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January 2016 Reading Round-Up

This has been a bit of a month! It started well enough, continued well enough, and then, as you know, the bots came in and messed about with my bandwidth. Being without a website, or at least being unable to use your website for fear you’ll expend the last bytes available, is a weird thing. You get so used to blogging that if it goes you’re at a loss for what to do with the time you spend on it… at least for a bit – I ended up making the most of the time, reading Philip Pullman and more Philip Pullman.

The Books

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Cheryl Strayed: Wild – Strayed recounts her journey on the Pacific Crest Trail in the 90s, a time when her mother had died, affairs had overtaken her marriage, and she was in need of putting herself back together. Dubious, fact-wise, but a good quick read.


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Paula Hawkins: The Girl On The Train – Rachel mixes herself up in the disappearance of a woman she sees from the train window, a woman whose life seemed perfect. Very, very good.

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Philip Pullman: Northern Lights – In a parallel world, Lyra goes on a mission to find her friend, a boy taken by child-catchers for reasons unknown, and finds herself embroiled in a theological operation. Impossible to do justice in one sentence, this young-teen fantasy is incredible.

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Philip Pullman: The Subtle Knife – Will, from our own Oxford, runs away from men who are trying to get hold of his missing father’s possessions and finds himself helping Lyra. Very different to the first book but just as excellent.

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Philip Pullman: The Amber Spyglass – It all comes to a head and the children must make life-changing choices. A very good book and quite moving, really, but I didn’t feel it dealt with the sorts of things the other books promised it would and it left many questions unanswered.

I had a basic idea to read long-awaited reads, following on from the couple of years of the planned Long-Awaited Reads events, and ended up reading 4 books towards it. (I’m including the as-yet-unfinished I Am China in that.) The books I finished were Strayed’s, the Hawkins, and the third Pullman. As I said last week, I’d never read it – the current score stands at 3 reads, 2 reads, 1 read for each book respectively. It’s taken about 17 years but the series is done; my books are all yellowed and the plastic layer of one of the covers is peeling off – they’ve served me well. I’m thinking perhaps I ought to re-read The Sally Lockhart Quartet to read the fourth book. There is something about Pullman’s books that makes them so real, especially the His Dark Materials, and I revelled in the feeling of not wanting to put them down. Can I say books I’ve already read were my favourite this month? I think so.

Quotation Report

I found it hard to write up this quote in my usual style, so here’s the extract from the book, The Subtle Knife, concerning Lyra’s first impressions of Will:

She tiptoed to the window. In the glow from the street lamp she carefully set the hands of the alethiometer, and relaxed her mind into the shape of a question. The needle began to sweep around the dial in a series of pauses and swings almost too fast to watch.

She had asked: What is he? A friend or an enemy?

The alethiometer answered: He is a murderer.

When she saw the answer, she relaxed at once. He could find food, and show her how to reach Oxford, and those were powers that were useful, but he might still have been untrustworthy or cowardly. A murderer was a worthy companion.

Hopefully the changes I’ve made will have fixed the website enough that there won’t be problems this month. Either way I’m going into February with two unfinished books and a long-term unfinished classic so at least there’s plenty to read.

Have you a new favourite yet this year?


Tracy Terry

February 1, 2016, 5:55 pm

Along with the Philip Pullman books on our shelves I was recently given a copy of Wild. Not too sure if its my kind of thing or not I have a feeling it may well sit on my TBR pile for a while yet.


February 1, 2016, 9:35 pm

Pleased to see you back! I am pleased you enjoyed His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman – I was hoping to re-read the trilogy myself this year. You’ve definitely encouraged me too even more. I haven’t read Wild by Cheryl Strayed although I really enjoyed the film adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon.

I’m not sure I’ve read a new favourite in January, but I did love Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley.

Jenny @ Reading the End

February 3, 2016, 2:07 am

No new favorites yet this year (although a lot of good nonfiction so far), but I did read the first in a YA trilogy that I quite liked, and I’m looking forward to reading the next two books. I do gripe about YA novels always coming in threes, but sometimes it’s nice to have something like that to gobble up all in a row.

Freda @ Freda’s Voice

February 5, 2016, 9:25 pm

I loved the movie, Wild. Haven’t read the book though, but generally the book is better.
Happy February!


February 7, 2016, 9:03 pm

I think either All The Light We Cannot See or A Monster Called would tie as my favourite – but I’ve not read anything yet that has blown my mind.


February 26, 2016, 3:21 pm

Tracy: A fair decision; it’s definitely not for everyone but I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts if you do read it.

Jessica: I feel better able to say ‘thank you’ now that I’m properly back :) It’s one of those series that does lend itself well to re-reads. I’m onto considering the film adaptation of Wild, wondering if Reese Witherspoon might have made it better. Still plenty of time for a new favourite!

Jenny: Good to hear. That’s true on both counts. The trilogy has gone a bit far in that sense but it’s nice to know you can spend more time in the world.

Freda: It is, though I have to admit I’m wondering if this might be a case where the film’s better!

Alice: Both now on my list because of your reviews ;)



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