January began with the delights of Elizabeth von Arnim’s Elizabeth and her German Garden and the book jar offered up Dorothy L Sayers which led to me happily swooning over Lord Peter Wimsey… but it ended with three disappointing books in a row and slipping into a literature-less funk for a week. What a truly peculiar month of reading!
Everything from genetic archaeology to fiction about 1930s divorce laws, from World War Two nursing to a ludicrously unreliable narrator’s account of marital torment. I think it’s safe to say my reading was diverse this month though I didn’t finish much of the non-fiction I started for one reason or another.
The Read Books
1) Elizabeth von Arnim – Elizabeth and her German Garden (Fic) (1898)
2) A P Herbert – Holy Deadlock (Fic) (1934)
3) Monica Dickens – One Pair of Feet (Non-Fic) (1942)
4) Bryan Sykes – Blood of the Isles (Non-Fic) (2006)
5) Dorothy L Sayers – Whose Body? (Fic) (1923)
6) Martin Amis – The Rachel Papers (Fic) (1973)
7) Rudy Simone – Aspergirls (Non-Fic) (2010)
8) Ford Madox Ford – The Good Soldier (Fic) (1915)
9) Dorothy L Sayers – Clouds of Witness (Fic) (1926)
Books read: 9 /Books ‘Surfed': 11 / Books marked Did Not Finish: 0
Fiction: 6 / Non-Fiction: 3
Female authors: 5 / Male authors: 4 / Multiple authors: 0
January’s Highlights: Has to be my first experience of the Lord Peter Wimsey mystery series by Dorothy L Sayers. I was warned that Whose Body? wasn’t as good as later books in the series but it was a great introduction to some loveable characters and hooked me. Hurrah for the book jar offering Sayers up as my January choice. Blood of the Isles was a re-read from several years ago and I’ll be reviewing it soon as it’s a perfect example of a niche book that should find a wider audience, it’s the sort of book that sounds rather dry but you end up quoting chunks of to anyone in the same room… Oh and I should write about The Rachel Papers too as I’m counting it for my 20th Century of Books and loved the way it crackled along.
January’s Low Points: Unfortunately Dorothy L Sayers also provided my low point as well as my highlight – Clouds of Witness was so very disappointing it put me off reading for a week. Not on its own though, first there was Jules Pretty’s fascinating but very unevenly written account of walking around the East Anglia coast, The Luminous Coast, which kept sucking me in and then driving me away with good prose about wildlife or the 1953 floods followed by turgid lists of random people he’d met on the path for all of five minutes. After three evenings of trying to make headway with it I finally gave up. And in between the coastal expedition and the disappointing Sayers there was The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford which I found thoroughly implausible and stylistically unimpressive – but couldn’t put down even when the characters depressed me to the point of eating chocolate to recover from their antics. So yes, Sayers was not alone in causing the reading slump, Ford and Pretty played their parts too.
19th Century of Books – 1/100 (1 title added)
20th Century of Books – 5/100 (5 titles added)
Plans for February
I don’t really have any plans for this month, other than picking another book jar selection out and dipping into some of the cookbooks I’ve borrowed from the library to stave off the winter blues. I’m planning on concentrating on 19th century titles in March so in the cold, wet meantime I’m enjoying digging into the assortment of books closest to my bed…