thanks for sharing and enjoy your reading :)

Yvonne Xx

Cath said...

Yvonne, well done on having a good reading month too. Yes, lockdown almost certainly is responsible. I'm not fond of reading books because I have to so well done you for coping with such pressure.

I'd heard of 'elegy' but wasn't sure of the precise meaning and like you had to check it. It's appropriate given the very sad nature of the death in this book. It broke my heart to be honest.

Thanks for stopping by to comment and take care.

Rosemary said...

Hi Cath - I’ve only just caught up with this. Very interesting list (I’ve still to do mine, which will be much less impressive.)

I haven’t read any of these yet, but I agree with you on two points:

- I too find I am reading more non-fiction, without any plan to do so;

- I too decided that I simply cannot review everything I read. It takes up far too much time, and I end up worrying about not reading when I am writing, and not writing when I am reading! I have had to remind myself that this is supposed to be for pleasure.

I’ve been thinking about adding other things to my blog, so that not all the posts are about books, but I’m not sure that this is the right time, as there is currently so little we can do except read! I’d like to write about nature, but at the moment even that’s in hibernation. I might revisit that one in a month or so though. I used to review things like cafes, which obviously I can’t do just now, but which I also wonder if I could be bothered with even were they all to reopen tomorrow. I’ve almost lost interest in eating out at all (not that we ever did it often, but I did have a coffee and a cake in a cafe at least once and often twice a week in the past. ) I’m quite happy eating my own cakes these days, though cafes do provide somewhere to meet ones friends, especially those that don’t like walking!

In the meantime, enjoy your reading.

Cath said...

Rosemary: It's strange how much non-fiction has elbowed its way into my reading habits. I haven't always been interested, although I vividly remember reading a wonderful book about a woman who caught leprosy and ended up in a leper colony on an island, this I found in the school library, aged 17, and remember being brought to tears by it, my first experience of a book making me cry I think. But I can pinpoint my more modern interest back to when Gorbachev was president in Russia and I trotted along to the library in Barnstaple to get a book about him. That led me on to all kinds of things including The Holocaust and nursing in WW1. The travel book thing came later but I can't pinpoint when that started.

Yes, exactly... this book blogging thing is meant to be fun so I'm very much going to pick and choose what I review and also not feel guilty when I choose to do several short reviews at once as that works really well for me.

One of things I used to do a bit, when we weren't in lockdown, was put photos up here of trips away. Or if the garden was full of beautiful flowers, go around and take some photos and put those up. It adds a bit of variety.

We've never eaten out a huge amount but now that we can't I find I miss it. We have a wonderful Chinese nearby that the whole immediate family used to congregate at for birthdays, it was so nice and I'm just hoping and praying that they survive this crisis. Sadly, we're not really an area that has a lot of excellent pubs or farmshops with wonderful cafes (West Cornwall for that!) so we don't actually go out that much. Given P's diabetes that's probably a 'good' thing. The other thing I would say is that we do actually enjoy our own cooking rather a lot. We bought an airfryer last year and although it's not a 'change your way of life' sort of thing we are having a lot of fun trying new chicken recipes.

Anca said...

Well done for reading all those books in January. If you do not fancy writing a review, why would you? A monthly round-up is a much better way to mention the books, if you want to keep track.
I usually write short reviews, as I imagine a couple of paragraphs are enough to make my views clear on a book, but sometimes I like to write more. Overall there is no pressure though.

Cath said...

Anca: Thanks! I think some of us feel obliged to review every book just because we have a book blog. I'm trying to shake that feeling of obligation.

I agree that shorter reviews can be very effective and I'm always wary of writing too much and giving away too much of the plot anyway.

Susan said...

That's amazing that you loved every book you read in a month. That never happens for me! Maybe I need to be more selective. I usually end up with mostly average - good reads and occasionally one or two that I really love. Glad you enjoyed all these.