I thought I should break my radio silence to wish you all a wonderful 2015. Thank you for supporting this blog in its early stages and for continuing to visit the site and read the ramblings contained within, despite being few and far between of late!
2014 was a massive year for me – I made the big decision to move out of London after over 6 years of living (well, struggling and surviving is probably more accurate) – in the capital. As a Suffolk girl, born and bred, I never was entirely comfortable with living in the city – it didn’t ever feel quite right to me, it felt like one like battle and one in which I was never ahead. I moved to the rather idyllic Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, a picturesque town on the edge of the Chiltern Hills (a 30 minute train ride from Euston) and place which I’ve nicknamed ‘Happy Valley’ because everything seems to function so well here, and people are so friendly and welcoming. We know our neighbours, we’ve even had them over for drinks and we have a small clutch of friends who live nearby, we attend local community events, we support the local businesses and I can really imagine staying here long-term. When I was living in London, I missed the sense of community that comes from living in a small town or village and I can certify that Berkhamsted has the community spirit in droves.
In February I got engaged to a wonderful man and we are enjoying planning our bookish-themed wedding for next August (we met while working at the same publishing house so books really do have to feature!) and to round off the year, in August I left my job at Phaidon Press after 3 years and moved to the Penguin Random House Group to edit Travel Guides for Dorling Kindersley. As some of my readers will know, I have always longed to work in Editorial right from the beginning of my career and after a long, concerted push and 3 publishing jobs later I have finally broken through. I won’t pretend it isn’t difficult, I’m finding it incredibly challenging – I’m having to learn new skills almost daily and the deadlines come thick and fast – but at least I’m moving in the right direction.
Anyway, all of this has meant that for the latter part of the year, almost for the first time in my life, reading has taken a back seat. I’ve been too busy living my own life to find the time to focus on the lives of fictional characters. I can’t remember any other time in my life when I haven’t looked to books for comfort, guidance and escapism and it has unsettled me. I haven’t stopped reading but I have read a long series of very average books that have failed to leave even the slightest impression on me. This is why I haven’t blogged – I find it impossible to write about something unless I feel impassioned about it – if I neither adore it or loathe it I can’t think of much to say about it! Therefore for 2015 I shall be focussing on quality, not quantity. Although I did complete my GoodReads challenge in 2014 – I read 52 books in total – there are probably only 5-10 that left any significant mark on me. My favourites were (in no particular order)
- Nina Stibbe’s MAN AT THE HELM (read my review here)
- Charles Lambert’s WITH A ZERO AT ITS HEART (review here)
- Emily Gould’s FRIENDSHIP (review here)
- James Salter’s ALL THAT IS
- Kirsty Wark’s THE LEGACY OF ELIZABETH PRINGLE (GoodReads review here)
- Tom Barbash’s STAY UP WITH ME (review here)
- David Nicholls US
Honourable mentions should also go to Curtis Sittenfeld (I read AMERICAN WIFE and SISTERLAND in 2014 and adored them both, good, solid writing and storytelling – such a great discovery!) Bryony Gordon’s THE WRONG KNICKERS which would undoubtedly win funniest novel I read all year, along with Edward St Aubyn’s LOST FOR WORDS a close second. Sexiest novel (or should that be novella?) of the year goes to Helen Walsh’s incredible THE LEMON GROVE, and perhaps saddest, most moving novel to A SONG FOR ISSY BRADLEY by Carys Bray.
As for reading plans for 2015, I don’t have any – apart from ploughing through the lovely pile I received for Christmas (the full set of EJ Howard’s Cazalet Chronicles, of which I have read the first two, Harriet Lane’s HER and The Most of Nora Ephron, which I will undoubtedly be dipping into each evening) and reading all of your lovely recommendations.
Thanks again for your patience and here’s to a happy reading 2015!