Books of the Month – January 2011

Book of the month

I’ve had an excellent start to the reading year, finishing 17 books and only encountering one real dud in January. A completely unanticipated 5-star read is my book of the month. Christopher Brookmyre’s Pandaemonium is brilliantly written, funny, full of great characters and offers genuine insight into the taboo subject of the nature of faith. Plus it was read (to me personally I like to imagine) by a bloke with a swoon-inducing Scottish accent.

I also have two highly recommended honourable mentions which were very different books but were each captivating:

  • Leighton Gage’s Blood of the Wicked is the first novel to feature Mario Silva of the Brazilian police and is a dynamically written debut that inserts the reader right into the action and provides an insightful and engaging social and political commentary.
  • Death Mask is Kathryn Fox’s fifth novel but in my opinion her best. It examines the psychology of team sports and its players, fans and hangers-on in a thoughtful and entertaining way.

Books read this month

Just Because (i.e. not for a challenge)

Aussie Authors Challenge (1 read, 11 to go)

Canadian Challenge (11 read, 2 to go)

Eastern European Challenge (1 read, 3 to go)

Global Challenge (1 read, 13 to go)

Good Reads Aussie Readers Summer (8 read, challenge complete)

Historical Fiction Challenge (2 read, 3 to go)

Ireland Challenge (1 read, 3 to go)

Nordic Challenge (1 read, 10-19 to go)

What’s In a Name #4 (1 read, 5 to go)

Books acquired this month

In good and bad news I have acquired 19 books this month. Good because I like to have lots of books but bad because it’s not really helping me in my overall goal for the year (see below). However 10 of those books were pre-orders made several months ago and so were already counted in my TBR numbers at the beginning of the year and only one of the others cost me anything. Among the month’s acquisitions are recommendations from friends, trusted bloggers and Donna’s Dad. I’m bound to find a few good ones among this lot surely.

Toppling that TBR

My overall challenge for this year is to reduce the number of books I have on hand to read from 200 (as at 1 January 2011) to 120. Having acquired so many books in the month means I haven’t done as well as I’d have liked with respect to this goal, but via reading and a bit of opportunistic culling my total TBR is down to 189. I’m not sure how I will fare in February as I still have some of last year’s pre-orders to receive and I did buy a couple more books at the Queensland flood relief Auction and I may have taken advantage of a local store’s Australia Day sale and I still have a few dollars of Borders’ vouchers left (which I am very keen to spend as I’m not sure Borders Australia is going to be selling books for much longer) (a feeling I get based on the increasingly eclectic merchandise their store near my office is now selling)…..anyone have the number for the bookaholics anonymous hotline?

Chart of the month

Not quite a chart but…This year Good Reads asked members to nominate the number of books they would read during the year and if you did so then every time you log in to the site you see your own progress towards your goal. While I’m not particularly fussed about reading an exact number of books for the year I nominated a number slightly larger than the number I finished last year and have found it quite motivating. When I feel myself wasting time in any one of the many ways I find to waste time I do now tend to remind myself that if I were reading instead of time wasting I would at least be doing something about my percentage. Plus in these times when there are always doom sayers claiming “no one reads anymore” it’s nice to see that people plan to read nearly 4 million books this year 🙂

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11 Responses to Books of the Month – January 2011

  1. Patty says:

    I can’t even track the way you are tracking your books…that is an impressive beginning!!!


  2. amy says:

    Bernadette, regarding the Scottish swooning, what is up with that? That and a solid Irish accent give me shivers. Oh, and Norwegian. Seriously. Look up Stig Saeterbakken (the author, of course) giving a speech in Norway. Yummy voice, sort of edgy/scary look. Me like.

    17 books! Amazing! This month has been tough for me….I’m SO behind.


  3. Bernadette – You are doing so well!! I am very impressed :-). You’re truly putting me to shame…


  4. Kerrie says:

    I can’t see your TBR getting a lot smaller though.
    Magnificent record keeping


  5. kathy durkin says:

    I don’t think there is a 12-step program for bookaholicism. It’s a healthy addiction, except perhaps for one’s budget. It doesn’t contribute to cholesterol or raise one’s blood pressure. In fact, I’d argue that reading, even buying books, does all kinds of good things for one’s health–except maybe the “couch potato” aspect, which is my problem.
    Anyway, great post, copied down some titles. Glad to see the ratings again, so I can skip the books, but I might be convinced to read Pandaemonium, may try it.
    It’s awesome to see the productivity in reading and blogging.


  6. @Kathy the whole reason I started listening to audio books was to get me moving – otherwise I would spend even more time with my head in a book. At least with my iPod on I walk to work most days which is better for me that taking the bus.


  7. Maxine says:

    Thanks for the update, Bernadette, lots of good meaty info in it! I like that Goodreads measure – it reminds me a bit of reading a book on the Kindle, where you have a similar barometer along the bottom of the page with how many per cent you have read. It seems to urge me to read quicker, I am not sure what psychology is at play there!
    Interesting that you liked that Brookmyre more than all the others, maybe I should give him another try. I did read one of his once, with a frog in the title, but I did not like it – maybe did not even finish it.
    Of the 4 books on your TBR picture gallery I’ve read, I very much enjoyed three of them (Shadow Sister, Cruel Stars… and Witness the Night) and not so much 1222. Shadow Sister and Witness the Night will probably take you about an hour each to read, so they should help to the general goal!


  8. Oh dear Maxine I think you may have cottoned on to my cunning plan to get that reading number up – I was looking at what to read next by how big the books are – the Ken Bruens were looking very attractive because they’re very short 🙂 Gotta do something as I have been a wee bit inundated with new Australian crime fiction so feel like I must get to reading all of that. But being spoiled for choice is a nice problem to have

    As for Brookmyre – I’ve no idea what his crime fiction is like though I will be giving it a go now – the one I read was more akin to early Stephen King (IF only the man’s writing had ever developed a sense of humour) with a hint of John Birmingham (Australian humourist/author) and perhaps a dash of Douglas Adams – very odd mix but one that hit the spot for me.


  9. kathy durkin says:

    So, actually the walking while reading (or listening) is contributing to good health.
    I rest my case!
    Then this is a good, healthy habit, with all good results–except maybe the financial one. Maybe for audiobooks, you can find a way to take a tax deduction for health expenses, as it motivates exercising!
    Anyway, I look forward to reading the reviews of all of these TBR books–stored, shelved and purchased.


  10. JoV says:

    17 is an awesome achievement Bernadette and I love those Good Reads Widget! I’m thinking if I hear audio books, I wonder if I could get my “reading” stats hike up a little?

    This is the year I saw you participating in so many challenges, but I have confidence you will excel in everyone of them. All the best Bernadette, you are off to a good start for the year! 🙂

    p/s: if you find out any “bookaholics anonymous”, can you let me know too? Anyway there are worse vices out there, like you said, consider we are indulging in the lesser one.


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