My Commonplace Book: January 2022

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

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


But I could not look back at a road untravelled. However blind I had been, I had to set my sights on the path ahead, and go now where it led.

The Leviathan by Rosie Andrews (2022)


One always thinks one would like never to struggle again. Only lately have I come to see how essential it is.

The Key in the Lock by Beth Underdown (2022)


He always instructs Cecco and Tommaso to tell stories with their pictures but to leave something as a mystery, something hidden. It is more enticing, more delightful, when a secret is concealed. The viewer must bring part of themselves to the painting.

I, Mona Lisa by Natasha Solomons (2022)


The people in your head are safe; he knows that now, he understands. It doesn’t matter how hard it is to keep them there; it’s just a thing that must be done. You lock a door on them; no-one can hurt them. And nor can they hurt you.

The Silver Wolf by JC Harvey (2022)


Steve, there’s no such thing as TIME. There’s only history, legend, memory and nostalgia. Time is a CONCEPT, not a dimension. You can’t stop it, you can’t travel through it, you can’t turn it back. It’s NOW. Here and now.

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett (2022)


The future cannot blame the present, just as the present cannot blame the past. The hope is always here, always alive, but only your fierce caring can fan it into a fire to warm the world.

Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper (1977)


Erasmus visiting the children of Henry VII accompanied by Joan Vaux

‘You’ve stayed out very late, Joan’ he complained. ‘I presume you’ve been with those damned birds.’

Chilled by the sharp wind blowing off the river I hurried to warm myself at the fire and it was Lizzie who responded. ‘The ravens seem very restless, Father. Mother Joan says something untoward has disturbed them.’

‘Oh?’ My husband raised a sceptical eyebrow. ‘Is ravenish the latest of your many languages, Joan?’

The Queen’s Lady by Joanna Hickson (2022)


‘What a terrible mess we can make of our lives. There should be angel police to stop us at these dangerous moments, but there don’t seem to be. So all we’re left with, my precious son, is whether we can forgive, be forgiven, and keep trying our best.’

A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe (2022)


Silence is the only real thing we can lay hold of in this world of passing dreams. Time is a shadow that will vanish with the twilight of humanity; but Silence is a part of the eternal. All things that are true and lasting have been taught to men’s hearts by Silence.

Diary of a Pilgrimage by Jerome K. Jerome (1891)


Walking is a great sedative and the peace and solidity of an old city at night tends to make personal affairs, however terrible, seem small beside such an ancient tranquillity.

Black Plumes by Margery Allingham (1940)


Jacques de Vaucanson’s automata – The Flute Player, The Tambourine Player, and Digesting Duck

It was safer that way – to shut yourself off from other humans in the hope that they couldn’t hurt you. But what kind of life would that be? As lonely and cold as a convent cell, or as one of her father’s metal creatures.

The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola (2022)


‘I’m not making this up,’ I said.

‘I know you’re not. But that doesn’t mean that you really saw what you think you saw. I mean, the Northern Lights. They’re not really a big curtain flapping about in the sky, they just look like that. Shadows. Electricity. You agree with that, don’t you? Things aren’t always visible, things aren’t always what they seem.’

Shadow Girls by Carol Birch (2022)


‘Ivan Matveich, my dear – so you’re alive!’ stammered Elena Ivanovna.

‘Alive and well,’ said Ivan Matveich, ‘and by the grace of the Almighty, swallowed without the least injury. My only anxiety is what view my superiors will take of this episode – for having obtained a permit for travel abroad, I have ended up in a crocodile, which was far from clever.’

A Bad Business by Fyodor Dostoevsky (2021)
(Quote from The Crocodile – 1865)


“Why do these things always happen to you?” she demanded plaintively. “Why does no one gag me and bind me hand and foot?”

“You wouldn’t like it if they did,” I assured her. “To tell you the truth, I’m not nearly so keen on having adventures myself as I was. A little of that sort of thing goes a long way.”

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie (1924)


Favourite books read in January:

Silver on the Tree, The Clockwork Girl, The Man in the Brown Suit and The Twyford Code

Authors read for the first time in January:

Rosie Andrews, JC Harvey, Janice Hallett, Jo Browning Wroe

Places visited in my January reading:

England, France, Germany, Wales, Italy, Russia, South Africa


Reading notes: This has been a great start to the year for me, with fourteen books read including four that I particularly enjoyed. I also wanted to read more books this year set in countries other than my own, so I’m off to a good start with that too, having visited seven different countries in my January reading.

I had (and still have) a lot of books on my NetGalley shelf with upcoming publication dates, so I decided to make an effort to get ahead with those this month. I’m now nearly up to date with most of the books due in February or March and will be posting my reviews nearer to publication.

How was your January reading?

15 thoughts on “My Commonplace Book: January 2022

  1. Jane says:

    Crikey, that really is a good start to the year! I always enjoy your Commonplace Book and this month particularly the Allingham quote, she’s absolutely right.

  2. Cyberkitten says:

    My reading month is certainly ending well. I’ve just started ‘Ghosts of Manhattan’ by George Mann, which is described on the back as an ‘alternate history, science-fiction, supernatural horror, detective thriller (so covers a LOT of bases!) – based in a steam-punk 1926. So far LOVING it – MUCH fun!

  3. FictionFan says:

    Three of these are on my reading list though I’m (as usual) way behind with getting to them. Glad you enjoyed The Clockwork Girl which is one of them, plus The Leviathan and Shadow Girls (so I hope you liked them too!).

  4. Calmgrove says:

    Interesting lot of quotes about time and about travel, though not all, obviously! And quite a few titles reviewed that definitely tempt, such as the Cooper fantasy and The Twyford Code

  5. jessicabookworm says:

    Wow, 14 books is an amazing start to the year, Helen! 👏 And not just in numbers to have 4 favourites means there was some great quality too. I haven’t read any of these, but I think I might have a copy The Queen’s Lady. As for my own January reading it was pretty mediocre in numbers, with only 2 completed and 1 DNF’d, but I did enjoy both the books I finished and I have plenty currently on the go too.

    Take care and I wish you more happy reading in February. 😊

  6. GoAnnelies - In Another Era says:

    I also read the Leviathan this month and already saw it as a hardcover in a bookstore here in Belgium. Beautiful cover! I’m curious for some of your reviews still to come. And I also noticed how diverse the countries are you listed. I, again, read books that were set in England this month 😅

    • Helen says:

      The Leviathan has a really beautiful cover! Yes, I was pleased to read books set in some different countries this month, particularly Russia and South Africa.

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