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Thursday 28 February 2013

What have we been reading this month?

It might only be a short month, but we have been racing through our books. Maybe because there's nothing good on the telly and it's still too cold to go out. Here's what we've been reading this month.

Sian: I'm still reading Great Expectations, but only because I keep putting it down to read something else (since Dickens serialised his books, it feels quite natural to take a break). I'm a bit miffed at The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, I felt emotionally manipulated through the whole thing, despite it being fairly dull. I've also read Dan Rhodes' Marry Me, after picking up a copy at Book Slam (that event was the best six quid I've ever spent in London). This short story collection isn't as good as Anthropology, sadly. I've also been dipping in and out of New York Stories. Most excitingly, I started my MA reading! I kicked off with The Man Who Was Thursday (great book, the cover DOES NOT look like tampons). Next up? The Turn of the Screw and To The Lighthouse. Oh, and the rest of that Dickens.

Hazel: I went to stay with an old friend of mine who's dad is Ralph Steadman, an incredible artist and writer, he gave me his inimitably illustrated "Book of Cats" which is wonderful in its total lack of soppy cat sentimentality, its hardcore kitty rage and brilliance. I'm still carrying Caitlin Moran's How to be a Woman in my bag and dipping into it whenever I find myself in a coffee shop. I've also just been given Elizabeth Ayrton's The Cookery of England which is full of long forgotten regional dishes like Hindle Wakes which is a chicken dish that dates back to the Middle Ages, my kinda cook book.

Sel: I made the conscious decision to make more time for reading this month which has meant that I have finally finished reading A Dance With Dragons, the latest in the A Song Of Ice And Fire (or more commonly, Game Of Thrones) series. I don't normally read fantasy books but these are so brilliant, you don't even question the magic and dragons. If you've enjoyed the TV version, you'll love the books even more. Next on my list is finishing Parade's End. I'd only vaguely heard about it before I watched the BBC adaptation but that made me want to read it. So far, it's incredibly dry humoured and best enjoyed reclining with a gin.

Caleigh: I've spent much of this month in airports or hospital waiting rooms so I've mostly been reading short stories from Christopher Brookmyre's Jaggy Splinters. They're easy to dip in and out of when I need to and they all have Brookmyre's usual dark humour and delightful twists. I read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories by Washington Irving, after catching the end of the movie on TV. I decided that it was the sort of book I should have read and I'm glad I did, it's a lot of fun. I'm still reading Marvel Comics: The Untold Story and I'm enjoying it. Hopefully I'll have some time next month to finish it!

Laura B: This has been a bumper reading month for me. I started the month with Jonathan Franzen's book of essays, Farther Away, a mix of articles on far-reaching topics, both amusing and thought-provoking. I then devoured his novel Freedom, a brilliant portrait of contemporary American family life. I also re-read The Great Gatsby in anticipation of the movie (I can't wait!), and Nabokov's Pnin - so funny and endearing.
I was late to The Art of Fielding party, and Chad Harbach's college 'n' baseball story swept me up and kept me captivated until the final page (I hate baseball, but the book is so much more than that).

My absolute best February book purchase is Chris Ware's Building Stories, a massive box filled with 14 stories centring on the inhabitants of a Chicago brownstone, all printed in different formats - newspapers, pamphlets, even a fold-out board. Dip in and be amazed. I'm finishing the month with my head in Zadie Smith's NW - I'm not thrilled yet, but I am only a few pages in!

What books have you had your nose stuck in?


  1. In February I read:
    - The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (based on a fictional backstory to "The Secret Garden", a train station read which was surprisingly gripping)
    - Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (2nd in a trilogy, about witches, vampires and daemons but surprisingly down-to-earth despite this).
    - the Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson (not recommended!)
    - Rereading Elizabeth Chadwick's "The Greatest Knight" duo, on the 2nd one, courtly romance and real-life violence in the time of Richard the Lionheart, Eleanor of Aquitaine and John Lackland.
    - Diaries of a FleetStreetFox - as painful as it is funny.

    (And all by women - amazing!)

  2. Patti Smith - Just Kids. Loved it! ~ Siouxie

  3. I can't believe Hindle Wakes is a dish! It's a book...or a play. Anyway, good knowledge.

    I read Diaries of a Fleet Street Fox too which I really enjoyed, but the only other thing I've had on has been The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared which I bought because it was on offer on Kindle. Gentle, quite funny and nice to dip into on the Tube.

  4. Ragtime by E L Doctorow which was absolutely brilliant. A snapshot into lots of linked lives in early 20th century america- can't recommend highly enough, definitely one you can dip into but i loved it so much i read it in one lemsip powered duvet day..

  5. I read NW at the end of Jan and really loved it. While I was reading it I couldn't properly pick out the themes but since finishing it I just can't stop thinking about it. Definitely one to re-read at the end of the year.
    Just finished The Sisters Brothers, which was totally compelling and the unusual narrative made it even more enjoyable.
    I also attempted but abandoned John Saturnall's Feast. I'd been so looking forward to it but just really really could not get into it or care about the characters. I rarely don't see books through to the bitter end so would be interested what others thought about it? x

  6. I'm reading The Night Circus at the moment and it's the most beautifully written book, I'm trying not to read it too fast so I can enjoy it for longer - it's just that good! I can't recommend it enough.

    1. I love not wanting to finish a book! It's the best feeling.


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