18 December 2014

Going into hibernation

I'm putting this blog into hibernation for the unforeseen future. I have been reading as much as ever, but my interest in blogging about it has taken a decided downward turn and the blog has been languishing for more than a year. I may stop by now and again if I feel the urge to post something or I want to update the Invisible Library page, but other than that I don't plan on blogging here regularly until my interest in reviewing returns.

In the meantime, why not check out my Photoblog?

08 December 2014

(Christmas) gift suggestions for book-lovers

I did this once before (thought I'd done more, but I can't find them). As I have come across more goodies for book-lovers, I decided to do another one. With pictures. And links (just click on the photo and the link will open in a new window).



Book pillows
Choose between Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes, and Treasure Island.





A book holder

 I like the look of these (I haven't tested any of them, but I do own a Little Book Holder. I just haven't found occasion to use it yet.)

The Gimble:
http://gonereading.com/product/book-holder-the-gimble-traveler/

The Easy Book Clip:
http://www.ezbookclip.com/products.htm

The Book Gem:
http://www.bookgem.com/


The Little Book Holder:
http://www.thatcompanycalledif.com/product/17/Little-Book-Holder


A personal library kit

For the inner librarian and for the person who lends out a lot of books and then complains when people forget to return them:
http://knockknockstuff.com/product/personal-library-kit/


Archival book covers

Another one for the inner librarian, also for the collector and indeed any other person who insists on keeping their books looking fresh and unread:
http://www.archival.com/productcatalog/nonglarebookcover.shtml


Library book pockets

Buy them from stationery shops or make them yourself. Here are some examples from one blogger.

I'm considering making some to put in my books to hold bookmarks when I'm reading, because I often put the bookmark somewhere I can't find it and have to hunt up a new one.

02 November 2014

The TBR Challenge is done! (plus, some news)

It just occurred to me that I have reached my goal of reading 60 books from my TBR pile. In fact, by the end of October there were 63 of them, so I exceeded the goal with two months of reading to go. By now, the number is 64 and I am reading what may become books 65 and 66. Yay!

The speed with which I managed this is in large part due to the fact that I bought a number of interesting books I couldn't wait to read. It is a sad fact that, once I have bought a book, if I don't read it within a few weeks I start to lose interest in it, and if I own it for long enough I forget I ever owned it in the first place. This is how I occasionally end up buying a second copy (rare, now that I keep a list of the books I own on my smartphone) and also why I sometimes end up culling books without having read them.

I had hoped to reach 200 books read in total by the end of the year, but as I have only finished 157 books by now, I expect the final number will be closer to 180. Not that the 200 book goal isn't within my reach: if I finish 22 books in November and another 22 in December, I will reach 200 before the end of the year.

This is unlikely, however, as I have a project I'm working on that will keep me quite busy for some weeks, possibly even until spring. I have recently become the proud owner of a brand new Volkswagen Caddy Maxi panel van that my father and I are going to transform into a mini-motor home for me. Work has started and will keep me quite busy, planning and working and possibly doing some freelance translating to pay for the whole thing. This may leave me too little time and/or energy to read as much as I am used to. As a matter of fact I think I would probably have managed to read 15 books in October (instead of only 10) if we hadn't already started the work. On the other hand, this just might energise me into reading more books than average - I really can't tell.

Also, while I found any number of foreign blogs and websites about van-to-motorhome conversions, I didn't find many of either in Icelandic (my native language). In fact what I found was mostly travelogues written by motorhome owners, and a handful of discussions about DIY motorhomes on message boards and Facebook, so I am trying to fill that niche by writing a blog in Icelandic about the whole process, which is also going to take time away from reading.

I hope to be able to take my motorhome on the road next spring. Until then I have one book about motorhome life lined up for reading: Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion (if I can find it - it seems to be playing hide and seek with me). I am hoping to find a copy of A monkey ate my breakfast: Motorhome adventures in Morocco by Julie and Jason Buckley, when I go to London at the end of this month. Incidentally, their blog, Our Tour, is a fantastic resource about the various aspects of motorhome travel as well as telling the story of their travels in Europe and North-Africa.

And now, dear reader, I have a question for you: Can you recommend any other books about motorhomes and motorhome travel, including guides to DIY motorhomes? 

11 October 2014

Reading report for September 2014

I went through reading slump in September. For me, this usually does not mean I read fewer books in a given month, but that I read a larger proportion of books I have read before. I finished a total of 16 books – which is actually above my monthly average – but 10 of them were re-reads (of which three were audio books I listened to for the first time). Out of the remaining six, two were books I had started reading long before and then put aside for some reason.

For more than half the month I kept picking up never-before read books, opening them, reading a chapter or two, losing interest and grabbing a familiar book to read instead.



This coincided with the beginning of my yearly struggle with the winter blues. As I have mentioned before, I suffer from depression. It is usually mild these days and comes in fairly predictable waves throughout the year, but the downswings are always deeper during the winter and the first signs are usually an increased need for sleep and everything around me starting to feel uninteresting. At such times I feel the need to surround myself with things that are cosy and familiar, including books I have enjoyed many times before. The key to fighting this is novelty, and reading new-to-me books is one of the way in which I find novelty.

The book that finally helped me break the re-reading pattern was Gene Simmons‘ autobiography, Kiss and Make-Up. I used to be a Kiss fan when I was a teenager, and I still enjoy listening to their music. Not that the book is terribly remarkable, except possibly in the fact that he (or his ghost-writer) mostly actually writes about himself and doesn't spend half the book recounting juicy gossip about others, which has been the case with a number of celebrity autobiographies I have read. It was interesting, however, and so I kept reading and read it pretty much in two long sessions.

There were two stand-outs. The first was Katie Hickman‘s Daughters of Britannia, which examined various aspects of the lives of the spouses of British diplomats (mostly women). It gives an insight into the world of diplomats that shows that it used to be hard work being married into the diplomatic corps and it isn‘t all glittering parties and fun, and indeed the parties are only glittering and fun if you are on the outside looking in at them. The other stand-out was, predictably, the Gary Larson collection The Far Side Gallery II.

The low point of the month was a Mills & Boon romance: In Love With the Man by Marjorie Lewty. It is one of those books one finds one day in one's book collection without having any recollection of ever having bought or otherwise acquired it. I don't have any particular gripe with Mills & Boon per se, but this was one of those "innocent young woman falls for experienced older man" stories with a side order of industrial espionage, exotic foreign location (Tokyo) and a spiteful competitor for the hero's affections. The heroine is a wide-eyed innocent and the hero's behaviour towards her borders on the creepy at times and falls under my definition of sexual harassment. I think I read it from cover to cover only because it was short and I was feeling too lazy to stand up and get another book.

The Books:
  • Mike Ashley, ed.:The Mammoth Book of Historical Detectives. Short detective stories, historical.
  • Jennifer Crusie:The Cinderella Deal. Romance. Reread.
  • Georgette Heyer:The Reluctant Widow and Masqueraders. Historical romance. Rereads.
  • Katie Hickman:Daughters of Britannia. History.
  • Gary Larson:The Far Side Gallery II. Humour, cartoons.
  • Marjorie Lewty:In Love With the Man. Romance. Reread.
  • Ólafur Davíðsson:Ég læt allt fjúka. Collected letters and diary.
  • Terry Pratchett:Truckers, Diggers, Wings. Children’s fantasy. Reread. Audio books, read by Tony Robinson.
  • J.D. Robb:Naked in Death. Futuristic police procedural. Reread.
  • Oliver Sacks:The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Neurology. Reread.
  • DorothyL. Sayers:Strong Poison. Mystery.
  • Gene Simmons:Kiss and Make-Up. Autobiography.
  • Winifred Watson:Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Novel, humorous. Reread.



05 October 2014

September 2014 book haul

I have already read one of the books in the two-book volume at the top of the pile. I was quite happy to find new Regency romances (my favourite sub-genre of historical romance), but I miss the old-fashioned painted covers. The clothing on these photograph covers isn't even historically correct.


26 September 2014

My book haul for August 2014

Missing is The Real Animal House: The Awesomely Depraved Saga of the Fraternity That Inspired the Movie, by Chris Miller. I lent it to my brother, who is a big fan of the movie (I sort of bought it for him too). I haven't yet read any of them, but I will probably start one once I finish one of my current reads (I'm juggling three books at the moment).

I already had an older copy of Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer, but I love the cover art on these newer editions. Besides, the old one is liable to fall apart if I try to read it.


14 September 2014

Reading report for August 2014

I read nine books in in August: some travel and romance with a peppering of other genres. One was a reread and one was an audio book I had previously read but was listening to for the first time.



The first high point was Slow Boats to China by Gavin Young. It’s one of those travel books that makes an appearance on numerous lists of best travelogues, and for good reason: It’s well written, describes a journey that most of us can only fantasise (and occasionally have nightmares) about, and is undoubtedly romantic. It describes the type of journey that can be found in the top ten wish lists of most hard-core travellers of the type who travel for the journey, not the destination.

The second high point was Map of Another Town by M.F.K. Fisher. I found it a little disjointed in places, but that did not detract from the joy of Fisher’s prose and her long love letter to Aix-en-Provence.

The Books:
  • Cecil Adams: Return of the Straight Dope. Trivia.
  • Mary Balogh: The Famous Heroine. Historical romance.
  • Jennifer Crusie: Maybe This Time. Paranormal contemporary romance. Reread.
  • M.F.K. Fisher: Map of Another Town. Travelogue.
  • Michael Green, ed.: The 'Peterborough' Book. Humour.
  • Jeff Greenwald: Mister Raja's Neighbourhood. Travelogue.
  • Balogh Mary: The Plumed Bonnet. Historical romance.
  • Terry Pratchett: Dodger. Alternative reality historical novel; audio book read by Stephen Briggs. Reread.
  • Gavin Young: Slow Boats to China. Travelogue.



23 August 2014

I have added a new page

In 2013, impressed by the number of book titles popping up in the books I was reading at the time, I began posting what I called Friday Book lists, in which I would list all the books, plays, periodicals, poems, short stories and other publications that appeared in the books I was reading. The endeavour fizzled out after a while when I took a break from rereading the Ngaio Marsh detective novels and began reading books that contained few, if any, mentions of books or reading. However, one thing I found fascinating about the exercise were all the fictional titles I came across.

Years before, I had discovered the - now, alas, long defunct - Invisible Library website and had been intrigued by the titles contained therein. Other webmasters and bloggers have since then made their own versions of this library of fictional books (as has Wikipedia), and now I have decided to join that club. On my Invisible Library page you will find (to begin with) the fictional books, short stories, poems and plays included in my Friday Book lists (I decided to omit any periodicals, newspapers and articles as their actual existence is often quite hard to verify). I will add new entries whenever I come across them and mark the newest at any time in red. 

My aim is not to list as many fictional books as possible, but merely to collect the ones I discover between the pages of the books I read. I may, if I find myself looking for something to do,  pick up, from other invisible libraries, titles gleaned from books I read before I started collecting titles, but that's it. If I haven't read the containing book, you will not find it listed.