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rabbitprincess paints a portrait of her reading year in 2019

2019 Category Challenge

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Edited: Jan 10, 10:54pm Top

The Scottish Art Category Challenge

The reading room at the Glasgow School of Art, in happier times

This challenge is inspired by a 2008 documentary called "A Portrait of Scotland," presented by Peter Capaldi, that finally flipped the switch for me with regard to art appreciation.

Each of my usual categories will be illustrated by a work of Scottish art. Most of these are portraits featured in the program, but there are some landscapes and still lifes (still lives?) as well.

General fiction – The Blue Hat (J. D. Fergusson)
General non-fiction – Old Willie (James Guthrie)
Historical fiction – Walter Scott (Henry Raeburn)
Historical non-fiction – Mary Queen of Scots (after Nicholas Hilliard)
Mysteries – Three Men of Exactly the Same Size in an Unequal Room (Steven Campbell)
SFF – The Mysterious Garden (Margaret Mackintosh)
Graphic novels and other miscellaneous books – Self-portrait (George Jamesone)
Audio – Still Life with White Tulips (Anne Redpath)
Plays – Tilda Swinton (John Byrne)
French – Boats at Royan (Samuel John Peploe)
Rereads – David Hume (Allan Ramsay)
Group reads – Poets' Pub (Sandy Moffat)
Scotland – Twa Plack (Calum Colvin)

ROOT 2019 ticker:

The 2019 Pool:

The BingoDOG:

Edited: Jan 10, 10:54pm Top

General fiction – The Blue Hat (J. D. Fergusson)

Fergusson was one of a group known as the Scottish Colourists, who were influenced by the Impressionists and French modernist artists in the early years of the 20th century. In the documentary, Peter sketches this painting and laments that people don't wear fancy hats like this very often these days.

1. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman

Edited: Jan 10, 10:55pm Top

General non-fiction – Old Willie (James Guthrie)

This unflinching, realistic portrait of Old Willie, the village worthy, is characteristic of James Guthrie's work. Guthrie was part of a group known as the Glasgow Boys, who sought to paint realistic, unsentimental portraits of Scotland. They were opposing the overly sentimentalized "chocolate-box" paintings by artists such as Thomas Faed.

1. Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer, by Barbara Ehrenreich
2. The Royal Art of Poison: Filthy Palaces, Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Medicine, and Murder Most Foul, by Eleanor Herman
3. With the End in Mind: Death, Dying and Wisdom in an Age of Denial, by Kathryn Mannix

Edited: Jan 5, 9:32am Top

Historical fiction – Sir Walter Scott (Henry Raeburn)

Raeburn had an energetic painting style: he worked without preparatory drawings and would run back and forth across his studio, studying his subject intently and then working from memory to slap down the highlights on the canvas.

1. The King's Agent, by J. Kent Clark

Edited: Jan 1, 9:36pm Top

Historical non-fiction – Mary, Queen of Scots (after Nicholas Hilliard)

This portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots, is one of several paintings sketched by Peter over the course of the documentary. I read a lot about her in 2018 so thought she would be a good choice for my 2019 history category.

1. The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors, by Dan Jones

Edited: Nov 19, 2018, 7:24pm Top

Mysteries – Three Men of Exactly the Same Size in an Unequal Room (Steven Campbell)

Campbell, one of the New Glasgow Boys, was known for his surreal dreamscapes. This one feels a bit David Lynch-ian to me, probably because of the tallest man in the painting.

Edited: Jan 16, 9:59pm Top

SFF – The Mysterious Garden (Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh)

Mackintosh, the wife of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, was an artist in her own right. She worked primarily in crafts (needlework, metalwork, and gesso panels), but also designed graphics, illustrated books, and produced decorative panels for interiors and furniture—including at the Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow.

1. Doctor Who: The Christmas Invasion, by Jenny T. Colgan
2. Doctor Who: Classic Doctors, New Monsters, Volume 2 (Big Finish audio drama)
3. Doctor Who: Rose, by Russell T. Davies

Edited: Nov 19, 2018, 7:25pm Top

Graphic novels and other miscellaneous books – Self-portrait (George Jamesone)

Jamesone was the first Scottish artist to make a success of portrait painting in Scotland. This painting is said to be a kind of self-promotion, showcasing the kind of work he could do: portraits, seascapes, landscapes, mythological scenes, and so on. On our most recent trip to Scotland (in 2018), we went by his house on the Royal Mile! It's right next door to John Knox's house.

Edited: Jan 12, 10:12am Top

Audio – Still Life with White Tulips (Anne Redpath)

Redpath was influenced by artists such as Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Matisse, and specialized in landscapes, church interiors, and still lifes. This one is my favourite, not least because of the Penguin-style books on the table.

1. Doctor Who: Classic Doctors, New Monsters, Volume 2 (Big Finish audio drama)

Vengeance of the Stones, by Andrew Smith (Destiny of the Doctor #3)
Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome (read by Hugh Laurie)
Time Lord Fairy Tales, by various authors (read by various actors)

Plays – Tilda Swinton (John Byrne)

John Byrne is an artist and playwright, hence his painting being chosen for the Plays category. In the documentary, Byrne talks about portraits capturing not just a physical likeness of the person, but the spark of who that person is. And in this case he definitely succeeds: Tilda is instantly recognizable. The drawing was done in 20 minutes!


Dark Road, by Ian Rankin
Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare

Edited: Nov 19, 2018, 7:26pm Top

French – Boats at Royan (S. J. Peploe)

Peploe was a fellow Scottish Colourist along with J. D. Fergusson, and you can really see the influence of Impressionist techniques in this painting. He was introduced to the use of bold colour on holidays in northern France, including one in 1910 in which he painted Boats at Royan.


Au péril de la mer, by Dominique Fortier
Mourir sur Seine, by Michel Bussi

Rereads – David Hume (Allan Ramsay)

Ramsay was appointed the King's Painter by George III, whose Ramsay-painted portrait features on the cover of Revolution, by Peter Ackroyd. Ramsay's attention to detail, particularly of fabric and lacework, is exquisite (see his portrait of his second wife, Margaret Lindsay). This portrait of David Hume, a buddy of his from the Select Society, is one of my favourites of his.


A Palm for Mrs. Pollifax, by Dorothy Gilman
The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt

Edited: Jan 1, 9:37pm Top

Group reads – Poets' Pub (Sandy Moffat)

Alexander "Sandy" Moffat is part of a group of 20th-century Scottish artists known as the Scottish Realists. He taught at Glasgow School of Art when Peter was studying there. This painting by Moffat is an imagining of a gathering of Scottish poets and writers.

January - Dark Road, by Ian Rankin (Burns Night 25 January)
February - Tom Jones, by Henry Fielding (published 28 February 1749)
March - Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare (beware the Ides of March)
April - Ships in the Bay!, by D.K. Broster (National Maritime Day 5 April)
May - The Custodian of Paradise, by Wayne Johnston (Wayne Johnston's birthday is 22 May)
June - Au péril de la mer, by Dominique Fortier (reading a Quebec author in honour of St-Jean-Baptiste Day 24 June)
July - Vengeance of the Stones, by Andrew Smith (a Third Doctor story in honour of Jon Pertwee's centenary on 7 July)
August - The Mayor of Côte St. Paul, by Ronald J. Cooke (a Montreal-set book for the Quebec construction holiday at the end of July / beginning of August)
September - The Wallace, by Nigel Tranter (the Battle of Stirling Bridge took place on 11 September)
October - Time Lord Fairy Tales, by various authors (for that spooky Halloween spirit)
November - Cheer Up Love: Adventures in Depression with the Crab of Hate, by Susan Calman (Susan Calman's birthday is 7 November)
December - The Aviator, by Ernest K. Gann (International Civil Aviation Day is 7 December)

January (Your name in print) McNally's Caper, by Lawrence Sanders

January: A series in translation: The Locked Room
February: YA/children's series: First Term at Malory Towers
March: A series by a favourite author: The Twenty-Three
April: A series you've been meaning to get back to: Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here
May: The newest book in a favourite series: probably the new Flavia
June: A series that is definitely complete: maybe another Shetland novel
July: Genre: fantasy: Lies Sleeping
August: A series set in a country/region where you do not live: The Way of All Flesh
September: Genre: mystery (culinary cozies with recipes, cozies by the sea)
October: A historical series: Pawn in Frankincense
November: A series with a female protagonist: A Palm for Mrs. Pollifax
December: A series that's new to you: A Pint of Murder

January: First in, last out - read one of the oldest members of your tbr - Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome (one of my oldest audios!)
✔ February: A book you borrowed to read and still haven't got to - The Wars of the Roses, by Dan Jones (borrowed from library, didn't get to read, now parents have it)
March: Book acquired on/for trips or for a special occasion - The Clansman (bought on my Ireland trip in 2014)
April: Book originally acquired for an LT group read or challenge - A Place of Greater Safety, by Hilary Mantel
May: Book that I keep looking at, but never manage to open - The Caine Mutiny, by Herman Wouk
June: Book bullet - Cheer Up Love, by Susan Calman (Jackie_K)
July: Book by an author with more than one book on your TBR shelf - Scotchman’s Return, by Hugh MacLennan
August: Book purchased with great excitement and with plans to read right away that is somehow still on my tbr a year later - Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters (this is really just representing ALL my Doctor Who novels)
September: Classics I feel I should read - Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
October: Book purchased because of its visual appeal (striking cover or colors, beautiful edition, etc.) - Hungry Hill, by Daphne du Maurier
November: Book given to me as a gift - The Custodian of Paradise, by Wayne Johnston
December: A book I bought because it was so cheap (library sale, remainder table, etc) - Invasion of the Cat-People

Edited: Jan 16, 10:00pm Top

Scotland – Twa Plack (Calum Colvin)

It wouldn't be a Scottish art category challenge without a category for my Scotland reading! I really like Calum Colvin's portraiture; it's a combination of painting, sculpture, and photography. This picture, "Twa Plack", was based on a stamp that Colvin found in a collection of Burns ephemera.

1. All the Hidden Truths, by Claire Askew
2. The Clansman, by Nigel Tranter

The Clansman, by Nigel Tranter (Rob Roy MacGregor #2)
Pawn in Frankincense, by Dorothy Dunnett (Lymond #4)
The Wallace, by Nigel Tranter
The Way of All Flesh, by Ambrose Parry (Raven and Fisher #1)
Cheer Up Love: Adventures in Depression with the Crab of Hate, by Susan Calman

Edited: Oct 6, 2018, 2:48pm Top

You've chosen an interesting subject for your 2019 Category Challenge. I love "The Blue Hat". I'm looking forward to following along.

Edited: Oct 6, 2018, 5:02pm Top

I love the Margaret MacDonald picture - it's so beautiful. And as for that portrait of Tilda Swinton - wow!

I must see if I can get hold of that documentary, it sounds great!

Oct 6, 2018, 5:22pm Top

Beautiful set-up for your 2019 thread! I love the Tilda Swinton portrait as well.

Oct 6, 2018, 6:26pm Top

>13 DeltaQueen50: Thanks, Judy! I love that painting too. I would totally wear a hat like that!

>14 Jackie_K: I saw the original of Tilda at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and it is even more impressive in person. I found the documentary on DailyMotion...although you might be able to find it on YouTube as well. And if you can't find it, let me know...

>15 LisaMorr: Thanks, Lisa! I bought a postcard of the Tilda portrait in the gift shop, along with ones of the Mary Queen of Scots and the Poets' Pub paintings shown above...and a few others. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is my favourite art gallery :)

Oct 6, 2018, 9:06pm Top

Such creative and great categories!

Oct 6, 2018, 10:11pm Top

Dropping my star. I'm impressed with your theme!

Oct 7, 2018, 9:56am Top

>17 tess_schoolmarm: Thanks, Tess! The categories themselves are my usual stalwarts, but this particular theme is certainly a departure for me :) Finally, I've figured out the kind of art I like ;)

>18 thornton37814: Hurray! It was a new idea this year and muscled its way to the front of the queue of prospective challenge themes.

Oct 7, 2018, 2:53pm Top

Gorgeous pictures!

Oct 7, 2018, 3:24pm Top

>20 MissWatson: Yes, they're all so lovely in their own way!

Oct 7, 2018, 3:37pm Top

Love the pictures you've chosen.
Looking forward to another year of great reading.

Oct 7, 2018, 10:44pm Top

>22 Helenliz: Thanks, Helen! I can't believe we're already thinking about 2019! ;)

Oct 8, 2018, 8:51am Top

Star dropped! I'm going to try to keep up with threads more next year than I did this year, which was not at all.

Oct 8, 2018, 9:45am Top

What beautiful pictures -- I'm especially digging the Scottish Colourists!

Oct 8, 2018, 11:45am Top

>24 sturlington: Great to see you! :)

>25 christina_reads: They are gorgeous, aren't they? :)

Oct 9, 2018, 10:53pm Top

Terrific categories! I'm looking forward to following your reading, as always. I hope you read lots of Scottish books.

Oct 12, 2018, 5:12pm Top

>27 VivienneR: Thanks, Vivienne! I hope so too :)

Oct 16, 2018, 12:55pm Top

Yay for Scottish arts. Love the categories and the art work. You have also reminded me that I have not yet gotten around to reading Mr. Mac and Me.

Oct 16, 2018, 8:43pm Top

>29 VioletBramble: Hm, maybe I'll re-read that next year!

Oct 16, 2018, 10:34pm Top

I really love how you are basing your reads around paintings. What an amazing idea!

Oct 16, 2018, 11:09pm Top

>31 seascape: Thanks! Normally I'm using actors' filmographies as the basis of my challenge, so this is an interesting change.

Oct 21, 2018, 4:27pm Top

Loved browsing your "museum" and seeing quite a few new to me artists. Good luck with your challenge!

Edited: Oct 21, 2018, 5:11pm Top

Such a cool idea. I'm just no good at these themes. *sigh*

But I have to ask, if that's OK, for an explanation to the caption in >1 rabbitprincess: "in happier times"??

Oct 21, 2018, 7:02pm Top

>33 LittleTaiko: Thanks! Many of these paintings are in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which I recommend highly. The National Galleries are good too, but you really have to time it right to avoid the hordes of tourists :-/

>34 kac522: The Glasgow School of Art suffered two fires in the past four years. The first happened in 2014, and the second happened earlier in 2018. The real kick in the teeth with the second fire is that they were almost finished restoring the building after the damage caused by the first fire :(

Oct 21, 2018, 11:25pm Top

>35 rabbitprincess: Oh, dear! That is terrible! Did they lose any important works in either fire?

Oct 22, 2018, 3:15am Top

>36 kac522: the building itself is the important work of art, with the building and fittings designed by Charles Rennie Macintosh.

Edited: Oct 22, 2018, 1:12pm Top

>36 kac522: As Helenliz says, it's the building itself that is the work of art. This second fire was even more devastating than the first one in 2014 (and that was horrific enough). This time round I think that large parts of the building would have to be demolished and rebuilt (they are still doing the assessment, but I think large parts of it are likely now extremely unsafe).

I was lucky enough to go on a tour of the School of Art a few years before 2014 so can say "I was there". They were very strict about no photos though, so I only have memories. It really was the most extraordinary building, and the reading room pictured in >1 rabbitprincess: was stunning.

Oct 22, 2018, 4:42pm Top

>36 kac522: >37 Helenliz: >38 Jackie_K: With the first fire, I think the end-of-year degree show was on display there, so those artworks would likely have been lost in that fire, as well as the work of art that is the building. I wonder if the second one was more devastating because the building was emptier and therefore there was more oxygen to fuel the fire.

Oct 22, 2018, 6:58pm Top

Great categories! Looking forward to seeing what you read.

Oct 22, 2018, 7:30pm Top

>40 The_Hibernator: Thanks! Already itching to start building up the 2019 pool of prospective reads!

Nov 19, 2018, 12:47pm Top

Starred! Such an interesting theme this year, and I wish you happy reading for 2019. Btw, many of the pics aren't coming up, at least for me.

Nov 19, 2018, 7:23pm Top

>42 mstrust: Weird! They're fine for me. I'll go back and make the images hyperlinks so you can click on them and go to the page directly.

Nov 21, 2018, 6:11pm Top

Yeah, they work fine on my phone but not on the desktop. But don't worry about it at all, it seems to be just me.

Nov 21, 2018, 7:48pm Top

>44 mstrust: Very odd. I did end up making them hyperlinks, so anyone can click on through to the images :)

Nov 22, 2018, 6:00pm Top

Very interesting categories! I loved your artwork selections--this took some thought on your part, mine is not nearly so creative! (Mine resulted from a conversation with my husband, whose book tastes are different from mine. So he challenged me a little to read the nonfiction selections, especially the history.)

Nov 22, 2018, 7:10pm Top

>46 LadyoftheLodge: The structure of my challenge stays the same from year to year; the window dressing just changes ;) Thank you! It was fun to pick out the paintings for this one.

Nov 24, 2018, 6:30am Top

>47 rabbitprincess: That's how I do mine too. Same categories, different pretty pictures :)

Nov 24, 2018, 8:59am Top

>48 Jackie_K: That's usually my biggest challenge, contorting a theme to fit my standard categories! I was really impressed with myself for pulling off the Doctor Who Series 10 theme for 2018 ;)

Dec 2, 2018, 6:32pm Top

What a fabulous theme (and I learned an awful lot about Scottish art in the process)!

Dec 2, 2018, 9:10pm Top

>50 lkernagh: Thanks, Lori! :)

Dec 6, 2018, 6:49pm Top

Now that all the CATs are pretty much up, I've settled on my 2019 Pool (now viewable in >1 rabbitprincess:).

Dec 11, 2018, 4:17pm Top

Oh I love your theme, it works beautifully with your categories. I was sneaking a look at your Scotland category and see you are reading Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles which I finished a couple of years ago. Such big stories in each book.

Dec 11, 2018, 5:44pm Top

Really creative category choices, rabbitprincess. I'll look forward to your updates. Overall, I have been enjoying checking out everyone's themes for the 2019 challenge.

Dec 11, 2018, 6:46pm Top

>53 avatiakh: Thanks! I am pretty chuffed with how the theme turned out. I can only read one Lymond a year because they're so meaty!

>54 This-n-That: Thanks! Glad that you're having fun visiting other people's threads. This is a very creative group :)

Dec 13, 2018, 5:36am Top

Thanks for the history lesson. The paintings were very interesting.

Dec 13, 2018, 6:32pm Top

>56 mnleona: Yes, the documentary featured a lot of great paintings!

Dec 19, 2018, 10:02am Top

What a beautiful thread! I wish you happy reading for 2019! :)

Edited: Dec 21, 2018, 7:24pm Top

>58 Chrischi_HH: Thanks, Chrischi, and to you as well! I can't believe 2019 is so close!

Dec 21, 2018, 4:37pm Top

Dec 21, 2018, 7:24pm Top

>60 mstrust: Merry Christmas to you and Mike! I love that retro vibe!

Dec 31, 2018, 8:58am Top

Happy New Year!

Dec 31, 2018, 10:57am Top

Have a Happy New Year, princess!

Dec 31, 2018, 11:13am Top

Dec 31, 2018, 3:02pm Top

Dec 31, 2018, 3:58pm Top

>62 The_Hibernator: >63 mstrust: >64 thornton37814: >65 tess_schoolmarm: Thank you all for the New Year's wishes! Our new year will be nowhere near as big a deal as Hogmanay is in Scotland. Eating snacks and watching movies is more our speed. I think we'll be watching Howl's Moving Castle and The Great Mouse Detective.

Dec 31, 2018, 6:08pm Top

>66 rabbitprincess: Happy New Year!
A friend and I watch Howl's Moving Castle every Christmas as it is replayed here on TV every Christmas time.

Dec 31, 2018, 6:19pm Top

>67 JayneCM: Thanks, and happy new year! I'm looking forward to it -- this will be my first time seeing Howl's Moving Castle.

Dec 31, 2018, 6:34pm Top

Wishing you and yours a happy and joyous 2019, filled with peace, love, and great books.

Jan 1, 9:02am Top

Happy reading in 2019!

Jan 1, 10:35am Top

>69 Dejah_Thoris: Thanks, and happy new year to you as well!

>70 lavaturtle: Thanks! Hope you have a great reading year!


We rang in the new year last night by watching Howl's Moving Castle and The Great Mouse Detective. We watch movies every year and I like to have a bit of a theme. This year the theme ended up being animated movies.

It was my first time seeing Howl's Moving Castle and now I've requested the novel by Diana Wynne Jones to see how different the movie was. I enjoyed the movie and we got a giggle out of Christian Bale doing the voice of Howl -- basically repeating some of his lines in the Batman voice.

And The Great Mouse Detective is one of my favourite Disney movies -- a Holmes pastiche AND Vincent Price in what he has said was his favourite role, as Professor Ratigan! The Great Mouse Detective is based on a series of books by Eve Titus called Basil of Baker Street. I read the first one a while ago and thought it was OK, but wouldn't read the others.

Today I will probably do a bit of tidying up with an audiobook for company: Classic Doctors, New Monsters, Volume 2. Doctor Who makes cleaning a breeze!

Edited: Jan 1, 10:38am Top

Happy new year to you! Our movie theme was silly action movies. We watched Kong Skull Island and Jumanji. Both were entertaining but I'm getting too old to stay up so late.

Jan 1, 11:21am Top

Happy new year! We watched a few episodes of Big Bang Theory, and then the annual Jools Holland Hootenanny (which is recorded, not live, but still a bit of a NYE institution in the UK). I must admit to going to bed at 5 past 12 though!

Edited: Jan 1, 12:21pm Top

Happy New year!
You all made it further than us. I was in bed by about 10 pm! We did wake up at midnight, when the fireworks went off, but we're trying to get into training for tomorrow morning's 05:30 alarm clock - that's going to hurt...

Jan 1, 12:17pm Top

Happy New Year! I'm going to have to rethink my policy of waiting until 2019 to dive into the 2019 threads!

I love, love, love your art theme and I look forward to following your reading again this year.

Jan 1, 12:33pm Top

>72 sturlington: I hear you on the staying up late! My BF works nights, so it was really easy for him to stay up last night. I went to bed shortly after midnight and got up around 9:30.

>73 Jackie_K: Sounds like a good New Year's Eve!

>74 Helenliz: Somebody was setting off fireworks near us, but we couldn't tell where exactly they were coming from. Given the timing, we think it might have been the family fireworks event that is hosted at a municipal venue south of us. They do the fireworks at 10 and then everyone can go to bed ;)

>75 RidgewayGirl: Happy new year! Looking forward to following your reading again as well! :)

Jan 1, 3:32pm Top

We watched a little video then Jim went to sleep while I finished a last 2018 book. Someone in the neighborhood did set off a few fireworks about ten. That's a pretty typical New Years for us.

Jan 1, 7:12pm Top

Love the way your rang in the New Year!

Jan 1, 7:24pm Top

Happy new year! Fireworks around here started about 11pm and were popping all over the place. But we were making so much noise I didn't hear any going off at midnight!

Edited: Jan 1, 7:44pm Top

>55 rabbitprincess: That's how I read Lymond, took me about 8 years to get through them. I've lined up her King Hereafter for this year, though I've done that before and not got to it.

My daughter and I now want to watch The Great Mouse Detective, one that has slipped our notice.

Jan 1, 8:49pm Top

>77 hailelib: That sounds like a good New Year's to me!

>78 lkernagh: Thanks! It was definitely our speed. And with the freezing rain that was in the forecast yesterday, we wouldn't have wanted to go out anyway.

>79 VivienneR: Ha! At least you heard some of the fireworks :)

>80 avatiakh: I think I'll read King Hereafter after the Lymonds, then start on the Niccolòs. I hope you like The Great Mouse Detective!

Jan 2, 10:30pm Top

2019 is off to a good start on the reading front.

The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors, by Dan Jones
Category: Mary, Queen of Scots; Poets’ Pub (February TBRCAT)
Source: borrowed from parents
Rating: 4/5
Review: https://www.librarything.com/review/163530524

Dan Jones continues to be "scholarly, informative and entertaining" with this look at the turmoil in the 15th century that saw the English crown change hands seven times and a couple of monarchs take it twice. Especially recommended if, like me, most of your knowledge of Henry VI and Richard III comes from Shakespeare. (Although now I want to read Richard III and watch The Hollow Crown again...)

Jan 3, 4:35am Top

Excellent start to the year!

Jan 3, 8:41am Top

>84 tess_schoolmarm: definitely a BB for me! I have studied and taught the Tudor's (beginning at Henry VIII), the Stuarts, Windsor, and the Hanovers, but really don't know much before Henry VIII. This will certainly fill in a gap for me!

Edited: Jan 3, 4:03pm Top

>82 rabbitprincess:

Another addition to a too long wishlist!

Jan 3, 4:41pm Top

>82 rabbitprincess: I love all English history, well all history really! Just checked and this book is on shelf at my library, yay! I also found one called Blood Sisters: The Hidden Lives of the Women Behind the Wars of the Roses by Sarah Gristwood.

I can just see the book recommendations on my first category challenge becoming a huge TBR pile very quickly!

Jan 3, 6:53pm Top

>83 Jackie_K: Yes, I was glad to start the year with something reliable! :)

>84 tess_schoolmarm: I found it filled this gap quite well. There's always more to read of course, but Dan Jones is a good starting point.

>85 hailelib: A long wishlist just means lots of choices to suit every reading mood ;)

>86 JayneCM: I started reading Blood Sisters from the library but borrowed it at the wrong time, because I didn't get a chance to finish it. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on it!

Jan 5, 9:36am Top

Ahhhh the first weekend of the year! I don't know why I feel so desperately in need of a break, despite just having had Christmas. Maybe it's because our January is rather busy at work. Lots of plans locked in and that makes me antsy. I like having things to look forward to but not having my every move set in stone.

Anyway, I finished two books this week:

The King’s Agent, by J. Kent Clark
Category: Walter Scott
Source: pilfered from EVM
Rating: 4/5
Review: https://www.librarything.com/review/92649001

This historical novel is set at the time of James II/VII (at least in flashback) and has an interesting structure. I'd recommend it if you can get a hold of it.

Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer, by Barbara Ehrenreich
Category: Old Willie
Source: library
Rating: 3/5
Review: https://www.librarything.com/review/163381967

Parts of this worked better than others, and the last bit (about the philosophy of the self) didn't really jive with the cover image of the Grim Reaper on a treadmill. A library borrow at best.

Jan 5, 11:25am Top

Wow, you are already making a dent in your tbr pile! :-) I was considering reading Natural Causes but now think I'll skip it since I previously read (and liked) Being Mortal. Thanks for the thoughtful review!

Jan 5, 1:26pm Top

>89 This-n-That: Thanks! And yes, I think Being Mortal is the benchmark for me when it comes to this sort of book. I'm about to start With the End in Mind and will see how it compares.

Jan 5, 9:11pm Top

No TV theme this year? :'-( But truly, the art is gorgeous, and varied, and lovely. I'm looking forward to hearing about what you read this year!

Jan 5, 10:26pm Top

>91 pammab: This is still kind of a TV theme, given that it was inspired by a documentary ;) Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you like the art too :)

Jan 6, 4:07pm Top

As a Sunday-afternoon treat I watched the Doctor Who episode "The Christmas Invasion" before reading Jenny T. Colgan's novelization.

Doctor Who: The Christmas Invasion, by Jenny T. Colgan
Category: The Mysterious Garden
Source: library
Rating: 4/5
Review: https://www.librarything.com/review/163668521

This is a great novelization -- Colgan devoured the old Target Books in her childhood, and it shows in her work with this story.

On a side note, I laughed at how much technology has changed between 2005 and 2019: Mickey asks if he can plug his laptop into Jackie's phone line (dial-up internet in Central London!), and the laptop itself has only 512 MB of RAM!

Jan 6, 4:30pm Top

I read Natural Causes at the end of last year and was in two minds about it. Parts of the book read as though it was written in an afternoon. But, even though the author waffled on far too much about macrophages and the structure of the book was a mess, her idea that it's not worth making ourselves miserable trying to prevent illness has stayed with me so I think it was worth reading. It's not in the same class as Being Mortal, though.

Jan 6, 5:44pm Top

>94 pamelad: Yes, that idea resonated with me as well. I'm obviously going to not eat fast food all day every day, and I'm going to make an effort to engage in physical activity, but I'm not going to count calories or torture myself to stay well. (I'm more likely to focus on getting enough sleep!)
I actually found the macrophage stuff interesting on a science level, although it did seem a bit out of place in this book -- it would have made a good long essay in a collection of science writing, perhaps.

Being Mortal was excellent, and I'm finding With the End in Mind, by Kathryn Mannix, to be similarly excellent.

Jan 10, 10:36pm Top

I'm finally getting around to visiting the 2019 threads and I must say that yours is one of the most educational. I enjoyed learning about the Scottish artists that you featured!

Jan 10, 11:02pm Top

>96 mathgirl40: Thanks! I enjoyed putting this thread together. Something different :)


I've been reading up a storm this week, partly because I'm going to Toronto for a long weekend and had to clear some library books off the shelves. Never mind that I went downtown yesterday and borrowed even MORE books from the main library...

2019 has been pretty kind to me so far on the reading front *knocks on wood*. Lots of really good reading.

The Royal Art of Poison: Filthy Palaces, Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Medicine, and Murder Most Foul, by Eleanor Herman
Category: Old Willie
Source: library
Rating: 4/5
Review: https://www.librarything.com/review/163417113

This is the second of three books I have in my general non-fiction category, and all of them relate to medicine or health in some way. Weird. This was really good -- delightfully disgusting. People who've read books like Fashion Victims or The Arsenic Century, books about European royalty, or the history of health, may find this interesting.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman
Category: The Blue Hat
Source: Chaptigo
Rating: 4.5/5
Review: https://www.librarything.com/review/159554752

I saw so many quotes from this book floating around and decided Eleanor and I had to meet. We did, and I love her to bits. This was a wonderful book.

Jan 11, 5:33am Top

>97 rabbitprincess: Oh my, two BB's in one post. Thanks, RP! ;)

Jan 11, 5:44am Top

>97 rabbitprincess: Eleanor Oliphant is fabulous. I read it last year for my book club and have it down to read again this year.

Jan 11, 9:18am Top

>98 tess_schoolmarm: Haha thanks! I hope they live up to the hype ;)

>99 JayneCM: I'll probably have to re-read it sometime too! For now, though, my mum is going to borrow it :)


Tying up loose ends before heading down to Toronto. Kicked off my long weekend by sleeping in until 8, woo hoo!

All the Hidden Truths, by Claire Askew
Category: Twa Plack
Source: library
Rating: 4/5
Review: https://www.librarything.com/review/163668580

I saw the author read at Bloody Scotland and immediately requested this book when our library ordered it. I really liked it -- I think it's her first crime novel.

With the End in Mind: Death, Dying and Wisdom in an Age of Denial, by Kathryn Mannix
Category: Old Willie
Source: library
Rating: 5/5
Review: https://www.librarything.com/review/163668623

I'm going to have to buy a copy of this for myself. So, so good.

Jan 11, 11:40am Top

>100 rabbitprincess: - Definite book bullet for With the End in Mind.

Jan 11, 11:59am Top

>100 rabbitprincess: Yes, a BB for me too!

Jan 11, 12:26pm Top

>97 rabbitprincess: BB! You got me with both of those, especially The Royal Art of Poison. I have a keen interest in the way cosmetics used to be made.

Jan 11, 2:22pm Top

>101 LittleTaiko: >102 Jackie_K: I hope you both like it, if like is the right word for this sort of book. I especially liked that the author drew on her CBT skills to help her patients.

>103 mstrust: I also found the bits about royal paranoia re poison to be quite interesting!

Jan 11, 3:55pm Top

I've been slowly making my way around to threads. I love your theme and set up. Those paintings are excellent. That documentary sounds really intersesting. I would love to see all of those sketches from Peter you mentioned. It looks like you are off to a great start to the year with your reading. I think I've just added almost every book you've read so far to my wish list!

Jan 11, 4:19pm Top

>97 rabbitprincess: - >100 rabbitprincess: - So I think I'll be taking 3 out of 4 book bullets from these. I'm particularly interested in With the End in Mind. A few years ago I was reading Stiff while I was waiting in the exam room at the doctor's office. We had a bit of a discussion about it when he came in - me wearing my little paper exam robe. Only All the Hidden Truths didn't make the list - not my cuppa.

Jan 11, 9:42pm Top

>105 staci426: Thanks for stopping by! You can find the documentary on DailyMotion here, in two parts:
Part 1: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2ahesj
Part 2: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2aho9j

And yes, I've had a great reading year so far!

>106 dudes22: Oh good, if any BBs are to be taken, I definitely want it to be With the End in Mind. It's such an important subject. My BF and I ended up having a conversation about it when I finished the book.

Jan 11, 10:52pm Top

Major bus accident in Ottawa this afternoon: a double-decker bus collided with a Transitway station shelter. Three people are dead, and 20+ are injured. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/bus-crash-westboro-station-ottawa-1.4975385

Providentially, I am out of town this weekend visiting my parents. My BF is in Ottawa but he is fine. He was home at the time of the crash.

This is bringing back memories of the other bus crash, in which a bus collided with a VIA train. Same model of bus, same sort of damage, except on the right side of the bus instead of the left. I can't imagine what the people involved in either of those accidents must be thinking or going through right now.

Jan 12, 10:15am Top

Getting the audio reading off to a good start for 2019. Big Finish is always reliable.

Doctor Who: Classic Doctors, New Monsters, Volume 2 (Big Finish audio drama)
Category: Still Life with White Tulips, The Mysterious Garden
Source: Big Finish
Rating: 4/5
Review: https://www.librarything.com/review/144171342

The only drawback to this set is that two stories deal with the same monster, so I was less interested in the second of those two stories. But the set as a whole was well put together as always; the team at Big Finish do their work with care and enthusiasm.

Jan 12, 4:57pm Top

Part of my visit home to my parents has included a trip to the used bookstore, so I have a few acquisitions to report.

Rear Window and Other Stories, by Cornell Woolrich (mathgirl40, it looks similar to your copy of I Married a Dead Man)
Delta and the Bannermen, by Malcolm Kohll (a Seventh Doctor novel)
The Deviant Strain, by Justin Richards (a Ninth Doctor novel)
Medicine Walk, by Richard Wagamese (this was on the list of possibilities for my MIL's book club)
Undermajordomo Minor, by Patrick deWitt (a hardcover, but both Mum and I will read it, so it was worth the price tag)

Also, a story. My mum has been collecting the travelogues of H.V. Morton, and last year she was reading In Search of Scotland to set the mood for our then-upcoming trip to Scotland. Unfortunately, she left the book on the subway and couldn't find it again. Today in the bookstore, I happened to be in the travel section and happened to look over... there, on the shelf, was a gorgeous 1973-published hardcover edition of In Search of Scotland. So of course I had to buy that too! My mum was ecstatic. Made my day :D

Jan 12, 7:56pm Top

Lovely illustrations for your categories. Looking forward to seeing the books that fit in 2019.

Jan 12, 11:57pm Top

>110 rabbitprincess: Secondhand bookshops are my happy place!

Has your mum been following the HV Morton blog? One of the members set off in September to follow the book aroud Scotland. I am a real fan of travelogues, in particular the older British ones.

Jan 13, 10:02am Top

>111 Robertgreaves: Thanks, Robert!

>112 JayneCM: I don't know if she knows about this! I'll have to let her know. Thanks for the heads-up!

Jan 13, 10:32am Top

It was fate that you should own In Search of Scotland! Good for you!
>108 rabbitprincess: What a horrible accident.

Jan 13, 12:31pm Top

>114 mstrust: I know right? I looked in exactly the right spot at the right time.

It is indeed horrible. Those buses are basically tin cans. No crashworthiness protection whatsoever, it seems.

Jan 13, 9:58pm Top

>97 rabbitprincess: - Eleanor is a wonderful character! I loved that story when I read it last year. ;-)

Seeing the news about that bus crash was horrifying. Those buses are basically tin cans. No crashworthiness protection whatsoever, it seems. We have some of those double decker buses here in Victoria. All I could think of as I watched the news is how I always see small kids racing for upstairs seat for the view.

Jan 13, 10:18pm Top

>116 lkernagh: I loaned the book to my mum when I was home this weekend, and she read it in a day! Obviously a winner around here :)

Here, the appeal of the double-deckers is that they can accommodate more passengers in a smaller footprint than the articulated buses that are in use on a large portion of the network. They're often used for express buses to the suburbs for that reason -- and in both the 2013 crash and this one, they were express buses, so a lot of people on board. Fortunately, I don't use an express bus to get to work, so I'm not taking double-deckers very often.

Jan 16, 1:00am Top

Great theme. :) I don't know Steven Campbell but I think I should get to know him - love that painting. The Tilda is pretty amazing as well.

>97 rabbitprincess: I don't know why I keep resisting Eleanor Oliphant! I haven't heard a single negative review from anyone I know who's read it. I even asked for and received it for Christmas since I knew I wouldn't buy it myself.

Jan 16, 1:26am Top

>118 madhatter22: I do find myself resisting books that attain a certain level of popularity, but I think I'm going to have to give in on this one especially after the rave reviews from my sister when I saw her at New Year.

Jan 16, 1:29am Top

>118 madhatter22: >119 Robertgreaves: I think I am lucky I read it when it first came out so had no preconceived ideas. I just loved it because of Eleanor. And I liked the construction of the novel, how every few pages you received another little snippet to piece together the puzzle of Eleanor's life. It is worth reading!

Edited: Jan 16, 2:31am Top

>119 Robertgreaves: >120 JayneCM: That 'certain level of popularity' probably is a part of it. Working in a bookstore, there are definitely things I just get tired of looking at. (Not) looking at you, All the Light We Cannot See!
I may also be unfairly conflating it with Where'd You Go Bernadette because of the titles and covers. I really didn't like Bernadette. But I'm being swayed! Maybe I can fit it in next month. :)

Jan 16, 9:57pm Top

>118 madhatter22: Steven Campbell is certainly an interesting painter! And yes, isn't that Tilda great? He totally captured her essence.

>119 Robertgreaves: Me too! I was a bit worried about it, but after seeing all those quotes on Litsy, I had to give it a go.

>120 JayneCM: It was constructed so well!

>121 madhatter22: I get that! And the more it's pushed as the thing you should read, the less you want to read it!


Still working my way through the stack of Doctor Who novels I got out of the library...

Doctor Who: Rose, by Russell T. Davies
Category: The Mysterious Garden
Source: library
Rating: 4/5
Review: https://www.librarything.com/review/163693893

I'd forgotten about the great joke involving "Plastic!" This was fun because it conjures up the episode so well. Russell T. Davies should do more novelizations.

Jan 16, 11:34pm Top

>121 madhatter22: >122 rabbitprincess: describing anything in advertising as a "must read" or "must have" is a sure fire way of turning me off.

Edited: Yesterday, 5:50am Top

After taking a BB above for With the End in Mind, I was looking through my BB list and realized that I took a BB a couple of years ago for From Here To Eternity from you which looks like it's a similar topic. I need to read some of my BBs I guess.

Yesterday, 7:50am Top

It's January and I already have to catch up on threads! I'm glad you liked Eleanor Oliphant, rp. I thought the author did an extraordinary job of treading a fine line between twee and misery and she managed it brilliantly.

I read my first novel by Wagamese last year and loved it. I plan to read more. I'll be interested in hearing what you think of Medicine Walk.

Yesterday, 9:44am Top

>125 RidgewayGirl: I love this site! Learn new words often: twee!

Yesterday, 9:55am Top

>126 tess_schoolmarm: I think it is a British word - we use it in Australia. Well, I do anyway! And it just has such a great ring to it when you say 'twee' out loud!

Yesterday, 10:01am Top

Wow, you're really getting to those Doctor Who novels. You know, I've only read one Doctor Who novel, despite being a big fan.

Yesterday, 11:59am Top

>122 rabbitprincess: I'm curious, have you ever seen the show "Community"? One of the characters is obsessed with a show called "Inspector Spacetime," which is clearly a stand-in for "Doctor Who." Makes me think of you every time! :)

Yesterday, 4:22pm Top

>125 RidgewayGirl: The twee title put me off this book.

Because there are so many books to read, I use some arbitrary rules for filtering them. No twee titles is number 1, and no authors with 3 names is the second. I might miss a few good books, but on the whole the filters are working well. I broke the twee rule for that hedgehog book. Mistake. Rule #3 No crime-solving animals. (They're also twee.)

Yesterday, 4:42pm Top

>130 pamelad: That's wonderful. I suspect we all have a bunch of arbitrary rules just to avoid being piled under our books. I'll avoid any title based on a pun or wordplay, but I did read and love Ella Minnow Pea, so clearly I don't follow my own rules.

Yesterday, 6:24pm Top

>129 christina_reads: Oh, how I love Community. And how they even got Matt Lucas at the "Inspector Spacetime" convention.

Yesterday, 6:33pm Top

>132 mstrust: I'm bingeing "Community" for the first time now...just started season 5. I'm addicted at this point!

Yesterday, 9:44pm Top

>123 Robertgreaves: For sure. Or at least it puts the book further down the list. If I’m interested a few years later, then I'll take a chance on it.

>124 dudes22: Yes, those books would go together nicely!

>125 RidgewayGirl: I was really looking for Indian Horse, but Medicine Walk should be good too.

>126 tess_schoolmarm: >127 JayneCM: It is a wonderful word!

>128 The_Hibernator: They do have a different feel from the TV series. There are even a few about the Thirteenth Doctor, which I thought was awfully fast. And yes, Doctor Who novels make a nice binge for me :)

>129 christina_reads: >132 mstrust: >133 christina_reads: No, I haven’t seen Community, but that does sound amusing. Are there any particular episodes that highlight Inspector Spacetime to best effect? I’m not sure I’m up to watching a whole TV series :P

>130 pamelad: >131 RidgewayGirl: I do enjoy a good punny title, but if that title is attached to a cozy mystery, I’m probably not going to read it, because the book is merely a pun conveyance. Also, I can’t suspend my disbelief anymore for those kinds of mysteries.

A positive arbitrary rule I have is “Request ALL British Library Crime Classics and Doctor Who novels the library orders, even if you already own them”. I want to encourage the library to buy more :D


Had a lovely afternoon outing with paruline! We had chocolate drinks (hot chocolate for her, a dark chocolate milkshake for me) and roasted marshmallows at Cacao 70. It was really cool: they gave us a little “grill” on which we could actually roast the marshmallows, as though we were camping! It also came with toffee bananas, peanut butter sauce, dipping chocolate, and whipped cream. Even for two of us, it was a lot.

Then we went to Chapters! paruline bought Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey. After not being able to find a copy of With the End in Mind, I bought my own copy of Brace for Impact, by Peter Pigott (I’d read it from the library and liked it) as well as Seven Fallen Feathers, by Tanya Talaga.

Group: 2019 Category Challenge

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