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Jackie's 5th year of ROOTing part 2

This is a continuation of the topic Jackie's 5th year of ROOTing.


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Edited: May 13, 6:35am Top

(New thread as the previous one is approaching 300 posts)

Hello! I'm Jackie, back for my 5th consecutive year of ROOTing at LT. This group has revolutionised my approach to my ever-more-daunting TBR pile, and I have loved both the increased reading *and* all the brilliant friends I have met here (sadly none in real life yet). So, along with participating in the 2018 Category Challenge, I am here again looking forward to some great reads in 2018.

I am English but have lived in Scotland since 2005 so it's definitely home now! I am 48 (eek), married to Pete and mum of a gorgeous 4 year old daughter (I try not to use her name online, but refer to her elsewhere online as A, which is the first letter of her name, so I'll probably do that here too). I am trying to establish a freelance business this year, and am hopeful that if the freelancing takes off then I can fit it more easily with A's school hours (how have I got a nearly school-age child already? Argh). If it doesn't then I am keeping my hand in with my old job (health visiting) doing a few shifts a month, so I can always go back to that if I have to (though I hope not to have to!).

I will continue to use my Jar of Fate, which has massively increased the amount that I am reading - for those not in the know, the Jar of Fate is a pot with all my TBR titles written on a colour-coded slip of paper, which I pull out to decide my next read, rather than trying to decide myself what to read next. I am also participating in one of the CAT challenges in the 2018 Category challenge group (ColourCAT), and hopefully also in the 75ers non-fiction challenge (although I won't be joining that group other than for that challenge, as maintaining threads in two groups is enough for me), so that will also decide a few of my reads as well as the random ones from the Jar of Fate.

For my target this year, I intend to aim for 48 ROOTs (4 per month), which I managed to exceed by a few last year (my most successful reading year ever!). I am also going to actively read some more library books - I want to support my local library in this era of local authority funding cuts, and whilst I already get lots of books out for my daughter I figure one more punter regularly taking books out won't hurt their case for continued support. I plan on reading one library book a month, in addition to the 48 ROOTs from my TBR. This will represent a definite challenge for me - I'm close to 60 total ROOTs read in 2017, plus 4 library books, so it is doable but not inevitable.

I will also continue to monitor my acquisitions. I think since starting to do this 2 or 3 years ago it has really helped me to curb the book-buying excesses a little bit, and also made me much more aware about only buying things I'm pretty confident I will enjoy. Last year I intended a ratio of 1:1.5 ROOTs:acquisitions, which I more or less stuck to till August, but then the buying urge took hold and it ended up closer to 1:2 by the end of the year, same as the year before. Hopefully in 2018 I will be stronger! Ultimately I'd love to be buying no more than I'm reading, in order to start making a dent in Mt TBR rather than just growing it some more, but have to be realistic that the urge to buy is really very strong still! Hopefully though being more discerning about the quality of books I go for will help, and reduce the dross. I also aimed to spend no more than £150 on books in the year, which I went over a bit (around £170), so I'll aim for £150 again this year. I'll also, as before, be on the hunt for the bargain as much as possible, and aim to spend no more on average than £2 per book.

At the start of 2018 my total number of TBRs is 395* (*updated after Christmas from 383 - thanks Santa!!) (*updated again 13.1.18 when I counted the actual number of unread No 1 Ladies Detective Agency books I have - I was working on the assumption it was 5, but it's actually 7). I really don't want to go over 400, so will have to really be strict with myself with acquisitions. I'll keep a total TBR ticker too, so I can see if Mt TBR is higher or lower at the end of the year than it was at the start.

Note to self so I don't have to look everywhere - code for inserting a picture (surrounded by less than and greater than signs): img src="URL" width=200 length=150

Without further ado, here's a picture of the Jar of Fate:

Ticker 1: ROOTs read in 2018

Ticker 2: Acquisitions 2018

Ticker 3: Total TBRs outstanding (starting point on 1st Jan: 395 books)

Edited: May 19, 1:21pm Top

ROOTs read 2018 1st thread

1. Paul Murton - The Hebrides. Finished 1.1.18. 4.5/5.
2. Barbara Demick - Nothing to Envy. Finished 3.1.18. 4.5/5.
3. Jasper Fforde - The Eyre Affair. Finished 9.1.18. 4/5.
4. Kim Edwards - The Memory Keeper's Daughter. Abandoned 11.1.18. 3/5.
5. Nicole Faires - Food Confidential. Finished 14.1.18. 4/5.
6. Deb Wilenski & Caroline Wendling - Fantastical Guides for the Wildly Curious: Ways into Hinchingbrooke Country Park. Finished 25.1.18. 4.5/5.
7. Brian Anderson - It Came from the Diaper Pail. Abandoned 29.1.18.
8. Nick Hunt - Walking the Woods and the Water. Finished 1.2.18. 4.5/5.
9. Darden Asbury Pyron - Liberace: An American Boy. Finished 22.2.18. 3.5/5.
10. Tzvetan Todorov, tr. Andrew Brown - The Fear of Barbarians. Finished 27.2.18. 4/5.
11. Linda Herrera - Revolution in the Age of Social Media: The Egyptian Popular Insurrection and the Internet. Finished 2.3.18. 4/5.
12. Helen Morales - Pilgrimage to Dollywood: a Country Music Road Trip through Tennessee. Finished 3.3.18. 4/5.
13. Rebecca West - Black Lamb & Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia. Finished 5.3.18. 3/5.
14. Heather Rogers - Green Gone Wrong. Finished 9.3.18. 4.5/5.
15. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions. Finished 11.3.18. 4/5.
16. Barbara Kingsolver - The Poisonwood Bible. Abandoned 12.3.18. 3/5.
17. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - We Should All Be Feminists. Finished 16.3.18. 4/5.
18. Various - Where Freedom Starts: Sex Power Violence #MeToo. Finished 17.3.18. 4/5.
19. Michael Kohn - Dateline Mongolia. Finished 24.3.18. 4/5.
20. Dave Walker - Peculiar Goings On. Finished 27.3.18. 4/5.
21. Margaret Silf - Sacred Spaces: Stations on a Celtic Way. Finished 31.3.18. 3.5/5.
22. Dominic Selwood - Spies, Sadists and Sorcerers: The History you weren't taught at school. Finished 1.4.18. 3.5/5.
23. Simon Kitson tr. Catherine Tihanyi - The Hunt for Nazi Spies: Fighting Espionage in Vichy France. Finished 10.4.18. 3.5/5.
24. ed Susan Gal & Gail Kligman - Reproducing Gender: Politics, Publics, and Everyday Life After Socialism. Finished 13.4.18. 4/5.
25. Kelly J. Baker - Sexism Ed: Essays on Gender and Labor in Academia. Finished 15.4.18. 5/5.
26. Wen Stephenson - What We're Fighting for Now is Each Other: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Climate Justice. Finished 17.4.18. 4/5.
27. Ella Frances Sanders - Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World. Finished 18.4.18. 4.5/5.
28. Joshua Blu Buhs - Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend. Finished 26.4.18. 4.5/5.
29. Sue Hubbell - A Book of Bees. Finished 3.5.18. 4.5/5.
30. Madeleine L'Engle - Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage. Finished 10.5.18. 5/5.

Edited: Nov 6, 2:02pm Top

ROOTs read 2018 2nd thread

31. Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Bon Voyage Mr President and Other Stories. Finished 14.5.18. 3/5.
32. Rory Stewart - The Marches: Border Walks with my Father. Finished 19.5.18. 4.5/5.
33. Steve Goddard - Whatever Happened to Billy Shears?. Finished 26.5.18. 4/5.
34. Samuel Hall Young - Alaska Days with John Muir. Finished 27.5.18. 3.5/5.
35. Ghillean Prance - The Earth Under Threat: A Christian Perspective. Finished 1.6.18. 4/5.
36. Goscinny & Uderzo - Asterix aux Jeux Olympiques. Finished 3.6.18. 3/5.
37. Andrew Eames - Blue River, Black Sea. Finished 8.6.18. 4/5.
38. John Lewis-Stempel - Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field. Finished 9.6.18. 5/5.
39. Joy Ross Davis - Mother, Can You Hear Me?. Finished 10.6.18. 3.5/5.
40. ed. Kathleen Kuehnast & Carol Nechemias - Post-Soviet Women Encountering Transition: Nation Building, Economic Survival, and Civic Activism. Finished 16.6.18. 4.5/5.
41. Victoria Whitworth - Swimming With Seals. Finished 19.6.18. 5/5.
42. Barry Finlay - I Guess We Missed the Boat. Finished 30.6.18. 2/5.
43. L.A. Kauffman - Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism. Finished 2.7.18. 4.5/5.
44. Devi Menon - Amla Mater. Finished 5.7.18. 5/5.
45. Colin Thubron - Among the Russians. Finished 11.7.18. 4.5/5.
46. Christina Grau - Backpacking My Style. Abandoned 12.7.18. 1.5/5.
47. ed. Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska & Richard Sakwa - Ukraine and Russia: People, Politics, Propaganda and Perspectives. Finished 2.8.18. 3.5/5.
48. Various - Northumberland: Time and Place (no touchstone). Finished 2.8.18. 4/5.
49. Matthew Small - The Wall Between Us. Finished 5.8.18. 4/5.
50. Charles Darwin - The Galapagos Islands. Finished 9.8.18. 4/5.
51. The Unmumsy Mum - The Unmumsy Mums: A Collection of Your Hysterical Stories from the Frontline of Parenting. Finished 9.8.18. 3/5.
52. Anne Bronte - Agnes Grey. Finished 13.8.18. 3.5/5.
53. Frances Hodgson Burnett - A Little Princess. Abandoned 25.8.18. 3/5.
54. Laurence J. Cohen - Playful Parenting. Finished 26.8.18. 4.5/5.
55. Ben Goldacre - Bad Science. Finished 7.9.18. 4.5/5.
56. Sabeeha Rehman - Threading my Prayer Rug: One Woman's Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim. Finished 26.9.18. 4/5.
57. Tina Fey - Bossypants. Finished 6.10.18. 4/5.
58. Goscinny & Uderzo - Asterix in Britain. Finished 19.10.18. 4/5.
59. Paul Kalanithi - When Breath Becomes Air. Finished 20.10.18. 5/5.
60. Timothy Snyder - On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. Finished 2.11.18. 4/5.
61. Various - Goodbye Europe: Writers and Artists Say Farewell. Finished 4.11.18. 3.5/5.
62. Wilfred Owen - The Pity of War. Finished 5.11.18. 5/5.

Edited: Oct 29, 1:55pm Top

Non-ROOTs (mostly library books) read 2018

1. David Torrance - Nicola Sturgeon: A Political Life. Finished 5.2.18. 3.5/5.
2. Lynn M Brewster - Suffrage in Stirling: The Struggle for Women's Votes. Finished 18.2.18. 4/5.
3. Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin & Irvine Welsh - One City. Finished 30.3.18. 4/5.
4. Chris Leslie - Disappearing Glasgow: A Photographic Journey. Finished 21.4.18. 4.5/5.
5. Sue Reid Sexton - Writing on the Road: Campervan Love and the Joy of Solitude. Finished 7.5.18. 3/5.
6. Mohsin Hamid - The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Finished 26.6.18. 4/5.
7. Julie Summers - Jambusters. Finished end of July 2018. 4/5.
8. Jackie Kay - Fiere. Finished 4.8.18. 4.5/5.
9. Elspeth King - Stirling Girls: Towards a Women's History of Stirling. Finished 9.8.18. 3/5.
10. Giovanni Guareschi - Don Camillo and His Flock. Finished 2.10.18. 4.5/5.
11. Peter Houghton & Jane Worroll - Play the Forest School Way. Finished 4.10.18. 3.5/5.
12. Kathleen Jamie - Sightlines. Finished 29.10.18. 4.5/5.

Edited: Jun 14, 12:36pm Top

Acquisitions 2018 1st thread

1. Peter Frankopan - The Silk Roads. From kobo (£2.63). Acquired 8.1.18.
2. Jasper Fforde - Something Rotten. From kobo (£1.99). Acquired 8.1.18.
3. Tina Fey - Bossypants. From Cancer Research charity shop (£1.25). Acquired 16.1.18.
4. Nick Griffiths - Who Goes There? (50th anniversary edition). From kobo, via bookbub (£1.99). Acquired 22.1.18.
5. Peter Wohlleben - The Hidden Life of Trees. From kobo (£3.99). Acquired 23.1.18.
6. Sarah Millican - How to be Champion. From kobo, via bookbub (£0.99). Acquired 24.1.18.
7. Peter Mayle - A Year in Provence. From kobo, via bookbub (£0.99). Acquired 1.2.18.
8. Frank Kusy - Off the Beaten Track: My Crazy Year in Asia. From kobo, via bookbub (free). Acquired 2.2.18.
9. Matthew Walker - Why We Sleep. From kobo, via bookbub (£0.99). Acquired 6.2.18.
10. Svetlana Alexievich - The Unwomanly Face of War. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 15.2.18.
11. Various - Where Freedom Starts: Sex Power Violence #MeToo. From Verso (free). Acquired 17.2.18.
12. Ed. Rachel Rosen & Katherine Twamley - Feminism & the Politics of Childhood: Friends or Foes? (no touchstone). From UCL Press (free). Acquired 1.3.18.
13. Tim Peake - Ask an Astronaut. From kobo (£1.99). Acquired 1.3.18.
14. Peggy Shinner - You Feel So Mortal: Essays on the Body. From UoC Press (free). Acquired 2.3.18.
15. Sue Hubbell - A Book of Bees. From kobo, via bookbub (£1.99). Acquired 2.3.18.
16. Clover Stroud - The Wild Other. From kobo sale (£0.99). Acquired 10.3.18.
17. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions. From kobo sale (£0.99). Acquired 10.3.18.
18. Tessa Dunlop - The Bletchley Girls. From kobo sale (£0.99). Acquired 10.3.18.
19. Victoria Whitworth - Swimming With Seals. From kobo sale (£1.99). Acquired 10.3.18.
20. Joan Didion - The Year of Magical Thinking. From kobo, via bookbub (£1.49). Acquired 13.3.18.
21. Michael Kohn - Dateline Mongolia. From LT (Early Reviewers) (free). Acquired 16.3.18.
22. Darach O'Seaghdha - Motherfocloir: Dispatches from a Not So Dead Language. From kobo (£1.99). Acquired 17.3.18.
23. Stephen Rea - Finn McCool's Football Club. From kobo, via bookbub (£1.99). Acquired 17.3.18.
24. Matthew Small - The Wall Between Us (?no touchstone). From kobo, via bookbub (£0.99). Acquired 24.3.18.
25. Kelly J Baker - Sexism Ed: Essays on Gender and Labor in Academia. From LTER (free). Acquired 3.4.18.
26. Tara Westover - Educated. From kobo (via bookbub) (£1.99). Acquired 4.4.18.
27. Ellen Lewin - Lesbian Mothers: Accounts of Gender in American Culture. From kobo (free). Acquired 9.4.18.
28. Naoki Higashida - The Reason I Jump: one boy's voice from the silence of autism. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 14.4.18.
29. Sam Kean - Caesar's Last Breath. From kobo, via bookbub (£0.99). Acquired 14.4.18.
30. Ella Frances Sanders - Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World. From amazon (£1.98 + £5 voucher). Acquired 18.4.18.
31. Jasper Fforde - The Well of Lost Plots. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 22.4.18.
32. The Unmumsy Mum/Sarah Turner - The Unmumsy Mum Diary. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 24.4.18.
33. Alan Johnson - The Long and Winding Road. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 3.5.18.
34. Yanis Varoufakis - Talking to my Daughter about the Economy: A Brief History of Capitalism. From kobo, via bookbub (£1.99). Acquired 4.5.18.
35. Matthew d'Ancona - Post-Truth. From kobo, via bookbub (£0.99). Acquired 12.5.18.

Edited: Nov 9, 12:09pm Top

Acquisitions 2018 2nd thread

36. Fiona de Londras & Mairead Enright - Repealing the 8th: Reforming Irish Abortion Law (no touchstone). From Policy Press (free epdf). Acquired 31.5.18.
37. Marie Browne - Narrow Margins. From kobo, via bookbub (free). Acquired 1.6.18.
38. Christie Watson - Tiny Sunbirds Far Away. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 1.6.18.
39. David Quammen - The Song of the Dodo. Birthday gift. Acquired 3.6.18.
40. Rachel Hewitt - Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey. Birthday gift. Acquired 3.6.18.
41. Leila Aboulela - Lyrics Alley. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 3.6.18.
42. Alan Moore - Jerusalem. Birthday gift. Acquired 8.6.18.
43. Joy Ross Davis - Mother, Can You Hear Me?. From LTER (free). Acquired 9.6.18.
44. Terry Waite - Solitude: Memories, People, Places. From kobo (free with kobo reward points). Acquired 19.6.18.
45. Arlie Russell Hochschild - Strangers in their Own Land. From kobo (£2.51). Acquired 19.6.18.
46. Rebecca Solnit - A Book of Migrations. From Verso sale (£1.00). Acquired 29.6.18.
47. Dan Hancox - The Village Against the World. From Verso sale (£1.00). Acquired 29.6.18.
48. Chris Bambery - A People's History of Scotland. From Verso sale (£1.30). Acquired 29.6.18.
49. Nadya Tolokonnikova & Slavoj Zizek - Comradely Greetings. From Verso sale (£0.60). Acquired 29.6.18.
50. Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Beautiful Struggle. From Verso sale (£1.00). Acquired 29.6.18.
51. China Mieville - October. From Verso sale (£1.00). Acquired 29.6.18.
52. Devi Menon - Amla Mater. From LTER (free). Acquired 2.7.18.
53. The Unmumsy Mum - The Unmumsy Mum. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 3.7.18.
54. Damian Smyth - English Street (no touchstone). Birthday gift. Acquired 6.7.18.
55. Cristina Grau - Backpacking My Style. LTER (free). Acquired 7.7.18.
56. Michelle Vines - Asperger's on the Inside. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 9.7.18.
57. Peter Mayle - Bon Appetit! Travels through France with knife, fork and corkscrew. From Barter Books (free with BB credit). Acquired 20.7.18.
58. Colin Thubron - In Siberia. From Barter Books (free with BB credit). Acquired 20.7.18.
59. Robyn Hollingworth - My Mad Dad. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 7.8.18.
60. Joanna Cannon - Three Things About Elsie. From kobo (£1.99). Acquired 7.8.18.
61. Lawrence J. Cohen - Playful Parenting. From kobo (£1.64). Acquired 10.8.18.
62. Patrice Khan-Cullors & asha bendele - When they Call you a Terrorist. From kobo (£2.63). Acquired 13.8.18.
63. Ayaan Hirsi Ali - Infidel: My Life. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 13.8.18.
64. Stephen Westaby - Fragile Lives. From kobo (£0.99) via bookbub. Acquired 16.8.18.
65. Brett L. Markham - Mini Farming. From kobo (£1.81). Acquired 24.8.18.
66. Joanna Cannon - Three Things I'd Tell My Younger Self. From kobo (free). Acquired 26.8.18.
67. Charles L. Ponce de Leon - That's the Way it is: A History of Television News in America. From UoC Press (free). Acquired 6.9.18.
68-70. Philip Pullman - His Dark Materials trilogy. From kobo (£2.99). Acquired 12.9.18.
71. Raynor Winn - The Salt Path. From kobo, via bookbub (£0.99). Acquired 14.9.18.
72. Denis Dragovic - No Dancing, No Dancing (no touchstone). From kobo, via bookbub (£0.99). Acquired 25.9.18.
73. Alexis Marie Chute - Expecting Sunshine. From kobo, via bookbub (£0.90). Acquired 25.9.18.
74. Markus Zuzak - The Book Thief. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 27.9.18.
75. Fredrik Backman - A Man Called Ove. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 4.10.18.
76. John O'Farrell - Things Can Only Get Worse?. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 6.10.18.
77. Libby Phelps with Sara Stewart - Girl on a Wire. From kobo (£1.99). Acquired 12.10.18.
78. J.J. Green - Mission: Improbable. From kobo, via bookbub (free). Acquired 28.10.18.
79. Arundhati Roy - The End of Imagination. From Haymarket Books ($1). Acquired 1.11.18.
80. Wallace Shawn - Essays. From Haymarket Books ($1). Acquired 1.11.18.
81. Rebecca Solnit - Hope in the Dark. From Haymarket Books ($1). Acquired 1.11.18.
82. Rebecca Solnit - The Mother of All Questions. From Haymarket Books ($1). Acquired 1.11.18.
83. ed Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor - How We Get Free. From Haymarket Books ($1). Acquired 1.11.18.
84. Mohammed Omer - Shell-Shocked: On the Ground Under Israel's Gaza Assault. From Haymarket Books ($1). Acquired 1.11.18.
85. Danny Katch - Why Bad Governments Happen to Good People. From Haymarket Books ($1). Acquired 1.11.18. (***note to self: all books up to and including this one in the Jar of Fate***)
86. Harriet Harman - A Woman's Work. From kobo (£1.99). Acquired 9.11.18.

Edited: May 13, 6:48am Top

Tally of amount spent etc 2018 1st thread

8.1.18 - 2 books (0 free, 2 paid-for). Total spent £4.62. 2 ebooks, 0 paper books.
16.1.18 - 3 books (0 free, 3 paid-for). Total spent £5.87. 2 ebooks, 1 paper book.
22.1.18 - 4 books (0 free, 4 paid-for). Total spent £7.86. 3 ebooks, 1 paper book.
23.1.18 - 5 books (0 free, 5 paid-for). Total spent £11.85. 4 ebooks, 1 paper book.
24.1.18 - 6 books (0 free, 6 paid-for). Total spent £12.84. 5 ebooks, 1 paper book.
1.2.18 - 7 books (0 free, 7 paid-for). Total spent £13.83. 6 ebooks, 1 paper book.
2.2.18 - 8 books (1 free, 7 paid-for). Total spent £13.83. 7 ebooks, 1 paper book.
6.2.18 - 9 books (1 free, 8 paid-for). Total spent £14.82. 8 ebooks, 1 paper book.
15.2.18 - 10 books (1 free, 9 paid-for). Total spent £15.81. 9 ebooks, 1 paper book.
17.2.18 - 11 books (2 free, 9 paid-for). Total spent £15.81. 10 ebooks, 1 paper book.
1.3.18 - 13 books (3 free, 10 paid-for). Total spent £17.80. 12 ebooks, 1 paper book.
2.3.18 - 15 books (4 free, 11 paid-for). Total spent £19.79. 14 ebooks, 1 paper book.
10.3.18 - 19 books (4 free, 15 paid-for). Total spent £24.75. 18 ebooks, 1 paper book.
13.3.18 - 20 books (4 free, 16 paid-for). Total spent £26.24. 19 ebooks, 1 paper book.
16.3.18 - 21 books (5 free, 16 paid-for). Total spent £26.24. 19 ebooks, 2 paper books.
17.3.18 - 23 books (5 free, 18 paid-for). Total spent £30.22. 21 ebooks, 2 paper books.
24.3.18 - 24 books (5 free, 19 paid-for). Total spent £31.21. 22 ebooks, 2 paper books.
3.4.18 - 25 books (6 free, 19 paid-for). Total spent £31.21. 23 ebooks, 2 paper books.
4.4.18 - 26 books (6 free, 20 paid-for). Total spent £33.20. 24 ebooks, 2 paper books.
9.4.18 - 27 books (7 free, 20 paid-for). Total spent £33.20. 25 ebooks, 2 paper books.
14.4.18 - 29 books (7 free, 22 paid-for). Total spent £35.18. 27 ebooks, 2 paper books.
18.4.18 - 30 books (7 free, 23 paid-for). Total spent £37.16. 27 ebooks, 3 paper books.
22.4.18 - 31 books (7 free, 24 paid-for). Total spent £38.15. 28 ebooks, 3 paper books.
24.4.18 - 32 books (7 free, 25 paid-for). Total spent £39.14. 29 ebooks, 3 paper books.
3.5.18 - 33 books (7 free, 26 paid-for). Total spent £40.13. 30 ebooks, 3 paper books.
4.5.18 - 34 books (7 free, 27 paid-for). Total spent £42.12. 31 ebooks, 3 paper books.
12.5.18 - 35 books (7 free, 28 paid-for). Total spent £43.11. 32 ebooks, 3 paper books.

Edited: Nov 9, 12:10pm Top

Tally of amount spent etc 2018 2nd thread

31.5.18 - 36 books (8 free, 28 paid-for). Total spent £43.11. 33 ebooks, 3 paper books.
1.6.18 - 38 books (9 free, 29 paid-for). Total spent £44.10. 35 ebooks, 3 paper books.
3.6.18 - 41 books (11 free, 30 paid-for). Total spent £45.09. 36 ebooks, 5 paper books.
8.6.18 - 42 books (12 free, 30 paid-for). Total spent £45.09. 36 ebooks, 6 paper books.
9.6.18 - 43 books (13 free, 30 paid-for). Total spent £45.09. 37 ebooks, 6 paper books.
19.6.18 - 45 books (14 free, 31 paid-for). Total spent £47.60. 39 ebooks, 6 paper books.
29.6.18 - 51 books (14 free, 37 paid-for). Total spent £53.50. 45 ebooks, 6 paper books.
2.7.18 - 52 books (15 free, 37 paid-for). Total spent £53.50. 46 ebooks, 6 paper books.
3.7.18 - 53 books (15 free, 38 paid-for). Total spent £54.49. 47 ebooks, 6 paper books.
6.7.18 - 54 books (16 free, 38 paid-for). Total spent £54.49. 47 ebooks, 7 paper books.
7.7.18 - 55 books (17 free, 38 paid-for). Total spent £54.49. 48 ebooks, 7 paper books.
9.7.18 - 56 books (17 free, 39 paid-for). Total spent £55.48. 49 ebooks, 7 paper books.
20.7.18 - 58 books (19 free, 39 paid-for). Total spent £55.48. 49 ebooks, 9 paper books.
7.8.18 - 60 books (19 free, 41 paid-for). Total spent £58.46. 51 ebooks, 9 paper books.
10.8.18 - 61 books (19 free, 42 paid-for). Total spent £60.10. 52 ebooks, 9 paper books.
13.8.18 - 63 books (19 free, 44 paid-for). Total spent £63.72. 54 ebooks, 9 paper books.
16.8.18 - 64 books (19 free, 45 paid-for). Total spent £64.71. 55 ebooks, 9 paper books.
24.8.18 - 65 books (19 free, 46 paid-for). Total spent £66.52. 56 ebooks, 9 paper books.
26.8.18 - 66 books (20 free, 46 paid-for). Total spent £66.52. 57 ebooks, 9 paper books.
6.9.18 - 67 books (21 free, 46 paid-for). Total spent £66.52. 58 ebooks, 9 paper books.
12.9.18 - 70 books (21 free, 49 paid-for). Total spent £69.51. 61 ebooks, 9 paper books.
14.9.18 - 71 books (21 free, 50 paid-for). Total spent £70.50. 62 ebooks, 9 paper books.
25.9.18 - 73 books (21 free, 52 paid-for). Total spent £72.39. 64 ebooks, 9 paper books.
27.9.18 - 74 books (21 free, 53 paid-for). Total spent £73.38. 65 ebooks, 9 paper books.
4.10.18 - 75 books (21 free, 54 paid-for). Total spent £74.37. 66 ebooks, 9 paper books.
6.10.18 - 76 books (21 free, 55 paid-for). Total spent £75.36. 67 ebooks, 9 paper books.
12.10.18 - 77 books (21 free, 56 paid-for). Total spent £77.35. 68 ebooks, 9 paper books.
28.10.18 - 78 books (22 free, 56 paid-for). Total spent £77.35. 69 ebooks, 9 paper books.
1.11.18 - 85 books (22 free, 63 paid-for). Total spent £77.35 + $7.00. 76 ebooks, 9 paper books.
9.11.18 - 86 books (22 free, 64 paid-for). Total spent £79.34 + $7.00. 77 ebooks, 9 paper books.

May 13, 9:54am Top

Happy new thread, Jackie. Impressive stats!

May 13, 3:17pm Top

WOW! I am impressed, Jackie. You are very organized with the spending stats.

May 13, 3:56pm Top

>9 MissWatson: Thank you Birgit - I'm pleased with how the year is panning out so far!

>10 Lisa805: Thank you Lisa - I started doing that a couple of years ago, as I realised I was buying lots of books, but had absolutely no idea how much I was spending, or how many books I was actually getting per year. Doing this has helped me both keep track and rein in the excess spending. I have a yearly goal (I don't want to spend more than £150) - this year I'm on track so far, last year I went over a bit (just under £180, I think).

(Maybe I should start doing the same for chocolate and cheese consumption, as it's working so well with books!)

May 13, 7:25pm Top

Happy New Thread, Jackie.

Very impressive stats. I really should do something similar. My mum asked me how much I spend on ebooks in a year and I had to tell her I didn't know.

May 13, 9:28pm Top

Happy new thread, Jackie! I absolutely love the Jar of Fate idea. Half my problem is deciding what to read so I'm definitely going to utilize this idea!

May 14, 2:07am Top

Happy New Thread, Jackie!

I'm in awe about your tally above. really impressive.

May 14, 4:17am Top

>12 Robertgreaves: I have been pleasantly surprised at how many I've been able to pick up in sales, via bookbub, etc, which means I'm not spending as much as I feared. But now it's almost a competition with myself to spend less!

>13 Miss_Moneypenny: It has honestly revolutionised my reading! I must admit to combining it with a couple of challenges (the non-fiction challenge in the 75ers group, and ColourCAT in the Category Challenge group), so at the start of each year I pick out the titles I know will fit those, and then my other reads are usually just drawn out of the jar. I've got to some real golden oldies that way, but also have an equal chance of the new and shiny, so either way it's good :)

>14 connie53: Thank you, Connie! I'm pleased so far with how things have gone, although that stray 4 or 5 books acquired over and above what I've read is starting to bug me! (hence the next book...)

ROOT #31

The TBR total is still hovering between 399 and 400 (now at 399) but not shifting from there however many books I seem to be reading! As it's starting to bug me, I bypassed the Jar this time and picked out a super-short book to try and help me on my way! Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Bon Voyage, Mr President and Other Stories (translator not stated) was one of the little books that Penguin put out in 1995 to celebrate their 60th year of publishing (Penguin 60s), I have several and they're very handy for a quick ROOT! (although I now only have a few left). I'm pretty sure I bought them all when they came out, so although it's only small, it's got very deep (23 years!) roots! This is actually a collection of four short stories, of which the first (which gives the collection its title) is by far the longest, about half the book's total. It is about a deposed Latin American/Caribbean president anonymously seeking medical attention in Geneva, but he comes to the attention of a fellow exiled countryman who happens to work at the hospital; the second is about a man on a long-haul flight sitting next to a woman he falls for instantly but doesn't ever dare speak to; the third is about a woman who is accidentally admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Spain and when her husband eventually finds her he believes the doctors and doesn't take her out; and the final one (which is the only one which features the magical realism for which Marquez is so well known, and is only 4 pages long) is about some boys in Madrid who have a boat in their flat and end up drowning their entire class with light.

I must admit to having never read any Marquez before, so I wasn't too sure what to expect. I could see straight away the quality of the writing - this is an author who is at the top of his craft, not a single word was out of place or awkward (and credit must also of course go to the unnamed translator). I can't say I particularly warmed to any of the characters, though, so although the quality of the writing kept me reading, if any of these stories had been novels I might well have not bothered (possibly apart from the third one about the accidental psychiatric patient). I'm glad I can now say I've read some Marquez, but I'm not going to go out of my way to pick up any more. Short and sweet definitely worked better for me! 3/5.

May 14, 11:46am Top

>15 Jackie_K: GGM was in no hurry to get through things in Love in the Time of Cholera (the only novel of his I've read) so I'm intrigued by the idea of his short forms :) Glad you read this and shared the review.

May 14, 1:30pm Top

Happy new thread, Jackie! And well done with the GGM - good review, I don't feel I need to read it now;)

May 14, 2:36pm Top

>16 detailmuse: If I'm ever short of reading material (*hyperventilates at the thought, with my Mt TBR*) my husband has a couple of GGM books, I think - I just won't go out of my way for them. As I said, I could definitely see the quality of the writing (and translation), I just wasn't particularly grabbed by any of the characters.

>17 floremolla: Thank you! If you do feel the need, it would take less than an hour - that's one thing I do like about this sort of thing, even if I don't like it that much I don't feel like there's hours of my life I'm never getting back.

May 17, 7:42am Top

Happy new thread, Jackie!

Great pic of the Jar of Fate, and I do love your stats. Yay ROOTing.

Edited: Jun 3, 12:21pm Top

>19 karenmarie: Thank you Karen - I enjoy the stats nerdiness too :)

ROOT #32

ROOT #32 for the year is Rory Stewart's The Marches: Border Walks with my Father. It is the account of two separate walks that the author does along the England-Scotland borderlands, the first along the length of Hadrian's Wall. and the second from his cottage in Cumbria (NW England) to his family estate where his parents still lived, near Crieff in Perthshire, directly on the line between the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands. Interspersed among it all is the author's relationship with his elderly (and increasingly frail) father. Stewart is a Conservative MP in Cumbria, and previously was in the army and foreign office, so himself has a really interesting history, whilst his father fought in WW2 and then worked himself for the foreign office and secret service, particularly in SW Asia, so there were lots of interesting reminiscences about their former life too. Stewart's aim in doing the walks was to get a handle on English and Scottish identity, with the starting hypothesis that there basically is no difference between the people in these border lands, and in the run up to the Scottish independence referendum he would uncover this and complicate what he expected the dominant narrative of the independence campaign would be, of palpable differences in culture and ethnicity.

The Hadrians Wall walk was interesting in looking at the Roman history of the area, and also his correspondence with his father (initially they were going to walk together for a mile or so then his father would drive on to a meeting place in the evening, but it soon became too much for him so the walk was more solitary). The Cumbria-Crieff walk was longer, and interesting in that Stewart's assumptions about what he would find were challenged (primarily by the lack of interest people he met had in their history, but also by the differences he did see between both sides of the border, even when there might only have been a few hundred metres between villages - differences which he was able to trace to historical and political decisions).

The final part of the book details him discussing the ongoing writing of the book with his father, and then his father's death at home. This was a very tender look at his father's increasing frailty and decline, and was very moving.

Ultimately I don't think Stewart really answers any of his initial questions, but nevertheless this ended up being a fascinating look at a historically fascinating part of both England and Scotland, as well as a moving account of his relationship with his father. 4.5/5.

(Edited to add: he also managed to namecheck two of the authors of my favourite books I read last year, James Rebanks (who is a Cumbria sheep-farmer and wrote The Shepherd's Life), and the late Marie Colvin, whose On the Front Line: The Collected Journalism of Marie Colvin I also read and loved).

May 20, 4:48am Top

You're such an eclectic reader! I never read travel writing or biographies - should probably challenge myself with those. Must have a look on the shelves - I'm sure we have some elderly biography ROOTs...

Hope you're having a nice weekend and get some time to enjoy the good weather that's forecast for this week. Previous experience shows that this could be 'the' summer - as in, the only few consecutive days of good weather in the year - so we must enjoy it while we can :)

May 20, 9:50am Top

>21 floremolla: Hi Donna! I'm not sure, given my slight fiction phobia, that I'm *that* eclectic - there are plenty of fiction (and some non-fic) genres I actively avoid! (crime, horror, misery memoir, rom-com, etc) I have always loved travel writing though so have lots of those knocking around. I never thought I was much of an auto/biography reader, but then when I started putting all my titles down for the Jar of Fate I realised I actually had picked up quite a few over the years, so I guess I am! I also like histories, politics, environment, geography, anthropology, accessible academic, science, that sort of stuff - basically I think I'd say nerdy rather than eclectic, overall!

Weather-wise today has been the worst we've had for a while - the past week or so has been glorious! Today is overcast and a bit windy, but next week I think will be better - and yes I absolutely intend to take advantage of it, I know how ephemeral and short-lived the Scottish summer can be! I have really noticed though since moving here from Glasgow how much less rain we get, relatively speaking. I think I can count on the fingers of one hand the really torrential downpours that I can remember since coming here, whereas they were regular occurrences further west! I hope you have a good week too, and can get out to enjoy the sitooterie! :)

May 22, 1:21pm Top

>20 Jackie_K: Sadly this one isn't translated (yet), but two others are, so I will look if my library has any Rory Stewart books.
I loved The shepherd's life and the books by Patrick Leigh Fermor

May 22, 2:13pm Top

>23 FAMeulstee: I'm keen to read some of Stewart's other books. He did a walk across Afghanistan, and was also governor in southern Iraq before becoming an MP, and has written books about both those which I'm sure will be fascinating.

I read all three Patrick Leigh Fermor travel books last year and really enjoyed them. And The shepherd's life was one of my favourite books I read last year, I thought it was wonderful.

May 22, 4:49pm Top

>20 Jackie_K: >24 Jackie_K: I just saw an other library in my province does have The marches in translation, it came out last year.
Putting it on my library wishlist.

I read Leigh Fermor two years ago and The shepherds life last year.

May 23, 10:13am Top

>20 Jackie_K: Jackie this sounds great! My husband's greatest wish for our honeymoon was to walk Hadrian's wall. We wound up not going on a honeymoon at all sadly but this book will be perfect for his upcoming birthday!

May 24, 2:07pm Top

>26 Miss_Moneypenny: Ah, glad to have been of service! I think the author is sometimes a bit of a prickly character, but it's still a really fascinating and well-written book.

Walking Hadrian's Wall sounds like the kind of thing my husband might have suggested for our honeymoon, if he'd thought for a second I'd go for it (he did the 3 Peaks for his stag do, while I was having manicure and cocktails in London!). We ended up going to the Outer Hebrides for the first two weeks of January, so I think that was rugged enough :)

May 26, 12:27pm Top

ROOT #33

My 5th ROOT for May is Steve Goddard's Whatever Happened to Billy Shears?. I should add right away that the reason I have this book at all is because I know the author, I probably wouldn't have picked it up otherwise. I've read books by people I know before, it's always fun to spot the occasional thing that I recognise from knowing the author, and this book had a few of those moments, so I enjoyed that.

The story follows two people, Billy (an approaching-retirement-age Church of England priest who now works in media/PR for the church), and Sophie, a recently widowed teacher. The chapters initially alternate between the two, apparently unconnected stories. With regard to the title, we're told really early on that a person from his past (who is no longer in his life) is significant, and he has chosen not to tell anyone about this person. I actually guessed the link between Billy and Sophie really early on, and the link is first hinted at and then confirmed around half way through (I can't say more than that without giving a massive spoiler). The themes of the book include family, secrets, honesty, football, music, and they all interweave throughout. Having said I guessed the link early on, there were a couple of twists at the end which I absolutely didn't see coming and which stopped me in my tracks when I just assumed I knew what was going to happen (I also had to go back at the end and re-read the Prelude, which was about another character who never reappeared in the book. Once I'd read the book it made sense, I'm glad I did that!).

I really warmed to both characters, and although there were a few literary devices which I thought were a bit clunky and not quite convincing, there was also a lot of heart to the book and I am recommending it not because I know Steve, the author, but because it is a really good read. I loved an early scene set in Pennan (the Scottish village which was the setting for the film "Local Hero") in particular. 4/5.

May 26, 12:54pm Top

>28 Jackie_K: Oh, I really need to watch Local Hero. It's on my iTunes. Maybe I'll watch it this afternoon :D

May 26, 12:59pm Top

>29 rabbitprincess: Oh it's such a good film. I've not seen it for years - I really should dig it out again too. There were a lot of mentions of "Local Hero" up here a few years ago when Donald Trump bought his golf course in Aberdeenshire - this time the little guys didn't prevail (although they are still protesting, and more power to their elbows, frankly). In the film "You've Been Trumped" (which is exactly about that golf course) they include a scene of trying to phone Trump's office from *that* phone box in Pennan. Corny, but a point well made.

May 26, 4:31pm Top

My husband has wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail along the eastern US. Long-distance hiking interests me too (at least on paper!) and I'm exited to have just started an Early Reviewers novel about hiking the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail through France and Spain.

May 26, 9:27pm Top

>31 detailmuse: Ooh, I'll be looking forward to that review! My dream honeymoon would have been hiking through Spain, so this is right up my alley.

May 27, 2:33pm Top

>31 detailmuse: >32 Miss_Moneypenny: I love the idea of long-distance hiking on paper too, it's the reality (especially the uphill bits) that are my undoing! I've read a few books about the Camino de Santiago, some better than others - my main recommendation though is to never read Paulo Coelho's The Pilgrimage which I think is the worst book I have ever read!

Interestingly I am currently reading a travel book about travelling the length of the Danube, and even there (in Germany) the author mentions a town as being a staging post for the pilgrims from northern Europe who eventually would join up with the French and Spanish pilgrims on the way to Santiago.

May 28, 5:40am Top

ROOT #34

ROOT #34 for the year (#6 for May) is a short book I got from Project Gutenberg from a BB a couple of years ago - Samuel Hall Young's Alaska Days with John Muir. The author was a Christian minister in Alaska who accompanied Muir on a few trips to Alaska, Hall to minister to the Indians and preach the gospel, and Muir to map the as yet largely uncharted Alaska coastline and glaciers. They ended up with a lifelong friendship and admiration for each other, and this is Hall's account of the trips, and what he learnt from Muir about the beauty of the landscape. A really gentle, lovely read. I have a collection of Muir's writings lined up for a challenge later in the year, I'm really keen to get to it as although I've heard lots about him I've never actually read the man himself. 3.5/5.

May 29, 8:47pm Top

>34 Jackie_K: Nice review, Jackie. :-) I am making a note of this travel book, especially since it is in the public domain.

May 31, 10:22am Top

>35 Lisa805: It was a really nice read for a freebie! It also made me really want to see Alaska :)

So, it's the end of the month, and I've been pretty good on the acquisitions front! I read 6 ROOTs (possibly 7, depending if I finish one of my books today or tomorrow) and 1 library book in May, and up until today I'd only acquired 3! However, a freebie appeared this morning so I'm up to 4 acquisitions, but I think that's still the first month this year when I've read more than I've acquired, so I'm feeling a little smug. I had hoped to get Mt TBR back down to 395 by Sunday (when it is my birthday and so More Books), and I would have done it if I hadn't got the book today, but either today or tomorrow it will be down to 396 which means over the year to date I'll only have acquired one more book than ROOTs I've read (we'll not think about the ER book I heard this week I'd won - it's not arrived in my inbox yet, and it doesn't count until it does!).

Anyway, here's this month's haul - all ebooks, and all below £2 per book:

1. Alan Johnson - The Long and Winding Road (this completes my acquisition of his trilogy of memoirs - now to actually read them!).
2. Yanis Varoufakis - Talking to my Daughter about the Economy: A Brief History of Capitalism.
3. Matthew d'Ancona - Post-Truth.
4. Fiona de Londras & Mairead Enright - Repealing the 8th: Reforming Irish Abortion Law (no touchstone).

Edited: May 31, 10:27am Top

Hi Jackie!

Congrats on the acquisitions front being low. You were hovering dangerously close to more-than-400 and now have some cushion again. Your birthday haul counts but in a different way, right? *smile*

May 31, 10:31am Top

>37 karenmarie: We'll see! It's kind of like birthday cakes not having as many calories :)

May 31, 8:31pm Top

>38 Jackie_K: Well, they don't, do they? Do they?

Jun 1, 4:58am Top

>38 Jackie_K: Cake does not have calories. They all died in the oven.

Jun 1, 6:36am Top

>39 Robertgreaves: No they don't, Robert - definitely not! Broken biscuits don't either (the calories fall out when the biscuit breaks).

>40 MissWatson: Ooh, nice take! :D

Edited: Jun 2, 4:04pm Top

ROOT #35

My first ROOT for June, #35 for the year, is Ghillean Prance's The Earth Under Threat: A Christian Perspective. This short book contains the text of four lectures the author gave for the London Templeton Lectures in 1995 at the Linnaean Society of London. The author was at the time the Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and in the lectures he firstly outlines why the natural world is so amazing, and the degradation that it is subject to, before turning his attention to a Christian theology of the environment, reasons to be hopeful, concluding with a short chapter of action that can be taken by individuals and churches to preserve the environment. Given that I was reading this more than two decades after the lectures were delivered, I was struck by a few things. Firstly, the warnings about environmental damage that we're so familiar with have been going on for so long. Secondly, how hopeful he was that things could and would change (the lectures were given just a couple of years after the 1992 Rio Earth Summit) - I feel quite sad that the world in general seems to have continued to ignore the warnings and things are so much worse now than then.

There wasn't anything particularly new here for anyone who has followed debates about the environment - loss of biodiversity, population growth, climate change etc - nor particularly for anyone of faith who has engaged with these issues. That doesn't though negate the importance of the book's central message, that it is vital for world faiths, who inspire so many billions of people, to engage with and take seriously the threat to the world. It is encouraging to me that, despite what we might be presented with in the media suggesting the contrary, not all religious folk (in this instance Christians) are just about claiming the earth's resources for their own ends. The recommendations for action at the end were probably quite innovative when this was published, but seem quite tame now.


(Note to self: add to tickers when cheli puts up the June thread. Current TBR total 398)

Jun 3, 10:44am Top

ROOT #36

I did another shameless bypass of the Jar of Fate for a short book, but decided to assuage my guilt by making myself work quite hard for it, so ROOT #36 for the year (75% of my yearly goal) and #2 for June is in French, Goscinny & Uderzo's Asterix aux Jeux Olympiques. Back in the day when I was at school I did A'level French and was actually pretty decent at it, but it's been more years than I want to think about that I've not really used the language at all, so I'm really rusty now. I remember at school reading the Asterix books in French and really finding the jokes funnier than in the English translation (although I do like the English versions too). This one took me a bit longer than usual, but I was pleased that I got most of what was going on, although I'm sure with this passage of time I've missed a number of the jokes.

I did though find myself a bit disgruntled at the lack of women in the story. In fact, just after I'd thought "there are no women in this at all" there was a strip with the village women actually saying something along the lines of "anyone would think this story is only about the men". I thought "hooray" at that, and then was quickly disgruntled again, as the next picture was them saying "well now they've all gone to the Olympics we can clean and tidy up without them".

That aside, it was an amusing way to spend a bit of time, and it was good to get my linguistic brain cells whirring again, albeit not at the most intellectual level! 3/5.

Edited: Jun 3, 5:41pm Top

>43 Jackie_K: Good for you, tackling a book in French! :-) The front cover looks amusing.

Jun 3, 8:46pm Top

I'm just catching up with your threads, Jackie, and started with your review of the Sexton book. Have you read Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey by Madeleine Bunting? I found it a good book by a writer exploring Scotland.

Happy birthday!

Edited: Jun 4, 2:27pm Top

>44 Lisa805: Thank you! It was gently amusing throughout, mostly (apart from the aforementioned lack of women).

>45 Familyhistorian: I've not read Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey, but it's top of my list of books I'm going to buy when the TBR total is down a bit! I've heard so many good things about it. And thank you - I had a good birthday, including a couple of new books from my wishlist, so I'm happy about that :)

Jun 4, 7:34am Top

Happy belated birthday, Jackie!

Edited: Jun 4, 9:12am Top

Aack! I had it written down in my desk calendar, but neglected to wish you happy birthday yesterday.

Happy Belated Birthday!

Did you get any books for your birthday?

Jun 4, 10:10am Top

Oh goodness..... Happy belated birthday, Jackie! (Sorry, I managed to overlook part of your previous comment.) I hope you had a lovely day. :-)

Jun 4, 2:35pm Top

>47 MissWatson: >48 karenmarie: >49 Lisa805: Thank you all! Karen, yes I did get 4 books, but I am only counting 2 of them as ROOTs (which conveniently means that Mt TBR is at 400 and not 402). The two I'm not counting are Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman (which is a book that I will be reading with my daughter, it's basically a pre-school picture book but is really beautiful so I'm keeping it), and Think You Know it All? by Dan Smith, which is an interactive quiz book (I think my friend thinks I need to challenge my brain now I'm getting older!). And the two that are ROOTs are Map of a Nation (about the Ordnance Survey maps), and The Song of the Dodo (about island biodiversity). So it was a satisfyingly nerdy haul! I also got some money from my parents, and there are a couple of books from my wishlist that I will get next time I'm in town (including Love of Country mentioned above).

Jun 4, 6:43pm Top

Belated birthday greetings, Jackie! Nice birthday haul :))

Jun 4, 7:56pm Top

More belated birthday wishes, Jackie. Sounds like you got a good haul. Map of a Nation is fascinating - the ordinance survey maps were completed much later than I'd've guessed.

Jun 5, 8:15am Top

Hi Jackie!

I agree about not counting your daughter's book and the quiz book. I don't count my Sudoku books.

I have The Song of the Dodo on my shelves but it hasn't called out my name yet.....

Jun 5, 9:25am Top

>51 floremolla: >52 Robertgreaves: >53 karenmarie: Thank you all! Both books were BBs from here (although I can't remember who from, or if they were ROOTers or Category Challengers), so LT can take credit for expanding my literary horizons (or at least it can when I get round to them!). Song of the Dodo is a bit of a chunkster, and Map of a Nation has fewer pages but small writing, so I think both of them will be quite meaty when I eventually reach them!

Jun 9, 2:00pm Top

So I've just had a very strange experience - I was looking at threads in another LT group, then went to use the side menu as usual to navigate here to update my thread. And the 2018 ROOT group wasn't there in my list of groups! So I went the long way round back into the group, only to find that it was telling me that I had put the group on 'ignore' and asking me if I wanted to stop doing that? Obviously I said yes, stop ignoring, and then it asked me if I wanted to join the group! Er, yes, I think so! So I'm now showing as the group's most recent member! How weird! I updated my tickers on this thread earlier today, and posted in the June ROOTs thread too, so I'm definitely not ignoring anyone, I'm at a loss to understand how that happened. Anyway, here I am, with two more ROOTs to report.

ROOT #37

Continuing with my literary travels in middle/eastern Europe in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor (I feel I've done this journey a hundred times in the last year!!) is Andrew Eames' Blue River, Black Sea. This isn't strictly a Leigh Fermor retread (like Nick Hunt's Walking the Woods and the Water which I read earlier this year), instead the intention was to travel the entire length of the Danube, from Germany to Romania, by various means. He cycles until Budapest, then travels on horseback from Budapest south through Hungary to the Croatian/Serbian border, where he then catches a cargo boat from there to Romania with about 400 miles to go. He then has a diversion through Transylvania (the only bit where he did try to follow Leigh Fermor's footsteps, away from the Danube), and he then rejoins the Danube towards the end in the Danube Delta region of Romania, finishing up the last 20-something miles by rowing himself to the Black Sea port of Sulina.

As with both Leigh Fermor's trilogy and Nick Hunt's book, there are lots of observations of the countries and people he encounters, and musings on travel and life, with a sprinkling of aristocrats visited as well. I found it a bit harder to get into than the others - he is a really good writer, but although I really liked some of his literary descriptions they also sometimes did seem like they were trying too hard to point out how clever they were. However, as I got used to his writing style I noticed that less and less, and overall really enjoyed this journey. 4/5.

ROOT #38

I've said in several threads on LT when the subject has come up that I'm yet to meet a Wainwright Prizewinner or nominee that I haven't loved, and John Lewis-Stempel's Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field is no exception. The author, as well as being an accomplished nature writer, is a farmer in Herefordshire (right on the border with Wales), and this book is the account of a year in his meadow. Month by month he describes the animals, birds, insects and plants, not to mention the weather, that make up the life in the field, along with occasional nods to past literature and poetry, and the whole thing is gorgeous. 5/5, and already a top contender for my book of the year.

Jun 10, 10:56am Top

What a gorgeous bookcover for Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field. That is great it was a five star read, too!

Jun 10, 11:13am Top

Hi Jackie!

I had a different weird experience on LT yesterday - I uploaded two pictures to my junk drawer and then 'img src'd them into a message on my 75 group thread. I went back later because I was having doubts leaving the posting up. The second picture was gone - both from my thread and my junk drawer. I deleted my message but am still mystified as to how the junk drawer entry was there and then gone.

I wonder if something strange is going on in general?

Jun 10, 1:55pm Top

>56 Lisa805: It really is, isn't it? Each month also has a picture of a different animal or bird which is prominent that month, it's really beautifully done.

>57 karenmarie: Hi Karen - how strange! I think you're probably right, and strange things are going on generally. I think the LT site is probably quite creaky and unsophisticated, code-wise, so I guess these things are going to happen sometimes.

ROOT #39

Joy Ross Davis's Mother, Can You Hear Me? is my most recent Early Reviewers win. It has two subtitles, "A Caregiver's Story" and "A Memoir of Hope". It is a short (68 page) memoir of the author's time as full-time carer for her elderly mother, who had dementia. She outlines some of the challenges she faced with her mother's confusion (and her mother sounded like quite a character, it has to be said!), but also the "moments of grace" she finds in the everyday, whether this is an unexpected moment of connection with her mother, or the kindness of friends and care staff. She clearly has a Christian faith which also helps her through. She also looks back to events and people in her mother's past, to try to show the woman behind the dementia.

Initially I wasn't sure if I would like this, as it seemed to be so focused on trying to see the best in the situation and it felt a bit, not exactly sugar-coated, but trying hard to not be warts-and-all, but as I read on I warmed more to it. She mentions the tiredness and monotony of being a full-time carer, but doesn't dwell much on this, preferring to try and find the humour in the everyday. Although I don't have personal experience of being a carer in this situation, my cousin did care for my aunt with dementia in the final years of her life a few years ago, so I did recognise aspects of what she was writing about. I can imagine that this book could resonate with people in a similar situation, and in a sense I wish it had been longer. Although I could see that she was trying hard to maintain her mother's dignity and sense of personality, and the focus on those little moments of grace was a lovely way to look at things, I think I would have appreciated a little bit more about the down days to give a more overall view of what life day in day out as a carer of someone with dementia can be like.

I struggled to know how to rate this book - it's always hard when you are in effect judging somebody's personal experience. Eventually I've come down around 3.5/5 stars - I think it could have been strengthened as I say by more of a sense of the drudgery and difficulties as well as the humour and good times, but that said, this was well-written and never twee or cliched. 3.5/5.

Jun 11, 5:19am Top

Happy (very) belated birthday wishes, Jackie!

Jun 11, 7:06am Top

>59 connie53: Thank you Connie! At the weekend I received another book as a belated gift from my friend. And I'll be honest, it is *really* daunting, as it pretty much defines the word "chunkster"! It's nearly 1200 pages long, a hardback book, with the smallest print ever! Plus one of the reviews on the back says something along the lines of "makes Ulysses look like a primer", which made my heart sink a bit! I've bricks in the wall of my house smaller than this book! I did tell her it would probably take me a couple of years to read, but she said it was "astonishingly good" so would probably draw me in and take less time than that. We'll see - I hope so! My copy of War and Peace had more pages, but was an ebook so it didn't feel as large, somehow. Maybe I'll start another ticker specifically for this book, as that helped me work my way through War and Peace. The book is Jerusalem by Alan Moore, and I've decided to start it in August when I return from my trip down south seeing family (I don't want to take it with me, it'll fill half the car!), as I know she'll ask me what I think of it so I need to have at least started it! We are pretty similar in our tastes in general, and last year she bought me Fifteen Dogs which I really enjoyed, so hopefully this one will hit the spot too.

Jun 12, 2:26am Top

>60 Jackie_K: WOW, that is daunting! But maybe you can think of it as 4 books of 300 pages each?

Jun 12, 6:49am Top

Hi Jackie!

Yipes. I just read a few reviews of Jerusalem, having no plans on acquiring it any time soon, and wish you luck.

Jun 12, 7:58am Top

>61 connie53: It's certainly going to feel like more than one book, that's for sure!

>62 karenmarie: Haha, I know, I'm going to need a lot of luck (and probably a microscope to read that small print). One thing that does interest me is that it's set in Northampton (where the author has lived his whole life), which is just down the road from where I'm from originally, so I'm keen to see how that is portrayed.

And it actually is a beautiful-looking book - the cover illustration is cool, and the paper is thin and snow-white - it's a visual feast.

I think I'm going to have to find the nerdiest most obscure non-fiction I possibly can to give to my friend in return!!!

Jun 14, 12:59pm Top

Jackie, happy birthday month! (Resorting to extremes since my wishes are so belated!)

Ooh thrilled to get the Wainwright Prize onto my radar!

The LT wonkiness makes me anxious. Probably should poke around the site to see how to export my library into a file...

Jun 14, 1:51pm Top

>64 detailmuse: In case anyone hasn't exported recently, the function is available under More tab > Import/Export > Export as Excel. I exported All Books and took a look at the file, may follow-up with some "filtered" (customized) exports.

Jun 16, 5:43am Top

>60 Jackie_K: like Karen, I had a look at some reviews of Jerusalem, but I thought it sounded interesting. LT's 'will I like it?' feature tells me that I probably will, so I'll await your review with interest. No pressure.... ;)

>65 detailmuse: I shall have a look at that, wouldn't like to lose my data!

Edited: Oct 6, 2:18pm Top

>64 detailmuse: >65 detailmuse: Thank you! And don't worry, from this time next year I'm having a birthday year, never mind day or month :D Glad to have been of service re the Wainwright Prize! Their website details all the winners, shortlists and longlists for each year, so there's loads to choose from. Thanks as well for the thoughts re exporting the library. I'm sure that's a good idea. At the moment I don't think touchstones are working (sigh).

>66 floremolla: I'd forgotten about that feature, but I'm sure it will come as no surprise to anyone that LT is highly confident that I won't like Jerusalem! I'm actually quite intrigued by it though, so we'll see. Don't hold your breath waiting for a review though - my plan is to start it when I come back from my holidays, so from the start of August, and I worked out that if I can read 55 pages a week then I will finish it around Christmas time (but if I find I can't manage that then it will obviously take me into next year!). I may have to resurrect the War & Peace-o-meter page ticker to give me some focus - I shall call it the Jerusal-e-meter.

ROOT #40

Post-Soviet Women Encountering Transition: Nation Building Economic Survival, and Civic Activism, edited by Kathleen Kuehnast and Carol Nechemias, has been on my TBR since October 2007 (according to amazon) - so I bought it just after I returned to the UK from my PhD fieldwork abroad. This is a similar volume to Reproducing Gender (which I read and reviewed earlier this year), but unlike that one which focused on the countries of eastern Europe, this one focuses on the countries of the former Soviet Union (specifically here Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan). As with Reproducing Gender, I had read some of the chapters but not all, so I was glad to get back to this and finally read it right through. Each chapter details aspects of women's lives in the first decade or so since the collapse of the Soviet Union, looking at the impacts of the transition to market economy, political representation, and Western aid/development involvement. The chapters were all very good, although the final section (on the impact of Western involvement) was my favourite, not least because I was familiar with all of the authors and their work already (one of them was actually my PhD supervisor). I'm really pleased I got to this at last. 4.5/5.

Jun 16, 4:00pm Top

Mt TBR update: the total is currently 398. My aim is to be back at 395 for mid(ish)-July, as I will be having my first Barter Books trip of the year then (will be hopefully taking a number of books there for credit, so we'll see how successful that is! I've sorted out a few duplicates, a couple of abandoned books, plus some duplicate kids' books from my daughter's shelves. We had 3 copies of the Gruffalo!). And I'll have to hope that the Verso 90% off ebooks sale doesn't happen till later in the year! Ultimately I want to end the year at 394 or fewer, so that (for the first time probably ever) I'll have made a dent in Mt TBR rather than just grown it. We'll see!

I've got 2 ROOTs started and on the go (one I'm loving, one less so!) and 2 more picked out of the Jar of Fate but as yet not started, plus I still need to read my library book for this month. So as long as bookbub isn't too enabling this month, hopefully I'll get close to that goal! *crosses everything*

Jun 18, 9:04am Top

>67 Jackie_K: Jerusal-e-meter, I like it!

>68 Jackie_K: nice to get a decadal tome off Mt TBR - you've really focused on that total and it's starting to pay off now, well done!

Jun 19, 12:34pm Top

Jackie, I thought of you because suddenly in May I started getting Goodreads' emails about ebooks on a one-day sale at amazon for a couple dollars... so far I've snagged three from my wishlist :0

Jun 19, 2:21pm Top

>70 detailmuse: Oh cool! It's a bit of a double-edged sword - yay cheap wishlist books, but eek Mt TBR!

I must admit I delete the Goodreads emails without reading them, I'm only very very peripherally on there (I have the grand total of one book to my name there, and that was only because I got a free review book from a publisher who specifically requested a Goodreads review). I've been pretty good at putting bookbub books on the wishlist rather than buying them recently. I did find a couple of cheap books I wanted reduced in the kobo store today though, so now Mt TBR is back to 400.

Edited: Jun 21, 4:47am Top

ROOT #41

(I'll try and add the book image tomorrow, because it's beautiful, but for some reason my computer is messing about and not letting me right-click on images. Gah)

I know I said upthread that Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field was already a contender for my book of the year. Well right on its heels is my next contender - Victoria Whitworth's Swimming With Seals. An intensely personal memoir of how wild swimming - mainly in the same bay in Orkney - helped her understand herself, her place in the world, deal with loss and relationship break-up, as well as how nature, history, archaeology, myth, religion and personal stories interact and are intimately bound up with each other. The book is framed throughout with her original facebook posts describing individual swims, and all those topics - bereavement, her academic interests, childhood in Africa, moving to Orkney, myth, marriage breakup, religion, giving birth, being an 'incomer', writing, archaeology, memories, history, swimming, nature, friends (in no particular order) - are then threaded throughout. I thought it was a stunning book, and it's just been announced this week that it has been deservedly shortlisted for this year's PEN Ackerley Prize (which last year was won by Amy Liptrot's The Outrun which was one of my favourite books I read last year, and which features the same group of Orkney wild swimmers). Absolutely stunning, everyone should read it! 5/5.

Jun 22, 9:02am Top

>72 Jackie_K: Great review, Jackie, and beautiful cover indeed.
I hope it gets translated soon, reading in English takes way too much time.

Jun 23, 2:50pm Top

Your 'Jar of Fate' contents look a lot prettier and more colorful than mine, although my jar is quite nice, made of marble with horses carved on the outside. My husband keeps asking me when I am going to pick out a card from the jar! I have been too busy reading other stuff lately though.

Jun 28, 4:09am Top

>73 FAMeulstee: Yes, I know what you mean - I do occasionally read books in another language (none of which I am as fluent in as you are in English), and it is quite the time/effort investment!
>74 LadyoftheLodge: Thank you, I find colouring in the slips really therapeutic! I could probably do with a fancier jar though - this is an old Canderel jar (no expense spent spared).

Non-ROOT completed

June's library book was a bit of a departure from me, and my first non-Scottish library book of the year! The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a novel by Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid, and it was shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize. Pretty much every other Man Booker book I've read I've either given up on or at best finished but remained baffled throughout, and they all seem to be so flippin' long! This one though took me only about 2 hours to read, and wasn't baffling at all, so I'm feeling pleased with myself!

The book is the story of Changez, a young Pakistani man who moves to the USA in the late 1990s to go to Princeton, where he is an exceptional student who then gets a high powered job in an exclusive finance company in New York once he graduates. He falls for an American girl, Erica, but she is complicated and is mourning the death from cancer of her childhood sweetheart, and can never fully give herself to Changez. Meanwhile, the events of September 11th 2001 happen, and he starts to experience growing unease with American life and imperialism, and his initial acceptance of this lifestyle, exacerbated by the American invasion of Afghanistan and the increasing tensions between Pakistan and India at the same time. Whilst experiencing this turmoil, Erica is admitted to a mental hospital and eventually cuts off communication with him, and he is first fired from his job then returns to Pakistan where he gets a job as a university lecturer and a name for himself as someone who tries to disrupt the dominant narrative of the American worldview.

The story is narrated by Changez to an unnamed American businessman he meets in a Lahore restaurant. For the most part this worked really well - Changez is literally the only person who speaks, and any conversation or reaction on behalf of the American is also narrated by Changez (kind of, "oh, I see you're looking uneasy at the waiter" or "What's that you say? You're staying in X hotel?" etc). That was the only bit which didn't quite work for me, it felt a bit forced, although I do appreciate the power of having literally just the one voice for the entire novel.

I'll definitely be looking out for more from this author (I've heard good things about Exit West). 4/5.

Jun 28, 4:30am Top

>75 Jackie_K: Good review, Jackie, I have The reluctant Fundamentalist and Exit west on my library wishlist.

I like the idea of your Jar of Fate. I use the monthly TIOLI chalenges in the 75 group to keep me going.

Jun 29, 3:46pm Top

>72 Jackie_K: Love this nature-based trio. Such a good fit for life right now, and summer.

Jun 29, 4:07pm Top

>76 FAMeulstee: I have loved using the Jar of Fate. I use some of the challenges in the Category Challenge group as well, and I'm also doing the non-fiction challenge in the 75 group. All of those combined have really reignited my enthusiasm for reading the last few years.
>77 detailmuse: Yes, they are all a great read any time of the year, but I loved reading about swimming in the cold sea over the last couple of weeks with all this heat! (I recreated the sensation as best I could by putting more ice in my gin :D )

In other news, I have fallen spectacularly off the modest-book-acquiring wagon today. I had in my head that the once-a-year Verso 90% off all ebooks sale was likely to be later in the year, but it turns out it's this week only (closes Sunday). Mt TBR is now 405 (whoops). But I am so excited about all six of the books I bought (for the grand bargaintastic total of £5.90). I'll detail my entire June haul tomorrow. I think I need to dig out some more short books to claw the total back a bit!

Jun 30, 2:10pm Top

ROOT #42

Sneaking one more ROOT under the wire for June, this one (unlike my last few reads) was distinctly underwhelming. Barry Finlay's I Guess we Missed the Boat features the author, his wife and three other couples who are his in-laws (two of the women are his wife's sisters, and one of the others was his wife's cousin, I think), reminiscing about the various holidays they've taken, together and separately, over the years. They have in common that they are all from the Canadian prairies, they're retired, and travel extensively.

Whilst they are all nice people, I'm afraid I just found this dull, and despite the accolades for the book the writing was OK but nothing special. I'm sure all of the stories would be hilarious if you were there, or if you knew any of the people well, but the experience of reading this put me in mind of having to look at hundreds of holiday snaps by a complete stranger. They would probably have worked OK as shorter facebook posts, or as a blog, but as a book it was just pretty underwhelming. At least I didn't pay much for it. 2/5.

Jun 30, 4:18pm Top

>63 Jackie_K: Good luck reading Jerusalem, Jackie, but if it is about Jerusalem how can it be set in Northampton?

Jun 30, 4:40pm Top

>80 Familyhistorian: I don't think it's actually *about* Jerusalem - I expect the title is symbolic of something (probably something baffling, knowing my luck).

So it's the end of June (how did that happen?) and overall I'd say I had a good month. 8 ROOTs read, including 5 which were over 4* reads (and 2 which were 5*). And, er, 15 acquired (oops - although probably not a huge surprise in a month which started with my birthday and ended with the Verso 90% off ebooks sale).

So here's this month's haul (birthday books marked with *; Verso books marked with **):

1. Marie Browne - Narrow Margins.
2. Christie Watson - Tiny Sunbirds Far Away.
3. David Quammen - The Song of the Dodo. *
4. Rachel Hewitt - Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey. *
5. Leila Aboulela - Lyrics Alley.
6. Alan Moore - Jerusalem. *
7. Joy Ross Davis - Mother, Can You Hear Me?.
8. Terry Waite - Solitude: Memories, People, Places.
9. Arlie Russell Hochschild - Strangers in their Own Land.
10. Rebecca Solnit - A Book of Migrations. **
11. Dan Hancox - The Village Against the World. **
12. Chris Bambery - A People's History of Scotland. **
13. Nadya Tolokonnikova & Slavoj Zizek - Comradely Greetings. **
14. Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Beautiful Struggle. **
15. China Mieville - October. **

Mt TBR is currently sitting at 404 books - so I'm +9 on the start of the year. I almost certainly won't get back to 395 by the time I go on holiday in the latter part of July, but I'm hopeful I'll be below 400 (not least because there's a Barter Books trip probably included on that break!), and I'm still aiming for 394 or less by the end of the year.

Jun 30, 8:42pm Top

>80 Familyhistorian: >81 Jackie_K: Is it a history of the WI?

Jul 1, 4:22am Top

>82 Robertgreaves: No, but this month's library book (most excellently and puntastically called Jambusters) is a history of the WI in WW2.

Jul 1, 7:44pm Top

>83 Jackie_K: Jambusters is a great title!

Apparently the title of Alan Moore's book is a reference to Blake's poem:

"And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land"

Stirring stuff (can't help singing the melody!) but I'm guessing Moore's Jerusalem/Northampton is more dark satanic mill than green and pleasant land. And who knew 'builded' was a word - I'm sure my children used it as toddlers and I corrected them :/

Jul 1, 8:47pm Top

>84 floremolla: I *always* think of Monty Python when I see the first verse of that poem! (And there's another sketch that makes reference to the third verse.)

Edited: Jul 3, 9:38am Top

>84 floremolla: My daughter is still at the 'logical tense ending' stage, I try to model correctly but must admit not as much as I should because it's so cute! So 'builded' would be one, she also says things like "I hadded enough" which I'm going to really miss when she grows out of it!
>85 rabbitprincess: I'm always happy for Monty Python references :)

ROOT #43

My first ROOT for July, #43 for the year, is L.A. Kauffman's Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism. This was one of last year's Verso sale books, and I found it a fascinating insight - from a direct action insider, as well as journalist - into American protest movements from the late 60s onwards (the final set of protests in the book are the 2014 Ferguson protests, and genesis of Black Lives Matter). Although a sympathetic account, she doesn't flinch from the more negative aspects of many protest movements (particularly the lack of consideration of people of colour in many of them, as well as those actions that were less well organised). I particularly liked her account of the AIDS activist groups, particularly ACT UP, and the more recent stuff on Ferguson. It's given me a lot to think about - I attend marches, and that sort of thing, but how meaningful is that given my own level of involvement, and what else can I do? 4.5/5.

Jul 3, 12:57pm Top

>86 Jackie_K: I so agree: What to do? Seems unhelpful to give information or voice opinion since neither is likely to change minds these days. An absolute "must" is to vote.

Jul 3, 4:34pm Top

>87 detailmuse: Yes, indeed. I vote at every opportunity, and am making more of an effort to contact my local representatives about various issues. I did even consider at one point the possibility of standing for our local council in the future, but I am not a member of a political party (and prefer it that way) and independents come nowhere in most elections. I think there must be more I can do, and the more I think about it the more I think it's work at a local level where I could make most difference. But really, I need to stop scratching my chin and actually get on with something.

Jul 4, 12:05pm Top

>88 Jackie_K: I continue thinking about this and am impressed with your desire. I've only once been interested in joining a campaign -- Colin Powell for President in the '90s, and he declined to run. I think rallies/marches do send powerful messages and they do inspire and motivate both participants and onlookers.

Jul 4, 1:55pm Top

>88 Jackie_K: you could dip your toe in the political water by joining your local community council. I did it for six years and enjoyed getting to know the range of issues from planning to education, policing, libraries, waste management, economic development... I attended one meeting per month and drafted responses to development proposals. It wasn't too onerous.

I was militant in my youth, marching against apartheid and mass unemployment, supporting the CND, did a stint as a union steward, fighting for maternity rights and workplace nursery provision. I agree with >89 detailmuse: - I think we did make a difference and now that I can't easily get time to join demonstrations I'm very grateful to the people who make the effort and keep the pressure on government!

Jul 5, 5:30am Top

>89 detailmuse: I think that is true about motivating participants and onlookers, as well as (as floremolla points out) making a point and putting pressure on government. I suppose I wonder about what happens though when the euphoria dies down. I'm not knocking it, just thinking I should do more on top of that, somehow.
>90 floremolla: That is something that has occurred to me, although if we have a local community council here it's not very visible! (I know there's one in a nearby part of Stirling as one of the council candidates was on it so I heard about it through her campaign literature, but not sure if there's one for this area. Will check that out). And although slightly different, now that my daughter is about to start school I'm also toying with the idea of volunteering for the PTA (a hotbed of politics if ever there was one!) or looking into being a school governor. Having the chance to influence education from the beginning (not with my own agenda, but looking at what issues the school and children face and what I might be able to help improve) would be something very concrete, I think.

ROOT #44

My second ROOT of July is an Early Reviewer book which I LOVED. Devi Menon's graphic novel Amla Mater is a sweet and surprisingly profound look at home and memory. Mili is an Indian girl now settled in London and married to a lovely local boy (The Baker), and as her pregnancy progresses she looks back to her childhood and early adulthood in India, and the friends and family she's left behind. The amla of the title is the fruit of the Indian gooseberry tree, and Mili tries to make amla pickle to try and bring back a little sense of home to her East London flat. The book is loosely structured around the latter weeks of her pregnancy (it ends just before she has the baby, as she is waiting for her mum and childhood friend to arrive in London in time for the birth), although the reminiscences of India, childhood, early days in London, and getting together with The Baker, are more free-flowing and random. The pictures are simple, but with unexpected depth. I'm not a big reader of graphic novels, but this was really lovely, a really impressive debut. I had a pdf copy of the book, and I think reading it on my ereader confirmed that I need to read graphic books in paper version to fully appreciate them, but this one was so good it managed to overcome that. 5/5.

Jul 5, 8:17am Top

Jul 11, 2:56pm Top

ROOT #45

ROOT #45 for the year (#3 for July) is a book I've had for a long time, I'm sure I bought this when I still lived in London, so 2005 or before. Colin Thubron's Among the Russians is a wonderful account of a journey he took in the very early 1980s, driving alone through the western Soviet Union, from Belarus to Moscow then north to Leningrad (now St Petersburg) and then Estonia and Latvia, and then south to the Caucasus, Georgia and Armenia, the eastern Black Sea coast, Crimea and Odessa, before driving back north and then across to Kiev and Lvov. Along the way he meets ordinary Soviet citizens (not just Russians) and dissidents, is followed by KGB officers (who are more or less obvious), sees the sights, gets drunk with the locals, and muses on the Soviet system. This was a really fascinating look at a long-gone era, and his writing is really evocative. 4.5/5.

Now that Mt TBR is over 400 (currently at 406) it feels slightly out of control, but hopefully not irredeemably!

Jul 12, 2:19pm Top

ROOT #46 (DNF)

Christina Grau's Backpacking My Style is the other Early Reviewer book I won last month, but unfortunately I didn't have the same reaction I had to the last one (see post >91 Jackie_K: above), and I ended up abandoning this one unfinished. I did give it a good go - 39% of the book read, 33 chapters, plus the final two chapters which were a summary of all the countries and tally of what she spent, and 109 pages - so I think I can still give a fair review, I just couldn't face any more of the same.

The author backpacks to various different countries (16 in total) in the course of a year, either house-sitting or working with a couple of volunteering websites (Helpx and Workaway), and I expected from the blurb that this would be a 'how to' kind of a book, detailing the countries visited but also how to go about seeing them on a budget and volunteering etc. A number of the other reviews have said that it read like excerpts from a travel diary, but to me it read more like the notes to accompany a powerpoint presentation - although it was in full sentences it wasn't really much more than bullet point type points in its level of detail. Actually more than that, it reminded me of some of the really poor essays I used to have to mark when I was teaching as a postgrad. Tourist attractions would be mentioned a bit, there was more detail about precisely every single meal she ate and how much it cost which got increasingly dull, plus notes on how much various tours and bus or taxi journeys took, and occasional lists of 'films which were set in this particular location'. I appreciate that this wasn't meant to be a deep look at the history of any particular country, but what historical details were there were pretty patchy. For example, this in the chapter on Jerusalem had me rolling my eyes:

All through history, because of its location, Jerusalem has been sieged, attacked, conquered, and ruled by many different countries. The Persians, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Turks, Ottomans, and British - and probably some other country I can't remember right now - all ruled Jerusalem at one time or another.

The word which kept coming to me while I read this was 'superficial', and the more I read the more dissatisfied with it I felt. It didn't help that I still had no sense of how the volunteering/house-sitting side of things really worked, as she barely mentioned this, and although she details how much she spent overall which was kind of interesting, other than that it was basically a list of tourist attractions she saw and cheap meals she ate. I think it could have been redeemed with significant redrafting and focus, but as it stands I just couldn't face any more of it, I'm afraid. 1.5/5.

Jul 14, 3:54pm Top

>78 Jackie_K: I confess to having also fallen off the book acquisition wagon. I seem to get interested in a specific idea or person, and then I find books about that idea or person. This month it is the wilderness work of Theodore Roosevelt and the art and life of Thomas Kinkade. Trips to the bookstore have also led me astray.

Jul 19, 6:40am Top

>95 LadyoftheLodge: Definitely the bookstore's fault. Not yours. Oh no. And yeah, tangents and garden paths - they're always lots of fun, I don't blame you for wandering down them!

I'm going away tomorrow till the end of the month (mainly seeing family down south, but also spending a couple of days camping at a festival in Wales at the end of next week), and won't have any more books read before then. I'm making good progress on a few books though so hopefully will have met my ROOT goal before I'm back. We won't think about the acquisitions (guess who's going to Barter Books tomorrow, wheeeeee!). I hope everybody has a good couple of weeks, and I'll catch up with everyone when I'm back.

Jul 19, 8:51am Top

>96 Jackie_K: Oooooo Barter Books!!! :D

Jul 19, 9:00am Top

Have fun on your trip, Jackie. And good hunting at Barter Books!

Jul 19, 9:02am Top

Have a good trip, Jackie. It wouldn't involve a slight detour to Hay on Wye, would it?

Edited: Jul 19, 12:48pm Top

>97 rabbitprincess: I KNOW RIGHT?!

>98 MissWatson: Thank you! We have some books to exchange, so hopefully our acquisitions won't break the bank!

>99 Robertgreaves: Oooooooh. I hadn't actually got so far as looking, but I have just checked the map, and our route from the in-laws' to Wales doesn't even need to detour to Hay on Wye because it goes right through it! I think that's a sign, don't you?

Jul 21, 1:23am Top

Have a great holiday and book hunt, Jackie!

Jul 29, 9:50am Top

Hi Jackie!

I hope you're having a wonderful trip and that a visit through Hay on Wye yields a few more additions to your Jar of Fate.

Jul 30, 6:02am Top

>101 Familyhistorian: Thank you Meg! We got back home at 10pm last night, and I now feel like I need a holiday to recover! I was very restrained with book acquisitions (having a car that was full from top to bottom helped my resolve, to be honest!). But it was a good time, good to catch up with family and friends we don't see very often.

>102 karenmarie: Thanks Karen! It was a lovely holiday - though not relaxing even while we were relaxing, if that makes sense (we were able to chill out a bit, but also seeing lots of family meant that we were always aware of ourselves and not saying the wrong thing etc, so that wasn't so relaxing! Plus we drove just over 1000 miles in just over a week, in a packed and cramped car, and now have a ton of washing and unpacking to do, so I need another week to properly relax, I think!). Do you know, I was actually a bit overwhelmed by Hay on Wye. We went into several bookshops, but as we only had a couple of hours there on the way to our camping in Wales, I didn't really have time to soak it all in and decide what I really wanted, so we ended up not buying anything! (we did find a really lovely kids' book which both Pete and I really liked, but A looked at it and wasn't interested, so we didn't get it in the end). We did get some books from Barter Books earlier in the week though, so I'm not entirely bereft!

I also didn't do all that much reading while I was away. I did finish my library book, but no ROOTs, although I did make progress on one of them. I'll review the library book later, but think I really need to do something about the washing and unpacking! I'll check in on other people's threads later too (ooh, so much catching up to do!).

Jul 30, 8:40am Top

Welcome back! The aftermath of travelling can be overwhelming. I still haven't looked at the photos of our trip properly.

Jul 30, 10:19am Top

>104 MissWatson: Thank you, yes I have mostly been looking at the pile of stuff in the middle of the living room floor, hoping that it will tidy itself away!

Non-ROOT completed

My July library book was the excellently-titled Jambusters by Julie Summers, and I must admit I chose it primarily because of the top-class book title pun! It is a history of the WI (Women's Institute) in World War 2, and is extensively researched. There are some WI members she follows throughout the book, and she also draws upon minutes and correspondence and other archival material to build up a fascinating picture of WI activity throughout the war. I hadn't realised how much the government had relied on the network of Women's Institute branches in rural England and Wales to mobilise women for the war effort. As well as the jam-making (actually not just jam, also preserving and canning fruit from hedgerows, abandoned gardens and allotments that would otherwise have rotted before being picked), they did a lot of things like sewing and knitting garments for soldiers and prisoners of war, housing evacuees, as well as providing entertainment to try and keep morale up. The privations and considerable sacrifices made by many women, as well as their impressive resourcefulness, were well documented, and I found myself full of admiration for them. The book is very careful not to resort to 'Jam and Jerusalem' cliches about the WI, and is in fact a very good social history. I did think the final chapter (which sums up what happened to the various women mentioned in the book after the war) was a bit unfocused and weak compared to the rest of the book, and in particular the final sentence was really weak, like the author had completely run out of steam and just wanted to finish it. But apart from that disappointing end, I'd actually very much recommend this as an interesting social history which goes way beyond the stereotypical view of the WI. 4/5.

Jul 31, 10:49am Top

I'm not going to get any more ROOTs finished before month end, so here's July's round-up. I read 4 ROOTs in total (one of which was abandoned), so slowed down the pace a bit compared to other months, but a week and a bit of that was holiday, so not bad!

We did well at Barter Books the other week! I bartered 5 books (three duplicates, plus the two paperback ROOTs I abandoned earlier this year), we also handed over duplicate copies of 4 or 5 of A's books (awesome as it is, nobody needs three copies of The Gruffalo!), and Pete also provided 5 or 6 books (one graphic novel, a book on aikido, and some fiction), and they accepted all of them and gave us £32 credit, which I was really pleased with. We then picked up 2 books for me, 3 for A, and one for Pete, all of which came to £35, so only £3 spent on lots of books! And actually, Pete's book took up half of that total as it was a collector's item. I'll have to see what else is on the shelves that I'll never read again, because we are heading down that way to see friends in a few weeks so will probably pop into the shop again (such a hardship!).

As I mentioned upthread to karenmarie, we also went to Hay-on-Wye and did go into several bookshops, but because it was just a pit-stop from one campsite to another I couldn't really take it in and found it a bit overwhelming, and ended up not buying anything! I loved the bookshop in the old cinema though, they've done that up beautifully - I could have sat in there all day just soaking up the atmosphere. I think I'd have to go back and spend a good day there to get my head round it - a couple of hours wasn't enough.

Acquisitions-wise I haven't done badly - 7 total acquired in July, bringing the Mt TBR total to 407 currently. I will have 6 ROOTs either already started or about to start for August, so what I'd like to do is be as close to 400 as possible for the end of August, and then try and chip away at that total again and get it below 400. I'd like to be at 395 or below at the end of the year (I started this year with 395 books still to read, so if I can get back there, or even fewer, I will be delighted).

These are this month's haul (the last two are the Barter Books ones):

1. Devi Menon - Amla Mater. (LTER)
2. The Unmumsy Mum - The Unmumsy Mum.
3. Damian Smyth - English Street (no touchstone). (belated birthday gift)
4. Cristina Grau - Backpacking My Style. (LTER)
5. Michelle Vines - Asperger's on the Inside.
6. Peter Mayle - Bon Appetit! Travels through France with knife, fork and corkscrew.
7. Colin Thubron - In Siberia.

Jul 31, 3:35pm Top

Sounds like a really great trip and also some good books here on your list. I understand about the family thing and trying to say the right things when in the group and etc.

Jul 31, 7:15pm Top

>106 Jackie_K: Ooo the Hay Cinema Bookshop is gorgeous, isn't it? That was the first shop we visited in Hay and I honestly didn't know if I'd be able to find my way out again. Walking the aisles felt like being in a weird dream where the bookshop just keeps going on forever ;)

Hope you get a chance to go back and do it properly! If you do decide to go for a longer period, I can recommend the place we stayed.

Aug 2, 9:30am Top

>107 LadyoftheLodge: Thank you - it was fine really, just that when you're aware of things below the surface it's sometimes a bit harder to relax! It was nice to see people, and A had the best time with her cousins. It was also nice to move on though - we camped for a couple of days and I did feel like I could fully breathe again! Mind you, now I'm home I'm now knackered and ready for another holiday.
>108 rabbitprincess: It really was lovely - and such beautiful polished wooden floors, so it looked stunning even before you looked at all the lovely books! I'd love to go back and explore it properly.

ROOT #47

Ukraine and Russia: People, Politics, Propaganda and Perspectives (ed. Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska & Richard Sakwa) was a free ebook I picked up a couple of years ago from E-International Relations. It features chapters from different scholars of the region, looking at the events in Ukraine of 2014 (Euromaidan, the annexation of Crimea, and the ongoing separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine) and how they are interpreted in Ukraine and Russia. Most of them are from a political science perspective, which isn't my academic background, but it was interesting, and gave me more insight than I had to date - I'm just as guilty as the next person of accepting the somewhat simplistic media oversights of a complex series of situations. 3.5/5.

ROOT #48

Forgive the rubbish picture - I couldn't find an image online of this book, so had to take a picture from my kobo (propped up on my netbook). "Northumberland: Time and Place" is an anthology of writing created for the 10th anniversary of the Hexham Book Festival a few years ago. They got ten authors to stay in ten different places in Northumberland, and write a thing. This includes non-fiction, short stories, a fictionalised biography, a children's picture story, and poetry. My favourite piece was by Melissa Harrison, but I enjoyed it all, including the short stories (a genre which doesn't usually do it for me). (NB the book is available for download from here: http://hexhambookfestival.co.uk/10th-anniversary-author-residency-programme/ ) 4/5.

And with that, that's my ROOT goal completed for the year! I won't update my ticker till the August thread is up. I'm really pleased with my progress this year - last year I ended up reading (I think) 58 books, which was my best year ever, but I think barring disaster I should do even better this year. I'm going to donate all my books over 48 to the group total, and maybe rethink my goal for next year.

Aug 2, 10:37am Top

Congrats on reaching your goal so early! That's an impressive list of books.

Aug 2, 3:03pm Top

Congratulations on reaching your goal, Jackie!

Aug 2, 4:35pm Top

Wow, great work on meeting your goal! I totally get what you mean about travel though--it usually takes me some time to get my energy back and feel "normal" again, whatever that might be!!

Aug 3, 1:44am Top

Congratulations on meeting your ROOTs goal, Jackie. I know what you mean about needing a vacation after spending your holiday visiting family. I can remember years of doing that - we were always the ones to travel back to visit family and we would hear about their trips to exotic places. Aggravating as we couldn't do trips to exotic places as we spent our time and money visiting them. I hope your next vacation is to somewhere exotic or relaxing.

Aug 3, 3:06pm Top

>110 MissWatson: >111 FAMeulstee: >112 LadyoftheLodge: >113 Familyhistorian: Thank you - if you'd told me even 5 years ago (when I started ROOTing) that I'd read this many books in a year I would never have believed you! I'm so happy with how I've been able to get reading for pleasure again, and fall back in love with books.

>112 LadyoftheLodge: >113 Familyhistorian: I'm already dreaming of our next (proper!) holiday! Not that we have any plans yet, but I'd really like to get away just the 3 of us somewhere we can chill out a bit. Although now A is about to start school we will be limited to a week in October.

Aug 4, 7:12am Top

Non-ROOT completed

August's library book is by another Jackie K - definitely not me! Jackie Kay's Fiere is a collection of poetry to go alongside her memoir, Red Dust Road (which I now really really want to read). Some of the poems are in Scots, others English with some Igbo phrases and words thrown in too, reflecting her Scottish-Nigerian heritage. I found I really wanted to hear her reading them, as I'm sure they'd be even more beautiful read out loud. I really enjoyed the collection - unlike a lot of poetry I found it very accessible, I understood (mostly) what was going on and wasn't left baffled. She really does know how to turn a phrase. Recommended. 4.5/5.

Aug 4, 4:30pm Top

>115 Jackie_K: haha this is the collection by "you" that I have!! Looking forward to it.

>114 Jackie_K: I'm so happy with how I've been able to get reading for pleasure again, and fall back in love with books.
This is fabulous!

Congratulations on reaching your goal!

Aug 5, 1:48am Top

Congrats on reaching your goal, Jackie!

Aug 5, 8:24am Top

Hi Jackie!

I know how those kind of vacations go, Jackie, and remember wanting another week after, too.

I think I had the same reaction at a bookstore in Alberton Montana that you had at Hay-on-Wye. This was just one used book store, though, but they advertise and most assuredly have over 100,000 books! The problem is that they are on floor-to-ceiling shelves in an old grocery store with 13-foot ceilings, (almost 4 meters). I was totally overwhelmed and only bought 2 books, I think.

Congrats on reaching your ROOT goal of 48.

Does A actually start school this coming fall?

Aug 5, 8:49am Top

>116 detailmuse: Thank you MJ! I think that Fiere would probably be even better if I'd read Red Dust Road first - it has lots of allusions to aspects of her life (partners, child, adoptive and birth parents, Scotland and Nigeria, etc) that I know about vaguely but which would probably be even more meaningful if I knew the whole story.

>117 connie53: Thank you Connie! Have a great weekend!

>118 karenmarie: Thank you Karen! That sounds like a very similar reaction (both to the holiday and to the giant bookshop!). And yes, A starts school 2 weeks tomorrow! (they go back earlier in Scotland than everywhere else in the UK). We were in town yesterday buying the bits of uniform we don't yet have, new shoes etc (her face trying on the shoes was a picture, she is SO excited about starting school!). At the moment I feel a bit in limbo - our weekly routine is about to change, to accommodate school hours, and I'm also about to take on another job one day a week in the next few weeks, so I just want to get into it all now so I know what it's going to look like for the next several years! There are a handful of kids at her nursery who will be starting school, but most of the school agers have already left, so she is head and shoulders above most of the kids there now, and they are having to focus on the younger ones, so she's definitely ready to move on. I absolutely love her nursery, and am really sad at the thought that we won't be going there any more, the staff are wonderful and she has come on leaps and bounds in the 3+ years she's been there, but knowing how excited she is about going to school is making that easier.

Aug 5, 4:39pm Top

ROOT #49

My real-life book group (which I don't actually go to any more since moving out of Glasgow, but stay in touch with online) always picks a theme for the summer rather than a specific book, and we all choose one or more books related to that theme to discuss. This year the theme is 'Walls', and the book I chose was Matthew Small's The Wall Between Us: Notes from the Holy Land, about Palestine under occupation and particularly in the shadow of the Israeli Separation Wall. Small is a journalist who spent a month in the Holy Land on a 'working retreat', helping Palestinian farmers with the olive harvest and learning about life from both Palestinian and Israeli perspectives (although, as I think is pretty inevitable in a situation like that, he found it difficult to be neutral as he had aimed, and his sympathies are overwhelmingly with the Palestinians). Short chapters, which include extracts from his diary at the time, detail the encounters he has with other group members as well as with Palestinians and Israelis, and his thoughts on peace and the future. It ends with him visiting the Auschwitz concentration camps, as an attempt to try to understand the formation of Israel and their need for safety and security. Overall I found nothing in the book I disagreed with, although it felt a little bit earnest in parts, and it is yet another voice crying for justice and peace. 4/5.

Edited: Aug 9, 7:25am Top

ROOT #50

My other read for this month's Non-Fiction challenge was a short one (but as that's the challenge - short collections of essays - I don't feel like I was cheating to get my ROOT numbers up by reading a short one!). Charles Darwin's The Galapagos Islands is another of the Penguin 60 classics; this features two essays, The Galapagos Archipelago, and Tahiti. Both are primarily descriptive of what he found in each place, flora, fauna, and human occupants. What I found most interesting was in the Tahiti essay, where (despite being considered by many to be an enemy of Christianity) he was very supportive of the missionaries there, and defended them staunchly against criticisms by others that they had robbed the locals of their joy and were making them live in fear, stating that he had seen quite the opposite, and indeed felt that things were greatly improved now in many aspects of life.

It's kind of difficult to rate this sort of book, being largely a factual description of the places by a great mind. I'll say 4 stars, as it was interesting but not earth-shattering (well, I suppose it kind of was earth-shattering, in the grand scheme of things). I enjoyed it, and will keep this one. 4/5.

In other news, I'm experiencing not a reading slump exactly, but a bit of a reluctance to pick up my current reads. I think it's because, although they're all really good and I'm enjoying them, they are all in one way or another making emotional demands of me, and I'm just so tired that's more than I want to be doing with at the moment! I'm feeling the need for fluff which makes no demands of me at all. I'll keep going with them, but am also browsing my bookshelves hoping something will jump out at me and do the trick.

Aug 9, 4:59am Top

I hope something fluffy jumps out at you soon.

Aug 9, 9:05am Top

>122 MissWatson: I hope you do too. Everyone needs something fluffy now and then!

Aug 9, 1:37pm Top

Happy Book Lover's Day! A good day to read something fluffy.

Aug 9, 1:59pm Top

>122 MissWatson: >123 connie53: >124 LadyoftheLodge: Thank you! I have a little shortlist, so hopefully something fluffy will be read soon! Not fluffy at all, but interesting nonetheless:

Non-ROOT completed

An extra library book to boost their numbers, Elspeth King's Stirling Girls: Towards a Women's History of Stirling is the gazetteer which accompanied an exhibition at the wonderful Stirling Smith museum (one of my favourite 'local' museums anywhere in the world) in 2003. It details prominent women with connections to Stirling, and also the holdings of the museum and gallery which are either by or of women. It wasn't the easiest thing to read without the actual exhibition in front of me, and not all of the exhibits are pictured in this, but it was interesting to read about some of the women - I want to read more now about Annie Croall, who set up the Stirling Children's Home in the late 19th century. I also loved the cover illustration, which features various Stirling features as the women's accessories (eg the Stirling Bridge is her choker, and the feather in her headdress is the Wallace Monument). 3/5.

Edited: Aug 9, 4:42pm Top

And now for something completely fluffy!

ROOT #51

The Unmumsy Mum is one of those 'telling it like it is' mum bloggers, and is (along with Hurrah for Gin and a couple of others) probably one of the most popular in the UK over the past few years. When she was writing her first book, she asked for her followers to send in their own tales of parenting disasters/faux pas/hilarious inadvertent sweariness/etc, and then she put some of them in this little ebook along with the introduction to her own book as a freebie to advertise the book. The Unmumsy Mums: A Collection of Your Hysterical Stories from the Frontline of Parenting is only 30-odd pages, but was a fun diversion for half an hour. I think I've been following her page for so long now that some of these tales felt a bit tame (hence only giving it 3 stars), but a few of them did have me laughing out loud. But then I laugh out loud reading the comments on her facebook posts too - parenting really is the most ridiculous thing sometimes. I've got both of her actual books still waiting to be read, and the taster of the first book did remind me that she really is, amongst all the tales of poo and tantrums, a very good and funny writer, so I'm looking forward to reading those. 3/5.

Aug 10, 3:04am Top

That sounds like real fun, Jackie!

Aug 10, 3:28pm Top

It does sound like a fun read, maybe even a bit of fluff to lighten things up.

Aug 13, 4:22pm Top

I'm feeling a little reading-slumpy too. I'm staring at a few that I owe reviews on, or that I've picked for challenges, and I'm not making progress on them.

I looked at the books you and I share to see if one might jump out to recommend, but the only one you haven't read so far is Educated … I haven't read it either, but I expect it to be terrific and it keeps catching my eye from my bookshelf so maybe I should take the hint!

Edited: Aug 13, 5:13pm Top

>127 connie53: >128 LadyoftheLodge: It was fun, although I suspect I'm going to prefer the books she actually wrote herself. I certainly enjoy her social media posts a lot.

>129 detailmuse: I'm reading Educated: A Memoir at the moment, it is very good so far! Not always the easiest read, subject-matter wise (and I suspect I've not got to the worst bits yet), but she writes really well.

ROOT #52

So I finally managed to read some Anne Bronte! I have read Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre by her sisters, and to be honest am not a huge fan of either, mainly on account of the awful leading men. As my copy of Anne's Agnes Grey was from Project Gutenberg and didn't have a cover picture, I have therefore treated myself (and you) to another showing of one of my favourite cartoons by Hark, A Vagrant! I have to say, I am totally with Anne on this one (and I am disproportionately amused by the thought of Anne even thinking of the phrase "If you like alcoholic dickbags", never mind actually saying it!).

From what other people have said in the past, I gathered that Anne is the preachiest of the three sisters, and that certainly came across here, although that didn't annoy me as much as it might have. The story was much less dark and brooding than those of her sisters, and it left absolutely no need to guess who Agnes was going to end up with, it was obvious as soon as he was introduced. It reminded me more of Jane Austen than the other Brontes, but without the humour/satire. I'm giving this 3 stars for the story, and an extra half star for having a bearable male lead. 3.5/5.

Aug 13, 6:10pm Top

>130 Jackie_K: Always happy to see love for Kate Beaton :D

Aug 14, 3:54am Top

>130 Jackie_K: Oh, great to see that again! I've got Agnes Grey on my list for this month, but don't know yet if I can make it. I liked The tenant of Wildfell Hall much better than I thought I would, not nearly as much eye-rolling as for Rochester and Heathcliff.

Aug 14, 6:46am Top

>131 rabbitprincess: It makes me laugh every time I see it. I just love Anne's face in the last picture :D

>132 MissWatson: When Mt TBR is a bit lower (hahahahaha) I'll probably get The Tenant of Wildfell Hall from Project Gutenberg - I'd happily read another of Anne's books now I know what she's like. I honestly can't see the attraction of either Rochester or Heathcliff - and I found both Heathcliff's violence and cruelty, and Rochester's treatment of Bertha, really quite distressing.

Aug 14, 6:57am Top

>133 Jackie_K: I remember that I found Heathcliff very romantic when I was fifteen and insufferable when I was forty. Sometimes it's a good thing to get older.

Aug 25, 5:05am Top

>134 MissWatson: Oh yes, I can heartily agree with that! (although I think I'd still like to have my 15 year old knees...)

My sort-of reading slump sort-of continues. I am reading, just not at the point where anything is near finished, so hopefully that will mean I get a lot of books that have been half-read in August finished in September, along with the September challenge books. So I'm not too worried! I'm also getting really distracted by various things - a couple of creative writing podcasts, which I am really enjoying, plus preparing for a new job, and most importantly, A started school this week! So far it has gone well, she seems to really like both school and the after-school club (which she currently goes to 2 days a week, but we will probably increase it to 3 soon). I think I'm finding it harder to adjust to the change of routine than she is! We've only had one meltdown (from her, not me, I should add!), which I think was down to exhaustion rather than school - after her first day we went to the park and then went swimming, and I think on top of school it was just too much for her, so by the evening she just had absolutely nothing left in the tank!

So that's where I'm at - I'm hopeful I'll get one more book finished before the end of August, we'll see.

Aug 25, 8:59am Top

>135 Jackie_K: Aw, A's started school! Glad to hear it's gone well. :D

Aug 25, 9:27am Top

Hi Jackie!

You sure do have a lot going on, and never underestimate your emotions at seeing A off to school for the first time. I'm glad it's going well for her so far (except for the meltdown). I'm glad to hear she likes school and after-school club. We had to gear back on activities for Jenna several times during her school career as it became apparent that too much scheduled activity eventually wore her down and made her unhappy.

Sorry about your sort-of reading slump. You'll get your mojo back soon!

Aug 25, 12:44pm Top

>136 rabbitprincess: Thank you, it has gone well! On Monday at bedtime we told her she was going back to school in the morning and she gave us a great big smile! (then she asked us, "why?"!)

>137 karenmarie: Thanks Karen, yes you're right, it has been a big week for all of us. I think the after-school club is great because it's entirely child-led and just playtime with pretty hands-off adult supervision, so much less structured than school. So it gives her a bit of time to 'decompress' before coming home. We're finding with working from home that we will probably need one more day of after-school club, but I know she won't complain about that (the last couple of days when I picked her up from school I had a glum "why aren't I going to after-school club today?" pouty sulky girl - good job I don't have a fragile ego!). I'm a big believer in not overloading children, especially at this age - I want to sort some swimming lessons out for her, because she really enjoys the pool and also because I want her to be able to swim (I couldn't when I was a child), but other than that I'm not going to push her to do a million extra-curricular things. Our kids grow up too fast as it is!

ROOT #53

This feels like cheating, because I haven't actually finished this one, but decided instead this afternoon to officially abandon this book, but I am still going to give it a star rating because it is a childhood book that I read several times *cough*ahem* years ago. When I was a child Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess was one of my favourite books, and I do remember reading and rereading it and loving it then. When I got my first ereader a few years back I picked this up on Project Gutenberg and was really looking forward to rereading it, but unlike some childhood favourites which stand the test of time and adult cynicism, I really struggled with this one. Privileged and rich (but unspoilt and all-round perfect girl) Sarah Crewe starts off at boarding school and enjoys privileges beyond any of the other boarders. Then her dad loses all his money, and she has to become a maid at the school where she is maltreated by the same headteacher, Miss Minchin, who was all over her when her dad was showering her with money. This time round I found it too hard to suspend disbelief that someone could be so very perfect when she was so very privileged and wanting for nothing, and so I just kept putting this down and leaving it for months at a time (I think I started it in July 2017, and have read 6 or 7 chapters). I'm giving it 3 stars, this is mainly nostalgic and remembering my past love of the book. I might try again at some point, but I think I've tried hard enough for now. 3/5.

Aug 26, 10:12am Top

ROOT #54

Perhaps I should talk about my reading slumps more often, because unexpectedly last night and today I devoured the last few chapters of this book and finished it today! Laurence J. Cohen's Playful Parenting is one of the most helpful how-to (as opposed to my usual '*&@! it sucks sometimes, I'm rubbish at this') parenting books I've ever read, and I found myself agreeing with most of it. His basic premise is that we should use play to connect/reconnect with our children, in order to foster greater security, relationship and emotional wellbeing (for them and for us). I just found it a very generous book, which spoke a lot of sense, and highly recommend it. 4.5/5.

Aug 28, 10:42am Top

>139 Jackie_K: oh interesting! We adults (me included) are so serious and I think "play" would benefit every relationship. Happened to just read Dave Barry's (humor columnist) latest, Lessons from Lucy, where he gleans lessons for joy from his dog. One of them is to have more fun and I'm taking it to heart!

Aug 29, 5:47am Top

>140 detailmuse: Yes - I've started making more of an effort, not so much with play itself (as we play a lot anyway), but noticing how A reacts to that compared to other ways of dealing with things, and I'm really seeing how well she responds to it. I think what I've learnt from the book is to try and think about the meaning behind her play and/or behaviour, in order to think of ways to connect with her - for instance, all this past year since being 4 she's been going on about how she's nearly 5, and how she's a big girl now. And now she's started school, she's loving being a grown-up girl, but every day for the past week or so we've been greeted in the morning (and afternoon, and evening) with "I'm pretending I'm 1". So I think there's a bit of working out what growing up means, and wanting to still be little amongst it all. It's helping me not to inwardly groan quite so much when she's doing the baby talk thing *again*, but come up with ways to explore with her what growing up means for her.

Aug 29, 1:13pm Top

This probably doesn't fall into the category of connecting play with one's child but I wanted to throw this in there anyway because I feel like it's somehow tangentially related: When my daughter was two or three years old, she used to watch a documentary DVD about elephants over and over. In it, there is a scene in which a mother elephant loses her baby elephant and the whole herd mourns. My daughter never cried or made a fuss about it but I would notice every once in a while, at seemingly random times, she would start talking about the elephants in general. I finally figured out that whenever she talked about elephants, it was when she was upset or sad. She didn't have the vocabulary to express herself so she referred to the thing that imprinted on her as a sad and upsetting time.

>141 Jackie_K: Whenever my daughter tried to revert to an earlier age, I would simply say, "Oh no! I've waited all this time to discover who my x-year old daughter is!" And it's true. She has always been something of a mystery to me and watching her reveal herself has been surprising, to say the least!

Aug 29, 1:57pm Top

>142 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Thanks Tanya - I think it is related. The book is really all about making connections, and figuring out what she is meaning when she's talking about the elephants (or whatever) is absolutely what it's all about, and enables you to notice things that she might not necessarily tell you (in this case that she's sad/upset). It's so fascinating when you take the time to notice the patterns.

Today she had a little strop when it was time to leave the park, and there was no moving her, she just stood on the spot sulking. So I said "where's my 1 year old girl gone?" And she smiled, but shook her head. So I did the same for 2 and 3, and then 5, and then asked her how old she was. "Four" she yelled with a great big beaming smile, and then came along quite happily. It was a total fluke, and I'm pretty sure that wouldn't work another time, but I liked the element of the gentle unexpected for her which was enough to make her smile her way out of her strop!

Funnily enough, re your final point: I've always loved each age, and found myself at some point wishing that she wouldn't get any older because this age is so brilliant. And then she gets older, and that age is brilliant too, and then I can't imagine her being younger but don't want her to get any older. Until she does, and then it's differently brilliant again. I may have to remind myself of this if she's going through a stroppy teenager phase :)

Aug 29, 3:38pm Top

LOL, On April 13th of this year, my daughter went to bed, my little girl. When she woke up on April 14th, it was like an alien had taken over her body. By April 15th, her 15th birthday, we were in an all-out war! I turned to my husband and told him that I had her for 40 weeks of pregnancy and the first fifteen years, and if he would step for the next four, I would call it even. Interesting, he *has* stepped up which has enabled me to take a healthy step back. It was ten weeks of absolute hell but things seem to be going well now and now my daughter and I are in a much better place.

Aug 31, 2:38pm Top

>144 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I think that's a pretty universal experience! It instantly reminded me of this comedy clip, which I think just about every child in the UK is sent on their 13th birthday: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLuEY6jN6gY

As it's the end of the month, here's my acquisitions roundup. It's been an acquisitions-neutral month, in as much as I acquired 8 new books, and ROOTed 8 (7 read, 1 abandoned). However, as the previous couple of months weren't acquisition-neutral (ahem), the total TBR tally is stubbornly sitting at 407 (so I'm +12 books on last year's TBR total - still hoping for neutral or even negative numbers by the end of the year, but not sure how realistic that is! It's still better than I've ever done before!).

Anyway, here's this month's haul (one of which I ROOTed straight away):

1. Robyn Hollingworth - My Mad Dad: The Diary of an Unravelling Mind.
2. Joanna Cannon - Three Things About Elsie.
3. Lawrence J. Cohen - Playful Parenting.
4. Patrice Khan-Cullors & asha bendele - When they Call you a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir.
5. Ayaan Hirsi Ali - Infidel: My Life.
6. Stephen Westaby - Fragile Lives.
7. Brett L. Markham - Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre.
8. Joanna Cannon - Three Things I'd Tell My Younger Self (no touchstone).

Sep 2, 11:51am Top

Hi Jackie!

Lots of fun stuff about parenting and working out at what our kids are telling us. My daughter's 25 now and lives almost 3 hours from us. She's gotten very proud of her 'adulting', but when she comes home I like to spoiler her by cooking/baking what she likes and letting her just relax and play with the kitties and hang out with us. Her teenage years were fairly stressful and I'm glad they're over. I'm also glad that at 24 she decided to try college again after two false starts.

Congrats on a 'neutral' month of acquisitions/ROOTs.

Sep 2, 3:15pm Top

Loving all these kid stories! Jackie in your writing, have you thought about some essays on this?

Sep 3, 9:47am Top

>146 karenmarie: I'm really enjoying parenting at the moment! 4 is such a lovely age, she's such a sponge and just soaks up so much, it's really amazing to see. This is a conversation we had yesterday (proud mum moment, and this is all thanks to books!) - the context is I was explaining that I'd got an email from the school yesterday saying that due to vandalism the windows in her classroom had been broken, and they'd have to be in a different room today for lessons.

A: Why did they break the windows?
Me: I don't know. Maybe they just wanted to cause some damage.
A: Like Emmeline Pankhurst?

I am bursting with pride! (one of her favourite books for us to read at bedtime is the book on Emmeline Pankhurst in the Little People, Big Dreams series)

>147 detailmuse: Thank you - funnily enough something that I am planning (once I finally get my children's picture book into shape) is a series of essays on random subjects. I had already thought of including thoughts on parenting, but I think I need to pay closer attention to what happens in order to focus it. Maybe "Conversations with my 4 year old" would work!

Sep 3, 10:15am Top

>148 Jackie_K: That is awesome! Not that the windows were broken, but her response to it! :)

Sep 3, 12:13pm Top

Hi Jackie, just catching up with your thread - loving the tales of A's take on growing up, and her application of feminist history to the practical issue of vandalism is pure gold :)) Also empathising with >144 Tanya-dogearedcopy: on the surly teenager front :((

On the former I'd say keep doing what you're doing, Jackie, you're laying the foundation of a beautiful relationship. On the latter, I'd say just persevere with being loving and supportive, Tanya (whether it's wanted or not)....plus a bit of bribery works wonders ;)

On the reading side, Jackie, your stats are pretty good given it's a time of change in work/family routine and the emotional wrench of the tot-to-schoolgirl transition. Good luck getting back your reading mojo for September!

Sep 8, 3:30pm Top

>149 rabbitprincess: It is, isn't it? My friend whose son is in the same class said that when she told him that someone had broken the window in their classroom, his response was "It wasn't me!"

>150 floremolla: Thank you Donna, I'm doing my best! We're mostly having lots of fun, with the occasional boundary-pushing, but I really can't complain!


My first root for September is Ben Goldacre's Bad Science. I'm already a fan, so he's preaching to the converted here. He looks at the misrepresentation of science, and its effects, by media, pharmaceutical companies, alternative therapists and rogue medics, with the aim of encouraging all of us to be more critical about the information we're consuming. Excellent stuff (although I did find myself getting quite irritated by his use - more than once - of 'humanities graduate' as a term of insult). 4.5/5.

Sep 9, 12:37pm Top

I've been doing some thinking about my ROOTs and acquisitions numbers - I'm currently +12 books on the start of the year (I started with 395 unread books, now have 407). I would *love* to get that to 0 or even a minus number by the end of the year, but am not sure that's realistic. In order to get back to 395 for the end of the year I need to buy 3 fewer books than I root out each month till the end of the year (we'll not think about Christmas presents...). Maybe 400 at the end of the year is a more realistic aim (and nice round number to start the year off with), and then next year I will definitely aim for minus numbers at year end. We'll see.

Hope everybody's having a nice weekend. Mine has been fairly quiet - I went into town yesterday to buy some new work trousers (new job starts on Tuesday and my wardrobe feels distinctly scruffy!), and took A to the park for a long runaround, we saw a friend from her class there so she was quite happy and I know the other mum so it was nice to chat for a bit. Today has been mainly errands and housework, but we're off out for a meal later at a local restaurant, which I've been to before but Pete hasn't - I hope he likes it!

Sep 19, 8:21am Top

Hi Jackie!

I don't have an overstuffed Jar of Fate, but I have bulging shelves and don't feel guilty at all. Your goal for year-end sounds reasonable. Presents shouldn't count, IMO. *smile*

Refresh my memory - what is your new job? And how is it going after a week?

Sep 20, 6:57am Top

>153 karenmarie: Thanks Karen! I don't feel guilty, so much as frustrated because I want to read All The Books. Of course I'm kind of scuppering that (ROOTs books anyway) by this month taking out All The Library Books. And buying more books (so much for good intentions, sigh!).

My job (just 1 day a week at present) is as stroke research nurse at our regional big hospital. It will involve both undertaking (or supporting others to undertake) some small-scale research projects on the ward, and also recruiting patients into larger clinical trials that the hospital participates in, and doing clinical follow up on those patients. At the moment it's a bit slow, because until I can get up and running with computer access etc I'm a bit limited, plus the nurse who was meant to be doing my induction is off sick. But I'm occupying myself, familiarising myself with stroke (not an area of clinical practice that I'm particularly familiar with, at least not recently), and the people seem very nice. I'm thinking it might be easier to go in 2 half days a week rather than 1 full day, and they seem quite open to that, so I think there's scope for me to define the role and be flexible. The other nursing job I do is as a health visitor (kind of like the public health nurse in the US, but specifically working with families with pre-school age children), this month I've increased to 2 days a week from my usual 1 because of colleagues being on leave, but I'm finding that's too much, so come October I'm going to go back to 1 day a week as my freelance work is getting a bit neglected, and as a result of that I'm feeling like I can't take my usual time out to exercise (I swim a couple of times a week and try to go to the gym once a week too). That's having a real knock-on effect on my mood, so I definitely want to prioritise that again!

On the reading front, I'm still being pleasantly distracted by creative writing podcasts (and reading a related non-ROOT), and am dipping into a few ROOTs but not yet at the point where they're nearly finished. So I think this month will be my least successful from a ROOTs numbers point of view, but hopefully will pick up again next month.

Sep 25, 4:17pm Top

No more books to report, but I do have my very first LT meetup to report! rabbitprincess is in Scotland at the moment, and over the weekend has been here in Stirling for the Bloody Scotland crime writing festival, so I was really delighted to be able to meet up with her on Saturday. We had lunch, then wandered up to watch the English vs Scottish crime writers 5-a-side football match, which was entertaining and great fun (although England won, with a Scottish goal controversially disallowed, so I suspect next year's match might be a bit of a grudge match!).

I put a photo of the match on my rather neglected blipfoto blog: https://www.blipfoto.com/entry/2490267476655342296

And this is rabbitprincess and me after the match had ended:

Sep 25, 4:36pm Top

What fun! I wish I could have been there too! :-)

Sep 25, 4:40pm Top

>155 Jackie_K: Congratulations on your first LT meet-up, Jackie!
For me it has been always great to meet other members :-)

Sep 25, 6:33pm Top

>155 Jackie_K: Yay! I'm so glad we were able to meet up :)

Sep 25, 7:52pm Top

>155 Jackie_K: Well done, you two.

Sep 25, 8:02pm Top

I hope to get a chance to meet some other LT-ers too! Bravo to you guys.

Sep 26, 3:53am Top

Glad to hear you had fun! Looks like it was a bit cold to be watching a match.

Sep 26, 6:25am Top

>161 MissWatson: It was somewhere in the low double digits, and the sun was warm, but it was a bit windy! Also I think the really hot summer has made me at least temporarily more susceptible to cold :-/

Sep 26, 8:36am Top

Hi Jackie! Great photo of you and rabbitprincess. Meet ups are fun, aren't they?

Sep 27, 7:28am Top

Thank you everyone! It was a lot of fun. I hope it's not so long till my next LT meetup!

ROOT #56

Sabeeha Rehman's Threading my Prayer Rug: One Woman's Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim was a lovely read, I really felt like I was a guest being welcomed into her home and family as I read. She details her life, starting with her arranged marriage to her husband Khalid in 1971 and then moving to America (Khalid was a doctor in New York) intending to only stay until he had finished his residency and then they would return to Pakistan. Instead they stayed, had their family there, were active in community and religious organisations, and the book charts their negotiating of religious and cultural issues and how they adapted to their new country. Of course she talks about 9/11 and the impact that had, but she remains a very eloquent voice for understanding, openness and peace.

The book was published in 2016, and I have to say, reading the final chapter (which was full of hope about the ongoing integration and contribution of American Muslims) through the eyes of someone who is aware of what's been happening politically and rhetorically over the last couple of years made me feel really sad, and more determined to combat prejudice and hatred wherever I see it. 4/5.

Sep 27, 4:49pm Top

Great photo of the meet-up, Jackie. I had to Google the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival which looks really interesting. Which one in the photo is you and which is RP?

I had some laugh out loud moments reading your thread about parenting. That clip was priceless and not something I had seen before.

Sep 27, 5:03pm Top

>165 Familyhistorian: I'm the one on the viewer's left, with the tuque and the blue purse.

Sep 28, 2:35pm Top

>165 Familyhistorian: I'm glad I entertained you! The Kevin turns 13 clip is brilliant, isn't it?

I was googling and found this review of this year's festival: https://crimefictionlover.com/2018/09/a-report-from-bloody-scotland-2018/

Sep 28, 5:43pm Top

>167 Jackie_K: Awww, love the photo of the wee man with the football teams! He was SO CUTE. He played against Craig (the goalie in yellow) at half-time. Best half-time show ever.

Sep 29, 5:09am Top

He was super-cute! I wondered if he was Craig's grandson.

Sep 30, 11:59am Top

It's the end of the month, and I'm mindful that a couple of weeks ago I wrote (and I quote): In order to get back to 395 for the end of the year I need to buy 3 fewer books than I root out each month till the end of the year.... So here are my September stats:

ROOTS read: 2
Acquisitions: 8

That worked well, then! Don't worry, I am smiling to myself rather than beating myself up, but I also want to read all my fabulous unread books! Oh well - given that buying more books than I can immediately read is my biggest vice, it could be an awful lot worse!

This month's acquisitions are:

1. Charles L. Ponce de Leon - That's the Way it is: A History of Television News in America.
2-4. Philip Pullman - His Dark Materials trilogy.
5. Raynor Winn - The Salt Path.
6. Denis Dragovic - No Dancing, No Dancing (no touchstone).
7. Alexis Marie Chute - Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing and Pregnancy After Loss.
8. Markus Zuzak - The Book Thief.

My current TBR total is 413, meaning that I'm currently +18 on my start of year total. Let's see if I can get that down a bit (aye, right!).

Sep 30, 4:27pm Top

>170 Jackie_K: HAHA and yay to all the more fabulous unread books! The Book Thief is one of my all-time favorites.

>155 Jackie_K: What fun!!

Edited: Oct 4, 5:20am Top

>171 detailmuse: I've heard good things about The Book Thief, I'm looking forward to it (at some point in the dim and distant future, probably, given all these unread books).

Non-ROOT completed

September's library book is the charming Don Camillo and His Flock by Giovanni Guareschi. This is the first Don Camillo book I've read, but I'll definitely look out for the others. Guareschi wrote these post-WW2 stories, about Catholic priest Don Camillo and his nemesis/ally Peppone, the village's Communist mayor (with plentiful contributions from Jesus on the crucifix in Don Camillo's church, with whom the priest regularly converses), for a magazine in Italy from the late 40s to the early 60s, in order to satirise Italian post-war politics. The quote from Radio 4 that the book uses for its front cover blurb says it all for me: "Enchanting. Hilariously funny. Strangely moving". I loved it. 4.5/5.

Oct 3, 1:35pm Top

>166 rabbitprincess: >167 Jackie_K: Thanks, RP. Thanks for the link, Jackie. I didn't realize the football match behind you in the photo was part of the crime writing festival until I read the review of the festival. It sounds very high energy - which is only to be expected when writers get together. I attend the Surrey International Writers Festival but don't stay at the hotel - it sounds like they get up to lots of shenanigans during the evenings! The Bloody Scotland Crime Writers Festival looks very interesting but I think that a writer could just spend their time going from one writing event to another and never actually get any writing done.

Edited: Oct 3, 6:31pm Top

>173 Familyhistorian: Val McDermid said something similar in the talk with Denise Mina -- that all the festivals were the reason she could write only one book a year rather than two ;)

Oct 4, 6:48am Top

Non-ROOT completed

Play the Forest School Way by Peter Houghton and Jane Worroll was a book I picked up cheaply on kobo earlier this year, I see it as a reference book for dipping in and out of (although I read it right through just there) which is why I didn't include it in my TBR total or as a ROOT. The authors run a forest school which has lots of experiential learning out and about in nature, and this is a book of games and activities that can be used to encourage learning and affinity with nature. Most of the games are for larger groups of children (of various ages) so it's possibly not as useful as I'd hoped for me, but I'm sure I'll be looking in here again for inspiration, as I will probably be able to adapt quite a few of the non-team-game activities. 3.5/5.

Oct 5, 8:20pm Top

>174 rabbitprincess: Yes, gone are the days when writers sat alone in a room scribbling for most of their lives.

Oct 7, 8:57am Top

ROOT #57

Tina Fey's Bossypants was a fun, easy read which I really appreciated in the midst of some of the more heavy reading I'm doing at the moment! Having said that, it wasn't as fluffy as many celeb memoirs, and there were quite a few times I had to stop and think and appreciate her honesty. I loved her prayer for her daughter, and her musings on just having the one child, and the extended chapter on when she played Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live was really interesting and generous, I thought (towards the end of the 2008 presidential campaign, Sarah Palin herself was on the show so they met, which must have been pretty weird for both of them). 4/5.

Oct 9, 10:39am Top

I read the Don Camillo books when I was attending a Catholic high school, many moons ago. It was on our summer reading list! I still have my copy. Thanks for a good memory.

Edited: Oct 20, 5:32am Top

>178 LadyoftheLodge: It was my first time reading them, but I'll definitely be looking out for the others, I really loved it!

ROOT #58

I have several ROOTs on the go at the moment, but sneaked in another short one, because of the news yesterday of the death of the translater Anthea Bell. Amongst many other things she translated many of the Asterix books into English, and so I dug out Asterix in Britain to read as a little tribute. This is one of my favourite Asterixes (which I am counting here as a ROOT, as although it is a reread, I last read it more than 30 years ago!). Asterix and Obelix head on over to Asterix's English cousin's village (which, like their village in Gaul, is the one village in Britain still holding out against the Romans), armed with a barrel of magic potion to help them out. I laughed out loud a number of times at this (particularly at the drunk Romans exclaiming Hic! Haec! Hoc! which for some reason really tickled me), and give this a very deserving 4/5.

Oct 20, 11:11am Top

ROOT #59

There's very little I can say about this remarkable book. Paul Kalanithi was a respected neurosurgeon who, in the latter part of his 30s, discovered he had terminal lung cancer. He had always sought in both his literary and medical endeavours to confront death, morality, the life best lived, and in When Breath Becomes Air he strives to write all this down before he dies. The first half of the book is looking back at his life as he goes into medicine and his philosphy behind his practice, which was quite cerebral but infused with overwhelming humanity. The second half of the book details his transformation from doctor to patient, the impact of the various treatments on him and on his family, the joy of becoming a father a few months before he died, and his ongoing quest to understand the meaning of death. The epilogue, by his wife Lucy Kalanithi (herself a doctor), is heartbreakingly beautiful, and I cried throughout it. A wonderful book. 5/5.

Oct 27, 8:46am Top

Hi Jackie!

I don't think I could bear to read When Breath Becomes Air because my MiL died in 2014 of lung cancer. But I like your summary.

Oct 29, 6:36am Top

>181 karenmarie: Thank you, Karen! It's kind of hard to explain, but I didn't feel like there was loads in the book about the actual disease, if that makes sense? More how he dealt with the reality of dying, and what that meant to him and those around him - a more universal thing that we all go through, rather than cancer specifically. But yes, I think it's something I might have put on the back burner too if I'd had a close bereavement that recently.

Oct 29, 1:59pm Top

Non-ROOT completed

October's library book is Kathleen Jamie's Sightlines, a series of essays about landscape and natural objects. The author is Professor of Creative Writing at Stirling University (as well as non-fiction writing she is also a poet). This is exactly the kind of book I would love to write! I particularly enjoyed the chapters on Scottish islands (specifically, St Kilda and the even more remote Rona), but I also enjoyed her musings on gannets and whales very much. 4.5/5, and it's on my wishlist to have my own copy.

Oct 30, 9:01am Top

>180 Jackie_K: I also liked When Breath Becomes Air ... felt a little guilty about not becoming emotional, then it did catch me when he wrote the passage to his infant daughter.

Kathleen Jamie's essays sound beautiful!

Oct 30, 10:49am Top

>184 detailmuse: Yes - I expected to be in floods throughout the whole book, but it was only really the epilogue where the waterworks started (although I did find it all profoundly emotional and awe-inspiring too).

I really want to read more of Kathleen Jamie's work now. That's the great thing about the library, sometimes you unearth a new-to-you author who turns out to be gold!

Oct 31, 3:24pm Top

Here's my October acquisitions roundup. I've done a bit better this month, and only bought one more book than I ROOTed out, leaving me with a net TBR of +19 on the start of the year. I'm definitely slowing down in my reading, after an awesome start to the year, but I have a couple of short reads lined up for November so hopefully that will push my ROOT numbers up a bit more.

This month's acquisitions are:

1. Fredrik Backman - A Man Called Ove.
2. John O'Farrell - Things Can Only Get Worse?.
3. Libby Phelps with Sara Stewart - Girl on a Wire.
4. J.J. Green - Mission: Improbable.

Nov 3, 7:36am Top

ROOT #60

ROOT #60 is a short one, Timothy Snyder's On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. This book consists of reflections on the results of the 2016 US Presidential election, by a Harvard Professor of History who specialises in 20th century European history. It is a quick read, but very sobering. 4/5.

In other news, Haymarket Books (which as far as I can tell is the US equivalent of the UK's Verso Books) is also having a 90% off all ebooks sale currently (the sale finishes on Nov 9th). So I might have bought a just few more books (*cough*) (seven books for $7).

Nov 3, 6:16pm Top

Hi Jackie!

Seven books for $7 is fantastic.

I didn't particularly think I'd like it because cranky old men stories don't, as a rule, appeal to me, but I ended up enjoying A Man Called Ove very much indeed.

Edited: Nov 3, 8:23pm Top

>187 Jackie_K: >188 karenmarie: I didn't read A Man Called Ove until it arrived as a postal book club selection. I didn't think it would be my thing either but I ended up giving it a strong four-star rating. The Swedish movie was available on Amazon Prime a couple of years ago, and if it's still there, definitely worth checking out. It's one of those movies that's slightly but not egregiously different from the book and has the same effect even if you've read the book (grab a box of Kleenex!) Plus, you find out how to pronounce his name! :-)

Nov 5, 2:46pm Top

>187 Jackie_K: I should read that. At least sobering would be truth :(

I too liked A Man Called Ove. Heartwarming and quirky. (>189 Tanya-dogearedcopy: it is still on Amazon Prime; thanks, I may take a look!) Most of Bachman's others have seemed too sweet to try, but I did like And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer for the experimental aspect.

Edited: Nov 5, 2:54pm Top

ROOT #61

Goodbye Europe: Writers and Artists Say Farewell is a collection of essays as we in the UK run up to the collective political cluster**** that is Brexit, our imminent departure from the European Union. This is a pretty mixed bag - the majority of pieces were by people who, like me, voted to Remain in the EU, but I did appreciate the attempt to make this marginally less of a liberal echo-chamber, and some of the pieces by people who had voted Leave were thoughtful and considered. Some of the writers I had heard of before (they're authors and comedians, mainly), and there are a couple whose work I want to check out more of. They were mostly non-fiction, but there was a short story by Lionel Shriver about liberal smugness which I thought was very good, and good food for thought. There was a piece by Jacob Rees-Mogg (for those of you outwith the UK who are lucky enough to not know who he is, he is a Member of Parliament and very prominent campaigner for Leave, who is often caricatured as the Minister for the 18th century, which I think is pretty apt) and his piece brought me the closest to punching my ereader, but fortunately (a) it was short, and (b) it was immediately followed by a piece by the writer of Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister giving us his character Jim Hacker's updated views on Brexit. I've no idea if the people who selected these pieces deliberately placed them side by side, but I for one appreciated very much a piece gently lambasting political pomposity straight after JRM.

Some of the pieces were better than others, but all were readable. None of them made me feel any better about Brexit though. 3.5/5.

Nov 5, 4:16pm Top

>188 karenmarie: >189 Tanya-dogearedcopy: For me it depends on the cranky old man story, I think! In this case I'd heard so many good reviews, from such a varied selection of friends, plus it was a bargain, so I went for it! I'm curious as to how it compares to the 100 year old man books by Jonas Jonasson - I suspect I will feel more sympathy for Ove, although Jonasson's book was very silly and it made me laugh a lot.

>190 detailmuse: It's a very quick read (it probably only took me an hour, all-in) - not stuffy academese at all. It's sad he felt he had to write it, but we're living in 'interesting times', I guess. *big sigh*

Edited: Nov 6, 2:08pm Top

ROOT #62

A couple of days ago it was the centenary of the death of the British war poet, Wilfred Owen, who died in battle less than a week before the armistice which signalled the end of WW1. I'd always intended to read this little volume, The Pity of War, this month, as of course it is also the centenary of the end of the war, so it felt like an apt thing to read, and frankly an antidote to the excessive glorification of war that such anniversaries seem to prompt. These poems have probably done more than anything to expose what Owen called "the old Lie" (about the honour of dying for one's country). 100 years on, still searingly powerful. 5/5.

Nov 6, 4:07pm Top

>193 Jackie_K: Good review, Jackie, and a timely read.
I never heard of Wilfred Owen before reading Pat Barkers Regeneration trilogy earlier this year. Wilfred Owen is one of the characters in these books. This year I have been reading a lot about WW1, as I knew next to nothing. The Netherlands were not involved in WW1, being a neutral country, so it isn't a part of our history.

Nov 6, 5:02pm Top

>194 FAMeulstee: He and Siegfried Sassoon are probably our greatest war poets, Anita. I don't think there's anyone in the UK who won't have read Owen at some point during their school time. The two poems we read at school, Anthem for Doomed Youth, and Dulce et Decorum Est, are probably the most famous ones. The fact that he was killed in action less than a week before the end of the war I think has added to his reputation, it was such a tragic loss of an incredible talent.

Nov 9, 9:21am Top

Hi Jackie!

Dulce Et Decorum Est is seared into my brain from reading it in high school - probably in tenth grade, 1968-1969. It has informed my repugnance at the glorification of war and the military ever since, even as recently as last night when there was a display by the US Army just before a US gridiron football game. I made a moue of distaste, and my husband noticed and commented that I wasn't patriotic. I gave it the silence it deserved. My husband's inability to separate displays by the military and sports games is a puzzle to me. I'm patriotic, just not militaristic.

I've also read the Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy L. Sayers. Peter was an officer in WWI and it affected and traumatized him forevermore. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club depicts the results of the war on men who went to war and their families in a way that also profoundly moved me. Many of the novels have bits about Peter and Bunter and their wartime experiences together.

Nov 10, 4:37pm Top

>196 karenmarie: Hi Karen! My memory of Dulce et Decorum Est is similar to yours, I think - I'd say that poem, along with To Kill a Mockingbird, had the profoundest impact on my politics and beliefs going forward from high school onwards. I'm totally with you on the glorification of the military and war (and I am completely mystified by the thought of the army doing a display before a football game). I don't know about elsewhere, but in the UK they use the symbol of the red poppy every year in the lead up to Remembrance Day on 11th November, and in some circles it is hugely controversial if you don't wear one - I have chosen not to for the last I don't know how many years, and last week a footballer was criticised for refusing to wear a poppy during a match, even though he was from former Yugoslavia and for him it signified and brought back awful memories of the bombing of Serbia when he was a child, and was actually quite traumatic for him. And then a few years ago an actually really moving piece of art, involving thousands of ceramic poppies pouring out of a window and all the way round the outside of the Tower of London, has spawned loads of similar things on public buildings all over the country now, and it just feels too much.

I haven't read any of the Peter Wimsey books, but I have a number of friends who really like them, so they're yet another series I probably should get round to at some point. I think sometimes fictional portrayals of real events (or their after-effects) can be very powerful, can't they? A friend posted on facebook that she had watched the final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth this week - that series, a very very funny comedy, is set in the trenches of WW1, and the final episode sees them all going over the top and getting slaughtered, it's so very powerful and profound.

Nov 11, 10:14am Top

>197 Jackie_K: The red poppy is not a common symbol here, but we did see the Veterans of Foreign Wars handing out poppies (not real, but sincere) in front of the grocery store the other day.

In the US Armistice Day has become Veterans day, which is entirely different in my opinion, and not an improvement over the original intent and purpose. I just read that our Memorial Day, in May, is the official day to mourn those killed in action, regardless of war of military action. Nothing for WWI specifically, alas. The ages/timing of my family generations on both sides precluded any immediate family members going to war.

If you decide to read the Peter Wimsey novels (and eventually they include Harriet Vane), I personally think it wouldn't hurt to read them in order. I did not do this and am not traumatized by it, but I start any new series with book 1 and continue the series in order. The first Peter Wimsey book is Whose Body?.


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