Monday, January 23, 2012

read good

I recently rediscovered Goodreads - I may be the last book lover to start using it. Believe it or not, I signed up in 2010 in my last semester of library school, and proceeded to forget all about it until someone on ravelry reminded me. The situation has been rectified. It's not only great for keeping track of and sharing things you've read, but it's also got an interesting book recommendation feature that I think I'll use a lot. If you're interested in what I'm reading, you can find me here.

To populate my Goodreads page, I spent a while adding all the books I read in 2011 (from my super high tech Word doc master list of reading goodness). This exercise brought to light a theme in my reading habits last year that I hadn't noticed at the time.

In the past, I've nearly always had books on request at the library with an idea of what I'd like to read next. Despite all my expensive librarian training, reader's advisory tools, and the rest of it, I found myself kind of listless about my reading choices for part of last year. I took to picking books off the shelf at random, which is not necessarily a bad way of choosing books, but it wasn't the most successful.

In 2011 I apparently read lots of short-stories from collections that I picked up off the shelf during my randomness reading programme. I usually prefer novels, but this year short-stories were the thing: serious, silly, twisted, and thought-provoking.

Here are some of the collections I perused last year:

The Bears of England by Mick Jackson.
Hilarious short stories about bears. Written as if it were historical, the collection investigates the influential role of bears in all aspects of life throughout English history.

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro
Love, music, loneliness, the passage of time, chance meetings, cafés...

The Obelisk by E.M. Forster
Stories unpublished in his lifetime due to controversial (that is, gay) themes. Although most of them don't read as controversial now, they are heartfelt, significant, and clever.

My Goat Ate Its Own Legs by Alex Burrett
By far the weirdest collection of short-stories I read last year. Totally bizarre, surreal, absurd, and very enjoyable. I picked it up because of the crazy title and because the corner of the book had a bite taken out of it. (By design, of course).

Notwithstanding by Louis de Bernières
Stories set in a fictional village in Surrey that explore the eccentricities of life there through the ages.

One City by Alexander McCall Smith, Irvine Welsh, and Ian Rankin
Stories about Edinburgh by authors who live or have lived there.

Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl
Weird and twisted stories aimed at adults, but still containing the fun of his works for kids.


  1. I'm a book lover, but I always forget to do anything with goodreads! Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Shameful admission, bit I didn't know roald dahl had written anything that wasn't for kids except his autobiography. I'll have to check that out, and goodreads too

  3. I've had a goodreads account for a few years, but I never seem to update it or do anything with it! I'm hearing a lot of people talk about it lately though, so perhaps it's time to resurrect my account :)

  4. I love the IDEA of GoodReads, but I spend so much time reading Uni related things that I don't get around to reading other material, and GoodReads makes me feel terrible about that. But I do love being able to lord my super intellectual bookshelf over my friends who read nothing but chicklit ;)

  5. I totally do the choose books at random from the shelf route. Might have to check out this Goodreads business...

  6. Bears of England looks fantastic, I will definitely check that one out. Great book list! I'll see you on Goodreads. ;)

  7. Hello Leah,

    Thanks for reviewing my first collection of short fiction ‘My Goat Ate Its Own Legs’. I really enjoy reading the opinions and analysis of those who read my work.

    I though you might like to know that I’ve written a follow-up collection of 45 stories. ‘A damaged boy’ is now available as an ebook. If you’d like to review it, it’s free to download up until Sunday 29 April. After that it will cost $3.99/€2.99/£2.49.

    It’s another collection full of original thoughts, worlds and characters. An egg-eating snake made to feel unwelcome, a promise “never to love anyone ever again” tested to the extreme, a Welsh village where everyone is knighted, and goose with a very fat head. To name but a few.

    To download your free review copy visit Once it goes on general sale you can purchase it via Amazon, iBookstore and other leading ebook retailers.

    Thanks again for your interest in ‘My Goat Ate Its Own Legs’. I do hope you’ll find time to cast your eye over ‘A damaged boy’. If you’d like to follow-up with me directly, feel free to email using

    Many thanks,

    Alex Burrett