April’s Reading Round Up

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Another month, another reading update!

If you have been following my reading journey this year, you will know that I have two goals: to read 50+ books through the year, and as part of that, to follow the ModernMrsDarcy Reading Challenge.

You will also know that, in respect of the latter list of books, I have been struggling to finish Guernica by Gijs Van Hensbergen. This was my ‘a book you have been meaning to read’ selection and one that I have had for ages.  So, although I am by no means averse to giving up on a book if it proves to be a bit of an effort, in this case, I really wanted to persevere with it.

I am delighted to report that I finally finished reading it on 27 April – hooray!!  I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have got through it.  It was a bit of a slog, but with concerted reading effort, setting myself mini-challenges of reading to the end of the next chapter etc, I got through it.

Was it worth it?  Yes it was.  It was an interesting account of mid-20th century western society, told through the story of the creation and subsequent life of an iconic painting.  Covering everything from anti-communism in America, to the rise and fall of Franco in Spain, the author illustrates the importance of culture within society; the impact which culture can have on political decision making and vice-versa; and how individual pieces of art can transcend themselves in various ways.

While I was reading this book, I felt the need for lighter material too.  I whizzed through Renee Knight’s Disclaimer and Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.  Both were ok reads, although nothing to rave about.

I also finished Chess – a novella by Stefan Zweig.  This is a brilliant little piece about the human condition and, of course, the game of chess.

I am still reading The Post-Birthday World  by Lionel Shriver and In The Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman.  And I have also started Patrick Gale’s A Place Called Winter.  To add to these, I will be taking on Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton as my May MMD Read.  And I am also close to finishing Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch in audio format.  This has been a mammoth listen – with the unabridged version lasting some 30+ hours.  But I am in the final straight, with only 5 hours to go.  It has been a great listen and I am looking forward to knowing how it pans out.

In addition, I want to start making some progress with my ‘must read’ book list, which grows every day, thanks to suggestions and recommendations from friends and fellow bloggers.  There are currently 57 books on this list (quite a few, bearing in mind that I also have a number of fiction and non-fiction lists too!).  If I were to try to get through this list alone in the remainder of this year, I would need to read approx 7 books a month, in addition to any others that I want to cover.  I think I will have to prioritise!!

What are you reading at the moment? Are you a prolific reader, or do you prefer to savour a small number of books over a longer period of time – like a good whiskey?  I love hearing about people’s reading habits and look forward to learning about yours. 🙂

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20 thoughts on “April’s Reading Round Up

  1. Congratulations on finishing Guernica! You can have a gold star for that. 😀
    I used to read all the time but in the last few years my commitments have increased and now reading time is at a premium. I have been trying recently to make time for reading but this has had mixed results. I am okay about picking up a lighter novel and reading for quarter of an hour or when I am really tired but this doesn’t work for the more complex book I want to read. I need to be awake and have a little more time to make any headway or even to comprehend what it is saying! The half hour (at least) I was hoping to find each day to read ‘Mysticism’ by Evelyn Underhill just hasn’t happened and I am progressing so slowly with it! I think it will take me at least six months to read!
    However, I have managed to read a few novels from my enormous heap of ‘to be read’ books – Time After Time by Molly Keane (strange but satisfying); A Suffolk Courtship by Matilda Betham Edwards (quite a sweet story); The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (fantastic and he really knows about autism!); In the Artist’s Garden by Ronald Blythe ( poetic writing but also a very light read); The Tortoise and the Hare (brilliant but harrowing as it’s a book about the disintegration of a marriage). I am now reading The Weather in the Streets by Rosamund Lehmann – it’s good!

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    1. Thank you Clare – I am basking in the glow of my gold star!! 🙂 It is so interesting to read about your reading. I know exactly what you mean about the difficulties of finding time for ‘serious’ reading. It is so much easier to squeeze in a few pages of something lighter at odd moments, or when one is feeling a bit tired. Thank you also for your list of reads. I agree with you about Haddon’s book – brilliant on all sorts of levels. I see that Lehmann’s book is a follow-up to Invitation to the Waltz. They both look interesting and I have added them to my (ever growing) list. I also like the sound of The Tortoise and the Hare – having read the reviews and blurb on Amazon, it reminds me a bit of Ian McEwan’s The Children Act, which I found to be a really compelling read.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Liz! I read Invitation to the Waltz a few years ago and really enjoyed it as I have other books by Lehmann. I haven’t read anything by Ian McEwan though my mother has often told me how much she enjoys his writing. I will definitely get one of his books asap!

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  2. What admirable progress you are making with your reading. 🙂 Mine goes slowly. I have just started Molly Hughes, A Child of the 1870s; loving it.

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      1. Yes. Maybe I will get to read them all one day.

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  3. I think you will love Invitation To The Waltz and The Weather In The Streets, Liz. The first especially is a wonderful book, so evocative of that time when one is neither unselfconscious nor remotely self-assured, even though all the trappings of that time have changed so much since Lehman wrote. I was wondering how you were getting on with The Post Birthday World! Are you finding it less compelling than So Much For That? Have you come across the wonderful https://foxedquarterly.com/ ? It is almost always a huge joy to read, the subscription is a perpetual present from my mother, and Mike reads it after me each quarter and also lives it. The only problem is that it will lengthen your reading list to infinity. My ambition is to write an essay for it one time, probably about Richard Feynman’s writing .

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    1. Wow, a second endorsement for the Lehman books – they are fast traveling further up my reading list! The PBW is ok, but not as dramatic as SMFT, but it has an interesting premise – a bit like the film Sliding Doors – so I am sticking with it. And yes, I know about Slightly Foxed – I do have one edition from ages ago. I was swithering about getting a subscription, and will consider it even more seriously now!! 🙂

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  4. I enjoyed your update! Well done, Liz. One of the best ways to celebrate reading is to share and encourage others in their “reading” journey. You continue to inspire me to keep that book open.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Becky – your comments, as ever, mean such a lot to me 😀❤️

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  5. Ooo Guernica is most definitely on the list, it sounds epic! Glad you took time to read some lighter books as well and Chess which is on of my favourite short stories, although now I think about it, it has some tough competition on that score.

    At the moment I am reading a book about humour and democracy, it’ll sound a lot better when I get past page five and start making notes for an actual post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s good to have a mix of reading styles, isn’t it. Your book about humour & democracy sounds intriguing – I look forward to the review of that one 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hopefully it should be up late next week but the best laid plans for reading and writing tend to go awry when attempted.

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      2. Indeed! Best to go with the flow and see what happens. I had high hopes of posting on LeapingLife every day when I started, but life keeps leaping and getting in the way. Mind you, this is probably just as well, otherwise I would not have anything to write about!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ah yes the feeling of making a promise and then resorting to Googling ‘blog ideas’ for help. If you run out of stuff model all your socks, it may not be popular but it’d be a bit like John Snow and his ties on Channel 4.

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      4. I guess the extent to which such a post might be successful depends on the nature of one’s socks – if you are like Peter Jones with a fabled & iconic sock range, then it might go down really well….

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      5. That is a good point. It’s complex this working out of a blog series.

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      6. That’s why we love it so much – it would be boring if it was simple.

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      7. True, although napping is simple and who doesn’t enjoy that!

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Haha – so true! 🙂

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