Coming in a day early with my round-up this month, to tie in with the photo challenge I’ve been doing on Instagram throughout October. I’ve been doing #RFABOct20 – a very bookish challenge that has been rather fun and has made me want to reread a fair chunk of my bookshelves. Of course, I took a ‘#TBR’ picture at the start of the month, with a lovely little selection of books to both read and reread, and… er, I have read two out of the five. One reread, and one new book. Oh well!
However, if we pretend that little reading wish-list didn’t happen, I’ve actually done reasonably well this month, reading-wise. I’ve had a fair chunk of time to myself – I went up to Edinburgh and locked myself in a hotel room to get some writing done (successfully), which entailed a total of just over six hours on trains over the course of a weekend. Plus, with the nights drawing in, curling up on the sofa at the end of the day with a good book has been particularly appealing. Of course, I’m not getting anything close to my lockdown numbers, but considering the UK could well be thrown into Lockdown: The Sequel any day now, things could be different in the next couple of months!
Anyway, let’s talk some stats.
I have read nine new books this month, and reread three. Like I said, I’ve had better months for reading, but I’ve also had worse! And, of course, this brings my total for the year so far up to 115 new books completed, which frankly amazes me every time I update it. I’m starting to wonder whether I should aim big in 2021 and set 100 books as my goal for the year, or whether that would be shooting for the moon in a year that may or may not be quite as locked down as this one. Something to ponder over the last couple of months of 2020.
So what have I actually been reading?
The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman
After a lot of disappointment with ‘celebrity’ authors, I was a bit wary when Bookstagram told me I should read The Thursday Murder Club. I’ve been burned by ‘celebrity’ authors before; I’m sure you only need to scroll back a couple of blog posts before you hit a rant or two. Anyway, I went into Richard Osman’s debut novel with a bit of trepidation.
Really shouldn’t have worried. The Thursday Murder Club, focussing on a retirement village fairly bursting at the seams with elderly sleuths. There are secrets, lies, loves, and some good old fashioned murder, of course.
It was the characters that really made this story for me. Equal parts relatable and mysterious, and all with their own very distinctive voices (the inclusion of Joyce’s diary was an excellent way of breaking up the chapters). The four main characters of the titular Murder Club are sparky and charming, and the stage has been set for an excellent series of books – I have so many questions about them all. This was an easy read, not too taxing on the brain, but certainly an all round delight.
Helter Skelter – Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
I’m not going to go into huge detail about this book because I did a potted review on my Instagram a couple of days ago. It’s a contemporary account of the Manson ‘Family’ murders of the 1960s, co-authored by the prosecuting attorney in the murder trial.
This book goes into heartbreaking, gory detail about the murder, and is filled with disturbing psychoanalysis of the murderers. It’s a grim read, but it’s fabulous – I was utterly fascinated, even by the courtroom scenes, which I’d expected to be a bit dry but ended up being some of my favourite parts of the book.
Just a fair warning if you do decide to read this: beware. Firstly, you will end up down a Wikipedia hole finding all kinds of gruesome things and you might end up on some kind of watchlist. And also, if you’re anything like me you mind find it a bit difficult to sleep after the aforementioned Wikipedia hole and a sudden sense of paranoia that the ghost of Charles Manson is going to be standing at the end of your bed when you open your eyes.
Honourable mention to…
Written In Bone – Sue Black
You might recall that Professor Dame Sue Black’s book, All That Remains, was one of my favourite books of last year. She is the country’s leading forensic anthropologist and ever since I read that first book, I want to be her.
I listened to this new book of hers on Audible, and it was marvellous. A head-to-toe analysis of the human skeleton, and all the secrets it can tell. Absolutely fascinating, and also rather relaxing to have Sue Black’s soft-spoken Scottish lilt telling you stories all about death and murder. Hey, these things soothe me.
Honestly, if I won the lottery tomorrow and could choose absolutely anything to do with my life, I’d probably go back to university to study forensic anthropology just for the fun of it.
And the rest…
Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows – Bali Kaur Jaswal
The Wonders – John Woolf
The Bone Woman – Clea Koff
Why Mummy’s Sloshed – Gill Sims
Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History – Tori Telfer
The Dark Side of the Mind – Kerry Daynes
And a short series of rereads…
The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers
A Closed And Common Orbit – Becky Chambers
Record Of A Spaceborn Few – Becky Chambers
(spot a little theme, there?)
So it’s been a very good October for books – not a dud among them! Honestly, I can’t say I’ve read a bad book this month. I’ve already good a pretty solid to-read list for November, as I’ve been a bit overenthusiastic on the book-buying front in the last few weeks (plus a couple of things I preordered ages ago have come out in the last couple of days!).
Will I actually manage to read much in November? That Twilight reread is certainly not materialising any time soon, for a start. You see, it’s that mystical time of year again… NaNoWriMo season. After throwing a bit of a tantrum last year and emotionally saying I had outgrown it, I think I’m going to give the annual writing challenge another go (note as of right now, October 30th, I am still only about 80% decided on this – I may well start my next blog post with ‘yeah, Nano was a bust again).
The thing is, I’m still so inspired for my current writing project, it seems like it would be a real waste to miss out on such a good opportunity to boost that wordcount. So we’ll see how it goes – whether I sacrifice my reading for the sake of my writing, or whether I sacrifice NaNoWriMo for the sake of burying myself in a duvet and a pile of books.
Only time will tell…