Stories & Shout Outs #51

Stories & Shout Outs Badge

What’s On My Mind:

  • Covid blues. It has been three weeks since I tested positive, but a lingering cough and tiredness now that I’m back at work has made it rather hard to blog and read. Most nights I’m lucky to read 5-6 pages of my book – which is a VERY slow way to do it!

What I’m Reading:

  • Chernobyl Prayer | Svetlana Alexievich
  • Burning Questions | Margaret Atwood
  • The Gates of Europe | Serhii Plokhy
  • Essays Two | Lydia Davis
  • Mauritius Command | Patrick O’Brian
  • Last Letter to a Reader | Gerald Murnane

Read But Not Reviewed:

  • The Sign of the Four | Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Dark Palace | Frank Moorhouse

New to the Pile:

This Blogging Life:

  • I was saddened to read recently that the Costa Awards are no more.
    • Over the years I’ve read some truly memorable books from their winners list, including
      • Bruce Chatwin | On the Black Hill
      • Jeanette Winterson | Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
      • Ian McEwan | The Child in Time
      • William Trevor | Felicia’s Journey
      • Beryl Bainbridge | Every Man for Himself
      • Mark Haddon | The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
      •  Colm Toibin | Brooklyn
      • Edmund de Waal | The Hare with Amber Eyes
      • Andrew Miller | Pure
      • Hilary Mantel | Bring up the Bodies
      • Helen Macdonald | H is for Hawk
      • Andrea Wulf | The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt
      • Sally Rooney | Normal People
      • Hilary McKay | The Skylarks’ War
      • Jonathan Coe | Middle England
    • and that’s just the winners.
    • Their aim to encourage, promote and celebrate the enjoyment of reading was one I could get behind 100%.
  • In 2013 when Amazon took over Goodreads I took the morally uncomfortable position to continue using the site to track my reading. But I was always on the lookout for something better.
    • The things I liked about Goodreads that no-one else could offer me was the ability to ‘read’ the exact edition of the book in my hands. It allowed me to record my start and finish date and to note which page certain quotes appeared on in the edition I was reading.
    • In recent times, they have started playing around with the appearance of their site, moving to a beta format. I felt resistant to the new look, but figured I would get used to it eventually.
    • But now it is no longer possible for the everyday user to add new editions of books to the database. I get that this may have caused problems with many people adding dodgy entries. But for someone (like me) outside the US and UK, who reads books with different covers and ISBN’s to the main editions on Goodreads, it was handy to add them in myself. It is still possible now, but you have do so via the Goodreads librarian service and you have to provide a link to a publishers website…or Amazon. Many of my books are old editions that no longer appear on the publishers website. As an Independent bookshop manager, I am not going to do anything to promote Amazon’s monopoly tactics.
    • Then on the weekend I went to check my start and finish dates for a few books…and that option seems to have disappeared. Perhaps it’s just part of the new formatting that is underway, but it was the final straw.
    • I will now record my own reading dates and use the WP app to keep track of any quotes.
    • Goodbye Goodreads.

Rant over!

  • The Edith Trilogy Readalong is now underway.
  • Follow along on Twitter with quotes and thoughts #EdithReadalong
    • Grand Days – June 2022
    • Dark Palace – July 2022 | it’s not too late to join in!
    • Cold Light – August 2022
  • Essay | Frank Moorhouse | World order dreaming: a guide to conversations about the United Nations in the very first Griffith Review | Sept 2004
  • A HUGE thank you to Rick Barry on Twitter for continuing the #EdithReadalong quotes for Dark Palace when I forgot!


  • Paris in July with Tamara & Deb
    • Ummm…so far all I’ve done is look at my favourite French cookbook, Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen, and selected a few new recipes I’d like to try.

Shout Outs:

  • Poetry Month is hosted by Red Room Poetry throughout August to celebrate Australian poetry, poets and publishers.
    • I’m planning to read How to make a basket by Jazz Money
  • Adam is celebrating ten years of Austen in August and is looking for volunteers.
    • I’m planning to read The Jane Austen Remedy by Ruth Wilson.

Until next time, stay safe, and happy reading!

This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are this land’s first storytellers.

30 thoughts on “Stories & Shout Outs #51

  1. Re Goodreads… are (were) you using the app on a phone? Because I haven’t noticed that change, using it on a PC.
    I am, BTW, a GR librarian, and I can add editions for you if you like. But you can also apply to be a librarian so that you can continue to do it yourself. Your reasons for needing to are exactly the same as mine were, and I had no problem bring accepted. From my perusal of the Librarians Group chat, I think they’ve had a lot of problems with self-published authors and with people who add things that aren’t a book.
    I’m no apologist for GR, but I use it to suit myself and its ownership has made no difference to me since I only ever buy the occasional Kindle title that I can’t get any other way. But I have noticed lately that pages are irritatingly slow to load, presumably because it would have to be one of the most data-heavy free social media sites in the world. It has no other advertising revenue that I can see, so I’m guessing that they don’t want to pay for expansion so they’re reducing some of the data load by removing some of the features. What I see using it on a PC is that they’ve removed the capacity to record who recommended a book to you, and who you might recommend it to. That’s not a problem because you can put it in your private notes.


    1. Thanks for you thoughtful reply Lisa. I’m certainly in an irritable phase atm where everything has the potential to make me feel cranky!!
      In recents years I have been adding book details to my posts & I have several methods for noting quotes but GR is the only place I had been keeping my reading dates.

      I guess I’ll wait & see if they return to the webpage as other comments seem to indicate that the app still shows them.
      But in the meantime I am now noting reading dates on my draft posts for each book.

      The sun is finally shining again in Sydney this morning so perhaps today will be a less cranky day ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I also had a very slow recovery from covid Brona, the fatigue seemed never ending. But it did eventually shift – I hope this is encouraging and that the fatigue is diminishing for you!


  3. I agree with you Brona; the Costa Awards identified some really excellent novels. I read On the Black Hill just last month and thought it was a real goodie – and have read many of the other winners over the years.
    Hope you can throw off the Covid blues soon and regain your usual energy.


  4. You certainly are busy even though you don’t feel you are getting enough reading done. I was just adjusting my start and end reading dates on Goodreads the other day. I hope that feature hasn’t gone away.


      1. I only use the webpage and I haven’t noticed a difference. I just looked at the date selection boxes for some of my entries, and they look the same. Hmm.


  5. I’m sorry about your slow recovery … I think I was very lucky, perhaps partly helped by the fact that I’d had 4 shots (being a woman of a certain age!) Though, I must say that some days I don’t read much more than that either because I don’t find a lot of time and I just fall asleep at night. Life seems so busy with all the various commitments I have, and then keeping up with blogs, emails, etc, and even these I don’t do well. It is now 5.15pm and I’ve not read a page of my book yet today. And now I’m off to a movie (Kurt Vonnegut)!

    When you write about GR, you say you will now “use the WP app to keep track of any quotes”. What do you mean by that – how did you use GR and how are you using WP re keeping track of quotes?

    I am a librarian on GR. As Lisa says it’s not hard to become one. But they are changing the look again and it’s becoming tiresome the way all the apps/sites are doing this. (Instagram isn’t though – yet – I think. Woo hoo!) Fortunately I have never used GR in a serious way though I do often enter books there. I mainly use it to get covers for my posts.


    1. Yes we realised that the benefits of having had the third shot back in Feb meant that it was wearing off by end of June. Going back to work has probably stretched out my recovery time too. And this miserable weather doesn’t help my mood! Add in the fluctuating issues of perimenopause & I’m a perfect storm of irritability & tiredness!

      But it is comforting to know that everyone else has their own issues fitting in reading and blogging around life as well 🙂

      I didn’t use the GR app a lot, but if I was out & about and wanted to write up a quote I could do so on the app using the update progress feature. I would then just copy & paste the quotes I wanted to use in a blog post at the end.
      Recently I started using the WP app (to skip the GR copy & paste step) by starting a draft post for the book I was reading and typing in the quotes with pg number that I wanted to keep. I will simply do this now for all my books. Does that make sense?
      I usually get my book images from the publishers website.

      IG is also starting to bug me with all the sponsored posts and reels overwhelming friend content. But maybe that’s just a cranky old lady talking…!


      1. Someone in my Jane Austen group had her FIFTH covid shot today. I think. None of us knew how she managed that – and I’m not sure she realised that’s what she’d done but her Medicare record showed it!

        Yes, I thought going back to work wouldn’t have helped. I got straight back to my usual activities and felt fine, but my usual activities, while busy, aren’t the same as a full day’s work! Mr Gums and I were just saying the other day that we’re glad we’re retired at this time. As for perimenopause. Not fun. I didn’t have any major ongoing symptoms but I remember it was a time of feeling frequently jumpy/edgy and cycle variations that added to that. It’s good to get past it! I hope that happens for you soon.

        Ah, thanks for explaining what you meant re GR and quotes. I usually put those sorts of things in the Notes app on my phone or iPad and do the copy paste thing. I don’t really like the WP app, partly because I find that although all my devices and computers are Apple, the syncing doesn’t work always, so I find I update something on the app sometimes but it doesn’t seem to appear on the laptop. It is me? Or it? As for images, I usually have a GR tab open on my laptop so it’s easy just to go there, rather than typing in different publisher websites every time I need one.

        That’s interesting re IG. I have found so many excellent products through IG and got a lot of good ideas that I don’t mind those sponsored posts and reels. Clearly it picks my interests well! The lates was the best doona cover I’ve ever had. There is some rubbish amongst it all I agree, but so far for me the balance is in the right direction.


        1. For some reason online shopping has passed me by completely. I bought some silk face masks back in 2020 when every other kind was unavailable and I occassionally buy wine from one of my favourite Mudgee wineries, but that’s about it. So I don’t know why they keep trying to tempt me on IG and FB!!

          My perimenopause has been rather like yours, but after about 7-8 yrs of it, I have ticked every symptom ever mentioned in the books at some point, and I’m rather over it!! I do seem to get regular spikes of grumpiness though.

          Covid is everywhere atm – my parents have just tested positive. One sister has just left self-isolation and another has just tested positive today (on her birthday!!) and I have a colleague off work. B21 woke up with a head cold this morning and after several days of no coughing, it seems to have returned today. It has been very cold though and we did stocktake at work yesterday, which stirred up the dust.

          But that’s enough grumbling. I’ve been reading a few novellas over the weekend for Paris in July and that’s always a delight 🙂
          Thanks for listening.


          1. Oh wow Brona. I’ve been on the ordering since the mid-1990s. Started with clothing because I really needed cotton clothes (my eczema) and they were hard come by. Just today we received a Zyliss Chopper we ordered after none of the kitchen stores we tried here had one. I buy nearly all my shoes online because there’s not a good range here of the orthotics-friendly and Birkenstock shoes I need. And so on. I mostly buy books in stores though. Basically I use online for things I can’t easily buy in store. That can also include one-off craft things for gifts. Oh, another example was I promised to buy a friend a new Bolivia game card set for her birthday to replace the worn out set. I tried several shops – dept, type stores from Big W to DJs and games stores. Noone had it, but online I found a few sources. I can’t imagine not buying online.

            Yes my Perimenopause lasted about 8 years. That was enough.

            Hope your family all survive their COVID easily. And that you are back to normal again soon.

            Just as well you’ve had some good novellas to enjoy!


  6. The Goodreads thing… I don’t update there as much as before. What I love is the ratings and reviews there. Many times if my friends rate a book 3 stars or less I truly lose interest faster. Anything that’s 4 or above, I trust. If a book is polarizing in the reviews and the high ratings are from some of the people with my interests, I again trust their ratings. I can see the minority or specific audience reviews too. I also hear you on the fatigue.
    Personally I haven’t had a positive but there was a spell of illness where family had it after I was sick too and in hindsight I could have had it as well. But I have been mentally fatigued emotionally fatigued from the whole two years ordeal at home with the tough environment and life conditions. I am finally getting re-energized and I wish you the same. You read a lot even in these difficult times. Wishing you the best.


    1. Thanks for the support Silvia. Sometimes one just needs to have a bit of a whinge!
      Glad you are finding your mojo again, it’s good for us all to remember that life has swings and roundabouts and that this too shall pass.

      Reading is the one thing I do that keeps me sane. I try to go to bed an hour before I’m ready to sleep so I can read, but lately I’ve just been so tired, I fall asleep!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m sorry Goodreads has been playing up for you – apart from one or two messages about recommendations and the like I’ve not as yet encountered any difficulties with adding books – but time will tell! Hope your cough goes soon so you can up your already impressive reading rate!


    1. I have a few novellas on my radar for the next couple of weeks, so hopefully 20 books AND Paris in July will be back on track soon. The only good thing about all the rainy weather we’ve had this year, is that I’m not tempted to go out much on the weekends. Not good for my walking regime but great for reading!


  8. Sorry to hear about the lingering Covid effects. It’s really strange how different the experiences are among my friends and family.

    I haven’t had the Goodreads issues you’ve experienced though to be fair, I make limited use of it – I tried once to add a book to their library and they asked so many questions i found it tedious so never tried again.


    1. Mr Books has found it a weird experience too. He usually bounces back very quickly after a cold (he’s not sure he’s ever had a flu before), so has found the lingering cough & tiredness from Covid unsettling. No doubt there are many factors at play, from the variant you caught, how long since your booster shot, your general health beforehand, underlying conditions, genetics etc.


  9. Sorry to hear it takes time to come back. I hope you will feel better soon. You still seem to have read a few books. Thank you for another interesting post on different bookie subjects. I am sorry to hear there are no more Costa Awards, since those winners I have read has been very good. I have kept Stef Penney’s The Tenderness of Wolves on my shelves. I really loved that book.


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