Reading Down the House – December

Last October I joined in with Dar’s idea of Reading Down the House.

The goal: to read those books languishing on the shelves at home. You know those books you bought a while ago, which for reasons unknown get overlooked, replaced by the new. Maybe what attracted you to them – the mood, the feeling, the time – was of a time, and that time has now passed.

The year is up. Here’s my original list:

  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
  • The Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey
  • Officers and Gentlemen and Unconditional Surrender by Evelyn Waugh
  • The Second-last Woman in England by Maggie Joel
  • When Will There Be Good News? and Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  • Hannah and Emil by Belinda Castles
  • The Somnambulist by Essie Fox
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • and finally Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
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    I’ve read all but two – Wolf Hall and Testament of Youth. Should I donate these two? Or should I hang onto them for possible future reading? Of the ones I read, I only disliked one – Gone Girl. (No, I do not want to see the movie. What is the point? The whole tale rests on the twist. If you know the twist, there is no point. And it was stupid and annoying the first time. Again, no I don’t want to see it. If I repeat myself it is because a friend asked me many times to go. How many times do I have to say no? Friend loved the movie, but then her favourite book is the 50 Shades series. Enough said!)

    In the past 12 months I have bought other books – some now sitting on my shelves waiting to fulfil their purpose – which is to be read, not collect dust, after all. And I could have placed other books on the list – books that I bought before October last year.

    My reading, like my writing, has slowed. Book club book choice for November was Evie Wilde’s All the Birds Singing. Structurally interesting, but too teenage angst-y for me.


    I followed this with How the Light Gets In by M.J. Hyland. A double dose of teen angst. I realised I had read this before. And suffered the same misunderstanding then. I thought this was going to be about a young person caught in a cult. No such luck. That would be too dramatic. Just another self-involved teen hating the world and herself. (Apparently considered a female version of Catcher in the Rye. Hated that too. No need to be rude and totally selfish just because you’re a teen unhappy with your life.)


    (Sorry about the size of image. The old WordPress app let me resize photos. Can’t find where I can do this on the updated – and definitely not better – app. And I only blog on my iPad, not the desktop.)

    Ever thought a book was going to be about something else, twice? As in thought the story would be something else, read it, then forgot that you read it, only later to come across the book in a book shop and repeat the process, thinking it will be about the thing you thought before you read it the first time. No? Well, I did. Maybe I should just write the book I thought it was going to be? Would be so much more interesting, if so much worse in terms of style.

    Don’t be fooled by both being such worthy books – one a Miles Franklin winner, the other worthy of being reissued in Penguin classic form. But then don’t be swayed by me. Many others love both books. And feel for the characters. And both are obviously literary and well-written.

    On a much lighter note, I read Gilbert Adair’s The Act of Roger Murgatroyd . A pastiche of Agatha Christie, the plot almost directly follows a Poirot story of almost the same title. Such fun!


    I think I read another book, besides the one which will get a post of its own (oh, yes it was THAT good that it deserves its own post and indeed its subject will be the subject of my summer – have I sparked your interest?), but I can’t remember. Maybe TopChook can help out?

    10 thoughts on “Reading Down the House – December

    1. I’m amazed that you got so many read! That is masterful organisation and determination.

      My list got a bit neglected as my ‘first year’ back in the classroom saw far, far too many late nights marking work, planning units or whatnot. I just wasn’t able to get on top of the organisation to get ‘free time’ at night to read. But I did read a number of books on the list and that feels like a real accomplishment!

    2. Well done! I didn’t care for Gone Girl – the twist got me, but the characters were just despicable.

      I’ve also made the mistake of picking up a book that looks good, only to start reading and discover that I’ve read it before. Always a bummer.

      And I’m with Dar – can’t wait to hear about this great book!

    3. Oh my goodness – the pressure on me now to remember the book that was THAT good? We all thought The Enchanted was great but you’ve blogged about that. Narrow Road? That was my clear winner for 2014.
      For the record – loved the Gone Girl book, didn’t like the movie (yes, because I knew what would happen).
      Another favourite read for me was Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies. High quality Australian Chick lit about cattiness and friendships between suburban “school mums” with a whodunit thrown in.

      • Oh sorry, Mercester. I didn’t mean to pressure you for what book I thought was my year’s best – though you have picked two of my three, so well done you.

        I meant to pressure you if I have read another book that I haven’t reviewed!

        Will keep the chick lit on my list.

    4. I’ve had Wolf Hall floating around my book case for AAAAAAAGES. I think its sheer size is putting me off more than anything else (maybe I should enquire of the pirates if they have it and get it electronically? It’s not really stealing if I’ve already bought it in one format, is it?) I wasn’t a big fan of Gone Girl, either. The twist was twisty enough, but yeah, who needs to see the film when you know what happens, and the characters were all vile and deserved each other. I’ve decided I don’t need to finish books when I don’t like the characters (GRR Martin books don’t fall into this category, obviously, as everyone dies.)

      I’ve done ok with the reading stakes this year – I’ve read another four books that I’ve not blogged about, and I’ve started a fifth. I have a couple of weeks off in January this year, and I think I am going to make myself a Reading List. I’m away for a week, and at home for a week and it would be nice if I could actually read a few books in that time instead of just sorting out spare bedrooms and wrangling kids.

      • I think it totally legal to pirate a book if you have already bought it once in a real format. Get some 12 year old to do it for you.

        I’ve tried starting Wolf Hall, but I think there was a shortage of names. Everyone is called Thomas. How are you meant to know which Thomas is currently in the narrative? I get confused on Poirot videos when they all look alike, at least they have different names. A book of Thomases is just too much. Maybe I will wait for the miniseries?

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