January has been a strange month in many ways. Firstly, we have been in lockdown for the whole period which means effectively that there must be no going out and no meeting with other people unless absolutely essential. This rather restricts the possibilities for book buying (although it hasn’t completely eliminated them) and leave me with a large number of books I want to pass on to friends and charity shops which are currently taking up a shelf or two in my library. February looks like it is going to be the same – very fortunately I have a large number of books in my to-be-read pile which I haven’t yet got to so I am unlikely to run out of reading matter.
The second unusual thing about the month is that we have finally moved into our new home and unpacked my books. I am now the proud possessor of my own library – it may look like a spare bedroom crammed with bookcases to the casual observer but it is my own space for books. And it’s great. I had 49 boxes of books which travelled with me from our previous house and these have been sorted into eight bookcases (and with a few piles on the floor and in storage boxes). It was the first room in the house to be finished and I really love it although I don’t want to have to do all the unpacking and sorting ever again !
With the new house came Internet connection issues and it took half the month before I had a connection at all and a bit longer and a ten metre cable before it was fit for purpose. Being busy and having a ropey connection are the main reasons that I have blogged less often than usual this month – I am hoping to be more up to speed for February. I am rather gratified, however, to have had many views on my blogs and to welcome some new followers to the blog.
During January I read and blogged about books connected with numbers. I still have some books left to get through and therefore blogs about numbered books will appear sporadically in the future. For February the theme is Body Parts – books which have one in the title or where body parts are a main theme of the book. Look out for more blogs as the month progresses and see how many different body parts I manage to find in my reading.
During January I also read a few other books not related to the reading themes for the year – here are a few books I read in the month that you may wish to read yourself – it is, as always, a mixed bag :
- A Bespoke Murder by Edward Marston is the first in a series of books set during WW1 in London. The author knows his history well and has tried to show us many of the issues which affected people at the time as well as the war – I think that he does this very well. The book centres on the murder of a German Jewish tailor supposedly by a mob incensed by the sinking of the Lusitania. It covers lots of other social issues as well but is an easy to read crime novel which I enjoyed a lot.
- Cruel Crossing by Edward Stourton is actually set in WW2. It is a factual book telling the story of the men and women who risked their lives to escort downed airmen and others across the Pyrenees from France into Spain. It’s an interesting read, celebrating acts of bravery which are still relatively unknown and bringing to the attention of the reader some appalling atrocities. I had read a little about this before but found that this book helped to put things into perspective and help me understand the story as a whole.
- King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild is another factual book. It is about the Congo. In the late eighteenth century King Leopold of the Belgians claimed this territory as his own – owned by him personally. He saw it as empty territory and its resources as an opportunity to make himself personally rich. The result was a reign of terror when the occupants of the country were exploited, maimed, starved and murdered in order to promote the aims of one man. This is a well written and very readable book which tells a truly horrible and frightening story. Difficult to say that I recommend it but this is a story that everyone should know.
- Fractured by Dani Atkins is a story about parallel existences. Rachel is alive in one world where her best friend was killed in an accident; her boyfriend left her and her father has cancer. After what seems to be some sort of issue with her brain she wakes up in what looks like the same world but is actually very different; her boyfriend is now her fiancé, her friend is alive and her father is well. The book follows Rachel as she tries to make sense of all this. It’s an engaging story which doesn’t really explain anything but does manage to get Rachel’s romantic life straightened out.
- Reel Murder by Marian Babson is a cosy crime novel which is also very amusing. Two aging Hollywood actresses come to London and get involved in murder. The mystery is actually a small part of the story which is mainly about their eccentric friends, both old and new. Just sit back and enjoy this one – it’s easy to read, passes the time nicely and may even make you laugh out loud.