Top Ten Tuesday: Books/Authors I’ve Decided I’m No Longer Interested In Reading

The Artsy Reader Girl hosts this meme, and I join in if I think I have something to share.

I recently deleted a whole lot of books from my Kindle because I suspect I’ll never read them. In any case, some of these are there on Project Gutenberg and some on my shelves if I change my mind.

I’ll list the authors’names if there are several books by them that have been removed from my TBR list:

  1. Charlotte Yonge
  2. Edmund Crispin
  3. The Vampyre by John William Polidori
  4. Jose Saramago
  5. Daniel Deronda by George Eliot
  6. Louisa May Alcott (I’d planned to read beyond the March family novels, and I did try, but I’m giving up. Just can’t seem to get on with her non-Little Women books. )
  7. Shirley by Charlotte Bronte
  8. Elizabeth Gaskell
  9. Keigo Higashino (I’ve made two attempts, the second time after I read Seicho Matsumoto, but I fear KH is not for me.)
  10. Kurt Vonnegut

You never know with books though. I might read them all eventually.





WWW Wednesday

It’s Wednesday! (Is it just me but has time started flying by again?)

What are you currently reading?

1. Separate Lies by Nigel Balchin

I wish I could find more books by Balchin. I own one other and wrote a post about it earlier today. This one is different and the same. Will try to write a review when I’m done.

2. Late in the Day: Poems 2010 – 2014 by Ursula K. Le Guin

This is my first close reading of her poems. They must be savoured, read slowly, heard. They may be more than poems, may be spells.

3. Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew by Ursula K. Le Guin

How do you teach creative writing? How to explain how to write? I find it impossible, but Le Guin may offer some insight. Meant for committed writers, this guide should also be helpful to those who teach writing (heaven help us).

4. Witness to My Life: The Letters of Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvoir 1926 – 1939

Sartre is lovely when he’s not theorising and being a pompous intellectual. This has been on my TBR list for years.

5. Letters to Sartre by Simone de Beauvoir

I was waiting to have this before starting No. 4.

What did you recently finish reading?

Provenance by Ann Leckie

Here’s the review I wrote.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m aiming for Our Spoons Came from Woolworths by Barbara Comyms, Corpse de Ballet: A Nine Muses Mystery: Terpsichore by Ellen Pall and A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, but who knows.

Books from My Shelves: Darkness Falls From the Air by Nigel Balchin

I’m going to start doing a series featuring books from my shelves because it’s something I love to read about in other blogs: accounts of personal book collections; favourite childhood reads; books that belonged to parents and grandparents; treasured flea market finds, that sort of thing.


I’m kicking off the series with Darkness Falls From the Air by Nigel Balchin, a rather obscure English author from the 40s and 50s. Darkness Falls is set during the second World War and written while it was happening. It was published in 1942 and the copy from my shelves is  the ‘Services Edition’, published in 1945.

I found this book in the family bookcase when I was in my early teens and read it without understanding it. However, I loved the writing style, especially the dialogue, which is not how people speak in Malaysia, but was strangely familiar and pleasing anyway.

The novel is about Bill Sarratt, an English civil servant who is living in London during the worst of the Blitz and how he deals with the bureaucratic nonsense at his office, and also the affair his wife, Marcia, is having with a melodramatic poet.

nb3 copyrightI found it a fascinating and horrifying read at fourteen. Bill’s wit and sarcasm was very funny and alien, and his lifestyle exciting and glamorous despite his wry and disparaging descriptions of how the war had disrupted London nightlife and made everything dreary and difficult. Then there was the situation with his wife, which I did not comprehend at first and when I did, did not believe. I still find it a little hard to imagine a husband being so cool about his wife’s infidelity, but it is very much who Bill Sarratt is. Also, I happen to be currently reading Balchin’s Separate Lies (originally published as A Way Through the Wood) and the protagonist is another man who is strangely cool and calm when he discovers that his wife has been unfaithful. Perhaps this was something Balchin experienced in his personal life and was trying to work through in his fiction. In anycase, I find that, at fifty, it’s still something I am interested in thinking about. Certainly, in both books, the two men’s reactions are very much in character and not at all implausible. It’s my own feelings that are at odds with how they behave, but that makes the stories more interesting.

nb5 backMy copy of Darkness Falls belonged to my late mother and was ‘produced for the Services Central Book Depot Artillery House, Handel Street, London, W.C. 1 for circulation to the Fighting Forces of the Allied Nations’.

I don’t know when my mother acquired the book. She would have been twelve in 1945 and the story is quite a grim one, although told in a light, offhand tone. However, I wasn’t much older when I first read it and, anyway, don’t all twelve-year-olds read books too mature for them? Her signature on the epigraph page is a bit wobbly so she probably wasn’t much past twelve.

On the last page of the novel, she writes ‘The End’ a couple of times as if practising her penmanship. It’s precious and one reason why I will never part with this book.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Started in 2017 and Intend to Complete in 2018

It’s been ages since I did The Broke and the Bookish’s  Top Ten Tuesday meme, so I didn’t know that, from 16th Jan, it’s going to be hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. Just in time then, to say good bye to The Broke and the Bookish: Farewell! Wishing you all sorts of adventures!

This week’s Ten Five is ‘Books We Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn’t Get To’. My version is books I started, but didn’t get round to finishing, for one reason or another.

1. A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar.

Did I start this last year or in 2016? In any case, I hope to pick it up again this year! A wonderfully strange story that I need to get to the bottom of.

2. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

What a sobering read. I finished the opening essay and realised what a privileged life I lead, and also how ignorant I am. I’m looking forward to continuing my education.

3. A Few Green Leaves by Barbara Pym

I adore Barbara Pym’s novels and this is the only one I haven’t read. It’s also the only one I didn’t like. I had to force myself through the chapters and abandoned it halfway through. I would like to give it another chance.

4. Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo

I was supposed to move to Lagos in 2017, but it didn’t happen and, at the end of the year, I decided to end my relationship with someone whom I still think of as the love of my life. I bought this book in anticipation of a new beginning that wasn’t meant to be, and things got so stressful that I stopped reading after a few chapters. I did like what I read though so I am definitely going to revisit this one.

5. Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor

I’ve enjoyed everything by this author so far, but I remember thinking that this book  contained early ideas that are developed fully in later short stories and in the novel Who Fears Death. I wasn’t gripped, but it might have been a mood thing and I do want to try again.


WWW Wednesday

What I read recently

Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

This is the first of The Dark is Rising Sequence, five books that tell the story of a group of children who join the age-old fight against the Dark. It’s a classic good versus evil fantasy, with Arthurian legend woven through it.

One of the authors whom I edit, and who has become a friend, surprised me yesterday by telling me that he had ordered the Folio Society edition of this book for me. It’s has beautiful illustrations by Laura Carlin and, like everything published by the Folio Society, looks absolutely stunning, from what I can see on the website.

What I’m Reading Now

Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng and Dead Man’s Bones (Inspector McLean series) by James Oswald

Christian missionaries in fairyland and bloody ritual murders strike a nice balance.

What I Want to Read Next

I’ll know when I know. My reading list is here.