Discussion: January to March Reading Wrap-Up

Quarter 1 Wrap Up Header

Hello my lovely readers, and welcome to a rather different blog post – and one I haven’t done since August last year – a reading wrap up! I gave up doing wrap ups and TBRs because I wasn’t really reading much towards the end of last year and TBRs weren’t working. However, so far this year I’ve read 37 books. THIRTY SEVEN! I was aiming for 2 books a week to meet my goal of 100 books on Good Reads, but currently I’m on track to read around 150 books if I keep up this pace!

General Statistics:-
As I said, I’ve read 37 books so far this year from January to the end of March. The 37 books total 11,998 pages and it works out at an average of 324 pages per book. Which is crazy. I have a spreadsheet which I’ve been logging my reading on since 2012. In 2012 I was happy to have read that many pages in a year so to think I’ve managed to read that many pages in 3 months is incredible!

Diversity:-
Having participated in femmeuary – reading only female authors in February – I’ve somewhat skewed my author gender data, but as it stands 76% (or 28 authors) have been women so far. I’d rather like to keep up with that balance of around 75% female authors as I’m really enjoying what I’m reading so far, and don’t feel like I’m missing anything out!

I’ve also been trying to read from a more diverse range of authors as, I have noticed, my reading is very white – last year I read only 2 books by non-white authors. 2 books. So this year I’ve already surpassed that as 10 of the books – or 27% – have been from authors of a non-white ethnicity. Obviously it’s not ideal to still be around the 25% mark but it’s still a lot more diverse than my previous 2 years reading and, honestly, I’m loving it!

The Books in General:-
Genre wise – just over 50% of my reading has been non-fiction which is something that’s really surprised me when looking at. I know I’ve been reading more non fiction this year simply because I’ve been enjoying it a lot more. I’ve read several memoirs and thanks to the Wellcome prize I’ve also read a large amount of science non-fiction on top of that. This year I’ve also really been enjoying essays and essay collections so I’m pretty sure there’ll be a good balance of fiction to non fiction going forward. Right now as I write this I’m definitely more in a non-fiction mood than I am fiction and, honestly, I’m loving it!

My average rating is 3.6 if I’ve done my maths correctly. I’ve only had one 1* book, and I’ve had nine 5* books (two of which were re-reads in fairness).

Excluding re-reads, my favourite books I’ve read so far this year have been With the End in Mind for non-fiction and for fiction my favourite so far has to be The Gloaming which I do feel is cheating as it was an ARC and isn’t out until the end of next month, but whatever, my blog means my rules and I loved it.

Going Forward in to April:-
I don’t have much in the way of a TBR as such, but I’d like to keep up what I’m doing – as it stands my books per month have been gradually increasing, and while I’m aware it’ll plateau and probably dip at some point, I’d quite like it to keep quite steady at the 10 books a month area. One thing I want to do though is keep the fiction/non-fiction balance at around the 50/50 mark because honestly I am really, really enjoying non fiction lately and I have a lovely little collection of books on gender studies and feminism which I really want to get around to more of over the next few weeks!

If there’s anything anyone would like to see on the blog I’d love to hear from you. I want to do more chatty posts like this, because I feel that I’ve been banging out reviews one after the other (roughly at 1 every 3 days or so at the moment) and not really having time to just blog about reading in general.

I hope you’re all having as productive a reading year as I am so far. Feel free to send me recommendations, on here or on goodreads, as I said I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading!

August Wrap-Up

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Good Evening and happy bank holiday weekend to those of you fortunate enough to be enjoying the last long weekend before Christmas! I know bank holidays are a very British thing, and I also know that my Scottish pals don’t get to enjoy the Late August holiday – but, as I have 4 days off work without any of my holiday allowance being eaten up I thought it was about time I updated you on my reading.

August has been a relatively productive month in that I actually did read a couple of books – and several graphic novels. Much more productive than July which was consumed by War and Peace! August has also been great because I’ve really got back in to gaming – nothing hardcore but it has definitely consumed a lot of my time this month! I’ve been playing a mix of things, but my life has been consumed by a game on my iPad called Battle Cats – yeah. Don’t ask.

On to the reading. In August I read 5 books – 2 novels and 3 graphic novels. One of the novels was more of a novella, but it does seem that in spite of War and Peace being a chunker my love of big ole books has not dissipated because as I write this I’m a quarter of the way through Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. I’m absolutely rocketing through it and I should be done with it by the end of the month (yay for long weekends!)

I am, however, acutely aware that I have not reviewed any of the books I read this month. And that’s for no reason other than I haven’t been in the mood to. However, I am now in the process of writing a tonne of reviews of books that I’ve read in the last few months but haven’t got around to – so September is going to be quite a catch up month and you can look forward to more regular posts from me. Reviews to look out for in the next couple of weeks include:-

  • Lumberjanes – Volumes 1 through to 6 – Noelle Stevenson et al.
  • The Wizard of Oz Graphic Novel series – Eric Shanower et al.
  • The Infinite Loop – Pierrick Colinet
  • Bringing in the Sheaves – Rev’d. Richard Coles
  • Justine – Alice Thompson
  • Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens

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I don’t have a particularly strict TBR for September, but I do have a few books I’d like to get around to. I’m actually going on holiday at the end of the month and visiting family in Scotland, so I’m hoping that will provide some intense reading. Also, it’s between an 8 and 10 hour car trip each way which is absolutely perfect for a long audiobook (or two!)! So, if anyone has any recommendations I’d be more than happy to hear them!

However, I do have a couple of books that I’ve been sitting on and wanting to read for what feels like forever and I’d like to finally get around to them this month. So I’m putting them here for the world to see and hoping it’ll make me finally read them:-

September TBRIt’s quite a varied pile – as you can probably see. A little bit of non-fiction, modern classic, science fiction, and a very literary book. But I think it’s a good pile for me to be picking from as it’s quite varied.

I would also like to read a classic this month but as of yet I haven’t decided what it’ll be. I may find a meaty one to listen to as an audiobook at the end of the month in the car! We shall just have to see.

As I said, if anyone has any recommendations for good, long audiobooks drop them down in the comments because I’m always excited to have a new audiobook!

As always, thanks for reading!

May Wrap Up

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It’s been a very long time since I read enough in a month to warrant a wrap up – but being off work sick for the majority of the month has meant that I’ve got a lot more reading than usual under my belt. Books are the only thing that have kept me sane this month, so I thought it a good time to reinstate wrap-ups. I’m hoping they’ll become a regular thing again, because I do have a very nice spreadsheet with lots of data on, and it seems a shame not to share it!

So, this month I read a total of 19 things – which is insane. It doubled my total books read this year. 10 of them were graphic novels – I read Volumes 1-4 of Lumberjanes and also started reading the Marvel interpretations/graphic novels of The Wizard of Oz. I found they’ve been a really good distraction on bad days when I can’t focus on too many words or big plots but still want to feel like I’ve been achieving something. I’m still not sure if I’m going to do full reviews of graphic novels, or wait until I’ve finished a bulk of them and do more mass-reviewing. Let me know what you think would be best!

Of the 11 other books, it was a really good mix between literary fiction, short stories, non fiction, classics, and even a couple of kids books! I really enjoyed everything I read this month aside from The Seamstress and the Wind. My average rating was a whopping 3.7 – and as someone who is an eternal 3* reviewer that was quite impressive for me (taking out the graphic novels it’s 3.6 average). As for pages, I read a massive 4658 – which for me is boggling. The last time I read that much was July 2015 (according to my spreadsheet) – given the place I was in then compared to now, I don’t know how I’ve done it!

My favourite books this month, by country miles, were My Cousin Rachel and Crime and Punishment. I really can’t wait for next month for more du Maurier and also starting another Russian behemoth of a book – War and Peace. I can’t wait to get started on that tomorrow for the readalong that Ange & Yamini are hosting (Goodreads group can be found here with links to all the information).

Next month is looking to be another tough one – I’m still not back at work, I’m still signed off but I’m looking at maybe doing a phased return, which would be a much better balance for me all things considered. I’ve got a lot of life-things happening next month – my baby sister is 21, I’m going on holiday at the end of the month, and I am HOPEFULLY getting a tattoo (health permitting!)

I’m not going to do a TBR, because alongside War and Peace I have no idea what I’ll be reading. I will however probably do a holiday TBR closer to the event!

I hope you all have had a wonderful May & that your June is full of sunshine and books.

Thanks for reading!

August Wrap-Up & September Goals

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August. What can I say about August? It’s been an up and down month, mainly down because of my health. But I’ll not bore you with that!

On the reading front, I was completely ruined for life by A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. I think that sums up this month in a nutshell, nothing will compare to my love of that book and it is already up there with some of my favourite books of all time (Rebecca, Daniel Deronda, and The Count of Monte Cristo to name but a few). It was the first fiction book I’ve given 5* to since the start of May.

Needless to say it was the best book of the month for me.

Stats wise, I read 6 books which totalled 2456 pages. My goal this month was to get over 2000 pages, as I hadn’t since April, so I’m really happy that I did. I also managed to knock a few off the TBR list that I had going, two of them however I haven’t – they’ve been recurring on a TBR list since June and I still haven’t read them so they’re going to go back on to my shelf and I will pick them up at a later date.

I have one book still ongoing which I started at the very end of the month and it’s a proof copy of Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s a follow up from Sapiens which I really loved so I’m taking my time with it as it’s quite a chunker! So far though, I’m really loving it.

08 - september goals

September is my last month of sort of freedom, while I’ll be working come October I will be doing a masters on top of my job so I’m pretty certain I’ll take a wee slump in the reading department. So I want to take advantage of September to the fullest.

My goodreads goal for the year is to read 52 books, I currently sit at 45. I want to hit my goal for the year by the end of September. So 7 books is what I’m aiming for.

Naturally, I want to finish Homo Deus – though that might not be for a while as I’m reading little and often. However it’s really got me in to non-fiction and I’d like to maybe read a bit more over September.

I also really want to read a classic this month – my ‘classic a month’ has sort of fallen by the wayside as of late and as the nights are drawing in, I think now is a perfect time to really get on top of that again. September marks a year since I read Middlemarch, and a year since I fell in love with George Eliot – so maybe I’ll pick up Felix Holt or Romola. 

There are a number of books that I’ve felt ‘calling me’ the past week or so, so I might pick up some of those. In amongst them are a short story collection (or two) and Daphne du Maurier’s work generally.

As for other things, I’m off to see Ian Rankin in conversation with my dad in the middle of the month, so that’ll be fun and I may well put a bit on here about that if it’s good! (which I am absolutely certain it will be)

All in all, September is hopefully going to shape up to be a wonderfully bookish month for me!

July Wrap Up and an August TBR

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July was beautiful. It was possibly the most crazy month of my life and I have made so many memories. I was working full time (and managing, something I was scared I wouldn’t be able to do), I graduated, I saw Finding Dory on opening night, and I went to the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I laughed until I was crying, I smiled until my face hurt, I got a sun tan, I didn’t fall over on stage when they called my name, I made new friends, I caught up with old ones, played some Pokemon Go and honestly, I didn’t read all that much. But it was amazing and I don’t regret one second of it (okay, I lie, I wish I didn’t wear the heels for graduation).

But, as this is primarily a blog in which I talk about books, that is what I shall do now. I read 5 books, I’m happy with 5 books. Sadly, there were only a couple that I really loved, most of them were 3* reads. I read in total 1964 pages, which I’m pretty happy with, though I would like to see myself break 2000 again soon as I haven’t done that since April!

My favourite book was Animal by Sara Pascoe, closely followed by The Cursed Child (obviously). Animal was better than How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, and I loved that book. As for The Cursed Child, well, it was glorified fanfiction but what can I say, I’m fanfiction trash.

07 - august goalsThis month I want to read the remainder of the books I wanted to read in July and didn’t. So, that’s The Essex SerpentThe Brinks That Built the Houses, Human ActsThe Adventures of the Busts of Eva Peron, and finally The Last Pilot. So that’s the 5 books I definitely want to read, I would like to get around to another classic this month, and maybe some poetry too.

One thing I definitely want to do this month is keep on top of this blog a bit more, and be a bit more structured. I’ve recently lost my mojo when it comes to what I want to say and do on here and, like I said a few months ago, I want to take this more seriously which is something I haven’t been doing as of late and I want that to change. So, consider that a promise!

I’ve got some really fun things planned this month, I’m going to see Sarah Millican on the 8th, I’m helping some friends move in to their first home together, seeing two of my oldest friends and having dinner. So I think it’s going to be good. Life is feeling good, and that’s a little strange if I’m honest.

Have a lovely August!

June Wrap Up and July Goals

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Hello lovely readers, I apologise for being slack over the past month – it’s been crazy and not very productive on a reading front! So a brief update of things I achieved this month:

  • I finished my degree
  • I went on holiday (and lovely it was too)
  • I got a job
  • I started a job
  • I GOT A 2:1!!!

That equates to very little reading on the whole. Or rather, I didn’t quite get my ambition of ALL THE BOOKS this month. I instead enjoyed a slow and steady approach to reading, and took time enjoying things like board games with my family and watching TV. I don’t feel guilty in the slightest. I had a really, really lovely month and that’s what matters!

On to the reading, my favourite book by a country mile was Chris Packham’s Fingers in the Sparkle Jar. Though I have to say all the books I read this month were very closely rated, but all for different reasons. It was a pretty varied month, with some non fiction, poetry, fantasy, and mythology/history books in the mix. I did start a few books, which you will hear about in the not so distant future all being well. My average rating was 3.3*, but honestly I didn’t dislike any of the books I read and all of them were by authors I will continue to follow.

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Oh July. More than half way through the year and I can’t quite believe what I have achieved in those 6 months! It’s crazy. So in July I want to actually challenge myself. I want to finally have that epic reading month I’ve been harping on about for most of the year! I have 2 new books that I want to read, several audiobooks I want to get around to and generally a shelf full of books that I want to just devour. So, here’s a little pile of the physical books that I’m hoping to get through, alongside some audiobooks:

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My audiobook collection is quite varied, I want to catch up on my book club books primarily, and also catch up with the Robin Hobb readalong! Basically, lots of catching up via audiobook in the near future!

So, hopefully, you shall be hearing more of me this month! If you’ve read any of these, or want me to read any of these, do let me know and I’ll prioritise them! Thanks for sticking with me folks.

May Wrap-Up & June Goals

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Hello lovely readers, and hasn’t it been a while? For that, I can only apologise and make excuses – those being that I have had exams, I’ve been ill and have another exam to go! So reading has taken a peculiar turn to that of textbooks, and noone wants to read a review of a biophysics or a protein engineering textbook. Noone.

Initially, May was a very positive month; I managed 5 books before the half way point. Sadly, I didn’t read anything more. 5 books a month is average for me, and I’m happy with it on the whole. Though, the books I read seem so long ago now – especially my two 5* reads Adam Bede and Cheer Up Love!

So, in the grand scheme of things, May wasn’t too bad – I have certainly read less – I just can’t remember the last time I went 2 weeks without picking up a book!

05 - june goals

My last exam is the 8th. I cannot wait for freedom! I am also going on holiday on the 17th, which will be a fabulous excuse to read! I’m really looking forward to going full steam ahead with my reading.

So goals for the month? Read all the books. I’m so ready to pick a book up again, and as a result my goals are mammoth. I want to reread Middlemarch, and maybe also some Daphne du Maurier. I want to pick up some Dickens, make a dent in my audible library, finally read The Three Musketeers. I want to read some more non-fiction for pleasure and catch up with my book club books. Maybe see what readathons are going and participate.

Basically, I want to do nothing much else. So I look forward to discussing books with you all over the coming months, as discussion will be able to take place now I’m almost free!

April Wrap-Up & May Goals

Hello lovely people and happy May! After a few hideous weeks of weather, us in the UK are finally starting to get something which resembles Spring and I am very, very happy about that! The only downside of May is I have two exams to look forward to (and a third to prepare for in June!). April has been a pretty good reading month, all things considered, partly aided by the absolutely abysmal weather!

april wrapup

So in April I read 8 books which given I was finishing my dissertation and revising for exams I am really happy with. It came to 2104 pages, and there was – I feel – a nice mix in genre which was really aided by taking part in genrethon at the start of the month as I did step outside my comfort zone and read some poetry (and loved it!)

While I had no 5* reads in April, I had one which was pretty close and that was The Vegetarian by Han Kang. That book absolutely blew my mind and left me in a little bit of a book hangover. Since I finished it on the 22nd, I have tried to pick up several books and have been unable to get in to any of them! Based on reading this I’m really wanting to read the remainder of the Man Booker International Prize shortlist as it was phenomenal and to be competing with it, the others must be too!

Also in April this blog had a makeover and got itself a new name – Ashleigh’s Bookshelf. I’m really excited about this new change, and you can read all about it here. As for other bookish things, I finally discovered OverDrive; I don’t know how it missed me for so long but I am definitely going to be taking advantage of in the coming months!

may goals

With exams looming, the start of May is going to be relatively slow for me. I’m going to be picking up smaller books, which is a perfect opportunity for me to start crossing some of the books I have from independent publishers off of my TBR! As always, I am going to try and read a classic and will probably pick an audiobook to achieve this goal! One thing I do know is that I am definitely going to be reading The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood as I picked that for a book club I’m part of.

So May is going to be a mood-reading month with very different goals to normal, namely to get through and do well in my exams! If you want to follow what I’m reading, feel free to friend me on goodreads.

I hope you all have a marvellous May!

March Wrap-Up & A Tentative TBR

So after February being a bit of a flop, March turned in to an incredible month on the reading front! I surprised myself this month, seriously. I really did not expect to do as well as I did reading, and complete all of my outstanding coursework – but somehow I did!

2016-03-31 21.41.23March Wrap-Up

March was great. I managed to complete 9 books, which totalled 3172 pages. I had three 5* reads this month too, they were all very different books and got 5* for very different reasons, which in my book is pretty incredible! My average rating was 4.0 this month. And I still haven’t finished the outstanding short story collection I started in February.

My 5* reads this month were HeadstrongDaniel Deronda and The Alphabet of Birds. As I said, very different books – feminist non fiction, a 900 page classic, and a translated short story collection. It doesn’t get much different than that!

Alongside the physical books I completed, I also listened to a couple of audiobooks. Included on that list is A Vindication of the Rights of Women and Animal Farm. I also partially listened to audiobooks for Villette, Daniel Deronda and Stardust. But I had a bit of a combination of reading and listening going on there, my main reason for the combination is I’ve become addicted to Microsoft Jigsaw…

Looking Towards April

With April comes my dissertation deadline and 2016-03-31 22.04.00final exams creeping upon me. So I’m not going to be too harsh on myself if I don’t get as much reading done as I have in March! Saying that, I would like to do much better than I did in February so I’m aiming for 4 books. I’ve actually got a wee bit of a haul to do towards the start of the month so 3 of these books only recently came in to my possession!

I’ve really been enjoying non-fiction as of late, and I’ve also been binge-watching documentaries on Ancient Egypt so I want to get around to The Story of Egypt by Joann Fletcher. My classic for this coming month will be Far From the Madding Crowd as it is simply about time I read some Hardy (I read Under the Greenwood Tree when I was about 12, it was a bad mistake). Then there is an event happening at my local independent bookshop with the author of Bret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs and the book sounds incredible so I want to read it before I go to the event. Finally we have The Book Collector which is a relatively short book that I know nothing about.

So, there we have it. I have my mojo back! I just have to finish my dissertation and then I’m (nearly) free as a bird!

To a February Flop and a Hopeful March

Also known as my wrap up and TBR.

Yes, February was a bit of a flop on the reading front in that I only managed one book. But that one book, which I DID finish in the end, was Les Misérables and I am so, so glad I finally read that! So I read a total of 1232 pages – which equated to 67 hours and several minutes of an audiobook and I will have a review up soon for that. Just with a long book, I want to do it justice. I’m over the disappointment of reading only one book because the book I did read was great, and so worth the hours put in to reading it! I also managed a couple of short stories from That Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche which I will be reading sporadically throughout March I think as I find I can’t really sink my teeth in to her work and the occasional story works a lot better!

In March I have 3 essays and my dissertation to finish. And I need to start revision for my exams. Final year has gone far too quickly for my liking! Hopefully though I will be getting a lot more reading done than I did this month, purely because I think I’m going to need a break. While I have a few books in mind for March, I think I’m going to leave it open and just enjoy reading for a little while and pick up what the mood dictates!

I’d love to hear what you’ve got on your TBR and intend to get to in the near future, if only for inspiration!