This year I decided to set myself a challenge when it came to reading books. The truth is, while I like to think I read a lot, there are some weeks that I barely make it through a few chapters. I get easily distracted by life and a month down the line I realise that I haven’t finished a single title. It’s not because I don’t like reading, I love it. Just the general distractions of life like cleaning, family, friends, and yes, TV, end up taking priority. So this year I decided to make reading one of my priorities. I wake early, make myself a coffee, and read for between half an hour to an hour each morning, and am reading each night too. I have set myself the challenge of reading fifty-two books by the end of the year.
For some readers that’s not much. Hell, I just saw a post on Instagram where the person had read twenty-two books in January. With al the will in the world I will never be able to read that much. But when I am focussed on reading I know it keeps me focussed on other areas in my life too. Writing for one. The more I read the greater my word count. That’s a great big tick in reading’s favour. My year really seems to have started out with absolute discipline, hitting my reading target, meditating almost every night, and plus I have just started learning the piano. Whether that will last’s I cannot say, but so far I love it. It’s a great way to take a break from writing instead of eating whatever is in the kitchen just a few steps away. All I need to do is swivel my chair and I can practice my chords.
Now, let’s be clear; I’m no book reviewer. I’ll leave that to the people who know how to do it. I’m just sharing what I read. And it’s been a great month. I’ve really enjoyed these books. And while for the last ten years I have claimed that Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is my favourite book, this month has changed that. There’s a new champion. Read on to find out what took the top spot.
First up was THE WISDOM OF SALLY RED SHOES. I read this book with much excitement after loving Ruth Hogan’s The Keeper of Lost Things. This book didn’t disappoint me, and I think readers who enjoyed her first book will also enjoy this story filled with rich, eccentric characters.
Next up was A LITTLE LIFE. I bought this book almost three years ago, after it made the Man Booker shortlist in 2015. I had just met my agent, and a trip to the bookshop was on the cards. That day I flew back to Cyprus with six hardbacks in my bag. I have no idea what the others were, or why this has remained on my shelf for so long, but this book will stay in my heart forever. Never have I cried so many times, never have I thought so much about a book in the hours when I’m not reading it, and never has a book stayed with me in such a way as this one has. My husband even asked me when I was going to be finished with it because I was starting to become withdrawn. I went on a journey, and had a definite book hangover. A beautiful and heart-breaking story I will never forget. My new favourite. I can’t see it ever being replaced. Jude and Willem forever.
Luckily I selected another great book to follow on from that. The next book on my TBR was DARK PINES. This is another that has been on my shelf for a while after being sent the ARC, but it got displaced in the proceedings by the arrival of my beautiful daughter. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to discover the wonderful world Will Dean created. The follow up is RED SNOW, and has just been released. Can’t wait to get my hands on that one, but with postage to Cyprus I think I might have to wait a couple of weeks to slip back into the Nordic world of Tuva Moodyson.
The last book of January was I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS. This is, embarrassingly, my first book by Maya Angelou. It is heartfelt, informative, and an education in resilience in the face of discrimination and hardship. A wonderful read.
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