Archive for December, 2010

In my Mailbox (6)

“In my mailbox” is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren in which people share the books that they have acquired that week.

Festive edition! A Christmas gift:

And I got a £10 book token which I put towards:

To-read pile now 47.


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“In my mailbox” is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren in which people share the books that they have acquired that week.

Birthday edition! Birthday gifts:

To-read list up to 46 and bound to climb at Christmas.

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Title: The Great Gatsby

Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Published: Penguin, 2007

Genre: Modernist fiction

How I came to own it: Bought on Amazon, for book group.

What I thought: I was surprised at how witty this novel was! Somehow ‘F. Scott Fitzgerald’ doesn’t sound like the name of a witty person. Appearances deceive. I thought this novel’s real strength was in its description, both of character and atmosphere, and in the minutiae of observation which brought the world of the novel to life. The narrator was ideal in his observational skills and his abundance of leisure time in which to hang around observing idle people, but a bit more characterisation and, well, interest with regard to him would have been nice.

Rating: 3.5/5

How I’m doing: 43 to go.

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Through my dear friend and book blogging heroine Katie, aka the Old English Rose, I came across The Victorian Literature Challenge 2011, run by Bethany of words. This challenge looks like a good’un because, as Katie notes, it encourages one to attack one’s to-read pile, rather than tempting one to buy new books (with the book group, I am buying more than enough new books). Also, Victorians, yay. Also, challenges are sociable and I like that about them: rather than telling myself about what I have just read, which is what I do at the moment, I hope to spend more time chatting about books online and seeing what others have read in a benevolent and extroverted sort of way.


What you need to know:

This challenge will run from 01 Jan 2011 – 31 Dec 2011.
Participants can sign up at any time throughout the year.

Read your Victorian literature.
Queen Victoria reigned from 1837-1901. If your book wasn’t published during those particular years, but is by an author considered ‘Victorian’ then go for it. We’re here for reading, not historical facts! Also, this can include works by authors from other countries, so long as they are from this period.

Literature comes in many forms.
There are so many Victorian reads out there, including novels, short stories, and poetry. One poem doesn’t count as a ‘book’: pick up an anthology instead!

Choose your books.
List your books before you begin, or pick up titles along the way. It’s up to you! You can review them if you choose to, but it’s not necessary. If you don’t have a blog, that’s fine! Link to a Facebook, or a page somewhere where you can list what you’ve been reading. If you can’t link up, no problem – feel free to just comment and enjoy.
Spread the love.
Post the reading challenge on your blog – make your own post(s), or stick the button on the side of your page. The more the merrier, after all. Let’s build a big community of Victorian literature lovers!
Choose from one of the four levels:

Sense and Sensibility: 1-4 books.
Great Expectations: 5-9 books.
Hard Times: 10-14 books.
Desperate Remedies: 15+ books.


Which level, which level? Okay, I’m reading on average a book every two weeks, and about half of those are for book group. I don’t want to read nothing else but Victorian literature, so let’s say twenty-four books a year, halved is twelve self-chosen books a year, halved is six Victorian books in the year. Which puts me at the Great Expectations level.

Here are the Victorian books on my to-read list:

  • The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope – A gift from the editor of the edition. My only concern is that it’s part of a series and, whilst I can’t seem to face attacking the series in order, I wonder if one has to read the other chronicles to appreciate the final one.
  • Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray – I just wish my middle name were Makepeace.
  • Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy – I have rather been put off Hardy novels by school. So depressing! I much prefer his poetry.
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot – I know nothing about this book, but it’s supposed to be good.

Once I have got through these four, I will go to BookMooch and find others. I should like to read more Gaskell.

If anyone reads this blog, I would be thrilled to hear any recommendations or words of wisdom on the four books above.

I’m excited! Thanks to Bethany for this challenge, and for the lovely button, which I shall pin to the side of this blog with pride.

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“In my mailbox” is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren in which people share the books that they have acquired that week. Only today isn’t Sunday and these books were acquired in more than the last week. Ho hum.

From Amazon:

From a little bookshop in Norwich:

The latter two are going to be dip-ins rather than cover-to-covers. And so, the to-read pile stands at 44 books.

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Title: As Meat Loves Salt

Author: Maria McCann

Published: Harper-Collins, 2002

Genre: Historical fiction

How I came to own it: I received this as a birthday/Christmas present one year, after seeing it recommended in my Mslexia diary.

What I thought: I’m not sure I’m up to reviewing this, to be honest. I’m still reeling! It was very vivid, intense, very well-written and almost unrelentingly horrific. The protagonist was a creation indeed, both despicable and pitiable. It was interesting to read about the homosexual relationship: though I did find the sex scenes a little uncomfortable, that probably says more about the culture I was raised in rather than the writing itself. It was also interesting to see rape presented from the point of view of the attacker rather than the victim. But it was all rather disturbing and, while I can’t deny that this is an excellent book, I couldn’t help longing for a glimmer of hope and for some sort of redemption.

Rating: 4/5

How I’m doing: 42 to go.

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