Jackie's 2023 ROOTs

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Jackie's 2023 ROOTs

Editado: Jan 15, 9:54 am

Welcome to my 2023 thread! My name is Jackie, I live in Scotland with my husband and daughter, and I work in health research in the NHS. This is my 10th consecutive year in the ROOTs group, and I love the book chat and the chance to read from my still-too-high Mt TBR.

I have tried the last few years to buy/acquire fewer books than I read, in an attempt to get Mt TBR down to a more manageable level. 2020 and 2021 were great years for that, and I managed to get the pile (paper and electronic) down to below 400 books, but in 2022 (especially December, whoops) I must admit to getting a bit carried away, and I am therefore starting the year with 411 books still to be read. So I’m going to try and rein it in a bit in 2023, and see if I can get back below 400 TBR books by the end of the year. We’ll see!

The last couple of years I’ve had a goal of 60 ROOTs, and again in 2020 and 2021 I easily exceeded that goal. In 2022 though I only just cleared it, and I wanted to take part in so many reading challenges that I think I overcommitted myself, and ended up with more half-read, started-but-not-finished books than I like. So I’m going to take it much easier this year, aim for a book a week and fewer challenges, so I’m going for a target of 52 books for 2023, including finishing the books that are still outstanding from 2022.

So, here are my various tickers, and my thread for the year – welcome!

Note to self so I don't have to look everywhere - code for inserting a picture (surrounded by less than and greater than signs): img src="URL" width=200 length=150

Ticker 1 – ROOTs read

Ticker 2 – Acquisitions

Ticker 3 – ROOTs remaining on Mt TBR

Editado: Jun 18, 10:51 am

ROOTs read - 1st thread

1. Sophie Pinkham - Black Square: Adventures in Post Soviet Ukraine. Finished 6.1.23. 4/5.
2. ed. Kateryna Kazimirova & Daryna Anastasieva - Voices of Freedom: Contemporary Writing from Ukraine. Finished 10.1.23. 4/5.
3. Helen Macdonald - H is for Hawk. Finished 26.1.23. 4.5/5.
4. Tom Cox - Notebook. Finished 3.2.23. 4.5/5.
5. George Seton - St Kilda. Finished 12.2.23. 3/5.
6. Nicola Chester - On Gallows Down: Place, Protest and Belonging. Finished 13.2.23. 5/5.
7. Mark Stay - The Ghost of Ivy Barn. Finished 12.3.23. 5/5.
8. Ruskin Bond - A Time for All Things. Finished 12.3.23. 4.5/5.
9. Alex Boyd - Isle of Rust. Finished 14.3.23. 3.5/5.
10. Mya-Rose Craig - Birdgirl. Finished 25.3.23. 4/5.
11. Steinunn Sigurdardottir - Heida: A Shepherd at the Edge of the World. Finished 5.4.23. 4/5.
12. Margaret Silf - Wayfaring: A Gospel Journey Into Life. Finished 9.4.23. 4/5.
13. JF Penn - Pilgrimage: Lessons learned from solo walking three ancient ways. Finished 13.4.23. 4/5.
14. Rachel Lichtenstein - Estuary: From London out to the Sea. Finished 16.4.23. 4.5/5.
15. Spike Milligan - Mussolini: His Part in My Downfall. Finished 22.4.23. 4.5/5.
16. Miranda Keeling - The Year I Stopped to Notice. Finished 28.4.23. 4/5.
17. Adam Rutherford - The Book of Humans. Finished 6.5.23. 3.5/5.
18. Simon Barnes - Rewild Yourself. Finished 18.5.23. 4.5/5.
19. Bettina Selby - The Fragile Islands: A Journey Through the Outer Hebrides. Finished 27.5.23. 3/5.
20. Dav Pilkey - Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People. Finished 31.5.23. 4/5.
21. Amanda Gorman - Call Us What We Carry. Finished 8.6.23. 4.5/5.
22. Artemis Cooper - Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure. Finished 9.6.23. 4/5.
23. Elinor Cleghorn - Unwell Women. Finished 17.6.23. 4.5/5.

Editado: Jan 15, 9:53 am

Non-ROOTs read

1. Louie Stowell - Loki: A Bad God's Guide to Being Good. Finished 14.1.23. 4/5.

Editado: Jul 1, 1:01 pm

Acquisitions - 1st thread

1. Annie Dillard - The Writing Life. Acquired 2.1.23.
2. Professor Sue Black - All That Remains: A Life in Death. Acquired 6.1.23.
3. John Bull - The Brexit Tapes: From the Referendum to the Second Dark Age. Acquired 9.1.23.
4. Agnieska Graff & Elzbieta Korolczuk - Anti-Gender Politics in the Populist Moment. Acquired 15.1.23.
5. Mary Roach - Stiff. Acquired 8.2.23.
6. C.K. McDonnell - Love Will Tear Us Apart. Acquired 9.2.23.
7. Jennifer Worth - Farewell to the East End. Acquired 10.2.23.
8. John O'Donohue - Anam Cara. Acquired 11.2.23.
9. Morgan Delaney - The Squared Circle. Acquired 14.2.23.
10. David Sedaris - The Best of Me (audiobook). Acquired 28.2.23.
11. Jill Hopper - The Mahogany Pod. Acquired 2.3.23.
12. Amanda Gorman - Call Us What We Carry. Acquired 2.3.23.
13. J.F. Penn - Pilgrimage: Lessons learned from solo walking three ancient ways. Acquired 2.3.23.
14. Spike Milligan - Where Have All the Bullets Gone?. Acquired 13.3.23.
15. Spike Milligan - Mussolini: His Part in My Downfall. acquired 16.3.23.
16. Steinunn Sigurdardottir - Heida: A Shepherd at the Edge of the World. Acquired 1.4.23.
17. Megan Phelps-Roper - Unfollow. Acquired 3.4.23.
18. Ed Yong - I Contain Multitudes. Acquired 3.4.23.
19. Prof Tim Spector - The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat. Acquired 3.4.23.
20. Satnam Virdee & Brendan McGeever - Britain in Fragments: Why Things are Falling Apart. Acquired 4.4.23.
21. Devi Sridhar - Preventable: How a Pandemic Changed the World & How to Stop the Next One. Acquired 7.4.23.
22. Polly Morland - A Fortunate Woman. Acquired 8.4.23.
23. Philiip Oltermann - The Stasi Poetry Circle. Acquired 8.4.23.
24. Mark Cocker - Crow Country. Acquired 11.4.23.
25. Kathleen Jamie - Surfacing. Acquired 17.4.23.
26. Andrew D Blechman - Pigeons. Acquired 19.4.23.
27. Tim Birkhead - Birds and Us. Acquired 19.4.23.
28. Leif Bersweden - Where the Wildflowers Grow. Acquired 21.4.23.
29. Ellen Miles - Nature is a Human Right. Acquired 21.4.23.
30. Jake Fiennes - Land Healer. Acquired 21.4.23.
31. Miranda Keeling - The Year I Stopped to Notice. Acquired 27.4.23.
32. Elinor Cleghorn - Unwell Women. Acquired 2.5.23.
33. Artemis Cooper - Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure. Acquired 2.5.23.
34. Jasper Fforde - The Constant Rabbit. Acquired 6.5.23.
35. Colin Thubron - The Amur River. Acquired 7.5.23.
36. Richard E. Grant - A Pocketful of Happiness. Acquired 11.5.23.
37. Emer McLysaght & Sarah Breen - Once, Twice, Three Times an Aisling. Acquired 14.5.23.
38. Travis Baldree - Legends and Lattes. Acquired 19.5.23.
39. Hannah Bourne-Taylor - Fledgling. Acquired 21.5.23.
40. SC Gowland - Delusions and Dragons. Acquired 26.5.23.
41. Angela C Nurse - Jack in a Box. Acquired 26.5.23.
42. Dipo Faloyin - Africa is not a Country. Acquired 26.5.23.
43. Mary Roach - Packing for Mars. Acquired 26.5.23.
44. Ruth Coker Burks - All the Young Men. Acquired 26.5.23.
45. Dav Pilkey - Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People. Acquired 29.5.23.
46. Kate Baker - Maid of Steel. Acquired 1.6.23.
47. Angela Harding - A Year Unfolding. Acquired 3.6.23.
48. Stephen Ellcock & Mat Osman - England on Fire. Acquired 3.6.23.
49. Katy Hessel - The Story of Art Without Men. Acquired 3.6.23.
50. Raymond Briggs - Time for Lights Out. Acquired 3.6.23.
51. John Marrs - Keep it in the Family. Acquired 3.6.23.
52. Adrian West - The Secret World of Stargazing. Acquired 4.6.23.
53. Emer McLysaght & Sarah Breen - Aisling and the City. Acquired 4.6.23.
54. Hilary Mantel - Giving Up the Ghost: A Memoir. Acquired 4.6.23.
55. Lee Schofield - Wild Fell. Acquired 4.6.23.
56. Kate Humble - Thinking on my Feet. Acquired 4.6.23.
57. Pip Williams - The Dictionary of Lost Words. Acquired 4.6.23.
58. Tanya Shadrick - The Cure for Sleep. Acquired 4.6.23.
59. Kit de Waal - My Name is Leon. Acquired 6.6.23.
60. Daniel Levitin - The Changing Mind. Acquired 13.6.23.
61. Chris van Tulleken - Ultra-Processed People. Acquired 14.6.23. (***Note to self - all titles up to and including this one in the Jar of Fate***)
62. Alexander von Humboldt - Views of Nature. Acquired 19.6.23.
63. Douglas Adams & Terry Jones - Starship Titanic. Acquired 19.6.23.
64. Patrick Radden Keefe - Empire of Pain. Acquired 23.6.23.
65. John Reed - Ten Days That Shook the World. Acquired 27.6.23.
66. Owen Matthews - Overreach: The Inside Story of Putin's War Against Ukraine. Acquired 29.6.23.
67. Linda Cracknell - Writing Landscape. Acquired 30.6.23.
68. Merryn Glover - The Hidden Fires: A Cairngorms Journey with Nan Shepherd. Acquired 30.6.23.

Editado: Jul 1, 12:51 pm

The 2023 Nerdy Stats thread

ROOTs (total: 23)

fiction: 2
non-fiction: 19
poetry: 1
mixed F/NF/P: 1

female author: 13 (%)
male author: 9 (%)
non-binary author: (%)
mixed anthology: 1 (%)

paper book: 9 (%)
ebook: 13 (%)
audiobook: 1 (%)

completed: 23

ratings (4* and above): 19

Non-ROOTs (total: 1)

fiction: 1

female author: 1
male author:

paper book:
ebook: 1

completed: 1

Acquisitions (total: 73)

fiction: 15
non-fiction: 57
poetry: 1

female author: 40
male author: 39
non-binary author:
mixed anthology:

paper book: 15
ebook: 57
audiobook: 1

Amount spent overall: £25.98 (Jan); £17.95 (Feb); £35.98 (Mar); £52.52 (Apr); £19.77 (May); £41.33 (June);


kobo - 54
Routledge Open Access - 1
Fox Lane Books - 2
Big Green Bookshop - 1
SCM Press -
Kickstarter - 1
Waterstones - 2
hive.co.uk -
Unbound - 1
amazon marketplace -1
birthday presents - 5
Verso -
Barter Books -
amazon.co.uk - 2
Christmas presents -
Book Depository -
random gift - 1
University of Chicago Press -
bookshop.org -
Book Nook Stirling - 2
Cancer Research Campaign charity shop -

(via Bookbub - 13)

Editado: Fev 25, 7:34 am

2022 nerdy stats

64 ROOTs:

fiction: 10 (15.63%); non-fiction: 53 (82.81%); poetry: 1 (1.56%)

female author: 32 (47.06%); male author: 30 (44.12%); mixed anthology: 6 (8.82%)

paper book: 20 (30.77%); ebook: 41 (63.08%); audiobook: 4 (6.15%)

completed: 62; abandoned: 2

ratings (4* and above): 49 (76.56%)

5 Non-ROOTs:

fiction: 1; non-fiction: 4

female author: 3; male author: 3

paper book: 0; ebook: 5

completed: 4; abandoned: 1

99 Acquisitions

fiction: 14 (14.14%); non-fiction: 83 (83.83%); poetry: 2 (2.02%) (these are very satisfying percentages, except they add up to 99.99!!)

female author: 48 (46.6%); male author: 49 (47.57%); mixed anthology: 6 (5.83%)

paper book: 37 (37.37%); ebook: 59 (59.59%); audiobook: 3 (3.03%) (it's those satisfying percentages again!)

Amount spent overall: £356.76 + $21.60


kobo - 45
SCM Press - 1
Kickstarter - 1
Waterstones - 1
Unbound - 5
birthday presents - 12
LTER - 3
Barter Books - 7
amazon.co.uk - 4
Christmas presents - 4
random gift - 3
University of Chicago Press - 4
bookshop.org - 2
Fox Lane Books - 1
404 Ink - 1
Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung - 1
University of London Press - 1
Book Nook Stirling - 1
Cancer Research Campaign charity shop - 2

The takeaways for the year - roughly the same amount of male and female authors for both read and acquired books, I'm happy with that. Unsurprisingly, I heavily skewed to non-fiction reads (82+%), more than 5 times more than fiction. I read around twice as many ebooks as paper books, and also discovered audiobooks (most but not all will be duplicates of books I already own in print or ebook - turns out I really like reading along while listening). Acquisition wise, I acquired nearly 6 times more non-fiction than fiction, and over 1.5 times more ebooks than paper books. My main source of books remains kobo (11 of these books were thanks to bookbub deals, several more, especially in December, were daily deals or books in the sale).

I wonder how 2023 stats will pan out?

Jan 1, 7:45 am

Hi Jackie, Happy New Year to you and yours, hope 2023 is happy, healthy and productive! Look forward to seeing what you’re reading this year.

Editado: Jan 1, 7:51 am

>7 floremolla: Thank you so much, Donna, wishing you exactly the same! (couldn't put it better myself!)

Jan 1, 7:52 am

>8 Jackie_K: thanks Jackie, I could use a boost on the productivity side ;)

Jan 1, 8:55 am

Happy New Year, Jackie. Looking forward to see your reading this year

Jan 1, 9:25 am

Glad to see you again here, looking forward to seeing how all your nerdy stats turn out!

Jan 1, 11:32 am

Welcome back and have a great reading year! I hope there are multiple trips to Barter Books in your future ;)

Jan 1, 1:56 pm

>9 floremolla: Pretty sure that's true of most of us!

>10 Robertgreaves: You too Robert, no doubt I'll get a decent number of BBs from you, as usual!

>11 Caramellunacy: Me too, I'm excited already! I had a lot of fun totting up 2022's stats earlier!

>12 rabbitprincess: It'll be a hardship, but I'll take it for the team!

Jan 1, 1:58 pm

Fun nerdy stats, Jackie. You did really well in 2022, especially with only 5 non-ROOTs! I read a lot of library books in 2022, mainly for challenge prompts but I'm going to focus on my mount tbr this year instead. Less stressful I think, too, reducing challenges.

I actually was following your 2022 topic and was mentally cheering you on to reach 100 book purchases. Glad you stopped at 99 as I was beginning to feel a bit guilty wishing for you to buy more books before the end of the year, lol.

Jan 1, 2:06 pm

>14 Ann_R: Haha, that made me laugh! For my acquisitions ticker this year I put it at 100, but that's not what I'm aiming for, more a reminder that that's nearly where I was in 2022 and to see if I can keep it much lower!

I usually aim to read a library book a month, but I got so caught up in reading challenges that that fell by the wayside, and I felt a bit guilty - I do like to support the library, and contribute to any stats they can draw up about number of borrowers to show the powers that be that they should be invested in and supported.

Jan 1, 2:17 pm

Here we go again, Jackie! I look forward to alternately enabling and discouraging each of our respective book-buying compulsions in 2023. :-D

Editado: Jan 1, 2:31 pm

>15 Jackie_K: I'm starting off the year with a library book, The War That Saved My Life, despite my ROOTing aspirations. It's definitely important to support our libraries. I don't know what I would have done without them when I was a child. Cheers to your library reading and ROOTing - sounds like a great plan.

Jan 1, 2:31 pm

>16 rosalita: Me too! So glad to have and be a cheerleader/enabler :D

Jan 1, 2:39 pm

>17 Ann_R: Yes, me too - I remember my mum and dad taking us to the library every Saturday to choose books to read during the week, it's a really happy memory.

Jan 2, 1:31 pm

Welcome back! I too track my acquisitions and I surprised myself by only getting 85 new books. (I figured I would go over 100 as I seem to do every year, Of those I read 51 which is a good percentage for me!

Jan 2, 1:43 pm

>20 cyderry: I'm impressed! Last year I got 99 books, and it was the first time for 3 or 4 years that I'd got more books than I'd read. I'm determined to do better this year!

Jan 2, 2:00 pm

Right, inspired by moneypenny, I've decided on a change of tack for book purchases this year. I'm going to allow myself a monthly allowance of 5 books or to spend £25, whichever comes first. We'll see how I go with it, but I like the positivity and lack of guilt.

Jan 2, 4:25 pm

>22 Jackie_K: I was just skimming an article on a study about New Year's resolutions, and the conclusion was that people are more successful with the kind of goals that are about starting a desired behavior instead of stopping something. So I think getting away from framing it as "I will not buy X books" should really help you stay on track. I'll be rooting for you!

Jan 3, 8:25 am

Happy New Year, Jackie! I'm ROOTing for you!!

Jan 3, 9:34 am

>23 rosalita: Although I've just had notification of a preorder from ages ago which I should be receiving soon, and which will take me to £24.99 for January already! So now I'm going to have to either be very abstemious (is that a word? It should be) or figure out a way round my system. (I'll be good. But the psychology of all this is fascinating!!)

>24 Carmenere: Thank you so much!

Editado: Jan 3, 9:43 am

>25 Jackie_K: I have some pre-order time bombs lurking as well in the first few months of this year*. Maybe you can count them against the month you place the order, not the month you receive the book? I'm just trying to fulfill my enabler role. :-)

* Edited to add: I just got email notification of one pre-order that has now arrived: Myth America: Historians Take On the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past. So there's the first acquisition of 2023 done and dusted!

Editado: Jan 3, 9:45 am

>26 rosalita: Yeah, I did think about that! I might do that, we'll see - before I've always counted preorders when I've actually received them. Maybe there won't be loads of books I must-buy-right-now-and-can't-possibly-wait this month. I love enabling generally, but it's harder when I'm trying to be restrained myself!

Edited to add - congratulations on your first book of the year! :)

Jan 3, 5:14 pm

Happy 2023, Jackie!

>6 Jackie_K: Great stats.
>I really like reading along while listening
My mind wanders with audiobooks, this interests me to find audio of some that I have in print.

Jan 4, 11:55 am

Hello! Happy New Year! I work in the health research field too, in the USA. Good luck with your goals--they sound eminently reasonable.

Jan 4, 1:13 pm

>28 detailmuse: Thank you! I was an audiobook sceptic, but it turns out that if you have a really indepth book, both reading and listening is a very immersive experience. Alternatively, by getting audiobooks of books I've liked but already read, I'm happier to listen to them while I do housework, have a bath etc, because it doesn't matter if I zone out occasionally as I've already read the book.

>29 justchris: Hi, glad to see you here! All the cool kids are in health research, clearly! What field do you work in? I'm a research nurse working on stroke studies, and also am currently seconded to my Health Board's Research & Development dept, so am seeing the other side of things, the governance/regulation/approvals work that I didn't get to see as a research clinician. It's really interesting.

Jan 4, 9:15 pm

>30 Jackie_K: I'm in-house editor and project manager to the writing teams for a research consortium focused on childhood asthma and allergy. Before this, I was managing editor of a pathology journal, so it's interesting to flip to the other side of the publication equation.

I'm taking my first foray into audiobooks via the Libby app, which I've started using only in the last couple months, mostly for ebooks. But I was on a long drive a couple weeks ago and decided to give Midnight Riot a go. Actually, it's a repeat as I heard parts of it during a road trip with friends a few years ago but kept falling asleep and missing big chunks. I'll be heading home in a few weeks and will have a chance to finish it in full!

Jan 5, 5:22 am

Happy New Year, Jackie, and have fun with your nerdy statistics!

Jan 5, 5:25 am

>32 MissWatson: Thank you, it's always a really fun activity at the start of a new year!

Jan 5, 7:34 am

Happy New Year, Jackie and welcome to a new year of ROOTing

Jan 5, 2:10 pm

Happy new year, Jackie! I have you starred :)

Jan 5, 3:34 pm

>34 connie53: >35 curioussquared: Thank you, it's lovely to see everyone again!

Editado: Jan 7, 3:48 pm


Black Square: Adventures in Post-Soviet Ukraine by Sophie Pinkham is a highly readable and interesting account of the author's experiences in Ukraine from the early 2000s to early 2015 (so just after the Maidan demonstrations, flight of Yanukovich to Russia, Russia's annexation of Crimea and subsequent support of separatist forces in eastern Ukraine). She mainly worked in harm reduction NGOs/journalism and visited the country extensively for long periods, and this is an account of how politics, conflict, and corruption intersect with daily attempts to get by for Ukrainian citizens who are not part of the political classes/elites. She doesn't claim it is an exhaustive account, but she does attempt to problematise the simplistic Russian=bad, Ukraine=freedom-loving European democrats story that is largely found in Western media (as well as the simplistic Ukraine=bad, Russian=freedom-loving heroes found largely in Russian media). I've just received a book of contemporary Ukrainian writing from the perspective of the current war in Ukraine, and so I'm glad I read this first for some basic background. 4/5.

Jan 7, 3:42 pm

>37 Jackie_K: That looks like an interesting book to start the year's ROOTs reading with, Jackie. I hope to be a more frequent visitor to the threads in 2023.

Jan 9, 3:48 pm

>38 Familyhistorian: It was interesting, yes - a good start to the year. And you're always welcome on this thread :)

For those (rosalita) following my musings on acquisitions, I've decided that I'm going to continue to count preorders when they arrive, including however much I paid for them. Which means that today I hit my limit for acquisitions for the month (actually just exceeded it - £25.98). January's not only going to be a long month because it takes forever to reach pay day, it's also going to take forever to reach February and a new book slate!

Jan 10, 5:06 pm

The first test of my book-buying resolve, I nearly caved on a book in kobo daily deals today. But I remembered my strategy of reading some reviews (positive and negative) before deciding, and a couple of the negative reviews mentioned something that would trouble me too, so I felt better about letting this one pass me by. Maybe I'll get it out of the library some time, but I don't need to own it.

Jan 10, 5:26 pm

>39 Jackie_K: I think you could go either way on when to count acquisitions, but I can't say that your decision is illogical. I guess the most important thing is to be consistent.

And it occurs to me that although I don't (currently) have myself on a spending limit for books, I don't list pre-orders in my own acquisitions until they arrive, so I guess we are on the same page there!

And way to stay strong on resisting the Daily Deal! I am always so proud of myself when I am tempted by a daily deal and then remember to check the library, which often has the book available for an even better deal (free)! Look at us, being all mature and stuff. ;-)

Editado: Jan 11, 1:14 pm

>41 rosalita: I know, I was very proud of myself! :)


Staying in Ukraine for my 2nd book of the new year, Voices of Freedom, edited by Kateryna Kazimirova and Daryna Anastasieva, is an anthology of translated short stories, poetry and essays from contemporary Ukrainian writers (some in the diaspora, but most still living and working in Ukraine). As you might expect, many of the works here are infused through with war subjects and imagery, but they're also variously playful, magical, questioning, sad, funny, cynical, thoughtful. My personal favourites tended to be the poems, but every piece made me stop, and think, and remember.

This is a book I received through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme; thank you to the authors, editors and publishers for this opportunity. 4/5.

Jan 11, 7:21 pm

Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

Jan 12, 2:43 pm

>43 enemyanniemae: Thank you very much, I hope you have a great reading year too!

Jan 15, 10:08 am

Non-ROOT #1

My first library book of the year is Louie Stowell's Loki: A Bad God's Guide to Being Good, which she illustrated as well as wrote. This is the first in a series of books aimed at children aged 5-9 (so early primary), but I think it would also appeal to adults, especially if they know a bit about the various Norse gods (it certainly appealed to this adult, who has not been aged 5-9 for many many many years). The premise of the book is that Loki is banished to Earth (Midgard) by Odin in the guise of an 11 year old boy, and has a month to show moral improvement in order to be allowed back to Asgard. If he fails he is doomed to spend eternity in a pit of snakes (who pop up every now and then in the illustrations to remind him how much they're looking forward to seeing him). He has to write up every day in an interactive magical diary, which can tell truth from lies, which Odin will read at the end of the month. He is also not allowed to use his magical powers. He is accompanied by his 'brother' Thor (also an 11 year old boy - of course he's the popular handsome one), and 'parents' Heimdal and Hyrrokkin, in order to more convincingly fool the mortals that they are actually a mortal family. As the book progresses it becomes clear that Loki doesn't have a clue how to tell good from evil, and as the month goes on the quest to improve seems increasingly hopeless. Or does it? Lots of fun, plenty of fart jokes for the kids, and I enjoyed the illustrations too. I'll definitely read the others in the series. 4/5.

Jan 26, 4:52 pm


H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald is a wonderful book - a memoir of grief and falconry and recovery. After the death of her beloved father, she is plunged into an overwhelming grief, and as a project to help her deal with this she buys a goshawk whom she names Mabel and trains over the course of several months (she was into falconry from a very young age so wasn't a beginner but clearly knew her stuff already). Through the process of getting to know Mabel and her ways Helen seems to lose then find her own way, and understand what is happening to her in the depths of grief. As well as her own story, she intersperses it with musings on the writer TH White (author of several books from the 1930s onwards including a number of Arthurian books such as The Once and Future King). He too trained a goshawk (disastrously, it has to be said) as a way of dealing (or not) with the fallout of a traumatic childhood and forbidden sexuality, and as she tries to make sense of her own fallen-apart world she finds insight through White's writing too. It's not always an easy read - it's not a cuddly, nature-as-healer book, and she doesn't shy away from the grislier aspects of life with a powerful hunter - but very powerful, and there were several passages which even made me laugh (albeit through gritted teeth!), such as this one after she's attacked by the juvenile Mabel:

I rubbed my eyes and my hand came away soaked, dramatically and Shakespearianly, in blood. I pulled off my glasses. They were covered in it. Blood was running in streams down my forehead, into my left eye, and was now attracting the attention of a hungry goshawk.
Christ, I thought, this is a bit Edgar Allan Poe.

Highly recommended. 4.5/5.

Jan 31, 1:35 pm

It's the end of the month (at long last! January seems to last at least 100 days) and I've got 3 ROOTs, 1 non-ROOT and 4 acquisitions to show for the month. I'm slightly behind my ROOT goal (aiming for around 4 ROOTs a month), but confident I can pick them up in the next month or two.

The ROOTs were:

1. Sophie Pinkham - Black Square: Adventures in Post Soviet Ukraine.
2. ed. Kateryna Kazimirova & Daryna Anastasieva - Voices of Freedom: Contemporary Writing from Ukraine. (LTER)
3. Helen Macdonald - H is for Hawk.

My library book was:

1. Louie Stowell - Loki: A Bad God's Guide to Being Good.

And this month's book haul was:

1. Annie Dillard - The Writing Life.
2. Professor Sue Black - All That Remains: A Life in Death.
3. John Bull - The Brexit Tapes: From the Referendum to the Second Dark Age.
4. Agnieska Graff & Elzbieta Korolczuk - Anti-Gender Politics in the Populist Moment.

For full accountability, this month I spent £25.98, so just peeped over my £25 monthly limit. I'm expecting a preorder and a Kickstarter book to come in February, so I'll try to resist the lure of the new and shiny and bargainous to not go too far over my limit. Let's see how that goes! :D

Fev 3, 5:07 pm

>45 Jackie_K: Lots of fun, plenty of fart jokes for the kids
A local radio personality has been doing a segment of 6-8 "speed jokes" (punny, dad-joke type of thing) daily for almost the whole pandemic. HA I'm surprised how much I enjoy the dung-beetle ones and similar.

>46 Jackie_K: Glad to see the 4.5/5 -- I have her Vesper Flights in my "soon" pile.

Fev 4, 3:50 am

>48 detailmuse: I'm all for sophisticated humour, but sometimes a fart/dung joke will just hit the spot, won't it?

I really want to get Vesper Flights too - I'm really getting into essays, and I have heard such good things about this collection. Everything I've read of hers has been wonderful.

Fev 4, 4:09 am


Notebook is a quirky book by one of my favourite writers, Tom Cox. It's a collection of random sentences and paragraphs from his notebooks over the years, that didn't ever quite make it into any of his other books. I liked his way of explaining each chapter as like a mixtape, so just random bits and bobs which seem to complement each other well even if they're quite different. Full of his trademark weirdness and psychedelic whimsy, I really liked it. 4.5/5.

Fev 4, 5:05 am

>49 Jackie_K: I'm reading a goofy fantasy book and I'm not loving all the fart/dung jokes, but a minion just referred to eggs as a chicken's "unnatural buttfruit" and for some reason I couldn't stop laughing.

Fev 4, 5:11 am

Fev 5, 10:40 am

>50 Jackie_K: BB! I'm delaying the buy only so I can ask: will an e-book of it be as good as printed, or is there formatting in the printed version that makes it better?

Fev 5, 10:49 am

>53 detailmuse: I only have an ebook, and the formatting was fine. It's not a facsimile of the notebook, as he's lifted bits from different notebooks to go together. There are some hand-drawn illustrations (by his dad), but other than that it's regular type, so an ebook is fine.

Fev 5, 11:01 am

>54 Jackie_K: Thanks, acquired!

Fev 10, 2:24 pm

Just a wee public service broadcast: both kobo and kindle in the UK (not sure about elsewhere) currently have the ebooks of the complete Call the Midwife series (3 books) at 99p today. Even though I already have the first as an ebook and a paper copy from Barter Books of the second book, I bought this trilogy so that I have them all in the one place. I can take the paper book back the next time I go to Barter Books for some credit there.

(maybe don't ask how the acquisitions:ROOTs ratio is going right now...)

Fev 10, 3:16 pm

>56 Jackie_K: I wasn't going to ask about the ratio because my own is extremely poor at the moment! It does sound like a great deal, though. :-)

Fev 10, 4:04 pm

>57 rosalita: I'm just relieved it only added one to the acquisitions pile! One more and I'll be at a 2:1 ratio (in the wrong direction).

Fev 10, 4:34 pm

>58 Jackie_K: That's sneaky, adding three books but only one acquisition! Well one, you. :-)

I have read 5 ROOTs and acquired 8 books, with at least one more pre-order to come in the next couple of months.

Editado: Fev 11, 5:52 am

>58 Jackie_K: >59 rosalita: I didn't need that to be a challenge, but I may, perhaps, possibly, have bought that one more book this morning. So I'm now at 4 ROOTs and 8 acquisitions. Go you and me! We're nailing this! :D

I have a kickstarter book due to be posted sometime after the 20th Feb. I'm kind of hoping I'm not in the first postal batch and I can count it for March ...

Fev 12, 8:13 am


St Kilda by George Seton is an example of a number of books written by mainlanders in the 19th century and before about the fascinating island group in the North Atlantic. The author visited in the summer of 1876 and summarised previous accounts about the islands, as well as wrote about daily life and customs of the islanders, who were still at this point over half a century away from the eventual permanent abandoning of their island home. St Kilda has exerted a powerful fascination for many (including me) over the years, but I have to say that this just confirmed to me yet again that pre-20th century writing, particularly by men overly impressed by their own powers of pontification, really is a bit of a slog to read. I'm glad to add this to my collection of books about St Kilda, but as a reference book rather than epic pageturner. 3/5.

Fev 12, 9:35 am

Ahahaha "men overly impressed by their own powers of pontification" is such a good description of that kind of writing!

Fev 12, 9:36 am

Fev 12, 12:12 pm

>61 Jackie_K:
>62 rabbitprincess:

That turn of phrase is so perfect...I don't even have to open the book to hear the tone...

Fev 12, 2:52 pm

>62 rabbitprincess: >63 rosalita: >64 Caramellunacy: Sadly it was so prevalent! Across the Pond, this might be heresy but I think Thoreau's Walden is another prime example - the amount of times I found myself rolling my eyes thinking 'shut up, would you write about the pond already?!'

Fev 12, 3:24 pm

>65 Jackie_K: I have to agree about Thoreau, which I didn't try to read until I was well into adulthood. I think I DNF'd it, actually.

Fev 12, 4:13 pm

>66 rosalita: I did get all the way through Walden, but I think it was mainly because I kept thinking 'surely he'll write about the actual pond in a minute?' When he eventually did write about it it was lovely, but it was a right slog having to get through his self-important deep and meaningful thoughts to get there.

Fev 14, 7:10 am


On Gallows Down: Place, Protest and Belonging by Nicola Chester is a memoir full of nature, anger, and ultimately hope. She writes so beautifully about the places she's lived - in the borders of rural Berkshire, Hampshire and Wiltshire - and her experiences both of the nature of the area, but also of the contested landscape. She lived near Greenham Common in the 1980s, with its women's peace camp at the American nuclear base, and protested the nearby Newbury Bypass in the 1990s. Her husband works for one of the local sporting estates owned by the landed gentry, and their housing is attached to the job, so she also talks about the precarity of living in tied housing and the tensions between wanting to preserve the local nature and the interests of the estate owners who put profit above all. It's a galvanising cry for the nature which has been lost over the years, a call to honour and love and seek to preserve and increase what remains, and a beautiful meditation on belonging. Fantastic book. 5/5.

Editado: Fev 19, 7:01 am

Hi Jackie, just popping in to see what you have been up to, reading as well as buying. Very fascinating to follow your thoughts ;-)

Fev 22, 2:01 pm

>69 connie53: Thanks for visiting, Connie! I have still done more buying than reading, although the gap between the two isn't quite as big as it was a couple of weeks ago!

Fev 28, 7:46 pm

>61 Jackie_K: >62 rabbitprincess: Too many early histories were written by men overly impressed by their own powers of pontification. I'm so glad that type of historical writing has, hopefully, gone the way of the dodo.

I see that you're trying to get a handle on your book buying, Jackie. Good luck with that!

Mar 2, 2:04 pm

>71 Familyhistorian: I think I'm going to need all the luck I can get, as I'm currently at 6 ROOTs finished and 12 books acquired, as of today! I've also gone over my £25 monthly limit for March already, so I will try not to buy any more books until April (sigh). We'll have to see how that goes...

Mar 2, 2:12 pm

Here we are in March, so here's my Feb round-up. Again, 3 ROOTs read, and 5 acquired. A few ROOTs are on the go, so as I didn't manage to catch up to my target in February, hopefully I'll get a bit closer in March.

My 3 ROOTs were:

1. Tom Cox - Notebook.
2. George Seton - St Kilda.
3. Nicola Chester - On Gallows Down: Place, Protest and Belonging.

And my 5 acquisitions were:

1. Mary Roach - Stiff.
2. C.K. McDonnell - Love Will Tear Us Apart.
3. Jennifer Worth - Farewell to the East End.
4. John O'Donohue - Anam Cara.
5. Morgan Delaney - The Squared Circle.

As mentioned above, I've started the month with 3 books which have exceeded my monetary goal for the month already (2 were in a sale of an online indie bookshop which is struggling a bit, and 1 was a book I supported on Kickstarter). Let's see if I can get a bit closer to being in the black as far as buying less than I read goes in March.

Mar 2, 4:52 pm

>67 Jackie_K: Oh dear. Looking at the tiny-font annotations in my edition of Walden, and it feels like a PROJECT.

So hoping you enjoy Stiff -- it was my first by Roach and stays my favorite :)

Mar 3, 12:30 pm

>74 detailmuse: I've only read Bonk so far, and really enjoyed it, so I'm sure Stiff will be just as much fun (despite the subject matter!).

In other news, I, er, forgot about another February acquisition. It's because it was an audiobook, and usually I have been getting audiobooks of books I already own so haven't been counting them. So my February acquisition total is actually 6 books, not 5, and my total acquisitions for the year are therefore 13. So for the record, the audiobook was The Best of Me by David Sedaris.

Mar 3, 4:06 pm

>74 detailmuse: >75 Jackie_K: currently reading Mary Roach's Animal Vegetable Criminal (aka "Fuzz"), though I think I may have to take a break from it soon to read my book club's choice for March.

Mar 3, 4:58 pm

I am a huge Mary Roach fan, and Stiff is a good one! I enjoyed them all, though, to be honest.

Editado: Mar 8, 3:51 pm

Thanks for your message on Connie's thread, Jackie. Starred your thread to follow along.
As always I am reading a lot, and keep a thread in the 75 Books Challenge group. I just was not up to put a goal on ROOTs this year.

Mar 9, 4:30 pm

>76 Robertgreaves: >77 rosalita: I do like her style of writing, lots of research but always approachable and she makes things so easy and entertaining to read. I saw your review of Animal Vegetable Criminal, Robert, and am keen to get to it at some point.

>78 FAMeulstee: Hi Anita! I'll go and try and find your 75ers thread. Some years you just have to give yourself less pressure - reading is meant to be fun, after all. It's nice to see you here!

Mar 12, 5:29 pm

It's taken me a month to report any book finished at all, but I managed to finish two today, at last! Both excellent too!


The Ghost of Ivy Barn is the third book in Mark Stay's Witches of Woodville series, following the adventures of newbie witch Faye Bright as she learns to harness the powers inherited from her late mother, overseen by experienced witches (and huge characters) Miss Charlotte and Mrs Teach, whilst also living through the opening months of WW2. In this book, which I think is my favourite of the three so far, Faye has two main tasks: firstly, to try and work out how she can help bring peace and rest to the ghost of a Polish airman who has taken up residence in a local farmer's barn, and secondly, along with a number of other witches, perform a ritual at the White Cliffs of Dover designed to repel the advancing German air forces and stop them from invading Britain. However, there is a traitor in their midst, and it is a race against time to figure out which one of the witches is out to betray them all. Plus will Faye ever get the chance to get Bertie alone for some canoodling time? I listened to the audiobook of this, and the narrator, the marvellously-named Candida Gubbins, was absolutely terrific. 5/5.


Ruskin Bond's A Time for All Things: Collected Essays and Sketches was an unexpected delight. I got it a few years ago when I was looking for books about rhododendrons for a piece I was writing, and I did a random search on amazon using 'rhododendron' as a search term. This was one of the first books that came up, so I took a punt and got it, although I never did get round to reading it at that time. Rhododendrons are mentioned in the book, incidentally, but they don't have a huge starring role, so I'm honestly not sure why it came up in my search. But I'm very glad it did!

The author was born in India in the 1930s, so experienced both life under the British, and subsequent independence. He has lived most of his life in India, other than 4 years in his early 20s where he lived in Jersey and London. He lives in a hill station, Mussoorie, at the foot of the Himalayas, and these essays are mostly fairly short pieces describing the place and people and nature of northern India. I always looked forward to coming back to this book, it was just a very gentle, good-humoured and affectionate look at living a simple life and appreciating what is on your doorstep in a beautiful part of the world. He was a very genial companion, and I really found it easy to picture the scene through his words. Definitely recommend. 4.5/5.

Mar 13, 1:34 pm

>80 Jackie_K: The Ghost of Ivy Barn sounds delightful - and the premise reminds me a bit of Bedknobs and Broomsticks...

Editado: Mar 13, 3:27 pm

>81 Caramellunacy: Yes, I can see that, although this series is more Pratchett-y than Disney-y if you see what I mean!

Mar 15, 5:36 pm


Isle of Rust: A Portrait of Lewis and Harris is a coffee table book mostly made up of photos by the author and photographer Alex Boyd, plus an introduction by Boyd, an essay by the author and film-maker Jonathan Meades, who made a film with the same title which inspired Boyd's project, and an afterword by Dan Hicks. It focuses on the detritus of the islands, numerous abandoned buses and boat engines and cottages, plus the makeshift shielings providing shelter on the moors, as well as some landscape shots and portraits of people. The photos are uniformly gorgeous, even as their subject matter often isn't.

I really struggled with Meades' essay though. It started off so well, talking about place and belonging as an outsider, a subject which is absolute catnip to me and I couldn't wait to keep reading. However, it soon descended into a really quite angry polemic about how awful the Calvinistic Presbyterian tradition in the Outer Hebrides is, and he was equally angry about 'Celtic' culture and the Gaelic language-promotion business, and as I read I just wanted to tell him to take a deep breath and maybe get his blood pressure checked. I don't even necessarily disagree with him about a lot of what he was saying, and the quality of the writing is not in doubt, but I was not in the mood for such arch cynicism and was really disappointed by it.

So I'm going to go for 4.5/5 for the photos, and 2.5/5 for the writing. 3.5/5 overall.

Mar 16, 9:14 am

>83 Jackie_K: That's disappointing that the essay didn't live up to the photos, but at least the photos were great. I got interested in Lewis and Harris islands thanks to the Blackhouse trilogy by Peter May. It's definitely on my bucket list of places I'd like to visit, though the possibility of that ever happening is as remote as the islands themselves.

Mar 23, 11:43 am

Jackie, yay for your March reading so far!

Mar 23, 5:11 pm

>84 rosalita: I'm lucky enough to have been to Harris and Lewis a couple of times (the first time was our honeymoon), it really is stunning there. I'd love to explore some of the other Outer Hebridean islands too - North and South Uist, Barra, etc.

>85 detailmuse: Thank you! I've had some good reads so far.

Mar 26, 7:29 am

ROOT #10

Birdgirl by Mya-Rose Craig is a memoir of birding, mental health, and environmental and inclusion activism by a young British activist who in her short life has already shared stages with the likes of Chris Packham, Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough. She tells the story of her family, all avid birders, who prioritised experience over possessions so have taken her around the world on extended birdwatching holidays, where she saw for herself both the beauty of nature but also the real-time impact of environmental degradation and climate change. As she gets older she also realises the importance (as someone of mixed British and Bangladeshi Sylheti heritage) of both increasing the visibility of and accessibility for ethnic minorities in nature, and also of supporting indigenous people's rights alongside climate and environmental action. Threaded throughout these issues of world importance though is the daily reality of living with her mum's severe bipolar disorder. She's undoubtedly had an unusual and in some respects privileged life, but what she's doing with her learning and her voice is impressive and urgent, and I can't help thinking that with young people like Mya and her contemporaries, there is still hope despite the 'pale, stale and male' dominance in world political, environmental, and economic systems. 4/5.

Editado: Abr 2, 4:41 pm

A little late, here's my March roundup. 4 ROOTs, and 5 acquisitions, so I've had worse months! I'm 3 ROOTs behind where I need to be to meet my goal for the year, but I do have several on the go, so hopefully I'll catch up in the next month or two. I've also (as of 1st April) acquired 6 more books than I've read this year to date, so I need to pull my finger out and try and rein in the purchases a bit!

The ROOTs were:

1. Mark Stay - The Ghost of Ivy Barn.
2. Ruskin Bond - A Time for All Things.
3. Alex Boyd - Isle of Rust.
4. Mya-Rose Craig - Birdgirl.

And the acquisitions were:

1. Jill Hopper - The Mahogany Pod.
2. Amanda Gorman - Call Us What We Carry.
3. J.F. Penn - Pilgrimage: Lessons learned from solo walking three ancient ways.
4. Spike Milligan - Where Have All the Bullets Gone?.
5. Spike Milligan - Mussolini: His Part in My Downfall.

Abr 4, 1:54 pm

Well, I'm not at all sure* that my new strategy of a £25/5 book monthly limit is working to curb my book-buying. As of today, I have finished 10 ROOTs and got 20 new books in 2023. I mean, those 20 books make me really happy, so I'm not going to beat myself up, but I so so want to actually read all the books that I own, so I may need a rethink.

* (massive understatement)

Abr 4, 2:02 pm

>89 Jackie_K: I keep running into similar problems, Jackie :) I'm doing great with my ROOTing, over 30, but I've added... at least 40 unread books this year. Oops.

Abr 4, 2:32 pm

>90 curioussquared: Oops indeed! The thing is, I can't not say that 'oops' without a massive grin on my face, which I suspect is the root (pun unintended) of my problem!

Abr 5, 4:28 am

>89 Jackie_K: I have given up the thought that I will ever read all books that we own. I just enjoy the thought I have lots to choose from :-)
I do read more books than I aqcuire, but the ones I read are mainly from the public library.

Abr 5, 5:25 am

>92 FAMeulstee: Well that's a great way to look at it, of course! :)

ROOT #11

Heida: A Shepherd at the Edge of the World by Steinunn Sigurdardottir is a fascinating memoir of an Icelandic sheep farmer who, as well as working her farm, gets involved in local politics in order to fight a proposed huge power plant that would be built near her farm, and flood and otherwise destroy huge parts of the local environment. The author is a novelist who met Heida and who was fascinated with her story, but wasn't sure how to tell it until she read and was inspired by Svetlana Alexievich's oral histories where she only uses the words of the people involved and offers no commentary herself. The story is told in the form of vignettes, which are mostly more or less consecutive, but with reminiscences about her family, childhood, early adulthood etc dropped in throughout. This way of writing felt both immersive but also slightly arm's length, which somehow managed to reflect Heida's strong and independent personality pretty well.

This is a really interesting view of farming life in rural Iceland - she talks in detail about lambing and shearing, as well as the constant repairing of equipment and buildings, and the worry that their neighbouring volcano (a mere 25km away as the crow flies) is well overdue a big eruption. She also faces bemusement at her very active decision to remain single and not have children, and some opposition to her political activity (which she feels she had no choice about - it was an if not me, then who? kind of situation). Above all, her love and respect for the farming life and the Icelandic landscape shine through. 4/5.

Abr 9, 4:48 pm

ROOT #12

Margaret Silf's Wayfaring: A Gospel Journey Into Life was my Holy Week reading for this year. It's actually a reread, I read it in the early/mid-2000s (it was published in 2001, so I'm going to have a guess that I read it in 2003 or 2004). She is an author steeped in the Ignatian tradition, and this book looks at the earthly life of Jesus through to resurrection, inviting the reader to pray the journey and discover what it means in our own lives. I remember finding it really moving and profound when I first read it; this time probably less so (that says more about me than the book, for sure), but one bit of the final chapter definitely hit home and has given me plenty to think about going forward. 4/5.

Abr 13, 3:33 pm

ROOT #13

Pilgrimage: Lessons learned from solo walking three ancient ways by J.F. Penn is a book which I supported on Kickstarter at the beginning of this year, and I'm very glad I did. I follow the author's Creative Penn podcast, where she gives all sorts of amazing tips and interviews etc for aspiring and established authors, especially around marketing and writing craft for self-publishing. In this book, which is a mix of travel, memoir and how-to, she writes about the experience of pilgrimage, from preparation to journey to aftermath, providing hints and tips on what to expect, as well as how the three pilgrimages she did impacted her life. She also includes questions to ask yourself while preparing at the end of each short chapter, and also provides extensive reading and other information.

The three pilgrimages she did were the Pilgrim's Way (Southwark Cathedral to Canterbury Cathedral), the St Cuthbert's Way (Melrose Abbey to Lindisfarne), and the Camino de Santiago Portuguese route, from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. I liked that this wasn't just a chapter on one, then the next, then the next, but aspects of each of the three routes were threaded throughout the book. I personally would have liked a bit more of the memoir/reflections side of things and less of the practicalities, but that's just me (and because I am not planning on any multi-day walking pilgrimages any time soon!). I think this is a very useful and thoughtful addition to the pilgrimage literature, for both religious and secular pilgrims, and the photos included in the book are lovely too. 4/5.

Abr 13, 3:42 pm

I've realised that the reason my attempts this year (since December last year, really) to rein in the book-buying are failing is because I'm so shattered from the last 2 or 3 years of everything (*gestures at the world*) that I'm just going to give in and allow myself a complete break from guilt. If I see a book I want, and can afford, I'm getting that baby. Tempted by a bookbub deal? It's mine. Hopefully treating myself for a while will get it out of my system and make me feel better, and as it's supporting authors and bookshops too, it's all good. 2023 is not the year to be feeling guilty about the small things, frankly.

Abr 13, 3:53 pm

>96 Jackie_K: I fully support this! My book buying went way up starting in 2020 because hey, it's a relatively cheap way to make myself feel good that like you said, also supports authors and bookshops. There are much worse things I could be buying!

Abr 13, 4:19 pm

>97 curioussquared: Yes, exactly. I will try and rein it in again at some point, because it's also a source of (extremely mild, but still there) stress that I want to be able to read everything that I've bought (I buy them for a reason!) and if I have too many then I will not be able to. But right now is just not that time.

Abr 14, 4:22 am

>96 Jackie_K: I recognise the feeling! Bookbuying is a safe way to keep the world at bay.

Abr 16, 8:26 am

>99 MissWatson: Indeed it is - it feels like quite a lot of the world could do with being kept at bay right now.

ROOT #14

Rachel Lichtenstein's Estuary: From London out to the Sea is a really interesting portrait of the people and landscape of the Thames estuary, one of the world's most important shipping lanes but also home to an assortment of people, traditions and wildlife. She takes a few sailing trips out through the estuary and out towards the North Sea, and also talks with all sorts of interesting people - fishermen, cocklers, tugboatmen, artists, mudlarkers, and even the so-called "Prince of Sealand", a man who spends at least part of the year living on Sealand, an abandoned WW2 sea fort just outside of British coastal waters. The area is one of the most dense anywhere for the wrecks and other history to be found there, from Roman times right through to warships full of unexploded arms from WW2. She notes the impact of dredging and building for the new mega port of the so-called London Gateway on both wildlife and the livings of the various people who work alongside and in the estuary. It's a fascinating snapshot of both the history and the dwindling and changing ways of life in somewhere that is very much an 'edgeland'. 4.5/5.

Abr 19, 6:10 pm

>100 Jackie_K: Estuary: Out from London to the Sea looks like a good one, Jackie. I'm interested in that area of England which is where some of my family lived back in history. You also got me with the Witches of Woodville series. I think we are all dangerous for each other's book acquisition habits but luckily both of these reads are available at my library.

Abr 20, 1:47 pm

>101 Familyhistorian: Hooray for libraries! I hope you enjoy all the books when you get to them, Meg.

Essex (and north Kent for that matter) always gets such a bad rap and terrible reputation, but as I understand it the rural/coastal areas are very distinctive and beautiful. I'd like to visit some day and see for myself. Quite a lot of what are now nature reserves used to be industrial sites.

Abr 20, 5:06 pm

>100 Jackie_K: This sounds like a very interesting book! I love that sort of landscape; it would be lovely to visit sometime.

Abr 22, 12:02 pm

>103 rosalita: It really was interesting - as someone who used to live in London I know the Thames in the city, but the estuary being that bit further out of the city is much less familiar. I'd like to visit too.

ROOT #15

Mussolini: His Part in my Downfall is the 4th volume of Spike Milligan's WW2 memoirs, and honestly, I think it's the best yet. I found it really moving, and also funny. It starts with the lads landing in Sicily, and follows their adventures through Italy during 1943 and early 1944. It shows beautifully both the cameraderie of the young soldiers, and also the mind-numbing tedium of much of the war for them. It ends on a poignant note, with Spike suffering from PTSD and in a psychiatric hospital. A funny book, but also profound and sad. 4.5/5.

Editado: Abr 28, 3:33 pm

ROOT #16

The Year I Stopped to Notice by Miranda Keeling was a book I preordered months ago following a thread on twitter, and then I promptly forgot all about it till it arrived yesterday - what a delightful surprise! She undertook a project to deliberately notice things going on around her in the day to day, and write just a sentence or two about it, and this is a collection of what she spotted during the year, accompanied by lovely illustrations by Luci Power. It was possibly a bit much to read all in one go, but it would make a great gift for people to dip in and out of - there's laughter, poignancy, and the plain bizarre here. 4/5.

Here are a few of my favourite observations:

A woman wearing a headscarf the colour of freshwater pearls sits on the steps of a church in Clerkenwell thoughtfully eating Nutella from a jar.

Two men carrying one bar stool each through town keep stopping to sit on them for a chat before carrying on down the road.

Man in a tube station lift: Have you thought about New Year's Eve yet?
Woman: No, Sanjay. Give me a moment to get my head around October.

A woman and a man meet at Dalston Station, realise they are both carrying a bunch of flowers for each other and, laughing, exchange them.

Abr 29, 2:20 am

This sounds great! I’d never heard of the author, but have now looked her up on Twitter.

On my 10-minute walk to work, I sometimes make a point of looking for three things that are interesting or make me smile. I think this is a legacy of those daily walks around my local area in Covid times.

I love the idea that someone has thought to put these observations down on paper, and in London there must be rich pickings!

Abr 29, 6:37 am

>106 Rebeki: I think a lot of people did similar! My covid noticing project was looking with fresh eyes at my tiny garden (I'm actually in the latter stages of writing a book about it). Even in such a small space I was amazed at the things that I'd never noticed before!

Abr 29, 7:40 am

>107 Jackie_K: How wonderful!

Editado: Abr 30, 10:31 am

I'm not going to get any more books read by the end of today, so here's my April round up. 6 ROOTs read, my best month so far this year, and definitely my best month so far this year for acquisitions, 16 books acquired (mostly down to kobo deals and BookBub).

ROOTs read in April - all 4* or 4.5* - were:

1. Steinunn Sigurdardottir - Heida: A Shepherd at the Edge of the World.
2. Margaret Silf - Wayfaring: A Gospel Journey Into Life.
3. JF Penn - Pilgrimage: Lessons learned from solo walking three ancient ways.
4. Rachel Lichtenstein - Estuary: From London out to the Sea.
5. Spike Milligan - Mussolini: His Part in My Downfall.
6. Miranda Keeling - The Year I Stopped to Notice.

And strap in, here are the acquisitions this month:

1. Steinunn Sigurdardottir - Heida: A Shepherd at the Edge of the World.
2. Megan Phelps-Roper - Unfollow.
3. Ed Yong - I Contain Multitudes.
4. Prof Tim Spector - The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat.
5. Satnam Virdee & Brendan McGeever - Britain in Fragments: Why Things are Falling Apart.
6. Devi Sridhar - Preventable: How a Pandemic Changed the World & How to Stop the Next One.
7. Polly Morland - A Fortunate Woman.
8. Philiip Oltermann - The Stasi Poetry Circle.
9. Mark Cocker - Crow Country.
10. Kathleen Jamie - Surfacing.
11. Andrew D Blechman - Pigeons.
12. Tim Birkhead - Birds and Us.
13. Leif Bersweden - Where the Wildflowers Grow.
14. Ellen Miles - Nature is a Human Right.
15. Jake Fiennes - Land Healer.
16. Miranda Keeling - The Year I Stopped to Notice.

Abr 30, 10:54 am

You have been very generous to yourself. Enjoy!

Maio 2, 9:17 am

>109 Jackie_K: I really appreciate your ROOTs::Acquisitions ratio, Jackie. You've given me something to aspire to! :-)

Seriously, those ebook deals are my weakness also. At least they aren't taking up space on my shelves?

Maio 2, 1:18 pm

>110 MissWatson: Haha, indeed I have! Now I just need to find the time to read!
>111 rosalita: I live to serve :D

Maio 6, 1:28 pm

ROOT #17

Adam Rutherford's The Book of Humans is a popular science book about human evolution, showing how we are both unique and extraordinary among animals, whilst also being an integral part of the animal kingdom. He's a popular broadcaster on Radio 4, and does a great job of making complex scientific theories and discoveries understandable to the non-expert (ie me). This is a good book for a basic introduction to the issues of human evolution and what can and can't be inferred from parallel evolution of other animals. 3.5/5.

Maio 19, 8:57 am

ROOT #18

Simon Barnes' Rewild Yourself is a lovely, short book with 23 suggested ways of rediscovering the magic of nature and getting yourself more tuned in to what's around you. Simple suggestions like sitting still, learning a few birdsongs, paying attention to peripheral vision - there's nothing outrageous and out there, but as someone who's been trying to do many of these things already I appreciated his enthusiasm and wonder at the natural world. 4.5/5.

Maio 28, 4:26 am

ROOT #19

The Fragile Islands: A Journey Through the Outer Hebrides by Bettina Selby is one of my Barter Books purchases from a few years ago - I always head straight for the travel section whenever I'm there! This is quite an old book, published in 1989 and detailing a cycling trip that the author took in 1985, from south to north of the entire Outer Hebrides. It was interesting to see the islands before the advent of the internet, community buy-outs, and Scottish devolution, but I did also find it a bit frustrating. I would have appreciated more photos, and also better proof-reading (especially of the punctuation - dashes and commas in particular were frequently either over- or under-used and made me twitch!). I also found her sometimes quite judgmental, and there were a few occasions where I really hoped that she was using pseudonyms/composites when discussing the personal lives of some of the people she met, otherwise I felt quite voyeuristic reading some of the encounters. I'm glad I read it, overall, but I can't say I loved it. A generous 3/5.

Jun 1, 4:01 am

ROOT #20

Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People is the 8th installment in Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants series, and I have to say it is one of the best yet! A malfunctioning time machine sees our heroes George and Harold in an alternate universe where their teachers are kind and committed, their school is stocked with books and healthy food in the cafeteria, but is terrorised by their own evil twins, Evil George and Evil Harold (plus Captain Underpants' evil twin, Captain Blunderpants). The usual chaos and silliness ensues, and the end reintroduces previous villain Professor Poopypants, setting up an intriguing premise for book 9. I loved it! 4/5.

(I read this as one of my book clubs is reading banned books in June, and it turns out that Captain Underpants has been banned many, many times for all sorts of ridiculous reasons. The world's gone mad).

Editado: Jun 2, 12:58 pm

I'm not sure how we're in June already, but here goes with the May round-up. Thanks to Captain Underpants I managed (just) to read 4 ROOTs this month, and my acquisitions binge continued unabated, with 14 new books finding a home in my immediate vicinity (I think I've got the bargain bug again, and might need to calm down a bit at looking at the kobo daily deals!).

The ROOTs read were:

1. Adam Rutherford - The Book of Humans.
2. Simon Barnes - Rewild Yourself.
3. Bettina Selby - The Fragile Islands: A Journey Through the Outer Hebrides.
4. Dav Pilkey - Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People.

And the acquisitions were:

1. Elinor Cleghorn - Unwell Women.
2. Artemis Cooper - Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure.
3. Jasper Fforde - The Constant Rabbit.
4. Colin Thubron - The Amur River.
5. Richard E. Grant - A Pocketful of Happiness.
6. Emer McLysaght & Sarah Breen - Once, Twice, Three Times an Aisling.
7. Travis Baldree - Legends and Lattes.
8. Hannah Bourne-Taylor - Fledgling.
9. SC Gowland - Delusions and Dragons.
10. Angela C Nurse - Jack in a Box.
11. Dipo Faloyin - Africa is not a Country.
12. Mary Roach - Packing for Mars.
13. Ruth Coker Burks - All the Young Men.
14. Dav Pilkey - Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People.

Jun 1, 5:08 pm

>117 Jackie_K: Gotta love those daily deals! I've been in a bit of a lucky streak with the BookBub emails, as there have been a number of great books on offer that I already own. Whew!

Of your May acquisitions I can only vouch for the Mary Roach, who is one of my favorite nonfiction writers. She's a hoot. The Richard E. Grant memoir also looks quite interesting, as do several of the others.

Jun 1, 8:00 pm

>117 Jackie_K: Ooh I will be awaiting your thoughts on the Cleghorn; it's on my to-read list! I have the Richard E. Grant memoir in my audio TBR pile. And I can attest to the Roach and the Baldree being very good :)

Jun 2, 9:08 am

>118 rosalita: I've only read one Mary Roach book so far (Bonk) but really enjoyed it, so I'm looking forward to this one.

>119 rabbitprincess: Luckily for you/me, I randomly pulled Unwell Women out of the Jar of Fate the other day, so should be reading it this month! I'm looking forward to it.

Jun 4, 4:53 pm

>105 Jackie_K: This sounds lovely, as does the book you are creating!

Jun 5, 3:53 pm

>121 detailmuse: Thank you! After a couple of years of talking about it, it's nice to be nearly at the point of publishing (I'm currently sorting out the cover). It's a very steep learning curve!

Jun 8, 6:58 am

ROOT #21

Amanda Gorman's Call Us What We Carry is a stunning collection of poetry about our present moment; she is clearly a great talent. She is best known, this side of the Pond at any rate, for her poem "This Hill We Climb" (which closes this collection), read at President Biden's inauguration, but the whole book shows she's more than just one poem. Covid, Black Lives Matter, Jan 6th 2021, language, identity, all are explored here in beautiful poetry. I am in awe of her artistry - in a note on one of the final poems it said that she has auditory processing disorder, which can cause difficulties in processing and recalling the order of sounds and words, but I wonder if this has helped her to become more fluid and playful with words? I thought this was great, and very moving, I highly recommend it. 4.5/5.

Jun 10, 4:49 am

ROOT #22

A few years ago I back-to-back read Patrick Leigh Fermor's three books relating his walking journey across Europe from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople in 1933-4, and absolutely loved the experience. He was clearly an extraordinary character. I've now finished his biography, Artemis Cooper's Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure. I enjoyed reading Paddy's story very much, although the succession of (mostly very posh) people who came in and out of his life were sometimes a bit hard to keep straight in my mind who was who. His was certainly a fascinating life, well lived - the walk through Europe in the 1930s, followed by 4 years living in Romania with a Romanian princess, then the war years in Crete (where amongst other things he was involved in the kidnapping of a German general), and the travels round the world and particularly in Greece and the impact those travels and the people in his circle had on his writing. It was all a bit of a derring-do life, and if someone had written it as fiction it would probably be written off as hopelessly unrealistic. An affectionate portrait of an impressive man and true character. 4/5.

Jun 18, 11:03 am

ROOT #23

Unwell Women: Misdiagnosis and Myth in a Man-Made World by Elinor Cleghorn is a thoroughly researched history of the medical profession's systematic ignoring of women's health in the assumption that the 'normal' is white and male. Starting with Roman and Greek philosophers, stories of 'wandering wombs', hysteria and the importance of childbearing and domestic duties in all aspects of women's health, through some pretty horrific gynaecological treatments, the history of birth control, and the importance of the discovery of autoimmune disease (which disproportionately affects women across the globe), as well as early feminist attempts at raising the importance of considering women as more than wannabe men, the book outlines the many times opportunities to develop compassionate and accurate treatments for women's health issues were lost in the swamp of cultural and social mores and assumptions. She doesn't shy away from the failings of early feminist campaigns, particularly in terms of their eugenic underpinnings, but also highlights the brave and vocal campaigns by Black activists to improve health for all women. This left me very glad that I live now and not hundreds of years ago - I know it's far from perfect still, but my goodness we've come on so far! A vital read. 4.5/5.

Jul 1, 1:19 pm

Well, here we are in July, I'm not quite sure how that happened! I'm going to start a new thread for the second half of the year, but before I do that here's my June round-up.

June is always a very acquisitive month for me, because of my birthday. This year, it was also a very acquisitive month for me, but only 5 of my new acquisitions were birthday presents, and all the rest were presents to myself. Turns out I was a very generous gift-giver *ahem*. I only finished 3 ROOTs, but I've got a couple on the go, one of which is taking quite a while although I'll hopefully finish it in the next few days.

Anyway, my 3 ROOTs for June were:

1. Amanda Gorman - Call Us What We Carry.
2. Artemis Cooper - Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure.
3. Elinor Cleghorn - Unwell Women.

And my acquisitions (all 23 of them) were:

1. Kate Baker - Maid of Steel.
*2. Angela Harding - A Year Unfolding.
*3. Stephen Ellcock & Mat Osman - England on Fire.
*4. Katy Hessel - The Story of Art Without Men.
*5. Raymond Briggs - Time for Lights Out.
*6. John Marrs - Keep it in the Family.
7. Adrian West - The Secret World of Stargazing.
8. Emer McLysaght & Sarah Breen - Aisling and the City.
9. Hilary Mantel - Giving Up the Ghost: A Memoir.
10. Lee Schofield - Wild Fell.
11. Kate Humble - Thinking on my Feet.
12. Pip Williams - The Dictionary of Lost Words.
13. Tanya Shadrick - The Cure for Sleep.
14. Kit de Waal - My Name is Leon.
15. Daniel Levitin - The Changing Mind.
16. Chris van Tulleken - Ultra-Processed People.
17. Alexander von Humboldt - Views of Nature.
18. Douglas Adams & Terry Jones - Starship Titanic.
19. Patrick Radden Keefe - Empire of Pain.
20. John Reed - Ten Days That Shook the World.
21. Owen Matthews - Overreach: The Inside Story of Putin's War Against Ukraine.
22. Linda Cracknell - Writing Landscape.
23. Merryn Glover - The Hidden Fires: A Cairngorms Journey with Nan Shepherd.

The books marked with a * were the birthday presents, and the final two were from an excellent author event I attended last night. All the rest were thanks to kobo deals and/or bookbub.

Jul 1, 1:42 pm

Come and join me on my new thread for the second half of the year: https://www.librarything.com/topic/351912