Seven months into reading all the books in my TBR pile, I figured it was time to evaluate my progress.
Just how many of my own books have I read since October 2019? How was I doing?
Not well, it turns out.
All those years I spent avoiding impulse buys in the grocery checkout aisle have come to haunt me. Instead of buying KitKats, I’m now checking out books at an unprecedented rate—despite the lockdown. My husband didn’t realize that when he gave me a Kindle, not only was he bestowing upon me a gift but also a curse.
In thirty-one weeks (from Oct 1 to April 30), I’ve read forty books, but only forty-two percent of those are books I own. While it’s embarrassing to publicly admit that I’ve failed at something (reading more of my own books than library books), I suppose there’s nowhere to go but up.
Daughter of Queen Elizabeth Wydeville. Granddaughter of Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, and Jacquetta of Luxemburg, Duchess of Bedford.
If that doesn’t tell you who she is, see also, wife of King Henry VII, mother of King Henry VIII, sister of the lost princes Edward, Prince of Wales and Richard, Duke of York, daughter of Edward IV and niece to Richard III.
When writing about Margaret Beaufort a few months ago, I realized how frequently women are referred to in relation to men—and not just in the distant past. Many people have no idea who Elizabeth of York was until I start listing her male relatives.
Authors, read this book if you need help with understanding what kind of research goes into a history book. It’s also reveals the rich background material available for historical fiction novels. I’m grateful for the painstaking research Weir must have suffered through to bring this woman’s story back to life. Reading the cryptic, chaotically spelled letters and ledgers from the sixteenth century is not easy. By digging deep into the surviving primary sources—Weir pored over account books to learn who the Queen paid for what and when—it is the one of the few ways to learn what life was actually like in the middle ages. It makes me think twice about tossing my shopping list and receipts.
Readers, read this book if you want to see a person struggle to survive through a heck of a lot of ups and downs. Elizabeth was pushed and pulled through a myriad of different roles: from a princess at court to an exile hiding in sanctuary, from a brief moment as niece to the King nearly restored to her former position, to bride of the victor of the Battle of Bosworth.
If there had been reality TV in the 1460s, I imagined it would have run along the lines of Who Will the Princess Marry? She was at one time engaged to the Dauphin of France. There were rumours she was set to marry her uncle, Richard III. Richard, however, entered negotiations for her to marry the future King of Portugal. It’s a bit like Russian roulette.
What I want to tell people about this book is this book gives women of the past a seat at the table. Weir’s account makes a solid claim that Elizabeth was Edward IV’s heiress and should have been crowned Queen in her own right, not just Queen consort to King Henry VII. Sadly this never happened in her lifetime.
I think Elizabeth is often forgotten because she sandwiched between generations of notorious and badly behaving relatives: her uncle Richard, her son Henry VIII and his six wives, and even her own mother, Elizabeth Wydville. Still, Elizabeth paved the way for her descendants to become the most famous Queens in history, and in their own right, so always look on the bright side?
I thought at the start of the lockdown, I would have no problem reading the books on my bookshelves. Alas, for the first time ever, I have reached the limit for holds of digital library books.
Honestly, the holds are a major source of my library-book-reading problem.
Above is a screenshot of a selection of my library waiting list. The numbers, however, are misleading. One book I requested in February (only one copy of the book was available), gave me a wait time of about six months. After scoffing at that, naturally, I placed other books on hold.
Today when I checked, I saw the library has seventeen copies and the wait times have shortened to just a few weeks. That means in about two weeks, I’m going to be bombarded with checkout notices, and I’ll be forced to finish six library books all delivered at once—I only get them for twenty-one days.
They say the first step is admitting the problem. Okay, well, I have a library book problem.
The effort of putting this post together and making myself share it’s enough to shame me into sitting down more frequently with my own books so that by the next progress report, I’ll have better news.
Wish me luck. Or restraint. I'm not sure which I need more of at the moment!
P.S. My husband has just offered to cut up my library card. The tension in this house just got real.
Debbie Reynolds birthday is April 1, so it's a fitting time to highlight one of Carrie Fisher's memories about her own life. That's right. There's more than one.
Authors, read this book if you want to see a genuine yet tongue-in-cheek memoir with no filters. Do you want to write honestly about this? Read this.
Her frank manner of storytelling must have been painful to those she wrote about, but Carrie also makes a fair point: if they didn't do so many boneheaded things, she wouldn't have had to write about them.
At least, that’s the impression I get about everyone Carrie knew growing up.
Readers, read this book if you need to laugh but can handle a dose of “life’s rough.”
Carrie doesn’t wax poetic about her difficult life. She’s brief—she’s the embodiment of “brevity is the soul of wit.” I’m grateful to her not only for the succinct clarity as she roasts everyone in Tinsel Town, but in a world of perfect Instagram posts, Carrie turns the spotlight onto the unclean corners of life and never says, “I’m sorry.” I wish we were all more like Carrie and showed the world as it really is, before the editing, before the filters, before Photoshop. Life is already tough enough without all that to live up to.
What I want to ask people is, "Why can't we all be as honest as Carrie Fisher?" That's all I want to remember about this book.
At this point my review is almost longer than the book, so I’ll stop here. If you need to feel better about your life, pick this up. Carrie won’t let you leave without a real drag through the mud. But in a good way.
I read a lot and I hope to help authors with the craft of writing. I share good examples of difficult aspects of writing: point of view, narration, world building and more.
Occasionally I give editing tips and share insights from the world of publishing.
England's Queens: The Biography
Keeping Up With the Editors
Happy Birthday, Poe!
Appreciate a Dragon Day
I Was Wrong – Or What I Learned from a Year on the SYP London Committee
Shortlist of the Best Books I Read in 2020
V for Vendetta
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Elizabeth of York: The First Tudor Queen
The Mandibles: A Family 2029–2047
The Diary of a Bookseller
The Dutch House
The Uncrowned Queen: The Fateful Life of Margaret Beaufort
Becoming a Writer
Things Fall Apart
Welcome to My Bookshelves!