I have a long history of a love of books. I am most likely as short sighted as I am due to reading by the landing light as a young child after it was time to go to sleep. However, in the more recent past I have got out of the habit of regular reading and I also wanted to broaden the scope of the type of authors I read.
I’m not sure how I came across Modern Mrs Darcy’s blog. It was most likely through Pinterest, when I was browsing through inspirational and beautiful photographs and articles. The blog does have a wide remit but the main focus is on reading and particularly suggesting books to read for women. I found myself feeling rather intrigued by the thought of a reading challenge and decided to give it a go. You will find the reading challenge article here.
A classic you have been meaning to read
Brideshead Revisted – Evelyn Waugh
This one has been at the back of my mind for quite a few years. I admit, I have never previously read any of Evelyn Waugh’s books, but this one caught my eye. I have read The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim and wondered if this book would have any echoes. I am sure I will find out! My choice was probably influenced by a TV series in the 1980s. I bought my copy second-hand from The Ironbridge Book Shop which is a wonderful little gem. They stock pre-loved books and have an entire wall of Penguin Books. The shop is quite a gem and certainly worth a visit. I am planning a repeat visit myself in the near future.
A book recommended by someone with great taste
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
I asked the lovely Stephanie Matthews for a suggestion for this category and she came up with the above suggestion. She said the book is quite quirky but admittedly, I am often drawn to quirky books (and quirky things in general). This book is a best seller and a debut novel for Gail Honeyman, winning her the Costa First Novel Book Award 2017 and it was also a Sunday Times Debut Best Seller. I am looking forward to reading this one – I don’t own it yet, but it is on my wish list (and I have plenty to be getting stuck into in the meantime!
A book in translation
Thousand Cranes – Yasunari Kawabata
I sort of cheated slightly and bought this one on Kindle rather than as a hard copy. I do mix my reading between Kindle reading and also hard books. To me, the Kindle option reflects modern life and does mean I can easily read anything pretty much anywhere without anyone knowing what I am reading.
I have had a fascination with Japan and Japanese culture since my mid teens and often find myself drawn to books written either about Japan or by Japanese people. I have not read anything by this author before, so it did intrigue me. This is another one I am looking forward to reading.
A book of poetry, a play or an essay collection
Rupi Kaur – The Sun and Her Flowers
I rarely read poetry and admittedly have probably not read much of it since my A level days. My choice was inspired by one of my friends on Facebook who has been sharing extracts of Rupi Kaur’s poetry. Just reading these extracts has led me to want to read more. I bought this book new through Amazon from Globenet Books from whom I bought one of my other choices too. I have had a little flick through this book today and have read some of the poems inside and feel inspired to read more.
A book you can read in a day
A Pocket Full of Crows – Joanne Harris
I am a huge fan of Joanne Harris and when I heard this book was being published, I did order it on pre-order from Amazon as I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy The book was published in hardback by Gollancz and is rather lovely in its own right with the black cover, gold inlay in the cover and beautiful illustrations. I did read this very quickly when it first arrived and I do believe I could read it again in a day (with no interruptions, of course!) Joanne Harris has several different voices as a writer and for me, this one is written in a voice close to that of Runemarks and it reads like a folk tale. . The book I believe I pre-ordered this book on Amazon before it came out. I adore the various styles of Joanne Harris’ writing. The book itself is gorgeous, a black hardback book with gold inlay and beautiful illustrations by Bonnie Helen Hawkins. The tale tells of revenge, of old folks and new and weaves a modern folk/fairy tale.
A book that’s more than 500 pages
Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel.
*Smug Mode* I have now finished reading this book though it did take me quite some time – several months, on and off. At 650 pages this book is quite a beast of a paperback! I had this book sitting on my shelf for a while. I am not entirely sure where I bought it from – it may even have been a new impulse purchase from Waterstones. I thoroughly enjoyed the television programme on the BBC starring Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell which inspired me to want to read this book. The book follows Thomas Cromwell as he becomes advisor to Henry VIII. The style is an interesting one, almost like reportage. The reader is not Cromwell, but it feels as though the reader is following Cromwell in a way similar to a fly on the wall documentary camera man would. I did thoroughly enjoy this book and did find myself warming to Cromwell.
A Book by a Favourite Author
The Shepherd’s Crown – Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett’s books have been loved by me for a fair few years now. This book was his last one written before he very sadly died in March 2015. The central character of this book is Tiffany Aching, It includes a major character’s death and the changes that creates in the world of the Witches. Given its timing, it is a very poignant read. I have now re-read this one and it was a very quick read. I loved it as much as I did when I first read it.
A book recommended by a librarian or indie book seller
I have a gap here as I haven’t followed this one up yet – I feel a trip to The Ironbridge Book Shop coming on!
A banned book
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Attwood
I have read some controversial books in the past including Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. I investigated banned books, and came up with this choice, which I have been meaning to read for a while now. It has been on the banned list for a number of schools over the years due to its content, language and other matters. The book is a dystopian tale of the position of women in a fictionalised version of twenty-first century America . This was a new book bought through Amazon too.
A memoir, biography or book of creative non-fiction
Hidden Nature – A Voyage of Discovery – Alys Fowler
Alys Fowler has been a favourite gardener of mine and my husband’s for quite a few years now. She has been a presenter on Gardener’s World in the past and also writes a gardening column for The Observer on a Saturday. Her style of gardening is very naturally and organically and is also keen on foraging. Alys goes on a literal and personal journey when exploring the canals of Birmingham by inflatable kayak. I picked this one up from one of my favourite book shops, The Works. Gems of books can be found here, brand new, for a lot less than the initial published price.
A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity or religion than your own
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China – Jung Chang
I have read this one before and found it a very rich and enjoyable read. The tale follows three generations of the same family through Communist China and onwards. I have re-bought this book and found that it is the 25th anniversary edition.
Do you take part in any reading challenges? Have you set yourself a challenge? Let me know – I’d love to hear from you.