Anticipation – Booking Through Thursday

        • Last week we talked about the books you liked best from 2007. So this week, what with it being a new year, and all, we’™re looking forward’¦.
        • What new books are you looking forward to most in 2008? Something new being published this year? Something you got as a gift for the holidays? Anything in particular that you’™re planning to read in 2008 that you’™re looking forward to? A classic, or maybe a best-seller from 2007 that you’™re waiting to appear in paperback?

        This is my first post in 2008 – Happy New Year everyone.

        I’m looking forward to reading C J Sansom’s new book Revelation, which will be published in April. This is the fourth book featuring Matthew Shardlake and is set in Spring, 1543, when King Henry VIII is wooing Lady Catherine Parr, whom he wants for his sixth wife. It’s a time of religious mania when the insane are considered as heretics, imprisoned in Bedlam and burnt at the stake. When an old friend is horrifically murdered Shardlake, a lawer-cum-detective, promises to bring the killer to justice. His search leads him to connections not only with a boy in Bedlam but with Cranmer and Catherine Parr and with the dark prophecies of the Book of Revelation. I’ve loved the other Matthew Shardlake books and expect this one will be just as good.

        I’m also looking forward to reading another book not yet published – Nothing to be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes. I read about it in the paper at the weekend. It’s a meditation and memoir, about God, death and art, which sounds fascinating. It’s out in March.

        Then I have lots of books on my wish list and loads on my ‘to be read’ list – plenty to keep me going. Some of these I’ve included in the ‘What’s in a Name’ and ‘Celebrate the Author’ Challenges. I’ve already read two of the books I had for Christmas Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve and The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill, both of which I’ve been looking forward to reading and both were compelling and very enjoyable – worth waiting for. I am now reading a third Christmas present, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. I first read this as a teenager, but after all that time it’s like reading it for the first time.

        Books Read in 2007

        So far this year I’ve read 98 books. I didn’t make a century, but then it’s not about numbers, but is about reading and enjoying books. I don’t think I’ll finish any more by the end of this year. The first 30 (or so) books on the list I read before I started to write this blog, so there are no posts about them. I’ve written about most of the books I’d read up to the end of November and I hope to write about some of the ones read in December next year.

        Clicking on the titles that are underlined takes you to my posts on the books.

        98.Here Lies Arthur, Philip Reeve
        97.Four Stories, Alan Bennett
        96.The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam, Chris Ewan
        95.Solstice, Joyce Carol Oates
        94.Old Filth, Jane Gardam
        93.The Owl Service, Alan Garner
        92. The Spoilt City, Olivia Manning
        91.The End of the Affair, Graham Greene
        90.All Passion Spent, Vita Sackville-West
        89.My Cleaner, Maggie Gee
        88.The Testament of Gideon Mack, James Robertson
        87.The Great Fortune, Olivia Manning
        86.Surveillance, Jonathan Raban
        85.Cranford, Elizabeth Gaskell
        84.Remainder, Tom McCarthy
        83.Lewis Carroll: a biography, Morton Cohen
        82.The Sidmouth Letters, Jane Gardam
        81.Crossing To Safety, Wallace Stegner
        80.Playing with the Moon, Eliza Graham
        79.One Fine Day, Mollie Panter-Downes
        78.Ladies of Grace Adieu, Susanna Clarke
        77.The Verneys, Adrian Tinniswood
        76.Christine Kringle, Lynn Brittany
        75.Set in Darkness, Ian Rankin
        74.Sons and Lovers, D H Lawrence
        73.The Man Who Died, D H Lawrence
        72.The Uncommon Reader, Alan Bennett
        71.Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott
        70.Astrid and Veronika, Linda Olsson
        69.The Alchemist, Paul Coelho
        68.Ghostwalk, Rebecca Stott
        67.Crow Lake, Mary Lawson
        66.Speaking of Love, Angela Young
        65.Letters to Malcolm, C S Lewis
        64.Season of the Witch, Natasha Mostert
        63.The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman
        62.The House at Riverton, Kate Morton
        61.The Secret History, Donna Tartt
        60.Made in Heaven, Adele Geras
        59.Crooked House, Agatha Christie
        58.Arlington Park, Rachel Cusk
        57.The Subtle Knife, Philip Pullman
        56.Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J K Rowling
        55.Northern Lights, Philip Pullman
        54.Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner
        53.Mistress of the Art of Death, Ariana Franklin
        52.Theft, Peter Carey
        51.King of the Streets, John Baker
        50.The Poe Shadow, Matthew Pearl
        49.Digging to America, Anne Tyler
        48.Wilberforce, John Pollock
        47.On Trying To Keep Still, Jenny Diski
        46.Death’s Jest-Book, Reginald Hill
        45.The Woodlanders, Thomas Hardy
        44.Body Surfing, Anita Shreve
        43.The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield
        42.Daphne, Margaret Forster
        41.Blessings, Anna Quindlen
        40.The Dawkin’s Delusion, Alistair McGrath
        39.The Giant’s House, Elizabeth McCracken
        38.Pictures of Perfection, Reginald Hill
        37.Keeping Faith, Jodie Picoult
        36.Over, Margaret Forster
        35.Master Georgie, Beryl Bainbridge
        34.On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan
        33.Gentlemen & Players, Joanne Harris
        32.Hallucinating Foucault, Patricia Duncker
        31.Emotional Geology, Linda Gillard
        30.The Secret of the Last Temple, Peter Sussman
        29.When I Grow Up, Bernice Rubens
        28.Under the Greenwood Tree, Thomas Hardy
        27.Death Minus Zero, John Baker
        26.The Conjuror’™s Bird, Martin Davies
        25.Nights of Rain and Stars, Maeve Binchy
        24.The Devil wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger
        23.Stranger on a Train, Jenny Diski
        22.Instances of the Number 3, Salley Vickers
        21.Sovereign, C J Sansom
        20.The Daughter of Time, Josephine Tey
        19.The Way We Live Now, Anthony Trollope
        18.Only Say the Word, Niall Williams
        17.Learning to Swim, Clare Chambers
        16.A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Marina Lewycka
        15.Mother’™s Milk, Edward St Aubyn
        14.The Dark Shore, Susan Howatch
        13.Mr Golightly’™s Holiday, Salley Vickers
        12.What Good are the Arts?, John Carey
        11.Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
        10.The Falls, Joyce Carol Oates
        9.The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
        8.Moral Disorder, Margaret Atwood
        7.Shadows in the Mirror, Frances Fyfield
        6.But Nobody Lives in Bloomsbury, Gillian Freeman
        5.The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
        4.Miss Garnet’™s Angel, Salley Vickers
        3.The Christmas Mystery, Jostein Gaarder
        2.The Water Babies, Charles Kingsley
        1.The Waiting Sands

        Happy Christmas

        I’m nearly ready for Christmas, at least the presents are wrapped, just food to prepare and a bit more shopping to do and then I can sit down and relax.

        We’ve not had snow here and the forecast for Christmas Day is heavy rain, so it won’t be a White Christmas. We’re seeing our son and his family for Christmas and my sister over New Year, so as this will probably be my last post for a while I’m wishing everyone who reads this blog

        A Very Happy Christmas

        Books ‘“ buy or borrow?

        I’™ve just received the January/February 2008 issue of newbooks magazine. It is full of information, articles, interviews and so on and so on ‘¦ plus the special offers. In each magazine there is a choice of a free give-away (you pay p & p costs). There are extracts from each book to tempt you into further reading. This month the choice is between:

        On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan
        The Welsh Girl, Peter Ho Davies
        The Oxford Murders, Guillermo Martinez
        The Coroner’™s Lunch, Colin Cotterrill
        Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders, Gyles Brandreth

        I’™m not sure which one to pick. It won’™t be On Chesil Beach because I’™ve already got that book. The others all look as though I’™d like to read them, so when I get time I’™ll be reading the extracts, before deciding which one to pick.

        Well, that’™s about free books, but the magazine is packed with details of other books and it’™s simply not possible to buy all or even many of them. This is where the Library is a fantastic service. I borrow more books than I buy ‘“ fortunately says my husband! I have always, as long as I can remember, been a member of a library and for a while I worked as a librarian, so I’™m always enthusiastic about libraries. Where else can you get such a wide-ranging and all encompassing supply of free books?

        Although I’™m extolling the virtues of the library system I also buy books, because there are books I want to read again, books to read at leisure, without being told I’™ve got to return them as someone else has reserved them and books I want to own. I buy books regularly (too regularly my husband says) and from a variety of different sources ‘“ local bookshops, there are several really good ones locally. I prefer to check out the books in the shops where possible but I also buy books from Amazon and other on-line booksellers. So, it’™s a big help to find that BooksPrice now has a UK website that compares prices from on-line booksellers. Next year I’™ll be checking them out before buying a book.

        Booking Through Thursday – And, the Nominees Are’¦.

        What fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?(Older books that you read for the first time in 2007 don’™t count.)
        What non-fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?(Older books that you read for the first time in 2007 don’™t count.)
        And, do ‘œbest of’ lists influence your reading?
        Looking through the list of books I’™ve read this year I see that most of them are not new books published in 2007, so I don’™t have much difficulty in deciding which ones I would nominate.

        In the fiction category my nominations are:

        1. Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert, about mystery, magic, memory, full of psychological tension
        2. Playing with the Moon by Eliza Graham, about memories, bereavement and the legacy of war
        3. Speaking of Love by Angela Young, about misunderstandings, loss and above all love
        4. Over by Margaret Forster about grief and death, heart-breakingly sad

        My brief descriptions only give a flavour of the books and although they are all different it seems they have a lot in common ‘“ love and memories and loss.

        I have only one nomination in the non-fiction category and that is:

        The Verneys by Adrian Tinniswood ‘“ the lives of the Buckinghamshire Verney family in turbulent seventeenth century during the English Civil War ‘“ love, war and madness.

        ‘œBest of’ lists are interesting and I suppose they do influence my reading to a certain extent. Since I started reading blogs, about two years ago now, I am more influenced by recommendations from bloggers, particularly when I know they have similar reading tastes to mine. I’™m also influenced by books I see in bookshops and especially in my local library. Sometimes I prefer to pick up a book without knowing anything about it or the author and am often surprised by how much I enjoy it.

        Goodbye Cranford – Hello Oliver

        Sunday saw the last episode of ‘Cranford’. The final episode was very dramatic and there was a happy ending but overall I still felt disgruntled by the combination of three of Elizabeth Gaskell’s books. I suppose that if I hadn’t read ‘Cranford‘ I’d never have known that the difference. I wouldn’t have missed the parts that had been left out and I wouldn’t have known that the order of events had been changed. I enjoyed the non-Cranford scenes much more – the railway explosion and injuries, the Sophie/Dr Harrison love story and above all the Lady Ludlow scenes and the interaction between Lady Ludlow, Mr Carter and Harry. I thought that Alex Etel who played Harry Gregson was excellent.

        Tonight the first part of ‘Oliver Twist’ is being broadcast at 8pm (not 9pm as I thought) on BBC1. I don’t have enough time to read the book before 9pm, so I shan’t be disappointed if the 5 part series (being shown in four nightly episodes this week and the fifth and final episode next weekend) is not faithful to the book. I haven’t read it before, but of course the story is so familiar from other films, musicals and TV productions. I don’t expect it to disappoint as ‘Cranford’ did, as I don’t suppose it will be a combination of three of Dickens’ books! Can you imagine combining ‘Oliver Twist’‘David Copperfield‘ and ‘Nicholas Nickleby’?

        I’m also looking forward to watching The Old Curiosity Shop on ITV1 on Boxing Day. I haven’t read that either so I can watch it without any pre-conceived ideas.

        First Sentences

        Kate posted this meme, which she borrowed from Danielle, who in turn borrowed it from Sylvia. The idea is that you post the first sentence from each month in the year from your blog. Like Kate I’ve changed it a bit, skipping to the second post of the month if the first began with a quotation rather than a sentence I’d written myself, or if it was just something like “a good month for reading” as I usually start the month summarising what I’d read the previous month – and that’s just too boring. Not that the following sentences are brilliant at grabbing attention or exciting (note to self – I must try harder!)

        I actually started my blog in July 2006 but only wrote one post, so I’m starting this list in April this year.

        April
        I’ve been meaning to write more, both in this blog and in other writing, but somehow there’s always something else to do.

        May
        Sunday was sunny, just perfect for a Bluebell Walk at Rushall Farm.

        June
        Daisy Lupin has started a new blog devoted to poetry and the theme for June is Poetry we loved as Children. (Sadly Daisy died in June, I did so enjoy reading her blog.)

        July
        It was D’™s birthday last Saturday and the grandchildren painted some beautiful pictures to give him.

        August
        Can anyone identify this please? (It was a Cinnabar Moth).

        September
        The year is on the turn and autumn is on its way.

        October
        Whilst in Stratford last week I browsed the bookshops, one of my favourite pastimes, and couldn’t resist buying The Complete Stories and Poems of Lewis Carroll.

        November
        Crossing to Safety was Wallace Stegner’™s last novel published when he was 78 years old.

        December
        The third episode of ‘œCranford’ is being shown on BBC1 this evening. (The last episode is on tonight.)