Monday 2 July 2012

The Summer Reading Pile

Well, Midsummer’s Day has been and gone, though the weather has been so dreadful if feels as if summer has never even arrived. June is over, and July is here. And even if the weather doesn’t improve, I can curl up on the sofa and tackle the TBR pile, which should last me well into the Autumn, and I am determined that there shall be No More Books until the pile has been whittled down. Yes, I know I’ve said that before, but there is nothing wrong with saying it again...

Actually, it’s not an untidy stack of books any longer, or won’t be when I’ve finished reorganising.  Nor will TBRs be wedged into gaps on the book shelves, or stuffed on the top of other books. No, in future they will have a home of their own. Elder Daughter having moved in with her boyfriend, The Man Of The House and I are turning her room into a kind of study for my needlework/embroidery, his music (there are 11 stringed instruments and a melodeon in our dining room) – and books! And there are three small shelves where she once stored cosmetic lotions and potions, which are just perfect to for all those books waiting to be read.
So here’s what I plan to read over the next few weeks. First up is Tove Jansson, best known for her books about the Moomins, which I seem to have missed. But she also wrote for adults, and I came across The Winter Book while I was pricing books in the Oxfam Shop, so I bought it, read it, thoroughly enjoyed it, and started writing a review – then came across The Summer Book, which I haven’t read yet, but I will post a joint review when I have!

I am finally going to read EM Delafield’s Diary of a Provincial Lady, and I also have The War-Worker on Kindle, and a copy of Provincial Daughter, by her daughter RM Dashwood, which I have been saving until I’ve read Delafield.
Ada Leverson’s Love’s Shadow was in the library, and I couldn’t resist it, as it’s one of those ‘forgotten’ classics published by The Bloomsbury Group, with a lovely cover, and an Ex Libris page. A friend of Oscar Wilde, who called her Sphinx, she was the first person to greet him when he was released from jail, when he told her: “How marvelous of you to know exactly the right hat to wear at seven o’clock in the morning to meet a friend who has been away.” After reading that in ‘A Note On The Author’, I feel I must read this and fin out more about Leverson.

I also borrowed Mrs Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf, and I’ve got To The Lighthouse, which has been languishing on shelf for many years, since I read Woolf as a teenager, but didn’t like her, and failed to get understand her writing. Recently I’ve read some of her essays, and excerpts from her letters and diaries, and thought they were wonderful – but was still wary of the novels. Then Rachel at published a post on ‘Between the Acts’, which she found very rewarding. Since her experience of Woolf mirrored mine, and since she recommended jumping straight in, I thought maybe this is the right time to try again.

Then I’ve got a couple of old Penguins I’ve been meaning to read for quite some time. There’s Farewell Victoria, by TH White, who is famous for ‘The Once and Future King’, his take on the Arthurian legends, which I adore. I have no idea what this will be like, but it was published in 1945 and has a wonderful picture of a dancing Penguin on the front, which I feel was an excellent reason to buy it. I wish the company had kept that logo – it’s such fun, and makes me smile every time I see it. Kate  O’Brien’s Without My Cloak, is a family saga, published in 1949, and it has a dust jacket – another good reason for buying a book!

It’s always good to read something new, and I notice Claire from and Nan, from are both taking part in a Canadian Reading Challenge, which made realise that the only Canadian authors I have ever read are Margaret Atwood, LM Montgomery, and Guy Gavriel Kay (and I only know he’s Canadian because Claire mentions him in her post). I’m not taking part in the challenge, but if anyone can recommend a good read by a Canadian writer, please let me know!

Paris in July is another interesting challenge, hosted by Karen from BookBath and Tamara from Thyme For Tea. With this one you can read a book, watch a film, listen music, eat and drink – anything you want as long as there’s a French connection. So, since it’s July, and since I love Paris, I might just join in.

Finally Florence at is hosting a Rosamond Lehmann Reading Week from July 23 to 29 and, as I am very fond of this author, I have a couple of her books ready and waiting.

Of course, I may not stick to this list at all, because I still have some books I have read but not written about, and may get sidetracked by other TBRs (there seem to be a lot of them), or by old favourites that I absolutely have to read again. Then there’s the library to be browsed, and whilst I am determined not to buy new books, I haven’t actually said I won’t.


  1. So many delightful books! The Summer Book is a treat and though I've yet to read The Winter Book, I am looking forward to it. And who is a more enjoyable companion, winter or summer, than the Provincial Lady?

    As for Canadian authors, let me toss out just a few: Mordecai Richler, Pierre Berton, Hugh MacLennan, Alice Munro, Robertson Davies, Margaret Laurence, Stephen Leacock, Gabrielle Roy, Michael Ondaatje, Ann-Marie Macdonald, Helen Humphreys, Jane Urquhart, Elizabeth Hay, Alistair MacLeod...I could go on doing this for an absurdly long time. I am thrilled to hear you're interested in reading more by Canadian authors and will definitely look forward to seeing what you pick!

    1. Claire, The Winter Book was wonderful. It was a delight from beginning to end, kind, wise, gentle and beautifully written. I have started The Summer Book, and it looks to be just as good.

      And thank you for the Canadian suggestions - that's very kind of you. I fancy tying some Alice Munro to start with, but it depends what I can find. I'll have a mooch in the library and see what they have. Somehow the British seem to ignore Canada, and I have no idea why.

    2. Christine, I just happened to notice you have the 2011 Booker Long List in your sidebar. Three of those authors are Canadian (Pick, deWitt, and Edugyan) so there's even more reading inspiration for you!

    3. I actually have them! I was lucky enough to acquire most of the Booker List, but didn't read all of them, and these three are among the ones in the TBR pile! I started The Sisters Brothers, found it a little difficult to get into, and put it on one side - I was going to start again, because I keep seeing good reviews. Canadian and TBRs, so I can read with a clear conscience!

  2. I've only just discovered your blog, but I'm pleased I have.

    Apart from Virginia Woolf, I haven't come across the books you've mentioned and I'm always keen to add to my TBR list. I'm never quite sure about Woolf - I think she's a wonderful writer, but she does sometimes give me literary indigestion!

    1. Karen, thank you for dropping by. I'm not sure about Woolf's novels - to be honest, I've been scared of them since that teenage brush with them. So we'll see how I get on!

  3. What a lovely summer reading pile you've got there! I've read Love's Shadow some time last year, and have been meaning to start on Diary of A Provincial Lady but somehow got distracted with other books. Started on Mrs Dalloway some time back too, but got stuck. Can't say it's easy reading, but nevertheless the writing is beautiful and I really do want to seriously take on her books, although it's her diaries and letters that I'm most interested in.
    And do join in the fun for Paris in July! The more the merrier. :)

    1. Thank you Michelle! I have a couple of films for Paris, and some music, and several books, but I may choose just one of each - and something French to eat, of course!