Betty’s Book Club – My 2015 Reading List

I love books. Reading books, Buying books, Owning books, Talking about books, Flicking through books. Old books, New books, Fiction books, Non-fiction books. Books.

I have a bit of a book buying obsession actually, I certainly buy the more quickly than I can read them. Pete has even refused to buy me more books as gifts until I get through some of my massive stockpile of ones I bought and want to read but haven’t yet got around to.

I do find that, as much as I enjoy reading, I am finding less and less time to read these days. At the end of a day at work I’m often too tired to do much more than vegetate in front of the television for a few hours before dragging myself off to bed.

But, I want to change this and make more time for reading, for my own enjoyment and personal betterment. As a first step to achieving this I have dragged a few of the books waiting to be read off the bookshelf and I thought I would share with you a few of the titles I hope to be scratching off my Reading List over the next 12 months, in no particular order.

1. Anno Dracula: The Bloody Red Baron. Kim Newman
This is the second book in the Anno Dracula series by Kim Newman; I read the first book ‘Anno Dracula’ last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. As you can probably tell from the title, this series feeds into my vampire obsession. The books are based on stories of what might have happened if Dracula hadn’t been defeated at the end of Bram Stoker’s novel and vampires were now a known entity in the world, living alongside humans. While the first book was based in Victorian London, this second book has moved forwards in time to look at events during the First World War.

2. The Happiness Project. Gretchen Rubin
Now a step into non-fiction; self-improvement/self-help books are an increasing interest of mine. I don’t get on with all of them, but I forever in search of one that will help me, even just a little, to make a bit more sense of myself and my life.
The Happiness Project is the story of how Gretchen Rubin set out to be happier and how other people can take their own happiness journey.

3. A Force to be Reckoned With: A History of the Women’s Institute. Jane Robinson
I love the WI. Although I am, sadly, currently not involved in a Women’s Institute, I have so many wonderful memories of my time in the Sotonettes and really hope to get back involved in another WI soon.
I am fascinated by the history of the WI and this book documents the many ways in which the WI has contributed to and shaped our nation and the wonderful and strong women who made it possible.

4. The Historian. Elizabeth Kostova
This book was given to me by my mum, who, knowing my interest in vampire fiction, felt this might be right up my street.
I don’t know much about the story, but it seems to stem strongly from Bram Stoker’s original Dracula story and is told from the point of view of a 16 year old girl in the 1970s who comes across a collection of letters and documents relating to the Dracula legend.

5. Anno Dracula: Dracula Cha Cha Cha. Kim Newman
I enjoyed the first Anno Dracula so much that, once I’d finished it, I bought the next two novels in the series immediately. This is the third novel, after The Bloody Red Baron above.
The third novel jumps forward in time again to 1959 and Rome, where an unknown person is taking out old vampires resident in the city.

6. The Vintage Teacup Club. Vanessa Greene
Another gift from my mum here, but a bit of a departure from the rest of the list. Mum described this as ‘a nice relaxing read’ in the note that accompanied it. It is true that something relaxing to read is probably just what I need after a lot of blood-soaked, high-tension vampire fiction.
This is a book about a friendship formed after a chance meeting over a vintage tea set at a car boot sale. My focus on gothic-horror in this reading list may detract from the fact that I also have a lovely, vintage tea-set kind of side to my personality, where a chat over tea and a slice of sponge cake is just what I fancy – so this book is to entertain that side of my personality. My only fear is that a story of friendship like this might actually be terribly upsetting for me at the moment as I am having ongoing loneliness issues (for another time).

7. Brave New World. Aldous Huxley
This book makes this list under the criteria of ‘classic book I feel I really should have read’. I bought this quite a while ago (more than a year) but haven’t actually managed to read it yet. There is a lot of classic literature that I feel I really should have read – I have bought and been given a few but haven’t read many. My last attempt with ‘Wuthering Heights’ didn’t go well – I absolutely hated it but tried to persevere, which meant it took me forever and I still haven;t actually got all the way to the end.
Hopefully Brave New World, a story of a dystopian future, will fair better. I enjoyed 1984 by George Orwell, so there’s hope.

8. The Night Watch. Sergei Lukyanenko
The Night Watch, the first in a trilogy of novels, was recommended to me by a friend and finishes off my list with another vampire story.
I had never heard of this book, or any in the trilogy, and apparently there are movies too.
Based in Russia, the book tells the story of a world in which some people have supernatural powers, some of whom are good and some who are not. Those who work for good protect people from those who have more sinister intentions.
I have heard good things and expect that I will be moving on to the other books in the series after this one.

Does anyone else have a reading list for the year ahead? Or just a book you’ve always wanted to read?
I’m always interested in new reading suggestions – they don’t have to be vampire related (an please don;t suggest Twilight, as that’s the massive exception Β to my vampire obsession).

Hope you are well – happy reading!
Love

This week I have been;
Watching – Season 2 of Arrow and Season 8 of Dexter
Listening to – War and Peace podcast from Radio 4
Wearing – all the layers!!

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2015 – Clean Slate

It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of all the New Year hubub, or the massive expectations placed on the change in calendar year for bringing about change in our lives or the world at large. Unfortunately the little demon that lives in my brain sees this only as an opportunity to dredge up all the disappointment and missed opportunities of the past year and project them forward onto the next. All-in-all this makes for the beginning of January being quite a miserable time for me (and, often, for those unfortunate enough to be around me).

But, I am trying to be better. So, no dwelling on what I didn’t achieve this year, and no resolutions either, as they tend to make me focus on negatives too.

So, to kick of 2015, here is a quick look at some of the things I did do in 2014, even though I didn’t blog about them, in the hope of many more good things to come in 2015.

Halloween 2014

This year we celebrated our first Halloween in our own home with a small gathering of friends and a sickening quantity of sweets and cake πŸ™‚

Canal Boating in Yorkshire, November 2014

In November we travelled over to Yorkshire to visit friends and hired a narrow boat on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal for a day. It was a lovely day with great weather and definitely something a bit different, I even had a go at driving for a bit which was nerve racking but fun once I got into the swing of it.

Wales Comic Con, November 2014

We attended our first comic convention this year in Wrexham. I’ve been keen to attend a convention for a while but had always thought we’d have to travel further to get to a good one – but when we found one in Wrexham we jumped at the opportunity. It was quite late notice so I only put together quite a simple costume – a test subject from the game Portal. It was loads of fun and we saw Anthony Head, Chris Barrie, Jerome Flynn with other Game of Thrones actors and the main cast from Atlantis. The next convention is in April and Nicholas Brendon is going to be there (Xander from Buffy), so I’m definitely planning on going again.

Thank you all for sticking around. Here’s to the future πŸ™‚

Love