My reading life – December 2023


Happy Twixmas! We’re in that limbo time between Christmas and New Year where not a great deal happens and somehow you feel a little bit like time is suspended pending the big kick off again on 1 January. This quiet time is perfect for you and me and our fellow book lovers. Christmas will no doubt have brought a new flurry of reading material, and if we aren’t already tucking into the new stuff, there will inevitably be some of the older books trying to be finished before the end of the year (Good Reads annual book challenge, anyone?!).  I’m currently in this latter phase, which feels a bit like a bookshelf decluttering, ready for a new season of books to settle into.

This month I finally finished a book that I’d borrowed from Libby the e-library. Lost Property by Helen Paris was a charming tale of a woman working in the Transport for London lost property office. Among the numerous umbrellas, single gloves, and more obscure items was one rather lost woman, herself needing to be found. I enjoyed it but it lacked a bit of pace. Almost running out of steam, I persevered and was rewarded with a good second half.

I then did a bit of Netgalley shelf decluttering by reading the last two books that I had been given access to in exchange for an honest review. The first of these was a detective novel, the second in the series by Kate Webb and you can see my review here. If you are a crime fiction fan this series might be worth investigating.

The last book on my Netgalley shelf was Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa. I was given access to the audiobook by Netgalley but I wasn’t in a place to listen. Handily, the book became available from the Libby e-library so I read it instead. It is only a short book and its writing is spare but emotive. I zipped through it in a busy weekend and took every possible moment to dip in and read it. The story is about Takako who suffers a nasty break up which leaves her at rock bottom. Her uncle, the owner of the Morisaki Bookshop, helps Takako get back on her feet by letting her stay in the rooms above the shop in exchange for helping in the store. Takako goes along with the arrangement, but she has no interest in the dusty books and spends most of her free time sleeping to escape her own reality. But the lure of the stories and adventures between the covers eventually draw her in and bring her out of her funk. This isn’t a new book but it has recently been translated and relaunched.   

Another bit of clutter clearing was finally finishing off a self-help book that I’d started a very long time ago (hmmm, I feel like there is some sort of deeper meaning here that I didn’t get the chance to finish it sooner…). The book was Dr Rangan Chatterji’s The Four Pillar Plan, which was an interesting look at how to focus on four key elements of keeping a healthy body and mind: relax, eat, move, sleep. I would say this could be a good one to read in January as the inevitable resolutions to do and be better kick in. The book was packed with short and simple changes to implement that could have big impacts. My favourite was one of the relax tip: me-time everyday, which of course I devote to reading!

For the last week and a half or so, I have been more fervent in ploughing my way through A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. At the start of last year, I decided that I would finally read the might tome. At over 1200 pages, I figured by reading just 100 pages a month I could tackle it in the year. But after a solid start, I fizzled out after just 200+ pages read. This is a very detailed saga about four interlinked Indian families in the early 1950s. The still bubbling political turmoil post-Partition weaves through the daily lives of shoemakers, lawyers, traders and politicians and their children. The main thread of the book is the quest to find Lata Mehra a suitable boy to marry. She has her own ideas but social hierarchy, religion and a meddling mother make it a confusing journey for Lata. I have three more days to be one year late with reading this. With just over 200 pages left to go it remains to be seen whether a suitable boy can be found.

It hasn’t been all clutter clearing this month. After meeting up with a friend for a catch up and book exchange last month, I was able to dive into one of this year’s most talked about novels, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. This one was on my list of 2024 reads but I couldn’t wait once I was in possession of my loan copy. A story of two friends, Sam and Sadie, who find each other through playing computer games and, years later, who come together again and create their own hit game. The story is accessible to gamers and non-gamers alike. I’d put myself in the latter category but after reading this I had a strong desire to play the game that Sam and Sadie create.

What will be my first book of 2024? I have a couple on my shelf which are jumping out to be read but another friend recommended to me Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, so I think think this will get the honour. Conveniently I also have an electronic copy on loan from Libby, so I will be able to read this is paper during the day and on my Kindle in the darkness.

Here’s to a happy new book year and may 2024 bring you a box of reading delights!

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