Monday, 6 October 2014

The Year in Books :: October

I loved my Year in Books choice for September - The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I've read a lot of reviews that suggested it was too long and drawn out but it kept me gripped throughout. It tells the story of Theo Decker, who at the age of thirteen, escapes a major catastrophe that kills his mother and tears his life apart. I loved the theme that a single incident can totally alter the path our lives take. It is well written and the characters are absorbing and believable.
Although it wasn't a quick read... at over 850 pages it is a long book...  I still managed to finish it in a couple of weeks so was looking for something else and I'd remembered that I'd downloaded Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty to my Kindle. I thought it was brilliant! It's a psychological thriller full of adultery, sex and murder, combined with a courtroom drama that twisted and turned constantly... and I couldn't put it down. Anyone read anything else by this author?

Next I thought I'd get ahead of myself and read the village book club choice for this month - Oryx and Crake by Margaret Attwood. This one I hated! It tells of a post apocalyptic world that was just too depressing and plausible for words. I felt no empathy for the main protagonist Jimmy or Snowman and just felt utterly miserable the whole time I was reading it. In fact I'm surprised that I even finished it... but I did, so at least I can report back when the book club meet next week! It will be interesting to see what everyone else thought. There seems to be enough misery in the world without reading fictional accounts of how bad it really could be.

I then picked up one of those self help books that promises to change your life forever! The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. For most of my adult life I've hung onto the belief that if only I could de-clutter properly, get rid of the junk, clear some space then life would be so much easier. If only... and I'm not the only one, am I!

Although this book does have some pretty weird ideas... like talking to your possesions... there is still a lot  that makes sense. The basic idea is that you discard anything that does not bring joy to your life... some really major throwing out is called for. The author has her own method for going about this and claims it needs to be done in the right order and in one fell swoop... which in the case of the average size house should take about six months. She claims that most "decluttering ideas" bring only a temporary solution... sounds a bit like most diets really... and what is called for is a change of life style. As you can see the major declutter I did over the summer in my studio was indeed only temporary and already my desk is buried so I'm willing to give it a try. I've already cleared two big bags for the charity shop but I'll report back in six months!

So now I've to choose another book for The Year in Books for October and my choice this month is Longbourn by Jo Baker (another village book club choice) which tells the story of Pride and Prejudice from the servants' viewpoint.

I did think I might reread Pride and Prejudice again first just to refresh my memory... but on second thoughts I might just look out that BBC adaptation which suddenly seems infinitely preferable...

Have you read anything good lately?
Joining in the Year in Books with Laura at Circle of Pine Trees.


  1. I can't think why you would find the BBC adaptation preferable Gina!!!!
    That sounds like an interesting collection of books but how on earth do you find time to read on top of all the other things you do?

  2. They all sound interesting books - I've done a lot more reading recently due to my torn tendon in my elbow but I'd much rather be knitting again!

  3. okay, the tidying thing. I followed the link but she lost me at throwing out spare buttons. ;-)
    I have just made several blouses and one of them has a variety of purple and mauve buttons all with words - not one alike. It works better than if I had been able to find enough of one colour. So, yeah, I buy packs of random buttons as well.
    But then I can see the point. I think I am okay with most things but I do better when I attack a drawer now and then and get rid of stuff in it so I can put things in that are more useful to me at present.
    Sandy in Bracknell
    which is to say, thanks for mentioning the tidy book...a bit more incentive for this week when I am between projects.

  4. Ooh, I need to seriously address the clutter issue so I will await your progress report! Personally, I find Matthew Macfadyen to be equally watchable - the agony of choice. Never mind the book :)

  5. I have the goldfinch on my shelf, but I keep skirting around it and reading other things, or nothing at all instead! One day I will get there. xx

  6. OOOH that's given me a few new books for the wish list! I took a few on my recent seaside holiday to read but with the shockingly lovely weather It was all spent walking/shopping/eating rather than any quiet reading days (not that I'm complaining!) so I need to get cracking!!

  7. I too have The Goldfinch downloaded and ready to read. Am I being optimistic thinking I could read it in a week while I'm on holiday?
    As for de-clutter, sorting through my dads things has made me more aware of the 'junk' I need to get rid of. A job for the winter months I think.

  8. Good luck with Longbourn - in our family we watch our way through the Colin Firth P&P about once a year as a special treat - me, two teenage daughters and the Other Half, oh yes, he might not be your obvious romantic, but P&P certainly brings out his inner softie!

  9. Funny, such different tastes! Goldfinch really irritated me - the exasperating and unbelievable idiocy of Theo.
    But Attwood's trilogy, starting with Oryx and Crake, is the best thing I've EVER read. I re-read the first two before getting MaddAddam this summer, so it was all fresh. I found it incredibly clever and imaginative, exciting, thought provoking and very often really funny.

  10. A wise decision to watch Pride and Prejudice on screen, I think! ;-)

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about these latest reads. I think I'll be trying out Apple Tree Yard as I've just finished the third of the Cazalet Chronicles (excellent) and need a little change before attacking the fourth and last.


  11. Broken Harbour by Tana French- another psychological thriller - kept me on edge and reading all night. Brilliant writer. Thanks for the link to Apple Tree Yard, sounds ideal for long long plane trip next week!
    PS Maybe this is heresy, but CF was just not my idea of Mr D, and the lake scene was just plain daft. I'd really love to see the excellent 1980 version again.

  12. Haha -- Colin is definitely preferable LOL. So sad about the Margaret Atwood book -- I love some of her older books. And I'll be reading about your de-cluttering with interest. I SO need to do that and I just don't know where to start!

  13. Ooh very keen on The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying! Have been thinking for several months that flat needs a big declutter. There just seem to be too many things. And can post you Pride & Prejudice DVD if you like! xx

  14. Ooops that was supposed to read 'I can post you the DVD'--obviously typing too early in the morning! xx

  15. Here's a bit of book report from me.

    I could not bear The Goldfinch. The author's description of The Met and upper Fifth Ave in the book's early pages was far, far from accurate, as was its description of what this city is like after a disaster. And so, I returned Goldfinch to the library.

    Apple Tree Yard was a clever book, a bit like Gone Girl (hoping that's not a spoiler for anyone.)

    I'm now luxuriating in David Mitchell's newest, The Bone Clocks. His writing continues to astound me.

    Some de-cluttering definitely required around my apartment. xo

  16. De-cluttering? The main thing that needs de-something-or-other around here is my pile of books to read. I keep adding to it but not making much of an inroad into it! I have read mixed reviews about The Goldfinch so have steered clear of it, yet her Secret History, is one of the best books I've ever read, so can't reason why I feel like that. I've just finished The Atlas of Remote Islands which was a delight and I realise I am currently in non fiction and poetry mode. It goes like that with me. I'll put Louise Doughty on my library list to get back into a good old page turner with a twist.

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  18. Shows you how everyones taste in books can really vary like chocolate frog I loved Oryx and Crake and the whole trilogy but I agree it is plausible.

    Decluttering is about how you live and is definitely a life style although I loathe that expression. Good luck with the decluttering!

    Visiting from The Year in Books.

  19. I need to read that decluttering book - although I have made a start - I had EVERYTHING out of my wardrobe this afternoon, and now have three bags for the charity shop.
    As for reading, I am trying to clear some space on my bookshelves, which means for some unfathomable reason, I am reading rubbish books, just to get rid of them. Why don't I just throw them out?!?!?

  20. I am not familiar with Louise Doughty but you sell it well, it is going in my wish list. I like a bit of drama, suspense and adultery, at least in a book. I have The Blind Assassin on my pile, which will be my first Atwood book. Is it the post apocalyptic theme you don't like rather than the author? I just put away such a book by Nick Harkaway. I liked his Angelmaker but the other ones (title is buried in my brain) is not my thing. It is the post apocalyptic world that puts me off. Cx

  21. I'm definitely with you on Oryx and Crake, I found it far too depressing although I forced myself to finish it. I love Pride and Prejudice but can't resist re-visiting the Colin Firth version every so often.


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