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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. This may happen a month from now, or a year, or possibly never, I really can't say.

In the meantime, why not check out my Photoblog?

(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 holderI 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:

The Easy Book Clip:

The Book Gem:


The 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:


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:


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

I&#…

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 …

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…

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.

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.


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 roma…

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 stor…

July book haul

Count: 15
Of which I have already read 3: Return of the Straight Dope, Touching the Void and Map of Another Town (one of the two volumes contained in M.F.K. Fisher's Two Towns in Province).
Previously read: A Considerable Town, the other volume in Two Towns in Provence.


Reading report for July 2014

I read 12 books in July, most of them fairly quick reads due to either being short or having a lot of pictorial content. None were rereads and 10 were TBR, meaning I am now several books ahead in the TBR challenge, with only 18 books to go. However, I don't plan to go slacking off, and neither am I going to push the number of challenge books up - I am simply going to finish the challenge and by then I will hopefully be in the habit of choosing more of my owned books to read and fewer loan books. If all goes well, I might push the limit higher next year.



If you wonder at seeing the same title twice, it‘s because I read two different editions of the same book. I jump at the chance to buy second-hand guide books of places I have visited or plan to visit one day, figuring that although they may be old, the important information, that about the old buildings, monuments, state museums and works of art, remains mostly valid, even if the information about hotels, restaurants, opening tim…

Before I forget: June's haul of books

Count: 17 (one not pictured because it's a leaflet with no printing on the spine).
Out of which I have already read: 2 (The Widow Clicquot and All Venice).
Previously read: 2 (Eats, Shoots & Leaves and Unnatural Selections, which turned out to be featured almost in its entirety in the Far Side Gallery 4, which I bought last month).


Review: Arnaldur Indriðason: Skuggasund (Potential title translation: Shadow Channel (source: Wikipedia))

This is a "crimes of the past revisited" story, something Arnaldur has done before in several of his other books (e.g. Silence of the Grave, The Draining Lake and Strange Shores). Told in chapters alternating between 1944 and the modern day, it tells the story of how the murder of an old man sets a retired police detective on the trail of another, unsolved, murder that happened during WW2 in Reykjavík. This is not a detective Erlendur story and does not feature either of his two closest collaborators on the police force but instead introduces a new character, a recently retired detective named Konráð.

I don't know if the English title given for this book in the Wikipedia entry on Arnaldur and elsewhere on the web (except that literature.is gets it (almost) right), is the one that will be used for the eventual translation, but to me it looks suspiciously like a Google Translate blooper. Skuggasund actually means "Shadow Alley" and is the name of a street in Reyk…

Desert Island Books 2014

In 2008 and again in 2011 I posted my choices for Desert Island Books, i.e. books I would take with me for a year’s stay alone on a desert island. Since three years went by between these two posts and another three years have gone by since the second one, I thought it was time to do a third such list.

To recap the rules:
There can be more than one book in a volume, but I can only choose 10 volumes plus a book of national importance to my culture and one religious book. My previous choices in these categories were the Icelandic Sagas and the Mahabaratha in 2008, and in 2011 I again chose the Sagas and the religious book was the Koran. My culturally important book for 2014 is yet again the Sagas (I have read one of them since last time), and the religious book would not be a book of religion (like the Bible or the Koran) but one about religion or the lack thereof - title not decided yet but God: A Biography by Jack Miles comes to mind.

As in 2011, I did not look at the previous lists b…

Reading report for June

I read a total of 17 books in June. 6 were rereads and 7 were TBR. The genres included romance, travelogue, history, geology, biography, fantasy, true crime and visual humour.

I reached the 100 books mark around mid-month, meaning that if I keep up the current rate of reading I will finish just over 200 books in the course of the year. I also read the 30th TBR book of the year, putting me on course and boding well for the completion of the challenge.

The stand-outs of the month were Krakatoa and The Kon-Tiki Expedition, closely followed by The Nonexistent Knight and Medicine Road. I bought all four books on clearance sale at one of the charity shops I sometimes visit.

Krakatoa isone of those juicy history/science books that I love to read, and it doesn't hurt that it was written by Simon Winchester, whose writing never fails to please me. The subject of the book is the explosion of the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa, the lead-up to the event and the aftermath. Winchester is a trained …

Reading report for May

I read 17 books in May, a mixture of first-time reads and rereads, all but two of which were fiction. The rereads were the Jennifer Crusie books and the YA Terry pratchett novel Nation, which I picked up second hand in May and reread before adding it to my keeper shelf.

There was an unusual (for a single month) number of books I rated 4 or more stars (out of a possible 5) so I decided to include the star rating I gave each first-time read. Keep in mind that the enjoyment I got out of the book tends to weigh heavier than the quality of writing, style and narrative, so you might see some ratings that surprise you. Sometimes these components come together into something sublime, which is when I find myself compelled to give more than the top rating of 5 stars. In any given year only a handful of books gets this 5+ rating, but the ones that do always end up – when I own the copy I read – on my keeper shelves, or – when I don‘t – I end up buying a copy, and vigorously recommend the book …

May's haul of books

It's official: I'm buying books again. Why, after the book-buying ban, all the culling and the TBR challenge and all that?

Well, buying second-hand books is a cheap form of retail therapy (especially when the charity shop is having a clearance sale) and as I don't need any more clothes at the moment I need something else to shop for. Also because I culled some books I didn't want to keep and let go some stuff I had no use for that was cluttering up precious shelf-space in my apartment and I again have shelf-space for books.

But I'm not just buying any old books. I'm being fairly picky and not buying as much on speculation as I used to (I was using the charity shops and second hand shops like libraries when the book-buying mania was at its worst) and I'm buying more large format and coffee-table books, and novels in hard covers in preference to softcover novels, and more non-fiction than fiction. Basically books I think I might definitely want to keep, books…

Bless his little heart!

Yet another privileged male rants about women and their love of romance novels, apparently based on reading two books, and promptly gets taken down by clever, articulate women people. By the way, if anything, some of the responses in the comment section beneath the original article are even better than the SMTB post and the accompanying comments (albeit not as stingingly funny).

(By the way, I have a low opinion of Fifty Shades of Grey, but I wouldn't dream of saying anything negative about the people who enjoy it. What you enjoy is not what you are - if it was, I'd have been diagnosed with dissociative personality disorder years ago).