Musing Mondays – Bookshelves

Musing Mondays2_thumb[1]Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about tidy bookshelves.

Are your bookshelves strictly books only? Or have knick-knacks invaded? Do your shelves also shelve DVDs? Photos? Why not snap a photo €“ I’m sure we all like to spy on other’s shelves!

My bookshelves are not tidy.

Since we’ve moved house I’ve only unpacked a few boxes of books, so the bookshelves are mainly empty, except for those that have odds and ends dumped on them temporarily. One bookcase is nearly full. This holds unread books:

Bookcase 1

On the top are a set of three little notebooks, a wooden teddy bear with its hands covering its eyes and a wooden cat peering down over the bookcase. I put these there by chance as I unpacked them, but they are quite representative of my interests – books, bears and cats.  The guitar belongs to my husband.

The top two shelves are double shelved, there is a coffee tin holding coloured pencils on the third shelf and a pile of waymark discs (oops, wonder where they came from?) and on the bottom shelf there are a few odd things – a toy rabbit (this belonged to my sister), a photoframe (this belonged to my mother-in-law) and a pile of Alphapuzzle books (I’m addicted to Alphapuzzles, aka Codewords). Eventually the bottom shelf will just hold books.

The other boxes I’ve unpacked held both fiction and non-fiction and for the time being they’re on the shelves just as they came out of the boxes, in no particular order at all. Other non-book items have found their way onto some of the shelves – CDs, speakers and my mother’s sewing box, etc. In other words it’s all a bit of  lucky dip.

 Bookcases 2

 The remaining boxes of books are spread throughout the house. Some unopened … 

Boxes of books

and some opened.

Box of books

 One day I’ll get organised!

Musing Monday – My Wishlist

Musing Mondays (BIG) Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post from Just One More Page is about books on your wishlist€¦

Last week we talked about keeping a wishlist. Why not pull out that list and show us some of the books you’ve been eyeing off?

I have a wishlist on Amazon, just adding books every now and then. Actually I forget to look at it unless it’s my birthday or Christmas is getting near. I looked at it today for this post and found most of the books are non-fiction – possibly because I read more fiction and non-fiction tends to get overlooked. I’ve copied the descriptions from Amazon.

Some of them have been on the list for years. The oldest entry is dated November 2005! But I do remember adding it after reading some of Iris Murdoch’s novels and thinking Sovereignty of Good would be interesting. I still do.

Iris Murdoch once observed: ‘philosophy is often a matter of finding occasions on which to say the obvious’. What was obvious to Murdoch, and to all those who read her work, is that Good transcends everything – even God. Throughout her distinguished and prolific writing career, she explored questions of good and bad, myth and morality. The framework for Murdoch’s questions – and her own conclusions – can be found in the Sovereignty of Good .

How To Be Free by Tom Hodgkinson. I haven’t read anything by this author and can’t remember where I saw this book but who wouldn’t want to be free?

Read “How To Be Free” and learn how to throw off the shackles of anxiety, bureaucracy, debt, governments, housework, moaning, pain, poverty, ugliness, war and waste, and much else besides.

More recent additions to my wishlist are these:

In Our Time by Lord Melvyn Bragg. I used to listen to this radio series regularly but haven’t managed it recently – this could help fill in the gaps.

Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time series regularly enlightens and entertains substantial audiences on BBC Radio 4. For this book he has selected episodes which reflect the diversity of the radio programmes, and take us on an amazing tour through the history of ideas, from philosophy, physics and history to religion, literature and biology.

Agatha Christie’s Autobiography. I’ve been reading quite a few of Agatha Christie’s books so I thought I’d like to read more about the author herself.
The life of Agatha Christie as told by herself. It covers her childhood, her first marriage, the birth of her daughter Rosalind, her second marriage to archaeologist Max Mallowan, and an account of her legendary career as a novelist and playwright.

Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks
A fascinating exploration of the contents of Agatha Christie’s 73 recently discovered notebooks, including illustrations, deleted extracts, and two unpublished Poirot stories.


The Man in the Wooden Hat by Jane Gardam. I read Old Fifth a while ago and loved it so I thought this should be good.

Written from the perspective of Filth’s wife, “Betty”, this is a story which will make the reader weep for the missed opportunities, while laughing aloud for the joy and the wit. Filth (Failed In London Try Hong Kong) is a successful lawyer when he marries Elisabeth in Hong Kong soon after the War. Reserved, immaculate and courteous, Filth finds it hard to demonstrate his emotions. But Elisabeth is different – a free spirit.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle earlier this year and loved it. So now I want to read this one.

Hill House stood abandoned six miles off the road. Four people came to learn its secrets. But Hill House stood holding darkness within. Whoever walked there, walked alone.

Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays (BIG)Do you find yourself forming trends in your reading? Is this a conscience act, influenced by either your own interests or current publishing fads?

I like variety in my reading, so I don’t tend to follow trends, although recently I’ve noticed I’m reading quite a lot of crime fiction. This hasn’t been a conscious decision – it’s just happened. I read whatever takes my fancy at the time.

Judging a Book by its Cover?

Do you feel disappointed when the covers don’t match the story? Have you ever been completely misled by a book cover?

As I wrote in last week’s Monday Musings the book cover doesn’t have much effect on me when I’m deciding whether to buy a book. It has even less effect once I’ve started to read it because I just don’t see the cover. In fact sometimes I’ve hardly looked at the cover and couldn’t say what was on it. I can’t think of an example where I’ve been misled by the cover.

Musing Monday – Book Covers

Musing Mondays (BIG) Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about book covers€¦

We all know the old adage about not judging a book by it’s cover, but just how much sway does a book cover have when it comes to your choice of book €“ whether buying or borrowing? Are there any books you’ve bought based on the cover alone?

The book cover doesn’t have much effect on me when I’m deciding whether to buy a book. If I know the author or am looking for a specific title I take no notice of the cover. If I’m browsing then it’s the title that attracts me more often than than the cover and I’ll look at books even if the covers aren’t to my taste. If it has an attractive cover that’s a plus. Above all it’s the content I go by not the cover, so if the blurb reads well, plus the opening pages then I’ll pick that book.

If I’m at the library I have a slightly different approach and it’s there that I’ll sometimes just go for an attractive cover as a sort of “mystery” buy, without checking the content. Sometimes this works and other times it’s a complete failure.

Musing Mondays – Library Company

Musing Mondays (BIG)Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about library company€¦

Who, if anyone usually accompanies you to the library? Is it somewhere you go alone? Or is it a regular outing with family or friends? Which do you prefer?

My library visits are either with family or alone. As a child I went with my mother and when I was old enough I started to go by myself. My first full-time job was as a librarian so then I used to bring books home with me. Later I took my son with me and now my husband sometimes come with me.

I have no preference – if I’m with others we split up in the library to browse and meet up when we’ve chosen our books anyway so it really doesn’t make any difference.

local-library-fiction

Mid-Year Reading

Musing Mondays

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about mid-year reading€¦

Now that we’ve come to the middle of the year, what do you think of your 2009 reading so far? Read anything interesting that you’d like to share? Any outstanding favourites?

I’ve read some very good books this year so far. The list is in the tab labelled Books Read at the top of my blog. There have been just a few that were disappointing but a lot that I thought were excellent including these (in no particular order). Click on the titles to go to my reviews:

Musing Mondays – Library Borrowing

Musing Mondays (BIG)Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about library borrowing€¦

Do you restrict yourself on how many books you take out from the library at a time? Do you borrow books if you already have some out? Do you always reborrow books you don’t get to?

I don’t restrict my borrowing – the library does that for me! We’re allowed to borrow up to 15 items, but as my husband doesn’t use up his allocation I can have more using his ticket. But right now I’ve only got 14 books out. I’ve been trying to catch up reading from my own unread books, but the library is so convenient (ten minutes away by car) that I usually visit once a fortnight or so. I don’t wait until I’ve read all the books I have on loan but each time I go I take some books back and usually bring home more than I returned.

What is so good about borrowing books is that I can look at them in more detail that in a bookshop. Sometimes if I really like a book I’ll then buy a copy. If I haven’t read a book before it’s due back, sometimes that’s because I’ve decided not to read it and then I return it. Other times it’s because I haven’t got round to it, so I renew it. I can renew books on-line up to four times, provided no one else has reserved it, after that you have to take the book and have it re-issued. If someone has reserved it you can reserve it again without charge – pretty good really.

Musing Mondays – Award Winning Books

monday-musingToday’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about award winning books€¦

Do you feel compelled to read prize-winning (Giller/Booker/Pulitzer etc) books? Why, or why not? Is there, perhaps, one particular award that you favour? (question courtesy of MizB)

I don’t feel at all compelled to read prize-winning books – interested yes, but not compelled. For years the only prize I followed was the Booker, but I’ve only read a few of the winners and shortlisted authors, so it hasn’t really had much impact on my reading.

Recently I’ve become interested in the Orange Prize for Fiction.  When I saw a list of all the books long-listed between 1996 and 2009 on Kimbofo’s blog Reading Matters I realised that I’ve read 26 of them – not many but more than I would have thought.  

I didn’t read any of them because they were longlisted or prize winners, in fact I was completely unaware of that when I read them. I read them because they attracted me, either because I’d read other books by the authors or because I thought they looked good.

The ones I’ve read are shown in bold and the hyperlinks take you to my reviews. The other books are books I own that I haven’t read yet.

Alice Sebold The Lovely Bones
Anita Shreve The Weight of Water – shortlist
Ann Patchett Bel Canto – winner
Ann Patchett The Magician’s Assistant – shortlist
Anne Enright The Gathering
Anne Tyler Digging to America
Audrey Niffenegger The Time Traveler’s Wife
Barbara Kingsolver The Poisonwood Bible – shortlist
Beryl Bainbridge Master Georgie
Carol Shields Unless – shortlist
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Half of a Yellow Sun – winner
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Purple Hibiscus – shortlist
Hilary Mantel Beyond Black – shortlist
Jane Gardam Old Filth – shortlist
Jane Harris The Observations – shortlist
Joyce Carol Oates Middle Age
Joyce Carol Oates The Falls
Kate Atkinson Case Histories
Kiran Desai The Inheritance of Loss – shortlist
Lily Prior La Cucina
Linda Grant The Clothes on Their Backs
Louise Welsh The Cutting Room
Margaret Atwood Alias Grace – shortlist
Margaret Atwood Oryx and Crake – shortlist
Margaret Atwood The Blind Assassin – shortlist
Margaret Forster Over
Marilynne Robinson Gilead
Marina Lewycka A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian – shortlist
Pat Barker The Ghost Road
Rachel Cusk Arlington Park – shortlist
Sadie Jones The Outcast
Samantha Harvey The Wilderness
Siri Hustvedt What I Loved
Stef Penney The Tenderness of Wolves
Sue Gee The Mysteries of Glass
Tracy Chevalier Girl with a Pearl Earring
Valerie Martin Property – winner
Zadie Smith On Beauty – winner

Musing Mondays – Reading Time

Musing Mondays (BIG)Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about reading time€¦

Do you have a set reading time (before bed, perhaps)? Do you read more at night or during the day? Is there a day of the week, perhaps, that you set aside to catch up on reading?

My main time for reading is first thing in the morning, including reading blogs. I also read at night but not for long as I usually fall asleep very quickly once I’ve started to read.  I now have more time for reading in the mornings than I used to when I went to work full-time and could only snatch half an hour or so. I used to read at lunchtime at work but now I’m at home I don’t. Sometimes, I read for a while in the evening when there’s nothing on TV that I want to watch.

I take a book with me most places, especially when I’m waiting for a doctor’s or dentist’s appointment  so that I have something to occupy my mind. Last week I went with my husband for an eye appointment at the local hospital and we had to wait 2 hours – lovely reading time! (It was a good job I went with him as he was unable to drive home – his eyes were all out of focus due to the drops they put in. Thankfully the doctor said his eyes are OK!)