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A book at bedtime

I used to read a lot when I was a child/teenager. We'd go to the town library, I'd check out the full allowance of books (which I think was 8, but may have increased to 12 later on) and by the next time we went back to the library (probably the following week), I'd have read them all. Now that I have to do things like go to work, feed myself, wash clothes etc etc, I probably don't read that many books in a year. (Although I do read the newspaper on my Kindle most days).  This may also be influenced by the fact that if I really get in to a book I find it hard to tear myself away from it to do anything else, such as sleep, and end up knackered and living in a bit of a mess. (Moderation...what's that?!
So rather than watching stuff on BBC iPlayer at bedtime, I am going to start reading, but limit myself to 10.30pm lights out to try and impose this 'moderation' thing on myself. (If I am really tired or it is a boring book, I may fall asleep with book on face, and wake up at 1am, wondering why it's still light).
Leaning tower of DVDs...
Although I have a Kindle, I still have a reasonable number of 'real' books which I have never read/ never finished, and quite a few 'specialist' books from my history degree. I have already got rid ofboxes full of books, but there are still plenty. Also, having given away a massive Ikea book case that was half empty, the remaining two bookcases are a little'd be nice to dispense with the massive piles of precariously balanced DVDs (all of which the bf deems necessary) so the plan for the rest of 2012 and for 2013 is to read through the books in my collection that I am not certain about keeping, and donating the ones that I don't want to keep. (Or perhaps selling the 'specialist' ones...) If I'm forcing myself to finish something, it's probably a good sign that it can GO. There are some definite keepers, such as a very battered copy of Jane Eyre that I have read endlessly, and a book that my great-grandmother was given as a prize in 1895. [Edit- mum says this was not a great grandmother, but a great aunt...still...] Plus any current reference books (mostly horse related).


I also used to make massive lists of books that I wanted to read, and diligently worked my way through them. I remember when I was at middle school, I read the list of suggested reading very quickly (probably within a month) and so compiled my own, much bigger list! So, I have made a list of all of my books, and will read through them- not as fast as middle school me would have managed, though! Some of the academic ones have been shamefully under-used, but I am expecting to find some of them interesting now that I am not desperately trying to cram information into my brain and form an opinion for an essay (the writing of which I usually did in four hours on the day of the deadline, without checking through before handing in- how did I get a degree?!)

In no particular order:

1. Mean Time- Carol Ann Duffy (poetry, studied at A-level, many notes)
2. 100 Best Loved Poems (teenage poetry phase)
3. Poetry Please
4. More Poetry Please
5. The Selfish Gene- Richard Dawkins (just realised that this can go, as I bought it on Kindle for the princely sum of 99p. Probably not worth selling on Amazon)
6. The God Delusion- Richard Dawkins- started this on holiday but didn't finish.
7. Discovering Life on Earth- David Attenborough. Child's edition, which I have had for years. Not sure I ever read it cover to cover though...
8. Edge of Blue Heaven- Benedict Allen. Pretty sure I read this cover to cover in 2002/3..time to revisit..
9. Long Way Round- Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. Read this too, revisit.
10. Planet Earth- BBC?
11. Tea Lover's Companion- this one is being given away unread, as I got quite bored.
12. Behind Closed Doors in Georgian England- Amanda Vickery. Loved the TV series-it's still saved on Sky+, but didn't progress far with the book.
13. Britain in Revolution- Austin Woolrych. Uni book, read small parts of it.
14. An Elizabethan Progress- Zillah Dovey. Work, not uni.
15. Tudor and Stuart Britain- John Morrill
16. Tournament- Crouch
17. Armies and Warfare- Prestwich
18. Medieval Warfare- Keen
19. NT Book of Castles
20. The Suffolk Landscape
21. History of Bury St Edmunds
22. Haunted Bury St Edmunds
23. Diary of John Longe
24. Savage Fortune
25. Suffolk Committees
26. Six Wives- David Starkey
27. The Tudors- A Short Introduction
28. The Family, Sex and Marriage- Lawrence Stone
29. Chivalry- Keen
30. Renaissance in Europe- King
31. Early Medieval Europe- Collins
32. England Under the Normans- Bartlett
33. Chapter of Kings
34. How to read buildings
35. Emma Darwin
36. English Civil War- Diane Purkiss
37. The Stuart Age- Coward
38. Medieval Women- Henrietta Leyser
39. Proceedings of the Short Parliament
40. Constitutional Documents of the Puritan Revolution
41. Stuart consitution
42. The Three Edwards- Michael Prestwich
43. The book of chivalry of Geffroi de Charney
44. Conflict in Early Stuart England- Cust and Hughes
45. Puritanism and Liberty- the Putney Debates
46. Anne Boleyn- The Lady in the Tower
47. Witchfinders- A Seventheenth Century English Tragedy- Malcolm Gaskill.
48. Newton and the Counterfeiter- Thomas Levenson
49. Elizabeth and Mary- Jane DunnThis book has been lurking on my bookshelf for years- maybe ten years or more. I should have read it sooner, as it was a fairly easy read, and very interesting, especially in the contrasts between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, due in part to their very different upbringings.
50. Complete Shakespeare (facsimile of 19th C illustrated copy) (I've read some plays, but would like to read them all eventually).
51. A Street Cat Named Bob- James Bowen Got this for Christmas (thank you Santa!) and read in in about two sittings. Not the most well written book in the world (perhaps because the author is a former homeless heroin addict- the story is not always totally coherent, and he is not a professional writer) but it contains a very interesting cat...and I am now looking at my three cats and saying 'why don't you lot ride on my shoulders?!' I can't imagine mine choosing to go busking in central London- they hide on the wardrobe as soon as I get the vacuum out, so I doubt that they would cope with all of the noise! 52. Wendy- Karen Wallace I was given this recently, and read it all in one go. Quite short, but I really enjoyed it. May in fact be a chidren's book,but never mind! Now, must get on with reading books that have been sitting around for a while...
So, pretty much all light reading there, then!

I also have unread Kindle books (yes, I am BRILLIANT at finishing things...) which I may read between the above to give a little light relief (ha!)

These are:

1. Dracula- Bram Stoker- never read
2. David Copperfield- Charles Dickens
3. Beowulf
4. Frankenstein- Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly
5. Lorna Doone- R.D. Blackmore
6. Oliver Twist- Charles Dickens
7. A Tale of Two Cities- Charles Dickens
8. Nicholas Nickleby- Charles Dickens
9. Crawford- Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
10. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall- Anne Bronte
11. The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating- Elisabeth Tova Bailey
12. The China Bird- Bryony Doran
13. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother- William Shawcross
14. I used to know that- History- Emma Marriott
15. A Journal of the Plague Year- Daniel Defoe
16. Delusions of Gender- Cordelia Fine
17. Bats Sing, Mice Giggle- Shanor and Kanwal
18. The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin- Masha Gessen
19. A Brief History of the Third Reich- Martyn Whittock
20. The Selfish Gene- Richard Dawkins
21. The Universe Inside You- Brian Clegg
22. 50 Facts that Should Change the World- Jessica Williams
23. The Diamond Queen- Andrew Marr
24. Broadmoor Revealed: Victorian Crime and the Lunatic Asylum- Mark Stevens
25. The Borgias- Christopher Hibbert
26. As Good as God, as Clever as the Devil
27. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China- Jung Chang
28. The Portable Atheist- Christopher Hitchens
 29. Map of a Nation- Rachel Hewitt
30. Written in Stone- Brian Switek
31. God is not Great- Christopher Hitchens
32. Bird watching with your eyes closed- Simon Barnes
33. Bad Science- Ben Goldacre
34. A Short History of Tractors in Ukraine- Marina Lewycka

So... will be editing this to update what I have read/given up on and what I think of it.

Have you read any of the books on my list? Anything that is fantastic and I should really start with?


  1. DVDs are all necessary! Must read more books myself too!

  2. Allll necessary?! We did cull quite a few..

  3. Holy Moly! That's quite a list! A Short History of Tractors in Ukraine?!? Seriously?!?

    I fear I'm not a big reader... it's not that I don't like it, I've just never been very good at it. I think I'm border line dyslexic, and I often have to read the same sentence over and over - sometimes out loud actually, before I can translate the written characters into something meaningful. Plus, presbyopia seems to have struck big time, so I'm gonna have to go get a new eyeglasses prescription soon!

    But CatMan loves to read out loud to me, so we always have a book that we're working through. Lately they've mostly been books in Spanish since that is another of our passions. It's often slow going - he reads and I look up the words we don't yet know. But it is great fun. Currently we're working our way through "Retrato en Sepia" (Portrait in Sepia) by Isabel Allende. It's thoroughly delightful!

  4. A Short History of Tractors in Ukraine [actually Ukrainian, now I come to look it up!] is actually a fiction book, and probably one of the lighter reads on the list!
    I didn't want to read books when I was little, but once my mum and teachers persuaded me that it was a good idea, there was no stopping me! Possibly helped that we used to get given chocolate at school if we read a certain number of books :D (Reading AND chocolate...what could be bad about that?!)
    From how I heard people describe dyslexia (words swapping over within sentences, etc) it sounds like you might be borderline dyslexic if you have to read things repeatedly... I only have to do that usually if something is particularly convoluted or badly written. I am really short sighted (too much reading as a child?!) but luckily I can still read without glasses/contact lenses..with book held close to face!

    I'd love to be good enough at another language to read a book in it! I did French at school (and a year of German, the only words of which I can remember are 'speck', which is bacon, and 'apfelsaft' which is apple juice! I suppose I could learn again if I wanted to, but I think I'm a bit too perfectionist to have the patience- I'd want to be proficient straight away. Plus, from my time learning it at school, I know it is not something that comes naturally- I am good at learning words and individual sentences, but rubbish at understanding grammar and so on and working out how to construct a sentence that I have never heard before.

  5. I've always been a foreign language buff... it's generally come pretty easy for me at least in terms of conversational stuff, when it comes to looking at the words though... well I'm OK as long as I can say it out loud to myself, but if not, then I'm sunk!

    It really does make me wonder about the dyslexia... I make some of the classic mistakes like writing b when I meant to write p, or h when I meant to write n. I suppose it doesn't really matter at this point it my life, but college was sure hell... the only way I got through was to lock myself in a closet and read my assignments out loud to myself while walking in tiny circles to stay awake. Oy! Perhaps chocolate would have helped! :-)

    And I am glad to know that the tractors book is fiction, I was picturing some sort of encyclopedia of the tractor or something, and I was really starting to worry!

  6. From my completely unprofessional, anecdotal knowledge of dyslexia, it sounds like you might have it, if you get similar letters muddled. I don't think there is much you can do about it, other than find coping mechanisms like reading out loud. I suppose if it was diagnosed in school/college they might have given you a bit more leeway for 'interesting' spelling etc :)

    The most boring book on the list is probably The Constitutional Documents of the Puritan Revolution- it's pretty much only interesting if you are studying 17th century English history..important, but not necessarily riveting!


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