March 2020 Review

Well, that was a long month and possibly one of the most surreal that I have ever lived through. I can’t see it getting any better any time soon though. I hope that you are all safe and well and coping with staying at home. I have been at work the last two week because this was the week that we planned to move at work and we had stock and the production line to move. We did it, we’re in It is all working and I am shattered. Thankfully, I now have a week off and I am looking forward to some government-approved walks and reading.

First some stats after reaching a quarter of the way through the year.

I have read 49 books and 13492 pages. Thirty-three of the authors were male and the remaining 17 were female (34%). I have read 21 review books, 19 library books and 9 of my own.

Top three publishers are:

Faber – 5 books

Eland – 3 Books

Jonathan Cape – 3 books

Top three genres are:

Travel – 11 books

Memoir – 7 books

Poetry – 6 books


Anyway onto the books that I read in March. I only managed to get through 16 from the huge TBR that I posted and they were

I had really enjoyed Alistair Moffat’s previous book, The Hidden Ways and was fortunate enough to get To The Island Of Tides from the library. Partly a memoir and eulogy to a lost grandchild, this is a personal pilgrimage to the island of Lindisfarne walking through the historical landscape of Scotland and Northern England.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong is one of the books on the Dylan Thomas Prize and I was kindly sent a copy to read by Martina at Midas. It is a semi-autobiographical book about a mixed-race lad who in a letter to thin mother is exploring his past and his sexuality. Well written but not entirely my thing, but it is good to push your boundaries.


Memoirs seemed the be the thing this month. I have always loved electronic and dance music, but never really been into the club scene. The Secret DJ is a funny and sometimes shocking book about the drug-fuelled world of the international jet setting DJ. Even if we knew who had written it, I would probably never of heard of them anyway. Another really funny memoir is This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay about his time as a junior doctor. In amongst all the blood is a touching story of helping people who are in great need. Keggie Carew is quite some character, in her first book Dadland we learnt about the amazing things her father got up to, and in Quicksand Tales, she is recounting various amusing and terrifying misadventures. Jean Sprackland is a great writer and was please to get an early copy of These Silent Mansions from the library. In this book, she travels back to places she used to live and revisits the graveyards that were places of solitude and calm in her busy life.

Just as the weekend storms finish and the country enters into lockdown spring arrives and the sun comes out. I try and make a habit os reading a seasonal book each time the world runs on the equinox or solstice and this year I picked up The Nature Of Spring by Jim Crumley. I had read his Winter book in December and was really looking forward to it as he is a writer of immense talent. I wasn’t disappointed either and am now looking forward to his final one in the series, Summer.



Two poetry books last month that dealt with personal matters. the first is fairly obvious, Alcoholic Betty by Elisabeth Horan is about her battle with the demon drink. The second book, If All the World and Love Were Young is about grief set in the context of the Mario Cart video game. This book by Stephen Sexton is another from the Dylan Thomas Prize

Dervla Murphy is a very independent-minded lady and she wanted to see for herself what life is like in Gaza. She stayed there a month and wrote about it in A Month by the Sea. It is not the easiest book to read given its subject matter, but it is still worth doing so just to have some insight as to what life is like there.



This Book Will Blow Your Mind is a collection of stories and articles from the New Scientist brought together in various themes. Not a bad book, but my mind is still intact after reading this. I had read Gaia Vince’s first book, Adventures in the Anthropocene and thought it was a good summation of the mess that we have made of the planet. Transcendence is looking at how we came to be the most dominant species on the planet and how evolution for other species has not had similar results. It was interesting but I didn’t like it as much as her first book



Only read two travel books this month, the first was A Pattern of Islands. This was Arthur Grimble and stories of his time spent in the Kiribati islands in the pacific. He became very fond of the people and their pagan rituals that still existed even with pressure from Christian Missionaries. Trade routes have been around for millennia and one that was specific to Europe was the Amber Route. People bought amber, the fossilised remains of tree sap from the Baltic coast down to the Mediterranean coast where it was turned into fine objects and then shipped it back along the same trail. C.J. Schuller travels along the same route, finding places where amber has been celebrated and finding his own family history in the places he passes through. Even better, I could use both for my #WorldFromMyArmchair.


Two books of the month in March. First is Irreplaceable by Julian Hoffman. This is a celebration and a call to arms of some of the most beautiful and fragile wild places. Places that we are highly likely to lose unless we change our ways.

My second book of the month is Ghost Town by Jeff Young. It is a beautifully written book about family memories of growing up in Liverpool and re walking the streets that he did when younger.

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  1. Liz Dexter

    Ooh, the one on amber appeals most out of those. I can’t believe I read almost as much as you last month, although I had a week’s holiday doing almost nothing apart from read, and managed 8 books in 7 days, which helped!

    • Paul

      It is really good, Liz. I know, well done. I have been slacking so far this year.

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