My New Year's Resolution this year was to read more books... and part of the challenge I set myself was to blog about my progress, so here we are!
January turned out to be one of those super-busy months where I was juggling so many things that it would have been incredibly easy to not make time for reading. I still would have wasted time on social media of course (falling down a rabbit hole of interesting links and seemingly endless news) and crashed out in front of a DVD in the evenings, but I'd have said "Oh, I've been too busy to read!" and let the book on my bedside sit neglected.
But first month into my new challenge I was determined to make time for books, even if it felt at times as though I had none to spare.
So far, I have been completely failing to read first thing in the morning. I confess: the call of the internet (and so! many! bits! of! news!) has just been too strong. I must try harder to resist this in the coming months.
I've been reading occasionally at lunch but I've mostly been reading in the evenings, either in bed or just curled up with a blanket. This is where having just moved house has helped me out: my television is still in a box, under lots of other boxes and likely to stay there for a while.
OK so I still have a few DVDs I can watch (the rest are, again, in boxes under boxes) and I can stream catch-up TV on my laptop now my broadband is working... but it's not the same as just being able to sit down in front of the telly and find endless things to watch to while away the evening. Similarly, most of my personal craft projects are packed up in boxes too. So instead of spending my evenings knitting or sewing while watching TV, I've been writing letters to friends (another old and neglected habit) and reading books (though, of course, not at the same time!).
Basically, I'm pleased to have found time to read this month but very aware how easy it would be to slip back into my old habits.
So, what did I actually read in January?
At the turn of the year I was part way through Making Money by Terry Pratchett. I've been slowly re-reading the whole Discworld series over the past couple of years, mostly on trains and in cafes while on Nice Days Out. This is a series I've been reading since I was about 11 (over 20 years ago) and not yet had enough of. It's been a joy revisiting both well-worn old favourites and the titles I've only read once or twice. It's also interesting actually reading all the books in order as for many years I only bought the ones I found second hand, filling in the gaps in my collection when the opportunites presented themselves.
Now I'm getting to the later books in the series I find myself wanting to ration them, to make the process last as long as possible before I get to the end (I am saving the Tiffany Aching books until last but have no intention of ever reading the final one as I think it would just make me too sad). This is impossible to do while actually reading the books, of course, they're such a delight to read.
This was only my second read of Making Money. I'd forgotten most of the plot (always a bonus when it comes to re-reading a book) and really enjoyed rediscovering all the twists and turns of Moist von Lipwig's second adventure in the world of business. It can't touch Going Postal (one of my all time faves) but more time spent with one of your favourite fictional characters is always a good thing. All in all, a perfect start to the year - though sadly I shall have to be honest and count it as just half a book in my tally of books read in 2017!
Next up: The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay.
I bought myself a whole stack of British Library Crime Classics last year, after falling in love with the beautiful illustrations on the covers. I read a few but they were a real mixed bag: one quite fun, one a bit weird and one a total snooze. It's possible I may end up liking the covers of these books more than the books themselves, but I'm determined to work my way through the rest of the ones on my bookshelf to find out for sure.
I'm very glad I started with The Santa Klaus Murder as I really enjoyed it! It's exactly what you want from a vintage murder mystery: a whole bunch of posh people in a house, a baffling murder, a likeable detective on the case, and lots of amusingly dated dialogue. Hurrah!
Full of renewed enthusiasm for the series, I picked up another one from the pile: The Z Murders by J. Jefferson Farjeon.
This was a very different kettle of fish: a particularly florid thriller in the style of the (excellent) Thirty-Nine Steps. There was not a single believable character, incident or piece of dialogue in the whole of this book and the entire plot was utterly ridiculous... but it was kinda fun? I think if you read this slowly it might drive you bananas but I zipped through it in a couple of sittings and rather enjoyed it (regular eye-rolls included).
In the comments to my New Years Resolution blog post someone mentioned Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache novels. I've been meaning to try these for ages, so when I joined the local library the first thing I did was check their catalogue for Louise Penny's books. Happily, they had the first two titles in the series: Still Life and Dead Cold.
I love a nice cosy mystery novel, and these definitely fall into that category: a charming detective, a small village in Quebec populated by quirky characters, and lots of loving attention to the details of village life.
I enjoyed Still Life but having seen the made-for-TV movie adaptation a while back I remembered the main threads of the plot and whodunnit, which was a little annoying. Reading the book was a far richer experience though, especially as the author often switches points of view mid-scene so you get internal monologues and feelings and reactions from multiple characters not just a plain narrative with one point of view. I'm not sure I've ever read a book that dips in and out of the different characters brains quite like this, it's interesting but sometimes makes it a little tricky to follow exactly which voice you're reading.
My mum ended up borrowing Still Life after I'd read it. She came to visit and finished her own book, so we had a Louise Penny reading session - her reading Still Life and me making a start on Dead Cold. The murder in Still Life is committed with a bow and arrow, and as my mother is an archer she had opinions about the archery in the book and the correctness (or otherwise) of various details!
As I'm still midway through Dead Cold I'll chat about it in next month's post. That's another half a book to add to January's tally though, hurrah.
Books read in January: 4 (3 books, plus half a book finished and half a book started!). Not bad.
What did you read in January? Have you read any of the books I've been reading - what did you think of them?
Please note: the Amazon links in this post are affilliate links, so if you click through and end up buying something (anything!) on Amazon during that session I get a very small payment for the referral.