Spring reading and Ex libris

old oak tree

Spring is well on its way (although we did have an unexpected snowfall yesterday) and it’s once again time to look back on my reading. Overall this has been a rather disappointing spring for reading. I have been tired and overworked, and as a consequence have reverted back to safe and easy reads, such as the British Library Crime Classics. Many of these have been great fun but I miss having the energy and courage to explore new authors and literary traditions.

In total I have read 21 books by authors from seven countries, which sounds quite good but a closer look at the data reveals that all but one, The three-body problem by Cixin Liu, came from the Anglosphere or a Nordic country.

The best read so far has been Durrell’s My family and other animals but I also really liked Napier’s A late beginner, Cixin Liu’s The three-body problem and some of the British Library Crime Classics.

Reading challenges

Reading classics

So far I have read, but not reviewed, one novel from my Classics club reading list, Kallocain by Karin Boye. I have not yet reviewed any books for the Back to the classics reading challenge, although some of the books I have read could count toward the challenge.

Keep reading books by African, Asian and South American authors

Here too I am struggling, although The three-body problem gives me one author from China. Technically I could also count Gerald Durrell for India, as he was born there (I have found country of birth to be a somewhat less confusing way to organize the authors than nationality), but that feels like cheating.

Book buying

I decided not to limit the number of books I bought this year, as long as the total cost was no more than what I spent last year. So far that seems to have worked, I have spent slightly less than I did the first four months last year, finally a challenge I am managing!

Other bookish news: Bookplates

I come from a bookplate using family, both my parents and my grandmother have their own ex libris labels and I have long longed for one of my own. Frequent visits to second-hand book shops have however taught me that this is very far from the norm. Despite the fact that a substantial proportion of my books are bought second-hand, I don’t think I own any with a bookplate not from my own family. I have a suspicion that bookplates may have enjoyed a brief popularity thirty years ago, at the time when my parents got theirs, but have been out of fashion ever since.

Fortunately being out of fashion has never really bothered me, but it has made it hard to find a good-looking high-quality bookplate to use. In the end I found that Slightly Foxed had a small but beautiful selection and choose one of them, and now I am eagerly awaiting their arrival and contemplating which of my books that would benefit from an ex libris. I don’t plan to use it on all my books, just the ones closest to my heart which I expect to keep through any future moves or book culls. Right now I take great pleasure in considering which these books are.

How about you? How’s your spring reading going? Anyone else using bookplates or am I entirely out of fashion there?



10 thoughts on “Spring reading and Ex libris

  1. I have often looked at those book plates and wondered! It’s something I used to do when I was a child but then for some reason stopped. I like the idea of just using them in your very special books (something Helen Hanff would have approved of I’m sure!) I’m interested to hear which titles you choose – your Slightly Foxed Helen Hanff must be deserving?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hanff is definitely on the list, and will probably get company by two other foxes (Hackett and Hillyer). There’s still some weeks before I get them so my list keep changing but the general plan is to use about 50 (maybe 60…) now and then add c. 10 more books to the collection each year. I do hope to blog about my selection criteria and final list eventually, until then I enjoy the excuse to spend more time with my favourite books.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Since I moved around a lot earlier on my collection of physical books is pretty small. But I kinda do like the idea of the bookplates. I hope works lightens up a bit as the weather warms up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, it fortunately already has, that’s why I’m back to blogging again.

      I do suspect that a small collection of physical books is actually an advantage when it comes to bookplates. I imagine it would be rather daunting to put labels in hundreds (or thousands) of books…

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Kallocain is a book I’d like to read – it sounds fascinating! As for bookplates, Mr. Kaggsy had some produced for me decades ago, but I had to stop using them because they’re in my maiden name… I like the idea of them but if I was using them nowadays I would probably restrict them to books I knew I was going to keep forever…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kallocain is good, clearly inspired by Zamyatin’s We. I read it for the first time in school but this was my first reread. As it is on my Classics Club list I will eventually get around to review it…

      I definitely only plan to label the books I’m sure I’ll keep, that also gives me a good excuse to contemplate which those books are. I don’t plan to ever change my name so that shouldn’t be a problem for me, but it does give you a way to date how long you have had the books labelled with your maiden name, which is kind of cool…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love to handle old books, especially, hardbacks, that include a bookplate because that to me seems like part of their history. However, I no longer even inscribe my books (as I used to) unless, like you, I absolutely know I’m going to keep them and am anxious about them being borrowed and never returning to me!

    In my youth I made ersatz bookplates by adapting envelopes with my name and address typed or printed on them—you can imagine how useless how useless a practice that now turns out to be! (Though I don’t have a maiden name as an added complication, as you did…)

    So, bookplates: I like the idea but as I’m trying to reduce the number of books on my shelves that would be a waste of resources I suspect!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did actually use stickers with my name and address during a period in my youth. Fortunately only a brief period as the stickers were rather ugly and of course the address has changed (but not my name, that was Kaggsy’s problem, I’m keeping mine).

      I’m not sure it would make it harder to reduce my books either, I’ve rarely spent so much time contemplating which books that are actually important to me as I do now. But of course that’s because I only plan to use the bookplates on a smallish minority of my books.

      Liked by 1 person

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