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Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Birthday Books

My birthday was last Thursday and I was lucky enough to receive several books as presents. I admit that quite a few of them were on my Amazon Wish List, so it was easy for my family to choose their selections, but others weren't and I'm touched that my friends know me well enough to pick just the right book.

The Maggie O'Farrell was on my Wish List and my husband purchased it on behalf of my mother-in-law who is sadly now in a care home with dementia and Alzheimer's. I love a nice hardback, especially when it's got one of those beautiful ribbon bookmarks inside. I've almost finished this book, which is a memoir, featuring Maggie's seventeen brushes with death. It sounds depressing, but it isn't. In fact, it's quite an uplifting read and is a novel way of approaching the story of one's life. She continues to be one of my favourite authors and I've read everything she's written.

My good friend, Mandy Huggins warned me that I'd be receiving a parcel in the post, which looked like an Amazon parcel and not to open it, because it wasn't gift wrapped. I was a good girl and didn't open it until the morning of my birthday. Inside was a book I hadn't heard of, but I was delighted to discover the author lives in Saltburn by the Sea, where we've enjoyed many a happy holiday. I look forward to reading it. It's next on my list. Mandy has read it and has been raving about it.

Back in August I had a lovely time in London visiting my friends, Nigel and Tom. We first met at The Bedford International Short Story Award Presentation Evening in January 2016. Nigel and I were both on the shortlist and our stories were featured in the anthology. The three of us got on like a house on fire and we've been firm friends ever since. On my latest visit, Nigel took me to The British Library and we took in the LGBT Exhibition there. It was fascinating. One of my favourites exhibits was Kenneth Williams' actual diary from 1967. He had the tiniest handwriting. I told Nigel that I dearly wished I could have picked it out of the glass case and read it from beginning to end. "Have you not read the published diaries?" he asked. "No, I haven't." So, this duly appeared a couple of days before my birthday. A very thoughtful present and it was beautifully gift wrapped, too. I'm tempted to start it and read alongside the Carmen Marcus novel.

As most of you know, I attend The Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival at Harrogate most years. An author I have got to know well is Eva Dolan. She has championed my own writing and been incredibly helpful in suggesting agents and how/when to approach them. I've read most of Eva's novels and they're real page-turners, but with a gritty insight into the political and social issues of our times. I'm now lucky enough to be on her publisher's review list, so I receive pre-publication issues. In fact, I've almost finished her latest novel, due out in January, This Is How It Ends. I won't go into detail here, because I've to write a review, but it's excellent. Anyway, the one novel of Eva's I haven't read is Tell No Tales, which is how it came to be on my Amazon Wish List. My son, Matt knows that I love a good hardback, so bought me the hardback version along with the latest Jake Bugg album on CD, which I've played to death in my car.

My husband, Nigel and I visited Howarth Parsonage on a trip to Yorkshire recently and when I saw this in the bookshop I was very tempted. However, I was restrained and put it on my Wish List instead. It was a lovely surprise to open Megan's present and find this. I'm still reading Shirley, so will save this one until I've finished the novel.

I visit my late husband's mother, Doris every Friday for coffee. She's now nearly 91. She loves reading, so it's something we have in common and can chat about. Unfortunately, her eyesight isn't at all good these days and she struggles to read, but she manages. Anyway, she gave me a beautiful birthday card last week and included some cash. I promised her I'd buy books with it, then promptly went into Rugby Town Centre (a rare event) and spent the cash in WH Smith's. It was quite a novelty to buy books from a proper shop instead of online. I had great fun browsing. Hunter Davies A Life In The Day was one of the books I was hoping someone would buy me for my birthday, so this is the one I sought out first (although the Biography Section was very hard to find!). I heard Hunter Davies talking about A Life In The Day on the radio, and last month I bought it for my goddaughter, who is a Beatles fan. I also wanted to read about his wife, Margaret Forster, because I'm a huge fan of her books and most of them are on my shelves.





It's been a while since I read any Marian Keyes, but I'm seeing her latest book everywhere lately, so I thought I'd give it a go. I loved her Under The Duvet collection of anecdotes and articles, so couldn't resist Making It Up As I Go Along.

My final purchase was the brilliant Kate Atkinson's A God In Ruins. Unfortunately, I missed out on the hardback when it first came out. I read Life After Life in hardback some time ago and I absolutely loved it. I've been itching to read the sequel, but now I'll have to read Life After Life again to fully appreciate it. It won't be a hardship, I assure you!

I love birthdays!





9 comments:

  1. Happy (belated) birthday, Jo! Wow, what a fine (and big!) collection of books you've got there. You've got some happy hours ahead of you, reading that lot. I have also bought The Break by Marian Keyes, as I LOVE her but I've lent it to my mum to read first. How kind am I?! (also, in a strange kind of way, I want to still have it to look forward to!). Report back when you've read them all and let us know which was the best (I normally love Kate Atkinson by the way and have devoured everything she's written but I couldn't get into 'A God in Ruins'! I will have to try again one day).

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  2. Thanks, Helen. I hope you enjoy The Break. Interesting about A God In Ruins. I'll report back, but it will probably take me ages to get through them, as I keep getting books to review!

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  3. Happy birthday and enjoy reading your books. I may well put the Atkinson, Keyes and Dolan works on my wishlist.

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    1. Thank you and I'm pleased my list has inspired someone!

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  4. Happy birthday and enjoy reading your books. I may well put the Atkinson, Keyes and Dolan works on my wishlist.

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  5. What a lovely selection of books, Jo. I will have to read Life After Life again before I get round to A God in Ruins. Looking forward to the Maggie O'Farrell and A Life in the Day - hopefully they will come my way at Christmas! Glad you have a lovely birthday xxx

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    1. Thank you, Jo and I hope you receive the books you desire for Christmas! xxx

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  6. Books - the perfect present! Hope you had a great birthday, Jo x

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    1. Thanks, Wendy. I had a lovely time. x

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