the year in books :: May

the year in books :: May

I’ve been so touched by the comments and messages that I’ve received lately, thanking me for starting this project, or saying how much you are enjoying it. This little community of bibliophiles is such an inspiration to me. Thank you so much for joining in- whether you’ve been with me from January, or whether you’ve just begun, I’m so glad that you’re taking part.

My teenage years were spent writing endless letters to friends. When my parents moved house, they discovered box after box of them, scrawled on lined paper, pages ripped from notebooks, any scrap that came to hand. There were boxes of blue air mail pages from when I spent a year in Thailand, pre-email (which makes me feel unbearably old). I communicated with family and friends almost entirely by aerogramme, writing as small as I could so as to fit in as many stories as possible. Nowadays, I’m sad to say, I write letters very rarely indeed, but the love of them has remained with me, and the sight of a hand-written envelope still makes my heart beat a little faster. My choice of book for April, Letters of Note was an absolute treat. It’s a collection of truly remarkable letters from around the world, written by  famous luminaries, historical figures and hitherto unknowns. Each page shows a transcript of the letter in question opposite a facsimile, or a photograph of the writer. There’s something inherently thrilling about reading other people’s letters! Sweetness, wisdom, humour, tragedy, curiosity… the whole gamut of human experience is contained within these crisp pages. For a flavour of the book, the Letters of Note blog is well worth a read, and its equally tantalising sequel, the Lists of Note book, is currently being crowd-funded. It has almost reached its target, but there’s still time to pledge.

For my April dose of fiction, I borrowed from a friend, a copy of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. A hefty tome with a striking cover, I’d been eyeing this book since it came out. It’s very much the novel du jour, particularly having just won the (well-deserved) Pulitzer prize.  I thought that it was wonderful, but also terrible: beautifully written yet often shatteringly bleak. A haunting meditation on fate and destiny. I loved it.

For May, I’m starting with A Little History of the World by Ernst Gombrich– I’m hoping to learn a good deal from this one! My June choices have been inspired by my reading of your April link up posts. Firstly,  Viloicious inspired me to choose Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book, a rather appropriate selection, which I have been meaning to read for years, and somehow never quite managing to. Secondly, for some non fiction,  Bryony‘s recommendation of Last Child in the Woods, which fits in so well with Project Wild Thing and therefore with my Wild Children series.

So, let’s get on with the May link up. Here’s a reminder of how it all works:

The aim is to read (at least) a book a month during 2014. At the start of the month, we blog the book that we are planning to read in the month ahead. If we feel inspired to, we could also write a little about the previous month’s book. Not a review, as such, just some thoughts: a recommendation (or otherwise!) for others who might be thinking of reading it. It’s not a traditional book club, so we don’t have to all read the same book. This is just about trying to ensure that we make space for reading in our busy lives, and hopefully a way to discover more lovely books (and lovely bibliophiles).

If you would prefer to share your book choices over on Instagram, that would also be great, please use the hashtag #theyearinbooks so that we can find your posts. The same hashtag is also active on Twitter. There is a Year in Books Pinterest board, so do let me know in the comments if you would like me to add you as a pinner. There’s also a Goodreads group for this project, and you are welcome to join, whether or not you have a blog of your own. If you would like to add a badge to your blog, you can grab the code over in the sidebar. (A few people have asked me how to do this. If you have a Blogger blog, you may find this tutorial helpful.)

I am compiling a reading list of book suggestions which people have left in the comments here, or via Instagram. Please feel free to continue to recommend books in this way and I will add them to the list.

It doesn’t matter whether or not you have linked up before- everyone is welcome and it’s never too late to get involved. I would be grateful if you could link back to here in your post. Do add your link below – click on the blue button at the bottom of the post.

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  • I’ve just this minute ordered Letters of Note after reading your review. I love a bit of snail mail but I do it far less than I used to. (Remember when the postman didn’t just bring bills and amazon parcels?!) Looking forward to hearing what you think of Last Child in the Woods!

  • I know exactly what you mean: the flutter in my heart when I see a hand-written envelope! I have a box of letters from various friends and often look at it, wishing for those days again…

    I, too, am adding Letters of Note to my reading wish-list!

    I had a tough time squeezing in my reading time and it took me two months to read Pride and Prejudice! Seriously! Such a short book at that… Oh well, shall not chastise myself and just carry one! Have a lovely day.

  • I too was a frequent letter writer in my teen years. I drag my old box full of letters around. I miss the good old days of handwritten letters so much. Going to try and pick up the Letters of Note. Thanks for this link up!

  • Apologies, somehow my link doesn’t take people to the right page on my blog. I am not yet computer literate in so many areas!

  • Really loving this project and have already got a list of so many book recommendations that it will keep me going for years. Thanks again for starting it!

  • Your selection for May sounds interesting and I look forward to reading your thoughts on it. Congratulations on the BiB nomination. Your photographs are lovely.

  • I really want to read that Donna Tartt book too but I know a couple of people who’ve read up to point and then had to put it down for a week or two to have break from it. Hmmm. Not sure I can face another heavy book just yet. ‘Half Of A Yellow Sun’ was a tough (but good) read so I think I will wait a few months before tackling another heavy book. x

  • I have a box with old letters I wrote and received. I documented my travels by writing letters to my family and have later put them in my memory box. It is nice to go back to old letters and spend an hour or two lost in the past.
    Thank you so much for hosting “The year of books 2014”. I have so many books on my want to read list/pile that I’ll be busy reading for years to come. xx