My year of books

Last night I returned to where it all began, the tiny fold out bed, in the spare room at my parents house. About a year ago I left my job of almost 13 years and embarked on a new challenge – working for myself. The day I left my job, I drove back to my parents to join my family and friends for the family Christmas. As I began to relax, I thought of some of the things I wanted to achieve in my new life. Some of them business related, others on a more personal level. Many were things I never had time to do when I was working all the time.

Last night as the orange glow from the streetlight filled the bedroom and the rain battered on the window, I was thinking of all the things I had done since last year. There is more stuff than will fit in one blog so I thought I’d start with the books. The rest can come later.

I have always been an avid reader. I read the BBC’s top 100 reads – it took me 10 years, but I finished it in 2013 by reading the last 32 books on my list over the year. So 2013 included James Joyce, Tolstoy and finished with The BFG (they are all on the list!). I also vowed when I finished, that I was reading what I wanted for a while!

My book challenge was to read an average of a book a week for the year – 52 in total. I wasn’t allowed to purchase more than 5 books from bookshops. I must either get them from the library, borrow from friends or read from the shelves full of books in our house.

I am pleased to report I managed to complete the challenge with a month to spare, reading the 52nd book on 24th November. I have loved the personal challenge. I have enjoyed finding new books in my local library. It has introduced me to authors I had never heard of, to read genres I wouldn’t normally have considered.

I have read on ferries, planes, trains to London, Yeovil, Bristol and beyond. I have read in hotel rooms, coffee shops, my house, a campervan, in a field at a festival, on the beach and in the bookshop of a monastery where I have been volunteering.

I have been transported to the Tudor period, Oxford colleges, 1960’s Sweden, parallel universes where ghosts commit crimes and there are women who are part fish. To jail cells, sleepy american towns, Police stations, the scenes of numerous murders and on marches for women’s right to vote. To 1940’s London in the blackout, Ravensbruck, and a town that survived the plague.

I have seen good triumph over evil, killers being caught and some get away. Families smashed apart and be reunited. Marriages, births and deaths. New friendships made and old friendships lost. All from the pages of a book.

I have mislaid my glasses about 193 times!

I am just finishing my first Val McDermid novel (I never said I was reading highbrow stuff!) and next on the list is one of the British Library Classics with a Christmas theme. Mystery in White by J.Jefferson Farjeon. Well tis the Season and all that! It is the 5th book I have bought this year.

As 2015 draws to a close, times have changed again. I am back in employment in a new job that I love. My challenge for 2016 is to read 30 books and buy no more than 3. See you for an update this time next year!

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