Posts tagged The Year in Books
The Year in Books: April

Last month's choice - The Old Ways - has been truly enlightening. Although I've read a number of creative non-fiction books over the past year or so, Robert Macfarlane's prose seems so effortless whilst at the same time carefully crafted that he's shot up to be one of my favourite authors. You can pick up the book at any chapter and be ensconced in an exploratory world filled with lyrical descriptions of nature, and while I haven't quite finished the final section, I know that whatever journey it details will be one of passion and adventure. My favourite of his journeys details the 'deadliest path in Britain' on the east coast; when you read you are there with him, venturing out in the misty morning, not knowing what you will find.

I picked up Meadowland for April's reading when I visited the Peak District earlier in the month. It was actually in the Chatsworth gift shop (these places always have the best books for sale!). Promising a unique account of an English meadow throughout the months, it seems a fitting choice to follow on from The Old Ways. Any book that follows a journey through the months of the year (just like A Year in the Woods) appeals to my way of life, and I am looking forward to reading about the nuances of seasonal change over the next few weeks.

Whilst I love fiction, it is these stories of life, the natural world and the countryside that have hooked my interest recently, and keeping this month's choice company in my reading pile are a number of magazines and countryside-themed reference books. I'm interested - do you read non-fiction as much as or more than fiction? Which do you prefer? As always, head over to Circle of Pine Trees for more inspiration and to share your choice for the year in books.

The Year in Books: March

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The intermittent reading of poems is such a pleasure over the course of a month. I haven't read all of the poems from my February choice of the Virago Book of Love Poetry, but those that I have read have provided much needed creative inspiration and time for reflection on what is important in life; namely, love. Mr CC and I don't get to spend much time together, but we try and make the most of what time we have. This week we took Bella for a walk and laughed the whole way as we watched her scamper and frolic in the fields and it felt so joyous that I didn't want to return back home.

I had already read a number of the poems before, but nevertheless it was pleasant to peruse a few classics and some more modern selections. Despite a vast number of poems and many favourites among the bunch, I doubt it will be a book I reach for in the near future; rather a reference book should I ever feel the desire to read a love poem, or perhaps to utilise when we are choosing the readings for our wedding ceremony.

For the month ahead I'll be trying something a little more countryside-focused: The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane. Following ancient tracks, holloways, drove-roads and sea paths, Macfarlane explores the stories of these tracks, the people and places associated with them and the landscapes which they inhabit. Professing to bring togther 'natural history, cartography, geology, archaeology and literature', it promises an adventurous journey and 'nourishment for the mind.' A hefty tome, it presents as the perfect choice with which to begin the Spring segment of my year in books journey, with positive energy and a renewed focus on the natural world.

What have you been reading this month? Any recommendations? As always, head over to Circle of Pine Trees for more inspiration and to share your choice for the year in books.

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The Year in Books: February

Last month's read (The Miniaturistwas a strange one; I didn't love it, but I liked it a lot, and couldn't  put my finger on what it was that prevented me from loving it. It might have been the ending that seemed to lack closure, or it might have been the lack of focus on the title character, the miniaturist. Either way, the writing was crafted so cleverly and the central characters were so intriguing that the thrill of exploring seventeenth century Amsterdam was enough to warrant an overall positive response. In fact, I think it might be the sort of book that I'd enjoy just as much if I read it a second time, perhaps revealing hidden interpretations that I was quick to dismiss on the first read.

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This month I'm running with the theme of romance (I'm ignoring the fact that Valentine's Day was a week ago...) and have decided to make my way through The Virago Book of Love Poetry. I've always loved poetry; my creative writing dissertation at university ended up consisting entirely of poems, and I loved creating something in a small space that allowed for an intense use of language that isn't always appropriate in prose. I am also pleased to select a book from Virago Press, the international publisher of books by women. Publishing authors such as Maya Angelou, Margaret Attwood and Sarah Waters, I feel in good hands when I pick up a book from this publishing house. Incidentally, a virago is often considered a courageous, confident woman of strength and spirit; something to aspire to this month as well, perhaps?

What are you planning to read this month? As always, for more recommendations or to take part in The Year in Books, head over to the link-up at Circle of Pine Trees.

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The Year in Books: January

Joining in with Laura's The Year in Books last year was really one of the highlights of my blogging journey thus far. I have always devoured books with a passion, but when I started my new job a couple of years ago I found that reading quickly fell to the bottom of the pile of priorities that never seemed to get any smaller. Selecting one book to read over the month has pushed me to find time for reading whenever I can: snatched moments before the sun rises; relaxing for longer than perhaps I should with a book in the bath; sprawled on the sofa in front of a roaring fire. As a result, I managed to read slightly more books over the year than the aim of twelve, so this year I'm continuing. Alongside I'll be reading books for a book club I am becoming involved with; sometimes the books will be the same (like this month) but sometimes I'll be trying to get through two.

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This month I'm reading The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. As it has received rave reviews from both critics and friends alike, I'm looking forward to delving into the world of seventeenth century Amsterdam and the curious characters that the book seems to contain. The blurb promises tiny creations, secrets of a new household, and an elusive miniaturist who seems to hold the fate of others in her hands so I have high hopes. Perhaps it might even beat my favourite from last year - Burial Rites - which really did blow every other choice out of the water.

As always, for more recommendations or to take part in The Year in Books, head over to the link-up at Circle of Pine Trees and while you’re there, catch up on the other lovely posts written by Laura.

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The Year in Books: November

Good morning, and welcome to the week! It's time for another Year in Books post, and at this time of year I revel in devouring a few pages before bed each night in the cosiness of our cottage while the elements whirl wildly outside. If you read October's post, you'll have seen that last month I was making my way through The Dog Whisperer by Jan Fennell. Not only fascinating for dog owners, but also those interested in animals more generally, it made for an informative read and we've been using tips and advice for training Bella. The general idea is to praise the good and ignore the bad, and although this hasn't proved easy (after the clocks went back she decided 4.15am was a sensible time to wake up and seize the day), we have persevered and for only fifteen weeks old she isn't getting on too badly.

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For the month ahead and into December I'm throwing myself wholeheartedly into the season and have selected a suitably wintery tale - Kate Mosse's The Winter Ghosts. I've never read a novel by Mosse before, despite her critical acclaim, and I'm looking forward to enjoying it curled up in front of the fire with a mug of hot chocolate. Have any of you read this one before?

On the topic of hot chocolate, I'm making it my mission this week to try out as many different recipes as I can fit in. We visited Bruges a few years ago and nothing has ever compared since (although the Whittard version pictured comes pretty close) so I'll be grating chocolate, adding spices and experimenting to find the most delicious accompaniment to my book. If you have any hot chocolate tips, please do let me know!

As always, for more recommendations or to take part in The Year in Books, head over to the link-up at Circle of Pine Trees and while you’re there, catch up on the other lovely posts written by Laura.

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The Year in Books: October

I'm more than a bit disappointed that I missed September's Year in Books, but I'm back just in time for October! Over the last month (and a bit) I've read Colin Elford's A Year in the Woods: A Diary of a Forest Ranger and it was one of the easiest books I've devoured recently. Not only did it appeal to me to read specifically at this time of year (large proportions of the book describe windswept, rainy days trudging through the forest, or crisp snowy mornings trying to spot the deer), it also was very different to other books I have read in that you can tell it is written by a man passionate about the woods, rather than writing. This did not make it any less enjoyable - the writing was in fact wonderful - but it was his passion for his environment and livelihood that were so endearing, and made me wonder how many of us feel this way about our daily lives.

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The book I've just started to read and will continue to do so over the rest of this month is The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell. Those of you who read my last post will recall we have just got a new puppy, and even as I write this she is sat at my feet trying to engage my attention and distract my best efforts to get on with life. In fact I have just resisted and am now sat on the floor with her nose nestled into the crook of my arm. So far our attempts to train have gone fairly well, mainly I believe because we have followed Fennell's advice to ignore the bad behaviour and praise the good. Although not a concept all dog owners will be familiar will, the book I am sure will be an interesting read for anyone with a new puppy or indeed an unruly dog.

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On a side note, we have finally sorted the garden out and prepared everything most things for winter. The grass has been strimmed, the patio weeded and most of the veg beds have been laid to rest. Many gardeners and allomenteers dislike this time of year as everything comes to a close and life seemingly seeps from the land as the days draw ever shorter, but I find pleasure in knowing that the earth only lies asleep, dormant in anticipation of the new year and new life.

What have you been reading this month? Have you put your garden and/or veg patch to sleep yet?

As always, for more recommendations or to take part in The Year in Books, head over to the link-up at Circle of Pine Trees and while you’re there, catch up on the other lovely posts written by Laura.

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The Year in Books: August
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Perching on the edge of a camping stool, curled up next to the log burner in a tipi, snatched early morning moments amongst the dew; finding time to read this month has been relatively easy, and I have devoured a number of books as a result. I might have mentioned previously that I've been reading in preparation for a new book club with friends and I've just finished Khaled Hosseini's And The Mountains Echoed as the first book we've chosen. My opinions changed over the course of reading this, and it was one of those books that you can't quite work out until you get to the end and then every loop joins together and you have a moment to reflect and think, yes, that was an intense but incredible read.

I've also made my way through A Croft in the Hills - the fascinating tale of Katharine Stewart's life in the Scottish hills and her family's attempts to live self-sufficiently. Her simple yet evocative descriptions of the area made me want to up sticks and move north of the border - although perhaps not in the winter months without running water or electricity, as she first experienced.

Finally I've been reading last month's choice for The Year in Books - Shatter Me With Dawn (Sally Russell) - and although I found it somewhat less accessible than A Croft in the Hills, it was nevertheless an eye-opening read filled with country life with a strong focus on the animals Russell kept on her farm.

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For this month's choice I've selected a book on a similar theme - A Year in the Woods: A Diary of a Forest Ranger by Colin Elford. I will be throwing my tweed blanket over my toes and sipping hot cinnamon tea whilst reading as the cusp of autumn arrives.

What have you been reading this month? As always, for more recommendations or to take part in The Year in Books, head over to the link-up at Circle of Pine Trees and while you're there, catch up on the other lovely posts written by Laura.

Here's hoping you have a wonderful Tuesday.

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The Year in Books: July

If I'm honest, I wasn't sure I was going to beat June's The Year in Books reviewBurial Rites was spectacular and I was wary of reading another book lest it be a complete let-down, but Joanne Harris' collection of short stories - A Cat, a Hat and a Piece of String - really stepped up to the mark.

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The stories are woven around themes that drift through the book as an underlying presence; the idea that Christmas stays all year round, for example, or that two feisty ladies in a nursing home can run rings around the staff, and more poignantly why they are forced to. The characters are lively and interesting and you really feel yourself rooting for some of them, despite the fact you meet them for only a few pages. The writing is humorous, saddening, even outrageous at times. But more than anything, the selling point of this book is the vast variety of short stories housed within its pages; I have read numerous collections of short stories but this one was different in that you could select a story to read depending on your mood or the time of year, and there would also be one that would fit. This, for me, is what reading is all about, and I will definitely be delving back into these stories again.

July's choice is something I picked up a while ago on a whim and I'm still not entirely sure what to expect, but I wanted to give something a little bit different a try. Shatter Me With Dawn by Sally Russell focuses on a celebration of country life in Georgia and revisits her years in a remote farm. I've not read much about the American countryside, so I'm looking forward to discovering what it's like over the pond.

Have you got any recommendations that you'd like to share that also focus on country life?

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The Year in Books: May
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Last month I delved through the delights of ‘The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite’ by Beatrice Colin; it was truly a spectacle.  The interweaving plots and moments in time are joined brilliantly by Colin's writing style which is laced with memorable characters and settings.

yearinbooksmay2Set predominantly in Berlin and spanning World War I and beyond, the protagonist Lilly (or Lidi as she is later known) experiences pain and strife before finding her big break, although all is still not as it seems.  The novel highlights the horrific war years but from a perspective I have not previously considered.  Each chapter also opens with a cinematic twist; this structures the book, although in my opinion is not entirely necessary.

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This month I have chosen to read 'Burial Rites' by Hannah Kent, recommended by the simply lovely Forum Books in Corbridge when I was on holiday last month. It is set in Northern Iceland in 1829 and tells of the life of Agnes, accused of murdering her lover.  The blurb compares this new author to Margaret Atwood, and if that comparison is anything to go by, I am certain this will be a book not to be missed.  Have you read it yet?

As always, check out Circle of Pine Trees for more information about The Year in Books or for some more great recommendations.  Happy reading!

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The Year in Books: April
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theyearinbooksaprilLast month I read Hemingway's 'A Moveable Feast' and what a feast it was.  As previously mentioned, Paris is one of my favourite cities in the world; I love the winding back-streets, the elegant architecture and the patisseries.  Especially the patisseries.  Hemingway captured his Paris perfectly; the Paris of Fitzgerald and Joyce, struggling to make ends meet but happy nonetheless, parties of Gertrude Stein and copious amounts of wine.  I finished wishing it could go on another hundred pages, already planning my next trip to the city.

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I have also started to read Alistair Horne's 'Seven Ages of Paris' in response to this month's choice, although I feel as though it will be a dip-in-and-out-of book, and as such I have chosen a different book, a novel, for next month.

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'The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite' is not a new book (it was published in 2009) however it is one that has been lost at the back of my bookshelf, and as such has been overlooked.  I was recommended to read it by a family member who thoroughly enjoyed the crafting of character and emotional storyline.  Do let me know if you have read this one before!

As always, check out Circle of Pine Trees for more information about The Year in Books or for some more great recommendations.  Happy reading!

CC

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The Year in Books: March
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Mr CC got me this book as a stocking gift for Christmas.  I think he saw the title and thought it would be appropriate for our first Christmas as a newly-engaged couple, but he'd also done his research and thought I'd enjoy the different cultural perspectives the book offers.  He was right (as usual with his book choices).  The book did not only provide a different angle on marriage, it also made me consider how different our life values might be if we had simply been born elsewhere.  The protagonist's move from Bangladesh to marry an American man she met online, and her subsequent attempts to fit in with her new surroundings are thought-provoking and at times humorous.  However, it is the struggle of her parents to escape the life they have always know that forms the backbone of the story.

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This project has forced me to make time for reading; a hobby that sadly gets neglected when life gets in the way, but one that brings me great happiness when I actually get round to it.  So for next month I'm going to tackle another.  This book is one I bought in the best bookshop in the world - Shakespeare & Company in Paris (right opposite the Notre Dame if you are interested) - in 2010 and it has lingered on my bookshelf ever since, hiding away behind more recent purchases.  But no longer!

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The book I've chosen is Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast.  Being set in Paris, I'm sure it will alight my passions for the city once again, and let's face it, anything with the word 'feast' in the title has got to be worth a read.

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Check out Circle of Pine Trees for more information about The Year in Books or for some more great recommendations.  Happy reading!

CC

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