September Wrap-Up

Just a brief overview of what I’ve read this month and where I’m standing with my reading challenge!

September has been a profitable month on the page-count. I’ve read 2734 pages this month, 7 books (one of which was a re-read of Rebecca). But that’s surpassed even my expectations!

So this month I read:

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Bronte
Notes on a Scandal – Zoe Heller
Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami
Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith
How to Be Both – Ali Smith
We Were Liars – E. Lockhart

I think that’s a successful month. I’ve read 4 new authors, only 1 reread and ticked all of the boxes I wanted to tick (a Penguin English Library, completed my monthly TBR and read some more on top of it)!

Favourite book? Rebecca or How to Be Both.
Least favourite? I Capture the Castle

As far as my reading challenge goes on HTV, I’m sitting at 3478 points – which is a damn good start to the year long challenge and I’ve started making headway on a good number of the challenges! Let’s hope next month is just as profitable!

The Book Haul to End All Book Hauls || Book Haul III

I may have gone a little crazy this month. Between meeting Sar, going on holiday and discovering a couple of beautiful little bookshops, I may have bought too many books. 39 actually. Or 41 if I include the two textbooks I bought and nearly 50 if you include the few cook books I picked up. Oops? So this is a post in which I go through them quickly. I’m not going to include too many pictures as I think nearly 40 is a bit extreme. Six of these books were covered in a previous post at the start of the month (Book Haul II) – so I’ll not include them. Instead, I am going to start from my holiday – which began on the 5th of September.

2014-09-12 20.31.08These were the books I bought on holiday. I’ve read What’s Left of Me and The Hours. But both I own as kindle editions and really wanted to own a physical copy as they’re books I loved. The others were all books that I’ve heard good things about or have wanted to read for a while. The Hours – Michael Cunningham The Moon and Sixpence – W. Somerset Maugham The Hive – Gill Hornby The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton Les Miserables – Victor Hugo Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie What’s Left of Me – Kat Zhang Where’d You Go Bernadette – Maria Semple Moranthology – Caitlin Moran I’m really looking forward to eventually reading all of these books. The Luminaries and Les Mis are obviously going to be two that take a long, long while to get through! A few of these were recommended books from the reading challenge I take part in (previously have been book club books or the like, so are worth double points!) which is my reasoning for picking books like Where’d You Go Bernadette up. Also, I enjoyed How to Be a Woman and I’ve had a few people tell me that Moranthology is an absolute must to read so – Yay!

Coming back, if you follow me on twitter or read this blog, you’ll know that I fell in love with a bookshop. Here I bought a new edition of Rebecca. But when my loan went in I returned to Wymondham to have a little explore of the shop and I picked up a few books. 2014-09-28 13.39.09How to Be BothFrankenstein and East of Eden – all three which are books that were on my ‘to buy’ list anyway. But being able to pick them up in this cute wee indi bookshop made me feel less guilty. I also signed up to be a friend of the bookshop, meaning I get 10% off all purchases there. My resolution is to buy all the new books that I want there, rather than somewhere like waterstones or the like. Their philosophy is that if we bought 1 in 4 of our books at an independent bookshop then everything is good! So I’m going to try that. Currently I’m reading How to Be Both, and Frankenstein is going on next months TBR. East of Eden is a book I’ve wanted to read for a while. To be honest, I’ve been feeling this urge to revisit Steinbeck as I enjoyed Of Mice and Men before I had to dissect it! So I’m really looking forward to all three of these!2014-09-28 13.47.54 While I was in Wymondham, I went on a little walk to explore the surroundings and stumbled upon a little antiquarian/second hand bookshop. I hate the term ‘second hand’, I much prefer ‘preloved’. Anyway, I went in (as you do) and may have had a little accident? This preloved place was just amazing. It smelt so good. Finding all of these beautiful books in the back just made it so much better. I love places that sell second hand/preloved because they’re just magic – you never know what you’re going to find and I love that anticipation. I’ve been wanting to read some Hemingway for a long while; The Old Man and the Sea has been sat on my bookshelf for years and it’s about time I rectify that. So a nabbed a couple more because these editions are just so tiny and cute! Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World was picked up after a friend actually recomended it to me the day before. Steinbeck and du Maurier are self explanatory (read: require no justification). 2014-09-28 13.50.49Next up is Charity Shop Haulage post-holibobs. This was quite successful too. Having enjoyed Notes on a Scandal I picked up another Zoe Heller book. The top book there is Wild Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. Having seen them in YouTube videos, I decided to pick up the first 3 books in the Percy Jackson series when I spotted them! I was really surprised when I found Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children in a charity shop though – and it’s in mint condition. Result. Then for Helen of Troy – I read Cleopatra by Margaret George and really enjoyed it, so I’m looking forward to maybe sinking my teeth in to this next summer! The Birds, The Bees and Other Secrets is an impulse buy that I bought along with it in a 2 books for £1 offer! I bought a few more Vintage classics besides Revolutionary Road. Throughout the month I’ve also picked up The Three Musketeers and Catch-22. Neither of these appear to be on my Goodreads list so that takes the fiction haul past 40 books this month! Also this month I attended a customer evening at Jarrolds department store – 10% off of everything. Result.2014-09-18 20.21.36 Naturally my first stop was the basement where their book selection is. I had my eye on a couple of hardbacks, and knowing they had events with both David Mitchell (the author, not Mr Victoria Coren) and Clare Balding while I was on holiday, I was hoping that they may have some signed editions in stock. And they did. So I nabbed myself a signed edition of The Bone Clocks and a signed edition of Walking Home. I mentioned Clare in a tweet, saying I had a lovely evening and I received a lovely tweet in reply which resulted in possibly the highlight of my Summer. I can’t wait to get in to it! 2014-09-28 14.07.57My last 2 books I have to justify. So I bought 2 textbooks in waterstones, now they do 10 points per £1 for students, my points balance is soaring quickly upon the purchase of textbooks at £55-£70 each. Not only that but you get a stamp for every £10 you spend so… I sort of filled a card up when I bought 2 textbooks and I ended up with about £10 on my card so I decided to indulge myself and buy two more of the Virago Modern Classic hardback du Mauriers. Aren’t they pretty? Especially with Rebecca pride of place on top of them. So yes. I think I’m going on a self imposed Book Buying Ban of sorts after this month… I really have no restraint.

Review: I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith

i-capture-the-castleThis book opens with the line ‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.  That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining board…’ and I thought to myself “yes, I’m going to like this”, I just wish I could say that the book as a whole matched up to that. To be honest, that opening line was my favourite part of the whole book!

The premise is good but the book itself wasn’t what I was expecting. If I’m honest, I think I was so excited for this book having read so many good reviews that I felt it a disappointment. I feel bad for not liking this as much as I apparently should have, but at least I tried to love it!

It was a pretty quick read – I read most of it over 4 bus journeys, and I’m glad I read it, but it won’t be a book I revisit any time soon.

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Review: Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

RebeccaWords can never quite express the love I feel for this book. I first discovered du Maurier when I was 16, one of my best friends suggested it to me after she loved it. It’s since been one of my favourite books. I genuinely cannot put in to words how much I adore this book. It’s now one of those books that I read more slowly to just savour, to find new things in because I just don’t want to let it go too soon.

My only issue is that I didn’t have a blanket in which to snuggle in when reading this. Ideally I would have had a mighty fluffy blanket, hot chocolate, a onesie and a full, uninterrupted Saturday to enjoy this. Alas, that didn’t happen but I don’t mind. Spreading this book over several days I seemed to appreciate it more, oddly enough.

Acording to goodreads, this is the 7th time I’ve read this book. I don’t think (other than the Harry Potter series) I’ve read any other book more than twice. So I think I’m going to build on the review that I have established and edited over the years and tell you why this book is amazing.

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Review: Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami

kafkashoreThis book is quite different. I’m always surprised whenever I read a Murakami book, even though a general rule is expect the unexpected. I’ve struggled for a long time to get in to Murakami, I know so many people who love his writing and I just didn’t and that bothered me. In hindsight I realise I started in the wrong place and I’m now a lifelong convert and intending to devour as much of his work as I possibly can.

There aren’t words for Murakami’s work. There is no real way to describe the bizzare things that happen, and I think there are no other authors that could write something so odd and make it seem so normal! It was a page turning crazy whirlwind and I couldn’t put it down. It started off a bit slow, a bit confusing in parts, but as always with Murakami it was steady and serene and the writing itself was captivating enough to keep the pages turning.

Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.




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So I Fell In Love With A Bookshop…

I love a good bookshop. Especially a beautiful little independent one, nothing can quite compare to the love you feel when you walk in to a bookshop. In particular when you know that it has been built from the ground up on nothing but love and passion – a massive chain is brilliant for sheer volume but a little independent place just has a completely different emotional feeling when you step over the threshold. I apologise in advance for the sheer length of this post but I just can’t seem to stop myself from typing – I just want to share every detail of this experience because it was just so perfect and I seriously just cannot stop myself talking about this bookish Narnia like place I have stumbled upon (when looking for Lidl, incidentally).

There are a couple of favourite bookshops that I have in the city centre, but I am always on the look out for more and over this summer I have discovered a couple – none really amazed me – until last week. Last week I discovered an absolute gem of independent bookshops. Kett’s Books. This little book shop is a beautiful place; I could very easily have spent hours in it on that first day (and maxed out my overdraft). I just love it, I love the story behind it and yes, it’s happened, I’ve fallen in love with a bookshop.

Kett’s Books is a community bookshop; for anyone who doesn’t know, it just means that any profit goes back in to the community. It’s run by the community, for the community in the town of Wymondham, just south of Norwich city centre. I’m so happy I found it because it stands for so many values I believe in. I suggest anyone who lives in the Norwich/Norfolk area seriously check it out because it’s a really amazing place!

Now, on to my (lengthy) story…

My first experience in this shop I can comfortably call my most joyous shopping experience of my life. I hate shopping, truth be known, unless it involves books. I walked out high – I’m not sure if it was the book fumes or just a combination of the warm-fuzzies, a beautiful book in my possession and possibly one of the best literary conversations I’ve had in a long time. Whatever it was, I was bouncing off walls and being told to stay away from caffeine because I was positively hyperactive after this shopping experience.

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Review: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Brontë

WildfellHallI can’t quite put this book in to words. It’s a book I have longed to read for a long while – I love Jane Eyre and, while not one of my favourites, I also appreciate Wuthering Heights (truthfully I prefer the 1978 song by Kate Bush to the book). Having read something by both her sisters, I felt a while ago that it would only be fair to finally read something by Anne.

I often go on about binding and publishing and aesthetics of a book – this time is no exception. I adore these Penguin English Library editions. They look beautiful when uniform on a shelf and the cover designs are simply gorgeous. The texture of these covers is almost waxy and gah if I can by a book in these editions, I will have it! So when I saw this edition of this book I knew it was the one I absolutely needed, no other edition would suffice.

This took me a good 2 weeks to read; I did a bulk of it while away but I found it quite difficult to sit down and binge on (as I do with many classics). I have to admit, I do find books with more characters – especially classics which often have convoluted plot lines and the like – quite difficult to get my head around!

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Review: Notes On A Scandal – Zoe Heller

NotesOnAScandalI loved this book. I don’t often feel like I do right now when I finish a book – right now I just wish it wasn’t over. It isn’t anything special it was just addicting and truly electrifying to read.

It follows story of Sheba Hart – a new teacher to a London comprehensive school – told through the eyes of Barbara Covett. It essentially covers a period of around 6 to 9 months and tells the story of an illicit relationship between Sheba and one of her pupils. It’s told in the form of a diary of sort, well it’s literally “notes on a scandal” as Barbara is recounting events that have happened.

My quick notes after reading it were ‘dark and twisty’ and I think that’s a very accurate, overall description. The characters are all quite dark, there’s deception going on at every point and it really, really makes you question what is moral. Morality comes in the form of can a student who actively pursues a teacher shoulder some of the blame?



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Books With Friends | Book Haul II

The last 3 days have been amazing. For those who don’t know, one of my dearest friends and I finally met after 10 years. It was the loveliest 3 days and it was just sad that it had to end so early. I cannot put in to words how amazing it was to finally give the girl who has stood by me for half of my life, through everything, a hug! But alas, it had to end sometime and it was just amazing that it was 3 days filled with awesome. Sadly, I only got one (very dishevelled) photo of the two of us at the bus station before she got on a bus home – but at least it is a photo!

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While she was in Norwich, we trawled around every bookshop in the city. Plus most charity shops. As such, I managed to find myself a few bargains and Sar managed to grab herself some nice books too (though quite a few less than me!) In the space of 3 days – across a number of shops – I’ve picked up a handful of books! 

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September TBR

HOW IS IT ALREADY SEPTEMBER? This is not okay. Not at all. This year has just moved so fast – it only feels like last week that I started uni and I’m now in my second year! Though, actually, September is cool. I’m good with September. It’s the month that knitwear becomes semi-acceptable and being outdoors is beautiful, and very peaceful (mainly because kids are back at school). So I actually like September, I just don’t like how quickly it’s come around.

On to bookish things. My September TBR. I’m going away on a wee holiday with my grandparents on the 5th – so I’m hoping to do a bit of reading then. Some of these choices are based on goals I’m going to set myself for the next year (as I’ve decided to work to my academic calendar as, with uni, it just works better for me. Also, I tend to stick to mid-year resolutions!)

So. The 4 ‘real’ books I want to read this month:

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As per my decision to try and read 1 Penguin English Library classic a month, this month I’ve picked The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I’ve wanted to read some Anne Bronte for a long while, having read both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights from her better known siblings – I feel that I’ve neglected her!

Notes on a Scandal is a new book to my collection, but I feel somewhat eager to read this (mainly because I’ve got the movie to watch and have every intention to watch it while on holiday, but want to read the book first).

Murakami is an author I’ve only recently really started to enjoy. I’m going to endeavour to read more from him, and approach the books that in the past I’ve not really got in to.

My fourth must read book is I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. This is a book I’ve wanted to read for a while after hearing about it from Lesley at WordsofaReader on YouTube. Sounds right up my alley and, also, it fits in to a couple of categories on the HTV Reading Challenge this year! Result.

Finally, I have one e-book I want to read which is for the book club I’m part of and that is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. This is a book that has been about in the blogosphere for a while and seems to be a really popular one. I’m really excited to get my ‘hands’ on this!

These obviously aren’t the only books I’m hoping to read, they’re just the minimum I’m aiming for! With uni not starting up until the 22nd, I have the majority of the month to do reading and also I’ve finally realised I can read on the bus (still not mastered reading in a car though, odd) so that’s about an hour and a half a day and two buses that I can do a good lump of reading in!

What are you all hoping to read this September?