My Commonplace Book: December 2022

For the last time this year…

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

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

~

His eyes invited me to say more. No one ever had. Whether mortal or immortal, people did not like the sight of grief. They feared it.

The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore (2022)

~

“Where there is no hope left, you may draft in as many soldiers as you wish, but you will still not be able to implement any restrictions, and once you have failed to persuade people of the benefits of such restrictions, you will find that you are unable to enforce quarantine at all. Quarantine is the art of educating the public in spite of itself, and of teaching it the skill of self-preservation.”

Nights of Plague by Orhan Pamuk (2022)

~

Garden with rhododendrons

‘I say,’ he began apologetically, ‘you mustn’t mind Aunt Cecelia. It’s only her manner. She’s terrifically pleased to see you.’

‘It must be awful if she isn’t,’ said Ann sincerely.

Rhododendron Pie by Margery Sharp (1930)

~

Just a few common words; and yet common things can sometimes be sublime, or, at the very least, delightful.

The Looking-Glass by Machado de Assis (2022)

~

She laughed then and rose up, beginning to pace, as though her feet were seeking the boards. ‘You see, now, the beauty of tragedy? It has so many faces. Not all doom and gloom, but nobility, honour and a hundred other qualities. You may laugh at a comedy, but you’ll forget it in time. Tragedy has burrs. It sticks to your heart. You remember what it made you feel, always.’

The Whispering Muse by Laura Purcell (2023)

~

He stopped and pulled her round to face him. “You’re talking nonsense, Sara. Wars are not won on soldiers, sailors or airmen, they are won on the temperament of the people. Nobody can beat a people who don’t mean to be beaten.”

The Winter is Past by Noel Streatfeild (1940)

~

Ludlow Castle

“You always take for granted what you have until it is gone. And then you realize how much value it truly held in your life.”

Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick (2004)

~

The sky boiled until, with a grace that even now left Shay breathless, the birds became a single entity. What were they? They were the shape of candle smoke or that twist of stars that lights clear nights. They were black silk. Patterns dissolved seamlessly into one another as they took on a form that was older than the earth itself, from an age before men’s straight lines.

The Ghost Theatre by Mat Osman (2023)

~

Most of the novels are by female authors – Daphne du Maurier, Angela Carter, Virginia Woolf. In the last month, she has read Rebecca, The Bloody Chamber, Orlando. It’s been a long time since she’s derived such pleasure from it, from the stories spun of other people’s dreams.

Weyward by Emilia Hart (2023)

~

He was struck again by the strangeness of people, their mystery, but also their recognisability. He felt he knew these people immediately, which to him suggested a certain homogeneity among humankind. A general familiarity. As if there were only ten different varieties of soul after all.

Old God’s Time by Sebastian Barry (2023)

~

Christmas pudding

‘Rather a waste of your time, isn’t it?’

‘If one has an opportunity to observe human nature, time is never wasted,’ said Poirot quietly.

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie (1960)

~

‘Oh, the sort that are rather looked down on, I suppose,’ she replied, and laughed – though not, I rather thought, at herself, but at those who might dare to disdain her. ‘Which is to say I write stories about adventurers and forbidden love and the occasional dastardly plot for revenge, and the critics bemoan my lack of moral virtue. But people read them, and I think I should find it rather dull writing long, moralizing works.’

The Secrets of Hartwood Hall by Katie Lumsden (2023)

~

She loved, at twilight, when the distant brown-stone spire seemed melting in the fluid yellow of the west, to lose herself in vague memories of a trip to Europe, made years ago, and now reduced in her mind’s eye to a pale phantasmagoria of indistinct steeples and dreamy skies. Perhaps at heart Mrs. Manstey was an artist; at all events she was sensible of many changes of color unnoticed by the average eye, and dear to her as the green of early spring was the black lattice of branches against a cold sulphur sky at the close of a snowy day.

The Reckoning by Edith Wharton (collection published 2015)

~

Favourite books read in December:

The Whispering Muse, The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and The Winter is Past

Authors read for the first time in December:

Orhan Pamuk, Olesya Salnikova Gilmore, Machado de Assis, Mat Osman, Emilia Hart, Katie Lumsden

Places visited in my December reading:

The fictional island of Mingheria, Russia, Brazil, US, England, Ireland

~

December reading notes: In December, I managed to read Rhododendron Pie for Liz’s Dean Street December and The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding for Read Christie 2022, but otherwise I’ve mainly spent this month trying to get ahead with next year’s NetGalley review copies! Unfortunately that means you’ll have to wait a few months for the reviews, but they are all written and scheduled and I feel as though some pressure has been lifted. I don’t have any specific plans for January, apart from needing to read Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell, which was chosen for me in the last Classics Club Spin.

What about you? Have you read any good books in December – and what do you think your first book of 2023 will be?

~

Happy New Year!

My Commonplace Book: November 2022

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

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

~

I liked the moon, with its soft silver beams. It was at once elusive and filled with trickery, so that lost objects that had rolled into the crevices of a room were rarely found, and books read in its light seemed to contain all sorts of fanciful stories that were never there the next morning.

The Ghost Bride by Yangzse Choo (2013)

~

Why were the things that were closest so often the hardest to see?

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (2021)

~

Pendle Hill and the Ribble Valley

‘I call upon the powers of the night to curse this man.’ I yelled the words, holding both arms above my head. ‘I summon the power of the dark moon to strike him down.’ I was bluffing, of course. No witch can summon up powers in that fashion, but a good percentage of witchcraft is the ability to make people believe. And, sometimes, to scare them witless.

The Buried by Sharon Bolton (2022)

~

Memory didn’t reveal the past, but some vestige of it, coloured by what happened later and what is happening in the present moment. Memory is at the service of our will. We hide from what it’s inconvenient to remember – or unbearable to acknowledge. How else could we live with ourselves?

The Darlings of the Asylum by Noel O’Reilly (2022)

~

Sometimes a thread breaks and there is no picking up of that thread again. This does not happen much in books for it is considered bad writing to leave a thread hanging. Threads like that can unravel, the whole garment made ragged and its shape altered.

Blue Postcards by Douglas Bruton (2021)

~

Desperate people tried prophylactics and remedies ranging from quarantine and laxatives to bloody self-flagellation and plague-themed prayer. But the sad fact was that the plague’s spread illustrated nothing so much as the deep interconnection between medieval communities – and their terrible vulnerability to an infection that thrived on human mobility, overcrowding and limited standards of hygiene.

Powers and Thrones by Dan Jones (2021)

~

Statue of Julian of Norwich, west front, Norwich Cathedral

Grief marks a person, changing them for ever, like a tree struck by lightning. The tree may keep growing, but never in the same way.

For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy on My Little Pain by Victoria Mackenzie (2023)

~

‘Anyone can fool the world by acting a part. Even the devil can give alms,’ said Mr Sutcliffe.

‘But how can we determine character, if not by actions?’

‘We must look for the intention behind the deed.’

The Secret of Matterdale Hall by Marianne Ratcliffe (2022)

~

There is no use sighing over the past when the future is ours.

The Mysterious Mr Badman by WF Harvey (1934)

~

‘Yes,’ said Miss Marple. ‘I had thought of that.’

‘I suppose you think of everything!’ said Lucy bitterly.

‘Well, dear, one has to, really.’

4.50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie (1957)

~

Cover of the 1855 German edition

But it will be better, and more correct, if I say that all evil derives from bad example, and the weakness of our nature lies merely in our being obliged to follow that bad example. Furthermore, I am persuaded that the human race is positively destined to set it.

The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr by ETA Hoffmann (1819)

~

Or is it that if someone has power over you, you just don’t have the confidence or energy or whatever, to challenge them? Because some people have that charisma, don’t they? Born leaders. They tell you they have the answers, in such a way you believe they really do. But just because someone is a born leader, doesn’t mean you should follow them.

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett (2023)

~

Perhaps that was the point. You don’t need to be the strongest person in the room. Just the bravest.

The Murder Game by Tom Hindle (2023)

~

Tomorrow, tomorrow! Don’t think about it until it happens! You are beginning to dwell on it, and you mustn’t.

The Ladies of Missalonghi by Colleen McCullough (1987)

~

Favourite books read in November:

The Buried, The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels, 4.50 from Paddington and The Mysterious Mr Badman

Authors read for the first time in November:

Noel O’Reilly, Douglas Bruton, Marianne Ratcliffe, Claire Keegan, Victoria Mackenzie, ETA Hoffmann, WF Harvey

Places visited in my November reading:

Malaya, England, France, Ireland, Australia, Germany

~

November reading notes: November is always a busy month with lots of reading and blogging events taking place, so I’m pleased to say that I managed to join in with most of them. I read several novellas for Novellas in November, finished a nonfiction book for Nonfiction November and was able to fit in books for AusReading Month and German Literature Month as well. Sadly I didn’t have time to read anything for Margaret Atwood Reading Month but do have some of her books on the TBR that I would like to read soon anyway. As you can see I’ve also made a start on some of my NetGalley review copies for 2023!

In December, I’m hoping to read at least one or two books for Liz’s Dean Street Press December but otherwise have no special plans!

How was your November? What are you planning to read in December?

My Commonplace Book: October 2022

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

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

~

“Ah well, we all have our failings,” Capranis said philosophically. “And if failing to return borrowed books was the worst, the world wouldn’t be such a bad place.”

The Butterfly Picnic by Joan Aiken (1972)

~

‘I’m not so old,’ Father said. ‘I’m only forty-six and I must be the most eligible catch in Christendom.’

I smiled, but I was wondering if, with two dead wives and two divorces behind him, the princesses of Europe would agree with him.

In the Shadow of Queens by Alison Weir (2021)

~

“What I have heard comes straight out of a fairy-tale. But that is just what inventors are doing, is it not? They are stealing all the things out of the old wonder-tales and making them come real.”

Fool Errant by Patricia Wentworth (1929)

~

Blue plaque on Enid Blyton’s childhood home, East Dulwich

She said: ‘It is partly the struggle that helps you so much, that gives you determination, character, self-reliance – all things that help in any profession or trade, and most certainly in writing.’

The Real Enid Blyton by Nadia Cohen (2018)

~

Military officers saluting Benazhir. You could cry remembering it, and perhaps no matter how long you lived on this earth you would always cry remembering it. They’d hanged her father, put her in prison, cast her into exile. And now they saluted her, this woman of only thirty-five, because millions upon millions of people went to the ballot box and said they must. Zahra brushed her hand across her eyes. What did all this matter – the school cliques, Maryam’s awfulness, Hammad’s inattentiveness, the scuffed toes of her shoes. Why should any of this matter when the world was transformed?

Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie (2022)

~

‘I understand and would have expected your desire to protect, because that is you, Tom. It is instinctive. My instinct is to abhor any fighting. No good comes from it – only human suffering.’

The Drums of War by Michael Ward (2022)

~

“Why do men like me want sons?” he wondered. “It must be because they hope in their poor beaten souls that these new men, who are their blood, will do the things they were not strong enough nor wise enough nor brave enough to do. It is rather like another chance with life; like a new bag of coins at a table of luck after your fortune is gone.”

Cup of Gold by John Steinbeck (1929)

~

Large blue butterfly

Again, I should like to know more about the experience of that Chinese scholar, celebrated in Japan under the name Soshu, who dreamed that he was a butterfly, and had all the sensations of a butterfly in that dream. For his spirit had really been wandering about in the shape of a butterfly; and, when he awoke, the memories and the feelings of butterfly existence remained so vivid in his mind that he could not act like a human being.

Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn (1904)

~

PHILPOTT’S NAVAL SUPERSTITIONS

C: The Ship’s Cat is a venerated Personage, and never to be harassed by Dog, Man or Bear. Not only can she keep the Ship’s population of Mice and Rats to acceptable Numbers, she can also predict the Weather, tell when Land is near or raise a Storm if she is displeased.

Blue Water by Leonora Nattrass (2022)

~

Besides, there is no encouragement for ghosts in most of our villages, for they have scarcely had time to finish their first nap and turn themselves in their graves, before their surviving friends have travelled away from the neighborhood; so that when they turn out at night to walk their rounds, they have no acquaintance left to call upon. This is perhaps the reason why we so seldom hear of ghosts except in our long-established Dutch communities.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (1820)

~

He sighed and rolled over. Calm yourself, brain, he admonished. Stop churning away. Don’t examine the what-ifs and the maybes, the wrong turnings and the dead ends in your life. That way madness lies.

The Romantic by William Boyd (2022)

~

Official declaration of the Second Empire, 2 December 1852

He pondered over the growth of the family, with its different branches springing from one parent stock, whose sap carried the same seeds to the furthest twigs, which bent in different directions according to the ambient sunshine or shade. For a moment he thought he could see, in a flash, the future of the Rougon-Marquart family, a pack of wild, satiated appetites in the midst of a blaze of gold and blood.

The Fortune of the Rougons by Émile Zola (1871)

~

It struck Maureen that a person could be trapped in a version of themselves that was from another time, and completely miss the happiness that was staring them in the face.

Maureen Fry and the Angel of the North by Rachel Joyce (2022)

~

‘So much depends upon what it was that she treasured,’ Maud said, thoughtfully. ‘For me it is my health these days, as well as my family. During the war years, it was our liberty above all else. It varies at different times and from person to person: wisdom, money, life and love…’

The Winter Garden by Nicola Cornick (2022)

~

Favourite books read in October:

The Romantic and Blue Water

Authors read for the first time in October:

Nadia Cohen, Lafcadio Hearn, William Boyd, Patricia Wentworth, Washington Irving

Places visited in my October reading:

Greece, England, Ireland, Italy, US, Pakistan, Japan, Madeira, Cape Verde, Wales, Panama, Jamaica, France

~

October reading notes: October was a great reading month for me and included two books for 1929 Club, my Classics Club Spin book, some RIP XVII reads and a few NetGalley review copies. I also visited, in fictional form, lots of fascinating locations around the world.

November is a very busy time in the book blogging calendar, with Witch Week, Novellas in November, Non-Fiction November, AusReading Month, German Literature Month, SciFi Month and Margaret Atwood Reading Month all taking place right now! I’m unlikely to be able to take part in all of these, but there’s a lot going on and I’ll look forward to reading everyone’s posts.

Did you read any good books in October? What are your plans for November?

My Commonplace Book: September 2022

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

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

~

‘The most learned minds in England disagree with you.’

‘Learned minds can still believe wicked things, especially when their own interests are at stake.’

Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris (2022)

~

He had never trusted anyone his entire life, only his instincts. Such a life creed afforded one wisdom because it meant he was never disappointed by the actions of men.

Hawker and the King’s Jewel by Ethan Bale (2022)

~

The End of the ‘Forty Five’ Rebellion, by William Brasse Hole

What was the point in a life without honour, and where the honour in a promise that is not kept?

The Bookseller of Inverness by SG MacLean (2022)

~

‘But the whole point about stories is that they’re for sharing. That’s the very nature of their existence. Stories are what bring us together. It’s how we try to understand each other and understanding is exactly what my job is all about.’

The Twist of a Knife by Anthony Horowitz (2022)

~

Mdina, Malta

And now it was changing again. How unsettled it made you feel – you thought your world would remain unchanged and go on just as it always had but then suddenly, without you doing anything, anything at all, it completely turned on its head.

The Hidden Palace by Dinah Jefferies (2022)

~

‘Some people wear armour,’ he remarked. ‘If you try and tear it off them you discover things you’d never have suspected. A past of suffering, an unavowable secret that made them into what they are, for better or worse.’

Ashes in the Snow by Oriana Ramunno (2022)

~

Only, words confused everything, they said either too much or not enough.

The Hatter’s Ghosts by Georges Simenon (1949)

~

Penelope and the Suitors by John William Waterhouse

He finds that silence on this topic lends the hearer the power of imagination, which is usually far richer than the truth.

Ithaca by Claire North (2022)

~

Favourite books read in September:

The Twist of a Knife

Authors read for the first time in September:

Ethan Bale, Oriana Ramunno, Claire North

Places visited in my September reading:

US (Connecticut and Massachusetts), England, Italy, Scotland, France, Malta, Poland, Greece

~

Reading notes: My September reading got off to a good start, but I seem to have read very little in the second half of the month. I’m pleased, though, that I’ve visited so many different countries in my reading – 8 in total. In October I need to read my Classics Club Spin book, The Fortune of the Rougons by Émile Zola, and 1929 Club is also coming up at the end of the month, so I will be reading something from that year as well. Otherwise, I’ll be continuing with some autumnal reads for R.I.P. XVII and catching up with some NetGalley review copies with October publication dates.

Did you read any good books in September? Do you have any plans for your October reading?

My Commonplace Book: August 2022

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

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

~

At countless crossroads, the future becomes the past and an infinite number of possibilities die as an infinite number are born.

Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb (2015)

~

‘In my experience,’ he told me, ‘if you run away from a thing just because you don’t like it, you don’t like what you find either. Now, running to a thing, that’s a different matter, but what would you want to run to? Take it from me, it’s a lot better here than it is most places.’

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (1955)

~

The Lupanar, Pompeii

“When you see a bird flying,” she says, “that moment when it chooses to swoop lower or soar higher, when there’s nothing but air stopping it, that’s what freedom feels like.” She pauses, knowing that this isn’t the whole truth. The memory she tries to keep buried, the agony of her last day as a free woman rises to the surface. “But hunger feels the same, Fabia. Whether you are slave or free, hunger is the same.”

The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper (2021)

~

At times, circumstances conspire to make us believe the lies we tell ourselves. Everything – the weather, the season, the fall of light – sets the stage for our play; we find ourselves, instead of acting, becoming the characters, moving into a reality in which we’re inseparable from our roles.

The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer (2019)

~

Not knowing the truth was like leaving a book half read.

The Blood Flower by Alex Reeve (2022)

~

“Why do you decry the world we live in? There are good people in it. Isn’t muddle a better breeding ground for kindliness and individuality than a world order that’s imposed, a world order that may be right today and wrong tomorrow? I would rather have a world of kindly, faulty human beings, than a world of superior robots who’ve said goodbye to pity and understanding and sympathy.”

Destination Unknown by Agatha Christie (1954)

~

Florence Nightingale, an angel of mercy. Scutari hospital 1855

‘There is always a crisis of some kind in a hospital. Can’t you see? That’s why I so want to work here. I want to intervene at the point in people’s lives where they most need me.’

The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon (2007)

~

“And what, finally, has he done with it?”

“Left it all to the nation.”

“Of all the dull and undeserving -”

“Precisely. He held the economic view that money paid to the nation in any form, taxes or gifts, was always wasted and did nobody any good, and he wanted to do nobody any good. At one time he thought of putting up shower baths in the North Pole or Turkish ones in the Sahara, but then he dropped that as being childish.”

Excellent Intentions by Richard Hull (1938)

~

If at this point Louisa plumbed her professional nadir, there is always this about a nadir, that any subsequent motion must inevitably be upwards.

Something Light by Margery Sharp (1960)

~

Favourite books read in August:

Fool’s Quest, The Rose of Sebastopol and The Wolf Den

Authors read for the first time in August:

Elodie Harper, Katharine McMahon

Places visited in my August reading:

The fictional Realm of the Elderings, post-apocalyptic Canada, France, Morocco, England, Ancient Rome, Crimea, Turkey

~

Reading notes: This month I’ve been concentrating on trying to finish my 20 Books of Summer list. This is the last day of the challenge, so I’ll be posting a summary soon. Although I didn’t manage to read all twenty books on my list, I came very close this year and am quite happy with that result!

Tomorrow marks the start of another of my favourite reading events – R.I.P! This involves reading mysteries, thrillers, ghost stories and anything else dark, spooky or suspenseful. I’ll be posting my list of potential reads in the next few days.

Did you read any good books in August? Do you have any plans for your September reading?

My Commonplace Book: July 2022

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

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

~

That is how it was every year. It was the previous year that was wonderful, or even previous autumns and winters, regardless of their bouts of influenza and minor children’s ailments and all the worry they caused then. Was this due to an inability in him to be happy other than as a delayed reaction, or was this the fate of most men? He had no idea, for lack of having asked anyone the question, especially not his work colleagues, who would laugh at him.

The Venice Train by Georges Simenon (1965)

~

When did the skills of a cunning woman become witchcraft? When did Elizabeth Mortlock, with her magic girdle and prayers that so helped women in childbed, become wicked – when did that change, and admiration and trust in the secret knowledge of women in their great sufferings turns to fear and arrests?

The Bewitching by Jill Dawson

~

Elizabeth of York

“In my day, it was frowned upon for a woman to know her letters. People feared it might lead to light behaviour, such as writing love letters. But my father, God be thanked, was forward in his thinking, and now it is becoming accepted than an educated woman can still be a virtuous woman. Being able to read and write will equip you with the skills needed to run castles and palaces. You can write your own letters and your mind will be broadened by reading books.”

Elizabeth of York: The Last White Rose by Alison Weir (2022)

~

“You may say so if you like,” she said quietly. “You can call a sunset by a filthy name, but you do not spoil its beauty, monsieur.”

Pied Piper by Nevil Shute (1942)

~

“I learned (what I suppose I really knew already) that one can never go back, that one should not ever try to go back — that the essence of life is going forward. Life is really a one way street, isn’t it?”

At Bertram’s Hotel by Agatha Christie (1965)

~

Skellig Michael, Ireland

To travel is to turn the pages of the great book of life.

Haven by Emma Donoghue (2022)

~

‘It will do you good, doesn’t fix anything to mope, lad,’ the warder says encouragingly, slapping Mahmood on the shoulder. ‘I’ve seen plenty come and go and I’ll tell you this for not a penny, if your mind is a jail then it don’t matter where you are, but if you wake up thanking the Lord for the air in your lungs and wanting to make the most out of your predicament, then you’re halfway out the prison gate.’

The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed (2021)

~

One by one they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.

Dubliners by James Joyce (1914)

~

Thomas Cromwell

“That’s the point of a promise, he thinks. It wouldn’t have any value, if you could see what it would cost you when you made it.”

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel (2020)

~

“You’re so fond of literature. I should have thought you would have been good at grammar.”

Julia thrilled to the unconscious compliment of that “you,” even as she replied smilingly: “Oh, I’m afraid I care more for what people write than the way they write it, and I love history because it’s stories about people.”

A Pin to See the Peepshow by F. Tennyson Jesse (1934)

~

Favourite books read in July:

Pied Piper, The Mirror and the Light and A Pin to See the Peepshow

Authors read for the first time in July:

Nevil Shute, Jill Dawson, F. Tennyson Jesse

Places visited in my July reading:

France, Italy, England, Wales, Ireland

~

Reading notes: I’ve continued to make good progress with my 20 Books of Summer list this month, finishing another six from the list. That brings my total to twelve – and I’m halfway through the next two, so I think there’s still a chance that I might actually complete the challenge this year!

Did you read any good books in July? Do you have any plans for your August reading?

My Commonplace Book: June 2022

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

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

~

‘Yes.’ Eddie reached for his cigarettes. ‘There’s an appointment, and one day we have to keep the appointment. There’s no getting out of it. Until then we might as well live.’

Ada watched the tiny flame burst from Eddie’s match.

Tito said, ‘We should all have mottos, I think. That’s a good one.’

Fortune by Amanda Smyth (2021)

~

I once worked out that I’ve probably written more than ten million words in my lifetime. I’m surrounded by silence but at the same time I’m drowning in words and it hardly ever leaves me, that sense of disconnection.

A Line to Kill by Anthony Horowitz (2021)

~

Thomas Mann in 1905

“And my book?”

“It may be about that. Yes, it may. But readers will feel more that they are peering in through a window.”

“That might be the perfect description of what a novel is.”

“In that case, you have written a masterpiece. I should not be surprised that you are already so famous.”

The Magician by Colm Tóibín (2021)

~

She told him how Aunt Ellen had said she had to harden her heart. He shook his head. ‘I’m sure your aunt’s a wise woman, but I don’t think that’s the way to go. We’re none of us better for having harder hearts, whatever we’ve lost.’

That Bonesetter Woman by Frances Quinn (2022)

~

It was an isolated island of granite, thick with red pine trees, and inhabited only by a few fishermen, descendants of the pirates of the past. The feudal lord decided to make the island a place of exile. From that time on, for many years, all the criminals in his territory who had their death sentence commuted were imprisoned on this island, and it became known by the inauspicious moniker Gokumon, which can be read as Prison Gate as well as Hell’s Gate…

Death on Gokumon Island by Seishi Yokomizo (1971)

~

The Tempest by Giorgione

He has listened. That alone is remarkable. In that instant it strikes Zorzo that humans have a willingness to comprehend each other, and to share what they learn. It is the combination of these things that makes societies, and civilizations.

The Colour Storm by Damian Dibben (2022)

~

Do children inherit a parent’s characteristics? Will Janeska also have a propensity for blithe deceit and blind egotism? She has her father’s charm and garrulousness, his easy sociability – God knows, she didn’t get those traits from me. But maybe each soul comes into the world complete in itself and experience carries out the subtle carving of the final design.

The White Hare by Jane Johnson (2022)

~

There was an old Scots saying that came into Mary’s head as she hurried through the neglected gardens of her home:

It’s no what ye ha’e,
It’s what ye dae wi’ what ye ha’e
That matters.

Summerhills by D.E. Stevenson (1956)

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Joan of Arc – illustration from 1504 manuscript

No one can walk this path for you. You cannot simply follow in another’s footsteps, as though life were a complicated dance, every turn and twist memorized and prepared for ahead of time. There are many things in the world you can inherit: money, land, power, a crown. But an adventure is not one of them; you must make your own journey.

Joan by Katherine J. Chen (2022)

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Copper said: ‘In the absence of any concrete evidence, I plump for Leonard Stock as the murderer. First, because he’s the most unlikely person, and as anyone who has ever read a murder story knows, it’s always the most unlikely person who turns out to have done the deed – and fifty thousand authors can’t be wrong.’

Death in the Andamans by M.M. Kaye (1960)

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She felt intensely; where she loved, there she loved absolutely. This had already caused her some conflict and drama. She fully accepted that, one day, it might bring on her undoing. Yet she would not change it, could not see why one would even live in this world without ecstasy or misery or genuine feeling.

Godmersham Park by Gill Hornby (2022)

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Favourite book read in June:

That Bonesetter Woman

Places visited in my June reading:

Germany, Trinidad, Alderney, England, Japan, Italy, Andaman Islands, Scotland, France

Authors read for the first time in June:

Amanda Smyth, Frances Quinn, Katherine J. Chen

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Reading notes: I’m off to a great start with my 20 Books of Summer – six books from my list read and reviewed already! I still have some long ones to read (including The Mirror and the Light, which I’m about 200 pages into so far), but I’m optimistic about my chances of actually completing the challenge this year! In July I’ll be continuing to work through my list and I also have a few upcoming review copies from NetGalley to read, as well as my Classics Club Spin book, The Chrysalids.

One final thing I want to mention here is Jo’s Six in Six meme, which is returning for another year. To take part, all you need to do is look back at your reading over the first six months of the year and list six books in six categories – the full instructions are on Jo’s blog now!

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How was your June reading? Do you have any plans for July?