[Challenge] Persephone Read-a-thon!

In the past, this wouldn’t be something I’d be interested in, but since last year I got addicted to the classics and stocked up on tons for my collection, I’m very excited to have a whole 11 days devoted to knocking some of these titles off of my TBR! Jessie from Dwell In Possibility is hosting this read-a-thon and she says there are no strict rules, it’s just a fun read-a-thon to read and discuss all things Persephone!

I adore the Persephone classics. From what I know, they are a London-based publisher who strive to publish books written by women that have gone out of print over the last while. They have a couple collections, one where the titles are completely grey with a white box for the title, french flaps and all; and the other collection has a gorgeous illustrated cover with a grey box for the title. Currently, they have 125 titles in print. I only own 5 titles but I know my library has a few more, so I’ll have to see what they have once I finish mine.

Here are the books I’m planning to choose from this week (follow the links to Goodreads):

Kitchen Essays by Agnes Jekyll

First published in The Times (London) during the 1920s, Kitchen Essays explains the proper way to make Lobster Newburg while offering fascinating insight into the social history of England.

Agnes Jekyll felt that cooking should fit the occasion and temperament and states that “a large crayfish or lobster rearing itself menacingly on its tail seems quite at home on a sideboard of a Brighton hotel-de-luxe, but will intimidate a shy guest at a small dinner-party.” And that “a hardy sportsman should not be fed in the same way as a depressed financier.”

Agnes Jekyll (1860–1937) was the daughter of William Graham, Liberal MP for Glasgow and patron of the Pre-Raphaelites. A celebrated hostess and entertainer, her first dinner party included Robert Browning, John Ruskin, and Edward Burne-Jones. She lived in Surrey, England.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

Miss Pettigrew, an approaching-middle-age governess, was accustomed to a household of unruly English children. When her employment agency sends her to the wrong address, her life takes an unexpected turn. The alluring nightclub singer, Delysia LaFosse, becomes her new employer, and Miss Pettigrew encounters a kind of glamour that she had only met before at the movies. Over the course of a single day, both women are changed forever.

Someone At A Distance by Dorothy Whipple

Written in 1953, the last book by novelist Dorothy Whipple, Someone at a Distance is a story about the destruction of a marriage. Ellen is “that unfashionable creature, a happy housewife” who loves her life in the English countryside. She tends her garden, dotes on her children, and, when she remembers, visits her cantankerous mother-in-law. This domestic bliss, however, is shattered when her husband, in a moment of weak mid-life vanity, runs off with a French girl.

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey

It is a brisk English March day, and Dolly is getting ready to marry the wrong man. Waylaid by the sulking admirer who lost his chance, an astonishingly oblivious mother bustling around and making a fuss, and her own sinking dread, the bride-to-be struggles to reach the altar. “Dolly knew, as she looked round at the long wedding-veil stretching away forever, and at the women, too, so busy all around her, that something remarkable and upsetting in her life was steadily going forward.”

Julia Strachey (1901-1979) was born in India, where her father, a brother of Lytton Strachey, was in the Civil Service. After her parents’ divorce she lived with relations in England and went to Bedales and the Slade and then worked as a model, as a photographer and in publishing. She first married the sculptor Stephen Tomlin and then the art critic Lawrence Gowing; her two novels appeared in 1932 and 1951.

Mariana by Monica Dickens

Monica Dickens’s first book, published in 1940, could easily have been called Mariana – an Englishwoman. For that is what it is: the story of a young English girl’s growth towards maturity in the 1930s. We see Mary at school in Kensington and on holiday in Somerset; her attempt at drama school; her year in Paris learning dressmaking and getting engaged to the wrong man; her time as a secretary and companion; and her romance with Sam. We chose this book because we wanted to publish a novel like Dusty Answer, I Capture the Castle or The Pursuit of Love, about a girl encountering life and love, which is also funny, readable and perceptive; it is a ‘hot-water bottle’ novel, one to curl up with on the sofa on a wet Sunday afternoon. But it is more than this. As Harriet Lane remarks in her Preface: ‘It is Mariana’s artlessness, its enthusiasm, its attention to tiny, telling domestic detail that makes it so appealing to modern readers.’ And John Sandoe Books in Sloane Square (an early champion of Persephone Books) commented: ‘The contemporary detail is superb – Monica Dickens’s descriptions of food and clothes are particularly good – and the characters are observed with vitality and humour. Mariana is written with such verve and exuberance that we would defy any but academics and professional cynics not to enjoy it.’

Naturally I’m hoping to get to them all but we’ll see how it goes! And hopefully I can find more of these in the future. I’ve heard Abe Books has a great used selection so maybe when I start buying books again in 2019 I’ll get a couple more. Also, I PVR’d Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day and look forward to watching it after reading the book. It looks like a fun movie!

Have you read any of the Persephone titles? Which ones are your favourites?


My Reading Goals For The New Year

Happy New Year!

I’m usually really great at making reading resolutions that I can’t keep for the new year – things like “I won’t buy any new books” or “I’ll get my TBR pile down to something, like, 20 books” or “I’ll read xx of books every month” or “I plan to read 250 books this year.”

THIS YEAR I plan to make some new reading goals and I’m trying to not go wild with them, but instead make a list of things I would like to accomplish. If they happen, great, and if not, then I can keep working on them in the next year.

  1. I am going to set a goal of reading just 120 books. I do read a lot and that averages out to 10 books a month which is usually doable for me. I hope to at least reach that but I’m not going to be ridiculous and try to read 30 or more books in a month or anything, but rather let my reading happen organically. I do make a lot of time for reading but I do want to try and watch some movies, too, in my spare time.
  2. I don’t want to ban myself from buying books, but since I bought around 200 books in 2017, I’d like to try and restrain myself a bit. I’ll let myself get a “treat” for occasions like my birthday or anniversary or the like, but mostly I think I’ll try and stick to library sales and set a limit for what I can spend. If anything, I’d prefer to spend $80 or less on books in 2018. However, preferably, I would actually like to NOT buy any books. Is that doable?
  3. That being said, I want to work on my TBR pile, especially with the classics, Canadian literature, and non-fiction. I have well over 300 unread books on my shelves that need to be read! I also want to use the library more, especially for books that I’m not sure I’ll enjoy – I’d rather get a free copy than waste money on something I might not like.
  4. I want to continue to work on reading more classic literature, aiming for 2-4 books a month. Preference should go to my list of 50 books on my Classics Club list, but I’d also love to try some new authors via the library. I’m even starting my year off with The Grapes of Wrath, which is super exciting.
  5. I want to read more translated fiction this year, and would like to aim for at least one translated work a month – I’d love to complete my A-Z Translated Fiction Project by the end of the year.
  6. I want to try and work some more poetry and short stories into my reading.
  7. I want to try and read more books from other countries and books by women. I tend to read a lot of American literature, so I’d like to try and keep American authors to maybe 10-15% of my yearly reading. I’ve actually sorted out my physical fiction TBR bookcase to have one shelf for Canadian authors, one for international, and one for American authors. I will try and be super picky with the American shelf. I’m not sorting my classics collection in this case and hope that most of my American books come via classics.
  8. Continue to read lots of Canada! I have a HUGE bookcase of Canadian fiction titles and a lot that I want to reread.
  9. Have fun with my reading and take my time. I don’t want to focus on quantity and race through books just to get my reading number high (I read nearly 300 books in 2017) but instead I want to focus on quality and take my time reading. I do like reading multiple books at a time, but I maybe want to keep that at 2 at a time, rather than 4 or 5. I have to remember that the only person I’m in competition with is myself and I want to enjoy reading, rather than feel like it’s a race.
  10. Try new authors, but DON’T buy their books right away! Last year I loved discovering new-to-me authors, like Agatha Christie and Daphne du Maurier. It’d be so easy to just go out and buy all of their books, but instead I’d rather just get books through the library and then try to build my collection via library sales. Some authors I’d love to try in 2018 include Jonathan Safran Foer, Anne Tyler, and John Irving. I get so many great suggestions via BookTube but I get in the terrible habit of just buying books to try when the library is so convenient. Must save money in 2018!
  11. And lastly, and it feels weird to end this on 11, I want to reread! I recently organized my bookcases and kept read books based on what I might want to revisit again in the future and I want to start doing that more, maybe rereading 2 or 3 books a month.

And that’s it! My only real official challenges are my Classics Club challenge, as well as my TBR Challenge where I plan to read at least 12 books from my TBR that I’ve had prior to January 1st, 2017. I’m hoping I can work on all of these this year! And not really a reading goal, but I’d love to try to watch more book-to-movie adaptations this year. I love watching movies and I always try to read the book before the movie comes out and then I neglect to watch the movie!

What are your reading goals for 2018? 

Authors & Books I Want To Read More of in 2018!

This year I’ve read so many amazing authors, but when it comes to 2018, there is quite a specific list in my mind of who I want to read more of! Here’s just a taste of the authors and books I want to read more of – I’m sure as I go through my reading list for 2018 I’ll be adding more to the list, but this is what I want to start with!

Neil Gaiman

I’ve always loved Neil Gaiman’s work and have been buying his books since I first discovered him back when I fell in love with Tori Amos (who he’s friends with) back in 1994. I think I bought Neverwhere from a pharmacy I worked at that’s no longer in business, maybe 20 years ago and yet I’ve never read it! I’ve been collecting his short story collections, too, but have only read a few. I’m hoping to dip in and out of his short stories all year long and once I finally knock off all my to be read books by him that I already own, then I can get some more!

Pearl S. Buck

I fell in love with The Good Earth when I first read it about 10 years ago. I love any book that has a family saga involved, and I’m particularly drawn to ones that take place in other cultures, in other parts of the world. I think Pearl S. Buck is a fantastic author and I’m shocked I haven’t read more of her books, or even completed the Good Earth trilogy! The only thing I wish is that more of her books were readily available to buy because I’m having a hard time finding hard copies of them.

Margaret Atwood

I first read The Handmaid’s tale about 10 years or so ago and loved it. I then read it last month for my book club and loved it even more. I love how easy it is to start reading a Margaret Atwood book and hope to read more of her books in the coming year (as I write this, I’m currently reading Alias Grace and loving it!). I also hope to buy more hard copies to have in my collection!

The Bronte Sisters

I have this growing fascination with the Bronte sisters and yet have only read a few of their books. I’m so interested to reread what I read previously (since I had bad experiences reading one, having read it via the wrong medium, and the other I don’t really remember, having read it over 10 years ago in university) and I also want to dive into more nonfiction about the sisters, as well as their poetry.

Award Winning & Award Nominated Literature


This year I’ve been getting more and more interested in reading award-nominated and award-winning literature. Years back, maybe in 2012 or 2013 I had started reading more books that were on lists like the Man Booker list or the Scotiabank Giller Prize lists, but I’ve gotten out of that habit. There are so many amazing looking books on these lists that I need to start paying more attention – especially when there are Canadians on the list! I look forward to being more conscious about the nominated books and authors for these prizes as well as others like the CBC Canada Reads books.

Stephen King

I fell in love with Stephen King’s writing earlier this year when I read It before seeing the movie. I was definitely too young to read his books when I first tried in my late teens and early twenties, but once I dove into his 1,000 plus page classic, I was hooked! I read four of his books during the fall this year and hope to read more over the course of 2018.

And that’s who’s on my list for next year! Is there anyone else you think I should add? Who are you planning to read in 2018? Any new authors you discovered this year?