April Summary and Plans for May

The BookDepository

I read 11 books in April, the month being dominated by The Kindly Ones. I tried to read between 25 and 50 pages of this chunkster each day, but due to the disturbing nature I squeezed these into daylight hours – this meant that my normal reading time was almost unaffected. I was amazed at how short spells of reading added up to finishing such a long book and so I’ll try to employ this cunning stategy to read other books in the future!

Book of the Month

The Kindly Ones – Jonathan Littell

I Do Not Come To You By Chance – Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani 

The Great Perhaps – Joe Meno 

Hurting Distance – Sophie Hannah stars4

The Rehearsal – Eleanor Catton stars4

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – Alan Bradley stars4

The Long Song – Andrea Levy stars4

My Father’s Paradise – Ariel Sabar stars4

Nights at the Circus – Angela Carter stars3h

Angelology – Danielle Trussoni stars3h

Solar – Ian McEwan stars3h

The Temple-goers – Aatish Taseer stars3h

Small Wars – Sadie Jones stars3

Seeing – Jose Saramago stars1 (DNF)

Plans for May

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet – David Mitchell

Good to a Fault – Marina Endicott

The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner

I Know This Much is True – Wally Lamb

A Life Apart – Neel Murkherjee

Bequest – A.K. Shevchenko

Our Tragic Universe – Scarlett Thomas

The Hiding Place – Trezza Azzopardi

The Surrendered – Chang-Rae Lee

Marcelo in the Real World – Francisco Stork

Blueeyedboy – Joanne Harris

The Birth of Love – Joanna Kavenna 

Acts of Violence – David Jahn

Beside the Sea – Veronique – Olmi

The White Bone – Barbara Gowdy

The Orange Short list

I tried really hard to read most of the Orange short list before it was announced, reading 9/20 of the long list. I  concentrated on those others had said were good, but unfortunately my efforts failed to pay off and the short list was a big surprise. Even simple chance was against me and with the exception of my failed attempt at Wolf Hall I hadn’t read any of the short list.

I had wanted to read the entire short list before the winner was announced on 6th June, but my failure to predict the 6 finalists has left me a bit disheartened. I had hoped to only have one or two Oranges left to read in May, but having 5 is a bit much. I will read them all at some point, but am not sure I want to read all five in May.

Black Water Rising – Attica Locke

The Lacuna – Barbara Kingsolver

A Gate at the Stairs – Lorrie Moore

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle – Monique Roffey

The Very Thought of You – Rosie Alison

Which books from my list should I ensure I read?

Do you plan to read any of the same ones?

I hope you have a fantastic May!

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  1. cbjames says:

    I’ve been drawn to Jonathan Littell books lately. Something by him is prominently displayed at just about every bookstore I enter. I need to give him a try soon.

    1. Jackie says:

      cbjames, I am tempted to try more of his books now, but suspect they won’t be as good as this one. I hope you decide to read one and let me know if it is worth me trying it.

  2. Bina says:

    I really have no idea how you all read that much. But I love it, so many great book suggestions every day :)
    I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Marcelo in the Real World and Our Tragic Universe. I read Thomas´ PopCo and enjoyed it a lot.

    1. Jackie says:

      Bina, I think that not having a job helps me to read more :-)

      I haven’t read PopCo, but loved Mr Y. I’m hoping Tragic Universe is just as good.

  3. Laura says:

    I would love to read your thoughts on Black Water Rising. That one intrigues me. I’m not even attempting the shortlist before the prize announcement but full marks to you for trying!

    1. Jackie says:

      Laura, Black Water Rising has had quite a few average reviews so I look forward to finding out what it is like. I’m hoping I enjoy it more than other people have.

  4. Sandy says:

    You have done your job this month. I bought The Kindly Ones AND Hurting Distance on Kindle. I just keep buying and buying, with the intent that this summer I will be reading nothing BUT Kindle while I am rambling around the country.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I hope that you find lots of time for kindle reading later this year. I’m sure you’ll love The Kindly Ones and look forward to reading your review.

  5. I’ve only read one Wally Lamb, She’s Come Done and it was excellent. I have I Know this much is True and The Hour I First Believed on my TBR pile – I have to conquer my sizeist phobia and tackle them.

    I hope you enjoy blueeyedboy as much as I did – it’s a brave departure from the magical, foodie world for the author and I think she’s pulled it off with great panache.

    Re The Orange shortlist, I think I’ve read two which didn’t make the short list, The Long Song and The Little Stranger (really enjoyed both of these) – oops I tell a lie, was The Help on the long list – it was excellent, should have won the whole thing! I’m currently reading The White Woman on the Green Bicycle and am surprised by how much I like it despite the not very likeable characters! I would like to read The Lacuna this month although I have heard mixed reviews and if A Gate at the Stairs arrives soon in the post, I will read it too.

    I couldn’t get on with Wolf Hall at all but have set it to one side in the hope (vain?) that one day I will be in the right frame of mind to read it. I’m a bit of a lightweight re historical fiction – Philippa Gregory yes, Alison Weir, yes, as long as she doesn’t get too detailed and YA historical fiction like Sally Gardner and Mary Hooper fit the bill for entertaining historical reads for me.

    1. Jackie says:

      Teresa, I’m half way through Blueeyedboy and am loving it so far. I haven’t read any of her earlier books, but I think she is an author I’ll love.

      I agree The Help was fantastic and am surprised that it didn’t make the shortlist. I’ve just started The Woman on the Green Bicycle and am loving it so far – I can see me rooting for it to win.

      I couldn’t get on with Wolf Hall either, but may give the audio book a try one day. Good luck with it!

  6. JoV says:

    I read This much I know it’s true – Wally Lamb last year, I must say this requires extra effort. it might foil your plan to finish the book list for May because it is like 900 pages!!!

    I think you have a wonderful book in store, I personally would like to read “A life apart” and Blue eyed boy. Hope to read your reviews soon!

    1. Jackie says:

      JoV, I have picked a few longer books for May. I will probably have trouble finishing some, but I hope my new plan to read a few pages each morning will help me to get through these chunksters!

  7. Stujallen says:

    a busy month by the look jackie ,all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stujallen, I know I’ll never make it through them all this month, but I’ll have fun trying!

  8. a good month of reading

    The Sound and the Fury is excellent although I think Light in August or Absalom, Absalom! are better

    I’ve seen a copy of that Wally Lamb book in the library, might take a lookse

    looking forward to the new David Mitchell novel…12 days to go

    1. Jackie says:

      DamnedConjuror, I’m half way through The Sound and The Fury now and am not loving it yet. I hope it improves towards the end and will keep an eye out for Light in August and Absalom, Absalom!

  9. Megan says:

    Blueeyedboy has been on my radar ever since you posted it on your Orange long list prediction post. I hope you read it soon because I’d love to get your thoughts!

    1. Jackie says:

      Megan, Blueeyedboy is fantastic so far. Hopefully you won’t have to wait too long for my thoughts now.

  10. Shannon says:

    Wow, congrats on reading all that in April! I see a few books I’m adding to my to read list.

    I just started A Gate at the Stairs today. Not too much to comment on yet but so far an easy read.

    1. Jackie says:

      Shannon, Not sure I like the sound of an easy read with not much to comment on :-) I hope it improves and look forward to your review.

  11. Skip says:

    Well, The Sound and the Fury is an all-timer, but you knew that. I read A Gate at the Stairs and while it didn’t initally leave much of an impression on me, I find myself thinking of it often.

    1. Jackie says:

      Skip, The Sound and the Fury isn’t grabbing me so far, but I hope it gets better towards the end. It is good to hear that The Gate at the Stairs leaves an impression. I’m not sure I’ll be able to fit it into May now, but will read it soon.

  12. Roz says:

    I’ve read three of the shortlist so far and do intend to read the rest before the beginning of June. In part because I haven’t ever managed it before. I thought the Lorrie Moore was truly excellent – though I have no idea why it has the title it does. I very much enjoyed The Very Thought of You, but didn’t think it was as innovative or interesting as, for example, The Rehearsal. (Though in retrospect, as my partner read The Very Thought of You, I wondered whether I underestimated it, since the themes and characters are very powerful, and stayed with me in a way that other books I’ve read this year haven’t.

    I very much like your blog, which I’ve been reading since January. It has inspired many nook purchases (including My Father’s Paradise, which I’m reading at the moment)!

    1. Jackie says:

      Roz, It sounds as though you’re doing a much better job with the Orange prize than me! I have just finished The Very Thought of You and agree with you. I was surprised it made the short list at the expense of The Rehearsal (or The Help or Hearts and Minds!). I haven’t had time to see if it stays with me, but I would be surprised if it does.

      Thanks for the kind comments about my blog. I hope you find many more good books to read!

  13. Charlie says:

    I think this is the first time so far I want to read/have read so many books from someone else’s list. I’ve read Small Wars and really want to read Sophie Hannah’s books and Angelology. I haven’t read any of those you’ve mentioned wanting to read, but I liked the cover of The Lacuna.

    1. Jackie says:

      Charlie, It is great to find someone with the same book taste! I’m sure you’ll love Sophie Hannah – enjoy!

  14. A good list this month Jackie! Plenty of 4 and 5 stars which must have made for enjoyable reading. I’ve got Small Wars on my TBR.

    1. Jackie says:

      Novel Insights, It has been a good month – overall they were mainly enjoyable reads. I hope May is just as good :-)

  15. Amy says:

    I haven’t read any of the books you have planned for this month, or from the short list, so I can’t recommend any! I did finish Angelology yesterday though and am trying to get my thoughts in order!

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, I’ve just been to read your review and it sounds as though we had very similar reactions to it. Hopefully we’ll find some better reads in May!

      1. Amy says:

        Agreed :) Here’s to better reads!

  16. My May has filled up very quickly with reading commitments and I don’t think it’s going to leave me with much freedom to read on a whim. I also have a couple of chunksters for review (including the Mitchell) that I really should begin and perhaps your approach is one to try myself…

    I haven’t read any on your list but intrigued by a few. I haven’t read any of the Orange shortlist (excluding Wolf Hall) either and I doubt I will now before it is announced; the only one that really calls to me is The White Woman on the Green Bicycle.

    1. Jackie says:

      Claire, From the few pages I’ve read I can see why The Woman on the Bicycle is calling you – it is fantastic so far and think it is going to be the best of the short list.

      My chunkster approach probably won’t work for the Mitchell – it is quite hard to follow and I found I had to devote several long sessions to it and even then had to re-read some bits. It might be a good method for The Passage though? Good luck!

  17. Violet says:

    I need a lie down after reading your lists. I never plan my reading. It just happens. Or it doesn’t. :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Violet, I don’t like to plan the reading order, but if I make my lists long enough I quite enjoy picking books from lists! Hope you enjoyed your lie down ;-)

  18. Iris says:

    You have a lot of reading planned in May! Even if you do not read it this month, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on The White Woman on the Green Bicycle, the title somehow appeals to me.

    1. Jackie says:

      Iris, I’ve started it, so should easily get it finished in May!

  19. Kathleen says:

    I can’t wait to hear what you think of the Wally Lamb book. I read this some years ago and really enjoyed it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kathleen, I have heard wonderful things about it and hope I love it as much as I think I will.

  20. From this list I’m most excited about reading A Gate at the Stairs, The White Woman on the Green Bicycle, and Black Water Rising. I’m in no hurry to read them before the winner is announced, though (will probably want to read all of them eventually either way).

    1. Jackie says:

      Lija, It sounds as though you are impressed by the Orange short list. I hope you get round to one or two before the winner is announced – enjoy!

  21. Jenners says:

    I was disappointed in the Lamb book so I’m curious to see what you think. And I want to read the Marcelo in the Real World book so I’m curious to see your thoughts on this as well.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, You are the first person I’ve heard that didn’t enjoy the Lamb book – I am interested to see what I make of it. I hope to read Marcelo next week :-)

  22. Sarah Prior says:

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the Joanne Harris Jackie as it’s had mixed reviews on our site. I read the Wally Lamb many moons ago (seem to remember it was an Oprah book club pick – but don’t let that put you off) I was a little disappointed, and have to admit to not actually finishing it – so again, will be good to hear your views. I’ve just included The Surrendered and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet in our top 10 picks for May – high hopes for those two. I think the David Mitchell in particular sounds like a fantastic story and the buzz is already big for that one. Happy reading!

    1. Jackie says:

      Sarah, Don’t worry – I love Oprah’s picks so knowing she choice it as well only makes it more appealing! I’m hoping The Surrendered is as good as the Mitchell!

  23. I read Beside the Sea recently and loved it. I found the writing style took some getting used to, but it was worth it. Very bleak, very powerful. Haven’t read any of the Orange shortlist unfortunately, but maybe I should – I usually go to the readings in June, and would probably get more out of them if I’d read all the books first!

    1. Jackie says:

      Andrew, I have heard many wonderful things about Beside the Sea, so I am looking forward to it.

      I almost went to the Orange readings, but think I’ll be at the Hay Festival instead – tough decision :-) I hope you enjoy a few of those Orange books!

  24. Shigekuni says:

    Wow what a diverse reading list. The Chang-Rae Lee is really high up on my own tbr pile. I’m wondering how you’ll like the Lorrie Moore book. I hated it: http://shigekuni.wordpress.com/2010/05/23/gaudy-lorrie-moores-a-gate-at-the-stairs/ but even people who liked it admit that it has lots and lots of faults.

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