Readathons

Femmuary Reading Plans

The amazing Lauren over at Lauren and the Books has created Femmuary, a celebration of all things women taking place during the month of February. The idea is to celebrate amazing women and their achievements by reading books, watching TV and listening to music that is by, about or empowering of women. I think it’s a fantastic idea and am really keen to use the month as an opportunity to finally get to some of the amazing women’s literature I have on The Shelf.

I kicked off the month with Misfit City: Volume One, a graphic novel that combines the mystery solving elements of Scooby Doo with cult classic The Goonies and that I read in one great gulp yesterday. With an all female cast, it’s a rip-roaring adventure about female friendship and pirate treasure. With colourful illustration and a pacy narrative – as well as some cracking female characters, this was a really great start to the month.

I’m also currently reading The Dry by Jane Harper. As one of the most successful crime novels of last year, I can’t believe that it’s taken me this long to actually get around to reading it. Set in the midst of Australia’s worst drought in over a century, the novel sees policeman Aaron Falk reluctantly returning to his hometown of Kiewarra to investigate the brutal murder of the Hadler family. Harper’s second Falk novel, Force of Nature, is out during February (and already on hold at the library) so Femmuary seems like the perfect opportunity to read her acclaimed first book before that lands. I’m less than 50 pages in at the moment but it’s definitely got that page-turning quality.

For the remainder of the month I don’t exactly have a firm TBR in place but I do have some ideas around what I’d maybe like to read. It’s been a while since I read a classic of any description so I’d definitely like to get a classic novel by a woman in there somewhere. At the moment there are four stand-out choices from my shelves that I really do want to read: Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West.

Sackville-West is a completely new author to me, as is Mary Shelley. I’ve read Jane Eyre (loved it) and Wuthering Heights (loathed it) but other than those The Brontë canon remains uncharted reading territory for me. I’m particularly keen to read some of Anne’s work next because I also have Samantha Ellis’ acclaimed biography of her, Take Courage, to read. Virginia Woolf is an author I read at university – I studied To The Lighthouse in the first year of my undergrad degree course and subsequently read her seminal essay A Room of One’s Own – however her other novels remain unexplored for me. As Mrs Dalloway is arguably the most well known, it seems like a good place to reacquaint myself with Woolf’s measured, reflective writing.

On a non-fiction front, I’ve had Lucy Worsley’s Jane Austen at Home on the shelves for far too long now. A biography of one of our most celebrated female authors by one of our most celebrated female historians? Sounds like a Femmuary read if ever there was one!

It also wouldn’t be a celebration of female authors for me without a Margaret Atwood novel in there. Alias Grace has been unread on my shelf for far too long. As there’s now the Netflix adaptation on my ‘To Watch’ list as well, this really is a novel I want to get on and read.

Remaining with contemporary literature, there’s also a few more recent releases I’m keen to choose from this month. Leïla Slimani’s Lullaby, which explores the increasingly complex relationship between a working mother and her seemingly perfect live-in nanny, has been getting a lot of buzz since it was released in January, including a fascinating interview with the author in The Guardian’s Review this weekend. I’m also keen to dip into Carman Maria Machado’s much-praised short story collection Her Body & Other Parties which arrived from the library last week.

So those are my Femmuary reading plans. Short of a lottery win that will allow me to give up work and spend the next three weeks reading, there isn’t a cat in hell’s chance I’ll get to all of the above mentioned titles – and there’s a change I may change whim completely and read another female-centred book instead of one of those mentioned above – but this is a loose reading plan for the month and there’s plenty in there that I’m excited about. I’ll let you know how I get on at the end of the month.

If you’re planning to join in with Femmuary do let me know and drop me a link to your posts/videos in the comments below. You can check out Lauren’s channel throughout the month for lots of videos about Femmuary and can also follow the #femmuary on Twitter for links to other bloggers and BookTube people taking part.

Whatever you’re reading I hope you have a fantastic month and, until next time…

Happy Reading! x

Festive · Random Bookish Things

The Shelf of Unread Books Bookish Christmas Gift Guide!!

Yes, I’m aware that it’s not yet December but the Festive season certainly seems to be upon us – mince pies on every aisle end, novelty jumpers in every clothes shop and, if you’re anything like me, a vague sense of panic that you haven’t even started your Christmas shopping yet. Fear not though because The Shelf is here to help with a selection of book-related gifts to give your nearest and dearest this festive season.

Beautiful, Beautiful Books

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetBook lovers, unsurprisingly, love books. But buying a book for your bookworm is not always the easiest thing to do. Bookworms, by their very nature, buy and/or borrow a lot of books. So how to get something they’ll love and treasure? Simple – buy a beautiful edition of an old favourite. There’s some absolutely stunning series of classics out there at the moment from the every-expanding Penguin Clothbound Classics to Vintage’s oh so pretty Russian Classics series (pictured) released earlier this year. There’s also the latest in the Harry Potter illustrated editions – Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban, Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them and A History of Magic – or, if you prefer your children’s books a little more classic, some lovely new hardbacks of Tove Jansson’s Finn Family Moomintroll books. On the contemporary novel front, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has been released in a stunning black covered hardback with red sprayed edges by Vintage whilst Alias Grace has been given a gorgeous orange hardback from Bloomsbury. Chances are, if your bookworm has a favourite classic, children’s classic or contemporary classic, there will be a beautiful edition out there with their name on it.

Bookish Jewellery

il_570xN.453330071_h8lfI’ve mentioned Scribbelicious jewellery in a previous gift guide but they’ve expanded their range to include a wider selection of classic and contemporary titles, more styles and even homeware such as mugs and magnets. Also worth a mention is Coryographies, an Etsy store that features beautiful earrings, necklaces and bookmarks shaped like bookshelves and stacks of books, such as the Jane Austen Bookcase necklace (pictured right). Eclectic Eccentricity don’t specialise in literary jewellery but their gorgeous range features plenty of pieces suitable for matching up to books such as the Ursa Major Bear Necklace which always reminds me of Iorek from Phillip Pullman’s Northern Lights trilogy.

Literary Gifts

2173.0_1024x1024The Literary Gift Company stock gifts suitable for all tastes and wallets ranging from pin badges to jigsaws via socks, mugs and stationary – it’s like a one stop shop of book related presents. My personal favourites include the Bodleian High Jinks Jigsaw (pictured) – perfect for keeping your bookworm occupied over the festive season – and the Personal Library Kit which allows book lovers to fulfill all their childhood librarian dreams. They also do a lovely range of clothing including T-shirts, scarves and socks, as well as homewares such as cushions, mugs, tote bags and book pouches. Speaking of book pouches, Book Buddle gives your book a hug with lovely padded book sleeves for paperbacks, hardbacks and e-readers in a variety of pretty fabric. The stock changes regularly so keep checking back for new items – or you can request a custom order. Also on Etsy are MyBookmark with a fun and eclectic range of handmade bookmarks.

Subscription Services

AAAABook subscription services are starting to gain more traction here in the UK  so, whilst we still don’t have access to the US’s Book of the Month club, there are some great UK based alternatives out there. Book & a Brew is a monthly subscription service that sends a hardback book and a lovely box/tin of specially chosen tea to complement that month’s title. Book selections are across a wide range of genres and gift subscriptions and one off boxes are also available. For a real adventure into the unknown, how about The Random Book Club?  Run from the famous Wigtown bookshop (the largest second hand bookshop in Scotland), the titles are hand-picked, a mixture of fiction and non-fiction and sure to contain an element of suprise – great for anyone who wants to leave their literary comfort zone behind in 2018. If a book subscription is slightly beyond budget, why not consider a magazine subscription instead? Offering both print and digital subscriptions, NewBooks Magazine (pictured) is a quarterly filled with reviews, extracts, features and author interviews tailored to readers and reading groups. Featured titles in the magazine are available for only the cost of postage and packaging and there’s an exclusive offer for Christmas to include two free books with your gift subscription. I’ve been a subscriber for a few years now and can genuinely say I look forward to each issue landing on the doormat.

Charitable Gifts

Finally I wanted to mention a wonderful campaign being run by BookTrust, the reading charity. Their £10.00 book gift campaign aims to provide books to 9,700 children in care this Christmas time. A donation, either from you or on behalf of someone you love, could help make a real difference so please do consider giving if you can.

Hopefully that little lot will provide a few ideas for bookish gifts to give to your loved ones this season – or possibly some things you want to add to your own letter to Santa! If you’ve got any other Christmas gift suggestions, I’d love to hear them so please drop me a comment down below or say hi over on Twitter. What will you be buying this Christmas? And what are you hoping to receive by way of bookish goodies? Do let me know and, until next time…

Happy Reading x