Marching off

The end of March, and a quarter of the way through the year after the year. Many readers have reported a slump in their reading (like many authors have noted lethargy where their writing is concerned) and I do understand that: the current global situation makes us all anxious and that hits us in different ways.

I find though that I can only really keep up my positivity through books; if I didn’t have access to books I’m not sure how I’d cope mentally because I’m an inveterate reader — social media, newspapers, food wrappers — and even my fallback, playing the piano, involves me doing a fair amount of sightreading scores.

Apologies, then, to those who are finding your literary mojo dampened: I do sympathise — even as I seek out the next thing to read, for my tottering TBR piles seem at the moment to be inexhaustible.

It turns out that all of the books I’ve read so far are books I already had on my shelves before the end of 2020, bar one — Gill Lewis’s Swan Song — which was a review copy I’d acquired from our local bookshop. And I also bought a copy of Ursula Le Guin’s The Complete Orsinia, which I’ll review separately even though I’ve already read and reviewed Orsinian Tales and Malafrena as individual works. Even so, my tally of 21 TBR Books in 2021 is already close to being completed.

I also semi-committed to various memes this month which I think I’ve managed to pull off: the Wales Readathon (two books), Reading Ireland Month (another two titles), March Magics (one novel by Terry Pratchett and two by Diana Wynne Jones), plus three countries for an ongoing European Reading Challenge — Ireland, Spain and Italy (though I’ve yet to review the last). I even reviewed a Jacobean masque for Reading the Theatre.

What will April bring? I think I will have just one prompt for this coming month — read what takes my fancy! (Though I rather suspect there will be one or two classics in there from my Classics Club challenge.) In fact I have a couple of reviews in hand to air soon, starting tomorrow. And, inspired by the annual Tolkien Reading Day, which takes place each March 25th to mark the defeat of Sauron, I’ve belatedly embarked on my sixth read of The Lord of the Rings, which I’ve read every decade or so since the late 60s — though of late the schedule seems to have somehow got out of synch.

And you? Do you feel you are on track with your plans for the year? Or have you, as I know some readers have discovered to their chagrin, lost your joy in reading? If so I do so commiserate, and hope it will return without too much delay.

30 thoughts on “Marching off

  1. My month of Reading the Theatre was a big boost for me, it helped me to try some new things and go in some different directions. Thanks again for your contribution! One of those led me to the book 1606: The Year of Lear, through which I learned about Jacobean masques and many other things. I think reading what takes my fancy sounds great for April — I’ve abandoned thought of all my personal challenges and I am unapologetic. Let’s get through this year however we can.

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    1. Your book on masques sounds fascinating, Lory, and maybe something for me to order from the library. The only contemporary thing vaguely equivalent to masques must be those opening and closing ceremonies for occasions like the Olympics — I remember thinking that about the 2012 London Olympics which served both as spectacle and a political statement for an international audience.

      I’m glad you’re also thinking of spontaneous reading for April: I enjoyed March and getting through that variety of memes but now like you I shall be unapologetic!

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      1. The book was not all about masques but it explained things that put them in perspective with other artistic productions of the time. Those nuances are lost to us now, so I appreciate authors who can help us to reconstruct the cultural past. Anyway highly recommended!

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          1. It was quite a year. Remember,remember the fifth of November, 1605. Reading about divided nations, conspiracy plots and failed insurrections, I feel actually not much has changed at all.

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  2. I’m just glad to have managed everything I planned for Reading Ireland Month. Planning to read what takes my fancy for the next couple of months before diving in to 20 Books of Summer! Summer!! How is that just round the corner??

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    1. Kudos to you, Cathy, for achieving all that you have for Reading Ireland Month, it must have been brilliant but utterly exhausting! At least 20 Books of Summer is more free and easy, and I’m looking forward to continuing reading whatever takes my fancy in the sure knowledge that completing the ‘challenge’ will be as easy as breathing! As you say, not long now… 😁

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  3. Glad to see you’re finding comfort (and sanity) in reading; am looking forward to catching up with your Pratchett and Wynne Jones reviews.

    My year so far has been better than the last one reading wise; last year’s lockdown saw me returning to old favourites, this year I’ve been picking up new books and enjoying them. The last couple of weeks have been slower because of work deadlines. The only challenge so far is a less-known Agatha Christie books one on Goodreads which is one title a month, April will be The Man in the Brown Suit.

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    1. Looks like my reading has been the reverse of yours, with me acquiring some fair few books last year (partly because we helped the local indie bookshop wrap up books ordered online during the first lockdown and so had access to new titles as well as those sent for review) but this year having a near moratorium on purchases during our second lockdown. Oddly enough I’m less inclined towards mystery titles because there’s enough detecting going on of our own corrupt government’s criminality, a bunchwho seem to feel they’re untouchable. I really hope their day of reckoning will be soon.

      On a lighter note (!) I enjoyed the Pratchett and Jones reading I did this month, and fancy I may be reading more of them over the coming months so expect more reviews! 🙂

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      1. Partly yes; our lockdown last year only allowed us to shop for essentials which didn’t include books. But in my case, I did have a few new books on my TBR but found myself turning towards old favourites. Even though I didn’t make much progress on my TBR I have done a fair bit of shopping this year.

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  4. I’ve had a good reading year so far, although the last three weeks slowed down with the return to school. But I’m on hols now for 3 weeks. I need to pick up my pace a little too as I have my Iain Banks ‘Banksread’ coming from April 10th and a stack of review copies to get through. All good fun though.

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    1. Oh-oh, Iain Banks… I have a title by him somewhere which I’ve not got into, but do I dare pick it up for your Banksread prompt when I said I wouldn’t commit in April?! Possibly… Enjoy your three-week break, I know how precious that hiatus can be in the school year.

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  5. I’m quite enjoying reading one major C20th book a month with other random reads around that. Most of my books are from my shelves or from second hand shops.

    Sometimes I ferl a bit guilty that I can’t join in discussions about all the current TV series, but I’m not really interested. Give me a good book every time.

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    1. Your reading régime sounds quite laid-back, Gert, and I approve! As for TV shows, since mine (like yours) is a book-centred blog I tend not to allude much to current popular culture unless I have to… 😁

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  6. Last year I did run into concentration problems and I jumped from book to book, but later in the year it was ‘The Mirror & the Light’, oddly enough, that got me immersed again. My goals for this year were modest – don’t lose the reading concentration and experiment with taking part in a few reading challenges. I’ve read one book for the Japanese Reading Challenge, one for Dewithon, and eight(?) for the European Reading Challenge; now I’ll just go wherever my fancy takes me as I usually do.

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    1. Going where your fancy takes you sounds good to me, Julé! 2020 for the US was quite challenging and anxious-making so I’m not surprised concentration was difficult.

      Challenges — or as I’d rather think of them, prompts — are great for pushing one into reading something outside the dreaded comfort zone or else a handy focus for doing what one’s own inclinations are! March just turned out to be inordinately busy as far as attractive memes were concerned, but I’m glad I did them!

      Now I feel a little remiss about not getting some Japanese titles under my belt — I suspect claiming a couple of reads of Ishiguro won’t wash for, even though he was born there, he now has British citizenship.

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      1. Yes indeed, 2020 was the worst of a nightmare four years. I feared for this country’s survival as a democracy, flawed though it is.

        I love exploring books from all over and all types, but not reading to a schedule, so reading challenges are, well, challenging.

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        1. I’m glad your country is having a respite from four years of insanity where governance is concerned, though clearly not out of the woods yet.

          Here in the UK our government seems to be lurching towards fascism, its perpetrators seemingly untouchable, unaccountable and completely unpenitent. We have been betrayed by politicians, by the media, and by a significant number of voters who have held out their hands (and thus everyone’s) for the manacles. It’s dispiriting, so small wonder many of us turn to books for a bit of sanity and wisdom.

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  7. Goodness me, you seem very organised to tick off all these various reading challenges – I’m just doing my best to move things from the “unread” to the “read” side of the shelves (and to do this faster than I acquire new titles).

    You’ve also reminded me that my piano playing has been rather neglected and I really ought to make the most of living somewhere with a piano! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. It was a rare burst of organisation, Isobel, only happens once in a blue moon! And as one of the few positive aspects of lockdown I’m not acquiring new titles, giving me time to catch up on all my unread books.

      I do really hope you enjoy that piano playing, I’m rather start-stop with mine as there’s no chance of performing at the moment.

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  8. Well done!

    I’m not sure what’s happening, but I have read more than ever since I have been seriously looking at numbers. I have already read 42 books this year! The only explanation I have is that now, I rarely accept books proposed to me by authors (at least 10/week), I mostly focus on books that have been on my TBR, or books for special projects that I enjoy a lot, like Japanese Literature Challenge, for instance.

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    1. I think all us readers, hugely varied in our reading habits anyway, have found particular and different ways to cope with these challenging times, whether in quantities read, new genres tried (or not), and challenges accepted or rejected; but it’s a rare individual who hasn’t changed their reading habits and has carried on as though nothing had changed in the world. But 42 books in three months is impressive, I think I’ve only just managed 24, about two a week!

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