the year in books :: January {heat lightning}

persephone book and knitting

Along with my intention this year to write, I have a parallel aim to read.

Back when I was an English student, I had the luxury of being able to spend whole days reading. I could easily devour a novel in a single sitting, curled up on a sofa in the afternoon whilst drinking endless cups of tea. Needless to say, now that I have three young children, I never drink a whole cup of hot tea and I very rarely get the chance to curl up on the sofa, let alone with a book. Other than cookery books and those featuring photography or craft, I have read woefully few books since the baby arrived, and I should very much like to change that.

My aim, for this year, is to read (at least!) a book a month. My plan, for the sake of accountability, is to record them here. I am beginning with a Persephone book:  Heat Lightning by Helen Hull. I was given it as a gift last summer, and have yet to settle down to reading it.  A Persephone novel is perfect for January, with its soothing, elegant dove-grey dust jacket. Those that I have read in the past have been characterised by a quiet brilliance, and this looks to be no exception.

I should perhaps say that no, I’m not one of those remarkable people who can knit and read simultaneously, how I wish I was. Still, what a perfect match with my knitting.

A year in books begins here. I have already ordered the appropriately named Girl Reading for next month, but I shall need another ten choices, and I am open to suggestions. Can you recommend a good book?

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  • Oh I love the Persephone books, they’re so beautiful – and your description of them as ‘quietly brilliant’ is perfect. You’ve reminded me that I’ve got Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day to read (another Persephone). I’m currently reading The Goldfinch and love it, so far! I may have to jump aboard your blog bandwagon (if you don’t mind!)
    and write about the books I read this year – I’m trying to force myself to read before I go to sleep, no matter how tired I am, even if it’s just a page! X

    • Oh, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is my favourite Persephone! Nothing quiet about that book- it’s positively effervescent. The Goldfinch is on my list of possible books to read so will be interested to hear how you get on. Yes, please do join in, I’ve added a note on the post to see in anyone else is uo for it, in which case I may even set up a linky. x

  • Oh yes I would love to join in – I really do want to read more and since my book group folded I have lost the discipline to read. Terrible in an English teacher! I am currently reading the new Jonathan Coe book – Expo 58 – that I was given for Christmas. Better get cracking!

  • Such a superb idea! I don’t get to read nearly as much as I’d like and dreadfully have even out fallen out of the habit

    I bought myself Harvest by Jim Crace for a Christmas read – still untouched though so would love to join in.

    My recommended read would be James Holland’s The Burning Blue, a moving account of a young man who becomes a spitfire pilot and the effect the war has on his closest relationships. Beautifully written.

    Looking forward to joining in.
    Thanks Steph xx

  • What a fab idea! Having also studied English, far more years than I like to admit, I too miss reading a book in an afternoon. Studying again now means my time is limited but I think a book a month is doable. So i would love to join you for a year in books. I’m starting with Jennifer Saunders autobiography. As for book suggestions I highly recommend anything by Cecilia Ahern.

    Happy reading,

  • I love Persephone books, Mariana is my favourite. If you’ve not read it before, I recommend.
    I’m definitely trying to read more this year. I’ve got into a terrible habit of switching my computer off just before I go to sleep and I really want to try and fit in half an hours reading time before bed.

    • Oooh, thanks for the recommendation! Always happy to read a new Persephone. I am the same with my computer. Terrible habit, needs to be broken!

  • I’m just thinking about squeezing in an hour with my book before I have to collect the boys (I have been very good and done 3 loads of laundry, been to the supermarket and attempted to rein in the domestic chaos – I think I’ve earned it). I saw that Big Brother by Lionel Shriver is out in paperback – I borrowed it from the library in hardback last year and it was possibly my read of the year – have a look and see if it’s your kind of thing (I know she’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love her writing).

    • Thanks, Ali. I haven’t read any Lionel Shriver, I will have to look Big Brother out. A quiet hour with a book is definitely well deserved at the end of a busy day … with a cuppa, I hope!

  • Oh yes please … I’d love to join in and one book per month seems really doable … my reading has fallen by the wayside as a result the chaotic buzz of caring for three little ones and my home but I think it’s time to reclaim my quiet time … Bee xx

  • Hello lovely. I was fortunate enough to get nine novels for Xmas, and I’m already on the third (I have been mainly ignoring the children). I can heartily recommend The Upright Piano Player by David Abbott. David was a high flyer in the world of advertising, founding a major UK ad agency (think Roger Sterling from Mad Men, a real stylish silver fox). He wrote this, his first novel, following his retirement and it is just stunning. I presume from a career where every word counts so much, his prose is simplistic, yet beautifully elegant. The story is intriguing and it mentions places like Holkham, Wells & Salthouse, which you surely must have visited back in the olden days….
    Love to you all
    S xxx

  • Such a good idea. I was an English lit student too and spent years working in bookselling; I used to read voraciously and adventurously, a book a week was my usual rate. But since the kids….well, you know how it is. I’m always tired and have no attention span these days. I make room for crime fiction – always a favourite of mine – but could not recommend anything “grown up” or challenging. Persephone’s books are wonderful and I love their attention to detail with end papers and matching bookmarks. Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day is fab, as is Cheerful Weather For The Wedding, by Julia Strachey.

    Good luck with the reading! x

  • I’ve never heard of Persephone books (feel mortified to admit that reading all of the positive comments here!) but that grey cover alone is enough to make me want one. On the subject of prettiness again, I am adoring the colour coordination of blanket and book x

  • I love Goodreads, and seeing what my friends are reading and recommending! I had to get a book stand for elderly people to be able to read and knit at the same time, although my kindle makes it easier still! Great plan on your year of the book, I may well be keen to join in, my goal is 90 this year!

  • What a beautiful looking book, I too have never heard of Persephone books but I love the concept having had a peak at their website. I am about to read a book by Anna Gavalda an author I love and have recently finished The Taliban Cricket Club by Timeri N Murari which was a fascinating read.

  • Hello Laura. I’ve just discovered your blog via L is for Love, and I think the year in books is a wonderful idea. My vague New Year Resolution is to live a little more in the real world and not cyberspace. Having an actual book in my hand and a reading ‘project’ seems the perfect way to engage with both the real and imaginary world.
    I’m a great believer in Serendipity, and being led to your blog has happened at exactly the right time!
    Thank you,

  • For the past year I’ve been drawn to bringing many books home that end up in piles by my bed and on the stairs, but I’ve not been getting through them like I used to. I just can’t remember the last book I completely finished which seems terrible to me as I’ve always got lost in books. There are so many other temptations these days for relaxing with I guess. Anyways I saw your links through Penny’s blog L is for Love and coffee kisses on IG (where I seem to be spending reading time) and I thought this is a great idea and one that could get me kicked up the bum to get on reading again. Like a lot of the other lapsed readers I did an Literature degree and became an English teacher. We seem the most lapsed. Please count me in to your lovely idea.

  • Just found your blog via Claire at A Quiet Corner. Love the idea of A Year in Books as one of my (very few) New Year resolutions was to start reading again. I used to read non-stop and then all the on-line distractions came along and I’m lucky to read two or three books a read. Sign me up too. Thanks Mairéad

  • Just read Dotty Cookie’s blog post linking to yours (would love to join a book club if I had a blog) and would like to say that the book I’ve read and loved most recently is Bitter Greens, by Kate Forsyth – a kind-of-retelling of Rapunzel. And Miss Pettigrew is one of my 2 favourite Persephone’s – the other being Miss Buncle’s Book, which I also heartily recommend.

  • Last year’s resolution was to read at least 2 books a month. Failed (unles you count new cookery books!) This year I am setting myself up for success with ‘at least one book a month! Loved ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’