Category: Book Musings (page 1 of 12)

April 2020 TBR

I hope that all of you reading this are keeping safe and well. We are living in interesting times at the moment, my library service has shut for the foreseeable future and renewed all the books that I have out until the 2nd of July. Because of this, I have changed the priority of things around this month and resorted my spreadsheet and have come up with the following TBR. It is pretty long and there is no way that I am going to be able to get through all of them, but these have been sorted into 2020 books first.  I won’t probably read them in this particular order, but it is a plan.

American Dirt by Jeanie Cummins
A Tall History of Sugar by Curdella Forbes
Origins by Lewis Dartnell
Unspeakable by Harriet Shawcross
To The Lake by Kapka Kassabova
The Ice House by Tim Clare
When by Daniel H. Pink
Lotharingia by Simon Winder
Last Days In Old Europe by Richard Bassett
Liquid Gold by Roger Morgan-Grenville
The Stonemason by Andrew Ziminski
Sea People by Christina Thompson
The Way To The Sea by Caroline Crampton
A Good Neighbourhood by Therese Anne Fowler
We’re Living Through The Breakdown by Tatton Spiller
Horizon by Barry Lopez
Marram by Leonie Charlton
The Supernavigators by David Barrie
Awakening by Sam Love
London Made Us by Robert Elms
The Fens by Francis Pryor
A Beginner’s Guide To Japan by Pico Iyer
Pie Fidelity by Pete Brown
The Bells of Old Tokyo by Anna Sherman
A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
Holding Unfailing by Edward Ragg
Vickery’s Folk Flora by Roy Vickery
Lands Of Lost Borders by Kate Harris
Hollow Places by Christopher Hadley
The Many Lives of Carbon by Dag Olav Hessen, Tr. Kerri Pierce
The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey on Two Rivers by Moritz Thomsen
The Book of Puka-Puka by Robert Dean Frisbie
The House of Islam by Ed Husain
Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols
When the Rivers Run Dry by Fred Pearce
The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea
Sunfall by Jim Al-Khalili
One Way by S.J. Morden

February 2020 Review

We had an extra day in February, so Happy Leap Year! Even with that extra day I didn’t manage to read all that I wanted to but did manage a healthy 16 books in the end. I also had my judging day in London for the Edward Stanford Travel Awards, where I was reading the Adventure Travel category. I was also fortunate to get an invite to the award presentation for this. Had a really great evening and met several authors that I had only know via the Twittersphere.

Anyway, to the books for February.

I don’t read much fantasy, but having read Uprooted by Naomi Novik a while back I jumped at the chance of Spinning Silver when offered a copy. I liked the world-building and some of the plot but didn’t get along with the way the narrative changed points of view. Overall I thought it was a good book, but was a little long.


The Edge Of The World by Michael Pye is a book about the countries surrounding the North Sea and how that blend of cultures and peoples defined Europe and us. In here he focuses on specific subjects, but I felt it would have been better if he had concentrated on time periods so you could track the way it changed.



I am a big fan of Laurie Lee, he had a gentle poetic way with words. This new book of his, Down In The Valley is a transcription of his conversations that he had whilst making a BBC documentary. It has some of the magic, but not all and I think that this is down to the way we speak and write tends to be different. I picked up Cobra In The Bath by Miles Morland thinking it would be a suitable book for my #WorldFromMyArmchair challenge where I am reading a travel or non-fiction book that is set in or passes through every country in the world. Turns out this was a slightly pompous memoir about his unusual upbringing and work as an investment banker with a little bit of travel tacked on the end.



I had supported the publication of this book by Anita Roy, A Year In Kingcombe. For those that don’t know, this owned by Dorset Wildlife Trust and is a beautiful place to visit. This is about twelve visits that the author took over the course of a year. Matt Gaw’s book The Pull of the River was a favourite when I first read it and I was really pleased to receive his new book, Under the Stars. In here he sets out to discover the beauty of the night sky for himself and scratches the surface of the night landscape. Well worth reading.


Two very different poetry book this month, first up A Force That Takes by Edward Ragg which the author kindly sent me. It is a wide-ranging collection that contains one of my all-time favourite poems. I won Soho by Richard Scott in one of the Costa giveaways and hadn’t got to read it until now. It is a pretty graphic collection of poems about gay relationships, not my usual reading, but it is good to read beyond your regular haunts sometimes.



I read two science books this month too. The first is Through Two Doors at Once by Anil Ananthaswamy. This is about the two-slit experiment that shows how light is both a wave and a particle at the same time. Quantum mechanics is not the easiest of subjects, but Ananthaswamy manages to make some of this non-baffling… I was lucky enough to receive the new book from Marcus Chown too, The Magicians. In here he has dramatised the ten most significant events in the development of physics and done a really good job of it.



The Impossible Climb was one of the books that I was judging on for the Edward Stanford Travel Awards. It is about Alex Honnold dramatic free solo climb of El Capitan and climbing life in general in Yosemite. The guy is mad and brilliant at the same time. Alexander Kinglake was a traveller in the middle east in the middle of the 19th century and Eothen has just been republished by Eland. He is cited as influencing many travel writers since. It is an interesting book, full of insight and imperial attitudes, but worth a read.  Gail Simmons arranged for me to receive a copy of her book, The Country of Larks. It is a short book as she follows the path of HS2 across the Chilterns and walks in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson. Beautifully written too.



I had three books of the month in February, Sea of Rust C. Robert Cargill which is a bleak, post-humanity story around a robot forging a life in this world scoured of all life. Another bleak science fiction book by Ben Smith called Doggerland where two men are charged with maintaining the wind farm off the Norfolk coast. It is hauntingly beautiful and disturbing at the same time. Finally is Mudlarking, a story of things that are found on the Thames foreshore. This social history book by Lara Maiklem is as fascinating as the things that she finds every time the tide goes out.

March 2020 TBR

Trying to get on top of things this month and be a bit more organised, so have been thinking about this for a few days.  It is far too many, but I really need to put the pedal to the metal with the number of books I read each month, so here is my TBR for March:

Finishing Off

To the Island of Tides – Alistair Moffat


Blog Tour

I am participating in the blog tour for the Dylan Thomas Prize this year. This year’s longlist comprises of seven novels, three poetry collections and two short story collections with some amazing names on the list such as Jay Bernard, Helen Mort, Yelena Moskovich, Mary Jean Chan and many other wonderful writers. I will be reading two books from the longlist:

If All the World and Love Were Young – Stephen Sexton

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong


Review Copies

American Dirt – Jeanie Cummins (wavering on this one a little with all the publicity about this)

Along the Amber Route: St Petersburg to Venice – C.J. Schuller

Liquid Gold: Bees and the Pursuit of Midlife Honey – Roger Morgan-Grenville

A Good Neighbourhood – Therese Anne Fowler

We’re Living Through The Breakdown – Tatton Spiller

Marram: Memories of Sea and Spider Silk – Leonie Charlton

A Good Neighbourhood – Therese Anne Fowler

Vickery’s Folk Flora: An A-Z of the Folklore and Uses of British and Irish Plants – Roy Vickery

The Many Lives of Carbon – Dag Olav Hessen, Tr. Kerri Pierce

The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey on Two Rivers – Moritz Thomsen

The Book of Puka-Puka: A Lone Trader in the South Pacific Robert – Dean Frisbie

Irreplaceable: The Fight To Save Our Wild Places – Julian Hoffman

The House of Islam – Ed Husain

Blue Mind: How Water Makes You Happier, More Connected and Better at What You Do – Wallace J. Nichols

When the Rivers Run Dry: Water – The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-first Century – Fred Pearce

The Glass Woman – Caroline Lea

Sunfall – Jim Al-Khalili


Library Books

Britain by the Book – Oliver Tearle

Footnotes – Peter Fiennes

A Month by the Sea: Encounters in Gaza – Dervla Murphy

The Secret DJ – Anonymous

A Pattern of Islands – Arthur Grimble

This Book Will Blow Your Mind -Frank Swain (Ed.)

Concretopia: A journey around the rebuilding of postwar Britain -John Grindrod


Challenge Books

A Hat Full of Sky – Terry Pratchett

This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

How the Light Gets In – Clare Fisher



The lovely Isabelle from Fly on the Wall Press sent me these:

Awakening: Musing on Planetary Survival – Sam Love

Alcoholic Betty – Elisabeth Horan


Science Fiction

I ended up reading Sea of Rust last month so this is still on the list:

One Way – S.J. Morden

Book Challenges

I had promised to write this post back in January, but things took over, so here I am midway through February writing it at last…

Book Challenges – are they a good thing or not? Well, it depends on the reader ultimately. I have taken part in the annual Good Reads Challenge since 2013. In this challenge, you set the number of books that you think you are going to be able to read over the course of 12 months. For some people, this can be as low as one (see below), but any number can be chosen. Apart from the first year where I set it at 185, have stuck to a regular total of 190 and have achieved that or exceeded it every year.

One of the disadvantages of this though is the self-inflicted pressure of trying to reach the total that you have set and for a number of people, it takes away from the pleasure of reading. Some people overcome this by setting their total for the year to one, finish it really early and then don’t have to worry about it until the following year. It will still keep a track of your exact number read by the end of the year too.

So should you do these? Well, it is entirely up to you. I do because I like doing them, and for those trying to get back into reading it can be a good way of getting a discipline of reading on a regular basis. It must work too as I frequently see comments where people are so pleased that they have achieved the target that they have set themselves.

The other sort of challenge is those that aim to push your reading boundaries. Often, people read well within their comfort zone, reading their preferred genres and almost never venture outside it. I run an online book group on Good Reads called Book Vipers and each year I have created a challenge for the members. This year it is the Dusty Shelf Challenge with the aim of getting people to rootle through their shelves and read some of the books that they have had for far too long.

I make these up in a bingo format. There are two reasons for this, one is the satisfaction of crossing off a square, secondly, those who might not read as much can do a row only should they wish.

The grid I created is below. The intention of some of these is to get you to find things that fit the criteria and often to do that you need to look outside your reading landscape.

The books that I have chosen to meet the criteria are below. I have had some of these on my shelves around the home for waaaaay too long, hence why I have picked them.

A Book With A Blue Cover – This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay
A Book You Have Borrowed – Mirrors of the Unseen: Journeys in Iran by Jason Elliot
A Book That Has Been Longest On Your TBR – Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks
A Book You Started And Never Finished – Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett
A Book With An Animal On The Cover – Corvus: A Life with Birds by Esther Woolfson
A Book By A Female Author – Among Muslims by Kathleen Jamie
Free Choice – How the Light Gets In by Clare Fisher
A Book With A Red Cover – The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Non Fiction Book – Gathering Carrageen by Monica Connell
A Book From A Literary Prize – In Search of Conrad by Gavin Young
A Book Published In The Last Century – Against a Peacock Sky by Monica Connell
A Book With A Green Cover – The Crow Garden by Alison Littlewood
A Book By A Male Author – Naples 44 by Norman Lewis
A Book Borrowed From A Friend – The Marsh Arabs by Wilfred Theisger
Free Choice – Herbaceous by Paul Evans
A Biography – Toast by Nigel Slater
A Library Book – The Edge Of The World: A Cultural History Of The North Sea And The Transformation Of Europe by Michael Pye
Free Choice – Letters by Saul Bellow
A Book With A Black Cover – The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
A Book With A Figure On The Cover – Travels With Myself And Another: Five Journeys From Hell by Martha Gellhorn
An Award Winner – The Prester Quest by Nicholas Jubber
A Book Over 500 Pages – Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
A Book Under 100 Pages – A Force That Takes by Edward Ragg
A Book In A Series – A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
A Book With A White Cover – Vicious by V.E Schwab


So do you take part in challenges?

If so, what are you preferred type?

What books would you include on this challenge?

Ghost in the Reflection: Letters to Erin by Jim Miller

In our current political and social climate, much-loved poet Jim Miller and his frank observations of a downtrodden society, seem both relevant and important for conversations regarding social reform. In this collection, it is the bonds of love, even through troubled waters, which are offered as solutions to a society currently shying away from a duty of care for one another.

This collection, which addresses addiction, recovery and love in its many forms, reflects the poet’s observations about regression in societal morals. Although these are Miller’s personal viewpoints, his political thinking is relevant against the wider backdrop of the USA, whose divisions threaten to tear its citizens down the centre.

Miller was born in 1970s, in a small town in northern Indiana. His early life was spent between Indiana, Florida and the New York area. After his many years in college, he took to the road and travelled the country in a quest to find himself and some meaning or purpose in life. Poetry helped Miller articulate his emotions. Miller said that he hopes his philosophical and reflective collection, “will bring comfort to readers who currently despair at societal divisions. We need to raise our children with hope and instil a sense of morality.”

 Isabelle Kenyon from Fly on the Wall Press said: “Divided into three sections, Miller is unafraid to delve into our current political and social climate in all its flaws, passionate love in all its ups and downs and presents an ode to hope for our future children, that they will learn from our mistakes.”

One thing is for sure, it is the vulnerability in Miller’s writing and his bravery in sharing his deepest thoughts and fears which will win his readers over, as he opens his notepad to journal his observations of society.

Here is a sample poem from his collection

The Phantom I Became

I awoke the other night inundated in my perspiration;
I saw her face where memory awakened,
walking away, her back towards the sun setting along the shoreline,
the golden-red tint of sunrays highlighted
her hair’s natural gold; I traced the silhouette of her face,
drunk in a love abandoned, once upon a distant day.

I cannot justify why still I refuse to remember;
I shake away the temptation,
that foolish urge to call out her name,
that taunting urge to scream, to call out for her.
I refuse to swallow the cyanide of decisions
as a sentence served in a prison of remorse.

A shot of bourbon swallowed to numb;
the other to ease the pain;
another shot for courage
and another, another, another…
wherein the darkness hides a ghost
& aches memory of decisions derived:
this life, that road, the many footsteps taken.

If apologies could bandage the scars
I have induced & the wreckage abandoned,
that she wears as a burden so beautifully flawed,
and could erase the scars embedded,
I would. but I cannot muster the courage
to master meaningless words,
words softly spoken sound so selfishly sincere,
words sadly spoken only so my suffering could dissipate,
evaporate like rain in a desert
to justify the decisions of a child: words that would do nothing
to bandage the wounds they helped create.

Even when reason remained dormant; unknown,
my every footstep made was destined,
delivering yesterday to today.
Still, it’s difficult to justify the emotions defied,
nor the costs or sacrifice.

I cannot fathom the means to forgive,
nor the reasons for the scared child I was
or for phantom I became.

Buy this at your local independent bookshop. If you’re not sure where your nearest is then you can find one here or direct from Miller himself.

January 2020 Review

Why is it that January always seems so long.? There were some hilarious memes out there on social media about how many days there are in the month, but we finally made it to the end. Even though it dragged on, I only managed to read 17 books. There were a couple that I wasn’t overly enamoured with, but most were good and there were a couple of great books. So this is what I read:


Colson Whitehead has won the Pulitzer and the Clarke award with The Underground Railroad, but I wasn’t that impressed by it.



My wife is a big knitter so when I saw that Granta was publishing This Golden Fleece by Esther Rutter I’d thought I’d get a copy for us to read. It had a reservation on it, so I had to read it quickly and return it. I really liked it, not only does she talk about the social history of knitting and wool in general, but for each chapter, she makes a project relevant to the place that she is visiting around the UK.

I read Charlotte Higgins book on Roman Britain a while ago now and was quite pleased that I got a review copy of Red Thread as I have long had a fascination with Mazes and Labyrinths. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting as it was more focused on the classics rather than contemporary mazes, but thought it was still an interesting read.

Rob Temple’s Very British Problems is a guaranteed laugh every day. This book I picked up from somewhere about the perils of travelling abroad is a fine piece of tongue in cheek humour.

I have been an engineer at two lighting companies over the last 15 years, so when I saw that Saraband were publishing Incandescent: We Need to Talk about Light by Anna Levin I thought I’d give it a go. It is an interesting book about the rise of CFL and LED lamps that were replacing the old incandescent lamps to save energy and carbon dioxide. Not everyone can get along with these new light sources for a variety of health reasons and this is her well-crafted argument as to why we still should have them available for sale.

Ghostland was another find from Twitter. It is an interesting mix of family memoir, literary reminiscence and fringed by the author visiting the places where the books were set. It wasn’t quite what i was expecting as it occassional venture into the slightly strange and surreal.


I read two poetry books this month as I indicated in my 202 goals. First was Memorial by Alice Oswald and it is her interpretation of a character in the Iliad. Not bad overall. The second was the debut collection from Nathan Evans & Justin David and is called Threads. It is a collaboration of verse and photo and I thought that it was really good.

I had intended to read the Emma Newman book for my science fiction selection but realised that the review copy I had is book three in the series. The library cam to the rescue and now have all four books in the series. Ended up reading Defender by G X Todd as I have been promising to read it for ages. Thought it was really good depiction of a brutal dystopian society with a supernatural element


I read seven travel books in total this month. For the first four I ventured to South America with Oliver Balch as he meets the people of a number of countries, Indonesia with Will Buckingham as he goes in search of three sculptors and all across Europe following the Epic tales that still have resonance in this modern time with Nicholas Jubber and finally to Montana with Joanna Pocock

I also read three from the shortlist for the adventure category for the Edward Stanford Awards:


Journeys in the Wild  by Gavin Thurston, Where There’s A Will by Emily Chappell and From the Lion’s Mouth by Iain Campbell, but I can’t say much about them until after the awards are announced on the 26th February!

My book of the month is The Wee Free Men Terry Pratchett. A brilliant introduction for a formidable new witch to the Disc. And she is only nine!

February 2020 TBR

January seemed to last for ages but suddenly it is February so a day or so late, here is my TBR for this month:

Finishing Off

The Impossible Climb by Mark Synott (The final book from the shortlist I am judging)


Review Copies

American Dirt – Jeanie Cummins (wavering on this one a little with all the publicity about this)
Eothen: Traces Of Travel Brought Home From The East – Alexander William Kinglake
Through Two Doors at Once: The Elegant Experiment That Captures the Enigma of Our Quantum Reality – Anil Ananthaswamy
Under the Stars: A Journey into Light – Matt Gaw
The Magicians – Marcus Chown
Along the Amber Route: St Petersburg to Venice – C.J. Schuller
Vickery’s Folk Flora: An A-Z of the Folklore and Uses of British and Irish Plants – Roy Vickery
The Many Lives of Carbon – Dag Olav Hessen, Tr. Kerri Pierce
Spinning Silver – Naomi Novrik
The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey on Two Rivers – Moritz Thomsen
The Book of Puka-Puka: A Lone Trader in the South Pacific Robert – Dean Frisbie
Irreplaceable: The Fight To Save Our Wild Places – Julian Hoffman
The House of Islam – Ed Husain
Blue Mind: How Water Makes You Happier, More Connected and Better at What You Do – Wallace J. Nichols
When the Rivers Run Dry: Water – The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-first Century – Fred Pearce
The Glass Woman – Caroline Lea
Sunfall – Jim Al-Khalili


Library Books

The Edge Of The World – Michael Pye (Really Must finish this one)
Mudlarking: Lost And Found On The River Thames – Lara Maiklem
Doggerland – Ben Smith
Figures in a Landscape: People and Places – Paul Theroux
The Odditorium – David Bramwell & Jo Keeling
Ciderology – Gabe Cook
The Almost Nearly Perfect People – Michael Booth
Tweet Of The Day – Brett Westwood & Stephen Moss
Elephant Complex: Travels In Sri Lanka – John Gimlette
Cobra In The Bath: Adventures In Less Travelled Lands – Miles Morland
Down In The Valley: A Writer’s Landscape – Laurie Lee


Challenge Books

A Hat Full of Sky – Terry Pratchett

This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

A Year In Kingcombe – Anita Roy



Soho – Richard Scott

A Force That Takes – Edward Ragg


Science Fiction

One Way – S.J. Morden

My Books of 2019

There are only sixteen books this year that made five stars for me, and they are my books of the year below.

In my reading intentions, I had promised to read the remainder of the Discworld books that I hadn’t ever rear. Whilst I haven’t finished them all, I did make progress this year. The Last Hero was the first from that list and in true Terry Pratchett for it did not disappoint. Very funny and a tiny parody of life on our world too.

The Wild Remedy was my book of the month back in March. It is a thing of beauty and needs to be read by those that have emerged from the Winter and are still feeling the effects of depression. It is very personal too as Emma recounts points when she was at her very lowest ebb.

Earth from Space is very much a coffee table book and the phots in here are as sumptuous as they are amazing.

I have a fascination about lighthouses and Seashaken Houses by Tom Nancollas  is a brilliantly written history of these  structures around the UK.

Roger Deakin was the founder of the modern revival in nature writing and this book by his son, Rufus Deakin, and the man, Titus Rowlandson, who currently lives in his house is a wonderful persoanl history of a home.

Robert Macfarlane is a magnificent writer, and his latest book, Underland continues that trend. Instead of being in the wild open spaces and the mountains, he heads underground to discover the places where people do not often venture.

The link between mental health and the benefits that the natural world can bring has been proved many times now. In Bird Therapy,  Joe Harkness tells a personal story of his fightback from a suicide attempt and how being out bird watching helped him in every stage of recovery.

All Together Now is a brilliant state of our nation book, as Mike Carter walks the same journey his father did three decades before and listens to the people along his route.

Hoping that having his own plot of land and space for his family to grow would be the inspiration that he needed for his writing, didn’t quite work out for Paul Kingsnorth. In Savage Gods he talks about how the writing process has changed him.

Another Discworld book, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents is one of the children’s books in the series. It is still written with his razor-sharp wit and take on the aspects of life that affect us all.

I will admit that Andy Goldsworthy is my favourite artist and found Enclosure in my local library. Brilliant art as ever.

Until Eland kindly sent me the Jonathan Raban books that they were republishing I had never read any of his books. They were all very good, but he writes about America so very well as you can find in Old Glory and this one, Hunting Mister Heartbreak. Great writer and great book.

Mark Cocker is one of the many modern nature writers who I admire. I actually met him at the Wainwright shortlist announcement and had a good chat, and his last book, A Claxton Diary is as well written as all his others.

A writer who is forging his own paths in nature writing is Tom Cox. 21st Century Yokel was brilliant and the sort of sequel, Ring the Hill maintains that same  standard.

Robert Macfarlane is best known for non-fiction, but this collaboration with Stanley Donwood is his first foray into poetry and fiction. Sharp, eerie and devastating. This is Ness.

And my book of the year is Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie. Any of her writing is a treat and this does not disappoint in any way at all.


January 2020 TBR

A New Year and a new decade too. Lots to read this month the start of the annual Good Reads reading challenge. I have set mine at 190  again, and just need to crack on with it.

I also run a group on Good Reads where I design and set an annual challenge for the members. This year it is Dusty Shelf Bingo and the bingo grid for books to select for this is below. Just selecting the books that I want to read for this list is great fun. Will post about this more soon.

Anyway onto my TBR for this month. I am hoping to make these a little more focused based on my reading intentions here.

Edward Stanford Adventure Travel Shortlist

I am judging this shortlist in early February, but want to get them read ASAP

From The Lion’s Mouth: A Journey Along the Indus – Iain Campbell

The Impossible Climb: Alex Honnold, El Capitan and the Climbing Life – Mark Synnott

Where There’s A Will – Emily Chappell

Journeys in the Wild: The Secret Life of a Cameraman – Gavin Thurston

There are two more on the list but I have already read them:

Outpost – Dan Richards

Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Wildest Horse Race – Lara Prior-Palmer


Review Copies

American Dirt – Jeanie Cummins

A Good Neighbourhood -Therese Anne Fowler

Vickery’s Folk Flora – Roy Vickery

The Many Lives of Carbon – Dag Olav Hessen, Tr. Kerri Pierce

Spinning Silver – Naomi Novrik

Red Thread: On Mazes and Labyrinths – Charlotte Higgins

Stealing With The Eyes – Will Buckingham

The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey on Two Rivers by Moritz Thomsen

The Book of Puka-Puka: A Lone Trader in the South Pacific by Robert Dean Frisbie

Irreplaceable: The Fight To Save Our Wild Places by Julian Hoffman

Incandescent – Ann Levin

The House of Islam – Ed Husain

Blue Mind – Wallace J. Nichols

When the Rivers Run Dry – Fred Pearce

The Glass Woman – Caroline Lea

Sunfall by Jim Al-Khalili


Library Books

This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain’s Knitted History – Esther Rutter

The Edge Of The World: A Cultural History Of The North Sea And The Transformation Of Europe – Michael Pye

The Ice House – Tim Clare

Pie Fidelity: In Defence Of British Food – Pete Brown

Defender – G X Todd

On The Marsh: A Year Surrounded By Wildness And Wet – Simon Barnes


Challenge Books

The Wee Free Men – Terry Pratchett



Memorial: An Excavation of the Iliad – Alice Oswald

Threads – Nathan Evans


Science Fiction

Before Mars – Emma Newman


I think that will do!

2020 Reading Intentions

I have been reviewing what I wrote for my 2019 reading intentions and seeing how many I failed at!  Did manage a lot of them, but not all. I have written about that in my year in review here. That said I still like to have some broad goals that I can aim for, or most likely shuffle broadly in the direction of. And here they are:


My Own Books

Sarah has said again that I have too many books piled up (Tsundoko) around the house. (Note to self, try not to buy so many books). Did manage to read 25 of my own books, but that isn’t enough. That said,  I am allowed to get some more bookshelves!  So that is a new year project to sort that all of that out and unhaul some books. I am looking forward to having all my Little Toller and Eland books together in one place too!


Review Copies

According to my spreadsheet, I have 124 outstanding review copies to read. Even though there is a lot of books on the two shelves that I have for them,  I’m not sure if this is right as I counted way less than that on the shelf!!! I am grateful for every book I receive through the post from publishers, so thank you to you all. I fully intend to read and review as many of those as possible as soon as I can, but also see the blogging post below.


Library Books

As I said last year, these places are a precious resource. Sadly, our present government seems hell-bent on eradicating them from our cities, towns and villages. I still have too many library books out, and will still keep getting them out too. The author gets a small amount every time a book of theirs is borrowed and for the reader, most books are free or have a nominal reservation fee. I am fortunate that I have two library cards, and I am going to try not to max each one out…


Female and BAME Authors

In 2018, 35% of my reading was by female authors. Had intended to raise that for 2019, but have dropped back to 33%. So will be aiming for 40% in 2020. I want around 5% of my reading to be  BAME authors too.



Last year I managed to read a poetry book each and every month and sometimes read more than one. I like poetry, even though I don’t always get it, so am going to try to read around two books a month in 2020.


Literary Awards

Will be aiming to read all of these again (Next year I might get to the Baillie Gifford list as I didn’t this year)

Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards (I am judging the Adventure Travel next year)


Royal Society

Baillie Gifford

Arthur C Clarke


The World From My Armchair Challenge

Managed to read 13 more books for this long term challenge bringing my total read so far to 44. I have been acquiring books for it though, and have a further 41 books on various bookshelves scattered around the house to read for other countries. I am still looking for travel books (or non-fiction) that are set in or pass through these countries, below. So if you know any, please do let me know.

Antigua and Barbuda
Brunei Darussalam
Capo Verde
Central African Republic
Persian Gulf
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Sao Tome and Principe
Trinidad and Tobago
Balearic Sea
Ligurian Sea
Alboran Sea



Managed two more from the Discworld series, but these are still to go:

The Wee Free Men
A Hat Full of Sky
Unseen Academicals
I Shall Wear Midnight
Raising Steam
The Shepherd’s Crown

Please feel free to pester me to remind me that need to keep reading them.


Science Fiction

Only read two (yes two) science fiction books this year which I am ashamed of really as I had high hopes of getting more than that read. Aiming to read at least one a month.



I have always been a reader first and foremost and I get immense pleasure from reading and talking about books. It was reading that introduced me to NB magazine and the blog came off the back of that. After a lot of thought, I have decided that I am going to change the way that I am blogging. I am going to still be reading and reviewing on here and Good Reads and so on, but will be drastically reducing the number of review copies that I request as I can’t keep up.  I am still happy to receive a book if a publisher or publicist still wishes to send them to me, but will not guarantee when I will get to read it. Instead, I have decided that I will either get the newly released books in 2020 from the library or buy them myself to read as and when I can. I will still take part in Blog Tours, but only a maximum of once a month as I don’t always like reading to a deadline.


So there we have it, some changes and evolution from last years intentions as my priorities have changed.

What are your reading intentions?

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