Top Ten Books on my Summer TBR

Planned reading is not at all my thing right now. I mostly just grabs whatever suits my fancy, and I usually end up discarding about 3 books before I finally settle down to read one that feels right. However, I do enjoy making lists. And summer always feels a little more relaxed despite still having to do a lot of work. So why not enjoy the thought of summer by attempting to compose a list.

So, here goes: 10 books I imagine I’d like to read in the upcoming months, barring a few more specific ideas that I am pondering at the moment and that will probably mess this all up again:

top10 Summer TBR

(I am still coming to grips with Picmonkey, so hopefully my collages will start looking better in due time).

From top left to bottom right:

  • The Long Song by Andrea Levy
  • Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
  • A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson
  • The Favorites by Mary Yukari Waters
  • Mr Rosenblum’s List by Natasha Solomons
  • The Madwoman on the Bridge by Su Tong
  • Frangipani by Célestine Vaite
  • The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice
  • The Summer without Men by Siri Hustvedt
  • Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

Basically, this is a mix of books that have been on my shelves for a good long while and that I have meant to read for forever, but that I somehow never get to. It also involves a test of whether I should keep them on my TBR at all (e.g. Mr Rosenblum), and attempts to face illogical awe-of-status that turns into fear-of-reading (e.g. Siri Hustvedt, Amitav Ghosh). Generally, I just picked books that make me happy by just thinking of reading them. That should serve as a good point of departure right? Only drawback? I think the Eva Ibbotson looks a little bit more like a winter than a summer read if we go by its cover, but I know Ibbotson is the kind of writer who I generally like at whatever point in time.

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and encourages sharing lists of books around a certain theme or topic each week.

The Short and the Sweet (1), or, Catching up on Reviews for 2015

While I have not read many books this year, I cannot say I have encountered any that have disappointed me thus far. So instead of focusing on the negative, let me hold on to that thought. While all of these books thus deserve proper posts, I think it is best to catch up before hopefully moving on to full posts somewhere in the future. So, below: the short and sweet of four titles read in 2015.

The short and sweet 1

Vera by Elizabeth von Arnim
I read two books by Von Arnim this year, one of my go-to ereader authors providing contented leisurely reading at night. Vera, however, is a lot darker than the previous works I have read by Von Arnim. I have experienced before how Von Arnim is a master in playing with my expectations, my fervent hopes for happy endings, and sometimes letting them down by sticking closer to the everyday reality for women. In case of Vera, which revolves around a controlling and abusive husband, this quality of Von Arnim makes for a haunting read. Gripping, emotional, and therefore very very worthwhile, but definitely dark.

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
was the book I opened on my ereader after finishing Vera. It took me quite a while to finish this reread, because of lots of stuff in my life that left very little time for reading. However, finally rereading this book at a much quieter pace than last time left me able to appreciate it much better. Conclusion: I’d loved to have been there with these four ladies on their holiday, made their acquaintance, and learn a little from their ability to refocus on what life has to offer us. I am thinking I should make The Enchanted April one of those books I reread every few years.

Miss Buncle Married by D.E. Stevenson
The same goes for the Miss Buncle books, really. These are my perfect comfort reads. Miss Buncle is the kind of character you’d wish was your friend. The humor provided by Stevenson lifts me up and the general atmosphere of the book just breezes coziness. Honestly, sometimes I wish I could stay in Miss Buncle’s world forever. There were tiny moments when the book gave me pause, as it seems very quick to assert conventional gender roles and conceptions of manliness and womanhood in places. But then Miss Buncle, through her observations, tone, and personal style, distracted me from it. Or perhaps it is that she is never victimised per se, and asserts her own happiness within this framework which was of course the daily reality for most people for a very long time. I am not saying it is a comforting thought, and there are political implications to the dreamy comfort-read quality of books that reassert gender patterns in a gentle manner, but I enjoyed the book all the same. Does that make sense? I hope it does.

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
Even though I haven’t read enough of these types of books, I think I can conclude that historical fiction with fantasy elements are my cup of tea. Particularly when they explore women’s position both through this historical context and the fantasy elements. Shades of Milk and Honey certainly fits that bill, although it is hardly as strong as for example Jo Walton’s Tooth and Claw. Jane Austenesque elements feature heavily in this story, which was something I appreciated. However, I did feel that the characterisation was sometimes a little flat, and the ending a little too fast to my taste. A very enjoyable read that was nevertheless not perfect, and I haven’t quite decided whether I want to continue with the series.

Currently… #1

I have seen these kinds of posts appear on other blogs regularly, although I am not sure where I first saw one and thus do not really know who to credit with the idea (if anyone knows, please tell me!) I thought this might be a good way of returning to blogging without constantly feeling I should first give the whole blog a makeover (on which I have many thoughts, perhaps I might formulate them all coherently soon?)

So anyway, here goes..

Reading: I finished reading Miss Buncle Married last night and am currently debating whether I should read the third installment right away (because I so enjoy these books by D.E. Stevenson), or if I should wait considering I enjoy them so much and I won’t have any new Miss Buncle books left after I finish The Two Mrs Abbotts.

Listening to: If I do find the time to listen to music it is mostly to one of these two new releases: Noel Gallagher’s Chasing Yesterday and Death Cab For Cutie’s  Kitsugi. These are safe options, yet providing new-to-me music.

On planning & projects: this is what my office wall currently looks like.

On planning & projects: this is what my office wall currently looks like as I aim to organise the last 19 months of my PhD.

Feeling: Happy but also super stressed most of the time. I know, I know… it’s the first year as a parent. No one is surprised. But it is still true. At times I feel I can barely keep up. Actually, I do not think I am keeping up at all.

Thinking About: Planning and Projects, to put it all into two words. Right now, thinking along these lines and trying to see everything as a project which enables planning helps me to feel a little on top of things. In the middle of the chaos that is my life right now (motherhood, last 1,5 years of my PhD, a house that still requires a lot of work), it seems the safest bet to not feel constantly overwhelmed. I’d like to share more on this soon, but it also involves thoughts on blogging.

Blogging: Well, not much, as we have seen. I am seriously debating changing this blog to suit my current life more, which, lets face it, does not include tons of reading anymore. But then, I am loathe to do away with my Iris on Books, since it gave me such joy over the past years. And I do still love books very much. Then again, I’d also love to refashion it into something a little bit more “alive” than this blog is currently. But it would mean a make-over of some kind. And well.. where would one find the time for that?

Pim (picture taken by my father)

Pim, busy with his favourite pastime: “flying”, or pretending to do a “free fall”.

Eating: I wish I could say it was healthy. Or that I was being mindful about it. Instead, I am basically eating whatever. Another point of change, hopefully.

Happy about: Pim. I know I seem to be mostly complaining here, but having had Pim is genuinely a source of joy. Seeing him making progress as he begins to become more mobile and seeing his discovery of the world in giant (for a baby) leaps is amazing. Also, his smile whenever he sees that Bas or I are there to take care of him, or better yet both of us, always translates itself into instant happiness and lessening of all the worries playing in the back of my mind.

What are you currently reading, doing, eating, thinking, loving, and/or worrying about?

Persephone’s “A Book a Month”

Persephones!

At the beginning of this year I treated myself to a 12-month subscription to Persephone Books. Two weeks later I had forgotten which books I had picked out to be delivered to my doorstep. And so, once a month I am surprised but happy to find a new Persephone in the mail.

Pictured at the front are the books I have received thus far. Have I read each of them as they came in, which is what I pictured when I bought the subscription? If you know about my current reading habits (which you do not, since I fail to write about them so spectacularly) you know the answer is a resounding no. I have read 14 books in 2015, including quite a few small picture books, where I usually would have read 30+ by now. But does it matter really? Persephones are pretty on your shelf and you know that once you pick them up, you are in for a treat.

And so, since this week I have been reading the very first book that came through the mailbox this year: Miss Buncle Married. And I was right: it is a treat. Miss Buncle is lovely as ever. This is the perfect book to pick up once Pim is in bed (and he seems to have decent bedtimes now, let us keep our fingers crossed that this sticks), after a long day of writing and more writing on my thesis.

Should I bother? (#1)

image

In my most recent attempt to declutter the tbr-piles as well as the books I have read and have held on to for uncertain reasons, I am once again going through my bookshelves looking for books I might get rid of without regret.

My question to you is simple: out of this small selection made while going through the first of many shelves, are there any books I should read before getting rid of them?

(Ah, yes, I shall return to the blog soonish with an actual post & updates on, for instance, my children’s books project)