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My first book of the year

Happy New Year!

In 2016 I didn’t read enough books, so this year I’m making it a priority. Specifically I want to read more short stories and more African literature. My first book of the year is both.

Happiness Like Water by Chinelo Okparanta.

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‘In these exquisite stories, Chinelo Okparanta introduces us to families burdened equally by the past and the future. Here, we meet a childless couple with very different desires, a college professor comforting a troubled student, a mother seeking refuge from an abusive husband, and a young woman waiting to join her lover abroad. High expectations consume them. Nigeria defines them.’

Chinelo Okparanta was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. She was one of Granta’s New Voices for 2012 and her writing has appeared in publications such as the New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, and The Kenyan Review. 

I’m looking forward to getting started. Review to follow.

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Weekly update 12-18 December

With only one week to go until Christmas I decided it was probably best to start my shopping. So, on Saturday, Chris and I spent the afternoon and evening hunting for presents in Meadowhall, also known as Meadowhell, or Murderhall, depending on how you feel.

Waterstone’s was the first stop. I love buying books for my friends and family. I’m not sure if they like receiving them year after year, for Christmas and birthdays and Mother’s Day and any other celebration, but they should.

Time wasn’t on our side, so instead of spending ages browsing the shelves, I was in and out in about 20 minutes. It was a record. My basket was full of books for other people (good choices too), but I couldn’t Continue reading

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Introducing Tuesday intro

I’ve decided to link up with Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea who hosts a post every Tuesday for people to share the beginning of the book they are reading, or thinking of reading soon.

I’ve been reading other people’s Tuesday posts for ages, and this morning I was struck with some inspiration. Why not do my own post! Who would have thought it.

So, drumroll please, today I am officially joining in. And what’s even more exciting is that today I’m also starting a new book. I couldn’t have timed it better. I’ve just finished Zadie Smith’s NW, so have been trying to decide what to read next.

But what to read next? Decisions. Decisions.

On the way home from work last night (long journey stuck in traffic), Simon Mayo was talking about the latest book club choice for BBC Radio 2. He said it was one of the best books they’d featured (something like that anyway. I was driving), so I thought I would give it a go. The book is called Continue reading

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Rediscovering reading

For the past couple of months, I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump. I can only put this down to one thing, and that’s studying.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy studying, because I do. I love it. I am perennial student, currently doing an English Literature degree with the Open University. Each module that I study comes with a long reading list. I’ve just completed a module on the nineteenth century novel, which involved reading these books.

19th century novel books

I’m now studying a module on twentieth century literature, which involves reading these books.

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And while I love reading and studying, it doesn’t really leave much time for my own reading. It’s a long time since I read book after book just for pleasure, without having to analyse or write an essay on it.

I’ve missed it.

I’ve missed the freedom of being able to discover new writers. I’ve missed Continue reading

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Friday read

My book room is getting out of control. It’s not a big room at all. There are three bookcases, a desk, and piles and piles of books. Last night, I heard a crash. One of the piles of books had taken a tumble.

I raced in to rescue my beloved books. I wouldn’t want them getting creased, or dog-eared or worse still, torn. I piled them back up, and while I was rearranging them, I spotted this.

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Ours are the Streets is Sunjeev Sahota’s first novel. I met him last year at Sheffield’s Off the Shelf Festival. I loved his writing so much I bought both his books. He signed them for me, and I returned home and placed them on one of my many ‘to read’ piles. Between then and now they have both been lost. I knew they were somewhere in the deep, dark, depths of my reading room, but I couldn’t say exactly where.

What a shame to have forgotten about this book. I read the blurb. I read the first page. I decided to make this my Friday read.

“Imtiaz Raina leaves England for the first time ever when he buries his father on family land near Lahore. It is the beginning of a journey that takes him far from his young wife and daughter in Sheffield and deep into the mountains of Kashmir and Afghanistan. He returns a changed man. This is his story.”

My next challenge will be to tidy my reading room and locate Sahota’s second novel.

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The Outrun

I’ve just started reading Amy Liptrot’s The Outrun, which seems to be everywhere at the moment. It’s in all the local bookshops. It’s the Mumsnet book of the month. Friends keep recommending it.

I first heard about this book back in January. I was driving to teach a class, and it was on Radio 4’s Book of the Week. I liked it immediately. So much so, that I took the time to scribble down the name of the writer and the book, even though I was running a few minutes late.

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I added it to my books to buy list, but didn’t actually buy it. Until last week, that is, when I was passing by the bookshop. Please note: I was passing by the bookshop. I did not intend to step into the bookshop and buy books. But when I glanced into the store, there it was, The Outrun by Amy Liptrot, on a huge display. ‘There’s that book!’ I thought, and before I knew what I was doing I’d walked in and bought it, along with another book because Waterstone’s had its buy one get one half price offer on, which I can’t seem to resist.

I started reading The Outrun last night. The prologue and chapter one are very well written. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the book. Here’s the blurb…

“At the age of thirty, Amy Liptrot finds herself washed up back home on Orkney. Standing unstable on the island, she tries to come to terms with the addiction that has swallowed the last decade of her life. As she spends her mornings swimming in the bracingly cold sea, her days tracking Orkney’s wildlife, and her nights searching the sky for the Merry Dancers, Amy discovers how the wild can restore life and renew hope.”

 

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A time of change

It’s a beautiful sunny morning here in my corner of Yorkshire, but there is a definite chill in the air. The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, otherwise known as autumn, will soon be here. I love this time of year and the feeling of change that comes with it.

When I was younger I loved returning to school after a long summer. I loved buying new notebooks and pens, but more than anything I loved the idea of a new start. It’s twenty-two years since I left school but I still get that feeling.

I no longer have the luxury of being a full-time student, but I do have the excitement of Continue reading