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!

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  1. Liz Dexter

    I love the look of Journeys in the Wild – I bought it for my best friend for Christmas and am hoping to borrow it back soon!

    • Paul

      I can’t say too much about it until later in the month! I hope you manage to borrow it back soon.

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