Tag Archives: reading

2018 Reading Goals

Well look what I found languishing in my drafts folder! My reading goals that I thought about and typed up and never posted. So here goes! and because it’s actually already March, I already know I’m not doing so well on some of these. But here they are as written at the very start of the year:

My 2018 goals can be summed up by:

Read what I want. Read diversely.

To expand on this a little bit:

  • Don’t try to plan too far ahead and embrace reading what I feel like reading. So no restrictive reading lists. They don’t work for me. This means I need to be careful with requesting NetGalley books. I try to make sure there’s a good amount of time between dates the books are published, and I must make sure I really want to read it. It’s also helpful to have quite a long time between requesting  book and the date it’s published so I don’t feel pressured to read it when I don’t really feel like it.


  • Read diversely. By this I mean read men and women,. Read books written by LGBTQ+ authors, and books with LGBTQ+ characters. Read books by BAME authors. Read books written by authors from different parts of the world. Read more translations. Read more genres. I’m hoping the PopSugar challenge lists will help with some of these goals.


  • Read at least 75 books. I read 65 this year. I think I can do better.


  • Read books I already own and try not to buy more (though inevitably I will, I will just try and minimise it). Here are the scary stats:
    • unread books on my shelves today( I know this will be too low because a load of my books are still hidden away waiting to go on my shelves after decorating. They are mostly reference books, but there’s bound to be some fiction hidden in there) : 201
    • unread kindle books: 178
    • unlistened to audio books: 11
    • total TBR: 390
  • yes that is an obscene amount of books.


  • Read at least one book that’s over 1000 pages. 2666 by Roberto Bolano has been on my bookshelves unread for about ten years. Maybe this year is its year.


  • Read some authors I have wanted to read for ages, but haven’t got round to. This could be so many! Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Roberto Bolano, Virginia Woolf, any Bronte.. and so many more.


  • Read the Iliad. This is primarily to start helping me with answering quiz questions in an online quiz league I’m in. 😀


  • Not strictly a book reading goal, but a related one. I’ve signed up to do a short introductory course in creative writing. I’ve never done anything like this since secondary school – I’ve been all maths and physics in my education after school!


That’s all I can think of right now. Think I can manage all of these in 2018!



Books Bought and Read – February 2018

Still managing to not go too mental with buying books, and managing to read more. Phew!

Books Bought

Not for me, but I bought Inferior by Angela Saini and Hope In The Dark by Rebecca Solnit as gifts for a friend because I love these books with all my heart. 🙂



A Woman’s Work – Harriet Harman. 99p kindle deals strike again.

I also picked up a copy of The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver for a pound in a second hand book sale!



Books Read

Click  each title for a link to the review

On Tyranny: 20 Lessons From the Twentieth Century – Timothy Snyder

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

The Book of Joan – Lidia Yuknavitch

Frankenstein in Baghdad – Ahmed Saadawi



My 2017 Reading in Statistics

This is my review of my reading year. I’ve loved keeping this blog to help me with reading more and tracking what I’ve read. I’ve read 65 books this year, compared to 20 in 2016, and 19 in 2015 (so glad for the goodreads challenge to help me keep count!). I’m delighted to be back reading regularly after many years of feeling like I wanted to read more, but just not fitting it in. I have been regularly blogging this year, but didn’t create my blog last January. I had done the odd book review before this – twelve in total form 2015 and 2016.

The Books






How have I managed to read so much more?

Several things have helped. The first, and probably most important, is I am no longer in a job that requires me to work most evenings and some of the weekends. I changed jobs to one where I have an amazing amount of work-life balance compared to the eight years before. I also watch much less TV, sometimes spending a few hours in the evening reading instead. Finally, my children are slowly getting better at sleeping and I’m less completely knackered all the time!

The Statistics



I’m more than happy with the amount of non fiction I have read this year.


I’m equally happy with the gender split of authors I’ve read this year.


Here is somewhere I could definitely do better on. I need to prioritise reading more BAME authors.

Nationality of Author


It’s very clear that I mostly read British or American authors. It’s embarrassing how there’s no South American or African authors, and only a few from the entire of Asia. Definitely something I need to do better on next year.


Very happy with this. I’ve been discovering lots of authors this year, and have read a lot I just hadn’t got round to yet!


Sorting my books into genre was very difficult! I had to put a few categories together or I was going to end up with a lot of genres with just one entry and the pie chart would have been a complete mess! I already knew I had read a lot of literary fiction. I’ve probably put quite a few books in this section that shouldn’t strictly be there. I’m happy with the amount of other types of books I’ve read.

My top book reviews of 2017

Click the text to go to the review.

  1. The Power – Naomi Alderman IMG_6128
  2. Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor 33283659
  3. Nasty Women – 404Ink 41aalgyb8hl-_sx317_bo1204203200_
  4. Inferior – Angela Saini saini-inferior
  5. Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain 17204619
  6. Me Before You – Jojo Moyes me-before-you
  7. American Gods – Neil Gaiman american gods
  8. The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead IMG_7025
  9. Ad Astra: An Illustrated Guide to Leaving the Planet – Dallas Campbell AdAstra1
  10. The Girl On the Train – Paula Hawkins girl-on-the-train

Most of this top ten is not a surprise. Many are my favourite books of the year and also ones that I’ve felt have had a bit of a buzz around them that I have read quite soon after they came out (Inferior and Nasty Women are two examples).  Some won big awards (The Power and The Underground Railroad) and so people were generally interested in them. There’s a couple of the big bestselling type of books here (The Girl on the Train and Me Without You), and a few that I think my friends would be particularly interested in (Quiet, American Gods, and Ad Astra – science geeks yo). More cringingly, the second most popular review of the year is a book I really did not get on with very well. I write honest reviews, but I am very careful writing negative ones. I didn’t hold back much on this one for a few reasons: it’s a hugely popular author and my small opinion will not even register on anyone’s radar, plus generally the literary community bloody loved it.

But none of those are the most popular post of 2017, in fact one post got 14 times more views than the most popular book review… 

My Review of Rebellion Punk Festival


My review of this music festival got an incredible number of views in the week after I wrote it. I did a very short analysis of the gender makeup of the bands and their order of billing. I describe how I set out to support the female artists and musicians over the weekend, and also the BAME musicians (of which there were only a handful out of hundreds of performers). This post got shared amongst some (thankfully private) facebook groups and some people found it erm… not to their taste shall we say. I had some of the comments reported back to me, and lets just say I’m glad I couldn’t read them. They weren’t very nice. I saw some incredible bands over the weekend and will do exactly the same sort of analysis next time I go, because that’s what I enjoy doing!

Looking forward to 2018

Next year I want to read more. I want to make sure I read more BAME authors and also more authors from around the world – I will have to include lots of translations to make sure I do this. There are no graphic novels, horror (eeek!), or poetry in this years book – need to sort that out! No romance? I’m not keen, but I’ll have to give some a go. Any recommendations?

Thanks for reading!

My Top Politics and Feminism Reads for 2017

Having looked at all the non-fiction I’ve read this year, I’ve decided to split them up into science, politics and feminism, and biography and memoir, otherwise I would have a really long blog post summing it all up! I can’t quite believe I’ve managed to read 22 non-fiction books this year! and there’s still a few weeks left… what if I read another incredible book before January?

These are my favourite non-fiction politics and feminism reads for the year, out of the ones I have read this year, not that they were necessarily published this year. I can’t believe I thought I didn’t like books about politics before this year… how very wrong I was! Click on the images to go to my longer reviews.



Hope In The Dark – Rebecca Solnit

I came to this after hearing it mentioned on the Bookshambles podcast many, many times by Josie Long (this is also why I now have the first Elena Ferrante book on my shelves waiting to be read!). I loved reading this this book with every fibre of my being.

It’s under 150 pages and is a collection of essays on the role of hope in politics, environmental issues, and social problems. The dark is the unknowable future. It’s about how small acts of activism can have huge consequences. It’s about how hope is what’s needed to be an activist. There are examples of all of these things in Hope in the Dark.

Hope in the Dark was written in the aftermath of the re-election of Bush as President of the USA in 2004. I read a version updated to 2016 with a few extra essays about the intervening years. It inspired me to become more politically active – even in small ways – because that can make a difference. While it’s easy to feel like the world is falling apart around us – politically, socially, and environmentally – rather than stepping back and feeling despair and hopelessness (because that shit will get nothing done), we all need to feel hope and take steps to change the future to help change these things. I feel like I can do that after reading Hope in the Dark.


What Happened – Hillary Rodham Clinton

17 hours of Hillary Rodham Clinton reading her book to me (audiobook!) and I feel sadness at what american voters did last year, I feel like I understand the issues much better than I did before reading this. I know much more about her Clinton’s whole career and the chapters on feminism are excellent. I cried several times during this audiobook, I was so moved by how she talks about the loss of the election and compares it to personal grief, but I left this book feeling hopeful, and empowered.


The Good Immigrant – ed. by Nikesh Shukla

I wasn’t sure where to put The Good Immigrant in my crude categorisation of all non-fiction books, but I decided on politics because immigration is political. Brexit is political and has negatively impacted of the lives of BAME people in the UK. So here it is, in the politics category.

The Good Immigrant is 21 essays by BAME writers living in the UK. The stories deal with many themes, often about how feeling ‘other’ is rubbish, and stories about racism, but there’s also plenty celebrating positive aspects of being an immigrant in the UK. I enjoyed every single essay and it has also given me more writers to follow and find their other work. I would class The Good Immigrant as essential reading for anyone living in the UK. I’ve bought it for several people already! My longer review also inspired some good post-Brexit swearing *bonus*.



Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit

Another collection of essays, another by the amazing Rebecca Solnit, from 2014. This time she is dealing with feminism, and she does it so well. I read Men Explain Things To Me and wished I could have all these perfect arguments at the tip of my tongue whenever I talk about feminism.

The title essay is the one that brought about the phrase mansplaining (though Solnit dislikes the term) and highlights this phenomena many of us have experienced.  The rest of the essays deal with other aspects of just why feminism is still needed and necessary. There is also beautiful artwork between the essays by Ana Teresa Fernandez.

She has a new collection of feminism essays out: The Mother of All Questions : Further Feminisms. I have a copy of this but haven’t started it because I already don’t want it to be over!


Nasty Women – 404Ink

I love this collection of essays (theme!!! I didn’t even know how much I like essay collections before this year!). This time the essays are about being a woman in the 21st century. It was inspired by the Trump election, and of course his nasty woman jibe to Hillary Clinton.

The essays cover a huge range of themes: being fat and taking a flight, gendered violence in punk rock, being Puerto Rican and living under a Trump presidency, contraception, pregnancy, class, racism, loving Courtney Love, being a black woman in Scotland, and many more.

It also introduced me to the music of The Petrol Girls, and I am very grateful for this because they are brilliant!


Here are all the non-fiction books I read this year (click to go to my review):

What were you favourite politics and feminism reads this year?

Book Review: Swimming Lessons – Claire Fuller

I really enjoyed Swimming Lessons.  It’s about Ingrid, a 20 year old English student who becomes the wife of her University tutor, Gil, after he decides she would make good wife and mother material. I listened to the audio book version.


We get the story firstly via Flora, one of Ingrid and Gil’s daughters. She is called to Gil’s home, by her sister Nan, because he has had a fall at the seaside and is in hospital. Gil at this point is portrayed as elderly and not well at all. Though given the timeline of the story he must only be in his mid 60s to 70 maybe. We find out that Ingrid disappeared when Flora was 11. We don’t know if she ran away, drowned when swimming (as her clothes on the beach suggest), or if she ended her own life.

We get Ingrid’s story from letters she wrote to Gil, before her disappearance, that she hid in the books they have taking over their home – there are thousands of books piled all over the house. Here she describes how they met, and their early years together. She describes life at that time and we get how she feels before she disappears. She hides these letters in the books that are taking over the house. I loved that each letter she wrote was hidden in a book with a title that was relevant to that part of the story. Will anyone ever find the letters?

Essentially Gil is a life wrecking womaniser. He is 40 when he seduces Ingrid and he treats her terribly from day 1. It was interesting to get all these different versions of Gil, from exciting, unpredictable University tutor, to frail, broken old man. I had a picture of him in my mind as looking like Bill Nighy and I couldn’t shake it off. I’m not sure if that helped or not!

The relationships between the characters is wonderfully complicated. They all seem like real, complicated, often despicable, human beings. There isn’t any one who shines as being the ‘good’ character. Ingrid is certainly very hard done by, but isn’t beyond making choices that from the reader’s perpective seem terrible. No spoilers here though!

The mystery of what happens/ed to Ingrid makes you want to sail through this story. I loved how the pieces gradually come together and you build up the story until you start getting an idea of Ingrid’s state of mind towards the end of the book.

The full circle of life is explored in Swimming Lessons. We have birth, death, love affairs, friendships, siblings, parents and offspring, it’s all in here. It explores the idea of knowing the truth of a situation versus staying in the dark and having hope.  Morality and faithfulness, and the sacrifices often expected from women during marriage and having children are other themes. The central mystery of what happened to Ingrid stays constant throughout the story too. A page-turning look at complicated family relationships.


Books Bought and Read October 2017

I’ve just gone crazy this month. Prepare yourselves!

Ad Astra: An Illustrated Guide to Leaving the Planet – Dallas Campbell. I actually bought this book a few months ago on preorder, but I didn’t get my hands on it until October 5th! It’s so beautiful.


Kindle sale:

  • Spectacles – Sue Perkins
  • Lessons I’ve Learned – Davina McCall
  • Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” – Lena Dunham
  • The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
  • Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff
  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull: A Story – Richard Bach, Russell Munson.

To be honest, I could have bought easily double this. There was loads of books in the current sale that I would quite like to read. I tried to only buy a few, and so did quite well. The first three are all autobiographies of interesting women. I have noticed that I read biographies of men predominantly, and want to address this imbalance! The last three are all on my ‘really want’ list, so I got them!

Then it was Book Shop Day so I visited my local YMCA charity shop and came home with:

  • Is it Just Me? – Miranda Hart
  • Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – Paul Torday
  • A Most Wanted Man – John le Carre
  • The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters


Then something triggered a Rebecca Solnit spree and I ended up with :

A Field Guide to Getting Lost

The Mother of All Questions: Further Feminisms.


Pachinko – Min Jin Lee. Another kindle book at a nice price.

Next I needed the November and December book club books:

  • Lies We Tell Ourselves – Robin Talley
  • The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon. (Note to self: this is not The Men Who Stare at Goats, which I thought it was for a few days after it was chosen.)



and finally, I decided I needed more poetry in my life after reading The Jeanette Winterson book, so I bought Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur.


Books Read:

click for links to my reviews.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? – Jeanette Winterson

History of Wolves – Emily Fridlund

Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood

Autumn – Ali Smith

Bedtime Stories

Folk of the Faraway Tree – Enid Blyton

A German Picture Book.

Bit of a repetitive month at bed times this month!



Books Bought and Read – September 2017

Overall a slow month for reading. New term at school though, and littlest starting school, so it was always going to be a struggle to fit it in. Still bought a bazillion books though…

Books Bought

A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing – Eimear McBride. Finally got a copy of this. It’s been hovering near the top of my ‘must be read’ list for a few years, and now I actually have a copy I will get around to it probably sooner! I finally bought it after hearing it be praised on the Bookshambles podcast – source of lots of my book purchases!


The Sun is also a Star – Nicola Yoon. Kindle bargain and I’ve heard good things about it.

Oxfam books visit. Can’t leave without a handful of them! This was my birthday visit too. I got:

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Steven Chbosky
  • The Earthsea Quartet – Ursula Le Guin
  • Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
  • Einstein Dreams – Alan Lightman

oxfam books.JPG

Now for a trio of physics books, because I needed to buy a prize for a poster competition I ran at work.

  • Seven Brief Lessons on Physics – Carlo Rovelli
  • Storm in a Teacup – Helen Czerski 
  • Forces of Nature – Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen. 

physics books.JPG

Ended up giving Storm in a Teacup away because it’s the one I most want to read myself. Of course, I now need to buy it gain so I can read it…

The Secret Pilgrim – John Le Carre. kindle deal and bought due to my extremely long term plan to read all of his books. I know own 5 times more than I have ever read. It’s going great!

Books Read

Click for links to reviews.

Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens – Eddie Izzard.

The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead.

See I said it was a slow one!

Bedtime Stories

Tried to get my oldest child (age 7) to have something newer and more exciting to read at bedtime, but he insists on us read the Faraway Tree books again! He just loves them. Saucepan Man and all that.

The Enchanted Wood – Enid Blyton

Folk of The Faraway Tree – Enid Blyton

Also with the small one:

A German picture book that we have to look at all the pictures in. OMG.