Tag Archives: 52 Books

A book a week this year

Book Challenge Update

This year I set myself the challenge of reading what I had left unread on my shelf (as well as whatever new books may appear from time to time).

I had a small list of 13 (although some are REALLY long books like War and Peace or Vanity Fair). So far I have managed 6, so that’s roughly half. I have been knitting and crocheting like mad, started a new job and what not, so reading has taken a bit of a back burner, although it does come in fits and starts (3 books one week and then none for a month).

I have read the following:

  • The Return of the Native   JANUARY 2017
  • Women in Love   JANUARY 2017
  • The Riddle of the Sands JANUARY 2017
  • 20000 Leagues Under the Sea FEBRUARY 2017
  • Daniel Deronda   APRIL 2017
  • Cross Stitch   MAY 2017
  • Anna Karenina
  • Ivanhoe
  • War and Peace
  • Rob Roy
  • Vanity Fair
  • The Woman in White
  • The Mill on the Floss

(As well as 84 Charing Cross Road, Goodbye Things and a re-read of The Gunslinger).

Cross Stitch (Outlander in the US) by Diana Gabaldon was finished today, it has taken me almost 2 years to read (sorry Lizzie!). It’s about a 1940’s nurse who time travels in Scotland by about 200 years. I liked it, but I didn’t love it, I don’t know why. Maybe because there was so much left unexplained, like what happened to her husband in the present. Maybe there could have been more focus on how she got there and how she gets back and other women who it had happened to (yes, I know you see Geillie but who else?). It was well written and in an easy to read style, but still, I felt something was missing. Maybe I am being overly fussy and pedantic – who me?!!

I think I might read Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood next, yes it’s not on the list, but at only 7 to go, I think I have time for this challenge to be completed this year!

Hmm, need another trip to the library soon I think! Have a Happy Thursday, Ellen x


Bye Bye 2016 and Hello 2017!

Hello and Happy New Year!

It’s been a while since I last posted but you know…Christmas and all that! Who wants to blog and be online at this time of year? There is such a thing as focusing on what is happening in the moment and if you can’t do that at Christmas then when can you?

I’ve just looked back and the last post was December 13th…eek! So, to briefly summarise the last month or so…

– Making mince pies and yummy rum fruit cakes (keep meaning to put up recipe for those)

– Rogue One with Angela and Dan – because for the next few years Christmas won’t be Christmas without Star Wars! Or Angela and Dan – yay! (You two are NOT allowed to see the films with anyone else!)

– Knitting like a crazy person!

– Job Interview preparation – bleurgh

– Moaning about how bad the TV is this year – seriously the only good film on was Zathura!

– Reading the Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking whilst drinking tea out of my new big mug and with the fire on and a mince pie close at hand

And pics? I have to get some in quick before the festive times are forgotten and fed up with…





That’s the stocking Lizzie made me a few years ago btw – it comes out every year now! 🙂

And as for 2016?

Once again, I didn’t meet the 52 books in a year target, although after August I kind of drifted off reading. Only managed 28 I’m afraid but on the plus side there were lots of library books. If you don’t use your local library, local authorities will see no reason to keep them so I try to borrow one set of books a month (I can get up to 10 at a time…just have to write it on my calendar otherwise I forget and have big late fees).

This is what I managed last year (2016)r:-

  1. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  2. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
  3. The Story of English by
  4. Allain Quartermain by H. Rider Haggard
  5. The Sty’s the Limit by Simon Dawson
  6. Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
  7. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  8. Easy Knitting: Country
  9. Easy Knitting: Vintage and Retro
  10. Easy Knitting: Weekend
  11. Arm and Finger Knitting by Laura Strutt
  12. Stop Procrastinating and Get Things Done by Adrian Tannock
  13. Country Skills and Crafts by Maureen Little and Craig Hughes
  14. Just the Job by John Lees
  15. 201 Knitting Motifs, Blocks, Projects and Ideas by Nicki Trench
  16. The Knitter’s Bible: Knitted Throws and Cushions by Claire Crompton
  17. Selling Online 2.0 by Michael Miller
  18. A Woman’s Guide to Working for Herself by Sandra Hewett
  19. The Crafter’s Year
  20. Knitting in the Details by Louisa Harding
  21. 100 Colourful Ripple Stitches to Crochet by Leonie Morgan
  22. Knitting Basics by Tracey Lord
  23. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  24. Knitting Smitten by Jessica Biscoe
  25. Learn to Knit Block by Block by Che Lam
  26. How to be a complete and utter failure in life, work and everything by Steve McDermott
  27. Yoga for runners by Lexie Williamson
  28. The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

I have a shelf with books which I have had for years and not got round to reading so I think my reading challenge for this year would be a more attainable goal of reading what I have rather than aiming for a number. That means that the books still to be read are:

  • War and Peace
  • Anna Karenina
  • Ivanhoe
  • The Mill on the Floss
  • Cross Stitch
  • 20000 Leagues Under the Sea
  • Rob Roy
  • The Return of the Native
  • Women in Love
  • The Riddle of the Sands
  • Vanity Fair
  • The Woman in White

Only 12 but 12 LONG ones! We shall see…

As for 2017?

I am starting the new year as I mean to go on…

Yesterday I had a job interview so fingers crossed for that.

As for resolutions…I think too many and you won’t keep them. So here are 6 (sort of) resolutions for this year.

  1. Publish a pattern on Ravelry – free or paid
  2. Crafty goals – knit a hat and a pair of socks, crochet a corner to corner blanket, sew an item of clothing – Use up my crafty stash – fabric, wool etc.
  3. Start doing Yoga again
  4. Write 500- 1000 words every day
  5. Keep up with technology (those who know me are shouting HA! right now) and learn to use EXCEL and ACCESS properly
  6. Blog more often and take better photos and learn how to edit them

A little random and a mixture but personal ones for sure.

And this post is a whopper so I will sign off and say Happy New Year and wish you lots of good stuff and goodness to come!

Ellen x

52 Books 2015

Last year I set myself a goal to read 52 books…here’s how I did…


The only two conditions are: that they be books in print (not e-books etc.) and first time reads (if I re-read a book it won’t be put on the list). And since I completed a degree in German some years ago, not all books will be in English.

Books read so far:

  1. We have always lived in the castle By Shirley Jackson
  2. Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen (number 1 in German) by JK Rowling
  3. Alphabetical By Michael Rosen
  4. Finding your element by Ken Robinson
  5. I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson
  6. Ohne Netz By Alex Ruehle
  7. Is that a fish in your ear? By David Bellos
  8. Through the language glass By Guy Deutscher
  9. The mystery of Edwin Drood By Charles Dickens
  10. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  11. The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg
  12. Die Schmetterlingsfalle by Dennis Jon
  13. Bury my heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
  14. 1Q84: Book 1 by Murakami
  15. 1Q84: Book 2 by Murakami
  16. 1Q84: Book 3 by Murakami
  17. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  18. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  19. Chocolat by Joanne Harris
  20. Queen of Crafts by Jazz Domino Holly
  21. Material World: The Modern Craft Bible by Perri Lewis
  22. Starting Up an Online Business by Heather Morris
  23. How to Knit and Crochet: Blocks, Blankets and Throws by Luise Roberts
  24. On Writing by Stephen King
  25. 30 Minute Crochet by Carol Meldrum
  26. 30 Minute Knits by Carol Meldrum
  27. Learn to Crochet: Love to Crochet by Anna Wilkinson
  28. Make your first million by Martin Webb
  29. The Interview Question Answer Book by James Innes
  30. Screw Business as Usual by Richard Branson
  31. How to get that job by Malcolm Hornby
  32. How to start your own business by Robert Ashton
  33. The Martian by Andy Weir
  34. A slip of the Keyboard by Terry Pratchett
  35. Pigs in Clover by Simon Dawson

As you can see I only managed 35, although I did only start around March / April time and I had other things on my mind like crochet, craft and that other thing, what was it? Oh yes, horrible hospital! But all in all, not a bad effort. Some non-fiction, some German, quite a few library books in there.

This year has mostly been about reading non-fiction library books. Will add them up later.

Ellen x

52 BOOKS #19

Happy Tuesday…

Oh my gosh, I am SO behind on my 52 Books target! That averages out, in theory, at 1 book a week, but since I spent the first few months not really reading much, I think I may have shot myself in the foot. Figuratively speaking.

I am only up to 19 as of yet, but in my defence, many of the books are LONG and many are OLD (i.e. classics!) so take a bit of thought and therefore time to read.

That being said, I picked up Chocolat by Joanne Harris yesterday and finished it by teatime.

I love the film, it’s one of my favourites. And it’s got chocolate in so what’s not to like?! But, I didn’t enjoy the book as much. Oh the disappointment!

I think if I hadn’t have seen the film then I would be a little confused as to what was going on.

I didn’t like the fact the film’s Compt de Reynauld was the priest in the book, and that the priest had previously set fire to the river barges many years ago, killing 2 people.

Oh…er…sorry…SPOILER ALERT!!

It just makes him an evil criminal. And not the petty baddie he is in the film.

In the film, Pantoufle is a kangaroo, but a bunny in the book.

And Roux! While he is quite the gentleman in the film, he is a bit of a stroppy, moody, proud, almost wet-blanket kind of guy in the book.

It was OK overall, and gives a little more history and background than the film does (it is implied that Vianne was abducted as a baby by a gypsy which is why she travels around so much), I’m not so sure I enjoyed the book as much as it left me wanting a proper ending. I do have the sequel, The Lollypop Lady downstairs so maybe that wraps things up satisfactorily? Another day’s read I think.

Ellen x

A good weekend!

Greetings, Salutations and Felicitations on this auspicious occasion!

(Try saying that 3 times fast!!)

Today is a good day! Not only have I got a brand new bag of wool to work with (thanks mother!) but it is the second day in a row which I have been out of the house.

Yesterday I went for a scone with mother and today we looked around the local shops. It’s still heavy going on crutches and I feel like I have done a marathon but it’s so much easier without that bloody cast and it feels like I’m getting back to some semblance of normality. I am even wearing my jeans (how could anyone FORGET they have jeans in their drawers?) and that’s a big thing because I couldn’t fit them over my cast before. Also, I have got rid of the extra helping table in my room. Next to go are the toilet handles…it’s nearly time for a normal looking bathroom!!!

So, a positive weekend, and it’s warm so that’s nice!


I have been occupied the last few days with a book, or three in fact.

1Q84 by Murakami.


I couldn’t put it down, all 925 pages of it that I started in Wednesday and finished Saturday afternoon. It was originally published in Japanese in 2009 I think (2011 for the English versions but I could be wrong) so it’s quite modern.

It was really well written and I enjoyed it a lot. It’s essentially a love story between Aomame (she is a fitness instructor who murders male wife beaters on the sly) and Tengo (he is a maths teacher who also writes fiction books). At some point near the beginning of the story Aomame enters a new world, one symbolised with 2 moons that she calls 1Q84 (the novel is set in 1984).

Tengo helps ghost write a bestseller about the Little People and how they build Air Chrysalises (made with a part of a person’s soul) and make replicants of people. We don’t know if the Little People are good or bad and we don’t find out why they are making copies of people. In fact, there is a lot that is left unexplained which I don’t like. But we know the Little People are real. And somehow control this new world with two moons.

It’s frustrating to get to the end and not understand!! The novel finishes with Tengo and Aomame finding each other after 20 years and entering a third new world with only one moon.

I like books that make you think and this one certainly does. But so much is left unexplained that is leaves you just slightly unfulfilled at the end.

Have you read it? I definitely recommend it, but I was expecting a rework of George Orwell’s 1984 and it really isn’t.

If you’ve read it…please explain it to me!


So, that means not much time for crafting etc. But back to that tomorrow I think.

Mother went to the allotment today and brought back a lot of stuff, beans, peas, onions, and beetroot. And she gave me a pumpkin update. I asked Dad to grow me one last year but it went slightly mouldy and we ended up not using it. 😦 So the fact there is more than one this year and they are as big as footballs already, is a good sign. Pumpkin soup here we come…in a few months!

I’ve just shelled a colander full if broad beans…I love doing that! And she is making some chocolate cookies downstairs…hopefully it will soon be time for a cuppa and a cookie!!


Just need to blanch them next…so much outer covering for so little a bean!!

Well, that was my weekend. The light at the end of the tunnel is quite bright now. Jeans are being worn again. The foot is looking really good and dare I say quite normal. Motivation has set in with a vengeance. Another thing ticked off my list. And the slump is lifting.


Happy weekend everyone! Monday tomorrow…yay!


Ellen xx

Pin board and stuff


So, today has been quite relaxed. I managed to read a whole book in a few hours (nothing new there) and it was quite an interesting read. It was called ‘The Power of Meditation’ by Sharon Salzberg.

I liked this quote on page 9 ‘…whatever gets our attention flourishes…[and] whatever doesn’t get our attention withers…‘ Which kind of makes sense if you think about it. I couldn’t find the CD that went with it though. Doh!

I have also cleared out some clutter today…this always makes me feel good, although HOW it creeps back in I don’t know! I try to reuse, recycle and repair as much as possible before I throw things away, it’s the reducing part that’s difficult!!

Whether it’s books, craft stuff, wool and fabric for my ‘stash’, pens, candles, whatever it is and whatever I originally buy things for, the stuff just seems to multiply. And then months later I need to have another sort out and for a few days the house looks empty…and process starts all over again.


On a related topic to clearing out I have a very random job to do.



I have 2 pin boards and this is my crafty one. It has cards from friends on, a cross stitch recipe pattern (which I keep meaning to stick onto a homemade recipe book and always forget to do!) and random other things which take my fancy. AND AN EGG! My friend Angela bought me the egg last year for Easter and it’s still there!

It needs updating methinks. I did think about doing something seasonal, perhaps a summer theme. Need to have a little think…

I did add some Christmassy things in December like a little homemade wreath made from a polystyrene ring I got free with a magazine and some crocheted stockings (still searching for a crochet sock pattern that DOESN’T look like it’s made for someone with a clubfoot!).

A bit of a silly thing and hardly urgent or even vitally important but it makes me happy! 🙂

After all this is my blog and I will write about what makes ME happy and not anyone else. 😛


And finally. A guessing game for Ramona.



I’m not going to tell you xxx



Until next time…




52 Books


As you may have noticed from my pages I am attempting to read 52 books (in print) this year. I tried it a couple of years ago and got so close… this year I will definitely manage it as I have lots of spare time on my hands thanks to being laid up recovering from foot surgery.

I’m trying to read all my outstanding books on my bookshelf (which is a surprising amount) before buying any new ones. In the past year I have also borrowed about 25 books from my local library, mostly crafty books or crochet ones. I haven’t used my library for years before now apart from the odd time to print something off or use a fax machine ages ago.

It’s a shame. All those books and all those adventures and more importantly all that knowledge stored in even a small one like my local is such a waste if people don’t use them. Use them or lose them. I tried out a few crochet books as I said and have discovered a new series I like: the Easy Crochet series. I borrowed the weekend and seaside volumes and have since bought the country volume. So library trips are well worth it (and don’t you just love coming away with a bag full of books!) 🙂

Anyway as part of my 52 books I have just finished Oliver Twist yesterday. I don’t know why but for years and years I put off reading Dickens thinking he would be too hard and too long to read. On my year abroad in Germany I read my first Dickens ‘Barnaby Rudge’ followed closely by ‘Hard Times’ and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy to read they were. He has quite a modern style considering the books are about 150 years old. Then in the past couple of months I have read ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ and ‘Oliver Twist’. Edwin Drood has to be up there as one of my favourite books now and it was never finished. Charles Dickens dies before he could finish it and as it’s a whodunit then it’s up to the reader to work out the ending.

And Oliver Twist was a much better read than I expected, which just goes to show you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. It’s just a shame we never did Dickens at school. Although maybe that would have murdered our love for the stories and author as much as it seems the curriculum does for other greats such as Shakespeare etc.

I’m having a break from reading for a few days to get back in the swing of other things. Got a purple Tunisian crochet scarf to finish, and a red top to crochet some more on. Only 2 WIPs that’s not bad! Need to try out / learn some new skills too, have never tried Bavarian, broomstick or hairpin crochet so maybe try one of those soon?

Right off to make lunch which is fun to do on crutches!!

Talk soon,

Ellen x