I’m still finding the challenge fulfilling and, delightfully, the fear I had of missing out on books if I don’t buy them immediately seems to have gone away for good. The List isn’t being ticked off as fast as I’d like (more on that later) but it continues to provide me with one excellent reading experience after another. The fact that there are so very few I’ve had to mark as DNF, even now I’m well over half way through the year, has resolved my one lingering concern with the challenge; that these books had been ignored because my subconscious knew I wouldn’t actually enjoy them. I’m so glad to have proved myself wrong on that count.
And yet another two months have passed where I didn’t read as many books from the list as I’d expected too. This was mainly down to the fact my attention span seemed to have become dramatically reduced, so when I could get my brain to concentrate I had to put it in front of non-list books, ones which I had agreed to review for various people. This lack of concentration has also resulted in me starting far more books and then not finishing them than is normal for me. I usually have around ten different books on the go at any one time but now that number is well over 20. I’ve always either read books incredibly fast or nibbled away at them over weeks/months (and no, before you ask, I can’t find any rhyme or reason as to why, there are no genres or authors that always fit into a certain speed) but whereas before it was a roughly 50:50 split, now nibbling seems to be all I can manage and variety seems to be the key.
Yet despite all that I did finish eight from The List:
- Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
- Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
- Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
- The Lost Kings; Lancaster York and Tudor by Amy License
- Winter by Ali Smith
- Rival Queens: The betrayal of Mary Queen of Scots by Kate Williams
- Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield
- The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow
What I did not nibble were Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone trilogy. They were inhaled in one glorious day at the very start of May. Part of the rush was that I wanted to finish them before I ran the risk of being spoiled by the release of the first season of the Netflix series based on them (which I loved and talk a bit about here) but mostly I just needed to know what was going to happen next. They really were just what the doctor ordered in terms of escapism and I really liked the resolution to the trilogy as a whole. No spoilers but it was comforting in the best way!
Ali Smith continues to astound me with her prose and perspicacity. Winter was a most uncomfortable read at times but in a most necessary way. Ali’s writing always challenges me and makes me question and probe my own certainties and this book was no different. I have started Spring, the next book in her quartet, but I’m going slowly, savouring the work and allowing the ideas and concepts she’s sharing to seep into me in their own time.
Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield is one of the books I’ve had on the go for a while. In fact, looking at the dates, I’ve been dipping in and out of for well over half a year and whilst I’m happy to have finished it – it’s beautifully written and heartbreaking in the best way – it has left a bit of a gap in my life. One that I intend to fill quite quickly with the only other of Diane’s books I haven’t read yet, The Thirteenth Tale!
And I can’t finish this post without singing the praises of Alix Harrow’s Ten Thousand Doors; lush prose, good representation, world building to die for and entire plot hinging on liminal spaces. It was entirely my jam and I know I’m going to find myself re-reading it in the not too distant future.