Drowning in Books: Musing Mondays


I am drowning in books.
Order is needed.
Order and self control!

Last year I began to put all my fictional books into an a-z order, tidied them up however I was left feeling dissatisfied. Non fiction was already in a different place. The I pulled out all the short story collections and the poetry putting them into two distinct sections.

Was that better?
It didn’t feel so.
So I left it.

Sometimes one needs to know when to walk away and let ideas stew a bit. Should I leave the rest of fiction together. I found that I, a person not known for her love of labels of any kind, who dislikes ‘genre’ and ‘sub genre’, whose sense of order is erratic to say the least, I wanted more order in these hundreds of books.

How much order did I want?

Did I separate the fantasy into plain fantasy and urban fantasy? Was the sci fi to be separated into dystopian and straight forward sci fi? Did I want the magic realism with the reality fiction or in a patch of its own? Indeed should the fiction be divided into continents, should the continents be sub divided into say North and South America the UK and the rest of Europe? What about translations? What about character driven literature as opposed to plot driven,’ should sagas and series go together or stay with the a-z? What about detective or mystery?

There was no end of bothersomeness:)

Then there was the non fiction.

Well I had moved all the philosophy and ethics into one section already and due to my studies at university food had its own section. Now should I divide science into evolution, general science, should the natural world come under science or should that be divided into its own natural divisions.
And so it goes on, the more one regards this momentous collection the more the problems multiply. I had at one time separated my parents books from mine but then I put them all together, only keeping established classics apart, then I mixed the classics with the A-Z as well, but, should the classics be kept separated?

So far I have separated fiction into short stories, fantasy/urban fantasy, magic realism, sci fi, hard backs, paperbacks, a-z by author and poetry.

Why do I bother? Well it may make it easier when I die of course, easier to get rid of to the correct places. That’s not, I fear, why I want order. I want it for me it is just that I am not very practised in the art!

How do other people do it?

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What do you do with your books once you’ve read them?

It was sheer coincidence that this question ties up well with the post with all my puzzlement as how to order my books. The inevitable thought comes up – why do I have so many? Why not use the library? Well, I do use the library, always have, but I am an addictive book buyer. I am also a book re-reader and if I have a sudden desire for a certain book it is too frustrating to wait until

A) The library is open
B) To find it is out on loan for next six weeks!

Every house move I make I do shed some of the load to libraries , charity shops etc but that is getting harder as my books age. also I cant stop buying books!

I try not to buy books, I do try, but like all addicts it is very difficult. I saw two yesterday at the supermarket, on their second hand stall, which looked really interesting, by an author I do not know. It used to be a second hand book stand for charity, donations that one thought was fair.  I had managed not to look at it for months in an attempt not to buy any more so I hadn’t noticed it had changed to a book exchange stand. Now there was a thought, could I find some books I know I will never want to read again, could I bring some books here each week to leave for others to read. I would only take back if something interesting came up:) Maybe it is worth a try. Wont reduce the piles tottering in the book room by very much but a drip of water eventually can wear away rock.

But. . But. . Do I have a few million years:)



a spur of the moment reader:) musing Monday March 2nd

musingmondays51I missed posting last week from Monday onwards so straight back into Musing Monday.

What I plan to read this week. So many waiting my pleasure and I don’t normally decide until the spur of the moment. However, I do have to read The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards as it is our required read for a book group next week. I have high hopes of enjoying it.

It is also high time I reported in to my Books in Translation challenge, so I have taken off the shelves The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. I bought this some time ago intrigued by the title, so it is on my Mount TBR challenge as well.

Also The Girl who saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson – aren’t some titles just a siren song to possess these books:) I enjoyed his first book so much, fingers crossed this is as delightful

It is not strictly speaking a reading week for me, that was last week and because of health issues I didn’t read, so whether I will be able to fit all three in around my writing I’m not sure. Especially as I am still reading Marlow’s Dr Faustus.

Random Question: Now it is required of me to really think hard – and Monday morning is not the best time for this! A favourite Genre?

Dunno really.

In no particular order, I enjoy literary, magic realism, urban fantasy, some detective, non-fiction( science, natural life, ancient history, language)So many more it is quite an eclectic range

In fact I think I throughly confuse Amazons little elves when they are trying to find me similar reads based on my ordering.

I cannot hand on heart say which is my favourite. I’m not keen on romances, vampires, thrillers, historical but that is not to say I don’t sometimes find one I really enjoy. So afraid the random question has me stumped today- sorry folks.

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:
  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What is your favourite genre?


Kate Atkinson and changing styles



I fell into Kate Atkinson’s writing years ago when I first read Behind the Scenes of the Museum – followed by Human Croquet and Emotionally Weird. I loved her collection of short stories, Not the End of World.  This was an author I could hope for a lifetime of good books from.

Then she published Case Histories and my loyalty took a beating.

A detective book!

Where the magical and lyrical quirky imagination? Detective books are two a penny I grumbled, as I read the blurb on the back cover.

Traitor, I could have thought, as the Bob Dylan fan did when Bob changed to a new sound – I had dismissed that fan as a Luddite. I could follow Bob into the grave maintaining whatever he sang was worth listening too.

Could I do so with Kate?

The fact that she had changed genre hampered me at first, but the sheer brilliance of her storytelling won me over.

Kate has an eccentricity of imagination which can weave together compelling plots, sub plots, darkness and wit in an often lyrical and always satisfying way. Such a keen observer of human nature, the psychology of her lovingly and fully drawn characters always appears to ring true. Some have referred to Dickens in the same breath and I can see where they come from. In the deft way she can keep all the stories convincing, her characters the ability to combine darkness with domesticity and mix chaos with the mundane.

There have been four now with the same hero – is Jackson Brodie a hero? Yes, of course, but no superman, far from it. I have settled into her new format and enjoy them as much as have her first four. Now I am about to have challenge myself again for on my TBR pile I have Life after Life.  No detective this, but a time changing experience, they tell me, and her next book presumably the same – I can do it. While her writing remains so high and her skill of storytelling so good I look forward to delighting in her books for years to come.

Recently one of my reading groups down here in reality had Started Early took my Dog which  pleased most of the members, even those who like me had fallen for her earlier writing. I was reading it for the third time and enjoying it more each time. A mark if ever of a good read.

Started Early, Took My Dog: (Jackson Brodie)

Started Early, Took my Dog by Kate Atkinson

This is the fourth of Jackson Brodie books by Kate Atkinson. It is full of murdered women, has connections between the events in the 70s to the present day, secrets to be kept at all costs, and Brodie wanders into it all unarmed by any useful information.

Tracey Waterhouse, a retired lonely policewoman, unmarried and unfulfilled, makes a spontaneous decision leading her to take an action which is not only illegal but highly dangerous, changing her life completely.

Brodie Jackson appears to be a hard action man, certainly attracting action against him. However, some could argue he is naive and continually being taken in, or indulging in failed relationships. He starts this book on a quest to trace the ancestry of a woman in New Zealand, who was adopted in Britain. He increasingly finds mystery, murder and mayhem, and finds his paths crossing that of another at frequent intervals. Adding to his general confusion, he is fighting alone, against unknowns.

Running alongside his search for his clients birth parents run a more sinister and dangerous plot line.

Kate Atkinson brings a deft touch to the stories of Jackson Brodie, there’s humour lacing the edges of darkness. The plots, although convoluted and full of subplots and little detours, seem realistic enough and the endings even more so.

As with the other three books, you do need to keep your wits about you, this is not a straightforward cozy mystery novel, but rather an intricate weaving together of disparate threads. In this tale of Brodie’s we have child abduction and the murder of women of the night ,two classes of the population who are not automatically protected. We have police cover-ups, dementia and violence .

Oh and we have a dog as well:)

So what is Fantasy exactly?

senior hands on a bible

So what is Fantasy exactly? These genres confuse an old lady mightily. Books I was brought up on, which just seemed like exciting /interesting tales have to be split into genre’s? Genre, being a subject there seems to be much debate about because, of course, stories do not like being confined by boundaries, so no sooner than it is decided what consists a particular genre, than sub divisions and alternatives creep out from under the fence and leap to freedom, to divide and multiply as they should.

There are purists who firmly draw lines under the boundary fences, and the other free’er spirits who chase after the new, hearts pounding in excitement at the novelty.

So what is fantasy when it is at home?

Fiction, with no doubt, is the first and most fantastical of all. Authors create worlds, people them with non existent characters and spin a tale of pure imagination around them.

I’m afraid though that the individual levels of genre I am easily confused and often impatient at the necessity to name stories so. Since writing my own books I have had to struggle with genre, it taking years before I was anywhere near finding one that suited. But, I have discovered that many of the books I have enjoyed reading in the past come under the title of magic realism.


Well magic accepted as everyday aspects, needing little or no explanation, okay I understand that – just – however, what basically is the difference between that and a fantasy story which is set in the real world and has magic in it? ‘Tis a difference of only one or two degrees. In the first, magic mustn’t be the main aspect (sorry in The Particular Sadness of Lemons, the magic of knowing what others were feeling and experiencing and where it happened when a particular food was made, is kind of the whole point of the story. Yet despite magic being a central part it is magic realism not fantasy.

Ah well, booksellers must have their way I suppose, it has meant the reading challenges I entered have become all the harder, as I have to search to find out what genre exactly I am reading, when it comes to all things fantastical. Fairy tale /legend/myth or fantasy/sci fi or magic realism or. . or. . .or. . .

I am getting there,but only by researching, it is not really apparent with many of them. After all shouldn’t fairy tales come under fantasy, shouldn’t myth and legend? And what to do about ghosts, are they ghost stories or fantasy?Or werewolves and angels, should they not be paranormal or are they fantasy? Does it depend on whether the reader believes in an after life? If a murder is solved using magic, is it a murder mystery, a fantasy or a fairy tale?

I need to separate my reading challenge books into fantasy and also into fairy/myth. The lines blur dreadfully but am slowly sorting it out. Why, oh why, can we not just have, BOOKS.

I can hear you devotees of labels stirring impatiently so I will cease my rambles and confess to having found that I enjoy two genres I knew nothing about, magic realism and urban fantasy (well specifically London urban fantasy, as all those I enjoy are set in the city of my birth.

I am putting them into my fantasy challenge collection which means it is now burgeoning out of control as it was already full of traditional fantasy – dragons, imaginary kingdoms and the like. Who would have an old lady such as moi, cynic as I am would fall into the genre trap:)