Books About Books

I spent January in six different libraries. Seven, actually, if you count my own. Eight if you count my shop and personal library as two separate libraries. The point is: I feel engulfed by books. It’s blissful!

I have, however, decided that themed reading is a little weird and I’m not sure if I should continue with it or not. The books about books were all awesome but they have sort of blurred into each other a little. Unless I think about them properly then I can draw the lines.

Should I be theming my reading?

The thing is: there is a certain joy to perusing my personal shelves and finding links that tie various books together. There are still five books left in my pile of Books About Books. I might have been a little ambitious in my attempts there… But I got joy out of just looking at that pile, nevermind reading it.

And I’m reading! Last year I read a grand total of five books! How ridiculous! So caught up in running a shop and moving towns. Noah starting school. That pesky little nervous breakdown. All that time I spent convincing myself that two nervous breakdowns in the space of two years isn’t so bad.

We’re reading. Reading keeps the happy. Themes keep the structure. Structure keeps the sanity.

And we’re reading.

The Booksih Life of Nina Hill – A Book Review

Title: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Author: Abbi Waxman

My Rating: 4

Is it weird to say this is the most Older-Millennial book I have ever read? I legit think this woman MUST be my exact age. The references. The way of speaking. All of it. It’s so… Familiar! And a bit unsettling…

Of course this isn’t my usual sort of book. Like all folk in books about books I like to pretend that I have sophisticated taste. Donna Tartt. John Irving. Margaret Atwood. These are my people!! Actually no. These are the people who are so far out of my league that I barely feel worth to peruse the words they have spent their lives writing.

What was I saying? Oh yes. This isn’t my usual sort of book. Fluffy and flirty books? Surely those are for other people. Not less serious readers. Just less uptight people? Hmmm… Maybe I can be less uptight too…?

Probably not. But the book was fun to read regardless. So there’s that! Silly and flirty and happy. Sometimes we just need that, right?

Right.

The Bookish Life of Nina HillThe Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of the cheesiest most older-millennial books I have ever read. I feel like the author MUST surely be exactly my age! Surely?! I loved it 🥰

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Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – *review*

Title: Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Author: Robin Sloan

My Rating: 4

I didn’t love this book at first, I must admit. For one, I think I’m very much in a space of craving feminine energy (which is no fault of the author, of course) and for another it was a little slow to start for me. I did, however, enjoy it as a whole and I can appreciate that it was well written.

Robin Sloan has a very Lex Grossman feel, but slightly more casual, and wholly less magical. Think Codex but with books and a bit less angst.

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore (Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, #1)Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me way too long to read this book! Back to life etc. Its pretty entertaining. Reminded me of Codex a bit 😊

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The Collected Works of AJ Fikry – *a review*

Title: The Collected Works of AJ Fikry (aka The Storied Life of AJ Fikry)

Author: Gabrielle Zevin

My Rating: 5

I didn’t get up at a reasonable hour this morning. I woke up. But I didn’t get up. Because man, this book is so beautiful. I am trying to “read for a little while” in the mornings. Mostly I read short stories because then I get up after I’m done with one. But I couldn’t resist picking this book up this morning. And then I couldn’t resist finishing it.

You know when the narrator sounds right in your head. When the rhythm and the words and the story all just blend together so beautifully that you read each word slowly because you need to consume it like fine wine or chocolate, savouring every exquisite part of it…

It’s such a simple story. Unpretentious. Unassuming. Simple. And beautiful.

And for some reason full of references to my favourite writers! Aimee Bender. Kate Atkinson. John Irving. And reference to the short stories of Roald Dahl as well which I love.

I adored this book. It is exactly the sort of book I aspire to write.

The Bookshop That Floated Away – *review*

Title: The Bookshop That Floated Away

Author: Sarah Henshaw

My Rating: 3

I should state outright that I tend to not love memoirs. I so seldom get anywhere with anything that isn’t purely fiction. This is much to the frustration of anyone who has ever handed me a biography or a self-help book to read. I try, guys, I do. Usually I fail.

I managed this one though. I supposed being able to relate in some ways makes a difference. This is a sweet read, if nothing else. Though it took me almost finishing the book before I realised that while the whole vibe of it felt very familiar, it wasn’t because it reminded me of myself at all. It reminded me of a long lost friend. Realising that made the feelings make a little more sense…

Anyway. This one fitted nicely into my bookshop/library theme for the month. As I read these I’m actually writing a story set in a library as well. This particular book didn’t inspire my writing much but it did leave me with a feeling of oh yes it’s totally ok to live your life on your own terms. 

I do so love wandering travellers… They are infinitely braver than I…

Reading on Saturdays

I’ve just put a batch of monkey bread in the slow cooker. I don’t know if it’s going to work but I wanted to try it because there was a packet of bread dough in the fridge and the husband is leaving soon and what else would I do with it anyway.

The only other thing I’ve done today is read.

I’ve been talking about reading too much lately, haven’t I? How boringly unsalacious. Not much to gossip home about…

The thing is: I do not miss my youth at all. Not even a little. But there is one tiny aspect of it that I do miss from the days before I created a whole other person and then went on to add another three to my daily life.

Reading on Saturdays.

This is something I used to do so leisurely during my teens and also during my first (childless) marriage. Saturdays were a glorious safe day where I often didn’t have to get out of bed and I could just finish whichever novel I happened to be reading that week. Saturdasy were for finishing. How beautiful.

Then twelve or fifteen years went by and most weeks I hadn’t started a novel that could be read to completion on Saturdays and so reading became a vacations and special occasions kind of thing and here we are. Loving books more than ever and feeling hopelessly un-well-read.

So today I made monkey bread. And I didn’t make my bed. And I almost didn’t even get dressed (which I sort of regret because yay pjs but I do also need to “expect” bookshop visitors from time to time even though it barely happens) and the only other thing I did was finish the novel I was reading.

And honestly I think I might pick up another one now.

Because despite this nagging you have work to do feeling I also have rest to do and damnit I’m going to have to start getting that right at some point!

The Library of Unrequited Love – A Book Review

Book: The Library of Unrequited Love

Author: Sophie Divry

My Rating: 4

I don’t know why I love this book so much, only that I do. In my life I imagine I will read it another ten times or more. The last time I read this book (in February of last year) an idea for my own soliloquy started to sprout. This time I actually started to write it. A big deal considering I have barely written anything for quite a while now.

The writer who does not write is not a writer.

This book is just one long ramble, which is something I’m sure a lot of folk would probably hate. I am intrigued buy it though. The ability to tell a story from one very limited perspective and still have the pictures form as they should. It’s fascinating. My need to duplicate the style is overwhelming at this point.

How did she do that?

Can I do it?

So far the answer is “no” but maybe with a bit more practice I’ll get it right…

Read More, Write More

I started writing again today which has already reminded me why I gave up for a  while. No, not because I have writer’s block. I seldom struggle with that.

I have writer’s aggression. And it is so bad.

Would it be overkill to make a sign for my door that says Leave Me The F*ck Alone?

That’s what I have wanted to scream no less than seven times this morning.

The door is closed. Leave me alone. Leave me alone. Leave me alone.

This very real and acidic aggression is why I have barely written in years. And yet, to read more and to write more are my only real resolutions for 2020. They are the two that count the most. More than house stuff and work stuff and whatever other stuff.

Read more, write more.

One makes me happier. The other makes me unhappier. Go figure.

I just have to figure out how to do the writing part without simultaneously putting myself in a position that causes me to fantasise about committing murder.

It’s funny. The reading more is going ok. I’ve taken to reading a bit in the mornings and sometimes in the afternoons and sometimes after my husband goes to bed. My attention span is terrible and I struggle to maintain focus but I’m trying to get back into the habit.

With writing though?

I get lost so easily. I am in no way my own distraction when it comes to writing. The only problem is the venom inspired by anyone or anything that does distract me.

The door is closed. Leave me alone.

101 Books in 2020

Every single year I set myself a goal: Read 100 Books

Well let me tell you something last year went so badly! I’ve never actually completed the challenge. Not by a long shot. But last year? Last year was brutal! Who knew that opening a bookshop would lead to LESS reading! Gosh.. Last year made me feel unqualified for the very job that I created for my damn self.

The thing is though: I NEED to read. I’m happier when I’m reading. I’m healthier when I’m happy. So I need to read.

This year I thought maybe I can trick fate into allowing me to complete my goal by changing the goal.

So now we’re doing 101 books this year. Actually doing it. Seriously. Please.

We’re only one down though so I’m already behind…

Drowning in The Starless Sea – A Book Review

Book: The Starless Sea

Author: Erin Morgenstern

My Rating: 5

Have I made a grave error? Was I so lost in the romantic idea of starting off the New Year with this book that I have waited for for years that I did not once stop to consider the consequences of doing such a thing? The Starless Sea  is over now. It’s gone. And here I am alone again…

I read The Night Circus in February of 2012. I remember because I was in the middle of planning a secret wedding and I had a concussion. You’re not supposed to read when you have a concussion. But how are you supposed to not read when you have The Night Circus on your nightstand?

And here I am. Eight years later. Finally having devoured a book I have waited for since I closed its predecessor and now I am oh so weary…

This is the first book I’ve read in 2020, and I have very little doubt that it is not also the best book I will read in 2020. Should I have done that? Should I have consumed it so quickly? And at the beginning? Should I have waited?

No. Of course not. One should never wait…

Erin Morgenstern… I so worried that perhaps The Starless Sea would not deliver. How could it? When its sibling was such a roaring beauty that surely nothing could hope to compare.

And yet here she is. Breathtaking. Exquisite. Everything and more.

Now and then I find in my hands a tale that floods me with pure relief. How can I not be grateful that the author who birthed this story did not keep it to herself?

Thank you, Erin, for sharing. I am in love once more.