Book review: Emma – Jane Austen

EMy latest book review is up over at the 1001 Books blog.  It’s a perennial favourite by Jane Austen – Emma.

I was finally brave and tackled an Austen.  I first read them as a teenager and loved them.  I think I’ve watched every BBC adaptation of her work since that time too.

I can also say that my vague memory of the 1996 film adaptation isn’t one of dread.  Ms Paltrow isn’t a massive favourite with me, but that was more than offset by getting to see Jeremy Northam as Mr Knightley.

Whether you are an Austen fan or not, feel free to pop over to the other blog and leave a comment either for or against.

The Classics

EIt’s been quiet around here and over at the Book Blog through the winter, which means that I suspect myself of being a hedgehog through the colder seasons. Without fail I seem to retreat in to a sort of creative hibernation.  Others probably just associate me with the prickles and a tendency to roll up in to a ball when confronted with a scary experience.

That aside it is now a case of the sun showing itself more often and for longer, and so it is time to dust off the winter sleepiness and to start building up to a summer of reading, writing and general creative expansion.  My first steps out of winter and in to spring will be bearing fruit over at 1001 Books in November when a review of Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is published.  I’ve long been a Christie fan, so you know the review will be a positive one.

The next step was to peruse the choices on the very long list and decide what I could ease myself back into reading and writing about.  I tossed up the option of going with a completely unknown to me author, Don DeLillo, but eventually I settled for revisiting old favourites.

I’m currently 100 pages in to a multiple time re-read of Emma by Jane Austen.  My eyesight may not thank me as I peer squinting at the tiny text of my Penguin Classics edition.  When I was a newly-minted university student I read the 428 pages of fine print over a two day period.  Unsurprisingly I found out that this was the way to give yourself a headache, and to find out that you are slightly long-sighted.  Nowadays in my dotage, I have glasses (ostensibly for long stints at a computer) and less blocks of time to devote to reading this quantity of text.  Young children are not keen on missing out on breakfast, lunch or dinner in the natural way of things after all.

So Roger Ackroyd and Emma are my stepping stones back in to regular reading and reviewing.  Let’s just sit back and see if they can do it.  If I make my way through the 300+ pages left to me, and afterwards produce something akin to an intelligible review then I think I will try out a new-to-me author before scurrying back to the Austen cannon for some well-loved shelter.

Indeed I am a hedgehog, and the Classics are my hedgerow!

What are you reading and do you have a hedgerow to return to?

Book review retrospective

I thought this was a lovely post over at the 1001 Books blog.  Thanks to my lovely co-editor for putting it together.   Reviewer Focus: Ms Oh Waily pulls together the 56 book reviews I have completed for the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die reviews blog.

It’s not the end of my reviewing by any means, but it is a nice snapshot of where I have been over the past few years in reading terms.  I hope you enjoy looking through them and feel free to drop back here to let me know what you thought.

The Reading Year Ahead

2015 As is my usual choice at the beginning of most years, I have set myself a reading target.  It’s a tradition.  This year I chose the total of 24 books, so roughly two per month.  In an uncharacteristic show of realism, I went with the more likely result than a number that would stretch me.

Over the last three years I’ve been keeping track of what I’ve been reading here at the blog.  Here’s a brief run down of that.  Note: the totals don’t add up because many of the books read hit more than one category.


Books read: 52
Off the Shelf books: 15
Booklitzer books: 13
1001 books: 20
Random books: 19


Books read: 35
Off the Shelf books: 5
Booklitzer books: 9
1001 books: 20
Random books: 10


Books read: 16
Off the Shelf books: 3
Booklitzer books: 1
1001 books: 9
Random books: 5

I think from those statistics it is quite clear that as of last year I had hit a massive slump in my reading.  I barely scraped together a book a month for most of the year.  Producing reviews for the t’other blog was just proving too much to keep up and still enjoy the act of reading for pleasure.  So, this year I scaled back my goals drastically with the intention of trying to get back that enjoyment.  Luckily for me we have had another pair of eyes kindly offer to produce reviews over at the blog, and we have decided to post a review a fortnight between the three of us.  This should allow plenty of leisure time to enjoy reading other books and still manage to keep up the 1001 reviews.  Fingers crossed.

Interestingly, this mental shift and the fact that we have reviews available out till April seems to have taken the weight off my reading shoulders.  In January I have finished 6 books; only one less than the total for the same month in 2012.  That bodes well for the rest of the year.
I don’t have any specific books that I want to read at this point, other than a couple that I want to follow up on that have eluded my eye over the past two busy years.  I want to find the follow-up books to Swallows and Amazons that I read back in January 2013.  It was such a lovely, light read that I am looking forward to being transported back to a 1930s childhood.
In that vein I also want to read the Narnia series to my daughter this year but at the moment she is immersed in the Harry Potter series audiobooks, read by the wonderful Stephen Fry, and I don’t want to distract her from full enjoyment of them by whipping her off to another world as soon as she’s done.
I also have at least one Terry Pratchett that has languished on my shelves for far too long, and at some point I want to read his Tiffany Aching series to my daughter also.   So many wonderful books to share and so little time to share them all in.

So, do you have any reading goals for this year?