March Reading Plans

It’s beginning to look a lot like spring, with daffodils a-blooming, so I have amassed a set of appropriate reads and aim to report on them in two installments between April and May. I was already partway through Davidson’s novel, I’m getting stuck into the Fitzgerald and Knausgaard, and I hope to start the Woolf soon. I also have a review copy of Ghosts of Spring by Luis Carrasco.

Much as I tried with #FinishItFebruary, I still have some set-aside titles I couldn’t get through before the end of last month. It’s a good thing that (as I’ll never forget Damian Barr commenting) books are patient. I’ll reintroduce these to my stacks in the weeks to come, but NO MORE BOOKS can join them. I’m going to be strict with myself: keep going with a book or DNF it; no more limbo.


One of my informal goals for the rest of the year is to have a buddy read on the go with my husband at all times. I’d noticed that I happened to have duplicate copies of a couple of books, and then started to look out for extra copies at the free mall bookshop and Little Free Library in 2019–21, so I’ve ended up with 11 books in total: three nature classics, four travel books, three novels to reread, and one to read for the first time. Nature/travel is where our taste most often overlaps, but John Irving is our mutual favourite author and English Passengers is a novel we both loved. We’ll work out a schedule for 1–2 per month. He reads faster than I do (but has much less time to read overall), so we’ll agree on a time frame and chat either as we go or when we’ve both finished a book. Let me know if you fancy joining in with any of these.

 

Of course, it’s also Reading Ireland Month, hosted by Cathy of 746 Books, and I’ve earmarked these fiction options for the next few weeks. So far I’ve started Maggie O’Farrell’s debut novel. Plus I just got Wendy Erskine’s story collection Dance Move out from the library, and I have Colm Tóibín’s forthcoming poetry collection on my e-reader.

I’m currently reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl, a collection of autobiographical essays by Irish women writers that originated on the radio. I also got a jump-start in late February by reading these two short books by writers from Ireland:

 

Wild Child: A Journey through Nature by Dara McAnulty; illus. Barry Falls (2021)

I’d expected this to be just a picture book. Instead, it’s a guided tour through four landscapes – the garden, the woods, the uplands, and a river – and it combines Robert Macfarlane-esque poetry (the rhyming and alliteration are reminiscent of The Lost Words books) with facts and crafts/activities. It starts small, with the birds a child in the UK might be able to see out their window, and then ventures further afield. There is a teaching focus, with information on species’ classification, life cycles and migrations. I also learned to recognize hazel catkins and flowers, and then identified them on our walk later the same day! But the main aim, I think, is simply to encourage wonder and inspire children to get outside and explore the nature around them. I liked the illustrations, but wish the birds hadn’t been given slightly googly eyes. (Public library)

 

To Star the Dark by Doireann Ní Ghríofa (2021)

Like many, I discovered Ní Ghríofa through A Ghost in the Throat, a genre-bending work of feminist autofiction. I treated myself to a copy of this, her sixth poetry collection, as part of a Waterstones haul with my Christmas book token. One poem actually mentions Eibhlín Dubh, subject of A Ghost in the Throat, and the work as a whole has some of the same attributes, blending biographical portraits and historical reflection with autobiographical material.

“Two Daydreams” connects a teenager in a history exam with the generations leading back to the Famine. “An Experiment to Engineer an Inheritance of Fear” wonders if there is an inherited Irish trauma: “Give her terror in a meadow. / Bind her fear to a black potato. … / When exposed to the ancestral scent, great-grandchildren will show signs of distress.” A newborn’s stay in the NICU occasions “Seven Postcards from a Hospital” (originally addressed to Sara Baume, Ní Ghríofa reveals in the Notes). Marine biologist Maude Delap is the subject of one multi-part poem.

Sensual imagery abounds, and there are several incantatory spells, including the spring one below. My favourite poem was “Craquelure,” likening cracks in a fellow bus passenger’s phone screen to the weathering old paintings develop. (New purchase)

14 responses

  1. I love a woman who has a plan – so I don’t have to! Seriously, all I have is a tottering pile of TBRs with no plan attached – if I had to add to what I have here, life would be impossible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My reading plans are always a moveable feast. Despite my best intentions, I end up only reading one or two from a thematic stack, and picking up other things instead. But the anticipation is half the fun 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Looking forward to your Reading Ireland Month choices – thanks so much for joining in again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s always a good excuse to get to some long-neglected books from my shelves.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I had to chuckle at your ALL CAPS “NO MORE BOOKS” – good luck with escaping more bookish limbo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All my best-laid plans go awry 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that you’re going to buddy read with your husband. I’m looking forward to hearing about it! English Passengers is one of those rare books that I started and didn’t finish. I think I was enjoying it, but I put it down to read something else and then never picked it up again.
    You have lots of good picks for Reading Ireland!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We tried doing some buddy reads in previous years but the problem is that he races ahead while I crawl along (because I read ~25 books at a time while he only reads up to 5). I remember English Passengers being a fun, rollicking read but I do find that you have to be in the right mood for those sorts of historical adventure stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice choices! I have been doing a few buddy reads with Matthew but he does the audio book while I do the book book – problematic with The Man Who Died Twice as my NetGalley ARC was missing some chapter numbers! It’s tricky to have a book on the go that I can only read a bit of at a time, though! We have read the same-same book, on a coach trip in Croatia, so we know I read three pages to his two …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ve read the same library copy a couple of times for book club. I’m the tortoise and he’s the hare with most books!

      Like

  6. To Star the Dark was in a cart of mine at some point but that never happened. Heheh It looked very appealing though! Waaaiit, are you reading Damnation Spring (again) because it’s SPRING?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup! Even though it’s referring to a body of water. Any excuse I can get to make myself pick something back up.

      Like

  7. Love the Spring theme in your first picture that was alarmed to see Snow in May. I do hope not!

    Like

  8. […] thoughts: To my surprise, I’d read two of these: October, October and Wild Child. I’ve also read the Harrison novel that preceded this one. I’ve read other novels by Hargrave […]

    Like

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: