A Year of Reading Frugally: The First Two Months

A wall of bookshelves, completely full of books, lit by hanging can shaped lights.

I have to say that, so far, this challenge has been both enjoyable and very easy to stick to. I’ve not yet found myself feeling as if I don’t have anything I want to read and having the list to work through has added a purpose to my reading that I’m finding very helpful at the moment. I’m also enjoying planning which ones I might read next and considering themes within the list.

Plus my book buying habit seems to have been very much tied to a fear of somehow missing out if I didn’t purchase the ones I thought would be interesting immediately. The act of writing them on a list for future perusal gave me the same dopamine hit as buying them without the panic afterwards about the spending of money I may need for other things. So at the moment I’m counting this challenge as an all round win!

I have certainly made reasonable inroads into the list in November and December, having finished the following:

  1. Autumn by Ali Smith
  2. Foxfire, Wolfskin and other stories of shape shifting women by Sharon Blackie
  3. The Science of Storytelling by Will Storr
  4. A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
  5. Brother Cadfael; The Complete Chronicles by Ellis Peters
  6. Burning the Books by Richard Ovenden
  7. Hollow Places by Christopher Hadley
  8. Hunger Pangs; True Love Bites by Joy Demorra
  9. Dearly by Margaret Atwood
  10. And Did Those Feet by Charlie Connelly

Ten books in total, which is a little slower than my normal reading pace but the Brother Cadfael collection contained all 21 of Ellis Peter’s Cadfael books and weighed in at over 4000 pages, which does make quite a difference (I counted each Cadfael book separately on my Goodreads and Storygraph logs).

I loved Autumn. Ali Smith is an incredible talent and this book, which was written just after the UK voted for Brexit, connected right the core of me. I felt both seen and comforted by the ideas and emotions explored and the sense it gave me that my feelings on the matter were not just replicated by my friends but by people I do not know too. I have the other three books in the quartet on the list and I’m going to read them during the season they match (I have just started Winter).

I absolutely adored Joy Demorra’s first book in her Hunger Pangs romance series, set in a fantasy world with a disable werewolf as one of the main protagonists. If Terry Pratchett had written romance novels they would have been like this. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book because I need to know what is going to happen between Nathan, Vlad and Ursula!

Burning the Books, which I listened to, is my other must read recommendation from these books. It is both a history of the suppression of knowledge and a call to arms to protect what we hold now, in this digital age when everything is available at the click of a button but ultimately not fully within our own control to retain. Richard Ovenden is the Bodley’s Librarian for Oxford University (and thus runs the Bodleian Library) and writes eloquently and urgently on a subject that is clearly close to his heart. I would go so far as to suggest that his book should be on the secondary school curriculum given the range of topics it covers within its pages, which include the Holocaust, the Yugoslavian conflict, the Windrush scandal, and the sacking of the Library of Congress amongst others.

As to what I would have bought, had I still been buying books … well that is a slightly longer list:

  1. The Little Book of Natural Blessings by Teresa Dellbridge
  2. The Mystical Year by Alison Davies
  3. The Hedgerow Apothecary by Christine Iverson
  4. If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie
  5. Summer Water by Sarah Moss
  6. Plant Magic by Gregory J Kenicer
  7. Paper Bullets by Jeffrey H Jackson
  8. Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers by Lillian Faderman
  9. Nature Obscura by Kelly Brenner
  10. Music to Eat By by Lev Parikian
  11. Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman
  12. World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
  13. If not, Winter by Sappho (trans. Anne Carson)
  14. The Light Ages by Seb Faulk
  15. The Ghost Garden by Emma Carroll
  16. Black Dog Rising by Kat Caulberg
  17. Misogynies by Joan Smith
  18. The Quickening by Rhiannon
  19. Feathertide by Beth Cartwright
  20. Beyond the Moon by Catherine Taylor
  21. As The Last Leaf Falls by Kristoffer Hughes
  22. Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie
  23. In Search of Myths and Monsters by Alan Landsburg
  24. Diary of a Somebody by Brian Bilston
  25. Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession
  26. Herepath by Kevin Manwaring
  27. Two Trees Make A Forest by Jessica J Lee
  28. Dancing with Bees by Brigit Strawbridge Howard

You will note that this list is longer than the books read list and thus clearly highlights how I got into the state of having 246 unread books in the first place! If any of you have read any of them, I’d love to hear what you thought so I can prioritise which ones I’m ordering from the library first once the challenge is over!

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The original post that explains the challenge in full can be found here and the books I’m allowed to read are all documented on The List


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