May Summary and Plans for June

I finished 14 books in May. I was unable to resist the Orange list and so my reading was dominated by books from it. Unfortunately I don’t seem to have the same taste in books as the Orange judges this year – I’ll post a full summary of my thoughts on the Orange short list at some point in the next week, but overall I was quite disappointed.

I noticed that all the books I read were relatively new. I am disappointed by the lack of older books and so intend to concentrate on reading a few next month.

Book of the Month


Beside the Sea – Veronique Olmi

The City & The City – China Miéville 

Hearts and Minds – Amanda Craig 

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet – David Mitchell 

The Weight of a Mustard Seed – Wendell Steavenson 

Even the Dogs – Jon McGregor 

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle – Monique Roffey 

A Gate at the Stairs – Lorrie Moore 

The Very Thought of You – Rosie Alison 

Acts of Violence – Ryan David Jahn 

Black Water Rising – Attica Locke 

Blueeyedboy – Joanne Harris 

Hector and the Search for Happiness – Francois Lelord 


Plans for June

The Booker long list isn’t announced until 27th July, so I am going to enjoy a brief period of time without a book prize list to work from! I’m going to try to read a few of the books that I wanted to read in May and then focus on some international reads. I hope to squeeze in a few science fiction reads too! 

A Life Apart – Neel Murkherjee

Our Tragic Universe – Scarlett Thomas

The Surrendered – Chang-Rae Lee

Marcelo in the Real World – Francisco Stork

The Birth of Love – Joanna Kavenna

The White Bone – Barbara Gowdy

Ilustrado – Miguel Syjuco

Songs from the Other Side of the Wall – Dan Holloway

Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

The Piano Teacher – Elfriede Jelinek

The Russian Countess – Edith Sollohub

Palace Walk – Naguib Mahfouz

How Late it Was, How Late – James Kelman

The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox – Maggie O’Farrell

The Tin Drum – Gunter Grass

White is for Witching – Helen Oyeyemi

I know I probably won’t be able to fit them all in, but several are very short so you never know!

Which books from my list should I ensure I read?

Do you plan to read any of the same ones?

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  1. Study Window says:

    Oyeyemi is one of my favourite writers at the moment. I think she has made tremendous strides forward since she first came onto the book scene with ‘The Icarus Girl’. I was working with secondary teachers at the time and I would push it under their noses mercilessly. Definitely read ‘White is for Witching’.

    1. Jackie says:

      Study Window, It is great to know that you love it! I am very intrigued by Oyeyemi – I really hope to squeeze White is For Witching into June.

  2. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox is great, (I can still remember sentences from it years after reading it) and I can’t wait to read Our Tragic Universe.

    The Tin Drum is on my TBR as well. Happy June reading!

    1. Jackie says:

      tea lady, I haven’t read any Maggie Farrell before, so was really torn as to whether I should read Esme or her new one. In the end I decided that Esme seems to be a modern classic and so should start with that one. I hope that I enjoy it as much as everyone else seems to.

  3. Iris says:

    Ambitious plans for June, but then again I notice each month that you manage to do a lot of reading.

    1. Jackie says:

      Iris, I don’t expect to read them all – I just like to have a nice big pool of books to choose from :-) My husband is away a lot in June though, so I do expect to have a lot of free time this month to get more reading done than usual.

  4. Laura says:

    I will be reading How Late it Was, how Late in June myself. It’s my second attempt — the first time I just wasn’t in the mood for it. I must tell you, I read the Jelinek and didn’t care for it. But you often see things I don’t, so I’m looking forward to your review.

    1. Jackie says:

      Laura, It will be nice to compare notes on the Kelman. Hopefully we’ll both enjoy it.

      Sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy the Jelinek. I was hoping for another intense read. Fingers crossed I’ll enjoy it more than you did.

  5. Jenny says:

    The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and White is for Witching are both very good, but I’d be most curious to see what you made of Ender’s Game. Looks like you have a lot of great books on tap for June!

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenny, Hopefully I’ll be able to make it through those three. I’m very excited about my June reads. I have high hopes for a lot of them :-)

  6. Sandy says:

    You have such a respectable reading list! I love that you tackle those prize lists with such vigour! I have The Piano Teacher on my shelves right now. A good friend of mine listened to the audio, and said it was very good, so I will probably have to pull it out and place it in the short stack soon!

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, It is a shame that reading the prize list didn’t pay off with a few good discoveries, but at least I’ve finished it now.

      I look forward to comparing notes on the Piano Teacher soon.

  7. Tony says:

    I read (and reviewed) Dan Holloway’s book last year – still waiting for him to finish his next one though ;)

    Of the others, I would like to read ‘Die Blechtrommel’ (‘The Tin Drum’) having read ‘Katz und Maus’ and will do so as soon as the Book Depository offers it for a bit less than they do at present!

    1. Jackie says:

      Tony, I’m really hoping I love Dan’s book enough for me to hope he completes a second :-)

      I hope you find a reasonably priced Tin Drum soon – I found mine second hand a while ago so don’t have to worry about the price. Good luck!

  8. Stujallen says:

    i really enjoyed dan’s book last year ,palace walk mean to be good ,i m embarking on some arab reading this month ,also grass have to read he is one of my favourite writer and the new translation of tin drum meant be wonderful ,all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, I read the first few pages of Palace Walk and loved it. I hope the rest is as good.

      I’m afraid I haven’t got the new Tin Drum translation – my copy is quite old. :-( I hope it doesn’t detract from my enjoyment.

  9. Helen says:

    I have heard such good things about Marcelo in the Real World and The Piano Teacher, but I haven’t read either one. The Tin Drum is definitely strange, be warned!

    1. Jackie says:

      Helen, I quite like strange, but thanks for the warning :-)

  10. Andreea says:

    I haven’t read any of these, but I don’t tend to read books that have won prizes because that doesn’t always mean that they’re good. I tend to choose books that have a great synopsis that piques my interest and I read reviews (good and bad) because that’s how I know if I will like them or not. And my strategy works 90 % of the time. I rarely pick up a book that I won’t like.

    1. Jackie says:

      Andreea, I’m afraid that I have a bit of an addiction to prize lists. I’m terrible at knowing whether or not I’ll enjoy a book from the premise alone so I like working my way through prize lists. Reading books I don’t enjoy helps me to learn what I do and don’t like in books. It is great that you can predict whether or not you’ll enjoy a book though :-)

  11. It’s too bad you didn’t love the Orange List. I’ll be interested in your thoughts on that soon :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Kim, It is a shame as I normally find a few books that I love. I’ll hopefully have a summary up in the next week.

  12. Carole says:

    The only book on your reading list that I’ve read is The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. I thought the writing was excellent and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Carloe, I have heard wonderful things about Esme. I’m really looking forward to reading it :-)

  13. JoAnn says:

    Palace Walk was one of my favorites the year I read it (you’ll want to read the other two books in the trilogy soon after). Marcelo in the Real World is wonderful and a quick read, too.

    1. Jackie says:

      JoAnn, It is good to know that you wanted to read the rest of the trilogy soon after the first. Unfortunately I don’t own the other two yet – I’ll have to work on that :0)

  14. vivienne says:

    I wouldn’t rush to read White is For Witching. I can’t say it was very good and no where near as good as her other books.

    1. Jackie says:

      vivienne, I love the way White is for Witching divides people. I am very intrigued by it :-)

  15. diane says:

    You had a great month Jackie; keep up the good work in June. I enjoyed the Piano Teacher and look forward to a few others on your June list.

    1. Jackie says:

      Thanks Diane! I look forward to comapring notes!

  16. I’m looking forward to working through the Orange longlist and the last two of this year’s Pulitzer fiction before the Booker longlist. Of course, if it’s like last year, most won’t be available in the U.S. yet, which makes it much more difficult. Happy June reading!

    1. Jackie says:

      Carrie, I’m really excited about the Booker list this year. I have read a lot of potential contenders already and will be very interested to see what makes the list. I look forward to comparing notes with you.

  17. Mome Rath says:

    I’m glad you’re reading Palace Walk. I read the trilogy two years ago, and the books are memorable. I’m curous what your take on it will be.
    The Tin Drum keeps showing up on blog discussions, so I probably should read it sometime soon this summer. And that would give me a chance to read more German fiction.
    The only science fiction I’ve read recently is Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy, which attempts to portray the settlement and terraforming of Mars in mostly realistic terms. Although Robinson periodically bogs down the narrative with scientific description, the first book tells a pretty interesting story. Hope you enjoy your SF and world literature reads this summer.

    1. Jackie says:

      Mome Rath, I must be reading different blogs to you as I haven’t seen any Tin Drum discussions. I’ll have to go and seek them out once I start reading. I’ve just discovered that Tin Drum is very long, so it might take a while to get through, but I am very intrigued.

  18. mee says:

    I’d be very interested to know what you think of A Life Apart, Ilustrado, The Piano Teacher, The Surrendered, Ender’s Game, How Late it was how late, and Esme Lennox. By the way I’d like to add for a good sci-fi, I heard about The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi from Books on the Nightstand yesterday and it looks promising.

    1. Jackie says:

      mee, It is great to see that you are interested in so many of the books I plan to read. I hadn’t heard of The Wind-up Girl before, but I’ll look into it – thanks for the recommendation!

  19. I very rarely disregard an author for their beliefs or politics, but Orson Scott Card is one who I won’t read. I can take his views on evolution and global warming, but won’t read him because of his views on homosexuality.

    1. Jackie says:

      J.T. I rarely know much about an author’s beliefs, but I have heard about Card’s. It won’t stop me reading a book, but I will bear it in mind as I do so.

  20. You have great books lined up here!

    Here is myMay Wrap-Up post!

  21. Jenners says:

    Well I hope you read Ender’s Game! I would love to see what you think of it!! Great reading for you .. as always. Enjoy your break from the prize list books.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, Don’t worry – I will ensure that Ender’s Game is near the top of the list!

  22. Bina says:

    You read a lot of books in may! :) I´m really looking forward to reading Olmi´s novel and I hope you´ll read The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. One more gushing review and I´ll nee to buy it :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Bina, I hope that my review is the one that pushes you into buying Esme :-)

  23. From what I’ve heard, A Life Apart is a must-read. And I’m excited that you’re planning on reading some Gowdy! I actually haven’t read The White Bone yet, so I might have to try to get a hold of that one too.

    1. Jackie says:

      Lija, I haven’t heard much about A Life Apart, but it sounds fantastic to me – I’m pleased that someone else has actually heard about it!

      I think it was you who persuaded me to read some Gowdy and White Bone just happended to be the first I spotted. I hope I enjoy it!

  24. Dan Holloway says:

    Gosh, wow! What a lovely surprise to see Songs on there. And I’m SOO looking forward to seeing what you make of The Piano Teacher.

    1. Jackie says:

      Dan, I really hope that I enjoy both books!

  25. Beth F says:

    Wow — great month and some good books coming up.

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