My Commonplace Book: July 2019

A selection of words and pictures to represent July’s reading:

commonplace book
a book into which notable extracts from other works are copied for personal use.


Once your vision adjusts to the strange appearance of the rooms, you feel like a hard-boiled egg that has been dropped on the floor and is trying to roll uphill. It’s a feeling that’s difficult to imagine without having stayed at the mansion. The longer you stay, the more confused your mind becomes.

The lord of the manor, Kozaburo Hamamoto, was reputed to have had a lot of fun at his guests’ expense, watching them try to navigate his twisted home. Quite an expensive way to get some childish laughs.

Murder in the Crooked House by Soji Shimada (1982)


I haven’t always found that it is our intentions, the decisions we make, that shape and guide our lives. The opposite, just as often, it seems to me. Impulse creates our stories, or chance, the entirely unforeseen. And what we remember of our own past can be unpredictable.

A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay (2019)


Ruins of Shaftesbury Abbey, destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

It was Dorothy’s idea. She is a strange woman. ‘Not like other people’. That is what my father said about my mother. Perhaps Dorothy is indeed a witch, or could be. Perhaps my mother is a witch, or could be. Yet no one is ‘like other people’ once you really know them. If any one of us is a witch, then we are all witches.

The Butcher’s Daughter by Victoria Glendinning (2018)


‘So tell me, Dr Maxwell, if the whole of history lay before you like a shining ribbon, where would you go? What would you like to witness?’

‘The Trojan War,’ I said, words tumbling over each other. ‘Or the Spartans’ stand at Thermopylae. Or Henry at Agincourt. Or Stonehenge. Or the pyramids being built. Or see Persepolis before it burned. Or Hannibal getting his elephants over the Alps. Or go to Ur and find Abraham, the father of everything.’ I paused for breath. ‘I could do you a wish-list.’

Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor (2013)


Favourite book read in July:

The Butcher’s Daughter

New authors read in July:

Soji Shimada, Jodi Taylor, Victoria Glendinning

Countries visited in my July reading:

Japan, England, Egypt, a world very similar to Renaissance Italy

Progress made with 20 Books of Summer:

9/20 read and 7/20 reviewed.


Have you read any of these books? Which books did you enjoy in July?

8 thoughts on “My Commonplace Book: July 2019

  1. Elizabeth Bailey says:

    You found Jodi Taylor! She is an auto buy for me. The St Mary’s Chronicles series is a favourite. It gets madder and madder. But her other novels are also compelling. Would love to know what you thought.

    • Helen says:

      I enjoyed my first Jodi Taylor book and will definitely be reading more! I will post my review soon – I’m a bit behind with things as I’ve just moved house, but am starting to catch up now.

  2. Calmgrove says:

    Another lovely selection, especially the one saying no one person is quite like other people—to say otherwise is to totally deny individuality. And asking oneself “if the whole of history lay before you like a shining ribbon, where would you go? What would you like to witness?” I too would do a wishlist, but where to start?! 🙂

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I liked that one too…a reminder that we are all different and should try to be tolerant of others’ differences. As for a history wishlist, I wouldn’t know where to start either!

  3. jessicabookworm says:

    For once, I have read one of these books: Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor! I love that quote you’ve picked from it – really sums up what I enjoyed about it, although it wasn’t a perfect read for me: could have done with less sex for me. However I do have the second and third book that I am looking forward to.

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