The Guilt of Donating Unread Books

So far I’m only one book away from being able to buy my second new book of the year and my challenge has got me really thinking about the unread books I own. Does it still excite me to pick them up? Does it intimidate me? How much do I really want to read them?

Last night I decided that I’ll be donating The Coma by Alex Garland despite never having read it because I’ve had it for eight years now, carried it from house to house to house (it has lived in five different houses) and it just became one of the books I felt guilty about letting go, but not one I was excited to read. I felt like I should keep it because I was interested in it once and because it might have interesting things to say… But I don’t think those are good enough reasons to keep things any more. Especially not when there are sooo many more books I’m wanting to add to my TBR every day.

I don’t often give away books I haven’t read yet (especially ones I bought!) because it feels wasteful, but is it really worth the guilt and effort to keep and read them if I’ve identified that I’m just not interested any more? I don’t think so.

All of that to say, my challenge has given me renewed confidence to be more honest about where I want to spend my time. There are many books on my shelf that deserve my time, but there are definitely a few that just snuck in there when I wasn’t paying close enough attention and I fully intend to route them out! It feels really relieving to let The Coma go and there are a few more books I’m considering getting rid of too… For now, I’m just going to keep picking up my unreads until I come across another one that I’m not too bothered about. If it doesn’t make the cut, so be it.

Have you ever looked through your books and realised there are books in there you’re just not fussed about any more? How do you deal with them? Do you just keep them in hopes you’ll eventually get excited about them again in future or chuck ’em?

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French TBR (with English Editions)

So far this year I’m doing well reading French books. I thought it would be one of the more difficult bookish resolutions I set for myself but it’s actually proven to be totally doable with my trusty dictionary on standby. It feels super empowering somehow (as silly as that may sound) and I’ve already started debating whether or not I should exclude French books from my book buying ban… (I’m just so excited about developing my French reading skills!) So here’s a look at some books I’ve been thinking about ordering from the Waterstones Marketplace. If you like the sound of them but don’t speak French, do not fret! They are all available in English.

• • •


L'etranger, the stranger, albert camus, existentialism, surrealism, french, français, classic

On top of just reading three French books, I also had a loose idea that I wanted to read a classic, a contemporary novel and a comic to get a variety of registers, vocabulary and language. Curiously, classics sometimes seem a little easier to get to grips with than contemporary novels. The language feels simpler and more direct, and the ‘odd’/old conventions are fewer than you’d think. This is true of English classics too: they’re far more approachable than you’d think. That said, Camus generally seems to explore weighty ideas and, having read The Myth of Sisyphus (in English!), I think this might actually turn out to be one of the more difficult classics that makes everyone think all classics are intimidating…
From what I understand, Camus is generally all about putting his average joe characters into absurd situations (a bit like Kafka but perhaps with less surrealism and more existentialism?). I don’t know the ins and outs of this story other than the main character becomes somehow embroiled in a murder which turns out to be less than straightforward.
English edition: The Stranger

• • •

Aya de Yopougon (tome 1)

Aya, Yop City, Marguerite Abouet, Ivory Coast, bande dessinee, comic, french, français, Clément Oubrerie, AfricanI really enjoy the look and feel of this comic (or “bande dessinée“) and I find the story and characters super fun! The series follows 19-year-old Aya and the shenanigans of the characters in her neighbourhood of Yopougon in the Ivory Coast. It’s super refreshing seeing African stories that are fun and interesting where the drama isn’t heart-wrenching and the stakes aren’t so dire as the kinds of socio-politically charged stories that usually come to mind when I think of African literature.
I actually read the second volume of this in English already because it wasn’t clear to me which volume was which… So I’ve decided I will pick up the first volume in French, but I’m not sure if afterwards I will skip the second and buy the third or buy the second in French and possibly sell my English version of the second book or what. I’m also interested in picking up Abouet’s other comic series, Akissi in french (of which I already own and enjoyed the first book in English).
English edition: Aya

• • •

Métaphysique des tubes

Amelie Nothomb, Metaphysique des tubes, the Character of Rain, french, françaisLast month I finished reading Amélie Nothomb’s Une forme de vie which I picked up at random from the Waterstones foreign language section just because it was French and it was short. I had so much fun reading it that I decided to look into more of Nothomb’s novels (all or most of which have been translated into English I think). She has an off-kilter sense of humour that really works for me and the premise for her novels all seem to intriguing and her writing feels slightly autobiographical in some small way that makes it feel very genuine. She has written at least one novel per year since she started her career at the age of 26 (she is now 51) so I have a lot to choose from.
Apparently the Japanese believe that all children are gods until their third birthday when they become normal boring humans like the rest of us. Métaphyisiques des tubes is the inner narrative of one of those little gods (who is well aware she is a god) from the age of two and a half up to her third birthday. The transitions, it seems, is not easy.
English edition: The Character of Rain

• • •


I’m trying not to break my book buying ban because I still feel like I have too many unread books that deserve some dedicated time! But these are really tempting, sitting pretty in my virtual shopping basket as soon as I’m ready to hit “checkout” 😉


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Independent, (Mostly) Non-Fiction Publishers

Recently I’ve been really craving some good ol’ socio-political non-fiction! And, on the hunt for in-depth answers to a lot of questions, I’ve found a few promising independent publishers whose catalogues are FULL of books I want to read. Here are some that I will be turning to for their non-fiction offerings.

• • •


Verso Books is the largest independent, radical publishing house in the English-speaking world, publishing one hundred books a year.

I’m proud to say that I got Claire into Verso (to be fair, with their catalogue and her interest in sociological discourse, it wasn’t hard…). They are a non-fiction publisher and they have a loads of reading list where they put together a selection of books on a certain topic, such as the one featured below…


They often seem to have good deals on (90% off ebooks and 50% off hard copies at Christmas making some books cost £1 or less, for example).

• • •

Zed Books


• Zed is a platform for marginalised voices across the globe.
• It publishes content for an international audience of thoughtful and engaged readers and thinkers.
• It publishes a variety of content, from general interest books to highly specialised scholarly research.
• Established in 1976, it is the world’s largest English-language publishing collective.
• Zed’s content and its business model are unique.
• It’s a non-hierarchical collective, owned and managed by its workers.

Zed’s catalogue seems to involve a wide variety of authors/perspectives. Non-fiction is very clearly their focus, but they do have a (very) small fiction section too. Their books seem very “global”, not focussed simply on philosophical questions for the developed world, and also LGBTQ+ conscious.

• • •

Haymarket Books

Haymarket Books is a radical, independent, nonprofit book publisher based in Chicago.

Our mission is to publish books that contribute to struggles for social and economic justice. We strive to make our books a vibrant and organic part of social movements and the education and development of a critical, engaged, international left.

Even though I’d heard of this publisher before, I’d never really looked into them properly until I noticed that they publish Angela Y Davis’ Freedom Is A Constant Struggle which is on my TBR list. I think of them as a non-fiction publisher, but it’s possible they also publish fiction. Their home page shares something in common with Verso..


Hmm.. There seems to be a theme coming from well-informed publishers concerning current affairs…

• • •

Who are some of your favourite independent publishers?

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The First Book Purchase of 2017

I have finished my first lot of five books from my shelves.


So now I can buy 1 new book. YAY! But I’m totally stuck and not sure what to get! I actually feel super aware of my own shelves now and might just pick up another book from my own shelves before I decide on what new book to buy, but here are some books I was thinking about buying (poetry and non-fiction feature heavily):


Jean (Jean’s Bookish Thoughts) always speaks very highly of Benjamin Zephaniah and I think she’s called him her favourite poet. Although I’m no poetry buff, I’ve been trying to explore poetry a little bit more and thought I’d start with this little book.



I suppose the title is intriguing enough, but this is a book of prose poetry set in a society where gender roles are reversed and when boys reach maturity they grow wings, at which point the women in society begin to objectify them.




A little book of French alliteration poems? It sounds fun and doesn’t seem terribly difficult.



I’ve had my eye on this series for a while now and, having read the whole of Miss Pas Touche in French, I’m feeling excited by the same team. I’ve heard this one is clever and the victim of the story is not always a terribly lovely person. I love complex characters. They make the story more real and interesting. And, of course, the illustration is just so beautiful.



A neurosurgeon gets diagnosed with (terminal?) lung cancer and this is his story of going from being the doctor to the patient. Kalanithi died in 2015. I’m sure this will be both interesting and very sad, and I’ve heard nothing but praise for it.


Which one would you go for?

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Claire: Plans for 2017


So what’s the plan for 2017?

This year I want to be as feminist as fuck.

The past has been a bit rough on me, 2014 was the year of graduating with my MSc and not flunking, 2015 to finding a damn job, 2016 to keeping the job. So what is 2017? It is the year to win. I won’t be lazy and I won’t do shit I don’t want to do anymore.

  1. Read my own goddamn books and TBR. Yes, you heard me say it, I’m imposing a book buying ban where I won’t spend my own money on books (this creates a bit of a loophole where I can spend other people’s money, like vouchers, but it won’t be my own money so I count it).
  2. Read whatever the hell I want, when I want to
  3. Listen to 5 audiobooks a year (I’ve gotten super into audiobooks in 2016 and want to keep it up).
  4. Try and read more nonfiction, especially feminist nonfiction (so if I have to give it a number I’ll give it 5, nonfiction, any kind of nonfiction)

• • •

I think this is doable, 4 goals, what say you?

What are your 2017 goals?

xx Claire

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Claire: My 2016 in Review


My Year In Books

• • •

Goodreads Challenge

Goodreads goal of 50: I read 58 books.

• • •

My resolutions:

  1. Read at least 96 books, novellas, short stories, manga and graphic novels. Failed
  2. Read up to 5 translated works. Failed
  3. Read a book based in or by an author from every continent. Failed
  4. Read all the dragons. At least 5 books on magical creatures! Exceeded
  5. Read at least 10 nonfiction works (max of 2 biographies/memoirs).  Failed
  6. Read 10 books from my physical TBR.  Failed
  7. Read at least 10 books from my Goodreads TBR. Failed
  8. Read from at least 5 different fiction genres (my picks: Fantasy, World Literature, Historical Fiction, Classic, YA or Thriller/Mystery). Exceeded 
  9. Reread 2 book series.Exceeded
  10. 10% of reads should be written by POC authors or with POC main characters. Exceeded
  11. 10% of reads should be written by LGBTQIA authors or include LGBTQIA characters (that have more than 1 line and aren’t token characters).  Failed
  12. Read at least 1 book that explores neurodiversity and 1 that explores disabilities/being differently abled.  Failed
  13. Purchase 1 book per month maximum (I don’t have to but I’m trying to focus on purchasing books I’ll really like versus on a whim).  Failed

• • •


I failed this year on a lot of my goals. I’m not upset about it really, it  was a shit year for reading. I had was lazy and had too many goals so in the end I committed to nothing and that being said, I don’t feel bad at all about it.

I did, however, start some good things like watch a ton of films thanks to my Cineworld card and become an audiobook addict.

• • •

Book of the my Year

 Favourite Four (physical books):

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow, Jen Wang (Goodreads Author) (Illustrations)

 Favourite Three (audio books):

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Book 1 UNABRIDGED By J.K. Rowling, Narrated By Stephen Fry

Sabriel UNABRIDGED By Garth Nix, Narrated By Tim Curry

The Fellowship of the Ring: The Lord of the Rings, Book 1 UNABRIDGED By J. R. R. Tolkien, Narrated By Rob Inglis

 Favourite Two (digital books):

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

The Woodcutter by Kate Danley

So, how was your 2016?

xx Claire

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2016 in Review & 2017 Bookish Resolutions


My Year In Books

• • •

Goodreads Challenge

Goodreads goal of 75: I read 82 books.

• • •

My resolutions:

  1. Read at least 50 75 books [exceeded]
  2. Read at least 15 books from my TBR [exceeded]
  3. Read at least 50% women authors [exceeded]
  4. Read at least 35% authors of colour [exceeded]
  5. Read at least 25% translated works [22%]
  6. Read at least 15 non-fiction works [exceeded]
  7. Read at least 1 book by a South American author [exceeded]
    1. ADDENDUM: 15 books from around the world [exceeded]
  8. Read at least 3 books by or about someone with a difference (physical or mental) X
  9. Read at least 3 books by or about someone who identifies as LGBTQ+ [exceeded]
  10. Finish a series for the first time ever in my life!!! [done: Harry Potter]
  11. Read at least 1 book over 500 pages???? (maybe?) Nope. But I’m a third of the way into East of Eden and intend to finish it in 2017.

• • •


My goal was to read 50% women and I have more than achieved that making this (bizarrely) the first year that I read more women than men! I read 54% female authors.

I have read 44% authors of colour which is great since my goal was at least 35%.

22% of my reading has been translated works.

32% of books were from my TBR list. I’ve culled a significant number of books from my list, but have also added books on so the list as whole is sitting at around 205 books. I plan to focus more on reading my own (damn) books in 2017 and cutting into the number of books already on my physical shelves.

57% of my reading has been FREE either from the library or friends or eARCs. THINK OF THE SAVINGS!!£££$$$¥¥¥¢¢¢

• • •

Book of the my Year


Favourite Five (excluding above & picture books):

• • •

So what’s the plan for 2017?

Goodreads goal of 50 books.

I’m still absolutely loving looking further afield for new reads and have found some new potential favourite authors which is always great! Next year my goals are to read:

  1. at least 50% women
  2. at least 45% POC
  3. at least 5 books by/about LGBTQ+ folks
  4. at least 3 books about mental/physical difference
  5. at least 3 books in French
  6. READ MY OWN DAMN BOOKS (read 5 books I already own before I buy 1 new one)!

• • •

I think that’s all very doable… But I guess we’ll see next year! What are your goals??


How was your 2016? Have you made any bookish goals for 2017?

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Already Making Bookish Rules for the New Year

I’ve really got a lot out of setting goals with my reading these past two or three years since jumping into reading regularly. I can confidently say that I like goals, I enjoy a good list, ticking and crossing is fun, and challenges are a mixed bag in practice but, at the core, usually well-intentioned and often worth a try as there are usually some sort of gains at the end regardless. I say all this to remind myself that my first ever official book buying ban is going to be an exciting, fiscally responsible and fulfilling goal..

How am I planning to go about it? Well, I’m doing the basic “read 5 (books that I own right now*—so this does not include library books) before buying 1” thing.

*New books that I buy after reading 5 from my shelves also don’t count to the 5 required to buy another new one….Yeah, let’s make this more complicated than it needs to be.

I can still read library books in between, but I feel like the time between buying books is going to seem even further away doing that since the books I already own are the only ones that count…

I don’t mind the financial part of it too much and, honestly, that’s not huge incentive for me to try this ban. I don’t buy lots of books all the time and I don’t spend loads on them when I do since I mainly buy secondhand. However, I do get anxious knowing there are lots of unread books taking up space on my shelves.

How long will this madness go on!? Until I’ve crossed all 30 unread books on my shelf off my unread list!

After some careful calculations (of mainly simple division), I worked out that after getting through all 30 unread books on my shelves, I will (potentially) have six new books. Then I can read five of those and then buy one new book. Then I’ll only have two unread books on my shelves to read before I’m able to just read as I buy! (Hahah The impossible, unlikely, but forever-doable-seeming dream.)

° ° °

At the moment, it all feels super reasonable. But, like I said, this is the first time I’m giving a proper go at this. Have any of you seriously tried a self-imposed book buying ban? How did it go?

Do you have any tips for conducting a successful book buying ban?

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