Alex In Leeds

(Book Reviews and Adventures…)

Reading Review: January 2014

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Journal by Curt Fleenor Photography

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!

January’s Books

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.

Reading Challenges

19th Century of Books

19th Century of Books – 1/100 (1 title added)

20th Century of Books

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…

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Author: Alex in Leeds

Book reviewer, blogger, photographer and adventuress who completed 101 goals in 1001 days. I can be found on Twitter as @AlexInLeeds.

5 thoughts on “Reading Review: January 2014

  1. Sorry you didn’t like Clouds of Witness, but *do* perservere with the Wimseys – they get better as they go on and everyone should read Gaudy Night! As for the rest – you do appear to have had a mixed reading month!

  2. Strong Poison! Strong Poison! (the book, I mean, not a culinary suggestion because you didn’t like The Good Soldier – I found it impossible at the start and then… ‘click!’ But I do think it was harder work than I would normally seek for myself. I am so shallow.). Anyway, Strong Poison…

  3. Hm, this post might make me reconsider putting The Good Soldier onto my classics club list to read

  4. Hello Alex – just dropping by to say that I’ve been missing your posts and I hope everything’s OK.

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