Monday, 13 January 2020

Reading Record | First Fiction & Nonfiction Book of the Year

My reading record posts are a way for me to document all things bookish and reading in my life - I aim to post these consistently, with them most often being in a weekly format, however readathons and certain books have their own specific reading record. 

In this post I'm sharing my reading from the last week or so - since the start of 2020 - including the first fiction book I finished, and first nonfiction also. 

The first day of the new year and I’ve gone in with a clean slate, no lingering books being carried over, starting the new reading year with the first page of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. I have wanted to read this book for a while, and after borrowing it from the library late December, decided to hold off delving in and kept it in mind as my first book of the year. As the new year approached, many other readers started sharing their favourites of the year, and this book kept cropping up, so I thought it was definitely a good choice to be my first book of the year.

I picked up The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle on two occasions today, finishing my reading day being at the 72 page point – so still very early on in what is a 500 page book.

Also today I started my first nonfiction of the year too, deciding on the newest nonfiction release from Erling Kagge – Philosophy for Polar Explorers. I really enjoy the writing of Erling Kagge – a Norwegian explorer, among many things – and find his books to be both thoughtful & meditative.

Further reading in Philosophy for Polar Explorers this evening, whilst enjoying a relaxing bubble bath; the two were a good combination. I am now at the 87 page mark, having read 8 of the 16 chapters. Each chapter focuses on a life lesson of sorts, with Erling Kagge sharing examples and relating it to his own experiences in life. Many of these are things we’ve all heard before, but the way in which Erling Kagge presents them is unique in many ways and gives a different perspective.

Today I have returned to The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, and have read to the end of page 159.

I continued a bit in The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle today, getting to just under the 200 page mark. My progress in this book is definitely slow going, but I’m okay with that – I think sometimes as book bloggers we fall into the mindset of ‘read all the books, as quick and fast as humanly possible’. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about speeding through a gripping read (I hope I’ll experience that this year also), but I do want to be a bit more mindful & purpose driven with my reading this year.

There isn’t too much to tell you about The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, the blurb pretty much sums up all you should know going in plot wise I believe, however I will say it is the kind of book that requires concentration. I don’t feel like I’ve truly fallen into the story, as I’m more observing the goings on, however I am intrigued to see where this is all leading, as I honestly have no idea at this current point.

Further reading in Philosophy for Polar Explorers; another three chapters read.

This morning I finished read Philosophy for Polar Explorers, making it my first book of the year to be completed! It was a great one to start with also; one of those books that makes you consider things and see them in a different light. In general I would recommend Erling Kagge’s writing, with this being my second favourite of his (Silence would be first, and Walking third).

Read to page 274 in Hardcastle today – now passed the half way mark.

Today I started my second nonfiction book of the year – The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold – which I have borrowed in audiobook format via the digital section of our library service. I’ve had my eye on this book for a good while now, hearing so much about it within the book blogging community, and I bumped it up my list after seeing it feature on many end of year wrap up posts in a positive light. My local library currently only carries this title via audiobook and I was bit unsure if that would be right for me, having never listened to nonfiction on audio before, however I need not worry as I have absolutely loved listening to this book... The audiobook is just over 10 hours long and I’ve already listened to an hour and 45 minutes today. I didn’t want to stop!

I am at the 350 page mark in Evelyn Hardcastle.

Further reading in The Five today means I have now listened to just over 3 hours 30 minutes in total, and the focus of the book has shifted onto the second of the five women.

Hmm... After much pondering (probably far too much pondering spent on a book decision), I have decided to set aside The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle for now and start a new fiction book; I have been thinking about this for the last couple of days really.

Whilst I am steadily making my way through Evelyn Hardcastle, I am feeling like it is more of a chore than for the pleasure of reading... I think starting The Five, and feeling how enthused I am to sit and read that, has allowed me to further realise how I feel with regards to Hardcastle. I am not DNF’ing: I just want to get lost in a fiction book that is truly capturing me, which sadly Hardcastle isn’t that for me right now. I do intend to return to Hardcastle after my next fiction read; I want to see how the plot comes together and concludes, although more out of curiousity than actual investment in the book and the characters... I’ll be honest, I think the lack of likeable characters is one of the things putting me off Hardcastle.

Anyway, so this evening I started After The End by Clare Mackintosh... I have read just 37 pages, and I already feel more pull to it than Hardcastle. I can tell it is going to be a sad story, but one that will be a positive reading experience... It is reminding me almost, at this very early stage, of early Jodi Picoult books.

Today I read further in After The End and also made progress in The Five. 

I now have just under six hours listen left in The Five; I predict I’ll have this nonfiction audiobook finished by the end of next week.

With regards to After The End, I was speaking with a fellow blogger on Twitter today about it, and she mentioned that it is drawn from the author’s own experience, which totally makes sense now, as all throughout reading (I am only 100ish pages in) I have been thinking about how strong the narrative is – knowing the author has sadly experienced such a tragedy herself makes sense with how the book feels.

More reading done in After The End... Things have taken an interesting turn, and I’m unsure if I like it or not.

I made it a priority to read at any possible opportunity today, and in doing so I managed to complete After The End by Clare Mackintosh. It is going to be hard to share my full thoughts on this book as I do maintain a spoiler free blog... Hmm... I found After The End to be a very emotionally charged book, which at times was quite hard to read, but at the same time I did not want to put it down. The story itself takes an interesting path, and the ending wasn’t quite to my usual reading tastes, however it worked well in this book and with the way this story had been told. Although this is my first completed fiction book of the year, I see After The End staying with me long after the year’s end.


What was your first book of the year?


  1. I hope you enjoy The Five! I’m on a waitlist for that one. I’ll hopefully read it sometime this year.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. I hope you're able to read it soon; it is really good!

  2. Good for you for setting a book that wasn't working for you aside. It always takes me way to long to do so and by the time I do I'm flirting with a slump. After the End looks good and I liked the last book by Clare Mackintosh so I'll have to look for that one.

    1. I was so conflicted with setting aside Evelyn Hardcastle; I DNF quite a lot, perhaps to easily even, but I knew I didn't want to DNF it entirely... I think setting aside books is something I will do more often in 2020, as opposed to out & out DNFing, as sometimes a book just isn't what you're looking for in that moment.

      This was my first Clare Mackintosh, and with it not being a thriller like her past works, I think it'll be interesting to now turn to her thriller works having 'discovered' her with a different genre. I hope you enjoy After the End, if and when you do get round to reading it.

  3. I'm planning to read Evelyn Hardcastle this year. I'll be curious to see if it works any better for me. I was thinking of going the audio route with it.

    1. It would be interesting to hear how audio pans out, if you do go down that route.


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