Getting my ducks (and penguins) in a row

Soon I'll need a planner for my planners...

It's my year of reading classic literature. In keeping with the new, über-organised me, I'm not just going to dive into it willy-nilly.

How could I possibly need another organisational system?

The penguins made me do it.

Penguins in a row

I was in one of my favourite book stores in Paddington on a rainy weekend, browsing its thousands of titles, when a particular spine – that of The Understudy, by David Nicholls - caught my eye.

Despite not being a David Nicholls fan, I suddenly had a feeling I knew the plot of this book – the unglamorous understudy gets his shot at the big time, blah blah. Predictable enough, right? Curious, I picked it up and skimmed the synopsis. Yep, just as I thought.

Then, a recollection: a woman, on her own, on a rainy day in Glenelg, Adelaide. She had sought refuge from the deluge in the local library and was sitting in an uncomfortable chair aiming to read the whole of The Understudy before she left.

So I had read it after all. I was the woman in the library. I can only think that I was doing that thing I sometimes do: giving authors a second chance after hating a book that everyone else in the world seems to love.

One Day was such a load of rubbish. I disliked the protagonists, the book dragged on interminably and I almost didn’t finish it. Ugh, I wish I hadn’t remembered about that tedious novel now. It seems unbelievable that I should actually have read a second by the same author – I must be a very generous, forgiving person.

Having said that, I can’t remember whether or not I liked the second book. Now what do I do when someone asks me if it’s any good? I might have to read it again!

That episode reminded me that I also regularly mix up two books (I may not even get them right now, with the advantage of Google at my fingertips). The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes, and The End of the Affair, by, er, someone else. Hold on, I'll be right back.

Thanks, Google. Graham Greene. I haven’t read The End of the Affair, but I tend to think that I have, because of The Sense of an Ending. Now I have read the outline of The End of the Affair, I have a feeling this isn’t even the book I was thinking it is!

See why I need a book journal?!IMG_1540

I’m going to have a quick Google again now to see if I can determine the name of the other book that I mix up with these two! I seem to think it was about a schoolboy having an affair with his friend’s mum in a derelict house in the woods...ringing any bells?

Ancient Light, by John Banville. That’s it. I have a feeling that I loved one of these books (Ancient Light...?) and detested the other (by process of tentative elimination, possibly The Sense of an Ending?).

I could easily send someone running towards a terrible book or away from an extraordinary one. So, from now on, I plan to record all books read, together with a list of books to read. If I’m feeling wild one day, I may transfer the info to a spreadsheet/Goodreads, but I love notebooks and pens and they rarely crash so I'll start old school.

At the top of the list is Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. I first began this last March but multiple books on the go meant everything got too messy and P&P became an unwitting casualty. 2015 being the year of better planning, however, I am committed to Pride and Prejudice and have bought my own hard copy this time (last year was a combo of e-book and library copies). Oh, it’s a stunning-looking edition, too. I’ll take some photos to go with this post. I also bought it some brothers and sisters so that it doesn’t feel lonely (or something).

IMG_1539The plan is to collect many, many more of these sublime books. They are part of the Penguin English Library. As well as gorgeous cover designs (by Coralie Bickford-Smith - designer of the most exquisite book covers imaginable), the spines are awesome - almost neon! - and the cover material so tactile. Inside, the paper is decent quality and text a good size. All for $9.95 a book.

With 100 titles in the collection, that’s only $1000 to buy them all! I think I’ll be looking at around ten a year for ten years. Very excited about these new acquisitions. By the way, in case you can’t see the other titles or didn’t notice them, they are Persuasion by Jane Austen, Bleak House by Charles Dickens and Dubliners by James Joyce.


I love reading and passing on recommendations and/or books to other people. It’s exciting to think my recommendations will now be for the appropriate book! This is going to be great! I’m already thinking that my notebook will not suffice – perhaps a dedicated book journal is required. I’ll also endeavour to do a book round-up on here every so often.


PS Is anyone else waiting for the new planneriffic me to crash and burn?