the year in books :: September


September, the month of fresh starts, clean pages, new notebooks. Having spent many years as a student, and several more as a teacher, the beginning of the academic year has always been a pivotal point for me. Nowadays it’s my children who have the pleasure of a well-sharpened pencil and the first page of an exercise book: my eldest son has returned to school for his third year, and my second son started today. After the wild adventuring of our summer, a quiet house, a cup of tea and an unchristened book proved pleasingly meditative.

During August, I devoured Burial Rites with pleasure. Haunting, evocative and glitteringly brilliant, it was exactly the kind of novel that I love. Its basis in historical fact intrigued me, and every page of the book was infused with the fascinating and formidable Icelandic landscape. Burial Rites is a novel brimming with stories- the plot as told by the author; Agne’s life as she narrates it and other’s differing versions of her story, woven together with traditional tales of the Icelandic sagas. It would be a perfect book to curl up with as the nights grow longer! I also read Instructions for a Heatwave, a page-turning pleasure and, as part of the Oh Comely Book club, I read Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which proved to be a remarkable and unsettling novel: startlingly dark, claustrophobic and unexpectedly compelling.

For September, with the academic year in mind, I’ve chosen two books which I hope will prove both instructional and inspirational. For writing, I have selected Anne Lamott’s  Bird by Bird (Some Instructions on Writing and Life) and for photography, The Photographer’s Playbook. Looking ahead to October,  I’m planning to read The Fairy Tales of Herman Hesse, which was given to me recently by a friend.

Let’s get on with the September link up. I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve been reading!

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. If I should have added you, and haven’t, do nudge me. Pinterest is a little problematic on the issue and it sometimes takes a couple of attempts. 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. 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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  • HI Laura,

    How are you? I’ve added a couple of links this morning – two separate posts about books I read during the past couple of weeks when I was sick. Particular stand outs include ‘An American in Oz’, Sara James’s memoir of moving from New York to the Australian bush; Ruth Reichl’s ‘Delicious’ and, most importantly, Anna McPartlin’s ‘The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes’ which was absolutely wonderful.

    I was so relieved to have such fabulous books as there was nothing to do but read while we were in quarantine!!

    I’m glad you enjoyed ‘Burial Rites’ – did you realise its author was Australian?!

    Keep up the great work!



  • Joining in here for the first time as I seem to be in a reading groove at the moment, long may it last! I love the sound of Burial Rites, I shall be looking that one up next time I visit the library.

  • Love the idea of an unchristened book! September is always the time for new notebooks and a back to school vibe round here too. I always think of Tom Hanks offering Meg a ‘bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils’ in You’ve Got Mail. Seriously cheesy, but just feels like September! I’ve been reading a hulk of Stephen King this summer (Under the Dome) but Burial Rites is top of the pile; looking forward to it! Hope your kids enjoyed their first week. 🙂

  • What a lovely idea – I shall try to join in via Instagram at least, and I’ve been looking for some blogging inspiration so I’ll have a go at writing a post on my September reads too. It feels a little late in the year to be joining in but September always has a fresh start kind of feeling about it…

  • Just squeezing in with a very late September entry. An unchristened book … I think they’re the best, and then I wander into my friend Mary’s used book store and realise how much of life the ‘christened’ books speak too.