Thursday, June 30, 2016

Book Plan Update - June 2016

Continuing in 2016 to make inroads on the books I own (un-read) and not buy too many new ones. Progress to date:
  1. January: books removed from list: 7,  books added: 2; net result -5
  2. February: books removed from list: 4, books added: 0; net result -4 (total YTD: -9)
  3. March: books removed from list: 8, books added:8; net result 0 (total YTD: -9)
  4. April: books removed from list: 6, books added: 0; net result -6 (total YTD: -15)
  5. May: books removed from list: 6, books added: 4; net result -2 (total YTD: -17)
In June:
  • I read 2 books from my list (If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by John MacGregor, Birdy by William Wharton)
  • I started (but couldn't get into) 1 book from my list (The Ruby in her Navel by Barry Unsworth - this one has been on the list for several years, so it was good to get it off there)
  • and tried but abandoned  book which was in the house already but wasn't on my list (The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux - I know the story is good, but the writing is kind of clunky)
  • I re-read two books we already own (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J K Rowling and The Stand by Stephen King) - in terms of numbers of pages, these two alone probably equal my total for some months!
  • I finished one book which has been hanging about mostly read (The Girl Who Soared Above Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, Catherynne M Valente)
June's tally is therefore...
books read: 5
books removed from list: 3,  books added: 0 ; net result -3
[Goal (no more than 1 book added to the list for every two books removed) achieved/exceeded this month.]

Here's the updated list of Books to Read in 2016.  There were 55 books at the beginning of January, and now there are 35 - of those, only 4 are left from before 2015. [Books with an asterisk]. 
  1. Kate Atkinson, A God in Ruins (Waterstones Kingston, January 2016)
  2. Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and Bone (AbeBooks, March 2016)
  3. Philip Baruth, The Brothers Boswell (Waterstones Canterbury bargain bin, July 2015)
  4. Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead (AbeBooks, October 2015)
  5. Wilkie Collins, The Haunted Hotel (birthday present, November 2015)
  6. Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (Waterstones Kingston, Boxing Day 2015)
  7. Arthur Conan Doyle, Adventure of Sherlock Holmes (World of Books, October 2015)
  8. Jean-Paul Didierlaurente, The Reader on the 6.27 (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  9. Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  10. Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl  (charity shop, May 2016)
  11. Ford Maddox Ford, Parade's End (Nov 2012 - birthday present - bought after the BBC adaptation - but I knew I wouldn't read it straight away as I wanted to let time pass from the adaptation.  Enough time has probably passed now...) *
  12. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (would be a re-read, bought shortly after his death - spring 2014 - as I was reminded how much I enjoyed it and I didn't seem to own a copy - think my old one fell apart, probably...) *
  13. Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South (2014)*
  14. Kate Grenville, The Lieutenant (charity shop, December 2015)
  15. Frances Hardinge, A Face Like Glass (Mother's Day present, March 2016)
  16. Melissa Harrison, At Hawthorn Time (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  17. Georgette Heyer, A Christmas Party (from my mother, December 2015)
  18. Antonia Hodgkin, The Devil in the Marshalsea (charity shop, May 2016)
  19. Andrew Michael Hurley, The Loney (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  20. Maria McCain, The Wilding (charity shop, December 2015)
  21. Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (charity table, Wetland Centre, May 2015)
  22. Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men (charity shop, December 2015)
  23. Darragh McKeon, All That is Solid Melts into Air (Waterstones Kingston, May 2016)
  24. Tom McNeal, Far Far Away (AbeBooks, January 2016)
  25. Philipp Meyer, American Rust (charity shop, December 2015)
  26. Alice Munro, Runaway (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  27. Kim Newman, An English Ghost Story (The Last Bookshop, Bristol, Sept 2015)
  28. Flannery O'Connor, Complete Stories (charity shop, December 2015)
  29. Elizabeth Redfern, The Music of the Spheres  (charity shop, December 2015)
  30. Sunjeev Sahota, The Year of the Runaways  (Mother's Day present, March 2016)
  31. Jane Smiley, Some Luck (Waterstones Reading, October 2015)
  32. Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Barnes & Noble (in MD), Summer 2013 - a re-read, as I read it when a teen) *
  33. Emily St John Mandel, Station Eleven (Waterstones Kingston, May 2016)
  34. Matthew Thomas, We Are Not Ourselves (Waterstones Kingston, Boxing Day 2015)
  35. Rose Tremain, Tresspass (charity shop, December 2015)

Book 55: The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, Catherynne M Valente

Finally, finally got around to finishing the last few chapters of this - Alex and I had it as a bedtime book (our last, as it happens) a while back, and for various reasons, we never managed to finish it. These are odd, beautiful, intriguing stories, which I've enjoyed over the few years I've been reading them, first to myself and then aloud. If there's another, which I think there might be, I will probably read it, too - though not aloud...

Friday, June 24, 2016

Dinner, 17/6/16: Teriyaki Meatballs with rice & greens (GoodFood)

Made with turkey mince rather than mincing up my own chicken, but still tasty. I liked the greens and rice together, though on the whole I thought it probably needed a little more sauce with it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book 54: Harry Potter and the Half Blood PrinceJ K Rowling (re-read)

Almost done re-reading the series. There was a lot in this which I didn't remember (subplots) because it's been so long since I read it and I've seen the films so many times since. Which is a nice bonus!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Dinner, 20/6/16: Green pesto tagliatelle with courgettes and pancetta (Good Food)

Cooked by Olivia; I'm taking advantage of kids being done with exams!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Dinner, 18/6/16: Vegan Lancashire Hotpot (Simon Rimmer)

A standby. This time I added some mushrooms, which we've done before, and some butternut squash, because I had some which wanted using up. It's just a shame the summer weather is such that it calls for hearty, warming, stew-like meals. Sigh.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Dinner, 17/6/16: Homemade Pizza

Pizza night!  Everyone makes their own, so they are all slightly different. Mine had pepperoni, parma ham, artichokes, black olives and jalapeno peppers. I like it spicy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Book 53: Birdy by William Wharton (re-read)

I read this book ages and ages ago - probably around 1991 or so - and enjoyed it then, so when I saw it last year in a discount bookshop I thought I'd have a go at it again. It's still good, though I've read a lot of other books about mental illness since then, so I didn't find it quite so striking as the first time. Also perhaps because I knew a bit what to expect. (I started it before I got hooked into The Stand again, then read it in parallel for a while, and then of course the compulsion of The Stand took over, so I didn't finish it up until I'd finished that one...)  What's next, I wonder? It's been a difficult reading month - I haven't really settled well into reading for some reason.

Dinner, 15/6/16: Greek Island Salad (Good Food)

Another meal which uses pre-cooked chicken. The recipe for this puts chicken, feta, olives, avocado and tomato in with the lettuce. We use these things, but also tend to add anything else suitable which might be knocking around, needing using up. In this case, a handful of cooked new potatoes and half a jar of marinated artichokes.  If only the weather were summery to match this meal, we'd all be happier.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Book 52: The Stand, Stephen King (re-read)

After the Springsteen concert, I got to thinking about this book [it was the quote from Jungleland in the book which first prompted me to really get into Springsteen's music, other than just Born to Run, which was about all you heard on the radio in those (pre-Born in the USA) days. We're talking about somewhere around 83 or 84 - the Stand was written in 1979, but I know I read it when I was in high school, as that's when I went through my Stephen King phase.]   Anyway, I've read it twice, I think - once in high school and once probably 15 years ago or so. Decided it was time to visit it again. Which is mainly why it seems I haven't read anything in ages. I did have a couple of books I tried and didn't get into, which never helps. Verdict on The Stand - still excellent.

Dinner, 14/6/16: Pasta with Sweet Potato, Potato & Pancetta

This is an old recipe - in fact, it's not really a recipe any more, just an idea. I've made it so many times and in so many variations that I'm not sure I even have the recipe any more. Good way to use up a couple of sweet potatoes hanging around, or a bit of butternut squash.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Dinner, 13/6/16: Bang Bang Chicken (Good Food)

We love these wraps, which use cooked chicken. Sometimes we have them when there is leftover roast chicken, sometimes we I just cook chicken specifically for them. They are pretty tasty, easy to assemble and we can put away loads of them!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Dinner, 12/6/16: Lasagne al Forno, Salad

Made with the rest of the ragu that Geoff made earlier in the week.  I've decided this is how I'm doing lasagne from now on: let someone else make the ragu, I'll do the bechemel and the assembly - it's a lot easier that way!

Monday, June 06, 2016

Sunday, June 05, 2016

DInner, 5/6/16: Roast Chicken Dinner

I wasn't here for this one, but they took photos anyway, so it seemed churlish not to blog them. Yumm.  If I hadn't been watching Springsteen play at Wembley, I might have been jealous of this meal!

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Dinner, 4/6/16: Tamara's Ratatouille (Yotam Ottolenghi)

The kids don't love it (none like aubergines; Olivia also doesn't like peppers) but Geoff and I think it's the best ratatouille ever. And now it's all gone...

Friday, June 03, 2016

Dinner, 3/6/16: Ham, Potatoes, Carrots

Did the ham in the slow cooker - sometimes we just roast it, sometimes we chuck it in the cooker for the day. And there's enough leftover to make soup with in the week. Result.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Dinner, 2/6/16: Broccoli & Cheddar Soup (Covent Garden, sort of), Cornbread

The Covent Garden Soup Cookbook recipe is actually for Broccoli and Stilton soup, but as the kids aren't mad keen on blue cheeses, I decided to change it up. Wish it wasn't soup weather in June, but there it is!

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Book 52: If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor (re-read)

"If nobody speaks of remarkable things," asks one of the characters to his small daughter, "how will we know they are remarkable?" I picked this up in a charity shop recently, thinking that I had read it before, possibly (apparently, according to my lists, for a postal book group in 2004) but although there was a sense of familiarity as I read it, I didn't remember the main plot points at all, which was great; like coming to it again. And what a lovely book to come to again. The writing is unusual but just perfect for the story and despite the sense of impeding disaster, or perhaps because of it, it's uplifting at the same time. And more I shan't say as I don't want to ruin it, but honestly, I hope I can read it again in another 12  (or more) years, having once again forgotten the one or two major things which might otherwise be spoilers!

Dinner, 1/6/16: Pasta Bake

Not so much a recipe as a what-do-I-have-which-wants-using assembly job. A pack of ready-made meatballs from the freezer, some leftover shredded mozzarella, half a jar of red pesto... added to a bag of spelt pasta, a tin of tomatoes and a bag of spinach, wilted. 

May Dinner Roundup


  • 31st: Free-form Asparagus and New Potato Tart
  • 30th: Potato & Bean Salad, Grilled Chicken
  • 29th: Sausage Hotpot, Mashed Potato
  • 28th: Pasta Bake
  • 27th: Sesame Chicken with Pak Choi
  • 26th: Everyone find your own
  • 25th: Kale Carbonara
  • 24th: Pork Chops, Asparagus, New Potatoes
  • 23rd: Jacket Potatoes
  • 22nd: Spanakopitas, Salad
  • 21st: Sausages, Potato Waffles, Broccoli
  • 20th: Pizza (Domino's)
  • 19th: Everyone fend for yourself
  • 18th: Ravioli with Herb Butter
  • 17th: Cheeseburger Quesadillas
  • 16th: Jacket Potatoes with Beans & Cheese
  • 15th: Tahini and Honey Chicken with Paprika Potatoes
  • 14th: Hot and Sour Soup
  • 13th: Fish & Chips (Takeaway)
  • 12th: Everyone find your own
  • 11th: Black Bean Burritos
  • 10th: Courgette Tart
  • 9th: Chorizo,Olive & Rocket Penne (Alex cooking)
  • 8th: Cauliflower Cheese Pie
  • 7th: Burgers, chips, salad
  • 6th: Thai Green Chicken & New Potato Curry
  • 5th: Everyone find your own
  • 4th: Spring Ministrone Soup
  • 3rd: Pasta with Artichokes, Lemon & Olives
  • 2nd: Thai Style Shredded Chicken Salad (Sarah cooking, K&O out)
  • 1st: Asparagus Quiche