April 2017, In My Notebook

Sometimes it’s not so much about a list. More about ideas and possibilities. Either way, my notebook is busy this month.

With Kinna’s 2017 Africa Reading Challenge, I’m eyeing the possibilities. Maybe some Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo or Buchi Emecheta, some Chinua Achebe or Brian Chikwava, or maybe, finally, Tsitsi Dangarembga.

Notebook April 2017Sometimes it’s very much about a list.

Like the books on my shelves that would fit with the #1951Club Reading.

(Links to both hosts’ sites there, if you’re curious!)

Bagnold, Enid The Loved and the Envied; Colette The Other Woman; Davies, Robertson Tempest-Tost; Keane, Molly Loving Without Tears; Klein, A.M. The Second Scroll; Lewis, C.S. Prince Caspian; Roy, Gabrielle Where Nests the Water Hen; Taylor, Elizabeth A Game of Hide and Seek; Tey, Josephine The Daughter of Time; Thirkell, Angela The Duke’s Daughter; Wyndham, John The Day of the Triffids. 

The winner was Robertson Davies’ Tempest-Tost, his first novel and the first of the Salterton trilogy. (Like I needed to start another series.)

Also spanning March ’til May, is a TBR Challenge hosted on Habitica. (Anyone else use this site to kick-start/maintain habits?) This helps me focus on series that I have started but haven’t finished, as well as group reads that fall between the cracks in my reading plans.

Basically the books that I keep saying “soon” about, finally making them “now”. You know the ones: there’s no particular reason to pull them off the shelf immediately (as opposed to, say, those books published in 1951), so they never get pulled off.

This includes three from each of three series which I’ve been trying to finish for years: Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series (Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory, Victory of Eagles), Maya Angelou’s autobiography (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Gather Together in My Name, and Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry like Christmas), and Mazo de la Roche’s Jalna series (Morning at Jalna, Mary Wakefield, Young Renny).

thien-do-not-say-we-have-nothingWould you believe that I’ve even reread the early Temeraires and the first Maya Angelou more than once, planning to read on to finish the series, but still never actually followed up? Are there series like this on your shelves, that you just never seem to finish?

My list for the Habitica Challenge also includes three books that have been on my TBR for at least twenty years.

I know, it’s embarrassing. But the first step is admitting that you have a problem, right?

So, that explains why I’m aiming for Zora Neale Hurston’s Dust Tracks on the Road and two books by Julio Cortazar, Blow Up and Other Stories and Hopscotch.

Next, the Library Thing reading group for Virago Modern Classics, which has chosen these three authors for April/May/June: Elizabeth von Arnim, Willa Cather, and Margaret Laurence.

That’s worked out to Christopher and Columbus, with “A Work in Progress”, and two others, as yet undecided.

All decided, but not all read, are my Reading Ireland choices: Malarky and Glorious Heresies and Ireland: An Autobiography.

Next week I’ll summarize what I have read so far. Were you reading Ireland too? Did you add something interesting to your TBR?

And, finally, there’s the matter of the Bailey’s Women’s Fiction Prize, which I’ve been following since its inception. Since you used to have to comb the newspaper hoping there would be a reporting on the day-after. And my TBR for the prize has been growing for that long, too, because there have only been a couple of years in which I read all the longlisted titles after they were announced.

Short-listed this year are Ayöbámi Adébáö’s Stay With Me, Naomi Alderman’s The Power, Linda Grant’s The Dark Circle, C.E. Morgan’s The Sport of Kings, Gwendoline Riley’s First Love, and Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing.

Long-listed this year were Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed, Emma Flint’s Little Deaths, Mary Gaitskill’s The Mare, Eimear McBride’s The Lesser Bohemians, Fiona Melrose’s Midwinter, Yewande Omotose’s The Woman Next Door, Heather O’Neill’s The Lonely Hearts Hotel, Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent, Annie Proulx’s Barkskins, and Rose Tremain’s The Gustav Sonata.

Not to over look my rereading of L.M. Montgomery’s Emily books, which I was inspired to reread because of Naomi’s impassioned readalong, even though I haven’t been doing well with the readalonging.

And then there are the daily reads, right now alternating between Lori McNulty’s short story collection, Life on Mars, and a compilation called Our Story which fictionalizes tales from aboriginal history and includes pieces by two of my MRE (MustReadEverything) authors, Tomson Highway and Thomas King.

Does a notebook aid you when you are planning your reading? Is there some overlap between our reading plans? Is there anything scribbled here that you’ve read and enjoyed?



  1. Starr griggs June 20, 2017 at 2:41 am - Reply

    I have not heard of Genetics, but it sounds like I need to look into it. I have so many series and trilogies that I need to finish it’s kind of scary and sort of sad

    • Buried In Print June 20, 2017 at 7:36 am - Reply

      Have you peeked at FictFact? It’s a way to track the series that you’re reading and to see which books are next to read (and/or next to be published). Previously I used a spreadsheet but obviously this is more convenient.

  2. Wendy April 20, 2017 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    Yes the books on the shelf and piled in the closet make me happy…although there use to be times when I’d get stressed that I’d never be able to read them all. Another reading activity I do is pick out my husband’s reading material – he reads 10 fiction books a year so I take it very seriously picking out his books that I hope he loves. At the beginning of the year I made a statement that I wasn’t going to buy any more books for a while which lasted about 2 weeks and I recently found used books on Amazon. Happy reading

    • Buried In Print April 24, 2017 at 7:50 am - Reply

      That’s a fun activity and how fortunate that you have ten to choose: a workable number. Shared reads are wonderful in so many ways, building another shared set of stories you can refer to as a couple (as is quicker to do with movies or TV). Two weeks? Well, *laughs* it could be two days, so there’s that. Extreme statements, in either direction, don’t work well for me either; I have to start somewhere in the middle and then work towards an edge!

  3. Wendy April 19, 2017 at 9:30 am - Reply

    Last year I read the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (readers either love it or hate it)…anyways, the book discusses the concept of how individuals are happy when they are performing their happy activity (in your case reading)and individuals also are usually happy with all the peripheral activities around their happy activity. So in the case of reading it might be selecting books, reading blogs, writing your blog, dusting your shelf, going to a library, book club, keeping a reading journal (I do this) etc. so perhaps you could feel happy about all those books on your shelf. And thank you for your blog, it makes me happy reading about someone else that enjoys reading and it makes me happy reading the comments. P.S. I have about a 100 books in the house waiting to be read and I also keep track of future to reads on goodreads. take care

    • Buried In Print April 19, 2017 at 3:00 pm - Reply

      Thanks kindly, Wendy: that’s such a nice thing to say and, I agree, there are some lovely commenters/readers here (you included!) and I am very grateful for these bookish conversations. Reading can be a solitary activity (despite how much the books and characters can feel like friends) so it’s important to find this kind of connection (and it keeps the TBRs fed, too)! That’s an interesting observation, about the peripheral activites of one’s happy project also inspiring happiness. Depending on the state of the stacks, sometimes those peripheral activities can make me happier than reading (just at times)! Good luck with your hundred books – that seems like a nice amount to explore. Does the idea of their being there, waiting for your attention, make you happy then? I admit that some of the books which are waiting for me do not make me happy, but that’s not the case with them all, so I’m going to give that some thought. Which brings to mind that book about tidying-up, in which she asks – about each object – how things make her feel. So, maybe I just need to buy one more book then. Hee hee.

  4. Laila April 17, 2017 at 10:38 am - Reply

    I like your notebook system. I’m a fan of paper reminders and planners and calendars. I never put things in my phone like that. Something about writing it down helps me remember things better.

    I am with you on the reading library books over my own books thing. I just started that 2 owned books for every library book system, that I read about on Book Riot. So far it’s working! I’m now on my third owned book in a month – something I haven’t been able to do in ages! I’m going to try to keep this up until July, and then we’ll see how many I’ve gotten through and whether or not it’s driving me crazy!

    • Buried In Print April 19, 2017 at 2:42 pm - Reply

      There’s been research done on that for sure, the act of writing being an aid to remembrance and also adding to intent and securing a different kind of commitment. I do keep some notes of books on my phone, arranged by branch-library name, so that if I’m ever unexpectedly browsing in a different corner of the city, I can pick up a title or two that resides out beyond my usual neighbourhoods. But other than that, my reading plans are best sketched in ink.

      I love that you’ve put a time frame on your 2:1 shelves/library challenge. I bet that’ll make a huge difference in being able to keep up the habit, just knowing that it’s temporary (but, of course, hoping some of it sticks). This month, my library loans will definitely outnumber the books I read from my own shelves, but at least I am still reading from my own shelves, concurrently, and most of the loans are project-related (although you are entirely to blame for the Jess Walter novel in the mix). Good luck!

  5. Stefanie April 17, 2017 at 10:10 am - Reply

    Can I just say your notebook list is so pretty! When I make a list it never looks so nice, it is usually on a piece of scrap paper and is a messy scrawl. I just got Do Not Say We Have Nothing from the library and I am looking forward very much to reading it.

    • Buried In Print April 19, 2017 at 2:34 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Stefanie. Some notebook-days are like that, for sure. And my TBR notes are definitely scrappier when I first discover the book and scribble down the rec. It’s only later that I make an attempt to organize the next month’s (or two or three months) reading. That’s great timing: you and Danielle will be reading at the same time. It’d be a nice book with which to have company.

  6. […] the 1951club – I have just spotted Naomi’s review of Tempest-Tost and I believe BuriedinPrint has been reading it […]

  7. Mel u- The Reading Life April 13, 2017 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    In January I read the 1991 Booker Prize Work, The Long Journey by Ben Okri, from Nigeria. Set among tribal people getting used to live in Nirobi, it is a c,as sic of magic realism. I liked it very much though I did not post upon it. Maybe I will join Kinna’s African Reading Challenge

    In series reading, I just acquired the Lilith Blood trilogy by Octavia Butler and will start it soon.

    I always like your reading plan posts

    • Buried In Print April 19, 2017 at 2:32 pm - Reply

      I read that one, too, Mel! I found it very challenging but it left me wanting to read more of Ben Okri’s works (the sequel and also some short stories): thanks for the reminder that I meant to read another of his! Oh, I hope you find the Octavia Butler trilogy inspiring. It’s been years since I read it, but I still vividly recall the afternoons I spent with those books (read in short order because I was so hooked). I would love to reread them, but I also have her Parable books left to read for the first time, too…

  8. iliana April 13, 2017 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    Love seeing your list and getting to know more about your reading progress/process! I do use a notebook as well to keep track of challenge reads and to jot down ideas for the blog. Sometimes I’m better at it than others. Also, thank you for sharing the link to Kinna’s challenge. Not that I really need another reading challenge but I’m seriously tempted!

    • Buried In Print April 19, 2017 at 2:28 pm - Reply

      Sometimes it comes down to notebooking or reading, and the notebook doesn’t always win, eh? It’s a pretty great challenge, I’d say, because there are so many authors you can choose. Mostly my reading mind goes to the fictional possibilities, but this time I’m trying to keep some non-fiction in mind too.

  9. Sharlene April 13, 2017 at 11:03 am - Reply

    Loved catching a glimpse of your notebook! I am terrible at actually following through with my plans. I’ve got some reading challenge lists printed out and lying right next to me and I really ought to get going with some of them. But then I also want to keep reading from my shelves and also keep working on those series I’ve got going! So many books….always….but would I want it any other way? Not really!

    • Buried In Print April 13, 2017 at 2:47 pm - Reply

      Well it’s only April, so even if your challenges have been neglected all year, you’ve still got eight full months of reading ahead. I think the trick is to find alignment, as often as possible, between reading from the shelves and for the challenges. Unfortunately, for Reading Ireland, I read four books from my own shelves and requested eight from the library (but mostly the kind in which one dabbles, short story collections and coffee-table pretty books), so even when there was alignment, I still fell for the library’s charms. And I totally hear you about the series; when I’m looking at my shelves, sometimes it seems like they’re filled with series installments, but when it comes to actually reading the “next” one, it seems like it’s never one I own. And of course you’re right: a lovely luxury we struggle with!

  10. Rachel April 13, 2017 at 8:48 am - Reply

    Good luck with all of your challenges! I feel the same way about my TBR. This year I’ve just been digging out books from my shelf, decide whether to read them or donate them, and read it, otherwise they’ll continue to sit on my shelf. Don’t feel bad about having a book on your TBR shelf for multiple years, because I know I and many other readers are in the same boat. The best feeling though, is when you start seeing results.

    • Buried In Print April 13, 2017 at 2:41 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Rachel. It’s great advice to take the step of putting your hands on a book. While they’re all on the shelves, looking kinda accusingly in my direction (and rightfully so, when I’m dallying with the latest library loans instead of them), it’s easy to just say it’s part of a bigger problem, too big a problem to solve. But when you take it down to a single book, a decision is within reach. And it’s senseless to avoid it because either that book could be a new favourite (if I read it and love it) or it could be someone else’s new favourite! I know, I know: I’ve got to keep at it!

  11. Rebecca Foster April 13, 2017 at 6:47 am - Reply

    I don’t keep a paper notebook anymore; just a Word file entitled “Future blog ideas.”

    I’ve had the Robertson Davies series recommended to me and even kept an eye out for his work in Hay, but only ever saw the second book in the trilogy. One day I’d like to try something by him.

    My knowledge of African literature is shockingly poor. Probably the only book I’ve read that would (kind of) fit that bill this year is Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

    All your challenges are admirable. The one I could use myself is clearing books that have been on the TBR/the Kindle for far too long…

    • Buried In Print April 13, 2017 at 7:14 am - Reply

      They have recently reissued the trilogies in 3-in-1 epubs, if that would help, but these are old-fashioned stories and it feels strange to read them on the screen (to me); I’m missing the third of the Salterton trilogy as well, so it’s unfortunate that I’ve been enjoying the first volume so much!

      The shelf-sitting project is my biggest concern too, which is directly linked to the reading-too-many-library-books situation. I like my books, but I seem to like the library’s books even more and, so, they accumulate at home, neglected. Occasionally it occurs to me that I’m lagging on the epub front, too, but because estorage is less of an issue, and the actual shelves are ever-present, I return to that concern more readily (and, then, often, ignore it, even so). Out of the 15 TBR titles that I chose for the Habitica challenge, I’ve only finished reading 7 and it’s more than halfway done already, and, of course, the longest books await. And judging from the library corner, they’ve got some tough competition right now!

  12. Susan Osborne April 13, 2017 at 2:29 am - Reply

    Lots of challenges here but that’s a beautifully neat notebook!I worked my way through Robertson Davies’ series about twenty years ago and loved them. Good old-fashioned storytelling.

    • Buried In Print April 13, 2017 at 7:07 am - Reply

      Thanks, Susan: in moderation, challenges are good for my TBR stacks and lists. Did you end up with a favourite amongst Davies’ series? I used to love the Deptford best, but was partial to the middle book in the Cornish, and I never read the first two of the Toronto trilogy (the third being unfinished) but wondered if I wouldn’t’ve enjoyed them even more. Now I’m eyeing the remaining books in the Salterton (of course) but also the Samuel Marchbanks books, as Tempest-Tost brings his humour to the fore.

  13. Naomi April 12, 2017 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    First, I love, love the picture of your desk with the stacks of books and your notebook. My stacks are all lined up messily on the windowsills next to the counter with the laptop on it. My notebooks are also here, as well as my camera, and some cake-takers stuffed behind me. I call this whole area my book nook, and right now it seriously needs some re-organizing!
    Your lists of projects makes my head spin, even though I’m involved in some of those very projects myself! Sometimes I wonder if it would be better *not* to write it all down – then I might forget something, but I may never know what it is that I’m forgetting and so it wouldn’t matter! On the other hand, it’s likely that I will eventually remember and then be mad that I didn’t write it down. So.
    There are so many great books on the Baileys list this year – forgive me if I groan a little… 🙂

    • Buried In Print April 13, 2017 at 7:05 am - Reply

      If a book nook wasn’t in need of reorganizing a good bit of the time, it’d be a sign of not much happening in your reading, which would be dull indeed. So it’s a good thing it’s showing its personality. This is actually a nook in the kitchen, chosen mainly because it had enough space to accommodate the various stacks of stuff scattered everywhere.
      It wasn’t until I started to write it all down that it began to seem almost impossible. And I know that I’m not going to make my way through very many of this year’s Women’s Prize titles this year (and certainly not before the prize is announced) but that’s okay, they’ll wait. I’m actually thinking that I’d rather read some of the backlisted longlisters anyway, because I’ve spent my book dollars on other titles this month and I am frustrated by the length of the hold lists at the library. Mind you, just when I have that thought, I come across a mention of one of the titles elsewhere which makes me want to read it for some other reason, and then I’m back to wanting to read this year’s list.

      • Naomi April 13, 2017 at 10:39 am - Reply

        One good thing about waiting, I find, is that by then you usually have a pretty good idea of which books are the ones to read – they keep coming back, people keep reading them and raving about them.

  14. Booker talk April 12, 2017 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    I’m not surprised that you use a notebook to keep track of all these different projects and challenges. The Africa reads challenge is fascinating and I wish I could join in but I’ve just come out of Reading Ireland and stratight into 1951 club so would like to get back to reading according to my own whims for a while.

    • Buried In Print April 12, 2017 at 3:56 pm - Reply

      That’s understandable. I’m feeling much the same way right now, and went a little overboard with my ReadingIreland choices (and, of course, Africa is SO much more to read than tiny little Ireland), but maybe I’ll come up with some more specific choices in the next few weeks. However, there’s a lot of room for whimsy when the continent is that sizable!

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