Birthday Book Haul!

As regular readers will know, when I started this blog in late 2013 I vowed not to buy another book until I had read all 746 unread books in my possession.

Astonishing as it seems, and most astonishing to me, I have stuck to that rule and haven’t bought a book for myself in nearly 2 years! But, like every good plan, there needs to be the odd get-out clause, a Plan B shall we say and my get out clause has been that I will happily receive books as gifts.

And I tend to be grateful. Very grateful. There are usually hugs involved, maybe squeals, sometimes tears… (you get the picture!)


So, all year, I compile a little wish list and hand it to my husband around this time of the year – my birthday. Anything that is crossed out on this list was acquired through the library or via Netgalley, so no rules were broken. Loose as they are.

The hubbie picks, so there is still some element of surprise and anything that’s left over can always be put on the Christmas list…

So this is what I got…

Books crop
My lovely sister-in-law bought me the mug 🙂

I am so excited for all of these.

A new David Mitchell is a must have for me, I love his writing and I love a haunted house tale so Slade House should be perfect for me.

Speaking of haunted houses, I have been a fan of Mark Z Danielewski since I read his epic House of Leaves. The Familiar is the story of nine interconnected lives, which will be told over 27 volumes. Yes, 27. That is not a misprint. Danielewski plans to publish 2 a year, so I figure that’s me in birthday presents for another 12 years at least! Plus, the books themselves are really beautiful, with stunning design, so how could I say no?!


Gabriel: A Poem by Edward Hirsch is an elegy for his son, who died in his 20s. I read this excerpt online and knew I had to read the whole thing, although I will have to time this one carefully.

I did not know the work of mourning
Is a labor in the dark
We carry inside ourselves

Though sometimes when I sleep
I’m with him again
And then I wake

Poor Sisyphus grief
I’m not ready for your heaviness
Cemented to my body

Look closely and you will see
Almost everyone carrying bags
Of cement on their shoulders

That’s why it takes courage
To get out of bed in the morning
And climb into the day

Grief is the Thing with Feathers also features a family trying to come to terms with loss as a Crow visits a father and his two sons following the death of their wife and mother and threatens to out-stay his welcome.

On a lighter note, I am already enjoying Hark! A Vagrant and Step Aside, Pops by the fabulous Kate Beaton.

Kate Beaton crop

Her comic strips showcase her love of history, literature and pop culture and feature ‘Straw Feminists in the Closet’, ‘Strong Female Characters’ a fed-up Wonder Woman and a hilariously disgruntled Heathcliff.


Check out Kate Beaton’s website Hark! A Vagrant and watch your afternoon disappear!

wonder woman

And finally, the twins bought me a colouring book. Not any colouring book of course, but the Penguin Covers Colouring In book. I’ve got my eye on the Huxley already!


Now, I wasn’t going to mention it, but I haven’t actually gotten around to reading the great haul of books that my husband bought me last year. Still, it’s not like they are going to go off, right? And a girl needs her fix…

So what do you think? Have you read any of these? Which should I start with?? Were there any on my list you think I should prioritise for the Christmas list?!


The 746 Uncategorized

Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

52 Comments Leave a comment

  1. You always imagine to open my eyes to books I have not heard of. This sounds like a fascinating haul – and by mentioning the Penguin Covers Colouring Book (which is completely new to me) I think you’ve sold at least one Christmas gift buying dilemma! Thanks Cathy! (I love your new mug too!)


  2. hahaha… chuckling away at last years not read yet & you’re perfectly right – they won’t go off! Fantastic haul… and er, the Kate Beaton books look fab! How have I not come across these… MUST get one/ALL soon… Used to get The Broons or OOr Wullie for christmas every year – maybe these would fill that gap nicely! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m in awe of your self restraint. I couldn’t even manage three months when I tried to curtail my buying habits last year. My excuse is that I like reading books in translation and they are not easily available in the library ( deep down I know that’s just an excuse though). I don’t recognise one many of the titles on your wish list but I did read A Little Life. It seems to have split opinions considerably. I enjoyed it but also found quite a few flaws

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know any of your birthday haul, even the David Mitchell. But The Familiar sounds very intriguing, so I’m off to Google that now! Happy reading and tea drinking.


  5. I think you will giggle about this. I love your project of not buying new books and declared I was going to do the same (just last week, btw). Then I just read your post here and what did I do, you ask? I immediately went over to Amazon and bought all 3 Danielewski books that you reference here. I think this project will have to be my new year’s resolution or something. I am weak, so very weak right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Belle, I love this! I have to say though, I think you made the right decision. Anyone embarking on a serious book buying embargo should stock up on as much Danielewski as possible in advance. Look at this as common sense ☺. You’re a girl after my own heart!
      Did you buy House of Leaves?? It’s amazing!!


  6. What a wonderful birthday haul! And a belated hapy birthday to you 🙂

    I got that mug for my birthday too, I keep it on my desk at work hehe.

    I look forward to seeing what you think of the new David Mitchell, I’m about to begin it today.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your self-imposed challenge is amazing…it made me smile because I am hard on myself at times over the books I buy but never get around to reading – but 746!!!!!!!! As for your gifts they look great but the title “Grief is Thing With Feathers” – really???? Poor Emily Dickinson had so many poems about death and grief already that it was hardly necessary to give her brightest star a gothic makeover!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes it’s true, I have a few unread books! While the title of Grief is A Thing with Feathers might be referencing Emily Dickinson’s Hope, it is actually influenced by Ted Hughes’ Crow collection. I’m looking forward to it, if I can find the time!


  8. Happy belated birthday! Mitchell’s new book sounds really good and I plan to read it next October for some seasonal chills. And maybe by that time the holds queue won’t be enormous at the library! I borrowed the first volume of Familiar at the library a couple months ago and began reading it and liked it very much. However there was a huge wait list for it and no renewals so I didn’t get very far. Had no idea he was planning so many volumes! I’m waiting for the queue to go away before I try and borrow it again.


  9. As soon as I saw the title of this post I was SO excited for you! New books! Happy Birthday, Cathy! I really want to get a copy of Step Aside Pops, it looks like it’ll be super entertaining, also 27 volumes?! That’s insane. Looking forward to hearing what you think of the first 1/2, as it may sway me into looking into them! R xx

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You must have a birthday close to my son’s (he’s the 9th). Lovely book haul and belated happy birthday! I’m going to see David Mitchell (hopefully) at the Cambridge Literary Festival at the end of November. Can’t decide whether to read Slade House or not – you’ll have to guide me!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Happy very belated birthday, Cathy! (Although I’m positive I congratulated you on Instagram??? Please tell me so!). The writing up of a birhtday list is such a good idea, I’m borrowing it for the boyfriend and I. As for Slade House… I’m not a huge David Mitchell fan, I read The Bone Clocks and it was fine, but it didn’t make me squeal. So, would you recommend it to me?

    Liked by 1 person

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