A Blogversary and a Giveaway!

 

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746 Books is 4 today!

I usually do a big celebratory round up of the year post on this day, but I’m not sure there has been a lot to celebrate blog-wise lately.

2017 has seen a slow decline in progress in my reading of the 746. I have only managed to reduce my list by a paltry 20 and have only written a handful of posts in the last few months.

I have found it difficult this year to carve out time for writing on my blog. I’m still reading, but just can’t seem to translate that into reviews. It doesn’t help that I have a tendency to write quite long reviews – meaning that sometimes just starting a post can seem like a gargantuan task and I give up before I even start. I did manage to give the blog a redesign this year, but that didn’t even kick start the reviews!

I do try to keep up with all your lovely blogs, but even that is proving difficult lately and there have been times this year when I have wondered if I should stop blogging altogether.

I have also realised that after four years, my book buying ban has to be broken. Because of the nature of my work, it is just no longer feasible for me not to read new fiction and poetry, so while I will continue to try and bring down that now iconic 746, I will be reading and possibly reviewing newer work.

The fact that my book buying ban lasted as long as it did is probably reason for celebration. The way in which I buy books will, I think, be changed forever as I am now much more aware of the fact that buying books is not the same as reading books and that the book that I feel like I must have RIGHT NOW can very quickly become a book that languishes on a shelf, unread for years.

Despite all my complaining, 2017 has still been a good year. Reading Ireland Month was a blast as always and I was delighted by the enthusiasm with which people took part. 20 Books of Summer may have been a miserable failure from my point of view, but so many of you took part that it was a joy to be involved in. Hopefully I will resurrect both these challenges in 2018, although I may stick to 10 books of summer myself!

I was delighted to reach the finals of the Irish Blog Awards this year, and I really enjoyed interviewing two fantastic novelists – Paula McGrath and Sophia Hillen – as part of the Belfast Book Festival back in June.

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Interviewing Paula McGrath and Sophia Hillen for the Belfast Book Festival

 

I also really enjoyed curating the Books that Built the Bloggers series this year, I found it fascinating to hear about the formative books of all my favourite bloggers. Thanks to everyone who took part.

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In my work life, I got to meet and work with some fantastic writers and performers. It was tough to keep my professional poise when I met Bernard MacLaverty, Jennifer Johnston and Adrian Dunbar, but I think I managed!

Even if I didn’t read much this year, I did read some fantastic books. Some of my favourites didn’t get a review, but I was blown away by Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter, I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice, My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tennant and Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor.

In terms of my reads of the year from the 746, this seemed to be the year where I tried new women authors and was absolutely blown away by their writing. Four of my top five books of the year are by women writers I had ever tried before.

 

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Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

I’m not sure how I got this far without reading the wonderful Marilynne Robinson. I adored Housekeeping and once I had finished it, I went straight back to the beginning and read it again. The stunning writing meant there was as much highlighted as not and I am now keen to read more of Robinson’s work.

The Blue Tango by Eoin McNamee

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Eoin McNamee’s style and of fictionalised accounts of true life events. The Blue Tango is a rich and thoughtful telling of the real life murder of Patricia Curran, for which Iain Hay Gordon was falsely convicted. The Blue Tango is the first in a trilogy, so I have the other two lined up for Reading Ireland Month. I also had the pleasure of hearing Eoin talk about his work at the Noireland Crime Fiction Festival and at HomePlace!

Good Behaviour by Molly Keane

If there is one book that I now urge everyone to read it is the wonderful, hilarious and moving Good Behaviour by Molly Keane. The novel is one long cri de coeur of Aroon St Charles, daughter and resident of the ‘big house’ Temple Alice, where she lives with her distant parents, beloved brother and assorted servants and where the only thing frowned upon is not adhering to the rules of good behaviour. This is beautifully written book that perfectly balances moments of bleak shock and sadness with sharp, dark humour and was a brilliant introduction to the work of Molly Keane

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting from Olive Kitteridge, I assumed it would be a quiet novel in the vein of Kent Haruf but instead I was awed by an incredibly well-structured, beautifully written, heart-breaking series of 13 interconnected short stories, all centred around the wonderful character of Olive Kitteridge. I don’t think I have read a more fully formed character than Olive in a long time and I look forward to reading more of Elizabeth Strout’s work.

The Sorrows of An American by Siri Hustvedt

Again, this was my first encounter with Hustvedt, but I doubt it will be my last as I was pleasantly surprised by the skill and wit with which she writes, balancing a busy plot with thoughtful characters and universal themes. The Sorrows of An American had languished on my shelf for years and I’m delighted that I finally got round to discovering this fantastic writer.

As always on my blogversary, to thank you all for sticking with me, I’m going to do a little giveaway, because what is a birthday without books?

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This year, one lucky winner will receive a copy of I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice. Winner of the Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year Award at this year’s Irish Book Award, this is a truly beautiful book. Ruth’s tribe are her lively children and her filmmaker husband, Simon, who has Motor Neurone Disease and can only communicate with his eyes. Ruth’s other ‘tribe’ are the friends who gather at the cove in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, and regularly throw themselves into the freezing cold water, just for kicks.

Just comment on or retweet this post to be entered. I will keep the competition open until Tuesday 12 December, choose one winner at random and post worldwide.

Cx

 

 

 

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Cathy746books View All →

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

55 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Happy Birthday and please don’t stop blogging. It is so reassuring to know there are other people out there with To Be Read piles/shelves/rooms as big as mine!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kudos for keeping up your book-buying ban for so long! I tend to gather books as I go along so I have a little library at home that I can dip in and out of, but I’ve picked up a few books this year from the shelf (which I really enjoyed) that have been waiting for about 10 years to be read! But they get read eventually, when I find myself drawn to them, so I think you’re right now to just buy and read whatever takes your fancy from hereon in … the pile will eventually diminish (but don’t hold me to that lol)!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Congratulations on four years! I always enjoy your posts, whatever their frequency. Just remember that this is your space and you can do with it what you like. If that’s writing one short paragraph on a book rather than 800-1000 words, that’s okay. [I already own a copy of I Found My Tribe (I loved it) so I don’t need to be entered in the giveaway.]

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Many congratulations, Cathy! I am sure 2018 is going to be a better year and it’s always a pleasure to read your posts. I read ‘The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne’ for Reading Ireland month this year. If not for the event, I wouldn’t have discovered that gem and ‘The Story of Lucy Gault’. Thank you for all the posts! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy blogging birthday to you from Washington state. I enjoy your blog and reviews of Irish Lit. I would love to be considered for a copy of “I Found my Tribe”. And so glad you loved “Housekeeping”. Best regards.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Blogging is hard to keep up with – I totally understand where you are coming from there. It’s good to stay relaxed about it and not put pressure on yourself. We look forward to hearing from you when you are able to post. I can’t imagine a four year long book buying ban, what amazing restraint well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Happy blogversary, Cathy! 😀 It seems like you had a great literary year, despite not being as active as before – it hasn’t been my best reading year either, so I completely sympathise! Sometimes life gets in the way, but as long as you’re enjoying yourself that’s all that matters 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Congratulations on your 4th anniversary. I think we bloggers have a fear that if we’re not posting continually that followers will drift away and nobody will read what we post. It is all about quality and you are up there amongst my favourites! Keep up the good work and don’t beat yourself up about how often you are posting reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Happy blogging birthday! I think we all feel the pressure to keep churning out posts (I know I do) and it’s so difficult when, you know, LIFE gets in the way. Your work is fabulous, as Rebecca says, no matter how frequent or infrequent.

    Also, a million YESes to Marilynne Robinson, who is mindblowing. Have you read any of her other books? Gilead or Lila should be your next stop.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It seemes like you had a very mixed year, in terms of reading, but I’m happy that you managed to read some very good book.
    I’m very impressed by your ban lasting four full years, but I have to admit, I sometimes wondered how you could miss out on so many new books coming out. I think you are right to consider breaking the ban, although I understand your feeling that you’ll be buying books differently. It kind of happend to me too when I realised I couldn’t afford to spend on books the same money I used to and I had to choose what I really wanted to buy. My books tend to languish on the shelves a lot less now 😉

    Congratulation on your four years of blogging. That in itself is a great achievement.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m sure many of us can identify with your slowing down in reviewing. I go through phases myself, especially this year, of not posting for weeks at a time. There is only so much time in the day, and sometimes I’d rather be reading actual books than writing about them!
    Looking back on your year in bookish events makes it clear to me that 2017 has been a success! I think just hosting those two huge events, Reading Ireland Month, and 20 Books of Summer, is a huge undertaking and you deserve a lot of credit for those! Not to mention the Books Behind the Blogger posts – those were so enjoyable to read!
    Happy Blogiversary!!

    Like

  12. I have also been blogging for 4 years and my blogging habits have changed over the years. I write much shorter reviews than I used to write, because I think readers start to zone out on my blogs after about 500 words. It’s been a good exercise to limit what I say, though when I read something I’ve loved, that’s hard to do.

    This year has been a harder year for my blog, because I have had many things outside of the blog world to do. Important things that couldn’t wait. Taking care of sick loved ones, work, family, etc. These events have changed my perspective on blogging and although I’m back in the swing, I’m not as obsessed with it as I was a couple years ago.

    I hope I’ll be seeing more of your posts and tweets in the months to come – I always enjoy your point of view, Cathy!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Happy Blogversary Cathy! Please don’t stop blogging, you’ll be sorely missed. I’ve also struggled a bit this year, I’m not sure why. I seem to be getting back to blogging though.

    Also, you’re an inspiration! I want to have a book-ban for 2018. I really need to stick to it (too many in the TBR, too little money to be adding to it) so the fact you stuck to yours for 4 years shows me it can be done!

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  14. I don’t know how I missed seeing this post… well, last week was pretty crazy… but still!

    Happy 4th! Like last year, I let my “blirthday” go by without a mention. I think I started my blog at the wrong time of year, because it always sneaks up on me and then I don’t have time to do anything about it. Oh well, maybe next year… 🙂

    You many not have had as much time for blogging, but it sounds like you’ve had a wonderful year. No matter how many times you disappear, or for how long, we will be happy to see you when you come back!

    You’ve put a pretty big dent in your 746 over the last few years – I’d say you deserve some new books. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Happy Blogoversery! I can see what you mean about it being a great year! Only bigger and better things to come in 2018. I think every blogger goes through the should I keep blogging phase. Most don’t make it out and about once a year I clear up my RSS feed of people who didn’t make it. Some completely revamp their blogs and go in a different direction. You’ll definitely figure it out – you could always expand your blog to be 746books+ or 746booksandmore 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Happy bloggiversary and please don’t stop, I love your posts. I can understand your need to buy new books now and that’s fine as far as I’m concerned (not that that matters!). I fall behind with my own blogging and with commenting on others’ blogs but still find it fruitful and worthwhile to do both and I hope you do, too.

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  17. Happy 4th birthday, Cathy. I completely get what you say about life getting in the way of reading and writing. I too sometimes feel guilty that I do not have time to visit your lovely posts when they are fresh out of the oven (or the computer!) but I think we are all doing our best. Here’s to a 2018 of great blogging to all of us!

    Liked by 1 person

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