Monday, December 8, 2014

Ten books I haven't read this year...

I've been up in Derbyshire for the weekend where amongst other treats we visited the countries highest bookshop. It's a gem - a discount outlet place of the sort that is sadly harder to find these days. Every time I've been I've found a bagful of bargains, this visit was no exception. I also realised when I got home that last years purchases are still neatly piled up and as yet unread.

Like most of us (I assume, forgive me if I'm wrong) I have easily as many unread books as read ones so this is a list of the ten I'm cross with myself for not having got to in the last twelve months. (They deserve a bit of love for waiting so patiently.)

'The Penguin Book of Witches' is a review copy that I really wanted to read for Halloween but it arrived at exactly the same time as a huge wine promotion at work and then the moment had passed. I'll take it away with me at new year but meanwhile just look at it! It's basically an American book with an emphasis on the Salem witch trials (court documents and so on) written by a descendent of three of the accused women. It promises to be fascinating.

Marina Warner's 'Once Upon A Time' is also a review copy and something I'm very excited by. A short history of fairy tale is right up my street, I should have read it when I first got it, but didn't. I have a feeling it'll set me off on something of a journey so it's another one for the new year.

I bought 'Vita Sackville-West's Sissinghurst' back in the spring. I'm a fan of Vita, Sarah Raven, and Sissinghurst so am thoroughly ashamed not to have tackled this one yet. I'm not sure when I'll get round to it but it's sumptuous and has present for a gardener written all over it. If I were a more generous person I'd give it to a dear friend who would very much appreciate it this Christmas. I'm not. I'm keeping it.

I started reading Ronald Firbank's 'Vainglory' last December and utterly failed to finish it. I'm going to admit defeat with this one, the moment has passed. It came from a very nice man who reprints books he feels have been unjustly neglected. I have some later Firbank (unread) so thought that this, his first book, would be interesting. It's full of very clever one liners but not much plot. It is interesting, and when I get round to reading his more mature work I might well want to re-approach this book but for now it's finding a place on the shelf rather than by my bed.

'The Bloomsbury Cookbook' was another purchase from quite early in the year. It is intended to be my way into a greater appreciation of the Bloomsbury group, and from the occasional dip into it it's going to be really interesting. It has food, art, history, and gossip. All things I'm fond of but Bloomsbury has never really done it for me which has possibly stopped me from really getting stuck in. I'll make the effort soon.

R. F. Foster's 'Vivid Faces' is a book I've hoping someone would write for a while. I have Irish family and back in the days before a mortgage used to hop over to Dublin reasonably every so often (you could buy Pol Roger rose champagne in Dublin airport at a price that pretty much paid for the flight). Walk around Dublin and you can't help but be aware of the events that led up to independence but when I looked for a suitable historical overview I couldn't find anything. Vivid Faces promises to be the book I've been looking for. It surveys the lives and beliefs of the people who made the revolution and will, I hope, be illuminating. More shame for not yet having read it.

Belinda Jack's 'The Woman Reader' was an enthusiastic amazon buy. It says it's a complete history of women's reading and the controversies it caused from prehistoric caves to today. In my case, one day...

I was asked if I'd like a review copy if George Mackay Brown's 'Greenvoe' and when I realised I'd lost the copy I liberated from the school library in 1989 I said yes. I love his short stories which beautifully capture a time and place but haven't yet managed to read a whole novel despite one or two attempts. It's not good enough so I will read this (especially as I promised I would when I said yes to the book). Reading the back blurb it sounds more appealing than it did back in '89, I'll let you know.

The very title of this book mocks me... 'Belated' by Elizabeth Russell Taylor. It's another review copy and more importantly a collection of short stories with glowing reviews. I read one on holiday in the summer - it was great, but again I got distracted. I may even start again this week.

I really enjoyed Grayson Perry's Reith lectures last year, this is basically them in book form. I meant to read it the day I bought it. But didn't. This was lazy of me and will be put right soon. Probably...


  1. Wow! That's quite a haul. And some very heavy topics. I think you are very brave to pick up some of those books that I know I myself never will and so taking your time to get around to them is not such a big deal in my eyes, after all :)

  2. They're the books that crossed my threshold accompanied by a blaze of enthusiasm so not reading them straight away is a serious failure in organisation !