Balancing My Books · Books · Monthly Reading Wrap-Up

Balancing My Books #20: September 2022

It’s has been a patchy reading month, but overall it was an enjoyable one!


Start 2022: 300
1 Sep: 331
Acquired: 4
Read: 6
Balance: 329


Start 2022: 177
1 Sep: 174
Acquired: 3
Read: 3
Balance: 174

I really need to make a conscious effort to make those TBRs go down, down, down!

However, I can’t complain.


I read a total of 10 books in September. I read three books from my Kindle, four in physical format and three audio books, of which two of them I also own in a physical format. I am quite happy with that. At least my buying books did not exceed me reading them, which is all I ask for (though I have a lot of corrective work to do in terms of the two months that went before). Quality wise it was not the best of months. Although there were no books I actively disliked, with 3 books at 4/7*and another 3 at 5/7*, it was a weakish month. Most of my 6 and 7* books came towards the end. All my audio books rated highly. I read two non-fiction (both on audio) and 1 poetry book (also audio). The fiction books were a real mixture with one short story collection and actually two decent contemporary young adult books, which is a bit unusual. Of the six physical books I read, I unhauled three.

  1. Sarum (Edward Rutherford) 5* e-book
  2. Did I Say That Out Loud (Fi Glover & Jane Garvet) 6* audio
  3. A Shot in the Dark (Lynne Truss) 4* hardback
  4. Night Owls (Jenn Bennett) 5* e-book
  5. Shit Cassanda Saw (Gwen E Kirby) 4* paperback
  6. Marriage Most Scandalous (Johanna Lindsey) 5* paperback
  7. Awakening (William Horwood) 4* hardback
  8. Wonderland (Brett Westwood & Stephen Moss) 6* audio/paperback
  9. One of Us is Lying (Karen M McManus) 6* e-book
  10. Four Quartets (T S Eliot) 7* audio/paperback


Well, just read at the finishline, it has to be Four Quartets by T S Eliot. Beautiful poems. Very smart, but not overly complicated. It is definitely a collection I will listen to again (and read).


I actually have a rather ambitious and strict TBR for October, which does not have much to do with it being the spooky month unfortunately. Actually there may be a thriller/murder mystery or two on my list, so hopefully I will get to those.

I am currently in the middle of Kindred by Octavia E Butler, so I have to finish that one before even starting my October TBR.

The main book I want to read in October, which I am hoping I will love, is Ship of Magic, the first book in the Livetraders Trilogy by Robin Hobb. It has been on my tentative TBR for the last few months and I still haven’t gotten round to reading it. It’s a big one though, and may throw off the rest of my TBR completely!

Balancing My Books · Books · Monthly Reading Wrap-Up

Balancing My Books #18: June 2022

June was a terrible, terrible reading month, but it was definitely quality over quantity. I just had a lot on. I had some beautiful experiences this month. I saw one of my favourite musicians live for the first time, which was just an incredibly magic experience. That was also the first time I went to a concert by myself. Imagine that, I have been going to gigs/concerts for over twenty five years and this was the first time I went by myself. Crazy! It just happened to be one of the best gigs I have ever been to, so I am glad I did. It took me a good week to come down from that!

Anyway, reading time was few and far between. I did not feel slumpy at all – I was just busy. I wrote last month that I thought June would be a more settled month. Boy, was I wrong! I won’t make any such promises for July. I can hope though!


Start 2022: 300
1 June: 314
Acquired: 0
Read: 3
Balance: 311


Start 2022: 177
1 June: 169
Acquired: 0
Read: 1
Balance: 168

So no books acquired this month – that’s good!


I only read five books in total, which is not much at all for me. I read three physical books, one e-ARC and one audio book. Two of the physical books were longer and one was only 70 pages. I did not listen to much audio either, so I only managed one shorter audio book, which I did enjoy.

  1. A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons (Kate Khavari) 6* e-ARC
  2. We Are All Made of Stars (Rowan Coleman) 7* paperback
  3. Revelation (Russell Brand) 6* audio
  4. Music & Silence (Rose Tremain) 5* paperback
  5. In Praise of Shadows (Junichiro Tanizaki) 7* paperback

That’s it. Just those.


I had two 7* books, which were very different from each other. Maybe I will go with We Are All Made of Stars. It was just a lovely story and it warmed my heart. It’s a bit of a tearjerker, but so well done. I loved it!

July Reading Plans

I have two books in progress. I am a third into American Gods by Neil Gaiman on my Kindle. I read this one on the train whilst I was travelling. I am enjoying it…. I think. The other one is Wildwood by Roger Deakin, which I am listening to on audio. This is a non-fiction book about trees and I am enjoying it a lot. I am almost halfway into that one.

I don’t want to make too many plans for my reading, as the last couple of months have been slow. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink is part of my plans and I would like to finally finish the Mistborn Trilogy, but that’s as far as I want to plan right now.

Balancing My Books · Books · Monthly Reading Wrap-Up

Balancing My Books #17: May 2022

May was a very odd month for me. I had a lot of messy house maintenance stuff and weekends with friends and family, which took up a lot of time. I also ended up watching far too much of the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial (don’t ask!). Beside that, I was also writing quite a bit. Between all of that it took away precious reading time. So, this month was a month of few books and mainly a bunch of short ones. I wouldn’t quite call it a reading slump, as I just had a lot of stuff on. I am confident June will be a more settled month.


Start 2022: 300
1 May: 313
Acquired: 6
Read: 5
Balance: 314


Start 2022: 177
1 April: 172
Acquired: 0
Read: 3
Balance: 169

I read the two shortest books I acquired this month, but that did not help me much. Any normal month I would have easily read more than I acquired this month, but not this month! At least my digital TBR went down!


I read 8 books in May, which is not to be sniffed at, though admittedly one was a relatively short poetry collection and there was a children’s book as well. That was kind of cheating, but it doesn’t matter really. Overall the books I did read were good, but there were a couple that stood head and shoulders above the others.

  1. When We Found Home (Susan Mallery) 4* ebook
  2. The House with the Golden Door (Elodie Harper) 6* NetGalley e-Arc
  3. Gold Dust (Ibrahim al-Koni) 5* paperback
  4. Exit West (Mohsin Hamid) 5* ebook
  5. The Horse That Swam Away (Walter Farley) 5* hardback
  6. The Life of Olaudah Equiano (Olaudah Equiano) 5* audio & paperback
  7. The Island of Missing Trees (Elif Shafak) 7* hardback
  8. Open Secret (Rumi, Moyne, Barks) 5* paperback


Although I loved The House with the Golden Door, my favourite read of the month was The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak. She’s an author whose books I tend to love and I plan to read other books by her sooner rather than later. There is just something about the way she crafts her characters and their stories. It just works.

Balancing My Books · Books · Monthly Reading Wrap-Up

Balancing My Books #15: March 2022

Lifewise, March was definitely better month than February. Let’s forget about February. Reading-wise March was a bit leaner, but still pretty good. It was my birthday month and I ended up buying more books than I have done in a long time, so be prepared: my TBR exploded! However, I am ok with it.


Start 2022: 300
1 March: 301
Acquired: 19
Read: 7
Balance: 313


Start 2022: 177
1 March: 175
Acquired: 2
Read: 4 (+1 DNF)
Balance: 172

So, yes, my shelf TBR went up by twelve books, which is a lot! Between treating myself to some birthday book, receiving some books and a trip to the charity shop, it was a bit much, but actually I am excited about this bunch of books! I only read one of the books I bought this month.

The Annotated Arabian Nights was a big birthday present to myself!

My digital TBR went down by three (including a DNF), which is ok. I had hoped to take it down a bit further, but alas. I read one of the books and I am planning to read the other in April.


Quality wise it was a bit meh, I guess. There were none that I would say were absolute new favourites, but did not quite hate any either. It was ok. I read five books I ended up giving 6 stars, three 5-stars and three 4-stars. It was fine. Fine. Fine.

There was also one DNF. I read about 25% of Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal and released I was just not enjoying the experienced. I have deleted that one off my Kindle.

Genrewise, I read two non-fiction books (both on audio, by own in physical form), another book that was a fiction/non-fiction cross over and the rest was fiction. I read a controversial 1950s classic , some magical realism, a couple of fantasy books and even some contemporary YA.

  1. Beneath The Sugar Sky (Seanan McGuire) 5* HB
  2. Psycho (Onley James) 4* E
  3. The Seabird’s Cry (Adam Nicolson) 6* AU/PB
  4. The Well of Ascension (Brandon Sanderson) 5* PB
  5. The Music Shop (Rachel Joyce) 4* E
  6. The Rain Heron (Robbie Arnott) 6* HB
  7. The Girl with the Louding Voice (Abi Daré) 6* E
  8. My Damascus (Suad Amiry) 6* PB
  9. Looking For Alaska (John Green) 4* PB
  10. Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov) 5* E
  11. God: an Anatomy (Francesca Stavrakopoulou) 6* AU/HB

I read two books from my 2022 TBR.


There’s a few books I really enjoyed and it’s hard to pick a favourite. I spent most of the mont listening to God: an Anatomy, so I think I will go with that one. As a subject angle it was really interesting and something a bit different. It also inspired me to find some more books, so for that I will make it my Book of the Month.

April Reading Plans

I am starting April with two books in progress and I have just started a new audio book. I am about 3/4 into Book Two of The Masnavi by Rumi. I had just started The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid a couple of days ago, but I am only 20 or so pages into it. I will be reading that one as my main read now. I started my new audio book, which is A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie.

I will definitely be reading A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I am also planning to start the Hyddenworld (William Horwood) series afresh with a re-read of Spring. Apart from that I plan to read books I bought in these past few months. Fingers crossed for a good reading month!

Balancing My Books · Books · Monthly Reading Wrap-Up

Balancing My Books #13: January 2022


Start 2022: 300
Acquired: 11
Read: 11
Balance: 300


Start 2022: 177
Acquired: 5
Read: 6
Balance: 176

Well, that’s a balance for the physical books, I suppose. Actually, I am quite impressed with myself that I managed to balance that one out. One my purchases is a “Complete Works” by Kahlil Gibran, who I have already read a few works from. I will dip in and out of that one and I did think about not adding it to my official TBR. I counted it anyway. Apart from that, I purchased three novels for my Russian Classics TBR, a few poetry books and there were a few more random (but well considered) purchases. Four of the books are used books, the others new.

I read one more e-book than I bought. I am currently on a trial of Kindle Unlimited, which I started as I wanted to read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I wanted to read it at the same time as my nine-year-old and since it was on Kindle Unlimited, I started a three-month trial for 99p, knowing I would also read the final Harry Potter that way. That way my daughter can read my hardback copy. But once I had it, I did use it for some lighter reads along the way. I expect to use Kindle Unlimited whilst I have the trial going, but I don’t think I will extend my membership. It does not really add that much value to my reading for me personally. However, while I have it I may as well make use of it. I managed to read one more book that I acquired, so I am happy with that.


With 18 books read this has been my best reading month for a long long time and it feels good! Not only was the quantity there, but the overall quality was pretty good too in the end, which is the most important thing. I am very happy with the type of books I am reading. I read short story collections, memoirs, poetry, fantasy, romance, classics, contemporary and historical books and even one sci-fi! It’s a rather eclectic bunch, just the way I like it. I read quite a few smaller books, but I also read two books that were 600+ pages, so I feel pleased with that for sure. I ticked two books off my 2022 TBR and I read four books I purchased in 2021.

So, these are the books:

  1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (J K Rowling) 5* HB (E)
  2. The Shack by the Bay (Lea Davey) 4* E
  3. Blacklands (Belinda Bauer) 4* PB
  4. Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) 6* audio/PB
  5. Dark Matter (Blake Crouch) 6* E
  6. Autumn Rounds (Jacques Poulin)5* E
  7. Sex & Love & Rock&Roll (Tony Walsh) 4* PB
  8. Palestine As Metaphor (Mahmoud Darwish) 7* PB
  9. When The Moon Is Low (Nadia Nashimi) 6* PB
  10. The Dangers of Smoking in Bed (Mariana Enriquez) 4* PB
  11. Radiance (Grace Draven) 5* E
  12. The Overcoat and Other Short Stories (Nikolai Gogol) 6* PB
  13. Touch (Natalia Jaster) 4* E
  14. The Storyteller (Dave Grohl) 7* audio
  15. Reasons To Stay Alive (Matt Haig) 6* audio/PB
  16. Selected Poems (Pablo Neruda) 6* PB
  17. The Final Empire (Brandon Sanderson) 6* PB
  18. Torn (Natalia Jaster) 3* E

I think the main reason why I had such a good reading month was because I was reading a nice variety of books. I don’t like reading two books of the same genre in a row, so that definitely helped. I listened to Americanah, Reasons To Stay Alive and The Storyteller on audio, eventhough I do own physical copies of the first two. I will be purchasing a physical copy of The Storyteller. I am unhauling Blacklands and The Dangers of Smoking in Bed. I won’t re-read them.

My average page count per book this month was only 326. There were a lot of shorter books, but also two books of over 600 pages.


Although it was close, I think I will have to go for The Storyteller, Dave Grohl’s memoir. It was just such a joy to listen to. He reads the audio book himself and honestly, I was looking forward to listening every day so much. I guess I just did not expect to like it as much as I did, not being a massive Nirvana or Foo fan. Now I would definitely invite Dave as a dream dinner guest!

February Reading Plans

I have already started Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks on audio and I am 10 pages into Around The World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. I will probably start Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this evening, so I can close out my first series of the year.

I also plan to read Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky this month plus two books from my 2021 TBR – I am pretty sure Beartown by Fredrik Backman will be one of them.

I did also want to read a book for the Buzzwordathon and with the theme being me/I/you/he/him/her, etc words, I chose You Then, Me Now by Nick Alexander to read. That one has been sitting on my Kindle for a while and this seems the perfect excuse! I have read one of his novels before and liked it, so I hope I will like this one as well.

I have some other books in mind, but I will see how the month goes. There are only 28 days in February!

Balancing My Books · Books · Monthly Reading Wrap-Up

Balancing My Books #11: November 2021

Physical TBR:
Start 2021: 330
1 Nov 21: 304
Acquired: 7 (read: 1)
Read: 9
Balance: 302

e-Book TBR:
Start 2021: 183
1 Nov 21: 180
Acquired: 2
Read: 3
Balance: 179

Despite the fact I bought seven books this month and received two NetGalley ARCs (I am not requesting anymore anytime soon!!!), both TBRs went down, even if it is not by much. I am not planning on buying any books in December, so fingers crossed the final month of the year will be a good one for bringing down those TBRs.

I read one of last month’s NetGalley ARCs and one that I requested this month. The other I requested is not coming out until spring, so I have some time. The physical books I bought are a mixture of ones that were on my radar already (most of them) and a couple of impulse buys.


November in the end was a very good reading month, both in quantity and quality. It started a bit unspectacular, but out of the 12 books I read there were four 6* books and I even read two new favourite books (7*), which is such a treat! The book I liked least was 4 stars out of 7, so I honestly enjoyed all my choices this month.

I read a good amount of non-fiction for Non-Fiction November, which were all good or amazing!

  1. The Witch Collector (Charissa Weaks) NG e-Arc (4*)
  2. The Underground Railroad (Colson Whitehead) e-book (5*)
  3. Fake Blood (Whitney Gardner) paperback (5*)
  4. Look Again (David Bailey) audio/hardback (5*)
  5. The Prophet (Kahlil Gibran) hardback (7*)
  6. Crying in H Mart (Michelle Zauner) hardback (6*)
  7. The House in the Cerulean Sea (T J Klune) paperback (5*)
  8. Autumn (edited by Melissa Harrison) paperback (6*)
  9. Noor (Nnedi Okorafor) NG e-Arc (5*)
  10. The Nature of Witches (Rachel Griffin) hardback (6*)
  11. Leap of Faith (Frankie Dettori) audio/hardback (6*)
  12. They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us (Hanif Abdurraqib) paperback (7*)


Man, this is hard. There were two books that made a big impression on me and I am finding it too hard to choose a favourite, because they were so different. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran was published in the 1920s. It is short, but provoked big questions about life in general. They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib made me question myself, but especially the way we perceive each other in terms of race and social background. In a way both were philosophical, just in very different ways, asking very different questions.

Maybe I don’t need to pick and I can have a favourite fiction and a favourite non-fiction book this month. Let’s go with that. Both were great, great books!


I have two books left on my 2021 TBR and one extra on my autumn TBR I haven’t gotten to yet. Those are The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years by Bernard Lewis and The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak. I have to say I am a little bit intimidated by the Middle East book, because it’s a history book and I am a bit afraid it will be dry, but I also think it will be very interesting.

Besides that I have some Christmas romances on my Kindle ready to get me in the mood for the festive season. I have already started one!

Finally, I want to get to as many 2021 buys as I can, both digital (actually not that many) and actual booky books.

That’s it! I hope to finish the year at a physical TBR under 300 and a e-TBR under 175. That’s what we’re going for anyway.

Happy reading in December!

Balancing My Books · Books · Monthly Reading Wrap-Up

Balancing The Books #9: September 2021

I am going to simplify this a bit as the previous months felt a bit overly complicated!

Physical TBR:
Start 2021: 330
1 Sept 21: 309
Acquired: 8 (read: 2)
Read: 7
Balance: 310

E-book TBR
Start 2021: 
1 Sept 21: 
Balance: 175

September reading review:

Especially the second half of September started to feel more like normal. I was looking forward to picking up a book again and that makes the world of difference.

I finished 9 books in total. To be fair there’s a couple of poetry books and a manga, but still…. I also read a 600-page book. I am happy with that!

  1. The Masnavi – Book One (Rumi) – paperback (6*)
  2. The Kingdom of Copper ( S A Chakraborty) – paperback (6*)
  3. Life (Keith Richards) – audio (6*)
  4. Sunny Days & Sea Breezes (Carole Matthews) – ebook (6*)
  5. Opium and Absinthe (Lydia Kang) – paperback (6*)
  6. Wolf Children Ame & Yuki (Mamoru Hosoda) – hardback (5*)
  7. The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night (Jen Campbell) – hardback (5*)
  8. Blue Horses (Mary Oliver) – paperback (6*)
  9. Deerskin (Robin McKinley) – paperback (3*)

The quality of the books in September was pretty high. I did not find a new absolute favourite, but I loved most of the books. There were none I absolutely hated, but I will unhaul Deerskin.

With some poetry, a short story collection, a non-fiction book, a couple of fantasy books and a manga I enjoyed the variety this month. I think I thrive on variety. If I read too much in a certain genre I get bored.

I did do more book buying than normal, but I have read two of the books already, so I am ok with that.


I had a number of 6* books this month and with no 7* book to fall back on one of those will have to be my favourite. I think I will have to for Sunny Days & Sea Breezes by Carole Matthews. It’s rare for me to love a chick lit book and I did love that one quite a bit.

Balancing My Books · Books · Monthly Reading Wrap-Up

Balancing my books #6: June 2021

At the end of last month I expected my reading mojo to be back in full force in June. Unfortunately that did not happen, but I had a half decent reading month.

Hardbacks/Paperbacks: 330
E-books: 183

Owned TBR on 1 June 2021

Over the past six months my TBR has not decreased a lot, but it has been going down, so I can’t complain.

Let’s see what happened in June!

Books read: 8
Hardbacks/Paperbacks TBR: 
2 (+2 audio)
Hardbacks/Paperbacks 2021: 
E-books TBR: 1
E-books 2021: 0
Audio: 2 (both of which I own in physical form)

 1 (read)

That definitely helped!


Physical TBR Balance Sheet
Start 2021: 330
Start May: 319
Acquired: 1
Read: 7
Balance: 313

E-book TBR Balance Sheet
Start 2021: 183
Start May: 179
Acquired: 0
Read: 1
Balance: 178

I am sending Heartstone on to a friend.



Only 8 books and none very big, but there you go. The books I did read I liked. There was none I disliked, so that’s good! There was one that is a new favourite and two that were very close to getting that elusive 7 stars, that would have been 6 1/2 stars if I gave out halves! So despite reading way less than I had expected, I am happy.


I had one 7-star read, which was Small Country by Gaël Faye. It’s a small book that packs a punch. I mainly know the author as French rap artist. The fact I liked his music was the reason I read the book. As far as I know it is semi-autobiographical. It’s an eye-opening read that looks at terrible events unfolding in Rwanda and Burundi through the eyes of a child, first from a distance and then as it starts to impact his life.

I absolutely loved it and highly recommend it!

Balancing My Books · Books · Monthly Reading Wrap-Up

Balancing My Books #5: May 2021

It looks like I read a lot more than I actually did this past month. I read mainly short books, as my attention span was rather scattered. I have to say this tactic worked really well for me and I got to tick more books off my TBR than I expected. Now I am coming to the end of month I am feeling comfortable enough to tackle longer books again.

Hardbacks/Paperbacks: 330
E-books: 183

Owned TBR on 1 May 2021

My TBR is certainly not getting smaller very quickly, but it has been slowly decreasing, so I am happy. My book buying has become far more restrained, so that’s good. My main goal was for it to decrease. If I can get it to decrease a little most months I will be pleased. Below 300 is a good goal, I think.

So, what happened in this odd May (both reading and weather wise):

Books read: 10
Hardbacks/Paperbacks TBR: 
4 (+2 audio)
Hardbacks/Paperbacks 2021: 
E-books TBR: 1
E-books 2021: 1
Audio: 2 (both of which I own in physical form)

 4 (1 read, 1 currently reading)
1 (read)

I bought the next (and final) book in the Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz. I got that one used. I bought Lady Sings The Blues for my book club and I already read it and sent it on to a friend. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (AKA Japanese Breakfast) is a future book club pick that I decided to pick up now. Finally, I got A Lullaby in the Desert by Mojgan Afaz. This was a review request, but I decided to buy the book for myself. I have just started reading it and I think I am going to love it. It feels like a very important read.

The single e-book I got was The Roommate Risk by Talia Hibbert. I felt like a saucy-ish romance and this one was on for 99p. It’s the last book I finished in May.

Physical TBR Balance Sheet
Start 2021: 330
Start May: 222
Acquired: 4
Read: 8 (-1 as for some reason DarkIsle was not on my TBR)
Balance: 319

E-book TBR Balance Sheet
Start 2021: 183
Start May: 180
Acquired: 1
Read: 2
Balance: 179

I have transferred DarkIsle to my daughter’s shelves as it’s middle grade and I have sent Lady Sings The Blues on to a friend who wanted to read it. I unhauled Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage.


Considering pagewise I was well below my normal reading clip with ten books read I am more than pleased. Both genre and quality wise it was a very mixed back, but there was nothing I actually did not like at all. More than half of the books were just ok for me, but I can live with that. With three 6* reads and even a 7* read, I can’t not be happy!


Easy! Amidst all the turmoil going on with Israel/Palestine I coincidentally read In The Presence of Absence by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. I read his poetry before and loved it, but this ode to himself and his life, written when he knew he was dying, was beyond beautiful.

I absolutely adored it and I will see if I can find more of his work.